Jim Sauter won his first ASA-ARTGO Challenge Series feature of the season at Elko Speedway. – Stan Kalwasinski Photo
By Stan KalwasinskiElko, Minn. (July 3, 1984) – Comin back from a race-stopping, red flag accident and a later race spinout, Jim Sauter captured the ASA-ARTGO Challenge Series second annual Minnesota State Championships 100-lap late model feature at Elko Speedway on Tuesday night.
Driving the Miller Life-sponsored 1984 Firebird that NASCAR’s Bobby Alison uses on short tracks, the 41-year-old Necedah, Wis., resident recorded his first Challenge Series win of the season. The victory was the 19th career ARTGO win for the two-time series champion, who started his career in the Twin Cities area.
Taking over first place on lap 93, Sauter drove to a six-car-length victory over Al Schill, Joe Shear, Rich Bickle Jr., Dick Stang, and Steve Murgic.
A crowd of 5,268 saw a field of 21 starters start the 100-lap grind on the 3/8-mile paved oval with polesitter Stang leading the first lap. Tom Carlson took over the top spot on the next lap and kept it until lap 11 when Stang slipped inside of the leader going into turn four.
Fourteen laps were in the books when a red flag stopped the race for a multi-car pileup. Battling for second place with Rich Bickle Jr., Joe shear apparently had a tire go flat as the pair attempted to pass a slower car. Shear veered to the outside as he came down the main straightaway, sending trailing cars scattering. Sauter, Mel Walen, and Dick Trickle looked for escape routes, with Walen getting spun around and Trickle bouncing hard into the outside wall. Walen’s car was then hit hard by Bryan Reffner.
Walen was knocked unconscious and Reffner received cuts on his forehead with both of their cars badly damaged. During the 56 minute delay, the cars of Shear, Trickle, and Sauter were in the pits for repairs as track officials decided to shoot off fireworks.
A field of 17 cars were on the track for the green flag including Sauter, Trickle, and Shear.
Stang set the pace, trailed by Bickle, Shear, and Trickle. Lap 19 saw a yellow as Sauter looped his mount in turn three. Shear moved into second on the restart and began to challenge for the lead as Trickle began to use the outside groove to improve his position.
Appearing to make a run to the front, Trickle slowed his pace as he tagged the outside wall in turns two and four. Shear moved around the outside of Stang and into first place on lap 28.
Shear attempted to pull away from the field as Bickle, Tony Strupp, Schill, and Trickle ran bumper-to-bumper battling for positions second through fifth.
Schill finally moved into second on lap 79 and quickly began pressuring shear for the lead. Making a charge to the front from his earlier spin, Sauter took to the outside groove and finally worked his way into third place on lap 86.
Riding the tricky outside line, Sauter began to work on both Shear and Schill, taking the lead on the next circuit.
Blown engines took their toll during the evening. Trickle dropped out of the 100-lapper after 91 laps and Mark Martin suffered a blown engine in his 1984 Thunderbird during practice.
1. Jim Sauter, Necedah, Wis.
2. Al Schill, Franklin, Wis.
3. Joe Shear, Beloit, Wis.
4. Rich Bickle Jr., Edgerton, Wis.
5. Dick Stang, Prior Lake
6. Steve Murgic, Burnsville
7. Scott Hansen, Green Bay, Wis.
8. Tony Strupp, Slinger, Wis.
9. Tracy Schuler, Lockport, Ill.
10.Tom Carlson, La Crosse, Wis.
11.Don Turner, La Crosse, Wis.
12.Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
13.Robbie Reiser, Allenton, Wis.
14.Tom Kamish, Bloomington
15.Jim Weber, Rosemount