MASON CITY | Even during the lean times, Luke Sathoff often made the four-hour round trip drive to Mason City to race from his home in Jackson, Minnesota.
Now that the racing is increasingly competitive, Sathoff is still here and fully appreciates what it takes to find victory lane.
“All these Northeast Iowa guys are tough,” he said.
That made Sunday night’s victory at Mason City Motor Speedway all the more rewarding for the driver of the No. 5 Stock Car.
“Drawing is big here because there are so many fast cars,” Sathoff said. “Every lap, I was hitting it as hard as I could because I knew if I screwed up somebody would be on my bumper.”
There were no late-race hiccups for Sathoff, a first-time winner this season at MCMS.
He completed a pass of Lynn Panos for the race lead around the midway point and survived multiple yellows in the waning laps to hold off Panos and a hard-charging Blake Cole. Cole started 14th and reached second before finishing third.
For Sathoff, there are wins in his history racing at Mason City.
Now, however, has a different feel for a driver who runs both IMCA and USRA. Sathoff said the only thing he changes to run USRA are the tires and the carburetor.
And no matter where the Stock Cars run, many times they produce the tightest racing. Sunday was no exception.
“In our heat we were four-wide a couple of times,” Sathoff said.
By the time his Sunday night ended, he had pocketed a $500 payday.
“Even coming from two hours away it is well worth it,” he said. “Last week I was third and that was $350, and that is more than what it pays at my local track to win.”
Racing for a purpose
Sunday night felt like a win for Rich Lewerke. The longtime Modified racer wheeled his way to a second-place finish behind winner Josh Angst.
But for Lewerke, this season revolves around one thing: racing for his brother.
Mark Lewerke, a fixture at North Iowa race tracks for years, died last October. That loss prompted Rich to design a race car remembering his brother.
“This is the paint scheme from when he raced in Arizona,” Lewerke said. “We are kind of doing this as a farewell deal.”
On Sunday, Angst led all 20 laps for his second win of the season. Lewerke’s runner-up finish was his best run of the year.
“I’m extremely happy with second,” he said. “When I saw Josh was on the front row I didn’t figure we would have anything for him.”
Hobby Stock driver Zac Smith nearly found a way to pull his No. 18z machine into victory lane for the first time at Mason City Motor Speedway.
Instead, he had to settle for his best finish of the year after taking second to Chanse Hollatz in the Hobby Stock main event.
Smith set the pace for much of the feature before Hollatz made his way to the point.
Still, it was one of the best runs of Smith’s racing career at his home track.
It was a banner night for drivers who made long hauls to Mason City. Aside from Sathoff, who is from Jackson, Minnesota, and Angst, who hails from Winona, Minnesota, Dustin Kruse made his trip from Brandon, South Dakota, worth his time.
Kruse won for the first time at MCMS by beating Shane Swanson and Brandon Hare to the finish in the B Modified feature.
Mitch Balik, of Fort Atkinson, won the Tuners feature.