“High side” starts fastJamestown’s Jason Grimes and his “Flying 99” WISSOTA Modified plan on being at Jamestown Speedway every Saturday night this season, which could spell trouble for the competition.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown’s Jason Grimes and his “Flying 99” WISSOTA Modified plan on being at Jamestown Speedway every Saturday night this season, which could spell trouble for the competition.
Grimes shot between Aberdeen’s Chad Becker and Minot’s Allen Kent out of turn No. 4 following a restart with 18 laps remaining in the 20-lap feature here on Saturday, and set the cruise control en route to his first victory in as many races during Jamestown’s season-opener.
It’s safe to say the driver would like to see his first performance of the year become a trend.
“That’s the plan,” Grimes said. “But I think there’s me and about 25 other guys who also want to keep that plan.”
Grimes won his heat race and started sixth in the 23-car field. After earning the early lead, he set his machine at the top of the track and built up a full straightaway lead on the field when it was all said and done.
But the second of two caution flags of the race just two laps in stirred up a bit of controversy.
Jamestown’s Ryan Mikkelson, who started on the outside pole, was collected in turns three and four by Valley City’s Randy Klein while leading the race. Both drivers went over the Turn 4 embankment.
Klein’s machine went on the hook following the damage it sustained after sliding up into the left side of Mikkelson’s car, but Mikkelson returned to the track.
Track officials, however, determined Mikkelson’s car had suffered too much damage to be considered safe enough to restart in front of the field and the driver was sent to the rear. Observation speculation from the grandstand focused on front-end alignment damage, which included either something was broken in the steering linkage or in the suspension.
“If I would have had a car that didn’t feel right when I drove it on the straightaway after I was off the track … but the car felt fine,” Mikkelson said. “For some reason they wanted to see me in the back because they thought I’d take out more cars.”
Mikkelson lined up 22nd and motored past 11 cars to nearly break back into the top 10. He finished 11th.
“It was the determination of track officials that the car was damaged beyond what was safe to allow it to start in front of the pack,” Jamestown Speedway general manager Joanne Dieterle said. “In hindsight, (Mikkelson) really did a good job of handling (the car) the way it was bent, and I’ve got to give him credit.”
Mikkelson was initially given the black flag when he resumed with the field under caution, but he never retreated to the pits, which Dieterle clarified.
“(Mikkelson) was shown a mechanical black flag because he wouldn’t go to the back,” Dieterle said.
It was a tough break for Mikkelson. After dominating the area WISSOTA Midwest Modified scene in 2010 with 17 victories and track championships at Jamestown and Lisbon, he weathered a bumpy rookie season in the A-Mod ranks last year.
The driver was hoping to get 2012 off on the right foot.
“It sucks. Last year was my first year I’ve not ever had a win racing … and there it is on my fingertips,” Mikkelson said. “I started dead last and finished 11th. My car was unbelievable.”
Grimes also felt for Mikkelson, but he was quick to point out that sometimes that’s racing. Track officials’ first priority is to try and keep everyone safe.
“They said he was broke and I thought, “Well, maybe he (broke) a left-rear shock,’” Grimes said. “But I don’t think they should have tail-ended him on that deal.
“It’s too bad. I know he’s probably upset, but some of that happens,” Grimes added. “We’ve all had those situations, believe me.”
After running a majority of last season with the United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS), Grimes said he’s happy to be back running at his home track.
Kent finished second, while Mike Streans, of Hecla, S.D., took third, Aberdeen’s Kent Arment finished fourth and Fergus Falls’ Brock Gronwold rounded out the top five. Gronwold started on the pole, while Arment came from 14th and Stearns started ninth.
Grimes was on a rail as soon as he got the lead, with the only real trouble spots being in Turns 1 and 2 where a few bumps had cropped up.
“Oh, that wasn’t rough,” Grimes laughed. “That was nothing like rough. It was a pretty good track. I know Don (Gumke) has been gone and they’ve had a new guy doing the track and I’ve got to give them credit. There was multiple grooves and that’s the biggest thing.”
Asked if he would’ve had anything for Mikkelson if Mikkelson hadn’t got caught up in the early altercation, Grimes just smiled.
“He was definitely fast. I could tell right off the gate he was looking good, so I can’t say one way or another. Nobody will ever know, I guess.”
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
The car count for Jamestown Speedway’s first night of action either met or exceeded expectations for the new season, considering West Fargo’s Red River Valley Speedway’s switch from Wednesday nights to Saturdays.
A total of 111 cars and drivers turned out, 31 of which were of the WISSOTA Midwest Modified variety, where Carrington’s Rusty Kollman picked up right where he left off from a year ago.
Kollman won five races in Jamestown on his way to the 2011 track title, and after starting on the pole on Saturday he led all 20 circuits in the main event to pick up feature victory No. 1 in 2012.
“This is a new car for me and it is just awesome,” Kollman said. “This is the fourth night on it and we’ve got a win, two seconds and a sixth.”
Kollman maintained the lead through four early yellow flags before 16 straight green-flag laps produced the finish. Kollman’s new Victory chassis was hooked up on the bottom, but a second racing groove up top provided a brief charge from Carrington’s Preston Carr with 12 laps to go.
Kollman, however, was simply too strong. Carr started second and that’s where he’d end up. Valley City’s Greg Friestad took third, while Jamestown’s Scott Bintz and Lisbon’s Lyn Lamb rounded out the top five, respectively.
The only odd sight of the race was seeing a wrecker push Kollman’s car back to the pits after the driver had visited the winner’s stage.
“When it’s warm like that the motor doesn’t turn over as well and then the starter started getting hot so I shut it down,” Kollman said. “I didn’t want to burn up a starter.”
WISSOTA Street Stocks
The racing lasted a little bit longer than usual on opening night, due in part to the track’s Test & Tune scheduled for April 28 being canceled by rain.
Drivers were allowed a few hot laps before every heat race, which added around 45 minutes to the show and also contributed to dry track conditions by the end of the evening.
But none of that had any ill effect on Syketon’s Trent Grager, who dominated the 23-car field that lined up for the 20-lap A-Main. Grager started on the outside pole, set his car up on the high side and checked out.
It was Grager’s second win in as many nights. The driver also won at Mandan’s Dacotah Speedway on Friday night, giving him back-to-back victories in his first two nights of racing in a brand new car.
“So far so good, knock on wood,” Grager said. “(The car) has two races on it. The setup seems to be working pretty good.”
Grager led all but one lap. Following a restart with 15 laps remaining, Grager upset his car by hitting a few ruts in one and two, which handed Jamestown’s Billie Christ, who started fourth, the lead.
But Christ’s lead was brief. Grager powered back out front by splitting three-wide between Christ and Jamestown’s Joe Jacobson on the following lap. Christ finished second, while Jacobson came home fourth.
“The track was actually pretty good in the feature,” Grager said. “There was a nice ring on three and four and I just seemed to hook it every time and it worked out for me.”
Lisbon’s Duffy Froemke came from seventh to finish third, while Carrington’s Kelly Hagel came home fifth.
“It feels really good coming from last year,” Grager said. “We had kind of a tough year, but so far this year has started out good. Hopefully we can get it to continue.”
Enderlin’s Tyler Pfaff started pole position for the 15-lap Central Dakota Pure Stock feature, and that’s where he’d stay and he picked up his first career feature win in Jamestown.
Pfaff led every lap, and staved off a brief attack by Jeremy Engelhardt, of Lincoln, N.D., on the high side following the race’s fifth and final caution flag with 10 laps left. Pfaff was glued to the bottom and began pulling away from the field with five laps remaining.
Marion’s Cory Rodin started 12 and motored all the way to a second-place finish, Engelhardt finished third and Spiritwood’s Leann Christensen placed fourth. Wimbledon’s Devin Christ rounded out the top five.
Jamestown Speedway Results
Feature – Jason Grimes, Allen Kent, Mike Stearns, Kent Arment, Brock Gronwold, Chad Becker, Randy Tarno, Mark Trautner, John Corell, Scott Bintz, Ryan Mikkelson, Jerry Lamb, Jamie Trautner, Bob Sagen, Eric Edwards, Nick Grehl, John Nord, Bob Banish, Jr., Dwight Wegner, Josh Eberhardt, Rusty Kollman, Delray Dykstra, Randy Klein
Heat 1 – Grimes, Mikkelson, Gronwold, M. Trautner, Sagen, Wegner, Dykstra, Corell
Heat 2 – Kent, Klein, Kollman, Edwards, Arment, Nord, Grehl, Banish, Jr.
Heat 3 – Stearns, Becker, Bintz, Tarno, J. Trautner, Lamb, Eberhardt
WISSOTA Street Stocks
Feature – Trent Grager, Billie Christ, Duffy Froemke, Joe Jacobson, Kelly Hagel, Travis Ulmer, Jake Emo, Dustin Erickson, Casey Stangeland, Jordan Zillmer, Randy Kollman, Tyler Lambert, Ryan Pommerer, Royce Jawaski, Matthew Lesmeister, Shawn Becker, Rory Opp, Richard Pommerer, Josh Ganser, Adam Burrows, Jeff Vogel, Eric Harpole, Randy Klein
Heat 1 – Jacobson, Ganser, Froemke, Jawaski, Burrows, Stangeland, Lesmeister, Harpole
Heat 2 – Grager, Ulmer, Christ, Zillmer, Erickson, Vogel, Ryan Pommerer, Becker
Heat 3 – Hagel, Emo, Klein, Opp, Lambert, Kollman, Rick Pommerer
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature – Rusty Kollman, Preston Carr, Greg Friestad, Scott Bintz, Lyn Lamb, Ryan Lehr, Tony Engelstad, Travis Aljets, Bobby Eckerdt, Darren Pfau, Kelly Hagel, Troy Nelson, Lucas Rodin, Eric Edwards, Tyler Schrenk, Shannon Schlenker, Andy Kapp, Tony Konold, Brandon Gussiaas, Jeremy Forester, Mike Greseth, Jason Lamb, Scott Hansen, Jason Thoms
Heat 1 – Carr, L.Lamb, Pfau, Konold, Schrenk, Schlenker, Kapp, Jim Morlock
Heat 2 – Thoms, Friestad, Eckerdt, Engelstad, Rodin, J. Lamb, Greseth, Josh Eberhardt
Heat 3 – Kollman, Bintz, Lehr, Edwards, Hagel, Brad Sheridan, Steve Ost, John Clemens
Heat 4 – Aljets, Forester, Hansen, Nelson, Gusiaas, Jay Sahr, Andee Beierle
Consi 1 – Hagel, Kapp, Schlenker, Schrenk, J. Sahr
Consi 2 – Rodin, Gussiaas, Greseth, J. Lamb, Beierle, Eberhardt
Feature – Tyler Pfaff, Cory Rodin, Jeremy Engelhardt, Leann Christensen, Devin Christ, Kelly Jacobson, Dale Wampler, Scott Miller, Brent Vetter, Taran Langland, Brandon Moset, Dalton Polries, Bryan Wolf, Travis Traut, Justin Schempp, Chris Gussiaas, Tyler Hintz, Keith Striefel, Dusty Hinrichs, Matthew Kropp
Heat 1 – Schempp, Langland, Christensen, Christ, Moser, Colten Ketterling, Kyle Anderson, Polries, Mike Sahr
Heat 2 – Gussiaas, Kropp, Traut, Jacobson, Striefel, Tyler Schlenker, Hintz, Hinrichs, Miller
Heat 3 – Engelhardt, Pfaff, Wolf, C. Rodin, Wampler, Steven Nicholson, Keith Kinzler, Vetter
Consi – Hintz, Vetter, Miller, Polries, Hinrichs, Kinzler, Ketterling, Schlenker, Nicholson, Anderson, Sahr
Feature – Andrew Michel, Dylan Wiesz, Matt McPherson, Alex Kelstrom, Sam Gray, Colten Laber, Aaron Michel, Brandon Michel
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com