By Ray Beste
Alexandria, MN (July 3rd, 2011) – Marshalltown, IA ace Ryan Gustin made his first ever appearance to Viking Speedway a memorable one, taking home a $7,000 payday Sunday night at Viking Speedway. Shane Sabraski held off a late surge from Travis Saurer to score the win in the WISSOTA Midwest Modified A-main while Dean Larson took top honors in the WISSOTA Mod Four finale. One of the largest crowds ever witnessed at Viking Speedway congregated once again for day two of the 7th Annual “Minnesota Modified Nationals” held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Alexandria, MN.
With 28 WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds yet to qualify for the 30-lap, $2,000 to win WISSOTA Midwest Modified A-main, two B-mains were held to lock in the final eight competitors. The first B-main was dominated by Villard, MN driver Jason Hoffman. Hoffman moved by George Dalbeck early on and never looked back on his way to victory. Dalbeck, in his first ever visit to the speedway, looked great finishing second ahead of a hard charging Skeeter Estey (started 13th). Glencoe, MN product Josh Larsen was the final driver to qualify for the A-main, moving up four spots from his eighth starting position to finish fourth.
Dustin Bitzan looked to have B-main two in hand before suspension trouble sent him pitside handing the lead over the Denis Czech near the midway point of the race. Sixth starter Chris Mensen would patiently work his way by Czech for the lead, ultimately taking the win. Czech, 11th starter Josh Muzik, and Travis Vanderby all punched their tickets to the A-main by finishing in the top four in the second and final B-main. Andrew Nelson reigned victorious in the last chance qualifier becoming the final car to transfer to the feature event.
The star studded front row of Scot Danzeisen and Travis Saurer proved to be too much for the competitors of B-main one for the WISSOTA Modifieds with each driver moving on to participate in the main event. Mike Storck, Jake Wildman, Curt Lund, Bryce Borgen, Matt Gilbertson, and Danny Bayer all moved on to the Last Chance qualifier by finishing in spots three through eight.
The second of three B-mains was dominated by Manhattan, KS traveler Chase Junghans. Junghans, a regular on the United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS), looked very strong during the 20-lap event taking the win in impressive fashion. Eighth starter Terry Engebretson outlasted Shane Edgington and Dave Schroeder to take the final transfer spot in B-main two. Edgington, Schroeder, Shayne Laske, Luke Dykstra, Mark Esala, and Jamie Davis all transferred on to the last chance qualifier.
The third and final B-main for the WISSOTA Modifieds went to Kelley Lake, MN hotshoe Kelly Estey. Estey was glued to the bottom of the speedway from the get go and never looked back on his way to victory. Ward Imrie and Jason Miller battled side by side for several laps for the final transfer spot with Miller ultimately taking the position. Imrie, Jayme Lautigar, Steve Lavasseur, Dennis Bitzan, Jason Blascyk, Jamie Trautner all transferred on to the Last Chance Qualifier, which proved to be the final qualifying event of the evening.
The final qualifying event of the weekend belonged to the WISSOTA Modifieds with 18 drivers making the call for the 20-lap last chance qualifier. With just two competitors transferring on to the A-main, the fans anticipated an action packed event. Shane Edgington took the early lead but it didn’t last long as Curt Lund moved from his seventh starting position to take the lead on lap eighth. Once out front Lund stretched his advantage and earned himself the 23rd starting spot for the night’s A-main. The best battle on the speedway was for the second spot with Luke Dkystra outlasting fellow Canadian Ward Imrie on his way to qualifying for his first Minnesota Modified Nationals A-main. Lund and Dkystra would prove to make up the 12th and final row of the $7,000 to win main event.
With all the qualifying events in the books, the WISSOTA Mod Fours took to the speedway with 12 cars making the call. After the first two circuits, the track began to clear off with Dean Larson taking the lead. backDustin Zieske moved into the second spot before the midway point of the race, drawing closer and closer to Larson as the laps clicked off the board. With two laps remaining, Larson and Zieske caught up to the of some heavy lap traffic. Larson, however, made few mistakes taking the win over Zieske. Josh Abrahamson, Justin Smith, and Tyler Larson all scored top five finishes for the 1,650 lb. machines. Tom Silver and Abrahamson each scored heat race wins earlier in the evening for the WISSOTA Mod Fours.
The best race of the weekend proved to be the $1,000 to win WISSOTA Modified Non-qualifiers race. Alexandria’s own Dwayne Clarke checked out early on and looked as if he had the race in hand despite the fact that Dave Schroeder and Jamie Trautner had other ideas. A mid-race caution put Schroeder and Trautner on the rear bumper of Clarke for a Delaware double-file start. On the restart Schroeder jumped to the lead momentarily before Trautner blasted back on the top side taking the lead. The duo raced side by side for the remainder of the race with Schroeder making a last lap pass for the win coming off of turn four. Schroeder, Trautner, Jason Blascyk, Jody Bellefeuille, and Mark Esala rounded out the top five for the non-qualifiers race.
Shane Sabraski took the early lead on lap one of the WISSOTA Midwest Modified A-main. Sabraski looked smooth out front and was scored the leader at the conclusion of the first lap. Saurer and VandeKamp battled side by side for the second spot behind Sabraski while Shawn Nolan raced in fourth. Fourteenth starter Steve Houle looked very strong from the get go moving up seven spots early finding a home in the seventh spot, eight laps in. Back in traffic, Kelley Lake, MN hard charger Skeeter Estey began a spirited march to the front just 10 laps in as he cracked the top ten behind the front runners. A few yellows halted action during the middle stages of the event before order was restored. With six laps remaining, Saurer executed a power move on the top side of the speedway moving by Sabraski for the lead. Shane, however, would grab the lead back on the next lap and would never relinquish it in the final four times around. Estey’s magical run finally stalled after moving up 19 positions in 30 laps to finish fourth after starting 23rd! In the end it was Sabraski taking the $2,000 payday. Saurer, Houle, Estey, and VandeKamp all turned in top five performances. Twentieth starter Chris Mensen, Shawn Nolan, William Lund, and 21st starter George Dalbeck rounded out the top ten for the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds.
With all the weekend’s activities in the books, Ryan Gustin and Craig Thatcher brought the 25-car field to the green flag. The front row duo was locked in an early battle with it nearly impossible to determine the lap one leader. Thatcher climbed the hill on lap two and grabbed the lead as the field battle side by side from front to back. As the race wore on, Gustin became quicker and quicker taking the lead on lap 14. Fourth starter Dave Cain began to move forward nearing the 30-lap fuel stop taking the second spot from Thatcher in the process. Gustin negotiated a few lapped cars before taking the checkered flags at the conclusion of the first 30 laps. As the cars pulled in to the work area, fifth place running Jason Grimes headed pitside to change tires in an attempt to gain on the competition for the stretch run. With order restored Gustin brought the field back to the green. By this time it was more than apparent that the two cars on the move were fellow row ten starter Kelly Estey and Scot Danzeisen. With two to go, each had cracked the top ten still moving forward in the process. A couple yellows halted action during the ladder stages of the event which bunched up the field behind Gustin. With seven laps remaining it was Gustin followed by Cain, eighth starter Cody Skytland, Darrell Nelson, and Thatcher. The green flag dropped once again with Gustin showing the way. Skytland made a power move on the top side of the speedway and overtook Cain for the second while Darrell Nelson pulled up lame entering turn three. The field was able to negotiate Nelson without any contact with the race staying green. Estey continued his march to the front moving by Thatcher for the fourth spot on the final trip around. In the end it was all Gustin taking his first career Minnesota Modified Nationals Title. Skytland, Cain, Estey, Thatcher, Danzeisen, Jason Thoennes, Chase Junghans, Ryan Aho, and Jason Grimes rounded out the top 10 in one of the most star-studded fields you will ever see.
On behalf of FYE Motorsports and everyone at Viking Speedway we’d like to thank all the drivers, fans, pit crew members, and sponsors that made the weekend a success. Join us once again next Saturday night for another regular race program at the “High Flying ½ mile.” For more information regarding Viking Speedway log onto the track’s website at vikingspeedway.net.
Feature- Ryan Gustin, Cody Skytland, Dave Cain, Kelly Estey, Craig Thatcher, Scot Danzeisen, Jason Thoennes, Chase Junghans, Ryan Aho, Jason Grimes, Dallas Gulbrandson, Travis Saurer, Shane Sabraski, Josh Thoennes, Kyle Koehntop, Luke Dykstra, Dale Mathison, Jeremy Houle, Curt Lund, Dave Schroeder, Darrell Nelson, Rick Jacobson, Terry Engebretson, Jason Miller, Kyle Wieberdink
B-main 1- Saurer, Danzeisen, Storck, Wildman, Lund
B-main 2- Junghans, Engebretson, Edgington, Schroeder, Laske
B-main 3- Estey, Miller, Imrie, Lautigar, Lavasseur
Last Chance Qualifier- Lund, Dkystra
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds:
Feature- Shane Sabraski, Travis Saurer, Steve Houle, Skeeter Estey, Jason VandeKamp, Chris Mensen, Shawn Nolan, Brian Haben, William Lund, George Dalbeck, Levi Arneson, Matt Weisman, Denis Czech, Phil Braun, Josh Larsen, Andrew Nelson, Darrin Braaten, Jason Hoffman, Travis Vanderby, Brady Gerdes, Randy Laage, Troy Berends, Matt Suckow, Josh Muzik, Derek Quinn
B-main 1- Hoffman, Dalbeck, Estey, Larsen, Olson
B-main 2- Mensen, Czech, Muzik, Vanderby, Nelson
Last Chance Qualifier- Nelson, S. Olson
WISSOTA Mod Fours:
Feature- Dean Larson, Dustin Zieske, Josh Abrahamson, Justin Smith, Tyler Larson, Tom Silver, Ryan Buer, Brandon Linquist, Dustin Holquist, Dwight Gilyard, Chad Funt, Corey Nehk
Heat 1- Silver, D. Larson, T. Larson, D. Holquist, Gilyard, Nehk
Heat 2- Abrahamson, Zieske, Smith, Buer, Lindquist, Funt