Published June 17 2010
Buzz over Tony Stewart builds at RRVS
The NASCAR star will be racing a Late Model at the West Fargo track on June 23, but a few of the drivers were already looking forward to it before this week’s races on Wednesday.
“It’s not very often you get a chance to race against somebody like that, and it’s not very often you get to race in front of a crowd like that,” driver Mike Johnson said. “They’re expecting a huge crowd.
“The crowd’s coming for Tony Stewart, but for us to race in front of that kind of a crowd? That’s like our NASCAR race.”
Stewart is mainly known for his successes in NASCAR, but he’s also a household name in the dirt-track circuit. Stewart owns Eldora Speedway – one of the most famous dirt tracks in the country – in Rossburg, Ohio. He still races a few events a year on dirt tracks despite his hectic NASCAR schedule.
“He’s one of those guys that helps keep the sport alive,” said Cody Skytland, a Late Model driver from Edmore, N.D. “He’s a guy that a lot of us look up to, but when he’s lined up next to you, you have to look at him as just another driver.
“But we know he’s going to be fast.”
Johnson has raced against Stewart before, about seven years ago at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis.
Earlier this year, Skytland raced against NASCAR’s Kenny Wallace, and against another NASCAR driver last year in Ken Schrader.
Even though a lot of Late Model drivers have had that experience against high-profile NASCAR names, Johnson said they still look forward to it.
“A guy like Stewart is going to race only a handful of these kinds of events per year, so absolutely it’s something special,” Johnson said. “I hope I’m in the same heat with him. You always want to have the chance to pass a guy like that.”
Skytland agreed with Johnson’s sentiment, saying that the opportunities to race against a driver as famous as Stewart just don’t come around that often.
“It’s going to be something that you can look back on 20 years from now and tell your kids that you raced against that guy,” Skytland said. “Maybe you can tell them that you rubbed fenders with him.
“It’s a great promotion. It’s great for the track, it’s great for the drivers and it’s great for the fans. We’re looking forward to it.”
Heat one: 1, Rusty Kollman, Carrington, N.D. 2, Billie Christ, Jamestown, N.D. 3, James Tandeski, West Fargo.
Heat two: 1, Rick Schulz, Horace, N.D. 2, Tyson Anderson, Grand Forks, N.D. 3, Troy Nelson, Jamestown, N.D.
Feature: 1, Christ. 2, Schulz. 3, Royce Jawaski, Adrian, N.D. 4, Kollman. 5, Matthew Lesmeister, Lisbon, N.D.
Heat one: 1, Aaron Olson, Mekinock, N.D. 2, Mike Anderson, West Fargo. 3, Austin Arneson, Fargo.
Heat two: 1, Cale Arneson, Fargo. 2, Charlie Jensen, Glyndon, Minn. 3, Tyler Hall, Beltrami, Minn.
Heat three: 1, Josh Eberhardt, Jamestown, N.D. 2, Greg Larson, Kindred, N.D. 3, Chris Mensen, Osakis, Minn.
Feature: 1, Olson. 2, C. Arneson. 3, Anderson. 4, Hall. 5, Eberhardt.
Heat one: 1, Brian Bernotas, Dwight, N.D. 2, Luke Johnson, Glyndon, Minn. 3, Todd Carter, Lisbon, N.D.
Heat two: 1, Ty Hanten, West Fargo. 2, Eric Robertson, Enderlin, N.D. 3, Billy Michaelson, West Fargo.
Heat three: 1, Dusty Peterson, Fargo. 2, Dave Shipley, West Fargo. 3, Bill Wadeson, Alice, N.D.
Feature: 1, Carter. 2, Dusty Peterson, Fargo. 3, Bernotas. 4, Michaelson. 5, Kevin Robertson, Enderlin, N.D.
Heat one: 1, Corky Thomas, Fargo. 2, Mitch Johnson, Hickson, N.D. 3, Jon Bachmeier, Fargo.
Heat two: 1, John Corell, Jamestwon, N.D. 2, Ryan Fike, Jamestown, N.D. 3, Mike Stearns, Hecla, S.D.
Heat three: 1, Dustin Strand, Grand Forks, N.D. 2, Jerry Lamb, Lisbon, N.D. 3, Jason Thoennes, Alexandria, Minn.
Heat four: 1, Shayne Laske, Moorhead. 2, Michael Greseth, Harwood, N.D. 3, Danny Staff, Winnipeg, Minn.
B-main: 1, Jason Strand, Portland, N.D. 2, Ben Mickelson, Jamestown, N.D. 3, Danny Bayer, Elrosa, Minn. 4, Shane Bruns, Fargo.
Feature: 1, Corky Thomas, Fargo. 2, Fike. 3, Dustin Strand. 4, John Nord, Enderlin, N.D. 5, Corell.
Heat one: 1, Jeff Provinzino, Hibbing, Minn. 2, Mitch Johnson, Hickson, N.D. 3, Duffy Froemke, Lisbon, N.D.
Heat two: 1, Mike Balcaen, Winnipeg, Man. 2, Michael Johnson, Moorhead. 3, Shawn Kirwin, Morris, Minn.
Heat three: 1, Cody Skytland, Edmore, N.D. 2, Matt Aukland, Fargo. 3, Harold Schill, West Fargo.
Feature: 1, Harold Schill, West Fargo. 2, Aukland. 3, Skytland. 4, Ricky Weiss, Winnipeg, Man. 5, Jeremy Keller, Mandan, N.D.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548.
Collins’ blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com