After four nights featuring more than 360 race cars, the 2018 Speedway Motors Wissota 100 is in the books.
What an event this was. The crowd on Saturday night was phenomenal – I don’t have a great guess on actual amounts but I would venture to say between 5,000-6,000 people. The tailgate area was packed.
There were some bugs and glitches and always things to improve on but for the first time hosting an event of this magnitude, I-94 Speedway did a heck of a job in my book. The expanded pit area – which I was skeptical of how it would work – was really nicely done. Good-size pit stalls, plus some portable lighting help keep the area well lit. Campsite seemed organized too.
The parade of champions – 190-plus cars on the track all at once – was a big highlight for fans and drivers alike. One of the things I love about the event is seeing drivers from Montana and Wyoming face off against drivers from Wisconsin and Minnesota, for example.
One takeaway I had was the amount of people who described this event as “fun.” A lot of times four nights of racing wears a person out, plus if there are wrecks that can piss people off. But it seemed like most were in good spirits on Saturday night (aside from a few who didn’t have good nights or were upset with an official’s call). There will always be some unhappy people but I didn’t get the sense that many people were in that boat.
Take Kasey Ussatis of Nome, N.D., for example. He is likely the Wissota Street Stock Rookie of the Year, and his goal was to make the big show for the first time. He did just that, and finished 19th. For Ussatis it was not only a thrill to make the show but also a great thing to be part of the parade of champions.
Eric Riley of Morris was another driver – his goal was to make the show. He had some early damage in Saturday’s feature and finished 14th after restarting 26th. Again, another driver who had fun this week. Maria Broksieck had a similar view – the Goodwin, SD driver wanted to make the A main in the street stocks this week but her ultimate goal for the week was to have fun. She had a nice week, finishing 11th on Saturday after starting 27th.
Several drivers in post race interviews commented on how fun the week was. National point leader Ward Imrie didn’t have a great finish but posted what a good week it was.
Having fun is what events like this are all about, and I as a fan loved every minute I was able to be there.
What a roller coaster week for Justin Vogel of Brooten in the street stocks. He crashed early in his heat race on Wednesday and didn’t even make the qualifying feature. On Thursday he came back and won the Race of Champions and made the A feature, starting on the front row. On Saturday, the national point leader led all 25 laps to pick up the Wissota Street Stock feature win, his first Wissota 100 title.
Vogel’s burnout was one of the most memorable celebrations of the night. He spun those tires to the point where the flagman actually had to tell him to stop and save his tires – for postrace inspection they needed tire samples (customary after a race like that).
Danny Richards and Kyle Dykhoff were on Vogel’s tail, and Richards had a good run on the inside with two laps to go when the caution came out. Vogel got a good start to finish the deal. Richards, who won $16,000 for the Little Dream, was second, and Dykhoff ran a good race as well.
The late model race had some controversy. There was an incident seven laps in where Don Shaw, one of the prerace favorites, got into Cole Schill, causing Schill to spin and bringing out the yellow. Shaw was ruled to have caused the caution – seemed like an obvious call to me and most of the fans there based on their reaction – and wasn’t happy about being sent to the back and elected to pull in. Schill was able to continue but said his toe was messed up; he went from having a top five car to finishing xxth. Dan Ebert was a casualty of that incident, as the 66 car made hard contact and was damaged, ending his race. So basically three top-five caliber cars were out as a result of this incident, as Shaw pulled in.
One thought on that crash. I am not sure why someone would try and win a 40-lap feature on the seventh lap, and that’s exactly what it seemed to be with Shaw. This is just one fan’s opinion but driving that aggressively at the time was not necessary. It was uncalled for and I was a little surprised Shaw thought he should get his spot back.
The drama wasn’t over. Ricky Weiss passed Jeff Wildung for the lead and led the rest of the way. The car on the move was Marshall Fegers of Savage. He moved into second and set his sights on Weiss.
Weiss didn’t make any mistakes and picked up the win with Fegers second. However, at the scale, Fegers was light and was disqualified, moving Wildung to second and Shane Edginton of Winnipeg into third. Tough break for Fegers, drove a nice race.
Think about this for Weiss. He won the North-South 100 in Kentucky (Lucas Oil show) in August that was worth $50,000. He won the $9,200 Seitz Memorial on Sept. 8 in Grand Forks, and added $10,000 for Saturday’s Wissota 100 win, which was his first. That is $69,200 for three wins, a big chunk of change.
Wildung has not had a good year, with only one feature win, but his runner-up finish was worth $5,000 so that helps erase some of those struggles somewhat.
Some drivers I want to mention in the late models. Josh Skorczewski of Aberdeen started 14th but worked his way up to fourth at the checkered. Kyle Peterlin of Hibbing also ran well, finishing fifth. Casey Meyer of Wahpeton made a charge through the field to finish sixth after starting 24th. And late model rookie Jordan Tollakson recorded a top 10 finish — eighth — in his first 100 in a late model. Tollakson had won the Wissota 100 street stock title four years in a row.
Skeeter Estey’s hold on the Wissota Midwest Modified national point lead was tightened with Saturday’s win. He has 29 wins on the year and he effectively used the high line to win his first Wissota 100. Shane Halopka, the 2014 winner, was second with Cody the Cobra Lee taking third. A tip of the hat to Matt Schow of McIntosh, who was fifth. He had a great battle with Scott “Rebel” Bintz for fourth for the last half of the race. Schow started ninth and finished in the top five a good weekend for the 2S car.
As far as predictions go, I went 2-for-6 – picking Ricky Weiss and Dave Mass. I didn’t have any idea that Tim Johnson was going to hop into a Wissota Mod 4. Second night in the car, and the guy wins the Wissota 100 after starting 13th. Johnson can drive anything you put in front of him.
Keep in mind, Johnson qualified for four features on the weekend – that’s right, four – which might be unprecedented in Wissota 100 history. He competed in the Wissota Street Stock, Super Stock, Mod 4 and Midwest Modified divisions.
Dave Mass of Isanti outlasted Don Eischens for the Wissota Super Stock win. No shocker there. It was a nice run for Kevin Burdick of Proctor, who is the national point leader and finished third. Dave Flynn of Superior also looked good, finishing fifth. The Duluth-Superior area Super Stocks certainly accounted well for themselves this week.
Dave Cain of Corcoran is smooth as can be and picked up another Wissota 100 title in the modifieds. Kelly Estey of Hibbing led early and had a good battle with Cain but ended up finishing 28th.
Shane Sabraski finished sixth in the super stock main and was second in the modifieds to cap off a good weekend. Landon Atkinson of Little Falls looked strong on Saturday, taking third. Brett Hoium of Villard continued his excellent September in taking fourth while Jason Thoennes of Garfield ran a solid fifth.
The three IMCA regulars from the Fargo-Moorhead region certainly held their own. Mike Greseth of Harwood finished 10th and looked good in doing so. Dylan Goplen, running Wissota for the first time this year, finished 20th while Tyler Peterson finished 17th. Peterson also ran in the Race of Champions.
Johnson qualified for four features; Shane Sabraski qualified for two (Wissota Super Stock and Modified) as did Travis Saurer (Wissota Midwest Modified and Modified), Cole Searing (Wissota Midwest Modified and Super Stock) and Ebert (Wissota Mod and Late Models).
Double duty drivers (for the week)
Rick Jacobson, Bemidji (Wissota Mod and Midwest Mod)
Travis Saurer, Elizabeth (Wissota Mod and Midwest Mod)
Tim Johnson, Brainerd (Wissota Mod 4, Midwest Mod, Super Stock and Street Stock)
Shane Sabraski, Rice (Wissota Super Stock and Mod)
Ricky Weiss, Headingley, Man. (Wissota Mod and Late Model)
Lance Schill, Langdon, N.D. (Wissota Midwest Mod and Mod)
Cole Searing, Huron, SD (Wissota Super Stock and Mid Mod)
Dan Ebert, Lake Shore (Wissota Late Model and Mod)
Brandon Dolman, Alexandria (Wissota Mod and Midwest Mod)
Ryan Engels, Watertown, SD (Wissota Late Model and Mod)
Jeff Brauer, Rochester (Wissota Super Stock and Street Stock)
Kyle Dykhoff, Starbuck (Wissota Midwest Mod and Street Stock)
Cory Tammen, Moorhead (Wissota Super Stock and Late Model)
I am guessing I-94 will work to improve things that need work – there are always things to tweak – but I think Wissota and track officials have to be pleased with the week. overall. Plus, the weather cooperated all week – no rain!