By Ryan Schmitz
ALEXANDRIA, MN (May 12) – The 2011 WISSOTA Midwest Modified national champion, Travis Saurer, picked up right where he left off and captured both the WISSOTA Midwest Modified and WISSOTA Modified feature Saturday night at Viking Speedway. Other winners on the evening included Andrew Bangsund (WISSOTA Street Stocks), Corey Tammen (WISSOTA Super Stocks) and Zach Johnson (WISSOTA Late Models) as the 2012 WISSOTA AMSOIL Dirt Track Series season came to life at Viking Speedway.
The WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature was first on the docket and 24 cars made the call for the event. Saurer, the outside polesitter, bolted to an early advantage over his father, polesitter Ron Saurer. As the Saurer duo raced out front they were joined by Shawn Olson and the trio began to pull away from the rest of the large field. An early caution bunched the field up, and Travis Saurer contined to lead Ron Saurer and Olson. There was a red flag situation on lap three when Parkers Prairie driver Brooke Hellerman ended up on her side in turn three. After a short delay to clean up the mess, which elminated Hellerman, Josh Muzik and Todd Berg, the field once again took the green.
When the green flew Saurer faced competition from a new player, Jason Vejtruba, who began to work the low side of the speedway. The caution once again flew with eight to go when fifth place running Olson’s machine came to a halt on the back stretch.
Once the field was lined back up, it was apparent that no one had anything for Saurer and he held on to record his second overall feature win of the season. Ron Saurer, 12th starter Brian Haben, Vejtruba and William Lund rounded out the top five.
Darrin Braten, Lund, Vejtruba and Travis Saurer were heat race winners earlier in the evening and Dan Greely picked up the B Feature win.
Alexandria drivers Andrew Bangsund and Brett Miller brought the eight car WISSOTA Street Stock field to the green flag for their 10 lap feature. Bangsund quickly jumped out to a slight advantage over third starter Justin Vogel and Adam Burrows. The three continued to battle, sometimes three wide, lap after lap. Around the midway point Vogel made a low side pass of Bangsund, which put him at the point with only five laps remaining. Bangsund was able to find his way back around Vogel’s machine and held off a last corner pass attempt by Vogel to secure the feature win. Bangsund was followed across the line by Vogel, Mark Blom, Burrows and Miller.
Miller was the winner of the lone heat race in the class.
Next up came the 14 car WISSOTA Super Stock feature. Cory Tammen and Derrick Lemke blasted from thier sixth and fourth place starting spots right from the drop of the green and began battling for the top spot. The duo was quickly joined by multi-time track champion Jon Stepan and Dalton, MN driver Trevor Saurer. Tammen was able to pull out to a large advantage over Lemke and led the remaining circuits for his first Viking Speedway win of the season. Following Tammen across the line were Lemke, Stepan, Saurer and outside polesitter Matt Miller.
Jeff Flaten and Miller were victorious in the division’s two heat races.
Mark Esala and Dennis Bitzan paced the Morris Auto Plaza WISSOTA Modified field to the green flag. As the cars entered turn one Thoennes made a high side pass to gain the early lead with Bitzan, Josh Thoennes and Cody Skytland in tow. During the yellow flag Josh Thoennes, the leader’s brother, retired pit side with broken front end parts. That put Jason Thoennes on the point when the green came back out.
Seven laps into the feature, sixth starter Travis Saurer joined the fray up front and made a daring pass as he threaded two cars down the back straighaway and went up to battle Thoennes for the lead. Saurer was able to make his way around Thoennes on the high side of the speedway and moved out to a comfortable advantage. But with seven laps remaining Saurer drove his car too hard into turn one and slipped over the banking. That gave the lead back to Thoennes, but before the field could complete a full lap, a Terry Engebretson spin brought out the yellow flag. It was determined that Saurer was the leader on the last scored lap and he was renamed the leader ahead of Thoennes, Skytland and Mike Storck. During the yellow flag period Skytland pulled off the track with a front suspension issue and that ended his night.
Once the green came back out Saurer built a commanding lead and held on to score the win ahead of Thoennes, Storck, 15th starter Danny Bayer and Bitzan.
Saurer, Skytland and Brett Hoium all picked up heat wins earlier in the night.
The final event of evening was a WISSOTA Late Model main that featured one of the most star-studded fields in recent memory. The 2011 World of Outlaws rookie of the year, Pat Doar, and former WISSOTA 100 Race Of Champions winner Kyle Peterlin manned the front row for the 20 lap shootout. Doar jumped out to an early advantage only to see the caution flag wave for a multi-car spin that sent two time defending national champion Ricky Weiss flying off the back stretch.
Once order was restored a complete restart was in order and Doar jumped back out to the lead. Zach Johnson, also a multi-time WISSOTA champion, continued to work the bottom side of the speedway in an effort to corral Doar. Near the midway point of the race Johnson was able to drive his machine hard to the inside of Doar and completed the pass. Afterward, Johnson pulled away from Doar and picked up his first win of the young season. Doar, Weiss, Jeff Wildung and Jeremy Keller rounded out the top five.
Weiss and Johnson picked up heat race wins in the divisions two heat races.
The speedway will be back in action next Saturday night, May 19 at 5:30 p.m., but the WISSOTA Late Models will have the weekend off as the Northern Outlaw 410 Sprint Cars roll into town to do battle on the big half mile track. For more news or any Viking Speedway information, please visit online at www.vikingspeedway.net.
WISSOTA Late Models:
Feature – Johnson, Doar, Weiss, Wildung, Keller, Peterlin, Kirwin, Balcaen, Nelson, Shaw, Parson, Frank, Edginton, Patchen, Michaelsohn, Lehn, Washburn
Heat 1 – Ricky Weiss, Rick Nelson, Mike Balcaen, Todd Frank, Scott Lehn, Jeff Wildung, Billy Michaelsohn, Shane Edginton, Clarance Washburn
Heat 2 – Zach Johnson, Pat Doar, Kyle Peterlin, Jeremy Keller, Toby Patchen, Brad Parson, Shawn Kirwin, Don Shaw
Feature – Saurer, Ja. Thoennes, Storck, Bayer, Bitzan, Schroeder, Imrie, Wildman, Hoium, Gronwold, Gierke, Gerdes, Merten, Werk, Engebretson, Gulbrandson, Skytland, Esala, Jo. Thoennes
Heat 1 – Travis Saurer, Jason Thoennes, Mike Storck, Dallas Gulbrandson, Brady Gerdes, Danny Bayer, Terry Merten
Heat 2 – Cody Skytland, Terry Engebretson, Josh Thoennes, Dave Schroeder, Bobby Gierke, Brock Gronwold
Heat 3 – Brett Hoium, Mark Esala, Dennis Bitzan, Jake Wildman, Ward Imrie, Scott Werk
WISSOTA Super Stocks:
Feature – Tammen, Lemke, Stepan, Saurer, Miller, Flaten, Lund, Cook, Johnson, Yeats, Baker, Hellerman, Lee, Kluver
Heat 1 – Jeff Flaten, Alan Johnson, Jeff Kluver, Jon Stepan, Cody Lee, Rocky Yeats, Larry Lund
Heat 2 – Matt Miller, Derrick Lemke, Cory Tammen, Trevor Saurer, Jason Cook, Dominic Baker, Byran Hellerman
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds:
Feature – T. Saurer, R. Saurer, Haben, Vejtruba, Lund, Kerzman, Bitzan, C. Mensen, Deters, Braaten, Ty. Vanderby, Brejcha, Greely, Hanson, T. Mensen, Haack, Olson, Spanswick, Hellerman, Muzik, Berg, Karl, Reents, Berends
Heat 1 – Darrin Braten, Todd Berg, Josh Muzik, Brian Haben, Tyler Vanderby, Dan Greely, Ryan Schleusner, Steve Johnson
Heat 2 – William Lund, Brooke Hellerman, Dustin Karl, Travis Vanderby, Jason Hoffman, Randy Laage, Hayden Hanson, Kyle Schmidt
Heat 3 – Jason Vejtruba, Shawn Olson, Brandon Spanswick, Chris Mensen, Patrick Brejcha, Kelly Haack, Jayden Berends
Heat 4 – Travis Saurer, Ron Saurer, Dustin Bitzan, Kurt Deters, Jeremy Kerzman, Kyle Reents, Tim Mensen
B Feature – Greely, Haack, Reents, Berends, Karl, Hanson, Mensen, Laage, Schleusner, Hoffman, Johnson, Tr. Vanderby, Schmidt
WISSOTA Street Stocks:
Feature – Bansgund, Vogel, Blom, Burrows, Miller, Winter, Maus-Krippner, Stewart
Heat 1 – Brett Miller, Justin Vogel, Andrew Bangsund, Adam Burrows, Chris Winter, Tiffany Maus-Krippner, Vern Stewart, Mark Blom