Viking Speedway in Alexandria held its 58th season opener on Saturday night with a solid 71 cars on hand.
There were few surprises as most of the winners have been there before. The track was hard and slick for the features.
I was disappointed to only see 11 Wissota Super Stocks on hand for the special; it’s too early to analyze car counts but I was hoping for more.
Sixteen Wissota Midwest Modifieds took the green flag to open feature action. 70-year-old Ron Saurer of Dalton and Corey Storck of Morris shared the front row and Storck jumped out to the lead from the start. And he would turn the race into a runaway.
Saurer soon found pressure from Buzz Muzik of Brandon. Travis Engebretson of Cyrus settled into fourth ahead of former Viking champion Shawn Olson and Tanner Bitzan of Brandon.
Bitzan, a second-year driver, was battling close to the top five in the Wissota Midwest Modified feature when he got high in turn four and slid into the wall, ending up on his top. He was OK; I checked with him afterwards and the car wasn’t damaged too badly.
Storck was the class of the field on this night, surviving some restarts. He was never threatened and went on to a 3.565 second win over Saurer. In three starts this season, Storck has finished first, second and third.
Muzik battled Saurer for second for a while but settled for third after starting eighth.
Engebretson slid up high for a second in turn two, and that allowed Olson, who is very consistent at Viking, to slip into the fourth spot. Engebretson rounded out the top five. Taylor Bitzan of Brandon, who was fifth at I-94 EMR Speedway on Friday, was sixth.
Ryan Satter of Dent has won the last three Wissota Street Stock championships at Viking, and when he starts in the front row, it usually spells big trouble for the field. But on this night, the Wolverine, Justin Vogel of Brooten, has his #10 machine dialed in from the drop of the green and would go on to dominate the feature.
Nitro Jim Williams of DeGraff ran in the top three early but slid back after a restart.
There were good battles behind them as Satter, Kyle Anderson of Jamestown and Eric Riley of Morris raced hard for second. Satter would clear those two while Anderson and Riley kept battling side by side for third with J.J. Nieuwbeerta of Alexandria lurking close behind.
Vogel had a straighaway lead on his good friend Satter who had opened some distance on third. Riley settled into third as Nieuwbeerta got past Anderson for fourth.
Vogel, who won Friday at Fiesta City Speedway in Montevideo, won in convincing fashion with Satter a solid second. Riley, Nieuwbeerta and Anderson rounded out the top five.
Waylon Current of Bemidji was the fastest car in the Short Trackers, but a post-race tech violation saw him get DQed. He quickly moved into the lead but was pursued by Nic Hiles of Miltona in the H20 machine.
HIles was finding a good deal of speed on the very high side of the track; he got a run in turn four but tapped Current, sending the #9 car spinning. Current would get his spot back while HIles went to the tail.
Current opened up a lead on Kole Kampsen of Belgrade, who was battling Hunter Goulet of Fargo for second. Kevin Wahl of Fergus Falls was also having a solid run in the top five.
Hiles, meanwhile was making another charge through the field; he was back in the top five and looked to keep moving up; but he slid high off of turn three and went into the trees. He was OK but his night was over.
Current crossed the line first but was disqualified in postrace tech, giving the win to Kampsen. Goulet was second. Wahl went from eighth to third while Tristan Raths was fourth. John Heacox of Lisbon, N.D., went from 11th to fifth at the checkered.
Trevor Saurer of Dalton has won four Wissota Super Stock championships in a row at Viking and got off to a strong start with a feature win on Saturday.
Travis Scott of Montevideo, who won at Fiesta City Speedway on Friday, set the early pace but was challenged by Bailey Rosch of Alexandria. Saurer started third but stuck his #21 machine to the bottom and was very quick on that line.
Karter Reents of Glenwood had a really good battle for second with Scott, while veterans Matt Miller of Glenwood and Jeff Crouse of Alexandria dueled for the fourth spot.
Saurer opened up a gap on second as Reents continued to pressure Scott. Reents made the pass on the low line; but likely needed a caution for a shot at Saurer who had opened up a nice lead.
Saurer would win by 2.7 seconds over Reents who capped off a good run in second. Scott was third while Miller outlasted Crouse for the fourth spot.
Justin Froemming of Garfield has made a very smooth transition from the Midwest modifieds to the modifieds. He won the Silver 1000 at Proctor last year and added a win at Viking late in the year after moving into the class late on the season. Froemming was strong once again on Saturday as he took the lead from the inside pole.
Dusty Bitzan of Brandon was trying to make the high lane work but soon found pressure from Joseph Thomas of Fargo and six-time Viking champion Brady Gerdes of Villard.
Also in the hunt for spots in the top five were veterans Jason Thoennes of Garfield and Zach Johnson of Lowry.
After a restart, Bitzan slid high and that opened the door for Thomas to move into second. Soon, it was a great battle for the second spot between Thomas and Gerdes with Jason Thoennes right behind.
Froemming weathered a late restart to pick up the win. He won by 1.5 seconds. Thomas fended off Gerdes for second while Thoennes and Johnson rounded out the top five.
The hard charger for the mods was rookie Ryan Flaten of Madison, who went from ninth to 16th. Flaten moved up from the super stock class.
--Maddie Swenson has moved up from the Short Trackers to the Wissota Midwest Modified class and has a very sharp looking 52 machine. Unfortunately her night came to an end early on Saturday with a blown motor in the heat. I checked with her stepdad Justin Anderson afterwards and they hope to get things fixed and be back next week.
--Froemming and former Viking track champion Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls moved to the modified class midway through the 2022 season. But Viking has several drivers who’ve moved into the mods this year from the Midwest modifieds – Avery Anderson of Brandon, Nick Bruder of Long Prairie, Brendan Blascyk of Hoffman and Matt Thoennes of Osakis. Austin Chyba of Browerville also has moved up to the mods for 2023.
--The Dirt Race Central Street Stock Tour kicks off with a doubleheader next Saturday and Sunday at Viking.
--Nieuwbeerta has an interesting look to his street stock this year – a station wagon style. There is even some wood-colored paneling on the side.
--Jory Berg of Grand Forks topped Tanner Theis of New Rockford for the Wissota Midwest Modified feature Saturday night at Devils Lake Speedway. Jaden Varnson of Lakota was third.
Kasey Ussatis of Nome, who won Friday at Brown County Speedway, captured the Wissota Street Stock feature over Tucker Pederson of East Grand Forks. Trey Hess of Grand Forks was third.
Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., won the Structural Buildings Wissota Late Model Challenge Series race Saturday at Ogilvie Raceway. Josh Zimpel of Braham was second and Darrell Nelson of Hermantown was third.
Justin Jones of Bemidji won the IMCA Sport Mod feature Saturday night at North Central Speedway in Brainerd.