Jeff Crouse loves to talk about how much fun it is racing in a competitive division at the Viking Speedway on Saturday nights. He loves it even more when he ends up in the winner's circle.
Crouse took first place in the WISSOTA Super Stock feature on Saturday night in his first win of the summer on his home track. After starting in the fourth position, he found the method to success early on.
"I thought the high side was going to be a little bit better, but then I saw the two guys in front of me pull away a little bit," Crouse said. "I went towards the bottom, and the car felt really good down there. That's when I passed them."
Trevor Saurer and Davey Kruchten drove the first and second place cars before Crouse passed them with nine laps to go. Crouse didn't look back as he carried his lead all the way to victory lane.
"Once you get the lead, it's about being consistent," Crouse said. "You try to hit your marks and run the same lap every time. I can see the scoreboard, so I knew (Saurer) was coming behind me. I got a spotter behind me that helps me out by letting me know how much distance I have on the guy behind me."
Crouse knows that wins in the Super Stock division are hard to come by with many talented drivers in the field. Getting his first win at Viking Speedway this summer was like getting the monkey off his back.
"It's a lot of fun racing against these guys, and I've done it for a long time," Crouse said "(Saurer) and Jason Cook are fast every week. Bryan Hellerman and my cousin Jon (Crouse) are getting faster. A lot of us are locals, so we've gotten a lot of laps out here. Everybody's getting faster, which makes it entertaining for the fans that come out."
After a slow start to the summer, Crouse is far behind in the points standing. However, with a big race looming next weekend, he feels great about his car's ability to keep up.
"I'm kind of out of the point battle, so I want to pick up as many wins as I can," Crouse said. "I hurt my motor in the opener so I couldn't run the feature. The big thing is getting ready for next weekend. We got our Super Stock special with a $1,000-to-win prize. I wanted to make sure my car is good. I made a couple of changes after the heat. I thought I could be a little bit better, and my car was definitely better in the feature."
Saurer finished in second in front of Kruchten and Travis Scott. Karter Reents rounded out the top five.
Gronwold wins again
Unlike the Super Stock series, the Wissota Midwest Mods division has had a consistent first-place finisher over the last three weeks. Fergus Falls' Brock Gronwold found himself in victory lane once again after blowing out his competition.
"It was a fun race, and hopefully it was good for the crowd," Gronwold said. "It's different with all the COVID-19 stuff and everybody involved, but I was able to go to other states and race, which helped me be faster than some of the other guys who didn't travel."
Gronwold had some ground to make up at the start of the race. He started in the eighth position before climbing up the leaderboard. With seven laps to go, the caution flag came out. That's when Gronwold knew he had to make his move.
"I always try to have three different scenarios in my head, depending on which car goes where out there," Gronwold said. "This time I didn't really have a scenario in my head, I just knew I had to go for it. It was kind of tricky because the track was faster when the race started. When the track is dry, I feel better. I was just looking for a hole to go for."
Gronwold is putting together an impressive summer. Not only does he have three wins in Alexandria, but he has 10 more outside of Viking Speedway.
"We've actually been having a pretty good summer," Gronwold said. "When you have 13 wins, that's something to be proud of, and we are looking to win every race we run in. The track in Alex here is one of my favorites because it's a half of a mile long. Other tracks are either a quarter or three-eighths of a mile. We have to change the car up a little bit, but we are used to it."
Kensington's Brendan Blascyk finished in second place with Alexandria's Shawn Olson in third. Olson led a majority of the race before falling out of first place toward the end. Dalton's Ron Saurer and Glenwood's Tom Silver finished fourth and fifth.
Mikkelson cruises to first, Bitzan and Vogel pick up wins
Alexandria's Ryan Mikkelson started in the fifth spot in the Limited Late Models, but after several cautions, he raced to a lengthy victory.
After a caution in the 13th lap, Mikkelson jumped ahead of Derek Quinn and never looked back. Behind him was Greg Umlauf from Rothsay and Dustin Johanneck from Litchfield. Richard Chasteen from Elk River and Fergus Falls' Zack Tysdal took fourth and fifth.
Brandon's Dustin Bitzan won his second straight race in the Wissota Modified series. He took the lead over Blake Jegtvig with three laps to go. Ryan Gierke and Brady Gerdes out of Villard finished third and fourth, while Dalton's Travis Saurer finished fifth.
The Street Stock title went to Justin Vogel out of Brooten. Vogel nearly had a one-lap lead until a caution with two laps to go allowed Bluffton's Jack Koranda to close the gap. Koranda took second, while Dent's Ryan Satter finished in third. Long Prairie's Tyler Kunz finished in fourth place while Eagle Bend's Roger Berkness took fifth.