ALEXANDRIA, MN (May 17th, 2014) By Becky Schmitz
Local legend, Dennis Bitzan, held off a strong field of nineteen WISSOTA Modifieds to claim his first win of the 2014 season during a great opening night at the High Flyin’ Half Mile. After all the rain and cold, the 2014 WISSOTA AMSOIL Season Opener finally took place at the Viking Speedway, where a strong field of eighty plus cars filled the pit area with hopes of finding their way into Alexandria Motors Victory Lane. The night’s racing action was sponsored by Bernick’s Pepsi and Hilltop Lumber.
After all the heat race action was in the books, the night’s features kicked off with a nice line up of Viking Pure Stocks; Tami Naslund, of LIttle Falls, captured her first feature win of the 2014 season. Naslund became the first female to ever win multiple features in the forty nine year history of the speedway. Not far behind was Travis Kunz, with a second place finish and Brendon Scott in third. Jon Crouse of Alexandria made an appearance and revived the old ’29 car, once driven by the 2014 Hall of Famer, Larry Crouse, to finish with a strong 5th place finish for the night. Brock Volker of Hoffman, MN picked up the heat win.
The six WISSOTA Street Stocks came out swinging, with some drivers showing off their new cars. The small field was able to get the crowd on their feet with an exciting finish between Darrin Landmark and Justin Vogel. With two Laps to go, Landmark lead the field as Vogel, of Brooten, was hot on his trail. It came down to turn four with the two battling it out. The first to cross the line was Landmark, clinching the Street Stock feature win. Landmark was also the heat race winner .
As the sun started to set, the rumble of twenty five WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds hit the track. First year Mid Mod driver Cody Lee in the 50C charged through the field, passing ten cars, to capture the feature win. Ron Saurer of Dalton, MN, claimed second and Shawn Olson came from twelfth place to round out the top three. Pole sitter Tim Kanten blasted off to the early lead with sophomore driver Corey Storck in tow and two-time national champion Travis Saurer close behind. Kanten had his hands full trying to hold off T.Saurer and Andrew Bangsund who quickly jumped from his 4th starting position into second. Bangsund would eventually take the lead away from Kanten only to lose it a few laps later to Thorstad who dove low into turn one taking advantage of T.Saurer who had a flat left front tire and Bangsund who had to lift to avoid contact with Thorstad. T.Saurer would come to the pits during a caution caused by a spinning Scott Zimmerman. T.Saurer’s crew got him some new rubber and he joined the rear of the field eventually making his way back up to take the 7th spot. Thorstad would continue to show the way until a broken right rear axle with 3 laps to go allowed Cody Lee to take over the top spot. Thorstad was able to finish the race in tenth with smoke pouring out his rear axle. Bangsund had a strong run from 4th to the front but a spin out set him back to an eventual 9th place finish. Following her big brother, Haley Lee, in her second year in the Midwest Modifieds, started twenty fourth and ended the night in eleventh place. Thorstad, R.Saurer, and Jason Hoffman claimed the three heat race wins in the Sower Power sponsored Midwest Modified Division..
Next to take the track were the Alexandria Refrigeration WISSOTA Super Stocks. After several cautions, the 2013 track champion, Jeff Crouse was the big feature winner of the evening. As the green flag dropped, Crouse bolted straight to the lead, working to hold that position as the 2H car of Bryan Hellerman who started thirteenth, worked his way towards the head of the pack. Hellerman eventually settled into the second spot and ended up second in the final tally. Matt Miller, in the 13M car, started 14th and rounded out the top three for the night. Jon Stepan, after
￼suffering a flat tire while running in the top three, worked his way back to a fourth place finish. Trevor Saurer and Jeff Crouse where the heat winners.
The next feature of the evening belonged to the T&S Electric and Diamond Buick GMC WISSOTA Modifieds. Outside pole sitter, Dennis Bitzan, blasted to the lead on the high side of the
speedway, while Brady Gerdes settled into the second spot. Lap after lap Bitzan continued to hold the lead while Gerdes looked for a way around him. As the laps continued to tick down, Gerdes continued to cut into Bitzan’s lead, but to no avail. Bitzan held on for the hard fought win. Gerdes came home second, followed by pole sitter Travis Saurer in third. Shaun Peterson, in his first night in his new modified, came home fourth and Redwood Falls visitor Tyle Limoges rounded out the top five. Jason Thoennes, Cody Skytland and Peterson were the heat race winners.
Finishing off the evening were the NAPA of Glenwood WISSOTA Late Models. Multi time track champion Jeff Wildung took control early in the event, while Brad Parson settled into the second spot. Wildung would continue to lead until a mid race caution for Mike Balcaen and Eric Breeschoten. Both drivers retired to the pits with mechanical issues. Head Flagman, Mike Blom brought the field back to life from the Bug a Boo Bay flagstand. Once again Wildung moved out to an advantage over Parson and Zach Johnson. Wildung continued to lead the final laps of the night and raced to his first win of the 2014 season. Johnson settled for the runner up spot with Parson
in third, Rick Nelson was fourth and North Dakota pilot Dustin Bluhm rounded out the top five. Rick Nelson won the heat race.
After an exciting first night of racing at the Viking Speedway, the NLRA Late Models headline the big Memorial Day weekend doubleheader, along with a full show of all classes both Saturday and Sunday night. Race time for both nights is 6:45pm. For more information about the Speedway, please visit them online at www.vikingspeedway.net, or “like” the track on Facebook.
WISSOTA Late Models
Heat 1: Rick Nelson, Jeff Wildung, Brad Parson, Mike Balcaen, Eric Breeschoten, Zach Johnson, Dustin Bluhm
Feature: Wildung, Johnson, Parson, Nelson, Bluhm, Balcaen, Breeschoten
Heat 1: Jason Thoennes, Mark Esala, Tyler Limoges, Jeff Flaten, Jake Wildman, Todd Berg, Jim Nystrom
Heat 2: Cody Skytland, Travis Saurer, Brady Gerdes, Mike Storck, Josh Thoennes, Danny Bayer Heat 3: Shaun Peterson, Dave Schroeder, Dennis Bitzan, Jeremy Nelson, Dale Mathison, Jeff Wildung
Feature: Bitzan, Gerdes, Saurer, Peterson, Limoges, Ja. Thoennes, Esala, Flaten, Storck, Jo. Thoennes, Nelson, Schroeder, Skytland, Mathison, Wildman, Bayer, Berg, Wildung, Nystrom WISSOTA Super Stocks
Heat 1: Jeff Crouse, Alan Johnson, Jeff Kluver, Chris Winter, Jeremy Tyson, Bryan Hellerman, Matt Miller, Rocky Yeats
Heat 2: Trevor Saurer, Mike Peterson, Jon Stepan, Derrick Lemke, Dominic Baker, Derek Quinn, Ben Johnson, Craig Hiemstra
Feature: Crouse, Hellerman, Miller, Stepan, Kluver, Winter, Lemke, Saurer, Hiemstra, Yeats, A. Johnson, B. Johnson, Baker, Tyson, Quinn, Peterson
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Heat 1: Jamie Thorstad, Andrew Bangsund, Corey Storck, Tyler Vanderby, Scott Zimmerman, Justin Froemming, Hayden Hanson, Shane Kruger, Dalton Johnson
Heat 2: Ron Saurer, Travis Saurer, Nick Bruder, Cody Lee, Greg Platzer, Blake Boelens, Josh Muzik, Corey Flynn, Richard Schwardt
Heat 3: Jason Hoffman, Tim Ims, Tim Kanten, Shawn Olson, Mckenzie Gerdes, Chad Vanoverbeke, Haley Lee
Feature: C. Lee, R. Saurer, Olson, Bruder, Hoffman, Ims, T. Saurer, Hanson, Bangsund, Thorstad, H. Lee, Gerdes, Kruger, Platzer, Johnson, Boelens, Flynn, Kanten, Zimmerman, Froemming, Schwardt, Vanderby, Storck, Muzik, Vanoverbeke
WISSOTA Street Stocks
Heat: Darrin Landmark, Justin Vogel, Adam Burrows, Brett Miller, Ryan Satter, Jake Huston Feature: Landmark, Vogel, Satter, Huston, Miller, Burrows,
Viking Pure Stocks
Heat: Brock Volker, Tami Naslund, Jon Crouse, Travis Kunz, Craig Gardner, Brendon Scott Feature: Naslund, Kunz, Scott, Volker, Crouse, Gardner