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Bintz tames Wild West tour

Scott Bintz, left, and crew member Caleb Gwerder celebrate a victory at Big Sky Speedway north of Billings, Mont., during the 2018 WISSOTA Wild West Midwest Modified Tour. Photo courtesy Chad Switzenberg

A hot streak turned into an extended stay out west last week for Jamestown dirt-track racer Scott Bintz and crewman Caleb Gwerder.

But the duo didn't trade winning the inaugural WISSOTA Wild West Midwest Modified Tour championship for ring around the collar.

"We made sure we stayed at hotels that had laundry machines," Bintz laughed.

The plan to race just a handful of the eight-night Wild West B-mod tour, which ran concurrently with the annual WISSOTA Wild West Late Model Tour from June 29 to July 7, was scrapped when Bintz erupted in full Richard Petty-like fashion. Bintz opened the tour with back-to-back feature victories at Big Sky Speedway north of Billings, Mont., and the "Red Headed Rebel" was just getting started.

After dominating Big Sky country, Bintz and Gwerder teamed up to tackle two more feature victories at Sheridan Speedway (Wyo.) on July 1-2, and another win at Casper Speedway (Wyo.) on July 3 pushed Scott Bintz Racing's streak to five in a row.

"The initial plan was just to run half of the tour and come back for the (Wednesday) Fourth of July special at Jamestown Speedway," Bintz said. "But we were doing so well. We thought we might not get this opportunity again so we decided to stick it out."

Bintz captured third in the feature on night 2 at Casper Speedway and wrapped up the tour with back-to-back second-place finishes at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D., and Gillette Thunder Speedway (Wyo.). The Jamestown driver collected the tour championship by 63 points over Dan Wheeler of Savage, Minn.

"The only track (on tour) I raced before was Gillette, so we didn't really know what we were getting into," Bintz said. "We had a lot of luck on our side, and the car—I've never felt faster in the Midwest mod than I do this year."

Bintz called his July 2 victory at Sheridan a "race of a lifetime." Bintz started the 25-lap race in seventh, fell all the way to 12th after 10 circuits, and stormed back through the field to beat Sheridan driver—and the tour's promoter—Chad Switzenberg for the win.

A total of 72 drivers competed in the Wild West B-mod tour over the eight days of racing.

"I thought I was done, but I was able to come back on the high side," Bintz said. "Most of the races were nail-biters. But the tracks were all fun—none of the tracks were aggressive on tires—and it was fun to be a contender in all the races.

"Plus, you got to see some sights. There's some pretty cool stuff to see in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota."

Bintz, who has eight total B-mod feature wins on the season, said he's planning on making a run at a WISSOTA national title in 2018. The driver was sitting fourth in B-mod national points this week, 350 markers behind leader Lance Schill of Langdon, N.D.

"We got the blessing from the family and we're going to give it a whirl," said Bintz, who was planning to race "King of the Dirt" in Fergus Falls, Minn., on Friday night. "We tried one time before, in 2012, and we wound up ninth when the wheels came off the bus at the end of the season.

"We're hoping to get up there a little further than that, but there's a lot of fast cars out there."

WISSOTA Wild West Midwest Modified Tour

Championship Top 10

1. Scott Bintz, Jamestown, N.D., 876; 2. Dan Wheeler, Savage, Minn., 813; 3. Darin Hauff, Rapid City, S.D., 728; 4. Chad Switzenberg, Sheridan, Wyo., 711; 5. Scott Edwards, Gillette, Wyo., 708; 6. Clint Jensen, Midland, S.D., 616; 7. Kyle Harkin, Hermosa, S.D., 590; 8. Adam Hatzenbuhler, Bar Nunn, Wyo., 570; 9. Scott Tyrrell, Rapid City, S.D., 540; 10. Ryan Nash, Billings, Mont., 527.

Jamestown Speedway

WHEN: Saturday, July 14

WHAT: NLSS Lightning Sprints, IMCA Modifieds, WISSOTA Street Stocks, WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds, Bombers, Slingshots.

TIME: 7 p.m.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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