Travis Saurer, Gerdes, Trevor Saurer, Raths and Agen Win at Viking Speedway
I was back at Viking Speedway in Alexandria for Season Championship night on Saturday, with 85 cars in the pits.
Viking had a season-high 18 Wissota Modifieds on hand; no doubt the track got a boost from rainouts at Ogilvie and I-94 Sure Step Speedway. Viking got all five features done in about an hour and 10 minutes, a credit to both keeping the show moving and the drivers for racing clean. Viking, to be truthful, has run pretty efficient shows all season long.
There were some very tight point battles that went down to the wire.
Six points separated the top two drivers in the Wissota Midwest Modified field – Brendan Blascyk of Kensington and four-time national champion Travis Saurer of Elizabeth.
Both drivers were determined to get to the front. Austin Chyba of Browerville jumped out to the early lead but it wasn’t long before Saurer, who started beside Blascyk in the third row, was challening for the lead.
Blascyk wasn’t far behind and moved into second and the top two opened a bit of a gap on the field.
Chyba soon was challenged by Buzz Muzik of Alexandria f or the third spot as Saurer and Blascyk pulled away. Front-row starter Tanner Bitzan of Brandon settled into fifth.
Both drivers were doing what they needed to do to win the points – Saurer needed to win and finish ahead of Blascyk, while Blascyk needed to stay in the top two. It turned out to be a thrilling finish as Blascyk made a big charge on the lower line but fell a few feet short as Saurer would pick up the victory by .089 seconds. Blascyk, with his second-place finish, would wrap up his first career Viking track championship – by one point.
Chyba held off Muzik for third with Bitzan running fifth at the line. Eighteen cars started the feature race, and it went caution free and lasted about eight minutes. Nice job by those drivers.
The Wissota Modified points race saw Dusty Bitzan of Brandon lead Brady Gerdes of Villard by seven points entering the feature. Gerdes would rise to the top by the end of the night, however.
Brett Hoium of Villard jumped out to the early lead in the Wissota Modified feature over Travis Saurer of Elizabeth. Gerdes, who started sixth, was on a mission, and moved into the top three when the caution came out.
Gerdes moved into second and was on Hoium’s tail quickly. Jason Thoennes of Brandon was battling Saurer for third.
Wissota Mod rookie Justin Froemming of Elbow Lake, who has been very impressive the last few weeks, moved into the top five as well.
Gerdes would clear Hoium for the top spot, and would check out on the field after that.
The best battle was for third between Thoennes and Froemming. Another driver who was putting together a solid run was Tyler Kaeter of St. Cloud who had worked into fifth.
Bitzan, meanwhile, was mired back in traffic and was never able to make a lot of progress through the field.
The Gerdes lead grew to nearly six seconds by the checkered as he picked up the win, and his sixth Viking title. Viking track championship. Hoium had a strong car all night and was second while Thoennes fought off Froemming for the third spot. Kaeter held off the Iceman Don Eischens of Richmond for fifth.
Gerdes had as impressive a win as I’ve seen this season in the modifieds. He has won five track titles in a row at Viking and six of the last seven at the half-mile.
Trevor Saurer of Dalton entered the night with a 15-point lead over Matt Miller of Glenwood in the Wissota Super Stock points race.
The Wissota Super Stock feature got off to a crazy start as things went four-wide out of turn two, with Trent Brutger of Watkins going off of turn three and Jeff Crouse of Alexandria ended up spinning. The driver who actually got the worst of it, however, was front-row starter Travis Scott of Glenwood, who suffered a flat tire and had to go th e the pits for a change.
Russell Kostreba of Elk River was the early leader, but Saurer was on a mission to get to the front. Karter Reents of Glenwood , who won Friday at Fiesta City Speedway in Montevideo, was as well
Miller started eighth but was into the top five.
Saurer, Reents – and Kostreba ran three-wide for the lead before Saurer eventually inched ahead.
Kostreba was still fighting for the lead when he got into the frontstretch wall and got turned. Fortunately, no one came plowing into him, but Kostreba’s night was over.
On the restart Saruer opend up a few car lengths as Miller and Reents fought for second.
Bailey Rosch of Alexandria settled into fourth as Brutger applied the pressure.
Reents would eventually clear Miller for second and was slowly cutting into the lead. The caution would come out with four to go.
On the restart, Miller raced really hard on the high side and caught Saurer, and made a crossover move down the frontstretch and pulled beside Saurer with two to go; Saurer fended off the challenge. Reents fought back to take over second.
Saurer would win by .619 seconds and wrap up the points championship, his fourth straight at the half-mile.
Reents capped off a really good night in second. Miller was in third. Crouse did a nice job as well, he ran outside the top five most of the night but worked up to fourth ahead of Jim Gullikson of Nowthen.
The Short Tracker class saw David Wahl of Fergus Falls lead his father, Kevin, by 21 points in the standings.
The night would ended in heartbreak for David Wahl, who after a first-lap caution would pull his 18W into the pits with a mechanical problem. That opened the door for Kevin Wahl to make a run at the points title.
The fastest car on the night, by a lot, was Tristan Raths of Donnelly. Jason Kast of Fairmount, N.D. – who is the 2022 Buffalo River Speedway track champion in the Short Trackers – settled into second.
Kevin Wahl began to pressure Kath for second as Joe Martin of Willmar was pressuring Maddie Swenson of Alexandria for fifth.
Raths was easily the class of the field and opened up a more than four second lead. Kevin Wahl eventually took over second but Martin was his top pursuer.
Raths won by 4.149 seconds with Martin edging Kevin Wahl for second. Kevin Wahl, with his third-place finish, is the 2022 Short Tracker Champion at Viking.
Jason Kast finished a solid fourth with Swenson capping off a good night in fifth.
Ryan Satter of Dent had already clinched the track championship in the Wissota Street Stock class, entering the night with a 113-point lead (the feature winner in the class earns 100 points). Satter was leading his heat race when his #67 suddenly lost power. He would not make the call for the feature but still picked up his third straight championship.
Nitro Jimmy Williams of DeGraff, the all-time wins leader in the street stocks at Viking, was the early leader. But Ty Agen of Chippewa Falls was quick from the get-go, and soon was all over Williams up front.
Agen passed Williams for the lead and took control. Williams had a big advantage over Kyle Holwand of Zimmerman for third.
The car who made his way through traffic was Jeff Ekdahl of Oakdale, who started ninth but had moved into the top five and was pressuring Keegan Stueve of Greenwald for fourth.
Agen, only 16, would pick up his sixth victory of the season by 3.407 seconds over Williams. There is no doubt in my mind that running the Steffes Street Stock tour was a big benefit for Agen this season as he got a lot of seat time against good competition.
--I spoke with Viking President Justin Anderson of the Anderson racing team in the pits. Avery Anderson was debuting a Wissota Modified on Saturday, a DeVilbiss Racing Chassis. He has ran well in the #51A Wissota Midwest Modified but engine issues have plagued that car, and that happened again on Saturday. Justin said the plan is to have Avery in the A mod next year and have Maddie Swenson move from the Short Trackers to the Wissota Midwest Modified class.
--Chris Winter of Hoffman has raced a bit of everything in his career – Wissota Late Model, Wissota Super Stock, Wissota Midwest Modified (for a handful of nights) and Wissota Street Stocks. Recently he picked up a 2014 GRT Chassis from Austin Veralrud, who had been racing IMCA with it this season. He debuted the car on Saturday in the Wissota Mods. If you go to youtube, you can see one of the worst street stock crashes ever at Viking when Winter went flying off of turn one and rolled his #31 machine.
--I visited with modified driver Chris Mensen of Carlos, who has missed much of the season as he recovers from back surgery. He was driving a Lethal Chassis that Josh Thoennes had wrecked early in the season. That car had been repaired, and Mensen is driving that machine. Saturday was his fourth night out.
--There were several father-child racing teams on hand: Jason and Christian Kast (Short Trackers), Kevin and David Wahl (Short Trackers), Bryan and Brooke Hellerman (Wissota Super Stock and Midwest Modified), Ron and Trevor and Travis Saurer (Wissota Midwest Modified, Super Stock and Modified), Josh and Talan Thoennes (Wissota Modified).
Shaw Wins Howie Schill Memorial
Don Shaw of Ham Lake won the second annual Howie Schill Memorial Saturday night at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo.
Shaw topped Jason Strand of Portland for the $2,404 feature win. John Kaanta of Elk Mound, Wis., was third with Shane Edginton of East St. Paul, Man., taking fourth. Cole Babcock of Rothsay had good run, going from 10th to fifth.
Carson Macedo won the World of Outlaws feature at Red River Valley over Ryan Timms of Oklahoma City.
Dykhoff, Gierke, Lund Win ROC Qualifiers at Madison
Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck won the Wissota Street Stock feature Saturday night at Madison Speedway. It was Wissota Race of Champions qualifier night at the 3/8-mile oval.
Dykhoff topped Mike Jans of Clarkfield for the win. Justin Vogel of Brooten was third.
Long-time veteran Larry Lund of Brandon won the Wissota Super Stock feature.
Ryan Gierke of Villard made a late pass of Matt Gilbertson of Montevideo to win the Wissota Modified feature.
Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls picked up his first win in a Wissota Modified on Saturday at Greenbush Race Park.
Dexter Dvergsten of Greenbush topped Kelsi Pederson of East Grand Forks for the POWRi Minn-Kota Lightning Sprints feature.
Justin Olson of Thief River Falls won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature.
Tucker Pederson of East Grand Forks captured the Wissota Street Stock feature.
--Jaren Wibstad of Jamestown topped Zach Reinke of Lisbon for the Wissota Midwest Modified feature win Saturday night at Jamestown Speedway. Nate Reinke of Lisbon was third, Cole Neset of Fargo was fourth and Reise Stenberg of Argusville fifth.