The twice-annual races at Elko Speedway (MN) are ones that a handful of ASA Midwest Tour drivers circle on their calendars. That's because for them it's not only another ASAMT race, but one at their home track. Last year's Tour Champion Dan Fredrickson grew up racing at Elko Speedway, meanwhile Donny Reuvers is the four-time defending track champion. But don't forget about Jonathan Eilen, who won the first ever ASAMT race at Elko and also used to call the track home.
When you mix those three and the other ASAMT drivers with a bunch of local talent and some short track veterans and it makes for an exciting night at the track.
This past weekend at Elko, seasoned short track racer Steve Carlson paced qualifying, with Reuvers and Fredrickson timing in right behind him. Fresh off his win at Iowa Speedweay, Chris Wimmer qualified fourth and local driver Adam Royal fifth.
With the invert, Eilen started on the pole with Carlson back in the 11th spot. Jacob Goede, who began the Elko 125 from the outside of the front row, jumped out to the early lead, but last year's winner, Jake Ryan, quickly took the lead away while Wimmer worked his way up in to the second spot.
“My car seemed good right away,” said Wimmer, “But then I got extremely loose.”
As Ryan held on to his lead, Reuvers worked his way up to third. Fredrickson and Carlson followed suit claiming the fifth and sixth spots respectively. By the break at lap 75, Carlson moved to third and Fredrickson to fourth to set up a heck of a battle between the top four for the final fifty laps.
Those top four raced side by side trying to sort things out and then a battle for the lead developed between Ryan and Carlson. For more than ten laps, Ryan's #19 and Carlson's #66 raced hard for the top spot in the Elko 125. Contact was made a few times and finally with 26 laps to go, Carlson completed the pass on Ryan to take the lead and held on for the checkered flag.
“I had a really good car. When we first got here we were junk, the car was right, wouldn't turn, we changed a million things and then we changed them all back and we changed one thing and that made the car really good,” said Carlson, “In those final laps Jake was starting to slide up through the turns and I kind of knew if I was going to get it done that was the time.”
“Carlson was on me pretty good. I didn't know how far to go with the adjustments at the break,” said Ryan, “I don't think he had what it took to get by me on the bottom without a little pushing and shoving, He got in my head and it caused me to screw up and he got by me I wish I would have got a little more with the adjustments and it might not have happened that way, but it is what it is and I'll take second.”
While those two sorted things out up front, behind them a battle continued for third. Fredrickson and Reuvers, two guys who've called Elko their home track, battled side by side for that final podium spot, complete with some light shoving of their own. With 30 laps to go the defending ASAMT Champion cleared Reuvers for his first top-three finish of the year.
“We were a little bit loose in that first part, so we tightened things up at the break, but not nearly enough,” said Fredrickson, “I pretty much used up Donny by the time I was 75% by him, and was ready to hunt down the second place guy, but I guess he was going to make it a point to use me back up. I couldn't quite get away from him, but was able to hold him off and finish third.”
Eilen, who dropped back out of the top five during the first 75 laps, fought back to earn a top-five finish. Adam Royle, current ASAMT point lead Nathan Haseleu, Nick Murgic, Wimmer, and Tim Schendel round out the top ten.
The win at Elko Speedway marks Carlson's fourth in an ASA Midwest Tour event. While it may be impossible to even begin to count his total feature wins, one thing is for sure, being in victory lane never gets old.
“Definitely not,” says Carlson, “This never gets old.”
Next up for the ASA Midwest Tour is the Race for the Bronze 125, their first of three races at Dells Raceway Park.