Ebert and Sabraski Crowned Kings Twice; Satter, Mikkelson and Thompson Win at I-94
Two of the most talented drivers in Wissota each picked up two wins at the Dick Johanneck King of the Dirt on Saturday at I-94 Sure Step Speedway. Dan Ebert of Lake Shore (Wissota Late Model and Modified) and Shane Sabraski of Rice (Wissota Super Stock and Midwest Modified) both were crowned twice.
Ryan Satter of Dent won the Wissota Street Stock feature while Ryan Mikkelson of Alexandria (Limited Late Model) and Randy Thompson (Short Trackers) also were crowned Kings.
It was a long three days of racing with action going past 1 a.m. a couple of nights. Hats off to I-94 for putting this event on, I know it was an exhausting few days for the entire staff there and they deserve a ton of credit for the time they put in. I give owner Don Shaw credit for taking a shot at this with the Covid-19 restrictions. Honestly in some ways it felt like a Wissota 100 on Saturday, especially with the cars pitting all over the place and seeing campers everywhere. Derek Vesel of Hibbing and Tim Thomas of Fargo were pitting on the street, it felt like I walked to Rothsay to get there!
Let’s start with Ebert. The guy can flat out drive a modified, and it’s scary when he gets that #66 late model owned by Harlan Breeschoten figured out.
Shawn Meyer had the inside pole for the feature but I-94 track champion Dave Mass of East Bethel assumed the lead early. Ebert, who started sixth, used the high line — something he did moments earlier in winning the mod feature — and got around Mass for the lead. Mass by no means went away and made his presence known in lapped traffic and on a late restart.
Two cars kinda snuck into the top five late after a caution — Jeffrey Massingill of Keewatin and Cole Searing of Huron, who is the defending Wissota Midwest Modified national champ. Massingill, who had a top five at the John Seitz Memorial last week at River Cities, always runs well when I see him. He made a late model past Mass into second. Not sure if he could’ve gotten Ebert but who knows.
Ebert won the race with Massingill capping off a great night to finish second. Mass was third. Searing, remember he’s only a late model rookie, has looked awful good in the #10 late model he bought earlier this summer and took fourth. Eastern South Dakota had better watch out for him next season. Travis Saurer, who did not have a good finish in his mod, was fifth ahead of Cole Schill of Horace.
Dave Cain of Corcoran, the 2018 Wissota 100 champion, set the pace early in the Wissota Mod feature with Tyler Peterson of Hickson and Johnny Broking of Grand Rapids in pursuit. Ebert started ninth and moved quickly into the top five.
It was a tough break for Viking Speedway champion Brady Gerdes who started sixth but had a tough start at the beginning and didn’t finish.
Two cars were making headway — 2019 Wissota 100 winner Landon Atkinson of Little Falls and Sabraski, who was looking for a third feature win on the night. Jody Bellefeuille of Duluth, a top runner in the Twin Ports, also was lurking.
Ebert went to a higher lane to catch Cain, who is so smooth and doesn’t make mistakes. Ebert made the move and took over the lead. Cain made up some ground in lapped traffic but Ebert didn’t flinch to pick up the win, which was worth $4,087. Cain ran a strong second.
Peterson had dropped back to fifth but worked his way back to third at the checkered. He had an excellent week, winning both qualifying races he was entered in. Broking was fourth and Atkinson finished ahead of Sabraski for fifth. Bellefeuille was seventh and Watertown, S.D., driver Jayson Good — who is one of the fastest mods in that part of Wissota — was eighth. I can tell you this, there were not many slouches in the mod main event.
Satter, interviewed above, led early in the street stocks but was chased by Todd Carter of Lisbon. Former Wissota national champion Jim Gullikson of Nowthen passed Carter for second and once he moved into that spot, set his sights on Satter. There was a long 22-car green flag stretch which saw Satter and Gullikson get into lapped traffic.
Ninth starter and two-time Wissota 100 champion Justin Vogel of Brooten was on the move. He passed Carter for third and was closing in on the top two when a caution came out for a two-car tangle in turn four.
Vogel went to the outside on the restart and set his sights on Satter. It appeared as if it would turn into a fierce battle but a caution came out with two to go. It was a wild restart behind Satter as Gullikson tried a slider that sent Vogel up high briefly, allowing Todd Carter to get back to third at the finish.
Satter picked up his second King of the Dirt title — he also won in 2018 — with Gullikson, Todd Carter, Vogel and Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck rounding out the top five. For Todd Carter, it was a pretty good week at a track he hasn't raced at for a few years.
The comeback of the night was Kyle Dykhoff. He spun on the opening lap and was sent to the rear of the field; he battled his way through traffic to finish fifth. He wasn’t happy with himself for the first-lap spin when I caught him briefly afterwards.
Then there’s Sabraski, who picked up his 700th career feature win on Saturday. Keep in mind, the guy is only 41 years old. He’ll get to 1,000 soon. Like Ebert he is smooth and can drive about anything (I’d love to see him in a late model).
The Wissota Midwest Modified feature turned into a big-time battle between Corey Storck of Morris and Sabraski, who was driving Randy Laage’s EZ1 car.
Storck took the lead from the outside of the front row and first had to contend with Cody the Cobra Lee of Starbuck. Former King of the Dirt winner Shane Howell was pressuring Sabraski for third while Brendan Blascyk of Kensington also moved into the top five.
Sabraski made the move on Lee for second and the race turned into an epic battle to the finish with Storck up high and Sabraski low. Sabraski made the late pass to pick up the win with Storck settling for second.
Two cars made some nice moves through the field — Brennon Weight of LaMoure, N.D., and Travis Schulte of Clear Lake, Minn. Weight finished a strong third after starting 10th while Schulte finished fourth after starting 11th. Lee finished fifth ahead of Blascyk. It was a pretty clean race for the midwest modifieds as 25 of the 30 starters finished.
Not sure what you can say about the Limited Late Model feature — other than it was a mess at times. Up front things were pretty clean but you didn’t want to be in the middle of the field as there were some tore up race cars by the end of the night.
Ryan Mikkelson of Alexandria, interviewed above, assumed the lead early. Ben Wolden of Fergus Falls and Brad Staples of Herman had a great battle for second. That battle was interrupted by a hard rollover by Greg Umlauf’s hard rollover in turn one. From reports he was OK but the car was a mess. Keith Konold of Brandt., S.D., also had damage in that wreck and was done.
John Kaiser of Lake Norden, S.D., who was having a pretty good week, Brady Mellendorf of Brandt and Tony Robertson of Watkins all left on the hook as well with beat up race cars.
Once the race settled in the battle turned into a race between two familiar foes — Mikkelson and Wolden. Wolden applied pressure to Mikkelson but the Alexandria driver was smooth and took the win, which was worth $3,087 (which is the largest payout for Limited Late Models I-94 has ever had). Wolden was second, Staples was third, and Sam Zender of Fergus Falls was fourth. D.J. Tesch of Brandt, S.D., was fifth.
Mikkelson, by the way, will marry modified driver McKenzie Gerdes on Oct. 10. Congrats to both.
There weren't many limited lates without some kind of sheet metal damage. Sometimes, that class turns into a cluster and the carnage piles up.
The one place you didn’t want to be in the Wissota Super Stock feature was the lead, at least in the first part. Mass, with more than 550 career wins, led early, but was overtaken by the Ice Man, Don Eischens of Richmond. Moments later Mass pulled in with a flat right rear tire, ending his night.
Eischens had a nice lead when a caution came out; he pulled in with apparent mechanical trouble, ending his night.
Defending Wissota Super Stock national champion Kevin Burdick of Proctor, who has impressed me every time I’ve seen him the last few years, moved into the lead after Eischens pulled in. Burdick did not redraw well — ninth — but was fast early and worked into second and was chasing down Eischens.
Burdick, however, now had Sabraski to deal with. Sabraski had slipped back on the start as the bottom was a little muddy, but passed a few cars and with the help of a few cautions was back in the hunt. He worked on Burdick for several laps before clearing him and he set sail from there to pick up the win. Burdick finished second. Tim Johnson of Brainerd was battling in the top five, but got tangled with Brandon Duellman of Winona, Minn., on the final lap and rolled his 1Jr machine hard. Announcer Ron Krog announced Johnson was OK. Duellman, by the way, ran well. he started fifth and finished third, running in the top five the whole night. It was good to see a driver from SE Minnesota on hand.
Speaking of making an impact, how about the run for Jeff Crouse of Alexandria? The veteran started way back in 22nd in the field — had to go through the B main — but maneuvered through the field to finish fourth, easily earning Hard Charger honors. Ryan Kostreba of Elk River, who started 12th, ran a solid fifth. I-94 track champion William Lund of Brandon made a nice move through the field as well, finishing sixth after starting 18th.
The super stocks had their share of carnage, unfortunately. Gary Husmann, Matt Fester and Kurt Becken all had tore up cars at the end. I didn’t see what happened with Josh Zimpel — he was running in the top five but didn’t see what happened to him. Only 16 of the 30 starters finished and some of the driving was just plain unnecessary.
The Short Tracker feature was crazy. There were 27 cars on hand. Defending King of the Dirt and two-time I-94 track champion Daniel Harstad of Fergus Falls led early from the front row. He was pressured by Cole Greseth of Harwood and Randy Thompson of Lake Park.
Thompson took over the lead but another car was working into the picture — Corey Mehrwerth of St. Stephen. After caution Mehrwerth took the lead with Greseth and Thompson re-engaged in a battle for second.
Thompson regained his momentum and passed Mehrwerth for the lead on his way to the win. Mehrwerth, Matt Pederson of Lake Park, Greseth and Harstad rounded out the top five.
Watertown, S.D., driver Nathan Smith had a nice run, finishing sixth after starting 14th. The hard charger was Austin Lammers of Pelican Rapids who finished ninth after starting dead last in 27th. 18 of the 26 starters finished.
King of the Dirt Notes
—Sam Zender seems to be pretty comfortable in the #7 Limited Late Model. He ran in the top five all night and finished a solid fourth. That is Ryan Satter’s former car. Zender also made the redraw in the midwest modifieds and finished 12th in which was a highly competitive race.
—Atkinson, the defending Wissota 100 champ in the mods, had a good run in his mod but motor trouble ended his weekend in the late model.
—Bryan Crandall of Herman, driver of the #69 Wissota Street Stock, has a nice tribute to his mother, Kathy, on the trunk of his car. His mother passed away on June 17. The tribute includes a nice family photo.
—Corky Thomas of Glyndon won his last chance race in the mods. The winners of the last chance race had the option of taking more money to win the B main or start the A for a little less. He decided to take the money. Keep in mind he is driving someone else’s car as that is Tyler Peterson’s second car.
—Hunter Hougard of Warren had a nice week in his #188 machine. Hougard was third in passing points and starts second in the feature. He was third in passing points on the week. He finished a solid seventh. His car is already sold as he plans to step away from racing after 2020.
—Talked to Dan Aberle of Finley, N.D., before the street stock feature. He started 21st in the feature and his goal was a top 10 finish. He nearly got it, finishing a solid 11th and earned Hard Charger honors.
—Hunter Carter of Lisbon had his #19H street stock back in action. Carter, the co-promoter of Sheyenne Speedway, blew a motor at Viking Speedway in Alexandria in July. He’s got a new motor in his machine; his goal was to get a test run in the car before the Jamestown Stampede next weekend. Carter started 17th in the B main and got up to a transfer spot, taking fourth.
—Eric Riley of Morris has either been feast or famine in 2020. He has seven wins in the #51 Wissota Street Stock this season, including four on the Steffes Street Stock Tour. However in recent weeks he’s battled motor issues and that ended his night on Saturday.
—Kyle Anderson of Jamestown had a nice run in the Wissota Street Stock feature, going from 13th to seven. He wasn’t far from a top five finish.
—Vogel is a mechanic by day, and he’s a popular guy in the pit area when some drivers have engine issues. Vogel is one of the better guys you will meet in the pits and does a lot to help his fellow drivers — just as most of those street stock drivers do. (Limited Late Models, take a lesson)
—Both Langland brothers, Kyle and Alex, made the A feature in the Wissota Midwest Modified feature. Kyle had some tough luck and left on the wrecker while Alex, who has been plagued by bad luck this season, finished 16th.
—Jeremy Nelson of Alexandria, driving the JMR #4 mod, started 28th in the field and finished 10th. A nice run for him. He was the defending King of the Dirt champion in the mods.
—It was not a great weekend for I-94 Midwest Mod track champion Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls who has 21 wins this season. He had a sixth-place finish in his qualifier on Thursday but was involved in an incident in his qualifier on Friday, forcing him to the B. He survived a demo derby of a B main to make the feature and made a decent run in the feature from 27th to 13th which I believe earned him Hard Charger honors. I know Gronwold and his crew had to work pretty hard after the B main to get the car ready for the feature.
—Jordan Tollakson of Montevideo had a solid ninth-place finish in the late models. He started 16th. I’ve not been very good luck to him this season; I’ve seen him wreck a few times. Tollakson’s brother Jon is a modified rookie and his dad, Brad, is a long-time racer and supporter of racing in the Montevideo area.
—Bryce Sward of Nelson had two DNFs in his qualifying races but had a nice run in the late models on Saturday. He started 28th — dead last — and got up to 15th to earn Hard Charger honors.
--Matt Schow of McIntosh, the 2020 River Cities Midwest Modified track champion, came from 20th to finish ninth in the Wissota Midwest Mod feature on Saturday.
—I was 2-for-7 with my picks getting Sabraski right in the supers and Ebert in the mods. I probably jinxed Dykhoff and Gronwold — just joking remember I was doing it for pure fun. I picked MIkkelson to win the late models and he had a fast car but something broke when he was running in the top five ending his night.
Halverson, Hess, Nelson Win at Devils Lake Finale
Jason Halverson of Devils Lake won the Pure Stock nationals feature Saturday at Devils Lake Speedway. Steven Richards of Finley was second, Stoney Kruk of Langdon third and Brian Johanson of Edmore fourth.
Trey Hess of Lakota finished off a track title at Devils Lake with the Wissota Street Stock win over Tucker Pederson of East Grand Forks. Royce Jawaski of Horace was third, Dustin Ebensteiner of Devils Lake fourth and Seth Klostreich of Grand Forks was fifth.
Troy Nelson of Jamestown topped Kyle Lovick of Rugby for the Wissota Midwest Modified feature win. Jory Berg of Grand Forks was third, Cole Haugland of Brocket fourth and Jess Brekke of Devils Lake fifth.
Alan Truscinski of Greenbush won the POWRi Minn-Kota Lightning Sprints over Kelsi Pederson of East Grand Forks. Alex Truscinski of Greenbush was third, Cody Swenson of Middle River fourth and Dexter Dvergsten of Greenbush, the winner Friday at River Cities, was fifth.
Caley Emerson of Grand Rapids won the Non-Winged Sprints over Rob Caho Jr. of Rush City. Myles Tomlinson was third, Adam Sobolik of Grand Forks fourth and Brandon Palm of Portland fifth. Palm won Friday at River Cities while Sobolik won his first career feature earlier this season at Devils Lake.