Night 1 of the Dirt Race Central Street Stock Tour presented by Shocker Hitch kicked off its 2023 season at Viking Speedway in Alexandria on Saturday night with 31 cars on hand.
Tour director Benji Froemke was pleased with the car counts, but also pleased with the depth of the field, and I would concur. A great first night for the tour.
Car counts were good at Viking, with 20 modifieds, 15 Short Trackers, 14 Wissota Midwest Modifieds and 12 Wissota Super Stocks on hand. The wind and 80-plus degree sunshine put a big test for track prep for Viking officials and by the end of the night the dry slick was taking its toll.
If you are a Wissota Street Stock fan, you’ve probably heard of Nick Traynor of Barron, Wis. Traynor has won the annual Little Dream Street Stock Special two of the last three years at Rice Lake Speedway. With those two wins alone, he won more than $54,000. On Saturday night he rose to the top of a stacked field at the Dirt Race Central Street Stock Tour main event.
Defending DRC tour champion Justin Vogel of Brooten knows Viking Speedway as well as any street driver, and he went to the top line immediately and surged into the lead from fourth on the first lap. Vogel went to the outside and went around front-row starters Kolby Kiehl and Nick Traynor, both of Barron, Wis. Kiehl settled into second.
There was a near huge pileup in turns one and two with 18 to go as the #22W of Jimmy Nitro Williams went around with a couple of other cars spinning. Williams was sent to the tail but fortunately there was no major damage for anyone.
Vogel set the 10 machine up high while Kiehl and Traynor were racing hard for second, with Jeff Ekdahl of Oakdale of settling into fourth and Hunter Carter of Mapleton, N.D., moving into fifth. Ekdahl and Carter began to go side-by-side for the fourth spot as Traynor moved into second. Braden Brauer of Eyota, who won Friday at I-94 EMR Speedway, was right behind Ekdahl who had slid to fifth after Carter got by.
Traynor ran a lower line cleared Kiehl for second and was starting to close the gap on Vogel. Brauer was all over Ekdahl in a battle for fifth.
Traynor caught Vogel worked the low line effectively, and with nine to go made the pass for the lead. Kiehl was also starting to close the gap on the top two with Carter solidly in fourth. It appeared the top line went away a little and that impacted Vogel, who had blasted to the lead using that line.
Traynor opened a few car lengths on Vogel, who now had his hands full with Kiehl. Kiehl took over second with five to go. The question was if Kiehl could reel in Traynor.
Carter began to battle Vogel for third as the top two opened up breathing room on the field as the caution waved for a spin in turn two with two left. On the restart a multi-car pileup took place in turns one and two which ended the night for Roger Berkness of Eagle Bend and B feature winner Derek Wettstein of Little Falls.
On the restart the battle for second intensified as Brauer went to work on Vogel as Kiehl slid back. Traynor, meawhile opened up several car lengths on the field to pick up his first DRC Street Stock Tour win. The final margin was 0.798 seconds. Brauer had gotten by Vogel to finish second with Carter taking fourth. Andrew Hanson of Iron River, Wis., who started 12th, climbed into fifth by the finish to cap off a good run.
A shoutout to Eric Riley of Morris. He did not start his heat race, forcing him to the back of the B main. He finished second in the B after starting eighth; in the feature he went from 22nd to ninth to earn Hard Charger honors.
I thought it was a good, clean race with a lot of battles in traffic.
The feature races were kicked off by the 14-car Wissota Midwest Modified main event. From the outset, it was clear Taylor Bitzan of Brandon was the car to beat. He surged out into a comfortable lead.
Former Viking champion Shawn Olson of Alexandria settled into second with Travis Engebretson facing some heat from Buzz Muzik of Alexandria for the third spot.
The biggest headache for Bitzan on this night would be cautions which erased comfortable leads. Tim Kanten of Milan was having a good run after starting eighth; he had moved past Muzik into fourth.
ON a late restart Engebretson tried to poke his nose underneath Bitzan for the lead in turn two but Bitzan quickly established the momentum and opened up the lead and would go on to his first win of the year. It was announced that it was his first career win, but he had two feature wins at Viking in 2022. Olson, Mr. Steady at Viking, was second with Engebretson capping off a good run in third. Kanten and Muzik had good nights in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Jason Kast was the early leader of the Short Tracker feature but Kole Kampsen of Belgrade, the Week 1 winner at Viking, was soon putting pressure. Hunter Goulet of Fargo, driving a 701 machine, was right there as well.
Kampsen took the lead with nine to go but had to contend with Goulet. Kevin Wahl of Fergus Falls started to apply the head to Kast for third with John Heacox of Lisbon, N.D. in fifth.
Goulet took the lead with eight to go but Kampsen didn’t back down. A caution waved with four laps to go for a stalled car on the backstretch. On the restart Goulet opened three car lengths on Kampsen as Wahl was being chased by Blayne Sweet of Sauk Centre.
Kampsen, for the second straight week, was the beneficiary of a post-race disqualification. Goulet crossed the line first; but he lost his muffler and that is an automatic disqualification. Kampsen was the winner with Wahl in second. Jason Kast was in third, his son Christian Kast of Fairmount, N.D., fourth and Tristan Raths of Donnelly taking fifth.
Trent Brutger of Watkins was the early leader in the Wissota Super Stocks but Jeff Crouse of Alexandria stuck his #29 car to the bottom and soon charged into the lead.
Making a charge into the top three was Karter Reents of Glenwood, who was moving to contention.
Bailey Rosch of Alexandria was in third an was trying valiantly to make the high lane work. Also near the top five were the Kostreba twins, Russell and Ryan.
After a caution Reents went to work on Brutger for second and with four to go make the pass. Brutger didn’t give up and stayed close with Russell Kostreba hovering behind.
Crouse was not going to be denied as he went on to a 1.815 second win over Reents. Crouse didn’t win a feature in 2022, only racing 12 times. The feature win was his first at Viking since July 24, 2021.
Russell Kostreba finished in third after starting fifth; Ryan Kostreba, who did not finish his heat, started 11th but made it up to fourth place. If you have never seen the trailer the two Kostrebas bring their super stocks in, check it out, it is one of the most unique in racing. Brutger rounded out the top five.
Multi-time Viking champion Trevor Saurer of Dalton, the Week 1 winner, was uncharacteristically out of contention on Saturday, finishing in eighth place. He will be back, trust me.
A 20-car Wissota Modified feature capped off the night as Dusty Bitzan of Brandon took the early lead. Travis Saurer of Dalton was into second with Jason Thoennes of Garfield settling into third.
Multi-time Viking champion Brady Gerdes of Villard was fast all night on the bottom. He worked into fourth and soon got by Thoennes for third. Week 1 winner Justin Froemming of Alexandria moved into the fifth spot.
Bitzan had a straightaway lead on Saurer with 13 to go. Saurer had his hands full with Gerdes with Jason Thoennes very close behind.
The bottom was the place to be for the mods as the track rubbered up. The only thing that might appear to interfere with a dominating win for Bitzan was lapped traffic but that wasn’t a deterrent. The lead was more than four seconds as he was in his own area code.
However, that lead would disappear with a caution as Saurer suddenly slowed with a flat right rear with four left. That would bring Gerdes to Bitzan’s bumper, and the caution was the last thing Bitzan wanted to see.
Things were far from over.
Bitzan had a few car lengths on Gerdes after the restart. However just as the white flag waved, Gerdes slowed with a flat tire and dropped from contention. Then as the cars were going down the backstretch, Bitzan slowed with a flat right rear of his own, and the veteran Thoennes surged past to take the lead in turn three and the win on the final corners. It turned into one of the craziest finishes to a race I’ve seen in a long time – all three drivers running in the top three suffered flat tires over the final four laps as the dry slick flexed its muscle.
Thoennes has over 100 feature wins in his career, but I’m not sure he’s ever won a feature that way. It proves you race to the checkered no matter what happens over the race. Bitzan, despite the flat, still finished second. Brendan Blascyk of Hoffman – who started 13th – would finish third with Josh Thoennes of Nelson taking fourth. Tony Schill of Oakdale went from 16th to fifth. IF you left that race with four laps to go, well, you missed a lot.
---Two female drivers were in the Wissota Street Stock class – Ashley Wampler of Hecla, S.D., and Alyssa White of West Fargo. Wampler has been a regular on the tour the past couple of years and advanced from the B main to the feature; she had a decent run to 17th from 24th. White is a former competitor in the IMCA Hobby Stock class at Red River Valley Speedway and Norman County Raceway and is a first-year street stock driver.
--An interesting name signed in for the modifieds – Seth Brede of Kandiyohi. He’s a former winner of the Minnesota Mod Nationals at Viking when he edged Scot Danzeisen in a thrilling finish in 2015 at Viking and also has won the Fall Classic. HE was driving the 6SL machine and finished eighth after starting 14th. According to myracepass Brede had not raced since 2018 until he made his debut at Fiesta City Speedway on May 19.
--There were six Wisconsin cars on hand in the street stocks, including the winner Traynor. Four states were represented in the class; the long haul award went to Nick Emon of Rapid City, driving the #7Z machine.
--Tanner Bitzan of Brandon went for a wild ride at Viking last week, landing on his roof just south of the old bathroom building off of turn four. They got the car fixed in time to race at I-94 last night, and this week was much more uneventful for the 42TB machine. He finished eighth after starting 10th but most importantly the car was in one piece. He is Taylor’s younger brother.
--Haley Lee of Starbuck finished second in the Wissota Midwest Modified feature on Friday at I-94, which considering her luck, was a big boost for that team which has been plagued by bad luck in recent years. She was a DNF unfortunately on Saturday.
Blacklance, Olson, Halvorson and Edginton Win at Greenbush
Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls won the Wissota Modified feature Saturday night at Greenbush Race Park, which opened the 2023 season. Two-time defending national champion Tyler Peterson of Hickson was sevond. Joseph Thomas of Fargo was third, Ward Imrie of Winnipeg fourth and Dustin Wahl of Greenbush fifth.
Justin Olson of Thief River Falls won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature at Greenbush with Dylan McCaughan taking second. Chris Edmonds of Larimore was third with Aaron Blacklance taking fourth. Hunter Hougard of Warren, who has returned to racing in 2023 after taking a couple of years off, was fifth.
John Halvorson of Warren won the Wissota Street Stock feature over John Current of Bemidji. Greg Jose of Grand Forks was third after starting 11th while Terry Blacklance of Thief River Falls was fourth.
Shane Edginton of East ST. Paul, MB won the Wissota Late Model feature over Cole Schill of Hawley. Mike Greseth of Harwood was third, Tyler Peterson fourth and Bryce Sward of Nelson was fifth.