Several Cars Have Good Nights at Opener of the King of the Dirt Special at I-94
It was a busy first qualifying night at the Dick Johanneck King of Dirt Special at I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls. A field of 244 cars was on hand to kick off a big weekend at the 3/8-mile oval. This is a cool event, not only because of the $120,000-plus purse being offered but the fact there are no driver or car entry fees.
Car counts were very good in the modified, super stock and midwest modified classes and solid in the late model and street stock divisions. A solid 23-car Limited Late Model field was on hand, not bad considering only three tracks — I-94, Viking and Madison — run the class weekly. Six of the cars came from South Dakota; they run periodically at Casino Speedway in Watertown throughout the summer. I thought there might be a few more Short Trackers but 23 isn’t bad.
The first two nights of the event include qualifying races that are feature-length (18 to 25 laps, depending on class). The passing points from each night are combined to determine the top 20 starters for Saturday’s feature races. The top 12 in passing points in each class will run Fast Dashes on Friday after the qualifying.
So, the draw was huge. You could draw poorly and end up in the back of a loaded heat; or you could draw well and be able to pass some cars in your heat. It all depends on which heat.
Bryan Crandall of Herman won the first street stock qualifier from the pole, which was good to see. Steffes Street Stock champion Jonny Carter of Lisbon was second after starting fifth, while I-94 and Viking track champion Ryan Satter of Dent was third after starting 10th. Todd Carter of Lisbon had a good race in terms of passing points, finished fourth after starting 12th.
Former Wissota national champion Jim Gullikson of Nowthen won the second street stock qualifier. Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck was second after starting seventh. The third qualifier was won by Justin Vogel of Brooten, who has won the last two Wissota 100s at I-94. Gavin Rowland of Ogilvie made good run to finished second after starting ninth. Andrew Bangsund of Alexandria finished third after starting seventh.
Watertown, S.D., driver Mike Nichols won the first midwest modified qualifier over Shane Sabraski of Rice, who was driving Randy Laage’s EZ1 machine. There were several cars who moved up in that race — Corey Storck from sixth to third, Matt Baker of St. Joseph from ninth to fourth, Reise Stenberg of Argusville from 10th to fifth. Hunter Hougard of Warren went from 16th to sixth while Sam Zender of Fergus Falls went from 12th to seventh.
Enderlin, N.D., driver Kyle Langland won the second qualifier from the inside pole. Two cars made big moves through the field, however. That included Brendan Blascyk of Kensington, who started 14th and finished second and Cody “The Cobra” Lee of Starbuck, who started 15th and finished third. Both piled up a good number of passing points in their qualifier. Austin Chyba of Browerville finished fifth after starting 10th in qualifier two.
67-year-old Ron Saurer of Dalton won the third midwest modified qualifier from the outside pole. Shane Howell of Buffalo finished second after starting 10th while Shawn Kelley of New Richmond was third. Justin Froemming of Garfield was fourth after starting 12th while Brennon Weight was fifth after starting 11th.
Ryan Mikkelson of Alexandria won the first Limited Late Model qualifying heat from his fifth starting spot which should give him a good night passing-points wise. Same goes for Brad Staples of Herman, who started eighth and finished second. John Kaiser of Lake Norden, S.D., also made up some ground, moving to sixth from starting 11th.
Sam Zender of Fergus Falls won the second heat, but Ben Wolden of Fergus Falls picked up some valuable passing points, finishing second after starting sixth.
Brandon Duellman of Winona won the first Wissota Super Stock heat after starting third. Scott Lawrence of Superior, Wis., was second after starting sixth. Tommy Richards of Mondovi, Wis., started 13th but finished fourth to earn a good number of passing points.
Multi-time national champion Dave Mass of East Bethel won the second super stock qualifier after starting seventh, topping Tim Johnson for the win. 2019 Wissota national champion Kevin Burdick of Proctor finished third after starting 11th while Tristan LaBarge of Kelly Lake was fourth after starting 12th. Jordan Henkemeyer of Sauk Rapids was fifth after starting 13th.
Sabraski, my pick to win the super stocks this weekend, won the third super stock qualifier with a big-time run from 12th to first, which is a great opening night in terms of points. Jeff Flaten of Hancock was second while Don Eischens of Richmond was third. Josh Zimpel of Braham, who has wins at I-94 and Viking this season, was fourth.
Shane Sabraski won the first modified qualifier from the pole with Brent Dutenhofer of Watertown taking second. Michael Greseth of Harwood finished third after starting seventh while Brady Gerdes of Villard finished fourth after starting ninth. Another driver who helped his passing points was Jody Bellefeuille of Duluth, who finished fifth after starting 13th.
Tyler Peterson of Hickson, fresh off of his win at the Seitz Memorial, won the second modified qualifier ahead of Zach Johnson of Lowry. Johnny Broking of Grand Rapids, who started eighth, finished third, while Dan Ebert of Lake Shore finished fourth after staring seventh.
Don Eischens won the third modified qualifier over 2019 Wissota 100 champ Landon Atkinson, who started fourth. Dave Cain of Corcoran was third after starting eighth.
Track champion Dave Mass of East Bethel won the first late model qualifier with Cole Schill of Horace taking second. Shawn Kirwin of Morris finished third after starting seventh. Dan Ebert of Lake Shore made a big run through the field, taking sixth after starting 15th, while Dustin Hapka of Fargo was seventh after starting seventh.
Shawn Meyer of Wahpeton won the second late model qualifier over Landon Atkinson of Little Falls. Jeffrey Massingill of Keewatin, who started 11th, finished third to put together a good night in passing points. Cory Tammen of Moorhead was fifth after starting 10th.
Corey Mehrwerth of Sauk Rapids had a good run in the first Short Tracker heat, finishing second after starting eighth. Randy Thompson of Lake Park won the heat. Cole Greseth finished third after starting sixth while Hunter Goulet of Fargo finished fifth after starting 11th.
Track champion Daniel Harstad of Fergus Falls won the second Short Tracker qualifier. Not only did he win, but he had a great night passing points wise; he started 10th. Matt Pederson of Lake Park was second.
Night 2 with more qualifying races begins at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at I-94.