Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on the races at the Viking Speedway so far this season, and things did not look good again on Saturday night.
The rain that came through Alexandria right around the 6:30 start time put a halt to the heat races with the fans who came out already in the grandstands. Track workers spent more than an hour trying to get the dirt oval back into shape, but it doesn't take much moisture to make the surface undriveable until it dries out again.
Things still didn't look good at 8, but that's about the time track officials asked the drivers if they could help out. Almost every one of them who were there to race pulled their cars on to the track and drove circles over and over again to pack the dirt and dry it out as best they could.
It eventually worked as shortened heat races fired up and the track got in all five regular features just ahead of the 10:45 p.m. curfew.
"Not at all," Alexandria driver Andrew Bangsund said when asked if he thought they would race at the start of the night. "The fuel we burned, the tear-offs we burned, the tires, just for the fans. They were all here ready to race, so we had to get it ready for them. That's what it was all about."
Bangsund was especially glad they did get the races in. Saturday night's lineup featured the Florian Street Stock Special with $1,000 payday on the line for the street stock feature winner.
Bangsund had been trying to win this race for years and never done it until Saturday. He held off Ryan Satter of Dent and Justin Vogel of Brooten to take the checkered flag.
"I think they started this race back in 2005 and we've been racing since 2006," Bangsund said. "We've got second but never won it, so it felt really good."
It was a tight race throughout the 12 laps. Bangsund started in the second position, with Vogel first and Satter fourth. That's a talented and experienced group fighting for positioning right off the bat in a group of 16 drivers who started the race.
"I knew on the start, especially starting next to Vogel, that we had to get the jump on him," Bangsund said. "He actually got the jump on us, and I just didn't lift going into the first corner and got around him. It was on from there. It was pretty much a one-lane track, so there wasn't going to be much passing."
Bangsund said the track was fast after the moisture early in the night. He had to hold the bottom lane, and that's what he did down the stretch with Satter and Vogel not far off his bumper.
"If I would have got up out of there at all, they would have come by," Bangsund said of protecting the bottom. "I didn't push as hard as I could have, but I maintained. Going into corner three on the last lap, Satter gave me a heck of a bump to try to get me out of the lane, but I just held it down there."
It was the second win of the season for Bangsund after also winning on opening night. This one held a little extra meaning with the special putting a little more on the line.
"We put a lot of emphasis on this," Bangsund said. "We come here focused to win, especially on a special night like this. We're just out here for fun anyways, not racing for points or anything. This makes it that much more fun."
Peterson takes 15-lap feature
The final feature of the night was the 15-lap Modified race, and just like the beginning of the night, things did not get off to a good start.
Cars were bunched together right out of the first turn and an immediate wreck created a long caution before all the cars could be cleared.
A light rain started up again during that caution, but Alexandria's Shaun Peterson was able to stretch out a lead after the re-start.
Peterson was running out in front of Brandon's Dustin Bitzan for much of the race before another caution with three laps to go slowed the field with the rain still coming down. Peterson said the track was starting to get a little slick after that last caution, but he was able to hold off Hoffman's Jason Blascyk in second and Bitzan in third to get the win.
"A lot of it was my dad helping us out and his expertise through the years. The new chassis we got here, we did some stuff to it, and it seemed to work pretty good," Peterson said. "We're just trying to shake out a few things. This is about my second race of the year only, so we're still trying to get the rust out of my driving ability too."
Peterson is a third-generation driver in his family with a lot of history at this track. This was his first win of the season, but hardly the first of his long career. He has racked up a lot of feature wins through almost 25 years of driving now, but this one was pretty special to him after a bit of a drought in recent years.
"Especially now that we're kind of on our own. We raced for a couple teams here the last probably three, four years," Peterson said. "The family, we purchased a car last August and we were in a little bit of a dry spell here for winning. We finally got the 'W.' We were close a few times, but we finally got it."
Saurers have a good night
Ron and Trevor Saurer of Dalton took two of the three remaining features on the night.
Ron won the Midwest Modifies event as he held off Justin Bjorklund of Glenwood and Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls in the 10-lap feature.
Trevor Saurer won the Super Stock feature. He held off Alexandria's Jeff Crouse in second place and Bryan Hellerman of Parkers Prairie, who finished third.
Alexandria's Ryan Mikkelson rounded out the list of five feature winners. He won the 10-lap Limited Late Model class. Bryce Sward of Nelson finished second and Rick Nelson of Alexandria finished third in the 11-car race.