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Saurer Wins Mid Mod Special at Viking; Jason Thoennes Back in Victory Lane


Travis Saurer in victory lane.

I ventured to Viking Speedway for the June 11 show which featured a $600 to win Wissota Midwest Modified special.

With the Steffes Street Stock Tour and Rebel Midwest Modified Tour racing this weekend, I expect weekly car counts at a lot of tracks in the region to be down some. There were still 16 midwest modifieds on hand at Viking which was a solid turnout, but street stock numbers were at eight. And right now, at western Minnesota tracks, the A mod counts are really down, particularly at KRA Speedway in Willmar and Fiesta City Speedway in Montevideo. ON Saturday Viking had nine cars with really good quality while down further south Madison had eight. There just aren’t many A mods around right now it seems in that area.

Randy Laage of Brooten set the pace early in the 20-lap Wissota Midwest Modified fewature with Josh Muzik of Alexandria and Jon Carlson of Brandon giving chase. I was keeping an eye on the row four starters, Brendan Blascyk of Hoffman and Travis Saurer of Dalton, two prime contenders. It wasn’t long before both were in the top five, along with defending Viking champ Shawn Olson of Alexandria. Carlson’s hopes for a top five disappeared when he slid off turn two. Laage held the top spot but Saurer was closing. Muzik, meanwhile battled with Blascyk and Olson for third. Haley Lee of Starbuck was also battling in the top five. After one of several cautions, right prior to a restart, Laage suddenly slowed and pulled in on the backstretch, and Saurer inherited the top spot. Muzik stayed with Saurer for a couple of laps but the four-time national champion assumed control after that on his way to his 510th career feature win. Muzik had his best run of the year in second with Blascyk taking third and Olson, always consistent, in fourth. Haley Lee of Starbuck had a solid run, finishing fifth for her second straight top five at the half mile.

Avery Anderson of Alexandria had trouble in his heat and didn’t finish but did a nice job going from 15th to sixth.

Jason Thoennes of Garfield came out of a two-year retirement in the Wissota Modified class this year but was still looking for his first win since coming back this year. He did so in an emphatic way on Saturday.

After a caution negated the opening start, Thoennes stuck his #52 MB Customs to the bottom, surged past Danny Bayer of Elrosa and Travis Saurer to the bottom of the half-mile and put on a thoroughly dominating performance for his first win of 2022.

Dusty Bitzan and Travis Saurer battled for second with Bitzan eventually prevailing and pulling away. Saurer, meanwhile had to battle with Brady Gerdes of Villard and Bayer for third.

McKenzie Mikkelson of Alexandria was right in the hunt for a top five as well; she’s impressed me in the 13X machine this year, returning to competition after a one-year hiatus as she and husband Ryan, had their first child in the summer of 2021.

Thoennes checked out for the lead and Bitzan had checked out for second. Gerdes worked past both Saurer and Bayer into third; a yellow might have made things interesting up front.

Thoennes won by 4.2 seconds in a complete thrashing of the field. Bitzan was second, Gerdes third and Bayer, already armed with a feature win this season, was fourth. Saurer held off Mikkelson for fifth. Trevor Saurer of Dalton had a rough start in the Wissota Super Stock feature, being involved in a pair of incidents in turns one and two that were not of his doing. But once the race got going, the defending Viking champion proved to be the class of the field.

Jim Critser of Cyrus had the pole, but spun in turns one and two the start, collecting Saurer and Bailey Rosch of Alexandria. Critser and Saurer were able to contain; Rosch, however suffered some front suspension damage and pulled in.

On the next start, Jon Crouse of Alexandria spun his 29 machine, and also involved were Carson Miller of Carlos, Jack Koranda of Bluffton and Saurer. Crouse left on the hook and Miller was also eliminated.

Jeff Crouse of Alexandria took the early lead with Koranda applying heavy pressure. Karter Reents of Glenwood settled into third with Matt Miller of Glenwood and Saurer in the hunt.

With most of the field on the bottom, Saurer found speed in the middle lane, and worked around Matt Miller and Koranda into the second spot. He then set his sights on Jeff Crouse up front.

Crouse did what he could to protect his lead, but eventually Saurer got a really good run on the higher line into the top spot, on his way to his second win of 2022. Crouse was second, about .08 seconds back, while Matt Miller was third. Koranda and Reents rounded out the top five. Only six of the 11 starters finished.


Eleven cars took the green for the Short Tracker feature, and trouble hit three of the contenders.

Maddie Swenson of Alexandria was the early leader with a host of cars, including Jeff Hanson of Barrett, Brent Engler of Barrett and Austin Raths of Donnelly, battling. Charging to the front from his seventh starting spot was David Wahl of Fergus Falls; he eventually took over the spot spot and opened up a nice lead.

Hanson, however, was eating into that advantage, and he got what he wanted with three to go – a caution. However, his ignition coil went out shortly after the last restart and he pulled in. Also suffering mechanical trouble was Engler, who was running in the top four. Raths also suffered trouble early in the race and left on the wrecker.

The #45W of Kevin Wahl of Fergus Falls was the car who would stand tall on Saturday, going around David Wahl on his way to the win. David Wahl settled for second. Swenson would finish a career-best third, Nic Hiles of Miltona was fourth and Christian Kast of Fairmount, N.D., went from 10th to fifth.

Defending Viking champion Ryan Satter of Dent took control early in the Wissota Street Stock feature and was never seriously threatened after that.

Jason Thimmesh of Garfield was game early and battled with Satter for a few laps but Satter opened breathing room. The best battle was a three car tussle between JJ Nieuwbeerta of Alexandria, Roger Berkness of Eagle Bend and Brady Gerdes, driving the 21W machine. Those three raced hard for several laps for third Satter won by more than three seconds. Hats off to Thimmesh, who was all alone in second and had a big margin for that spot. That was his best finish of the year. Gerdes won the battle for third. Berkness was fourth and JJ Nieuwbeerta was fifth. A shoutout to former I-94 short tracker champ Daniel Harstad of Fergus Falls. He had a horrible first year in the street stock class with mechanical woes in 2021, and got off to a late start this year waiting for an engine. He finished on Saturday and got some good seat time in. Avery Wendt of Brandon, who rolled his #44 machine a few weeks ago at Viking, returned to action on Saturday but did not make the start to the feature.

Lee, Hellman Win Tour Races at Jamestown

Cody Lee of Starbuck is now 3-for-3 on the Rebel Midwest Modified Tour this year, picking up the win Saturday night at Jamestown Speedway, which hosted the Don Gumke Memorial. Lee topped Corey Storck of Morris for the win. He also won at both I-94 Sure Step Speedway shows last weekend.

Jason Grimes of Jamestown was third, Dan Wheeler of Savage, Minn., was fourth and Travis Traut of Jamestown was fifth. Jaren Wibstad of Jamestown was the Hard Charger, going from 18th to ninth.

Geoff Hellman of Mandan won the Steffes Street Stock Tour stop at Jamestown over Justin Vogel of Brooten, who was runner up for the second straight night. Hunter Carter of Lisbon was third, Jaden Christ of Jamestown fourth and Jonny Carter of Fairmont, N.D., fifth. Vogel, who has finished in the top five at all five Steffes events so far, was the hard charger, going from 11th to second.

Hellman is the fifth different winner in five starts on the Steffes Street Stock Tour this season.

Austin Arneson of Fargo picked up his second win of the week, topping Kollin Hibdon of Pahrump, Nev., to win the IMCA Modified feature.

Schill Wins NLRA Show at Greenbush Race Park

Cole Schill of Hawley topped Ryan Corbett of Grand Forks for the NLRA Late Model feature win Saturday night at Greenbush Race Park. It was Schill’s first win of 2022.

Brad Seng of Grand Forks was third, Mike Greseth of Harwood fourth and Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks fifth.

Tyler Peterson of Hickson won the Wissota Modified feature on Saturday at Greenbush. Dustin Strand of East Grand Forks was second.

Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls topped Justin Olson of Thief River Falls to win the Wissota Midwest Modified feature.

Tucker Pederson of East Grand Forks picked up his second Wissota Street Stock feature win of the season, topping Trey Hess of Grand Forks for the win. Greg Jose of Grand Forks was third.


Notes

—Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck won the Wissota Street Stock feature on Saturday night at Madison Speedway. —Adam Sobolik of Grand Forks won the Western Renegade Non-Winged Sprint feature Saturday at Devils Lake Speedway.

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