AUSTIN EDITION Driver turnout strong for Chateau opener
LANSING -- The 2002 stock car racing season got underway Friday night at Chateau Raceway with a field of 98 cars filling the pits.
Drivers from four states made the trek to Lansing. Along with the usual Minnesota and Iowa drivers, cars were in from South Dakota and Wisconsin as well. A total of 23 drivers were new to Chateau.
A trio of events contributed to a rough track in turns one and two for opening night. Frost has been slow coming out of that end of the track, and Thursday's rain made it difficult to get those turns in shape.
Track officials worked through the night, taking four breaks to run the blade in an attempt to smooth out the turns. The blading helped, but the corner was still rough and the drivers had to deal with it. Officials plan to dig up that end of the track before next Friday, dry it out and roll it back.
Part of the enjoyment of opening night is seeing the new paint jobs and discovering who has moved up in class. Some of the big jumps included Jason Gabrielson of Austin going from Wissota Street Stock to the Open Modified Division. Shaun Olson of Hollandale, Corey Miller of Rochester, and Matt Madsen of Blooming Prairie went from the Wissota Midwest Mods up to the Open class.
Greg Kral of Glenville and Heather Raymond of Austin went from Pure Stock to Wissota Midwest Modifieds. Raymond will be looking for the bonus check, which has been growing each of the last three seasons and is now up to $2,100 for the first woman to grab a feature win at Lansing. Rick Lisowski of Faribault and Bruce Radel of Owatonna have made the jump from Pure Stock up to the Wissota Street Stock class this season.
The Wissota Midwest Modifieds had the high-car count of the night with 25 on hand. Scott Anderson, making the long drive from Phillips, Wis., came out of the night with the big feature check as he drove from row 5 to the front on row 9 to take the win.
The Modified Class went open this season at Lansing and the car count was just behind the Midwest Mods as they brought in 24 for the night. The feature was marred by several yellows, including one on lap 7 when race leader Todd Scharkey had things go awry.
Both Scharkey and Tommy Myer dropped out on the same lap with at least one of them leaving a driveshaft lying on the back straightaway. Jason Miller from Duluth inherited the top spot and held off Andy Simonson and Steve Wetzstein for his first Lansing win.
Wissota Street Stocks opened the season with a solid 20-car field and were led by Chris Oertel of Marshfield, Wis. Oertel drew front row for the feature and never looked back.
There were 16 Mod Lites (formerly Dwarf) that took to the track. With the rough turns, the drivers of the small cars had to be careful to not send anybody rolling. Brian Shaw stormed from the 16th and final spot on the starting grid to put another Chateau feature win sticker on his car.
Finally, the Pure Stocks, with a season opening 13-car field, saw the night's lone clean sweep as Bobby Crews of Austin dominated in taking the heat and feature. After winning his heat with a daring pass on the final corner, Crews led flag-to-flag in the feature race.
First heat -- 1. Todd Newkirk, Taopi; 2. Lewison, Claremont; 3. Matt Edwards, Austin. Second heat -- 1. Bobby Crews, Austin; 2. Dave Stevens, Albert Lea; 3. Brad Erickson, Chatfield. Feature -- 1. Crews; 2. Stevens; 3. Erickson; 4. Rick Lisowski, Faribault; 5. Korey Ackman, St. Charles; 6. Newkirk; 7. Clark, Rochester; 8. Edwards; 9. Hansen; 10. Wiuff.
First heat -- 1. John Schmidt, Watertown, S.D.; 2. Gullickson, Stacy; 3. Tony Shaner, Owatonna. Second heat -- 1. Gullickson, Stacy; 2. Mitch Thompson, New Richland; 3. Jim Randall, Cameron, Wis. Third heat -- 1. Jeff Brauer, Rochester; 2. Phillips, Watertown, S.D.; 3. Lee Skjerven, Austin. Feature -- 1. Chris Oertel, Marshfield, Wis.; 2. Randall; 3. Phillips; 4. Barber, New Richland; 5. Gullickson; 6. Brauer; 7. Skjerven; 8. Devin Sutter, Lyle; 9. Thompson; 10. Severson, Brainerd.
First heat -- 1. Jones, Onamia; 2. Peterson, Elk River; 3. Pete Wytaske, Brownsdale. Second heat -- 1. Mike Anderson, Aitkin; 2. Larry Nelson, Freeborn; 3. Jerry Young, Blooming Prairie. Third heat -- 1. George Sniezek, St. Joe; 2. Pomeroy, Brooklyn Center; 3. Jade Anderson, Owatonna. Fourth heat -- 1. Mattson, Brainerd; 2. Matt Stark, Austin; 3. Scott Anderson, Phillips, Wis. B Feature -- 1. Greg Pfeifer Jr., Austin; 2. Schmidt, St. Cloud; 3. Ron Skalicky, Claremont; 4. Scott Olson, Rochester; 5. Condit, Austin; 6. McFarland, Austin; 7. Heather Raymond, Austin; 8. Mory Johnson, Austin; 9. Lowell Johnson, Albert Lea. A Feature -- 1. S. Anderson; 2. Peterson; 3. Wytaske; 4. J. Anderson; 5. Pomeroy; 6. Sniezek; 7. Nelson; 8. Mattson; 9. Jones; 10. Skalicky.
First heat -- 1. Dan Wendt, Spring Valley; 2. Randy Bryan, Ames, Iowa; 3. Jeff Jech, Austin. Second heat -- 1. Dave Lewison, Adams; 2. C. Lewison, Rose Creek; 3. Tate Bestor, Harmony. Feature -- 1. Brian Shaw, Brownsdale; 2. Bryan; 3. Jech; 4. Mark Lang, Austin; 5. Van Riper, Glenville; 6. Bestor; 7. Ulven, Rose Creek; 8. Jeremy Anderson, Faribault; 9. Wendt; 10. Rick Utley, Rochester.
First heat -- 1. Simonson, Sartell; 2. J. Miller, Duluth; 3. Todd Scharkey, Kasson. Second heat -- 1. Tomm Timm, Winona; 2. Doug Hilson, Blooming Prairie; 3. Darwyn Karau, Kasson. Third heat -- 1. Pete Gronvold, Grand Meadow; 2. Madson, Blooming Prairie; 3. Corey Miller, Rochester. B Feature -- 1. Tommy Myer, Blooming Prairie; 2. Steve Wetzstein, West Concord; 3. Sorenson; 4. Wally Bustad, Austin; 5. Dave Wytaske Jr., Mapleview; 6. Jimmy Davis, Janesville; 7. Shaun Olson, Hollandale. A Feature -- 1. J. Miller; 2. Simonson; 3. Steve Wetzstein, West Concord; 4. Ronnie Ross, Brownsdale; 5. Sorenson, Rochester; 6. Timm; 7. Mike Rumsey, Brownsdale; 8. Gronvold; 9. Karau; 10. C.Miller.