I was back at River Cities Speedway on Friday night. A pesky rain shower around 6:40 p.m. delayed the start by a half-hour. It didn't rain much, enough to keep the dust down and delay the opening race.
The two big stories of the night in terms of racing — the Steffes Street Stock Tour, which attracted a whopping 39 cars, and East Grand Forks veteran Joey Pederson picking up a popular win with a late move in the Wissota Late Models.
It was a hammer down, fast track with some character and it was a physically demanding night for many drivers. It was not a track for the meek, I’ll say. That downside is on track like that, you tend to see some beat up cars and tempers can flare -- which they did.
The Wissota Street Stocks started 26 cars on the field. River Cities Speedway sponsored a back-row challenge to the two drivers starting in the front row — meaning that if one of them took the challenge, they would have to start in the back. If they did that and won, it was worth a $3,000 bonus. No one to my knowledge took the challenge.
Andy Rossow of Florence, S.D. and John Halvorson of Warren shared the front row. Kyle Genett of Auburndale, Wis., started third but passed Halvorson for the lead.
One car having a great run was Greg Jose of Grand Forks, who started ninth. He had snuck into the top five and soon moved into second. Genett had opened a pretty good lead but each time he did a caution flew. Also running in the top five were Parker Anderson of Phillips, Wis., the tour point leader, and veteran Royce Jawaski of Horace. Quietly moving into the top five was Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls.
Jose’s great run ended with a mechanical failure, forcing him to pull in. Anderson cleared Halvorson for second and after a late restart, pressured Genett for the lead.
Anderson moved into the lead, but Genett wasn’t done. On the while flag lap he made an aggressive move for the win as he pulled aside Anderson. He got into the side of Anderson, who kept his composure and recovered to regain the lead late, on his way to his fifth tour win. That was some old school racing for the lead, and as a fan, you have to enjoy it. Genett was second; Blacklance, who was outside the top 10 for part of the race, finished a solid third. Jawaski capped off a great night in fourth. Jeff Nowak of Wausau, Wis., who started 15th, finished fifth. It was a great feature for the Wisconsin drivers — all three finished in the top five.
Halvorson ran in the top three much of the night but was shuffled back on a late restart; he probably deserved a better finish. One other note on the street stocks -- in the future I'd like to see longer than 8-lap B features for a special event like that, and a little more time between the B main and A main. Just my opinion.
Several cars made long treks through the field after going to the B mains:
—Billie Christ of Jamestown was the Hard Charger, starting 23rd and finishing sixth.
—Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck, a past winner of the Seitz race at RCS, started 21st and finished ninth.
—Kyle Anderson of Jamestown started 22nd and finished 10th.
—Todd Carter of Lisbon started 24th and finished 11th.
Brandon Fuller of Grand Forks set the pace for almost the entire Wissota Late Model feature, but it was veteran Joey Pederson of East Grand Forks, interviewed above, was stole the show late. Fuller, riding the high line, was flying in his F9 machine. Kevin Robertson of Enderlin put some pressure early but Fuller pulled away.
Dustin Strand of East Grand Forks was on the move, using the high line. He went around Robertson and soon closed the gap on Fuller, who was slowed by lapped traffic.
Fuller had some nervous moments in lapped traffic but held onto the lead with Strand giving chase. With three laps left, the caution flew for a Shane Edginton spin, bringing Strand and Pederson right into contention. Fuller got a good restart and had a little breathing room but another caution came out when Brad Seng spun in turns three and four (didn’t see the whole thing, just saw the #12 sitting there). On the ensuing restart, Strand got a great restart and went into turns one and two to pull the slider. However, both he and Fuller had to hit the brakes as they slid high, and Pederson saw an opening on the lower lane. He made his move and cleared Strand for the lead with two to go.
Pederson pulled away to a few car length advantage by the checkered flag, picking up a popular win. He is a respected veteran who races clean and he kept his nose clean on a hammer-down track with some character, and was in a position to make a move late.
Strand settled for second. 52-year racing veteran Tom Corcoran of East Grand Forks, who ran in seventh or eighth much of the night, made a great charge on the final restart and ended up third. Another case of a veteran driver keeping his nose clean and being in the right position to make a run on a late — and he scored a top three as a result.
Fuller probably deserved a better fate after leading the whole main event. The last restart was his undoing, but he settled for fourth. Robertson was fifth.
You kind of get the feeling that Jade Hastings of Grand Forks and Austin Pierce of Grand Forks will be battling at or near the front the rest of the way in the Buffalo Wild Wings NOSA Sprint cars at River Cities Speedway. Hastings was back in victory lane as he weathered the challenges of Pierce for his second win of 2021. Pierce, who started sixth, settled for second.
Nick Ranten of East Grand Forks had a great run, finishing third after starting eight. Brendan Mullen of Grand Forks and Wade Nygaard of Grand Forks rounded out the top five.
It was a rough start to the Wissota Midwest Modified feature, which featured 12 cars. Zach Bruer of Fisher set the pace early but Jory Berg of Grand Forks made the move into the lead. Flying around the higher lane was Lance Schill of Langdon, who passed Berg for the lead and went on to earn the win.
Berg ran a strong second with Bruer capping off a really good run in third. It was an adventurous race for Jamie Dietzler of Larimore; he started fifth, but was involved in an incident, requiring a tire change. He came back to finish fourth, but his #39 machine had some crumpled sheet metal on both sides. Taylor Jacobson of Roseau ran fifth. It was a tough night for the Schow brothers, Matt and Ryan of McIntosh, as neither finished the feature.
Some of the top Wissota Street Stock contenders had trouble in their heats:
—Dykhoff, the winner of the Seitz Memorial last year, lost the cap to his fuel cell at the beginning of the heat and didn’t finish.
—Hunter Carter of Fargo had contact with another car and spun; he suffered a left front flat. He finished the heat but that pushed him into a B main which he did not quality out of.
—Justin Vogel of Brooten, coming off of a big win worth more than $3,100 at KRA Speedway on Thursday, won his heat race but forgot to go directly to the scale after and was DQed. He took responsibility for it and honestly was kicking himself for it after the heat. He also did not qualify out of the B main. I thought he had a top five car at the least for the feature and he will bounce back.
—Kyle Anderson suffered a flat tire early in his heat.
You would have had a good feature with some of the cars that didn’t make the feature — Hunter Carter, Vogel, Joe Potter of Euclid, Rory Opp of Hannaford, Dan Aberle of Finley and Seth Klostreich of Grand Forks being among them.
—I am happy to see South Dakota drivers Andy Rossow of Florence and Ashley Wampler of Hecla follow the tour regularly this year. Both drivers made the A main on Friday and finished in the top 13. Another driver who is following the tour is Kyle Howland of Zimmerman, who also qualified for the A main.
—The second NOSA Sprint heat was a rough one. Shane Roemeling of Grand Forks simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time — a car got sideways in front of him and Roemeling had nowhere to go and ended up on his roof. It wasn’t a hard flip but the damage was enough to end his night. Moments later, Nick Omdahl of East Grand Forks, who was lea/ding the RCS points going into the night, lost a right rear wheel off of turns one and two — and the thing looked like it was a mile up in the air. Fortunately it didn’t hit anything. Omdahl was fortunate not to roll, either.
—Mitch Johnson's comeback in the Wissota Late Models has come to an end for this year. He has a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder that will require surgery in July. He plans to be back next year.
Aukland Wins Dakota Cat Shootout at RRVS
Matt Aukland of Glyndon won Night 2 of the Dakota Cat Mod Shootout at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo on Friday.
Aukland topped Dave Shipley of Argusville, who won Thursday at Norman County Raceway, for the win. Kollin Hibdon of Pahrump, Nev., was third with Tyler Hall of Fertile fourth after starting 11th. Jesse Skalicky of Fargo rounded out the top five.
Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes is rolling in the INEX Legends at RRVS. He started eighth and picked up the win over Sean Johnson of Kindred. Ryan Braseth of Ulen, another driving having a great year, was third with Ashton Spieker of Sabin fourth. Taylor Sargent of Gwinner, a rookie in the class, was fifth.
Tanner Engen of Detroit Lakes won the IMCA Hobby Stock feature for his second victory of 2021. Alyssa White of Fargo finished a season-best second with Todd Gettel of Mahnomen third. Andrea Jacobson of Fargo finished a season-best fourth while Brad Orvedal of Fargo was fifth.
Ryan Restad of West Fargo is humming along in the IMCA Sport Mods, picking up his third straight win at RRVS. Scott Jacobson of Fargo continues to run well at West Fargo with a second-place finish after starting 10th. Chris VanMil of Barnesville, Rich Pavlicek of Casselton and Torey Fischer of West Fargo rounded out the top five. For Fischer it was her second top five finish in as many nights.
Trent Grager of Sykeston, N.D., is a rookie in the IMCA Stock Cars but is sure running well. He won his xxth feature of the season on Friday after starting ninth. Rob VanMil of Barnesville picked up his second runner-up finish in as many nights with Travis Robertson of Moorhead taking third. Andrew Jochim of Glyndon ran a solid fourth and Rick Schulz of Horace is fifth.
Brandin Rekow of Ellendale won the IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Car feature. Ty Hansen of West Fargo was second.
Staples, Youngquist Lead I-94 Winners
Brad Staples of Herman picked up the Viessman Late Model feature over Ben Wolden of Fergus Falls Friday night at I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls. Sam Zender of Fergus Falls was third, Derek Quinn of Brandon fourth and Dustin Johanneck of Litchfield fifth.
Kevin Youngquist of Barney added to his point lead in the Short Trackers with a feature win, his second of 2021. Travis Roush of New York Mills was second, Brady Molter of Rothsay third, Jeff Hanson of Barrett fourth and David Wahl of Fergus Falls fifth.
Brendan Blascyk of Kensington out dueled Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls for the Wissota Midwest Modified feature. Dan Pederson of Underwood was fourth and Jeff Nelson of Perham was fifth.
Tyler Peterson of Hickson won the Wissota Modified feature over Brady Gerdes of Villard. Blake Jegtvig of Hawley was third, Dusty Bitzan of Brandon fourth and Joseph Thomas of Glyndon fifth. Several regular I-94 modifieds were missing as they were attending the Masters at Cedar Lake this weekend.
Ryan Satter of Dent won the Wissota Street Stock feature as he added to what is becoming an insurmountable point lead. Jeff Ekdahl of Oakdale was second, Ryan Pommerer of Oriska third, Tyler Klugman of Wheaton fourth and Bryan Crandall of Herman fifth.
The Wissota Late Models had the night off at I-94.