Dykhoff, Peterson, Mass, Howell, Staples and Martin Win at I-94 Sure Step Speedway
After two straight weeks of rainouts, I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls finally was able to get a show in on a near perfect night weather wise. There was 135 cars competing which led to a busy night.
It was Race of Champions qualifier night at I-94. Some very long feature races with too many caution flags as a result of some careless driving by a few, especially in traffic, that even tested announcer Ron Krog’s patience. It led to an almost five-hour night at I-94.
The boost in cars, in my opinion, had two main reasons — one, several drivers wanted to get some laps on the track before the Wissota 100 in a couple of weeks; two, Fiesta City Speedway in Montevideo is done for the season and several cars from that area make the trek to I-94. I know one thing, I-94 folks were dang happy not to have to check the radar every five minutes like the last two weeks.
Two of the point titles had been settled — in the Wissota Midwest Modified class and Viessman Late Models, but several others went down to the finale.
We will start with the Wissota Late Model points battle. The Wissota Late Model race had the top five drivers separated by 23 points, meaning that if the breaks went right, any of the five could win the points. Shawn Meyer of Wahpeton led Sam Zender, Ben Wolden and Chuck Swenson by 10 points, with defending champion Dave Mass 23 points back.
Veteran Shawn Kirwin of Morris took the early lead over Cole Schill of Hawley, who was coming off of an NLRA win Sunday night at Buffalo River Speedway in Glyndon.
Kirwin, who entered the night with no top fives in 12 starts, led the first seven laps. Chuck Swenson of Watertown was battling Schill for second, with Shawn Meyer fighting with Josh Zimpel of Braham for fourth.
The top three broke away a bit as defending champion Dave Mass of East Bethel, who started ninth, started to pressure Meyer for fourth.
Schill would take over the top spot with Kirwin facing a lot of heat from Chuck Swenson and Mass.
Schill had opened up a nice lead on Kirwin who had his hands full with Mass. The caution would come out with 12 to go. The caution was good for Mass but not good for Schill, as the #2M would surge into the lead. Bryce Sward of Nelson, who won the $10,000 Dacotah Rumble earlier this season.
Mass was in control on his way to the win by nearly 2.3 seconds with Schill taking second. Third was Sward, who started way back in 10th, worked up to third with Kirwin fourth and Meyer fifth. With the fifth place finish, Meyer is the 2022 I-94 champion, the first of his career. Chuck Swenson finished in seventh with some smoke coming off of the X machine.
Dusty Bitzan of Brandon led Brady Gerdes of Villard by just two points in the Wissota Mod points race entering the night. Gerdes topped Bitzan to win the Viking Speedway track title last Saturday with a dominating feature win.
Don the Iceman Eischens and Tyler Kaeter of St. Cloud led the Wissota Modified feature to the green. Eischens would lead the first lap before another caution.
The veteran Corky Thomas of Glyndon would roll the #7T machine hard towards the end of the front stretch two laps into the race; he was ok, the car was a total mess.
Eischens led on the restart with Kaeter and Chris Mensen of Carlos settling in behind him. Tyler Peterson of Horace — driving the Harry Gant look-alike #33 car — moved into the top three as Kaeter slid back.
Justin Froemming of Elbow Lake, coming off of his biggest career win at the Silver 1000 at Proctor on Thursday, was running in the top five and battling with Brett Hoium of Villard.
Bitzan, battling Gerdes in a very tight points race, slowed suddenly in turns one and two and required a push to the pits, ending his hopes of the points championship. The last week has certainly been disappointing for the #10x crew.
On the restart, Peterson made a pass of Eischens on the bottom and would open up a big lead. Eischens would soon have to contend with Froemming for second.
Gerdes — who started 12th — had moved all the way to fourth with Jason Thoennes of Garfield climbing to the fifth spot.
Peterson had built a three-second lead on Froemming with two laps remaining but the caution waved as Erv Grossman spun in turns three and four. On the restart Peterson got off to a good start. Froemming would make a challenge out of turn two for the lead but Peterson had enough to prevail for his 20th win of the season. And don’t look now, the defending national champion second in national points as September begins.
Froemming settled for second as he continues to impress in the Wissota Mods. In fact I can’t remember a rookie driver off to such a strong start in that very competitive class. Eischens was a solid third, Gerdes fourth and Thoennes fifth.
All Ryan Satter of Dent had to do to win his fifth straight Wissota Street Stock title was take the green of the feature on Friday, which he did. He led national point leader Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck by 69 points; the worst Satter could get was 55 points less if Dykhoff won, so the points race was settled at the green.
It was a brutal start to the Wissota Street Stock feature — which turned into a marathon that lasted more than 30 minutes because of spins and wrecks— as there was a multi-car pileup before the cars even hit the starting line. Ty Agen of Chippewa Falls, who won at Viking last week, appeared to lose a wheel, and Jeff Ekdahl of Oakdale, who had a solid run last Saturday as well. Agen came back with a new tire. Moments later, Scott Horn’s #4 car ended up on its side on the backstretch. Horn was OK but the car ended up on the hook.
The real points race is for the national championship, and four of the top six in national points — Dykhoff, the Wolverine Justin Vogel of Brooten (second in points), Braden Brauer of Rochester (fourth) and Kolton Brauer of Rochester (sixth).
It didn’t take long for Vogel and Dykhoff to start battling up front. Vogel went up high and Dykhoff ran low, and they ran side by side for nearly five laps. Braden Brauer of Rochester was also in the hunt up front as he was in third.
The caution waved with 12 to go for a three-car incident in turns one and two. Dykhoff continued to lead on the restart. Braden Brauer cleared Vogel for second; the #10 car would get crossed up and lost several positions, but quickly worked back up to third.
Cory Dykhoff of Perham was having a very nice run, going up to sixth, behind a really good duel between teenagers Kolton Brauer and Cole Greseth of Harwood for the fourth spot.
The caution would wave with two to go, which was the last thing Kyle Dykhoff wanted to see as he was on his way to the win. On the restart, Brauer got into Dykhoff down the backstretch to send both cars spinning and bring out the caution. Brauer had a flat tire as a result while Kyle Dykhoff lost the driver’s side door on his #11 machine, which officials re-attached..
Vogel would make a charge over the final two laps — and got a real good surge of momentum on the bottom and pulled ahead in turns three and four; but Kyle Dykhoff got a big run off of turn four to edge Vogel by inches — .037 seconds to be exact — in another classic finish between two guys who race hard and clean.
Because both Kyle Dykhoff and Vogel had qualified for the Wissota ROC, Cory Dykhoff — who started dead last on the 29-car field — finished third, but will be I-94’s ROC qualifier in the streets. A great run by him, and he avoided plenty of trouble along the way. Cole Greseth was fourth and Kolton Brauer of Rochester was fifth.
Dykhoff has 23 wins this season, most of any Wissota Street Stock driver.
Brendan Blascyk of Hoffman had the 2022 track championship wrapped up in the Wissota Midwest Modified class with a 166-point lead over former champion Travis Saurer who was not in attendance. Blascyk wrapped up the Viking track championship by one point over Saurer last Saturday.
Shane Howell of Buffalo — the most entertaining post-race interview in Wissota in my opinion — took the early lead over Cody “The Cobra” Lee of Starbuck.
Corey Storck of Morris was battling for a top five spot when his #57 machine broke; I expect Storck to be a prime contender at the Sheyenne Speedway Rebel Mid Mod Finale on Monday, which pays $3,000 to win.
Cole Neset of Fargo, who has five top fives this season, was running strong as well as he was in fourth. Ron Saurer of Dalton and Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls had a great battle brewing back in traffic. Gronwold would work into the top five.
Matt Baker of St. Joseph was closing on Lee, and that allowed Howell to open up some breathing room. With 10 to go Baker cleared Lee and waged a great battle with Howell as lapped traffic became a major factor.
The first caution waved with seven to go as a car stalled in one and two. Howell led with Baker working the lower line. Mike Nichols of Watertown moved into third on the restart. Travis Schulte of Becker, Minn., was having a really good run through the field; he started 15th but had moved into fourth.
Brad King’s 13 machine spun with five to go to set up another restart, and that moved Nichols besides Baker.
The bad thing about the midwest modifieds at I-94 some nights, is cautions breed cautions. And that was the case as after 12 caution-free laps, there were three cautions.
On the restart Nichols cleared Baker for second and set his sights on Howell. Blascyk — who started way back in 19th — had worked into the top five. Nichols gave good pursuit of Howell but didn’t have enough as Howell prevailed. Nichols settled for a solid second with Baker in third. Gronwold finished fourth and Schulte fifth. Howell did not disappoint in his postrace comments either with a big-time celebration.
Shawn Beto led Zach Kort by 69 points entering the night in the Short Tracker class and just needed to take the green to wrap up the title.. Entering the night they are the only two drivers to have won at I-94 — Beto with seven wins and Kort with three. They started in the third row one the feature.
On a night with a lot of crazy racing, the Short Trackers capped if off with 2-3 wide racing from the get-go. Guess what, 15 cars, and zero cautions. The only caution free race of the night, actually
Kevin Wahl took the early lead, but it was a pair of Willmar drivers — Joe Martin and Matthew Dittman — who work make their way to the front. Martin took over the lead with Dittman in tow.
Beto drove a consistent race as he put the finishing touches on his first career track championship. Ironically, that same car won the track championship in 2021, as his uncle, Kevin Youngquist, now in the Viessman Late Models, piloted that car to the championship.
Ben Wolden had wrapped up the Viessman Late Model track title already entering the night — it was his sixth straight championship. In fact he has won all of the Limited/Viessman Late Model titles since the class was introduced in 2017.
Of course, the Viessman Late Model feature started out rough with a multi-car pileup on the backstretch on the opening lap. There were 20 on hand — several new drivers were competing in the special, which was paying $750 to win and $150 to start.
While there are some very good drivers in the Viessman Late Models, there is some inexperience, too, and frankly some drivers who are either in a class over their head or drive over their head head. That usually leads to some cautions and wrecked race cars, unfortunately.
Wolden — who was one of several cars involved of the first lap melee on the backstretch — slowed his #50 machine but was able to refire, but that sent him to the rear. Of course on the restart there was a another pileup in one and two. Wolden was collected in that wreck, and I think he figured with the point championship wrapped up, there was no more need waste any more time.
Adam Prieve of Litchfield — a former Wissota Mod 4 driver — was the early leader. But the car to watch was Brad Staples of Herman went to work on the outside with Croninger in third.
The race, originally scheduled for 25 laps would be shortened, but what a battle developed between Staples and Prieve up front; both did a great job racing hard and clean.
Staples was working the top side, but Prieve was plenty quick below. The two would race side-by-side for the top spot. With seven to go Staples edged ahead at the line for the lead .
Scott Harrington of Waubay, S.D., was battling Tony Croninger of Watertown for third.
Staples would edge ahead but Prieve didn’t give up on the bottom and reeled him in as the laps waned. Prieve made a good run on the bottom but Staples’s momentum on the outside carried him past for the win, which was worth $750.
Sam Zender of Fergus Falls, who had to go to the tail earlier in the race, worked his way back to third at the checkered. Harrington was fourth after starting way back in 17th with Croninger rounding out the top five.
—It was good to see Michelle (Lund) Hutt back behind the wheel of her #97 Wissota Midwest Modified. She and her husband, Mason welcomed their first child, Ashlyn in July.
—Tucker Tschakert of Kent, who is a rookie, entered in the Wissota Midwest Modified division after racing in the IMCA Sport Mods earlier this season.
—Kammron Rose of Dorchester, Wis., win the award for the most unique car of the night —a #12 station wagon. The last station wagon I saw in the street stocks was Terry Blacklance of Thief River Falls.
Track Champions Crowned at Red River Valley Speedway
Andy Pake of Felton topped Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes for the IMCA Racesaver Sprint feature win Friday night at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo.. Laela Eischenschenk of West Fargo was third, Dustin Bluhm of Herman fourth and Ty Hanten of West Fargo fifth. Hanten repeated as IMCA Sprint Car champion.
Rob VanMil wrapped up the IMCA Stock Car points title at Red River Valley with a 2.6 second win over Brennan Borg of Harwood. Mike Anderson of Walcott was third, Travis Robertson of Moorhead — who finished a close second in the points — was fourth and Keaten Froemke of Dilworth was fifth. VanMil topped Robertson by one point for the points title.
Chris VanMil of Barnesville started 10th but went to the front to pick up the IMCA SportMod feature win. Andy Wagner of Ada was second, Torey Fischer of West Fargo was third, Brennan Urbach of Lisbon fourth and Ryan Restad of West Fargo fifth. Scott Jacobson of Fargo picked up the track championship over Rich Pavlicek of Casselton — by two points.
Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes wrapped up the INEX Legends championship in style as he started dead last on the 23-car field and stormed to the front for the feature win. Alex Braseth of Ulen was second, Evan Hendrickson of Mapleton third, Glenn Mitchell of Picton, NSW fourth and Zander Bauer of Gwinner. Wilke, who has sold the #72 machine and plans to move out of the class, won the track title by 34 points over Bauer.
Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks topped Dan Dowling of Davenport for the IMCA Hobby Stock win. Randy Randall of Park Rapids was third, Tim Church of Moorhead fourth and Andrea Jacobson of Fargo fifth. Eckerdt topped Dowling and Church by three points for the track championship.
Kollin Hibdon of Pahrump, Nev., went from 10th to first in the IMCA Mod feature over Tyler Hall of Fertile. Jesse Skalicky of Fargo was third, Jordan Sours of Lisbon fourth and Darren Pfau of West Fargo fifth. Veteran Dave Shipley of Argusville is the 2022 Red River Valley IMCA Mod track champion.
Jory Berg of Grand Forks topped Lance Schill of Langdon for the Wissota Midwest Modified win. Jamie Dietzler of Larimore was third, Nate Raasakka of Grand Forks fourth and Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls fifth.
Lance Schill of Langdon won the Wissota Late Model feature over Joey Pederson of East Grand Forks. Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks was third, Brad Seng of Grand Forks was fourth and Ryan Corbett of Grand Forks fifth. Joey Pederson is the 2022 River Cities Speedway track champion.
Tucker Pederson of East Grand Forks is having a big-time summer and won the Wissota Street Stock feature over Trey Hess of Grand Forks, who moved up to the runner-up spot after starting ninth. Blacklance was third, Greg Jose of Grand Forks fourth and Seth Klostreich of Grand Forks fifth. Aaron Blacklance is the 2022 River Cities Speedway champion.
Mike Mueller of Oak Grove topped Nick DaRonco of Britt for the Northern Renegade Wingless Sprint feature. Rob Caho was third.
Mark Dobmeier of Grand Forks topped Jade Hastings of Grand Forks for the Buffalo Wild Wings NOSA Sprint feature. Tim Estenson of Fargo was third, Brendan Mullen of Grand Forks fourth and Riley Goodno of Knoxville was fifth. There are still a pair of NOSA Sprint shows left to crown the season champion at River Cities.