Saurer’s big winsA record 317 cars and drivers turned out for the 41st annual Jamestown Speedway Stock Car Stampede on Friday and Saturday, and Travis Saurer, of Elizabeth, Minn., incredibly beat 131 of them.
By: By Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
A record 317 cars and drivers turned out for the 41st annual Jamestown Speedway Stock Car Stampede on Friday and Saturday, and Travis Saurer, of Elizabeth, Minn., incredibly beat 131 of them.
Saurer outlasted a field of 74 WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds and cruised to his fifth career B-Mod Stampede feature victory on Saturday, and then he went on to top a field of 57 WISSOTA Modifieds to pull of the Stampede double-dip.
“It’s like I’m living a dream and I’m waiting to wake up from it,” said Saurer, the defending WISSOTA Midwest Modified national champion. “This year has been crazy.”
The driver may have made an understatement.
To go along with his pair of Stampede victories, Saurer took both the $7,000-to-win Minnesota Mod Nationals title in Alexandria and the $10,000-to-win Baehman Law B-Mod Nationals in Fountain City, Wisc., earlier this season.
Saurer was coming off a second-place B-Mod finish at the WISSOTA 100 in Huron, S.D. last weekend, and his two victories at the Stampede has brought his career total to 304 feature wins.
As of last week, he was sitting second in the B-Mod national points standings.
“This whole year has been awesome,” Saurer said.
Saurer had his work cut out for him in the 25-lap A-Mod feature on Saturday. After starting fourth in the 26-car field, Saurer was passed by Blake Jegtvig, of Hawley, Minn., after leading eight of the first 10 laps.
Jegtvig, who has a pair of WISSOTA Modified national points titles under his belt, started third and was attempting to cap of his 2012 season with a stellar finish. Jegtvig was last week’s A-Mod WISSOTA 100 winner.
“(Jegtvig’s) a good driver. There’s no doubt about that,” Saurer said. “He’s a threat to win anywhere he goes.”
But after following Jegtvig, a restart with eight laps remaining gave Saurer the shot he needed to get back out front. Saurer hooked up on the high side and shot past Jegtvig to lead the final five laps, en route to his second checkered flag of the night.
“On that one last restart I decided I was going to try to drive the center in one and two, and put her up on the rim in three and four,” Saurer said. “It took me a few laps. I couldn’t believe I rolled back by him.”
Jegtvig was forced to settle for second, as Tony Leiker, of Gillette, Wyo., finished third, Fargo’s Cody Skytland took fourth and Aberdeen’s Chad Becker rounded out the top five.
Becker won the second of four consolation races to get into the feature and fought his way up into the top five after starting 20th.
Saurer started the 20-lap B-Mod feature 17th in a field that was whittled down from 74 to 24 cars. He worked his way up into the top five after five laps, and after a great battle with Fargo’s Casey Arneson for the lead, Saurer took over the top spot with five laps left and never looked back.
Saurer’s car was fast through the bottom of turns one and two, and that’s where he attacked Arneson’s No. 2 machine to make the pass in the closing laps.
“I got rolling on the ditch right away, right on the bottom,” Saurer said. “Once I got into second, me and the deuce, Arneson, had a good battle going there. I finally cleared him, got up on the top and got that one done.”
Arneson started on the pole and finished second, as Carrington’s Rusty Kollman capture third, Jamestown’s Josh Eberhardt took fourth and Enderlin’s Randy Klein came home fifth.
“I had faith I could come from 17th and win that B-Mod race, but that A-Mod win. There’s so many guys that can win that every night,” Saurer said. “It’s hard to believe I pulled it off.”
WISSOTA Late Models
A win at the Jamestown Speedway Stock Car Stampede is an accomplishment a driver will remember forever.
But when it’s also that driver’s first victory at the track after years of trying, it just makes it that much sweeter.
Mandan’s Jeremy Keller came from the 12th starting position to win the 35-lap WISSOTA Late Model Stampede feature, besting a field of 30 total drivers who were all itching to win Jamestown Speedway’s marquee event.
“I’ve been racing 12 years and I’ve never won a feature race at this track,” Keller said. “In a Street Stock, Mod or anything, and then to win this is unreal.”
The race — which was the final event of the weekend — was originally scheduled to include just 25 laps, but the drivers wanted more and track officials agreed.
The extra 10 laps benefited Keller. The Mandan driver had moved up to third after 25 laps were in the books, and it looked as if Shawn Kerwin, of Morris, Minn., had the win all but locked up.
Kerwin started on the outside pole and had been out front the entire race. But with six laps remaining Keller’s car turned into a rocket on the high side of the track, and a caution flag with four to go put Keller right on the back bumper of Kerwin.
“I was pretty good on the high side, and then I was kind of searching for a while. I just went way up there again, and I could just get a good run up there,” Keller said. “When I got into second I wanted to make sure that (Kerwin) never saw me up there, to make sure I had enough to get by him.
“Lucky that caution came out, I guess, and everything worked out good.”
Keller set his No. 11 machine on the high side again on the restart, and powered past Kerwin out of turn No. 4 to take the point and lead the final four circuits.
Kerwin finished second, while Hickson’s Mitch Johnson took third, Fargo’s Cody Skytland finished fourth and Jamestown’s Jason Grimes came home fifth.
“Obviously, I’m happy they went 35 laps instead of 25,” Keller said. “It felt good, especially starting 12th. The track was awesome.”
He won the Stampede in a Bomber back in 2006, but winning just once wasn’t good enough.
In a 15-lap feature that only produced one caution flag, Bismarck’s Chad Hausauer passed Bismarck’s John Garter on the high side out of corner No. 4 to lead the final seven laps and collect Stampede title No. 2.
“I never thought (winning twice) would happen, but it did,” Hausauer said. “It’s a good feeling.”
Hausauer was the victor over 59 total Bomber drivers in attendance over the weekend. He started the 23-car feature field from the sixth starting spot and literally snuck up on the leaders, Garter and Carrington’s Chris Gussiaas.
Garter started on the pole, with Gussiaas lined up in second, and both drivers were battling for the top spot when Hausauer motored past them both from the high side of the track.
“They were just fighting on the bottom side,” Hausauer said. “John (Gartner) was holding on to the lead. I came off the top and I just went right by him.”
Hausauer checked out from there, as Gussiaas took second, Marion’s Cory Rodin finished third, Garter took fourth and Bismarck’s Scott Gartner ended up fifth.
Hausauer has six wins at Mandan’s Dacotah Speedway this season.
“It was a lot of fun,” Hausauer said. “It’s really good to get out here and win another one of these deals.”
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org