Great action at Viking SpeedwayAll five divisions battled hard as Berends, Saurer, Eischens, Sabraski and Johnson earned feature wins
By: By Ray Beste, All The Dirt! Racing News, Alexandria Echo Press
With the 5th Annual Minnesota Modified Nationals slated for next weekend, 27 of the toughest WISSOTA Modifieds in the country congregated Saturday night at Viking Speedway with Shane Sabraski ultimately garnering top honors.
Zach Johnson collected his first Viking Speedway win of the season in WISSOTA Late Model competition while Don Eischens reigned victorious in the WISSOTA Super Stock division.
Travis Saurer led wire to wire for an impressive feature win in the WISSOTA Midwest Modified division while Travis Berends collected his second Viking Speedway victory of the season in the WISSOTA Street Stock finale.
The WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds were first to roll out onto the speedway for their 15-lap main event. Travis Saurer took the lead from his outside row one starting position as the field began to get busy behind.
Eighth starter Jeremy Kerzman made some beautiful moves early on moving into the second spot just four laps into the event. Saurer held the advantage while Kerzman did his best to reel him in. Row eight starter Shane Sabraski used the extreme bottom side of the speedway as he picked cars off one by one.
A myriad of yellow flags halted action near the midway point of the race with Saurer still out front. Jason Hoffman and Brian Haben sat comfortable in the third and fourth spots while the best battle on the speedway took place between Sabraski, Shawn Olson, Josh Thoennes and Brett Hoium.
Sabraski continued to work the bottom of the speedway until the final lap where he finished fifth. Kerzman did his best to overtake Saurer for the lead but in the end it was Saurer picking up the victory. Kerzman, Hoffman, Haben and Sabraski joined Saurer in the top five for the WISSOTA Midwest Modified finale. Olson, Scott Zimmerman, Haben and Saurer all collected heat race triumphs with Travis Vanderby scoring the win in the division’s lone B-main.
Mark Blom took the early lead in the 12-lap WISSOTA Street Stock finale. Blom held the lead and was the leader at the conclusion of the first lap. Fourth starter Scott Horn quickly moved to the top of the speedway and bolted by his competitors into the lead on lap three.
As always, the Street Stocks provided action all over the speedway with Horn in the lead. Row four starters Jason Babcock and Travis Berends began to work their way to the front as the field raced two by two behind Horn. Babcock diamoned the corner in turns three and four and overtook Justin Vogel for the second spot. With three laps up on the board, the final yellow of the event waved. During the caution, race-leading Horn was helped pitside with something bent in the front suspension.
That would set up a fantastic three-lap dash to the finish. Babcock brought the field around as the green flag waved once again. Babcock jumped to the top and immediately endured pressure from Berends.
Berends worked the low side with Babcock up top. On the final trip around, Babcock and Berends entered turn one in a virtual tie. Berends was able to take the lead off of turn two via the middle groove. Babcock drove his machine into the corner as hard as possible in an attempt to retake the lead.
Berends, however, was steady and went on to score his second feature win of the season at the speedway.
After two straight weeks in the winner’s circle, Babcock settled for second followed by Vogel, “Nitro” Jimmy Williams and Blom. Babcock and Andrew Bangsund collected wins during heat race action for the WISSOTA Street Stocks.
Jeff Crouse blasted off from the outside of row one to take the opening lap lead in the 20-circuit WISSOTA Super Stock A-main. Crouse stretched his advantage early on and was scored the leader at the conclusion of the first lap.
Sixth starter Todd Carter quickly moved into third early on while the field battled hot and heavy behind. While most cars worked the top, row four starter Don Eischens pedaled his Affordable Chassis machine around the bottom. Eischens’ car looked very strong as he began to work his way to the front.
Eischens disposed of both Jeff Flaten and Todd Carter for position as he moved into second on lap nine. The first yellow of the event waved the near the midway point of the race which put Eischens on Crouse’s rear bumper for the re-start. Eischens quickly dove to the inside of Crouse in turn one and overtook Flaten for the lead as they raced off of turn two. Crouse, however, battled back and remained three car lengths behind Eischens.
Carter and Flaten battled tooth and nail for the third spot with Carter gaining the advantage for the time being. With five laps still up on the board, the caution flag waved once again which would put Crouse and Carter right behind Eischens for the “Delaware” double-file restart.
Crouse and Carter made contact going into turn two with Crouse holding the second spot. Flaten went to the top once again and Eischens continued to work the bottom.
First time visitor Jon Yilek came on near the end of the race, battling with Jon Stepan for the fifth spot. At the conclusion of the 20-lap event it was Eischens picking up the win. Crouse had his best run to date coming home second ahead of Carter, Flaten and Stepan. Stepan and Carter each scored heat race wins earlier in the show for the Super Stock division.
Twenty-seven of the toughest WISSOTA Modifieds you’ll find anywhere rolled out onto the racing surface next with Craig Christiansen and Shane Sabraski sharing the front row duties. Sabraski took the lead at the drop of the green while Christiansen settled into second. Jason Thoennes was in third with Terry Engebretson fourth.
A myriad of yellow flags made it tough for the Modifieds to gain any rhythm before they started to reel off a long set of laps starting on lap three. The action through the middle of the pack was good between Curt Lund, Jay McDonald and Danny Bayer.
The three got after it for the sixth position while Sabraski was gone out front. Ninth starter Dennis Bitzan caught his stride on lap six as he moved by into the third spot. The yellow waved once again which put Christiansen and Bitzan behind Sabraski for the start. Bitzan overtook Christiansen for the second spot while Sabraski immediately stretched his advantage once again.
Near the midway point of the race, Lund began to find his stride in his #87 machine. Lund worked the extreme high side of the speedway on his way back to the front. Back in traffic, 24th starter Scott Gilbertson pedaled his Larry Shaw racecar to the front in a wicked fast manner. Lund and Gilbertson battled for the sixth spot while Joey Jensen held fifth.
After another for an incident on the backstretch, the Modifieds went single file for a three-lap dash to the finish. It was Sabraski out front followed by Bitzan, Thoennes, Lund and Jensen. When the green flag flew, Lund immediately jumped to the cushion once again as Thoennes worked the bottom. The two waged the most entertaining battle on the speedway as they drag raced down the backstretch on the final lap.
Lund slammed the right rear on the cushion while Thoennes smoothly worked through the middle. The two crossed the finish line in a virtual tie with Lund gaining the spot by mere inches. In the end it was Sabraski picking up his first Viking Speedway Modified win of the season.
Bitzan had another great run in the second spot followed by Lund, Thoennes and 12th row starting Gilbertson. Dale Mathison, Thoennes and Jensen all garnered heat race victories for the WISSOTA Mods. Brad Loveday received the “long tow award” from Pipeline Travel Plaza making the trip from Fort Frances, Ontario.
Seth Brede and Tim Jodsaas shared the front row for the 20-lap WISSOTA Late Model A-main. Jodsaas beat Brede to turn one and grabbed the opening lap advantage. The two front-runners, however, would immediately feel pressure from the #73 of Johnson. Johnson pedaled his Rayburn Racecar on the top shelf and took the lead on lap three.
Jeff Hinkemeyer then worked his way into second behind Johnson while Jeff Wildung began to join the party as well. Johnson was gone out front while Hinkemeyer and Wildung put on a great battle for the second spot. The two drivers traded slide jobs and power moves for the better part of seven laps before Wildung overtook Hinkemeyer for the position.
Shaun Peterson had a good car as well as he began to move forward from his 10th starting position. Peterson rode in fourth with five laps remaining. Johnson was checked out, out front while the best battle on the speedway was for the fifth spot between Brede and Eric Breeschoten. On the final trip around, Brede was able to hold off Breeschoten’s advances and went on to hold onto the fifth spot.
When the checkered flags waved it was Johnson picking up his first Viking Speedway victory of the season. Wildung, who has been a rocketship all season long settled for a hard fought second with Hinkemeyer third, Peterson fourth and Brede the final member of the top five. Johnson and Breeschoten each tallied heat race wins for the WISSOTA Late Model division.
This weekend Viking Speedway will host the 5th Annual Minnesota Modified Nationals. Practice for the event will begin on Thursday night followed by racing on Friday and Saturday. For more information regarding Viking Speedway, log onto the track’s website at vikingspeedway.net.
For more information on the Minnesota Modified Nationals log onto www.fyemotorsports.com.
Check out the complete race results in the print edition of the Echo Press.