Night 1 of the Wissota 100 at I-94 EMR Speedway is in the books. 259 cars were on hand for the opening night, which was also the finale of the Structural Buildings Wissota Late Model Challenge Series.
The street stocks (62 cars) were very close the same to a year ago, just one car short (and one pulled in later in the evening to make it the same at 63). It is as stacked a street stock field as you will see. The Wissota Late Models were up one, the modifieds were down two. The biggest drops came in the midwest modifieds, which was down 17 cars from Night 1 a year ago, and the super stocks were down 12. The midwest modifieds surprised me; the super stocks did not since their numbers have been down at most tracks all year. I might write a blog soon on my thoughts on the super stocks.
I actually think there will be more cars on Thursday in almost all of the classes, as some on the pre-registration list were not in attendance on Wednesday.
Wissota Late Models
Four of the top five cars in Wissota national points were in attendance – Tyler Peterson, Chad Becker, Kevin Burdick and Pat Doar. I don’t think there were any huge surprises in the late model field, and I expect the field to grow a little over the next two nights.
Former Wissota 100 late model champions in the field included Chad Becker (two-time) and Don Shaw. Those were the only two of the 44 cars who’ve won the Wissota 100 in the late models.
The late models were not running for spots in Saturday’s feature – they were running for the challenge series only. There was some confusion about that and probably needed better communication to drivers and fans on what the procedure would be. Ten cars will qualify both Thursday and Friday and 10 more on Saturday from the last chance qualifier, the way I understand it.
Outside pole sitter Pat Doar shot out to the lead over Shaw. Ryan Mikkelson of Alexandria started fourth but was fast. And he was closing on Doar, who had opened a pretty substantial lead on Shaw. Those two started hitting lapped traffic with 20 to go.
Dustin Sorenson and Shaw were in a great battle for third with Cody Overton, driving Shaw’s other car, running in fifth. Jeff Provinzino of Hibbing was sixth.
As things got dicey in lapped traffic, Mikkelson made his move for the lead and took over the spot with 16 to go. And while he opened a few car lengths on Doar, it was no runaway as lapped traffic was a challenge for the leaders. Mikkelson, with eight to go, went for a slider on a couple of lapped cars and made it stick. Doar also cleared those cars and kept poking his nose underneath the 15*.
One the final lap, Doar made the move as they encountered a lapped car who frankly should have just pulled in since he was lapped twice…but he would get by Mikkelson and while Mikkelson made a last dive into turns three and four, it wasn’t enough as Doar went on to the win, wrapping up another challenge series championship. I did a story on Mikkelson last year, and he badly wants a challenge series win – he was very close on at Grand Rapids and on Wednesday – and ran a tremendous race on Wednesday to take second by .558 seconds. Sorensen was third, Overton fourth and defending national champion Cole Searing of Huron, who started 12th, finished fifth to cap off a good run.
Twenty-four of the 25 starters finished and there were zero cautions, with a lot of battles for positions. If the racing is like that the rest of the week, it should be a fun few days at the Wissota 100.
Wissota Street Stocks
Qualifying for Saturday (Inside Row 1): Andrew Hanson, Kyle Genett, Jeff Nowak, Tim Johnson, Tommy Pogones, Geoff Hellman, Cody Kummer, Cole Greseth
Former national champion Tim Johnson of Brainerd and Tommy Pogones – making his debut in the streets – had the front row for Wednesday’s qualifier. Pogones won the Mod 4 portion of the AFCO Wissota MPH Invitational at Bemidji Speedway on Sunday.
Johnson, who has won a boatload of features at I-94 – figured to be tough up front, and he was. Andrew Hanson of Iron River, Wis., ran second with Jeff Nowak of Wausau, Wis., running third.
The Wolverine Justin Vogel, in a fight for the national points lead with Braden Brauer, moved past Pogones into fourth as Kyle Genett settled into fifth.
Hanson had all kinds of pressure from Nowak and Vogel with Genett right in the mix. Johnson would slow in turns one and two and slid high, and that opened the door for four cars to pass him.
Hanson, Nowak, Vogel and Genett had a big breakaway from the field. Vogel would gewt by Nowak for second and was all over Hanson with Genett closing fast.
It what turned into a damn good race, Hanson outlasted Vogel in a nailbiter to win by .210 seconds. Genett was just .156 seconds behind Vogel in third. Nowak was fourth and Johnson fifth. Defending national champion Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck finished sixth.
You do have the option of giving up your spot and trying again on Thursday, and two drivers elected to do so – Vogel, who is fighting for the national title and Dykhoff. That moved Cody Kummer of Medford, Wis., and I-94 champion Cole Greseth into the show.
Wissota Midwest Modified
Qualifying for Saturday: Matt Schow, Dan Ebert, Haley Lee, Derek Rieck, Jamie Norman, Scott Bintz, Terry Reilly, Taylor Bitzan.
Matt Schow of McIntosh and Jamie Norman of Battle Lake had the front row, and it was Schow – who swept both nights of the Seitz Memorial – taking the lead. Haley Lee of Starbuck moved into second.
Derek Rieck of Ortonville, one of my sleeper picks for the week, passed rookie Blake Adams – son of former mod national champion Buzzy Adams – for third.
Schow and Lee were on a rail up front, with Schow leading by .784 seconds. Lee had a 2.5 second lead on third while the best battle on the track was between Adams and Rieck for fourth. The defending Wissota 100 champion Travis Saurer, driving his dad Ron’s 42 machine, was also lurking in seventh. The first caution would wave for a three-car incident in turn four with seven to go.
Schow and Lee resumed their speed up front as Rieck was fighting Norman for third. Saurer had moved into fifth past Adams. The caution would fly with two to go and things got wild in traffic.
Schow had no issues up front, opening a 1.695 lead by the checkered. The car who made a drastic surge on the final restart was Dan Ebert, driving Matt Baker’s old #27 machine. He went from about ninth – and there was contact between several cars that I was surprised didn’t create a big mess – to edge Lee for second at the line. Rieck took fourth and Norman took fifth. Saurer was sixth, followed by Zach Reinke of Lisbon, another driver who made a late surge, and I-94 track champion Mike Nichols of Watertown.
I’m happy for Matt Schow; he and his brother Ryan are two of the nice people you will meet in racing.
Three drivers gave up their spots – Zach Reinke, Travis Saurer and Nichols – to try again tonight. That put Scott Bintz, Terry Reilly and Taylor Bitzan in the show.
Wissota Super Stock
Qualifying for Saturday (inside row 1): James Trantina, William Lund, Jordan Henkemeyer, Tristan LaBarge, Dustin Nelson, Ryan Kostreba, Tim Johnson, Russell Kostreba
Nine of the top 10 in Wissota national points were on hand. The front row for Wednesday’s qualifier was William Lund of Brandon and Jordan Henkemeyer of Sauk Rapids, a rapidly improving young driver.
Fourth starter Dexton Koch didn’t waste much time getting to the top spot; he is second in national points. After a debris caution with 11 to go, things got very racy from about second to sixth.
Koch was in pretty good shape but Henkemeyer was fighting James Trantina of St. Joseph for second. Sabraski and Lund had a great duel for fourth not far behind them.
Trantina would get past Henkemeyer who had Lund and Sabraski on his heels. Lund was working the high lane, one where he’s had a lot of success at I-94 in his midwest modified, and he and Sabraski ran side-by-side for several laps.
Koch won by a comfortable 1.864 seconds over Trantina with Lund edging Sabraski for third. Henkemeyer was fifth, with Tristan LaBarge of Kelly Lake taking sixth. Trevor Nelson of Warner, SD was seventh and Dustin Nelson of Ogilvie was eighth.
As far as who kept their spots, this is where it got interesting. Koch, second in the national points, declined his spot – which would have been the inside pole – to race again on Thursday. That was clearly a national-points driven call on his part. Sabraski and Trevor Nelson also gave up their spots to try again tonight.
Trantina now has the pole for Saturday and will be followed on the inside row by Lund. LaBarge, Dustin Nelson, Ryan Kostreba, Tim Johnson and Russell Kostreba are also in the show.
Qualifying for Saturday (inside row 1): Dan Ebert, Dave Cain, Parker Anderson, Zach Johnson, Brandon Copp, Dusty Bitzan, Brett Hoium, Brian Haben
Ebert served some notice on Wednesday night, picking up the qualifying win from the eighth starting spot. He qualified in the Midwest modifieds as well.
Former Wissota 100 and national champion Dave Cain of Corcoran ran well all night and finished second, ahead of Parker Anderson, who keeps making strides in the modified class. The Millenial Farmer Zach Johnson of Lowry finished fourth, ahead of Superman, Mike Stearns of Aberdeen.
Brandon Copp of Brule, Wis., was sixth, Dusty Bitzan of Brandon was seventh and Johnny Broking of Grand Rapids was eighth.
Stearns and Broking gave up their spots, and Tyler Peterson of Hickson, who finished ninth, declined a spot. All three will try again tonight. That moved Brett Hoium of Villard and Brian Haben of Appleton into the show.