Racing: Saurer comes from behind to winThe Elizabeth driver started in 19th position and moved forward to take the WISSOTA Modified feature race.
By: Ryan Schmitz, Viking Speedway, Alexandria Echo Press
On a night when all five WISSOTA classes were in action at Viking Speedway, Elizabeth driver Travis Saurer stole the show as he piloted his 21X Modified from his 19th starting spot to win the Morris Auto Plaza sponsored WISSOTA Modified feature.
Other drivers who found their way to victory lane during AMSOIL Dirt Track Series competition on a beautiful Saturday night included: Dusty Bitzan in the Sower Power sponsored WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds, Mark Blom in the Extreme Auto sponsored WISSOTA Street Stocks, Jeff Flaten in the Alexandria Refrigeration WISSOTA Super Stocks and Jeff Wildung in the Marthaler Chevrolet WISSOTA Late Models.
The night’s racing program was sponsored by AmericINN and Cowing Rowbards, both of Alexandria.
After all of the heat races were completed, cousins Shawn Olson and Josh Muzik led the 18-car Midwest Modified feature to the green flag.
Before a lap could be completed, the first caution of the 15-lap feature came out when fifth starter Chris Mensen’s car broke a rear end and came to rest on the back stretch of the speedway.
With the field reset, Muzik jumped out to an early advantage, while Olson, Jamie Thorstad and Dusty Bitzan settled in behind him. Olson was able to fight off the other two drivers as he worked the high side of the speedway to claim the second spot.
The running order would remain the same until lap seven, when Olson lost traction and slipped over the banking in turn one, bringing out the caution flag.
Muzik once again jumped out to an advantage as Bitzan and Thorstad battled for the runner-up spot until lap 10, when Muzik got high coming out of turn two and drove off the back stretch, eliminating him from contention.
Bitzan would inherit the lead with Thorstad, William Lund and Travis Saurer behind him. Another yellow with four laps to go came out when Brandon driver Zach Hintermeister slipped off the track in turn three. With the field bunched up behind him, Bitzan brought the field to the green and was never seriously challenged as he raced to his first feature win of the season.
Dent rookie Ryan Satter and Herman’s Vern Stewart paced the 11-car Street Stock feature to the green for their 12-lap main event.
As the green flag flew, Satter jumped to the cushion and burst out to a big lead. Satter would continue to stretch his lead as a nice six-car battle ensued behind him.
Chris Winter was able to work his way to the runner-up spot near the midway point in the race and continued to ride in second until Satter drove his car into turns one and two too hard and went over the banking, bringing out the first caution of the event.
This would put the veteran Winter on the point as the field came to the green once again.
Caution would fly over the speedway again before a lap could be completed when Satter went off turn three, ending his night. The last handful of laps turned into a shootout between Mark Blom, Brett Miller, Justin Vogel and Winter. The foursome raced side-by-side and door-to-door for the last few laps and, as the field came to the white flag, Vogel made a run on the bottom of the speedway, only to see a mechanical failure end his evening.
As the pack entered turn four to come to the checkered flag, Blom made a charge to the outside of Winter and was able to slip by for the win by .08 seconds.
Jeff Flaten and Jason Cooked manned the front row of the 20-lap Super Stock feature, and, at the drop of the green, Flaten bolted out to a nice lead on the high side of the speedway with veterans Larry Lund and Jeff Crouse in tow.
The trio would break away from the field with Flaten in control. Behind the lead pack, Cook was locked into a battle with Jon Stepan, Mike Peterson, Trevor Saurer and Matt Miller as the group raced hard for the fourth position.
Meanwhile, up near the front, Crouse and Lund would continue their battle for second, with each driver using slide job after slide job to make the passes on each other.
The caution would fly on lap 10 when Cook blew an engine and coasted to a stop in turn three.
During the caution flag, Miller also retired pitside with an issue.
When the green dropped over the field again, it was once again Flaten who raced out to an advantage over Lund and Crouse.
Flaten would continue to lead and cruised to the win ahead of Lund, Crouse, Stepan and 10th starting Mike Peterson.
Seventeen of the 10 scheduled starters lined up to do battle in the Modified feature.
Kyle Koehntop and Mark Esala led the field to the green flag for the 20-lap main event. At the drop of the green, Brooten’s Dave Schroeder jumped to the low side of the speedway and raced up to challenge Koehntop for the lead. The duo would continue to race side by side for the first handful of laps, with each driver not giving an inch.
Meanwhile, back in the pack, 19th starter Travis Saurer began picking off car after car as he raced on the extreme highside of the speedway.
Caution would fly nine laps into the feature when Pete Loecken’s car came to a stop in turn two.
This put Saurer and Josh Thoennes into the mix, with Koehntop and Schroeder still holding down the top two spots.
With the green flag back out, Schroeder was able to make a pass of Koehntop and raced into the lead. Saurer would continue his charge to the front as he moved into the second spot with six laps remaining.
The yellow would fly again with four laps remaining when Montevideo’s Matt Gilbertson flew off the back stretch.
The field once again came to life and Saurer raced to the outside of Schroeder and moved into the front spot. Saurer would continue to stretch his advantage and raced to the feature win ahead of Schroeder, Koehntop, Cody Skytland, and Josh Thoennes.
The final feature event of the evening belonged to the Late Models and all nine cars lined up to do battle.
At the drop of the green, Rick Nelson jumped out to the lead with Jeff Wildung and Don Shaw behind him.
After a handful of laps, the caution would fly when Brad Parson’s No. 44 machine came to a stop near the pit entrance on the front stretch.
Head flagman Mike Commerford dropped the green flag once again with Nelson leading Wildung, Shaw, and Zach Johnson. With 12 laps remaining, Wildung drove his bright yellow No. 50 to the low side of the speedway and slipped by Nelson for the lead.
Nelson tried to fight back on the top side of turn one to no avail.
Wildung moved back to his preferred line, the top side, and continued to stretch his lead.
He would hold on and capture the win ahead of Nelson, Shaw, Johnson, and Mellon. Wisconsin visitor Todd Frank rounded out the top five.
Next weekend the Viking Speedway, located at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Alexandria, will play host to its midseason championships.
All five WISSOTA classes will be in action with racing starting at 6 p.m.
On July 6-8, Viking Speedway plays host to the $7,000 to win/$700 to start Minnesota Modified Nationals.
VIKING SPEEDWAY RACE RESULTS
FEATURE – 1. Dustin Bitzan, 10B, Brandon, 2. William Lund, 27, Brandon, 3. Travis Saurer, 21X, Elizabeth, 4. Jason Hoffman, 07,?Villard, 5. Travis Vanderby, 15, Alexandria, 6. Ronald Saurer, 42, Dalton, 7. Brandon Spanswick, 88, Osakis, 8. Josh Muzik, 23, Alexandria, 9. Shawn?Olson, 32, Alexandria, 10. Dan Greeley, 7G, Alexandria, 11. Randy Laage, EZ-1, Brooten, 12. Zach Hintermeister, 16H, Brandon, 13. Jamie Thorstad, 34, Morris, 14. Tyler Vanderby, 37, Glenwood, 15. Tim Mensen, 59, Alexandria, 16. Darrin Braaten, 4A, Kensington, 17. Chris Mensen, 53, Alexandria, 18. Todd Berg, 20, Starbuck.
HEAT 1 – Hoffman, Mensen, Lund, Hintermesier, Laage, Greeley.
HEAT 2 – Bitzan, Muzik, Berg, Tra. Saurer, Tr. Vanderby, Ty. Vanderby.
HEAT 3 – R. Saurer, Olson, Thorstad, Spanswick, Mensen, Braaten.
FEATURE – 1. Jeff Wildung, 50, Nassau, 2. Rick Nelson, 12N, Alexandria, 3. Don Shaw, 42S, Ham Lake, 4. Zach Johnson, 73, Kensington, 5. Todd Frank, 21, Mellen, WI, 6. Rick Schroeder, 7, Montevideo, 7. Clarence Washburn, 3, NA, 8. Scott Lehn, 7L, Albany, 9. Brad Parson, 44P, Morris.
HEAT – Nelson, Johnson, Frank, Wildung, Shawn, Washburn, Parson, Lehn, Schroeder.
FEATURE – 1. Mark Blom, 6X, Glenwood, 2. Chris Winter, 31X, Hoffman, 3. Brett Miller, 33M, Alexandria, 4. Adam Burrows, 18B, West Fargo, ND, 5. Tiffany Maus-Krippner, 8, Kimball, 6. Justin Vogel, 10, Brooten, 7. Tyler Spanswick, 15, Osakis, 8. Ryan Satter, 67, NA, 9. Vernon Stewart, 23, Herman, 10. David Deters, 24X, Sauk Centre, 11. Andrew Bangsund, 70, Alexandria.
HEAT 1 – Burrows, Vogel, Blom, Miller, Maus-Krippner, Spanswick.
HEAT 2 – Winter, Satter, Stewart, Bangsund, Deters.
FEATURE – 1. Jeff Flaten, 15F, Hancock, 2. Larry Lund, 54, Brandon, 3. Jeff Crouse, 29*, Alexandria, 4. Jon Stepan, 3S, Brandon, 5. Mike Peterson, 1P, Dawson, 6. Cody Lee, 50, Starbuck, 7. Alan Johnson, 22, Osakis, 8. Trevor Saurer, 21, Dalton, 9. Dominic Baker, 9, Osakis, 10. Matt Miller, 13M, Glenwood, 11. Jason Cook, 79, Brandon, 12.?Jeff Kluver, 19K, Alexandria.
HEAT 1 – Lee, Lund, Stepan, Flaten, Johnson, Baker.
HEAT 2 – Tre. Saurer, Cook, Miller, Crouse, Peterson, Kluver.
FEATURE - 1. Travis Saurer, 21X, Elizabeth, 2. Dave Schroeder, 18S, Glenwood, 3. Kyle Koehntop, 1K, Morris, 4. Cody Skytland, 19S, West Fargo, ND, 5. Josh Thoennes, 51, Carlos, 6. Blake Jegtvig, 2J, Hawley, 7. Dennis Bitzan, 10X, Farwell, 8. Danny Bayer, 36, Elrosa, 9. Dallas Gulbrandson, 1G, Alexandria, 10. Brady Gerdes, 2X, Villard, 11. Brett Hoium, 5H, Villard, 12. Jake Wildman, 99W, Glenwood, 13. Matt Gilbertson, 23, Montevideo, 14. Peter Loecken, 97, Roscoe, 15. Scott Werk, 16W, Verndale, 16. Terry Merten, 14M, Sauk Centre, 17. Mark Esala, 95, Thief River Fallsl, 18. John Oeltjen, 91, Glenwood, 19. Jason Thoennes, 52, Garfield.
HEAT 1 – Jo. Thoennes, Gerdes, Gulbrandson, Hoium, Loecken, Ja. Thoennes.
HEAT 2 – Schroeder, Esala, Koehntop, Bayer, Merten, Tra. Saurer.
HEAT 3 – Gilbertson, Skytland, Bitzan, Jegtvig, Wildman, Werk.