July 18, 2019

I-90 Speedway opens with partial program - Daily Leader Extra : Sports

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I-90 Speedway opens with partial program

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Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2019 3:44 pm

HARTFORD -- Auto racing has always had its highs and lows. I-90 Speedway experienced both on Saturday night.

First, the highs. It started out as an absolutely beautiful night for racing...temperatures in the 70s, clear skies and huge lines at both the ticket booth and the back gate. Ninety-three cars were on hand for competition at "Hartford Night."

Featuring the Tri-State Late Models, the field also included 23 hobby stock cars, a big field of B-modifieds, late model street stocks and IMCA Racesaver sprint cars.

There were so many people lined up to buy tickets that the line extended nearly to the entrance of the speedway.

Now, the lows. The race cars kicked up a dust cloud during opening hot laps. Parking was difficult. Sometimes cars were parked three deep, meaning the car in the middle couldn't move until the one behind or in front moved first.

Hot laps started 30 minutes late, because not all of the competitors could be registered. It was 7:30 before the first hot laps were conducted. As hot laps were concluded, a cool north wind blew into the seating area, dropping temperatures 15 degrees. Dark rain clouds gathered north of the speedway.

The race itself. Dustin Gulbrandson of Sioux Falls became the first driver to claim a checkered flag in the opening USRA hobby stock division. Thus, his name will go in the history books as being the first to win a race at the newly reopened track. Hartford had been closed for the past three years.

Ronald Howe of Wentworth placed third in the late model street stock heat. In the USRA B-modified division, a heat victory was claimed by Madison's Nick Barger. Brother Nate Barger came in fourth, Austin Powell of Rutland finished in sixth and Madison's Doug Wallis was seventh. Tucker Powell of Rutland also ran the USRA B-modified class.

In the IMCA Racesaver sprint cars, Bryan Park of Colman finished sixth in his heat race.

With the heats completed, the water truck was placed on the track to sprinkle water on the high side in an attempt to keep the dust to a minimum and to improve traction. It wasn't really needed, because rain could be seen creeping closer and closer to the speedway.

A quick 10-minute intermission was held as track officials tried to decide what to do. Then it happened. It rained. A downpour sent the crowd rushing to their cars. The races were "postponed."

Track officials declared it was a rain-out, so rain tickets are good for the next two weeks -- both for the stands and the pits. That means fans can use the rain-out tickets to either attend Saturday's show or hold them until the late models return in two weeks.

An observation or two. I-90 really wasn't fully prepared for the opening night. Track Manager Rod Pattison admitted that. There were only 800 bleacher seats ready for fans; twice that many could have been filled. As it was, many fans sat either in lawn chairs or on blankets. It reminded us of the early days at Huset's Speedway.

But the crowd was enthusiastic and vocal. Many cheers were heard and fans clapped when Pattison took the microphone to thank the fans for attending.

"This is a work in progress," he said. "When things dry up better, we'll have more seating and cars will be pitted in the infield. We've still got a lot of work to do."

It appears the racing fans are delighted there is a track in the Sioux Falls area.

We expect the competition will be better as the season progresses and the racing surface is better prepared. It is a crap shoot, building a racing surface. Too much water and it gets heavy and hard to drive on. Too little water, as in trying to outguess Mother Nature, and it gets dusty. We're confident Pattison and his crew will figure it out.

With opening-night jitters out of the way, we expect great things for I-90 Speedway. They've got a first-class management crew in place, including Dale Furby as competition director, and a crack communications team. For fan and racer safety, the MedStar crew headed by Jay Masur is on board.

If there's one suggestion for the folks running I-90, it's that they have parking attendants on hand both before and after the races. With many fans parking way back in the lot while there were many open spots closer to the stands, attendants could direct parking better, eliminate three-deep parking and make it much safer to pull onto the highway after the races.

Rapid Speedway

The MSTS 360 sprint cars invaded Rapid Speedway in Rock Rapids, Iowa, Friday night. Three area drivers were battling throughout the night.

Nunda's Cody Hansen had the best finish of the area drivers; he placed second in the A-Feature behind only Justin Jacobsma of Hull, Iowa. Hansen placed second in his heat race earlier in the program.

Madison's Dylan Opdahl finished 11th in the A-Feature and eighth in his heat race.

Madison's Chuck McGillivray was fifth in his heat race.

Winning heat races on Friday night were Jacobsma and Bill Boles of Lake Park, Iowa.

Casino Speedway

Six area drivers were at Casino Speedway at Watertown on Sunday night. Justin Karlen of Howard placed seventh in a Wissota Late Model heat race.

Madison's Matt Jeratowski was seventh in the Wissota Modified A-Feature. Tyler Peterson of Hickson, N.D., won the A-Feature.

Jeratowski placed third in his heat race. Also winning heat races were Trevor Anderson, Watertown; Ryan Damm, Watertown; and Chad Olson, Hendricks, Minn.

Madison's Doug VanLiere, competing in the Wissota Super Stocks, placed ninth in the A-Feature. Winning the A-Feature was Trevor Nielson of Warner.

Earlier in the program, VanLiere raced to a fourth-place finish in his heat race. Heat race winners were Nielson and Blake Whitlock of Watertown.

Nick Barger was third in his heat race in the Wissota Midwest Modifieds.

In the Wissota Street Stock, the husband and wife duo of Matt and Jessica Goth were slinging mud. In the A-Feature, Jessica placed eighth and earlier was seventh in her heat race. Matt placed third in his heat race.

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