Vogel, Jegtvig Among Winners at Viking Speedway
Updated: May 31, 2019
I made the last minute call to go to Viking Speedway in Alexandria on Sunday. Thanks to Kasey Ussatis for saving me a seat as I got there around 7:30 p.m.
The weather was great -- no wind, and I didn't even put a jacket on. Nicest day of racing on the year. Hopefully a step in the right direction.
Here's a glance...
—Car counts at Viking were good on both nights of the doubleheader. There were 110 cars on Saturday and 102 on Sunday. The mods were slightly down from Saturday as a few South Dakota drivers returned home, but numbers held strong in the Wissota Street Stock, Midwest Modified and Super Stock classes. The Limited Lates had 16 in attendance.
—The final checkered flag flew at 10:16 p.m. according to my watch. About a 3-hour, 15-minute show. Not bad at all with 102 cars, and a red flag for a rollover in the midwest modifieds.
—The track seemed pretty smooth to me, and was pretty racy at times, especially for the Wissota Modified.
—Untimely cautions. Just as the midwest modified and modified features were heating up at front, the caution waved. One in the mod feature was because a driver struck a tire in turn four and pushed it out on the track. I hate those type of yellows!
—No NLRA late models. They were missed during this doubleheader, at least by this fan.
—Nick Bruder of Long Prairie suffered a rollover in his 092 Wissota Midwest Modified during his heat race. He wasn’t hurt but the car sustained damage, to the point where he only could take the green flag in the feature before pulling in.
Young Bryce Sward of Nelson took the lead from the outset in the Limited Late Models and checked out on the field. He built a big lead and it was a good thing, because Dustin Bluhm of Herman and Ben Wolden of Fergus Falls were closing the gap in a hurry. Sward won the caution-free race, with Bluhm, who started 14th, taking second and Wolden third. Bluhm and Wolden were absolutely flying late in the race.
I suspected it was going to be tough to beat Justin Vogel in the Wissota Streets since he was on the pole, and the defending national champion proved me correct with a good win. Andrew Bangsund of Alexandria ran a solid second. Eric Riley of Morris looked good in his 51 machine, moving into third late. One of the contenders, Shawn Koranda was having a good run but spun in turns one and two and called it a night with an apparent problem.
One note about the street stocks — a few of the pure stock drivers from previous years have moved into the class. The local street numbers at Viking are solid.
The Wissota Midwest Modified feature was a pretty good race. Austin Chyba of Browerville led for a while and was pressured by Corey Storck of Morris. Soon, Alexandria driver Shawn Olson worked into the lead with Storck giving chase. Olson, who started seventh, picked up the win with Storck second and Chyba third. One driver who impressed me was Travis Engebretson of Cyrus; he started 16th and worked his way to fourth and was right on the heels of Chyba for third at the checkered.
The Wissota Super Stocks feature came down to this for me — it wasn’t a matter that Dave Mass was going to win, it was more when Mass would move into the lead. It took about four laps, and the East Bethel driver dominated for the win. Jim Gullikson of Nowthen ran a good race and took second; he is a former Wissota Street Stock national champ.
Speaking of national champs, there were seven former Wissota national champs at Viking on Sunday — Mass (multi super stock national champ), Travis Saurer, (four-time Wissota Midwest Mod champ), Vogel, Blake Jegtvig (two-time Wissota Mod champ), Gullikson, Brock Gronwold (2007 Wissota Midwest Mod champ) and Ron Saurer (won the Mod 4 title in 2003).
Jegtvig had the pole for the modified feature, and I figured it would be tough to get past him. He built a decent lead, but as he encountered lapped traffic, Brady Gerdes and Dusty Bitzan closed the gap. Gerdes was flying around the high side, and with two laps left, was right not the tail of Jegtvig — and then the caution came out. Jegtvig made the adjustment on the restart, using a higher line, and survived another restart to pick up the win. Gerdes was second, Bitzan was third. Danny Bayer of Elrosa looked very strong and finished fourth.
Chris Mensen of Carlos also had a good run — he ran in the top five much of the race and was edged at the line by Zach Johnson for fifth.
Viking has a few rookies in the Wissota Modified class — McKenzie Gerdes of Alexandria, Blake Boelens of Alexandria, Ryan Gierke of Villard being the regulars. All three looked pretty solid, and I expect all three to just keep getting better and better in what is a very difficult class to hop into at Viking and I-94 because of very stout competition.
Viking has the Advantage RV Tour coming into down next week.
Casino Speedway in Watertown had great car counts on Sunday — 110 cars, including 21 late models. The late model feature was postponed because of a power outage at the track. Tyler Peterson of Hickson was leading the Wissota Mod feature but was spun after a car got into him (I saw the video)— and then charged with the caution. Seemed like a bad call to me, and doesn’t change the perception that certain South Dakota tracks take care of their own.