Viking Speedway: Fall Classic brings in 238 race teamsFeature winners were Rob VanMil, Brian Swenson, Jason Hoffman, Josh Thoennes, Jeff Crouse and Justin Fegers
By: By Kirk Holmes, All the Dirt Racing News, Alexandria Echo Press
For the past eight years in early October, drivers and fans from all over the upper Midwest have converged on Viking Speedway for the annual Viking Fall Classic. This past weekend marked the 9th annual Fall Classic presented by Shaw Trucking and FYE Motorsports.
Heat race action began on Friday with 238 race teams checked in to do battle at the high-banked half-mile track, located at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. The event concluded with six feature events on Saturday evening and four first time champions were crowned, along with two repeat winners.
Justin Fegers of Minnetonka completed a great weekend and picked up his first Fall Classic championship in the WISSOTA Late Models, Carlos driver Josh Thoennes did the same in the WISSOTA Modifieds, as did Alexandria’s Jeff Crouse in the WISSOTA Super Stocks and Villard’s Jason Hoffman in the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds. Two-time WISSOTA Mod 4 national champion Rob Van Mil added a Fall Classic title to his resume as well.
Meanwhile, Bismarck, ND pilot Brian Swenson wrapped up his second straight Fall Classic title in the WISSOTA Street Stock division.
Fegers and Chad Mahder brought the 25-car Late Model feature to the green flag. Fegers wasted no time getting to the high side of the speedway and jumped out to an early advantage over Mahder.
A caution near the middle of the 35-lap event put Lance Matthees and national touring Late Model driver Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI on Fegers’ back bumper. Once the green flag flew again, the trio was joined by 10th starter Brady Smith of Solon Springs, WI and Nassau’s Jeff Wildung.
A caution, for contact between fellow Bismarck, ND drivers Jeremy Keller and Paul Mueller, bunched the field up with only four laps remaining. Matthees and Mars threw everything they had at Fegers during the final four circuits, but in the end Fegers was able to hang on and collect the $4,000 payday.
Josh Thoennes and Hermantown’s Darrell Nelson manned the front row for the 25-lap Modified feature. For the first handful of laps, Nelson and Thoennes battled up front with Thoennes using the high side and Nelson working the low side. Thoennes gained the advantage and Nelson was left to battle Thoennes’ brother, Jason, for the runner-up spot.
While Nelson and Jason Thoennes jockeyed for second, Fargo’s Cody Skytland and Jimmy Mars began their march to the front from the ninth and 11th starting spots, respectively. Skytland was able to clear Jason Thoennes and Nelson for second near the midway point of the feature and Mars was not far behind. Skytland got a great run on the low side of the speedway and in just a matter of laps was up to challenge Josh Thoennes for the lead.
A caution with two laps to go put Skytland and Mars alongside each other in the second row with Josh Thoennes still leading. Skytland drove his #19B machine in turns one and two as hard as he could and made a brief pass of Josh Thoennes, only to see Thoennes power back by him on the backchute. Josh Thoennes went on to lead the final two laps and pick up his first Fall Classic title. He was followed across the line by Skytland Mars, Jason Thoennes and 10th starter Dave Cain.
Viking Speedway point champion Crouse and former national champion Dan Gullikson led a very strong field of Super Stocks to the green for their 25-lap main event. Crouse jumped out to an early advantage with Gullikson in tow. As the two leaders continued to work the high side of the track, Hancock’s Jeff Flaten started making a charge on the low side of the speedway. Unfortunately for Flaten, he lost the bite on his machine early on, spun and brought out the first caution of the event.
Once the green waved again, Crouse and Gullikson resumed their battle up front. Near the middle of the pack, Shane Sabraski, 19th starter Don Shaw and 21st starter Shawn Nolan picked off car after car as the trio rallied toward the front. A caution was brought when Jerome Guyot spun his machine in turn two. A light mist began to fall during the caution period, but event officials decided to carry on.
When the green came back out, Gullikson and Mike Peterson made contact and Gullikson went over the banking in turn two. It was determined the track was too slick for racing at that point, and both drivers were given their positions back. Once the mist let up, racing began with Crouse leading Gullikson and Scott Lawrence.
The caution flag was waved several more times and race officials were forced to go to a green, white, checkered finish. During the final circuit, Gullikson made a hard run on the low side of the speedway, but Crouse kept up his momentum and captured his first Fall Classic title.
Fellow Villard drivers Hoffman and Brady Gerdes lined up on the front row of the $1,500-to-win Midwest Modified feature. When the green flew, Hoffman jumped out to an early lead, with fifth starter Sabraski and Chris Mensen in tow. Hoffman used the high line around the track, and Sabraski worked the middle of the track looking for the bite to get around Hoffman.
Behind the leaders, 12th starter Travis Saurer was on the attack; he charged into the top five within the first 10 laps and then began working on Scott Bintz for fourth. Back up front, Sabraski’s machine slowed on the back straightaway and he retired from the event.
Saurer quickly disposed of Bintz and then set his eye on Mensen for second, completing the task a few laps later. A late race caution tightened the field up one last time, and Saurer tried everything in his power to get around Hoffman, but it was not meant to be. Hoffman held on to collect the big payday followed by Sauer and Mensen.
After his 2010 Fall Classic win, Swenson said he would be back to defend his title in 2011. Swenson shared the front row of the WISSOTA Street Stock feature with Brooten driver Justin Vogel. Swenson quickly jumped to his preferred line, the high groove, and raced to an early lead on Vogel and Travis Berends.
A few laps into the event, the top three were joined by Chris Winter and Mark Blom as they continued to duke it out on the top side of the track. The final caution of the event waved with a few laps to go, putting Vogel and Berends on Swenson’s rear bumper.
As the green flag came out, Berends made a brief pass only to see Swenson rocket by on the outside. Vogel spun his machine on the bottom of turn four during the final lap and Winter inherited the podium finish behind winner Swenson and runner-up Berends.
Moorhead’s Josh Abrahamson jumped out to an early advantage in the Speedway Motors Mod Four feature. Third starter VanMil quickly entered the picture and the lead duo battled lap after lap with Abrahamson on the low side and VanMil running up top. With six laps to go, Abrahamson lost the bite on his machine and gave the lead to VanMil.
That put Tom Silver and Dustin Zieske back into the mix and they lined up in row two behind VanMil. Once the green flag came back out, VanMil was not to be denied his second straight Fall Classic win ahead of Silver, Zieske, VanMil’s dad, Corry VanMil, and 10th starter Tyler Larson.