At 30 years old now, Brandon’s Dustin Bitzan is not a young up-and-coming driver in the Modifieds Division at the Viking Speedway anymore. He’s firmly established.
There are those who have been doing this longer than him, but he’s squarely one of the main attractions at his home track now in his sixth season running in this division.
Bitzan won for the second consecutive week at Viking Speedway on Saturday night as he stormed out to an early lead and never wavered in separating himself from second-place finisher Travis Saurer of Elizabeth in the Modified feature.
“Starting position was huge in that race,” Bitzan said. “I started on the outside, and the outside groove seemed to be the fastest all night. I lucked out and drew the No. 2 spot, so that put me on the outside row. From there, we just took off.”
It is not noticeable by simply looking at the overall point standings, but Bitzan has had to work through some ups and downs this summer with a new car. The win on Saturday was his fourth of the season at Viking Speedway, and he’s also running every week in Fergus Falls on Fridays.
“We started off the year really good right away,” Bitzan said. “Then we were off a few weeks, but now the last two weeks we’ve been really good. I’ve won three features, had a good run up at Fergus Falls Friday night and hopefully we can keep the momentum going.”
Bitzan started in the seventh spot and worked his way up into second place before finishing third in Fergus Falls on Friday. He felt good about how the car ran that night and was able to carry that momentum into Saturday.
Every win is important when it comes to trying to win a points championship in the Modified Division. Villard’s Brady Gerdes edged Bitzan for that 2020 title, but Bitzan (821) is up by 20 points over Gerdes (801) in the point standings through Saturday’s races.
“When you’re racing against Brady Gerdes and all the guys that race here -- Travis Saurer, Blake Jegtvig. Everybody,” Bitzan said. “They’re all good, and any one of them could win. You got to try to be competitive every night and be consistent. It’s tough when you’re racing against guys like that.”
Bitzan has six top-5 finishes overall in Alexandria and eight top 10s to go with his four wins. Night in and night out, he’s established himself as one of the primary drivers to beat.
“That’s the goal every night,” Bitzan said. “You come out to win races, but to finish up front is the biggest goal. Be consistent. Come out here every week and give everybody your best shot.”
Crouse bounces back
Alexandria’s Jeff Crouse had a week to put a frustrating night on June 19 to bed and get his car ready for another race night, and he did so with a win in the Super Stocks feature on Saturday.
“We had a rough weekend last weekend where we crashed out in the first one and didn’t quite get the car fixed up for the second one and ended up seventh,” Crouse said. “When we’re good, we’re really good, but I’d like to get a little more consistent.”
Crouse has three wins at Viking Speedway this summer. He finished second to Trevor Saurer of Dalton in the six-lap dash race that ran right before Saturday night’s features. In the main event, Crouse had Glenwood’s Matt Miller on his tail in the early going, but created a little separation down the stretch as Miller finished second and Saurer was third.
“I knew it was going to be a tough race with Matt being on the outside pole, and obviously Trevor has been really fast. Everybody is,” Crouse said. “The big thing is I drew up front. That helped nice to redraw the one, especially tonight with the Race of Champions qualifier. Saurer got me in the dash, but we made a couple changes after the dash and I think I made the car a little bit better, but I knew it was going to be tough. These guys are all tough here. Any of these guys in this class can win any night.”
Crouse’s other two feature wins this summer came on May 15 and May 29. His three wins ties him with Saurer for the most of anybody in this Super Stocks class this summer, but there have also been some off nights for the longtime veteran.
“You worry about yourself and try to finish every race,” Crouse said. “It’s pretty rare where you go through a whole season and don’t get a (Did Not Finish), but I know (Matt) and (Trevor) are always on top of their game. They’re tough to beat, so it’s just a matter of being consistent. We picked up a few points tonight that I lost last week. We still got a long season to go.”
Crouse has won multiple track titles at the Viking Speedway, and that’s his vision at the start of almost every summer. He currently sits third in the Super Stock season standings with 786 points. It will take a lot going right to catch Saurer (815 points) and Miller (802), but that’s still the goal for Crouse after Saturday’s win.
“Absolutely, and that’s where the consistency falls into place,” he said. “I’ve had a couple DNFs this year where (Saurer) and (Miller) really haven’t had any DNFs. That’s always my goal. I always want to win the track championship at Viking Speedway. Trevor has won it the last two years, and I won it the year before that. It’s been a couple years since I won it.”
Muzik grabs first win of summer, while Satter continues to dominate
Dent’s Ryan Satter has been as dominant as anyone in their division at the Viking Speedway this season, and that continued on Saturday night.
Satter won the Street Stocks feature for the sixth time in Alexandria this summer. He jumped out to an early lead in the feature and never looked back in creating separation from second-place finisher Craig Gardner of Alexandria. Mark Blom of Glenwood was third.
Satter has a 155-point lead in the season standings with 860 points. Gardner is second after his third top-5 finish on Saturday.
Brandon driver Josh Muzik got his first win of the season in the Midwest Modifieds feature on Saturday against four other drivers in the feature field. Muzik finished ahead of Alexandria’s Shawn Olson in second and Brandon’s Taylor Bitzan in third place, while Ryan Fletcher of Battle Lake and Connor Busse of Alexandria rounded out the field.
Olson (810 points) leads the season point standings in the Midwest Modifieds, while Dalton’s Ron Saurer (731) is second.