Knutson celebrates first trip to Mississippi Thunder Speedway victory lane
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July 24, 2015  |  by Dan Bailey

FOUNTAIN CITY, Wis.—The cliché is that "nice guys finish last" but Casey Knutson brought the crowd in the grandstands to their feet Friday evening during Fastenal Night at Mississippi Thunder Speedway as he waltzed into victory lane for his very first visit ever and proved that cliché wrong.

This write-up is not intended to take anything away from any other driver who has ever won a feature at Mississippi Thunder Speedway or even merely taken a lap but the reaction from the crowd when Knutson climbed from the interior of his St. Mary's Auto Body/Spring Grove Soda Pop No. 12K was absolutely second to none. The cheers roared from the Western-most corner of the turn-4 grandstands, down the entire length of the front straight grandstands, through the turn-1 grandstands, and continued right on through the pit grandstands and deep into the pits themselves!

The road to Knutson's very first feature win started several years ago, sitting low in a west-central Wisconsin go-kart. After honing his skill-set for several years on the tight bull-rings, the smiling young man was ready to make the transition to full-sized racing. He put together a USRA B-Mod and hit the high-speed high-banks of Mississippi Thunder Speedway.

While he may not have enjoyed immediate success, it was obvious to many, if not all, that the ability and speed was there - given just a little time for polishing, most expected to see "K-Town" in victory lane, and goll-darn-it if the speed and abilities didn't get him there, most figured that his bright and sincere smile surely would. And so what if it took two and a half season? All that extended time seem to do was build the anticipation for what many could see was coming soon or later.

Leading up to Friday's Fastenal Night, Knutson had enjoyed many great runs and several near-misses at a trip to victory lane. That only spurred him on more.

"I was so close the other night," beamed the eternal optimist Friday during a pre-race interview on the Live Trackside radio program. "At first, yeah, I was disappointed that I didn't get the win. But then I realized just how close I was, and I just know that I'm going to get that first win here sooner or later."

Many would consider that a near prophetic statement!.

After winning the second heat race of the three-heat schedule earlier in the evening, Knutson lined up right next current speed-demon Alex Williamson, who'd fended off a challenge by Knutson just two weeks ago to cement his first feature win of the year.

Right out of the shoot, it was obvious that this was going to be a classic USRA B-Mod battle for the win as no fewer than 6 to 8 drivers threw everything they had at the front of the pack. Williamson grabbed the lead early and led the opening 10 laps as Knutson first fended off friend Jon Van Minsel before setting his sights on Williamson's No. 15W, and the lead which it held.

As the pack approached, reached and then passed the half-way point of the 18-lap feature, Williamson and Knutson dueled for the lead with Knutson finally working past to lead the 11th lap and then never relinquishing the top spot.

"Alex was setting such a fast pace. He was so fast," commented Knutson in victory lane. "A couple times, yeah, I wondered if I should go try his line, but I was getting the grip I needed so I kept it right where I was running.

"Man, I just... this has been a dream of mine for so long to be standing here, talking with you, Dan (Bailey, announcer), and now here I am and, well, I'm just speechless!."

Williamson held on for second, and was the first car to pull up alongside of Knutson after the checkered flag had waived to congratulate the first-time winner on the victory. Many of the rest of the 21-car field did the same.

Hastings, Minn.'s Ben Moudry continued his strong showings at MTS by working through the field from an inside fifth row starting spot to a third-place finish, while Van Minsel held off current track points leader Parker Hale for fourth.

Lance Hofer and Brad Waits both made return trips to the Mississippi Thunder Speedway victory lane in their respective divisions.

After several weeks settling for feature finishing positions just behind the winner, Cochrane's Hofer finally returned to victory lane after stealing the lead from Tom Brink at the exact halfway point of the 20-lap USRA Limited Late Model feature. Brink then dropped two additional positions rolling beneath the checkered flag with a fourth place finish behind Ryan Konkel, who finished second, and Bob Fort, who collected his best feature finish of the year.

Brad Waits remained true to his weekly track and skipped a night at the huge WMDTC event to gather another Rivercity Manufacturing USRA Modified feature win and add to his points lead atop the standings. Jake Timm and 2009 track champion John Doelle finished second and third behind Waits's black No. 24.

Racing resumes next Friday night, July 31, with the 7th Annual $1,000-to-win Baehman B-Mod Challenge at Mississippi Thunder Speedway as the first green flag of the evening waives at 6:00 PM for the Sunshine Refuse A & B Midwest Mini Mods on the 1/10-mile "Lightning Speedway" which is located within the infield of Mississippi Thunder Speedway.

Action on "The Big 1/3 Mile" starts immediately following the 7:00 PM Opening Ceremonies with on-track competition provided by Rivercity Manufacturing USRA Modifieds, USRA Limited Late Models presented by Liquid Nitro Energy Drink and Steve Yaggy Trucking, Black Horse Bar & Grill USRA B-Mods, Coordinated Business Systems WISSOTA Super Stocks, Jailhouse Saloon MTS Sportsman, REDBOX+ 600 Mods, and MTS Hornets!

• Pit gate & Grandstands Open at 5:00 PM

• Family Friendly General Admission Prices continue at: Adults $12, Senior Citizens $10, ALL Students - even college (23 yrs old and younger with current Valid Student ID) and Children 17 & Under are admitted ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Mississippi Thunder Speedway is located 3.0 miles north of Fountain City on Wisconsin Highway 35. For more information, call 608-687-3282 or visit www.MississippiThunder.com on the World Wide Web.



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