Casino Speedway in Watertown hosted the Structural Buildings Wissota Late Model Challenge Series on Sunday with 26 late models on hand for the 11th annual Marilyn Olson Memorial. And once again, the 1TPO of Tyler Peterson of Hickson was standing alone at the top.
Several of the cars who had followed the first three nights of the tour were not in attendance on Sunday. Casino, which is a tight, ¼-mile bullring, is a different animal. And not every driver is a fan of that kind of racing, where there is some bumping and banging sometimes. But on the other side, others are not a fan of bigger tracks, like Viking Speedway in Alexandria, because of their length. It’s a personal preference.
Thanks again to the Good family and also to Darin Stein for their hospitality, I look forward to getting back there a few more times this summer. I also have feature stories in the weeks ahead on drivers Tony Konold and Jason Marko.
Casino also paid tribute to former driver and long-time announcer Troy Benson, who passed away recently. Troy’s father, Earl, was the long-time owner/promoter of Casino.
In the 40-lap late model main event, Peterson took the lead from the green flag as the John Kaanta of Elk Mound, Wis., battled with defending national champion Chad Becker of Aberdeen for third.
The Hermantown Hammer, Darrell Nelson, moved into fourth behind the top three.
The first caution waved came when Alexandria driver Ryan Mikkelson was turned around in turn three; he left on the hook.
Kaanta and Becker would seem to exchange second, depending on the restarts. Becker had a scare about midway through the race when Blake Swenson and Curt Kranz were turned in turn four; he spun to avoid contact. Swenson was done but Becker and Kranz, who has a win earlier this season at Casino, were able to continue.
When running second Becker tried about every line on the track to close on Peterson, but it wasn’t happening. Kaanta was facing a battle with Nelson for the third spot.
Sam Mars of Menomonie, Wis., had worked into fifth. Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., who has three series wins and leads the points, was running outside the top five.
One car who was moving close to the top five was Jeff Massingill of Keewatin, Minn.
The big one happened with 16 to go, and it left Trevor Walsh, Jayson Good and Ryan Engels with very beat up race cars; all three left on the hook.
Cole Searing of Huron, the defending challenge series champion, had started 16th but was quietly moving up some spots in traffic, and avoided a couple of the pileups that happened earlier.
On a restart with eight to go Peterson surged to a 3-4 car length lead with Kaanta clearing Becker for second. Another caution would wave with four to go; on the restart Kaanta made a run into second with Becker moving into third. Trevor Anderson of Watertown ran in or near the top five all night and was now in a fight for fifth with Massingill and Jake Redetzke of Eau Claire, Wis.
Peterson would go on to his second straight challenge series win, this one by 1.617 seconds, over Kaanta, a five-time series champion. Becker settled for third with Nelson taking fourth. Nelson, the 2021 series champion, finished in the top six in all four series races this week.
Anderson would work back into fifth by the final caution. Searing was the Hard Charger, going from 16th to sixth. Sixteen of the 25 starters finished.
Peterson led 68 laps in his two wins and now has four late model feature wins this season. Much like former mod driver Mike Greseth, he has made a very smooth and quick transition to the late models and will be a factor at bigger races late in the year, I predict.
The best race of the night was the Wissota Street Stocks. Nine of the 10 cars on hand made the call for the feature.
Cory Giessinger of Watertown stormed to a big lead over Tyler Lamb of Clark, S.D. Jason Marko of Watertown battled Andy Rossow of Florence for the third spot while defending champion Maria Broksieck of Goodwin moved into fifth.
With 13 to go Giessinger spun in turn four; he would pull in. After that, it turned into a fierce four-car fight between Lamb, Rossow, Marko and Broksieck.
Rossow got beside Lamb for the next few laps with Marko and Broksieck all over the top two. Broksieck and Marko would make a bit of contact going down the backstretch – a racing deal is my view – and that left Broksieck’s 14 machine with a flat tire. She would change it and make it back out at the rear of the field.
On the restart, Marko made a run at Lamb for the lead as Rossow was right in the hunt. Broksieck needed just three laps to get back to fourth.
Lamb and Marko were side by side as the white flag waved, and Marko would surge into the lead, and go on to a .512 second win over Rossow, who had snuck into second. Broksieck edged Lamb at the line for third with Dylan Hartley of Brookings finishing fifth.
Thirteen Wissota Midwest Modifieds were on hand and it turned into a battle of the Nichols brothers at the end.
At the start, Tommy Nichols of Watertown jumped out to the lead, although Cory Berquist of Huron was applying heavy pressure on the low line. After a caution, Tommy Nichols faced pressure from veteran Scott Hansen of Garden City, who found some speed on a higher line. Mike Nichols, already armed with three wins this season, moved into the top five.
Lane Johnson of Miller, S.D. also was quick and battling for the top five, along with Adam Brotherton of Huron.
Mike Nichols had worked his way to second and was starting to pressure Tommy Nichols using the low line. Johnson had moved into third.
Tommy Nichols would survive one last charge from his brother to win by .555 seconds; it’s his second win of the year. Mike Nichols was second with Johnson taking third. Hansen and Brotherton rounded out the top five.
Only six Wissota Hornets were on hand, and Bradley Rossow of Florence was the car to beat from the get-go. He would survive Adam VanDerostyne of Canby for the feature win. Brayden Begalka of Elkton was third.
--I visited with Luke Lick of Rosholt, SD. He sold his Wissota modified earlier this year and is back in the Midwest modified class in a car he already had in his shop. Lick is a farmer in NE South Dakota and is a busy guy in the spring. It was his second night out and for a while ran in the top five before settling for eighth in the main event.
--Wade Tirrel of White had smoke pouring out of his #58 street stock in his heat race, and would require a push to the pits. It was announced as a transmission issue and his night was done; a tough break for a car who usually is in or around the top five.
--Broksieck has seven track championships in her career, including the 2022 Casino title. If you want to know why she has had that kind of success, look at Sunday: she had a flat with eight to go, changed it, went to the rear (which was eighth), and by the checkered had worked back to third. I visited with her and one reason she is so tough at Casino is her ability to get a run out of the ditch, particularly out of turn two. She is a very popular driver at Casino, as one could hear by the cheers when she came back on the track after changing her flat.
--It was a tough night for the Swenson family in the late models. Chuck had mechanical issues that started during his qualifying laps, and would pull in shortly before the green in the late model feature. Blake was caught up in a spin in turn four and would pull in.
Andrea Jacobson Picks Up First Career Feature Win at Buffalo River
Andrea Jacobson of Fargo picked up her first career feature win on Sunday, capturing the IMCA Hobby Stock feature win at Buffalo River Speedway near Glyndon. Todd Gettel of Mahnomen finished second.
Tyler Hall of Fertile outlasted Allen Kent of West Fargo to pick up the IMCA Modified win Sunday at Buffalo River.
Rick Pavlicek of Casselton won the IMCA Sport Mod feature over Bemidji driver Justin Jones, who went from 10th to finish second.
Dexter Dvergsten of Greenbush topped Dylan Langevin of Thief River Falls for the POWRi Minn-Kota Lightning Sprints feature victory.
Shawn Wiest of Fargo beat Collin Compson of Valley City for the INEX Legends win while Shawn Beto of Wahpeton picked up his second win in four days by topping John Heacox of Lisbon in the Short Trackers.