Made it to Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon for Night 1 and the track's Memorial Day race. What a turnout of cars! 122 signed in, including 42 Wissota Midwest Modifieds. One of the legend cars came from Iowa, several cars from Central Minnesota and a few from South Dakota as well.
There were some outstanding performances in the feature races, as Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes (INEX Legends), Corey Storck of Morris (Wissota Midwest Modified), Jonny Carter of Lisbon (Wissota Street Stock), Neil Walton of Englevale (Mini Stock) and Bo Gregor of Lisbon (Pure Stock) picked up season-opening wins at the 1/4-mile oval.
It's an important race at Sheyenne as the cars go onto the track prior to the races to honor those who've served the United States as part of Memorial Day. It was a great way to start the evening.
Social distancing was practiced at the track. It's really not an issue in the pit area where the trailers are six feet apart but it's a challenge in the stands. Sheyenne answered that by adding another grandstand in turn four (it was brought out once last year for the NLRA show). The stands were measured for proper spacing between groups (a family of six could sit together, for example). The ticket booth was moved to allow for more spacing. In all, the track did a great job with social distancing for the fans in the stands.
The new dirt added last fall seems to be a perfect fit -- it is much more workable and has added a bit of banking to the corners. The racing surface, for night one of the season, was very good, which is a credit to Hunter Carter and all those who put many hours in getting the 1/4-mile ready. Smooth and multi-lane. What a great start to the year in that regard for Sheyenne.
The pit area now has a new wall on the backstretch along with two sets of bleachers. Looks great. There will be a RaceChaser blog later this week on the transformation of Sheyenne Speedway.
Now onto the racing.
The performance of the night came from Wilke (interviewed above). He had trouble in his heat race and didn’t finish and had to start 22nd out of 25 cars in the feature. Running a slightly higher lane than his competitors, he picked off several cars and was in the top 10 quickly, and soon was in the top five and in contention.
The battle for the lead was between Kindred driver Sean Johnson and Wishek’s Donovan Wiest. Wiest made the pass for the lead; however a caution came out, and since the race went back to the last completed lap, Johnson was back in front.
Wilke was in third at the caution and went to the outside of Johnson on the restart and took the lead, picking up his first-ever win at Sheyenne. Wiest passed Johnson for second while Terry Sahr of Jamestown was fourth. Kody King of Clear Lake, Iowa, made the long trek worth it with a fifth-place finish.
The Wissota Midwest Modified feature was action packed. Randy Klein of Lisbon — driving Jerry Lamb’s old Wissota A Mod car — took the lead from the front row but soon found pressure from Brandon Mehrwerth of St. Stephen, Minn.
Mehrwerth closed the gap and made a run at the lead. There was contact in turn four (I was sitting in turn four bleachers so the wall obstructed my view, so I didn’t see it); and all of sudden, this opened the door for Storck, who was closing in quickly on the top two.
Storck got by Klein as a result and inched ahead, Klein fought back to try and regain the spot but Storck had gained the spot. Klein didn’t give up but Storck didn’t flinch and picked his first career win at Sheyenne. Klein settled for second, Cody “the Cobra” Lee of Alexandria was third. Brandon Dolman of Alexandria ran well all night and finished fourth after starting seventh. Alex Langland of Casselton started 11th but worked his way to fifth at the checkered. Brandon Mehrwerth finished in eighth, one spot behind his sister Ashley.
Defending Wissota national champion Jonny Carter’s first night out in his brand-new car couldn’t have gone better. He started fifth on the 18-car field. Eric Riley of Morris, Minn., led early but soon was pressured on the outside from Todd Carter of Lisbon, who already has a feature win at Devils Lake this season.
Todd Carter took over the lead but Jonny Carter (interviewed below) — also the defending track champion at Lisbon — was on the move. He passed Todd Carter for the lead and picked up another win. Todd Carter ran a solid second. Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck, Minn., made a late pass of Jerry Lamb of Lisbon to place third; it was Dykhoff’s best finish ever at Sheyenne. Lamb was fourth and Billie Christ of Jamestown ran a solid race and finished fifth after starting ninth.
Neil Walton of Englevale started off the season strong, picking up the Mini Stock win. He started fifth and overcame early leader Daniel Harstad of Fergus Falls, Minn. Harstad finished second, with Kelby Anderson of Fort Ransom third, Larry Dickinson of Fergus Falls fourth and Kevin Youngquist of Barney fifth. Walton, by the way, won three features in 2019 at Sheyenne.
Defending track champion Bo Gregor started 11th in the Pure Stock field but put together an outstanding race to earn the season-opening feature win. Gregor methodically worked through traffic and got his #2 machine out front for the win. Dylan Steele of Jamestown was second — he has finished in the top five in all three feature events he’s run this season — with Zach Nord of Enderlin third. Brent Vetter of Wishek and Jayden Michaelsohn of Aberdeen rounded out the top five.
Sheyenne Week 1 Notes
--Austin Wimer of Gwinner and Cougar Axtman of Milnor have moved into the Legend class; Wimer was in the pure stocks last year while Axtman was in the mini stocks. Collin Compson of Valley City who raced in the Sling shots at Jamestown last year, also has moved into a Legend car. I think if Sheyenne can average 12-15 cars a night that would be a success.
--Scott "Rebel" Bintz's driving retirement lasted one year. The Jamestown pilot is driving the 1S car built by veteran modified driver Bob Sagen. Sagen re-built one of his previous cars and is running a Crate engine in that car -- which there ar2e not many of in the Wissota Midwest Modified class.
--There were three sets of siblings racing against each other in the midwest modifieds -- Haley and Cody Lee, Brandon and Ashley Mehrwerth, Nate and Zach Reinke.
--Old Man Jerry Lamb of Lisbon turned 70 in April is back behind the wheel of his #27 Wissota Street Stock. It is his 51st year behind the wheel.
—There was a bit of a scare at the end of the INEX Legends feature when Chuck Christ’s #79 car caught fire. He was able to escape unharmed but there was a pretty decent fire in his engine.