Stampede set to close seasonThe biggest weekend of racing in the Jamestown area unfolds this evening, if the pitter-patter of rain drops that were still falling as of late Thursday night can be silenced with a little sun and shine. Jamestown Speedway track officials have already put in the good-weather order. “I heard it’s supposed to be 65 and sunny. That’s what we’ll need to dry things ups,” said Joanne Dieterle, Jamestown Speedway’s general manager. “The track will be fine, it’s just getting the pits dried. If (the rain) quits when it’s supposed to and the sun comes out it should dry up pretty good.”
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
The biggest weekend of racing in the Jamestown area unfolds this evening, if the pitter-patter of rain drops that were still falling as of late Thursday night can be silenced with a little sun and shine.
Jamestown Speedway track officials have already put in the good-weather order.
“I heard it’s supposed to be 65 and sunny. That’s what we’ll need to dry things ups,” said Joanne Dieterle, Jamestown Speedway’s general manager. “The track will be fine, it’s just getting the pits dried. If (the rain) quits when it’s supposed to and the sun comes out it should dry up pretty good.”
So from that standpoint it’s all systems go for the 39th Annual Stock Car Stampede, slated to kick off this evening at 7 p.m. Other than the annual WISSOTA 100, Jamestown’s season-ending racing extravaganza is the largest gathering of WISSOTA race cars in the upper-Midwest, normally drawing anywhere from between 250 and 300 cars and drivers.
It’s also known to bring in some of the top drivers in all of WISSOTA nation. Last year, three former WISSOTA national champions, Kent Arment, of Aberdeen, S.D., Dave Mass, of Princeton, Minn., and Travis Saurer, of Elizabeth, Minn., each drove their way to victory at the Stampede.
The two-day event begins with this evening’s heat races among six classes of cars: Late Models, Modifieds, Super Stocks, Street Stocks, Midwest Modifieds and Bombers. Saturday will play host to B-Mains and feature events.
A Hornets feature will also be ran each night, giving race fans seven classes of cars to watch this weekend.
According to Dieterle, tonight’s heat races will be mixed up to keep the evening entertaining for fans. There will be just two consecutive heat races per class throughout the night, meaning there will be a different class of cars on the track every two races.
“We’ll run two Bomber heats, then two Midwest Mod heats and so on,” Dieterle said. “So if you came to see the Late Models you won’t have to wait until the end of the night to see them.”
Last season, Arment, a two-time Late Model national champion and a two-time Modified national champion, bested a strong field of WISSOTA Late Models, while Mass won the Super Stock A-Main on his way to the 2009 Super Stock national title.
Saurer, the 2004 Midwest Modified national champ, bested a field of 55 B-Mods at the Stampede a year ago.
A pair of area drivers that will be attempting to defend their victories in the Stampede are Jamestown’s Jason Grimes and Valley City’s Luke Nelson.
Nelson is no stranger to finding success during the Stampede. The Valley City native has notched four A-Main victories over seasons past, including an unprecedented three in a row with is No. 19 WISSOTA Street Stock.
Nelson won two victories at the speedway this season, and he recently wrapped up back-to-back track championships in Jamestown. Nelson first tasted victory in the Stampede in a Bomber back in 2001, before rifling off three straight Street Stock victories over the past three years.
Nelson said he’s up to the challenge of attempting the four-peat this weekend.
“A good draw would help a lot, but last year I drew 49 out of 50 and made it through the heat and ended up winning,” Nelson said. “I’ll need some luck on my side.”
A total of 265 cars entered the Stampede in 2009, and out of that number there were 45 Street Stocks. Nelson won his heat and went on to outrun them all.
“You’ve pretty much got to win your heat in this deal. Every time I’ve won the Stampede I’ve won my heat,” Nelson said. “If not, you just have to race as hard as you can and hope for the best.”
Regardless of where Nelson starts tonight, it’s safe to assume other driver’s will be well aware of where he’s at after all the success he’s had in the Stampede.
“It seems the bigger the show, the more things just fall right in to me,” Nelson said. “I don’t know if I race harder, I mean everyone wants to win it. I think you put more pressure on yourself and you want to race hard.”
Grimes will be pulling double duty over the weekend, trying to defend last year’s win in the Modifieds while also attempting to best the Midwest Modified field.
Grimes jumped into the seat of a B-Mod owned by Jamestown’s Scott Bintz and built and driven by Carrington’s Rusty Kollman, and won the Labor Day Midwest Modified special at Jamestown Speedway back on Sept. 4.
Grimes hasn’t raced the car since his right-out-of-the-box win, but don’t be surprised if the driver can find success with it again this weekend.
Grimes has won at the Stampede in every class of car he’s driven. Along with his Modified win last year, Grimes has Stampede victories in the Bomber and Street Stock ranks, and he’d really like to add a B-Mod win to that list.
“That’s kind of what the plan is. I’ve gotten second before (in a B-Mod),” Grimes said. “That would be a cool deal to have as a career résumé, to have a win at the Stampede in each class I’ve raced.
“This is a pretty bid deal. I know Travis Saurer is coming, and I believe Dustin Strand (of Grand Forks) might also be in a B-Mod.”
As for defending last year’s A-Mod win, Grimes will be entering the weekend with a bit of momentum. The Jamestown driver won the A-Mod Race of Champions at the WISSOTA 100 in Huron, S.D., last Friday night.
Grimes has 15 A-Mod victories on the year and currently stands fifth in the national points standings.
“That would be a huge deal also. I don’t know if someone has done that in quite awhile,” Grimes said, regarding a possible back-to-back A-Mod victory. “It would definitely be a good deal if you could defend the title like that. But there’s never an ease of competition in Jamestown, even on a weekly basis.”
Justin Kollman won last year’s Bomber main event, but jumped up to a WISSOTA Street Stock in 2010. Jamestown’s Joe Jacobson, the 2010 Jamestown Speedway Bomber track champion, will also be piloting a Street Stock this evening.
Admission prices at the gate tonight are $15 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-14, and $40 for families. Admission for Saturday is $20, $10 and $50. Racing begins at 5 pm. on Saturday.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com