WDAZ Night recap, presented by RydellCars.com
AFCO Race of Champions Qualifier Highlights WDAZ Night at River Cities
By Mike Spieker
GRAND FORKS, ND (August 14) – The WISSOTA PolyDome Dirt Track Series was back in action Friday night at River Cities Speedway with the spotlight shining bring upon the Late Models, Midwest Modifieds, and Street Stocks. With it being the annual AFCO Race of Champions qualifying night, the winners of each division would receive an automatic starting spot in the race of champions event during the WISSOTA 100, which is held at the Dakota State Fair Speedway in Huron, South Dakota in late September. Also on the docket was the return of the IMCA Modifieds.
A season high 22 WISSOTA Late Models made up the starting grid for the 20 lap main event. Bill Mooney and Steffen Snare paced the field as the green flag dropped. Mooney grabbed the lead on lap one as a pair of black #71’s battled for second. At the completion of lap two Dustin Strand took the position over Snare, who suddenly had his hands full trying to fend off defending WISSOTA national champion, Ricky Weiss. Weiss took third away from Snare on lap four as Strand drove by Mooney for the point on lap five. Seventh starting Weiss was on a mission in search of his third RCS victory in 2015 and took second away from Mooney on lap seven. He then set his sights on the 2013 NLRA Late Model series champion. Strand proved that he was the class of the field, however, as he held off Weiss and cruised to his second RCS victory of the season by a margin of 0.635. Mooney came home third, followed by Snare, and Mike Balcaen. With the win, Strand ties Pat Doar and Tom Corcoran for 14th on the RCS all-time Late Model wins list.
The Happy Harry’s Bottle Shop’s WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature kicked off with Ricky Hamel and Reise Stenberg on the front row. Hamel jumped out to the lead as Stenberg and Preston Carr battled for second. Carr took the position on lap three, but his stint in the runner-up spot was short lived as the hard charging Matt Schow came from seventh to second in just four laps. Schow then chased the S&S Agri-Service #22 for the next 10 circuits around the 3/10th mile oval. Schow made his move on lap 13 of 15 and maneuvered passed Hamel to take over the point. Hamel did everything he could to regain the lead, but Schow pulled away and claimed his second consecutive victory. Millenium Chassis swept the podium as Hamel and Carr came home second and third, as Stenberg, and Aaron Blacklance rounded out the top five.
Last week’s feature winner, Heath Corneliusen started on the pole for the Wells Concrete WISSOTA Street Stock main event with Steven Richards lined up to his outside. Corneliusen put the #923 into the lead on the opening lap and never looked back as he led wire to wire to claim his second career and second consecutive feature win at RCS. It was no easy task, however, as the Salol, MN driver was challenged by current point leader, Jim Geringer, and by Ryan Flaten’s 1955 Chevy in the closing laps. Corneliusen remained smooth and steady as he raced around the bullring and picked up the victory by just over two-tenths of a second. Flaten finished second as Geringer, Doug VanMill, and Bryce Reimer rounded out the top five.
IMCA Modifieds were back in town for their second-ever appearance at River Cities. Rob VanMil picked up the win from the seventh starting position. He held off Grand Forks’ Dustin Strand, who flew from 12th to the runner-up spot. The win was VanMil’s second at RCS and first since his WISSOTA Mod Four victory on June 12, 1999.
Dustin Strand was named the night’s PS Garage Doors “Driver of the Night” as he picked up the Late Model feature win and was the hard charger of the IMCA Modified feature.
Next Friday night the World of Outlaw Sprint Car Series will make their second and final stop of the season to River Cities Speedway. North Dakota native, Donny Schatz, is fresh off his ninth FVP Knoxville Nationals victory in the last 10 years and will be looking for his 24th feature win as well as the RCS season sweep. Also included in the program will be the NLRA Late Models. Series point leader, Mike Balcaen, will head into Friday night with a slim nine point advantage over Dustin Strand. Donny Schatz is also expected to compete with the NLRA Late Models once again. Hot laps begin at 6:30 with WoO time trials slated for 7pm. For more event and ticket information, visit rivercitiesspeedway.com.
Feature – Dustin Strand, Ricky Weiss, Bill Mooney, Steffen Snare, Mike Balcaen, Brad Seng, Zach Naastad, Joey Pederson, David Smith, Cole Schill, John Halverson, Tom Corcoran, Steve Anderson, Robert Bladow, John Buchner, Brad Kerrison, Jeff Hapala, Matt Gerlach-Smith, Brandon Fuller, Curtis Fortowski, Terry Blacklance, Kevin Sexton
Heat 1 – Weiss, Balcaen, Strand, Pederson, Halverson, Bladow, Fortowski, Buchner
Heat 2 – Smith, Schill, Seng, Naastad, Corcoran, Gerlach-Smith, Fuller
Heat 3 – Snare, Anderson, Mooney, Hapala, Kerrison, Sexton, Blacklance
Feature – Matt Schow, Rick Hamel, Preston Carr, Reise Stenberg, Aaron Blacklance, Ryan Schow, Zach Bruer, Austin Hunter, Ryan Schroeder, Scott Vasichek, Timothy Berg, Jamie Dietzler, Joseph Henninger, Patrick Rethemeier, Nate Reynolds, Todd Johnson, Murray Kozie, Dallas Brevik, Ron Reed, Darren Pfau, Andrew Maxwell
Heat 1 – Berg, Hamel, Blacklance, Reed, R. Schow, Maxwell, Dietzler
Heat 2 – Carr, Pfau, Stenberg, Johnson, Hunter, Kozie, Brevik
Heat 3 – M. Schow, Bruer, Vasichek, Schroeder, Reynolds, Rethemeier, Henninger
Feature – Rob VanMill, Dustin Strand, Michael Johnson, Timothy Perkins, Mike Anderson, Jesse Rogotzke, Curt Lund, Dev Malmlov, Josh Rogotzke, Ryan Fike, Tyler Hall, Justin Medler
Heat 1 – Perkins, Malmlov, Hall, Johnson, Fike, Anderson
Heat 2 – VanMill, Medler, Lund, Jo. Rogotzke, Je. Rogotzke, Strand
Feature – Heath Corneliusen, Ryan Flaten, Jim Geringer, Doug VanMill, Bryce Reimer, Nick Minske, Rick Schulz, Daniel McNamee, Chase Boen, Travis Robertson, Tony Bundy, James Meagher, Ryan Johnson, Cliff Reeves, Tiffany Noreikis, John Sandvig, Steven Richards, Jersy Porter
Heat 1 – Corneliusen, Geringer, Minske, Schulz, Reeves, Porter
Heat 2 – Flaten, McNamee, Richards, Boen, Robertson, Meagher
Heat 3 – Johnson, Reimer, VanMill, Bundy, Sandvig, Noreikis