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  • tombergie01

Observations from the First Night of the Wissota 100

Mike Stearns (Mike Spieker/Speedway Shots)

I was planning to head to the Wissota 100 at I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls tonight but obviously the day of rain ruined that plan. What a dreary, wet day all across the region. Let’s hope the rain is done for like a month.

So, some observations about Wednesday.

Car counts were good -- 294 in the five classes. Eighty-four Midwest modifieds were on hand to lead the way, followed by 56 street stocks, 55 modifieds, 54 super stocks and 45 late models. Keep in mind more may show up on Friday too.

The street stock numbers were better than I expected; I was a little worried about that with the spec shock controversy that has surfaced. Not only were the car counts good but the quality was excellent.

Really, the quality was excellent in all five classes.

The qualifying feature winners were Landon Atkinson of Little Falls (late models), Mike Stearns of Hecla, S.D. (modifieds), Jeff Crouse of Alexandria (super stocks), Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls (Midwest modifieds) and Jim Randall of Rice Lake, Wis. (Street stocks). Those five are assured the inside pole for Saturday’s main features – plus they don’t have to try and qualify in what will be a hectic couple of days.

The drivers who finished in the top eight in each qualifying feature qualified for the main show on Saturday; however a driver could give up his/her spot and attempt for a higher finish – and better qualifying spot – by trying again on Friday (since Thursday was rained out).

And some pretty prominent drivers gave up their spots to try again.

Late models: Don Shaw (finished fourth in qualifier), Kyle Peterlin (seventh), Jeff Provinzino, Chad Becker and Jeff Massingill (finished outside top 10 but would have had a spot with drivers in top eight giving up their spots.

Modifieds: Austin Arneson (fifth), Tyler Peterson (sixth), Landon Atkinson (eighth) and Dan Ebert (would have had a spot after the cars in the top eight gave up their spot).

Super stocks: Dave Mass (fifth), Cole Searing (eighth); Don Eischens, Josh Zimpel, Kevin Burdick, Curt Myers (each would have had a spot after cars in top eight had given up their spot),

Midwest modifieds: Tony Leiker (sixth), Shane Halopka (seventh)

Street Stocks: Justin Vogel (fourth), Jim Gullikson (seventh) and Trevor Anderson (eighth)

That’s some pretty big names, not to mention cars who didn’t finish in the top eight. Too many names to mention.

Jonny Carter of Lisbon finished third in the street stock feature and elected to keep his spot. Kyle Langland of Casselton finished fourth in the Midwest modifieds and also kept that spot. In the Midwest modifieds, with 84 entrants, and so many quality cars, I’d be hard pressed to give up a spot. Making the show is a big deal and Langland was happy about it.

You have to be happy for a guy like Mike Stearns; a couple of years ago he suffered a tramautic brain injury in Fargo at curling event, and his racing future was pretty cloudy. To make a comeback like he has and get the pole for the Wissota 100 is pretty cool. Dave Cain, the defending mod champ, was second ahead of Shane Sabraski of Rice.

Gronwold will be tough to beat from the inside pole in the Midwest modifieds. Brennon Weight, who won at I-94 Speedway earlier this year, finished second. Cole Searing is my pick.

Jeff Wildung of Nassau finished second in the late models, and Dustin Bluhm of Herman was third. Ben Wolden of Fergus Falls was sixth. Shane Edginton of Winnipeg, who is second in national points, finished fifth and will keep his spot. Edginton finished third a year ago behind winner Ricky Weiss and Wildung.

Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck, my pick to win the street stocks, was second in the qualifier. Tommy Richards of Mondovi, Wis., was second and Tim Johnson of Brainerd was third.

There are some drivers I don’t get to see much are at I-94 for the 100. That includes Wisconsin modified driver Mike Anderson, who is a damn good runner in that area.

It was good to see some South Dakota late models travel into town as well. That includes Becker, the national point leader; former national champion Curt Gelling and Dustin Arthur, Ryan Engels and Trevor Walsh also were in town. Aberdeen legend Rich Thomas – who is in his late 70s – also is in town with late model. Gelling has raced at I-94 a few times this year. No sign of Kent Arment at this event yet, however. Also thinking a few Grand Forks cars might come down on Friday as well.

There aren’t many females racing in the late model class but Teresa Schuler of Gillette, Wyo., is one of them. She drives the S16 car. Montana driver Mindy McCord was in a late model but most recently has raced sprints.

I hope to get there on Friday in what will be a hectic day of racing. Now we need the weather to cooperate.

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