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Gerdes Dominant in Winning Race for Fallen Linemen at Viking

Brady Gerdes picked up the Race for the Fallen Linemen win at Viking by 4.6 seconds. (PHoto by Collin Nelson, Outlaw Action Photography)

The annual Race for the Fallen Linemen modified special was at Viking Speedway on Saturday night. A field of 30 cars took the green flag with as deep a mod field as I’ve seen at Viking in a while. The event was paying $2,500 to win and $200 to start for the mods.

The 2X of Brady Gerdes kind of turned the race into a fight for second, but more on that later.

The Race for the Fallen Linemen raises money for the Fallen Linemen Organization, which helps care for families who’ve lost a loved one or had a loved one severely injured while working electrical lines. Corey Svor of Alexandria owns the 6X machine driven by Zach Johnson; his brother, Ryan died of high voltage electrocution in 2013 and has been heavily involved in the race since its inception. Money is raised through T-shirt sales and a portion of the grandstand.

I felt the draw was huge with a deep field like what was at Viking on Saturday, and it spelled trouble for the field when multi-time Viking champion Brady Gerdes of Villard drew the inside pole. He surged into the lead as he was three-wheeling the 2X to a big lead. Danny Bayer of Elrosa was running second.

Ryan Gierke of Villard moved up to third with Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls settling into fourth ahead of the veteran Jason Thoennes of Garfield.

The first caution would wave with 21 to go to bunch the field back up.

On the restart Bayer got sideways briefly and slid back and that allowed Gierke to move into second. Travis Saurer of Elizabeth moved into third with Landon Atkinson of Little Falls moving up to fourth.

Brady Gerdes in victory lane. (PHoto by Collin Nelson)

Gerdes was in firm control up front as he pulled away from Gierke. Saurer was almost a straightaway behind Gierke. Gerdes saw a commanding lead vanish with 12 to go as the caution would wave.

Saurer took over second on the ensuing restart as Bayer moved into third. Jason Thoennes was battling Gierke, who did not get a good restart.

Zach Johnson’s 6X spun with a flat with 11 to go to bring out the caution.

Jason Thoennes moved into third on the next restart as Bayer was trying everything to make up ground. Justin Froemming of Garfield passed Saurer for fifth.

Gerdes was rapidly building a big lead over Bayer, who now had Thoennes threatening him for second. The caution would wave again.

Thoennes took over second, sticking the #52 to the bottom. Don Eischens of Richmond, who started 12th, had been patient and avoided trouble and moved into fifth and was battling Froemming for fourth.

Gerdes was never challenged, no matter how many restarts there were. He turned the race into a fight for second as he built a straightaway lead on the field.

Eischens, Bayer and Froemming were having a great fight for third, and those three were closing on Thoennes. Froemming was running down low as well and would get underneath Thoennes as the runner-up fight intensified.

Gerdes made an emphatic statement with a 4.659 second win over Thoennes, who had a good run from ninth to second. Froemming went from 10th to third, while Bayer was a solid fourth. Gierke would edge Eischens for fifth at the line.

The Hard Charger would to go Joe Thomas of Fargo, who went from 28th to 13th. Josh Thoennes of Nelson went from 15th to seventh to also cap a nice run. Former national champion Blake Jegtvig of Hawley went from 21st to 11th.

Jon Carlson of Brandon led the early part of the Wissota Midwest Modified feature but the 70-year-old veteran Ron Saurer of Dalton, who started fourth, soon overtook him for the top spot. From there, it was the 42 show up front as he stuck his machine to the high line.

Tayten Blascyk of Hoffman, who picked up his first career win last week, worked his way to second. The best battle was a fight for third between two of the drivers fighting for the point lead – Travis Engebretson of Cyrus and Shawn Olson of Alexandria.

Saurer had a gap on Blascyk but that was closing at the laps waned and lapped traffic approach. Olson was able to get by Engebretson for third.

Taylor Bitzan, who held a slim lead over Olson in the points, had worked into fifth ahead of his brother Tanner, who earned his first career feature win earlier this summer.

Blascyk would stay close, but the veteran Saurer didn’t make any mistakes to pick up the win. Blascyk settled for second while ever consistent Olson was third. Engebretson and Taylor Bitzan rounded out the top five. However, in tech, Engebretson was DQed for a shock issue, moving Taylor Bitzan to fourth and Tanner Bitzan to fifth.

The big mover in the race was Buzz Muzik of Alexandria. He had trouble in his heat and didn’t finish and started dead last in the field but worked up to eighth from 16th by the checkered. The Midwest modifieds did an excellent job with no cautions in 15 laps, nice work by the 16 drivers.

Kasey Ussatis of Nome and Greg Platzer of Robbinsdale led the Wissota Street Stocks to the green. Ussatis was looking to rebound after a tough week.

He would clear Platzer for the top spot but as always the eye was on the 67 of Ryan Satter of Dent, who was battling J.J. Nieuwbeerta of Alexandria for fourth. National point leader Braden Brauer of Eyota worked into fourth.

Ussatis had some breathing room on Platzer but it was shrinking as Satter and Brauer fought for third. Platzer took a peek on the inside of Ussatis for the lead. Soon, it was a four-car breakaway up front with Ussatis, Platzer, Brauer and Satter locked in a battle.

Platzer would get sideways and that opened the door for Brauer and Satter to get by.

Nitro Jimmy Williams of DeGraff, the point leader at Viking and last week’s feature winner, was running solidly in fifth.

Brauer would pass Ussatis for the lead, but the caution would wave with seven to go for debris. The lineup went back to the previous completed lap and Ussatis would be back up front.

They went three-wide for the lead on the backstretch on the restart as Brauer edged out front. Williams, the long-time veteran with a lot of laps at Viking, got by Satter for second. Satter and Ussatis battled for third. Nieuwbeerta was closing on those two.

Williams was eating into Brauer’s lead as Ussatis and Satter kept fighting for third. With two to go, Williams made a strong surge into the lead. But it wasn’t over.

Brauer fought back just as the white flag was about to wave, going for the slider; it led to contact and shoved Williams up the track as the 34Jr. Regained the top spot as the white flag waved. Some would call it hard racing, but I’m sure the Nitro fans may describe it differently. My view was it was not a clean slider at all, but that's how I saw it.

Brauer would pick up the win by .389 seconds, a boost to his national point lead, with Williams finishing second. Ussatis was third, Nieuwbeerta was fourth and Satter rounded out the top five. Only one caution for the streets and that was for debris, another nice job by that group.

Point leader Kole Kampsen of Belgrade took the lead in the Short Tracker feature with Jeff Rohner of Willmar and defending Viking champion Kevin Wahl of Fergus Falls battling for second. Wahl would move into second with seven to go.

Last week’s winner Blayne Sweet of Sauk Centre dropped back early but came back into the top five ahead of Tristan Raths.

With six to go Wahl was working the low line on Kampsen with Rohner close behind. Rohner would fight back to take over second as Kampsen had a 4-5 car length lead with three to go.

Wahl and Rohner resumed their duel for second as Sweet was looking to make up some ground on the top three.

Kampsen would pick up his fourth win of 2023 to add to his point lead. Rohner was second with Wahl third. Sweet and Raths rounded out the top five. Only one caution, and that came on the first lap when Nic Hiles slid off of turn four.

Carson Miller of Carlos and Bryan Hellerman of Parkers Prairie battled for the top spot early in the Wissota Super Stock feature. Miller, who picked up his first super stock win earlier this summer, would take the top spot with 13 to go.

Travis Scott of Montevideo was running third ahead of the hockey goalie, Bailey Rosch of Alexandria, who was fending off defending Viking champion Trevor Saurer of Dalton.

Miller opened a few car lengths on Hellerman; Saurer moved into third around Scott; but the red flag would fly with Jim Fuchs rolling his #31 in turns one and two. Travis Vanderby had spun his 37 machine, and Fuchs threw it sideways trying to avoid hard contact, but got into the 37 and would end up on his roof. He was OK.

After the racing resumed after the red flag, Miller resumed up front but Hellerman was keeping pace. Rosch was running solidly in third with the Mopar, Matt Miller of Glenwood, moving up to fourth.

Hellerman was putting pressure on Miller and with seven to go completed the pass for the lead. Rosch was closing in on both.

Matt Miller’s hopes for a top five ended when his #13 machine slowed suddenly and would pull in with seven to go.

Hellerman was pulling away with Rosch and Carson Miller fighting for second. Saurer had moved into fourth with season points leader Karter Reents of Glenwood running fifth.

Rosch would get past Carson Miller for second but Hellerman was in control to pick up his first win of the year by 1.376 seconds. Rosch finished a strong second with Miller in third. Saurer and Reents, locked in a very tight fight battle for the points lead at Viking, rounded out the top five.

Viking/Saturday Notes

--I spoke with modified driver Blake Boelens for a story in the weeks ahead. He’s searching for speed in his #15x machine. He took the 2022 season off but made his return this season.

--Father-son racing teams on hand included Zach and Onyx Johnson (mod/mid mod), Josh and Talan Thoennes (mod), Ron Saurer (mid mod) and Travis (mod) and Trevor (supers); and Jason and Christian Kast (Short Trackers).

--Short Tracker driver Nic Hiles of Miltona is 17; he will be a senior at Alexandria this fall. Two of his uncles, Jonathan and Doug Olmscheid, race. Jonathan runs a Wissota Mod while Doug runs a Wissota Street; both have been at Viking this season. There will be a RaceChaser story on Nic later this season.

--The Fallen Linemen Race at I-94 EMR Speedway has been rescheduled for Aug. 18. That was rained out on Friday.

--Corky Thomas of Glyndon, a long-time veteran in the Red River Valley, made his season debut in the mods on Saturday. He made the redraw after finishing second in his heat. His son, Joe, drives the 6ST car.

--Brandon Fuchs of Long Prairie rolled his #14B Short Tracker in the second heat race after striking a tractor tire in turn one. He was OK, the car had significant damage.

Tucker Pederson, center, won the Dirt Race Central Street Stock Tour race at Greenbush (photo by Kayla Koth)

Rodin, Peterson Pick Up Tour Wins at Greenbush

Lucas Rodin of Marion topped Jarod Klein of Jamestown for the Rebel Midwest Mod Tour win Saturday at Greenbush Race Park. Justin Jones of Bemidji was third, Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls was fourth and Nate Reinke of Lisbon was fifth.

Tucker Pederson of East Grand Forks topped Justin Vogel of Brooten for the Dirt Race Central Street Stock win at Greenbush. Jonny Carter of Fairmont was third, John Halvorson of Warren fourth and Darak Turner of Fargo was fifth. Trey Hess of Grand Forks went from 22nd to seventh to earn Hard Charger honors.

Aaron Holtan of Thief River Falls won the Wissota Mod feature over Josh Beaulieu of Bemidji. Dustin Wahl of Greenbush was third.

Lucas Rodin, right, won the Rebel Midwest Mod Tour at Greenbush. (Photo by Kayla Koth)

VanMil Wins DCMT at Jamestown

Rob VanMil of Barnesville won the IMCA Stock Car feature Saturday at Jamestown Speedway, which was hosting Night 1 of the Dakota Classic Mod Tour. Trent Grager of Sykeston was econd.

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