I was back at I-94 Sure Step Speedway for the 5th Annual Bob Gierke Memorial. It was a beautiful night at the racetrack with an excellent racing surface for the features.
A field of 28 Wissota Mods were on hand to race for the $2,626 top prize while there were 33 Wissota Midwest Modifieds on hand for the $1,026 top prize. A big shoutout to the Gierke family, which raises purse money for the event. They have done a wonderful job each year organizing this race.
Let’s start with an action-packed Wissota Modified feature. Cole Anderson of LeCenter and Andy Jones of Princeton led the 26-car Wissota Modified field to the green flag with $2,626 on the line (Blake Jegtvig and Justin Froemming did not start the feature).
Anderson led early but Brady Gerdes of Villard was making his presence felt on the bottom. Jones would get by Anderson and Gerdes would then sneak into the top spot.
Jones came back with a slider to regain the lead before the caution came out with 20 to go.
After the restart it turned into a three-car fight at the front as Dan Ebert of Lake Shore, the defending Gierke Memorial Champion, surged to the front along with Travis Saurer. Ebert made the pass of Jones for the lead with 18 to go with Saurer settling into second. Gerdes was being challenged by Jones and Zach Johnson of Lowry for third. Matt Aukland of Fargo was also in the hunt for a top five spot.
The caution came out for a spin with 14 to go, Ebert got a good restart, and Saurer felt all kinds of pressure from Gerdes on the low side. Also making his presence felt was the red-hot Tyler Peterson of Horace, who had started way back in the 17th spot but had worked up into the battle for the top five.
Gerdes stayed close to Ebert as Jones and Johnson went at it hard for third. Peterson was right there as well.
With six to go, Peterson was going for a slider for fourth in turn two but didn’t clear Jones;, hitting the 173; this contact sent the Jones hard into the wall and nearly over completely. After riding the wall and nearly rolling, Jones had a badly messed up front end and left on the wrecker, Peterson was also done with some damage, as was Aukland who was pushed into the pits with some issues after getting some contact in that incident. It was very fortunate that Jones’s car didn’t land on Saurer, who missed it by a matter of feet. Jones wasn’t happy one bit with Peterson afterwards, understandably so under the circumstances, and I’ll leave it at that — I’d rather focus on the rest of the race which was a dandy.
The restart with six to go saw Johnson in third, and former Wissota 100 and Wissota national champion Dave Cain of Corcoran into the top five.. Ebert opened up a few car lengths as Johnson passed Gerdes for second. Cain moved past Saurer for fourth.
Ebert would take his second straight Gierke Memorial win with Johnson finishing second after starting 11th. Gerdes was third with Cain fourth and Saurer fifth. The track was tremendous and there was racing all through the field. Eric Lamm of Princeton was the Hard Charger, picking up $226 on behalf of RaceChaser blog, for going from 23rd to ninth.
Zach Benson of Princeton set the pace early in the Wissota Midwest Modified main event. But it didn’t take long for four-time national champion Travis Saurer of Dalton to be in the mix. He started sixth on the field but soon was into second, and he was all over Benson for the lead.
Corey Storck of Morris was running in the top five, as was Avery Anderson of Alexandria. On the move from eighth was Matt Baker of St. Joseph, who already has a win at I-94 this season.
A multi-car pileup in turns one and two ended the night for pole sitter Jamie Norman of Battle Lake, Scott Bintz of Jamestown, Haley Lee of Starbuck, Tanner Bitzan of Brandon and Kyle Langland of Enderlin.
On the restart Saurer was patient and would take over the lead. Baker, meanwhile was giving Benson quite a run for second as the two ran side by side. Brendan Blascyk of Hoffman had worked into the top five as well after starting 12th.
Saurer opened up a 1.3 second lead on Baker, who had finally cleared Benson for second. Baker was closing on Saurer and looked to actually be quicker. The caution would wave with nine to go, and that reset the field. Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls started way back in 20th but had worked into the top seven.
On the restart, Saurer was able to open up some breathing room as Benson and Baker resumed a tight battle for the runner-up spot. Blascyk and defending Wissota national champion Lucas Rodin of Marion were in a fight for fourth.
Baker would eventually clear Benson for second and then closed the gap on Saurer as the laps waned. He made a late charge on the low side but came up short as Saurer would prevail by 0.197 seconds to take home the $1,026 top prize. Baker, Benson, Blascyk and Rodin rounded out the top five. Gronwold was the Hard Charger, going from 20th to sixth on a nice run.
Kevin Pender of Barnesville and Tyler Klugman of Wheaton led the 16-car Wissota Street Stock feature to the green. But it was former national champion Dave Mass of East Bethel who stood tall by the end.
Mass worked into the lead quickly as Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck, who moved to the top fhree after starting sixth.
The best battle on the track came for third between Pender and Cole Greseth of Harwood, who went at for several laps. Mass kept the field at bay for the win, claiming the victory by 1.662 seconds. Dykhoff, a national points contender, was second with Pender taking third over Greseth. Klugman capped off a good run in fifth.
Sam Zender of Fergus Falls and Mitch Johnson of Hickson led the 20-car late model field to the green. But it was a driver who started in fifth who stole the show — and that was Ryan Mikkelson of Alexandria.
Boy did Mikkelson impress the heck out of me on Friday. He’s run well all year in his *15 Wissota Late Model, with one win and seven top fives. On Friday, he was clearly the class of a strong late model field.
Sam Zender of Fergus Falls set the early pace, but defending I-94 champion Dave Mass, coming off of a street stock victory earlier in the evening, would find speed on the outside and take over the top spot.
Mikkelson’s machine was stuck to the bottom and it was clear he was a bit quicker than Mass, who was committed to the outside. After a caution with 19 to go, Mikkelson powered by Mass on the low line and would open up some breathing room.
Blake Swenson of Watertown and Nick Panitzke of Lonsdale had a good battle for position with Zender still in the hunt. Johnson and another long-time veteran, Chuck Swenson of Watertown, also lurked outside the top five.
Mikkelson set a quick pace, running some laps in the 17-second range, as his machine worked wherever it needed to. It wasn’t a runaway as Mass stayed within 5-6 car lengths.
Panitzke would eventually clear Blake Swenson for the third spot while Zender continued to apply pressure to Swenson’s #10X.
Mikkelson would pick up his second Wissota Late Model win of the year by .794 seconds over Mass. Panitzke finished third after starting eighth while Zender was a solid fourth and Swenson fifth. Johnson, in his 38th year behind the wheel, was a solid sixth.
Kevin Wahl of Fergus Falls jumped out to the early lead over Madison Swenson in the Short Tracker feature.
It was crazy behind him as the cars were racing four-wide for position. Zach Kort of Fergus Falls moved into second with season points leader Shawn Beto of Wahpeton moving into third. Hunter Goulet of Fargo and Brady Molter of Rothsay also were in the top five.
It soon turned not a great three-car tussle up front as Beto went low, Kort ran a little higher and Wahl running a bit higher. Beto was patient on the lower line would take over the lead as Wahl now had all kinds of heat from Kort for second. Goulet, who won at Buffalo River on Sunday, was into the fourth spot with Molter taking over fifth.
Molter would bring out the caution as he was sideways off of turn four; he would leave on the hook, ending his hopes for a top five. With three to go Kort took a look under Beto, but Wahl was his biggest issue as the #45W would move into second.
Beto would take the win by 1.1 seconds over Wahl with Kort settling for third. Goulet was fourth with Jeff Rohner of Willmar taking fifth.
Beto is having some kind of season, with six wins in nine starts, He is well on his way to the track championship at I-94 this season.
VanMil Wins Night 2 of Sanders Stock Car Challenge at Red River Valley Speedway
Rob VanMil of Barnesville won the second night of the Sanders Stock Car Challenge Friday night at Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo. VanMil picked up $800 for the win, which followed his big win Thursday at Norman County Raceway. By winning both shows, VanMil picked up a $200 clean sweep bonus as well.
Randy Klein of Lisbon was second, Travis Robertson of Moorhead third, Keaten Froemke went from 16th to fourth and Andrew Jochim of Glyndon was fifth.
Dave Shipley of Argusville picked up his second win in six days in the IMCA Modified main event. Kollin Hibdon of Pahrump, Nev., was second, Jordan Sours of Lisbon third, Tyler Hall of Fertile fourth and Billy Vogel of Fargo fifth.
Rick Pavlicek of Casselton picked up his second win in as many nights with an IMCA Sport Mod feature victory. Chris VanMil of Barnesville continues to run well, finishing second for his fourth straight top four finish. Rookie Tucker Tschakert of Kent was third, Vince Jegtvig of Dilworth fourth and Kelly Jacobson of Fargo was fifth.
Ty Wilke of Detroit Lakes won the INEX Legends feature over Ashton Spieker of Sabin. Ryan Braseth of Ulen was third, Glenn Mitchell of Picton, NSW fourth and Alex Braseth of Ulen fifth.
Wilke made it 2-for-2 with a victory in the IMCA RaceSaver Sprints over Andy Pake of Felton. Tyler Rabenberg of Princeton was third, Ty Hanten of West Fargo fourth and Morgan Nyquist
Tanner Engen of Detroit Lakes topped Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks for the IMCA Hobby Stock win with Brad Orvedal of Fargo taking third. Tim Church of Moorhead was fourth and Dan Dowling of Davenport was fifth.
Blacklance, Strand, Truscinski, Schill Win at River Cities
Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls won the Wissota Street Stock feature Friday night at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks. John Halvorson of Warren was second, Seth Klostreich of Grand Forks third, Greg Jose of Grand Forks fourth and Dan McNamee of Arvilla fifth.
Jason Strand of Portland won the Wissota Late Model feature over Lance Schill of Langdon. Brad Seng of Grand Forks was third, Ryan Corbett of Grand Forks fourth and Joey Pederson of East Grand Forks was fifth.
Alex Truscinski of Greenbush topped Kelsi Pederson of East Grand Forks for the POWRi Minn-Kota Lightning Sprint win. Chris Crowder of Colorado Springs was third, Dexter Dvergsten of Greenbush fourth and Dylan Langevin of Thief River Falls was fifth.
Lance Schill won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature over Austin Hunter of Winnipeg. Nate Raasakka of Grand Forks was third, Jamie Dietzler of Larimore fourth and Matt Schow of McIntosh fifth.
VanGilder Wins Steffes Tour
Hunter VanGilder of Rice Lake picked up the Steffes Street Stock Tour win Friday night at Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie, Wis. Andrew Hanson of Iron River was second, Jeff Nowak of Wausau third, Justin Vogel of Brooten fourth and Kolton Brauer of Eyota fifth.