Morris' Eric Riley has battled with Jonny Carter, of Libson, ND, many times in the Wissota Street Stock division. On Saturday night in the Viking Speedway's opening weekend, Riley edged out Carter by the skin of his teeth.
"Jonny and I had a good race in Grand Forks not too long ago," Riley said. "I beat him by two-tenths of a second then, and this was almost just as close. He's a great driver, and I love going up against him. Tonight was just my night."
Carter led the first 12 laps of the race, many of them by a large margin. As time started to run out, Riley decided he needed to make a move. He took his first lead of the race with three laps to go, only to give it up one lap later.
"When I finally got him, I was pretty happy and pretty confident," Riley said. "Then I messed up and thought to myself, 'Well, I guess I'll take second again.' On the last lap, I messed up again, so I went to the three wide open. I was either going to win or spin out from there."
When Riley crossed the finish line, he wasn't sure if he'd won. The race was too close for either driver to know who took home the top spot.
"I didn't see No. 51 on the board until I pulled into the pit," Riley said. "I thought there was a chance that I won, but I was probably one of the last ones there to know I won. It felt great to get out of the car and celebrate in front of the fans again."
The first thing Riley did when he jumped down from the top of his car is he went to show his appreciation for Carter. They both embraced in victory lane for the first time in Alexandria this summer.
"All of the guys in this Street Stock division are fun to be around," Riley said. "We have a competitive group, but everything is left on the track when the race stops. There are many good drivers in this division, so you take your wins when you can get them. But I also know that guys like Jon will be the first to congratulate me on a win. It's a great environment."
Coming in third place was Parker Anderson, followed by Ryan Satter and Jack Koranda. Alexandria's JJ Nieuwbeerta took 11th.
Long time coming
Dustin Johanneck is a third-generation driver out of Litchfield. Following his win on Saturday in the Limited Late Models feature, he got emotional thinking about what it meant to him and his family.
"I race like somebody is behind me the whole time," Johanneck said. "It felt good to get back out here in Alexandria. It's been a long time since a Johanneck has been in the victory lane. I did my grandfather and my uncle proud."
Johanneck cruised to a lengthy win, but he had some catching up to do when the race started. Morris' Buddy Thorstad led the first half of the race but ended up falling back to fifth place by the 15th lap. Johanneck passed Thorstad with seven laps to go and never looked back.
"It's important to keep the same mindset whether you're winning or losing out there," Johanneck said. "You start thinking to yourself that you have a big lead and you're going to pedal it, then some guy behind you closed the gap. One little mistake can cut your lead in half. Every time I make a mistake, I expect somebody to pass me. That's just how I race."
Coming in second was Brandon's William Lund, followed by Alexandria's Blake Saathoff. Johanneck has raced well this summer in Fergus Falls, and he sees himself as one of the leaders in his division.
"We're on a good path this year compared to previous years," Johanneck said. "We picked up a win in Fergus Falls and now Alexandria. We're getting better every year, and this year I think we've got it dialed in. We're a top contender now, which is a great place to be. We still want to get a track championship and get as many wins as we can, even if it's a short summer."
Two Saurers and Hoium take top spots
Trevor and Ron Saurer each walked away with first-place finishes in their respective feature races. Trevor edged out Jim Gullikson and Jason Cook in the Wissota Super Stock division. Alexandria's Jon Crouse finished in fourth place.
Ron Saurer won the first trophy of the night in the Wissota Midwest mods race. He led all 15 laps to beat out Cory Storck and Brock Gronwold. Shawn Olson, out of Alexandria took seventh place.
The Wissota Midwest Modifieds first-place prize went to Brett Hoium in the final race of the evening. The Villard trio of Hoium, Ryan Gierke and Brady Gerdes took the top three spots. Drivers will be back at the Viking Speedway next Saturday.
VIKING SPEEDWAY RESULTS 7/11
MIDWEST MODS: 1- Ron Saurer (Dalton), 2- Corey Storck (Morris), 3- Brock Gronwold (Fergus Falls), 4- Randy Laage (Brooten), 5- Jon Stepan (Brandon), 6- Justin Bjorklund (Glenwood), 7- Travis Engebretson (Cyrus), 8- Shawn Olson (Alexandria), 9- Jason Thimmesh, (Garfield), 10- Matt Thoennes (Osakis)
MODIFIEDS- 1- Brett Hoium (Villard), 2- Ryan Gierke (Villard), 3- Brady Gerdes (Villard), 4- Dustin Bitzan (Brandon), 5- Brian Haben (Appleton), 6- Travis Saurer (Elizabeth), 7- Zach Johnson (Lowry), 8- Chris Mensen (Carlos), 9- Jake Widman (Glenwood), 10- Tyler Kaeter (St. Cloud)
STREET STOCK- 1- Eric Riley (Morris), 2- Jonny Carter (Libson), 3- Parker Anderson (Phillips), 4- Ryan Satter (Dent), 5- Jack Koranda (Bluffton), 6- Cory Dykhoff (Perham), 7- (Ryan Pommerer (Oriska), 8- Scott Huston (Benson), 9- Joe Potter (Euclid), 10- Craig Gardner (Eagle Bend)
SUPER STOCK- 1- Trevor Saurer (Dalton), 2- Jim Gullikson (Nowthen), 3- Jason Cook (Brandon), 4- Jon Crouse (Alexandria), 5- Davey Kruchten (Burtrum), 6- Karter Reents, 7- Eldred Fuchs Jr. (Long Prairie), 8- Erich Fuchs (Long Prairie), 9- Tony Arneson (Alexandria)
LIMITED LATE MODELS- 1- Dustin Johanneck (Litchfield), 2- William Lund (Brandon), 3- Blake Saathoff (Alexandria), 4- Scott Lehn (Albany), 5- Buddy Thorstad (Morris), 6- Zack Tydal (Fergus Falls)