Johnson and Reents Earn Thrilling Wins at Viking Speedway Season Finale
Viking Speedway wrapped up its 2021 racing season with Night 2 of its doubleheader on Sunday. Another great field of 116 cars was on hand. The weather was really nice both days of the doubleheader.
Although car counts have been down most of the year at Viking, the 1/2-mile ended the year on a strong note that way. Both nights drew 116 cars, and there were good crowds both nights although Saturday was a bit larger.
Sunday had a bit of everything — caution flags, post-race disagreements, a protest and some great finishes.
Let’s start with the finale — the Wissota Modifieds. The first 16 laps or so were pretty ho-hum. Saturday’s winner Dusty Bitzan of Brandon took the lead from the outside pole with Zach Johnson of Lowry running second and Danny Bayer of Elrosa running third.
Bitzan had a half straightaway led with 10 laps to go and it looked like another runaway. But the blistering pace which Bitzan set brought him into lapped traffic with four laps to go.
The lapped cars of Eric Lamm and Peter Loecken were battling for position, running the preferred higher line. Bitzan went low to try and get by, but clearly was not as fast as he was on the high line. As a result, his once substantial lead was erased quickly by Johnson.
In fact, when the white flag waved, Johnson had gotten to Bitzan’s bumper, and things got interesting. Very interesting.
Johnson found the momentum on the higher lane and passed Bitzan down the backstretch on the final lap — and made the move stick to pick up the thrilling win which was worth $1,000. Bitzan had to settle for second.
It was a good win for Corey Svor’s #6X team after a pretty frustrating summer which saw the team blow two motors earlier this year. It was his second victory of the season; he won the Advantage RV Tour stop at Greenbush Race Park in July.
Bayer was third followed by Matt Gilbertson of Montevideo, who started fourth and finished fourth. 2021 Viking champion Brady Gerdes of Villard was fifth.
The Wissota Super Stock feature was a caution-filled marathon that lasted 30 minutes — and there was a total of six laps raced. Caution after caution. The finish proved to be fantastic — a battle between young drivers Karter Reents of Glenwood and Jack Koranda of Bluffton to the finish.
I don’t know what the deal was for the supers — maybe antsy running for $1,000 — but it was a frustrating race to watch, at least til the ending. It took forever to get four laps of racing in, and laps were cut. Only 13 of the 22 starters finished.
Long-time veteran Jeff Flaten of Hancock looked on his way to a win in the super stocks. But the 15 car wouldn’t last as a mechanical problem ended his night.
The race was cut to eight laps from 16, with a warning that the next caution would cut the race to a green/white/checkered finish. Well, on the ensuing lap, 2021 Viking champion Trevor Saurer of Dalton and Brian Lee of Howard Lake were collected in turn four, both leaving on the hook. Saurer had went to the tail earlier after going pitside for some work.
That set up a green/white/checkered finish with Koranda leading, with Reents and Matt Miller of Glenwood on his tail.
Koranda had run the higher line the entire race, and Reents found some speed on the lower line and pulled beside the #22 at teh white flag. They stayed that way until turn four, where Reents had a surge on the lower line to pick up the victory. It was his second career win, but first win at Viking, and I know the Reents crew badly wanted to get a win at the half-mile.
Koranda capped off his best run in a super stock in second. Miller was third after starting eighth with Trent Brutger of Watkins running a solid fourth. Shawn Fernkes of Pennock started 10th but worked up to fifth at the checkered.
Speaking of Fernkes, street stock driver Eric Riley of Morris hopped behind the wheel of Fernkes’ second #99 car. I talked to Riley and he has some interest in maybe hopping into a super stock at some point, but there are no concrete plans. He’s had some ups and downs in his street stock this year but does have four wins.
The most controversial finish came in the Wissota Midwest Modified.
The #79 of Josh Roggatz of Montevideo got into the wall coming off of turn four and spun, collecting Scott Tofte of Madison and Connor Busse of Alexandria. Busse’s #33 machine had significant front end damage.
Shane Howell of Buffalo took the early with Travis Saurer of Elizabeth running second. Brendan Blascyk of Kensington was on the move and took over second.
Blascyk went to the outside to pass Howell for the lead, and looked on his way to the win. However he slowed suddenly on the backstretch and pulled in. I checked with him and he wasn’t sure if he had a right-rear tire going down or a broken shock, but the latter seemed to be the most likely culprit.
Howell assumed the lead and had some breathing room,, but Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls, Travis Saurer and Ron Saurer of Dalton were closing quickly. Ron Saurer made a move past Gronwold for second and was closing quickly as the white flag waved.
Down the backstretch, Ron Saurer got beside Howell and there was contact. In turn three, Ron Saurer bumped Howell and sent him high, costing him the lead. Ron Saurer would take the win with Gronwold second. Howell slipped to third. Travis Saurer and Justin Froemming of Elbow Lake rounded out the top five.
Well, Howell was not pleased at all with Ron Saurer’s move on the final lap and let him know by spinning him off the backstretch on the cool down lap. And honestly, Howell had a right to be upset as I looked at the replay, and it wasn’t a clean pass. You could call it hard racing for the win, too, it depends on your perspective. I was a little surprised Howell wasn’t penalized for the post-race scrape.
The tensions carried into the tech area with some shouting between the Saurer teams and Howell. Howell is an excitable guy, by the way — all you have to do is see him in victory lane after a win. Security stepped in and things calmed down pretty quickly before anything real crazy happened.
Howell had a good weekend at Viking — he was second on Saturday and third on Sunday. Saturday’s winner Brennan Gave of Princeton did not start the feature after having trouble in his heat.
Then, there was the protest angle.
A protest was filed against Ryan Satter’s #67 Wissota Street Stock prior to Saturday’s race program — which another driver has the right to do for $300. As a result, his car was impounded after Saturday’s race, and a tech official would have to watch the Satter team work on the car on Sunday.
The Satter car was tore down by tech officials following the show on Sunday night and was declared legal. I would have been very shocked if it had gone the other way, the Satter crew is a good bunch of folks with integrity. As result, if I am reading the Wissota rule book correct, Satter ended up getting $275 ($25 goes to the track) of the protest fee.
On to the race — Satter started on the pole and led the whole way to pick up his 20th win of 2021. On a normal year, he’d be right in contention for the national title, but with Parker Anderson recording 31 wins, the national points lead seems out of reach.
Kasey Ussatis of Nome, N.D., ran in second much of the race, but Anderson was able to work past him late in the race. Braden Brauer of Eyota, Minn., Saturday’s runner-up, worked into the top five with Justin Vogel of Brooten gin close pursuit.
Satter wasn’t challenged and picked up the win over Anderson, who was Saturday’s winner. Ussatis picked up his second top five of the weekend in third with Brauer and Vogel rounding out the top five.
Showing the strength of the field on the weekend, four of the top five finishers were in the top six in Wissota national points — Anderson (first), Brauer (second), Vogel (fourth) and Satter (sixth). Brauer and Anderson, by the way, are each only 17 years old.
Kevin Youngquist’s #00 Short Tracker has been sold — word is it is being bought by a family member — and if Sunday was his final night in the car, he made the most of it was another victory.
Youngquist started fifth on the field but quickly got to the front and opened up a nice lead.
Hunter Goulet and Curtis Huseth of Underwood were giving chase early, but on the move was Jacob Aarhus of Canby and Shawn Robinson of Dalton. Aarhus moved into the top four after starting fourth while Robinson, who started 14th, moved into third.
The red flag came out about two laps into it as Christian East rolled his #03 hard entering turn three.
Robinson took over the second spot but found a challenge from Matt Pederson of Lake Park.
Youngquist wasn’t seriously threatened as he picked up his 11th win of 2021. Pederson, Robinson, Aarhus and Goulet rounded out the top five.
Twenty-four of the 25 short trackers took the green on Sunday, and I think it’s a good bet they will be part of the weekly card at Viking next summer.
Carter and Rodin Win at Devils Lake
Jonny Carter of Lisbon won the Wissota Street Stock feature at Devils Lake Speedway on Sunday. Carter started seventh. Kyle Anderson of Jamestown was second, Ryne Uhrich of Langdon third and Trey Hess of Lakota was fifth.
Lucas Rodin of Marion won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature as he fights for the national title. Eric Haugland of Lawton was second, Reise Stenberg of Argusville third, Tanner Theis of New Rockford fourth and Nate Reynolds of Hoople was fifth.
Myles Tomlinson of Turtle Lake won the Western Renegade Non-Winged Sprints.
Steven Richards won the Pure Stocks for a second straight night.
—Congrats to Chris VanMil of Barnesville for winning the IMCA Sport Mod feature Sunday at North Central Speedway in Brainerd on Night 2 of the Mighty Axe Nationals. Justin Jones of Bemidji finished second for a second consecutive night.
—Jamie Trautner of Hendrum won the Wissota Modified feature Sunday at Greenbush Race Park.
Haley Lee of Starbuck finished second to Jake Smith in the Wissota Midwest Modifieds recording her best finish of the year.
Tucker Pederson of East Grand Forks topped Kyle Dykhoff of Perham for the Wissota Street Stock win, with Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls taking third.
Dexter Dvergsten of Greenbush won the Minn-Kota Lightning Sprint main event.
--Tyler Peterson of Hickson finished second in the Wissota Modified feature Sunday night at Casino Speedway.