By Mike Spieker
GRAND FORKS, ND (September 10) - For the previous nine John Seitz Memorial Late Model specials, the winner has taken home a hefty $9,200 check. Being that the 2016 edition was the 10th running of the event, RH Rebel Storage of Jamestown pitched in to make the winner’s payout the largest in WISSOTA’s history: $10,092. For the second time in the last three years, AJ Diemel of Elk Mound, WI was crowned champion and became the event’s second multi-time winner.
“I’ve just got to thank everybody for putting this race on,” said Diemel in RydellCars.com Victory Lane. “It’s just awesome. [River Cities Speedway] is about the raciest place you can run in the country. It was good racing all night long, it was a great night.”
Steve Laursen sat on the pole and jumped out to the early lead over 2009 Seitz Memorial champion, Pat Doar. Laursen and Doar ran first and second, respectively, until fifth starter Don Shaw moved into the runner-up position on lap 13. Shaw then set his sights on Laursen and drove by the Bobcat of Morris #19 on lap 30 to take over the lead.
The caution was displayed on lap 32 for the mandatory fuel stop. At the break, Shaw led Diemel, Laursen, Jake Redetzke, and Brad Seng.
When the race resumed, Shaw and Diemel went toe to toe for the race lead, setting up a rematch of their classic battle in 2014, which ended in disaster for Shaw and triumph for Diemel. Diemel put heavy pressure on the Shaw Trucking #42, but for the time being Shaw had the speed to hold off Diemel. The caution was displayed again on lap 37 as Seng and Laursen made contact in turn three, which sent Laursen off the banking. The incident ultimately brought an early end to the night for Laursen and he was credited with a disappointing 24th place finish.
The Evergreen Insurance restart brought the green flag back out as Redetzke slid by Seng into third. Shaw fended off Diemel for the next couple laps before stretching out to a comfortable 10 car length lead. On lap 50 Shaw began to encounter lapped traffic, which allowed Diemel to close in. Within three laps the top two runners were side by side for the lead with Diemel running along the berm on the bottom and Shaw way up top on the thin, treacherous cushion. Diemel had a strong run down the back stretch on lap 57 and looked as though he was going to clear Shaw for the lead, but a lapped car impeded Diemel’s momentum and allowed Shaw to maintain the point. Diemel battled back on the next circuit and cleared for the lead as Shaw got stuck in the middle groove.
Redetzke followed Diemel and filed into second and the two Wisconsinites paced the field until the final caution on lap 80. On the restart, Shaw moved back into second and set his sights on Diemel one last time. Shaw had his Victory by Moyer wound up on the top and was right on the heels of Diemel, but Diemel was just too tough on the bottom. Diemel withstood Shaw’s final challenge and went on to score his second Seitz Memorial title, joining Brad Seng as the only two drivers with two Seitz wins on their resume.
“Once we got rolling I knew we had a pretty good car,” continued Diemel. “A lot of those guys were running right in the middle and using their stuff up quite a bit. I hate to pass Don [Shaw], I know this race means a lot to him too. But everything turned out great and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Shaw, and Jeffrey Massingill finished on the podium as Joey Pederson drove from 13th to fourth with Brad Seng rounding out the top five. 2015 champion, Chad Mahder drove from 18th to sixth and was the race’s hard charger.
It looked as though Ryan Johnson was going to sweep the Wells Concrete Street Stock action for the weekend until defending WISSOTA national champion, Jordan Tollakson, placed a bid for the lead in the final laps of the main event. Tollakson found an opening at the bottom of the speedway and pulled even with Johnson with two laps to go. The two drivers rubbed a bit coming off of turn four as Tollakson won the drag race to the Valley Sunrise Properties flagstone to capture the $920 win. Johnson, Kyle Dykhoff, Ryan Flaten, and Jonny Carter rounded out the top five.
After topping the field of Happy Harry’s Midwest Modifieds last Friday night, but being denied the victory for not scaling after the race, Rick Hamel dominatedSaturday’s 24-car, 20-lap A-main. Hamel led every circuit around the three-tenths mile bullring en route to the victory, as a highly contested battle for second waged on behind him.
Brock Gronwold, Brent Schmidt, and Jason Halvorson raced three wide for the runner-up spot at the halfway point with seventh place starter, Gronwold, taking the position. Gronwold chased Hamel to the checkers to finish second as Schmidt, Grant Hall, and Mike Nichols, who started 22nd, rounded out the top five. Austin Hunter, who started 19th, also had an impressive performance with his drive from 19th to sixth.
Matt Gilbertson led the bookends of the WISSOTA Modified feature, but there was a whole lot of action in between. On lap seven Friday night’s winner, Zach Johnson, moved by Gilbertson for the lead, but Gilbertson came back to regain the point the following lap. Right there in the mix was two-time WISSOTA Modified national champion, Blake Jegtvig, who ran in the third spot. On lap 13 Johnson came back at Gilbertson once again to take the lead, bringing Johnny Broking with him.
On the lap 19 restart, Broking found a way around Johnson to take the lead as Gilbertson raced back into second. Gilbertson then put his #23 up on the cushion and began to reel in Broking. With eight to go, Gilbertson made what ended up being the race winning move as he took the lead coming out of turn four. Broking hung on to finish second as Ward Imrie made a late race charge to finish third. Johnson and Bob Broking rounded out the top five.