INAUGURAL CAN-AM CLASH
By Jerry O’Brien
For four seasons the Can-Am Clash has been scheduled for the middle weekend
of October. The first three times the special event was unable to be presented due
to unsuitable weather in the Twin Ports area.
Finally, in 2021 the event went on as scheduled, going forth on Friday and
Saturday October 15th and 16th. The weather was a bit cool and cloudy on Friday
the 15th with a few raindrops, the event was set up as a two day event with Friday
set aside for qualifying heats only.
The Can-Am Clash was set up to be the final National point race and final
WISSOTA event of the 2021 racing season. Two WISSOTA Divisions came into
the weekend with close races that would be decided dueing the final night of
racing. The WISSOTA Modifieds showed Shane Sabraski and Tyler Peterson a
scant two points apart for the WISSOTA crown in the division. Sabraski had to
win the Main event on Saturday while Peterson need only to finish to become
Champion if Sabraski did not win. In the WISSOTA Hornets local racer DeJay
Jarecki and Travis Olafson entered the weekend three points apart. The same
scenario applied in this case as in the Modified Diision.
Being the final WISSOTA point weekend, all eight WISSOTA Sanctioned
Divisions were on hand. Besides Late Model, Modified, Super Stock and Midwest
Modifieds, the Street Stocks, Mod Fours, Pure Stocks and Hornets were in
competition. A total of 141 cars in the eight divisions were on hand Friday night to
race two rounds of heat races in each division. Qualifying for the Saturday main
events depended on passing points. The first round of heats were set up by way of
the draw and the second round line up was inverted from the finish of the first in
each division which made for a busy evening of competition. A total of 46 heat
races in two rounds were completed.
Saturday October 16th was feature races day. A few extra cars showed up
bumping the car total to 150. Racing started early on a bright sunny day, though a
bit windy it was much more pleasant than Friday’s weather.
The early start was at five o’clock and began with the only two B Features
needed which were in the Midwest Modifieds. All the rest of the divisions were
able to run all the cars on hand in the feature races. The first B Feature was won by
Dave Cain over Brennan Gave, Jared Miller and Scott Thompson. The rest of the
starters Did Not Finish. In the second B Feature Jake Hagemann was the winner,
Randy Laage, Tanner Williamson and Ashton Schulte qualified for the feature and
fifth place finisher Gary James Nelson was awarded the Provisional.
Then it was time to get down to feature racing. First up was the WISSOTA
Street Stocks which started 16 cars going 20 laps. The start of the race was halted
when the outside front row starter Josh Long spun in turn four. It was a complete
restart coming with no laps in. Pole sitter Andrew Hanson took the lead trailed by
Ryan Satter. Adam Soltis, Justin Pagones, and Long were the top five. Hanson
held the lead for two laps before Satter got past to the lead. The order stayed the
same until the second caution flag flew for Kaden Woodie who spun in turn two.
The restart came with a dozen laps to go and Satter and Hnason resumed their
duel. Soltis remained in third, Long was fourth and Pogones fifth. Satter and
Hanson distanced themselves from Soltis and Pagones. Up to fifth from ninth was
Russell Kostreba while Braden Brauer joined from his 16th starting spot. Satter
continued in the lead to the checkered flag for his 21st feature win of the season.
Hanson, Soltis, Pagones and Kostreba finished in the topp five.
Brock Gronwold and Brady Uotinen led the full field of Midwest Modifieds to
the green flag. In the early going Gronwold had the lead with Uotinen chasing.
Ashley Mehrwerth, Ryan Savoy and Shane Howell were amongst the early
leaders. As the laps unfolded, Uotinen was able to take the point and pulled away
from Gronwald and the rest. Savoy broke free of the pack and set out after
Uotinen. He was joined by Jason VandeKamp as Gronwald was shuffled further
back to finish eighth. While Uotinen continued to lead, Savoy and VandeKamp
became embroiled in a battle of the #16’s for the second spot. On the charge from
the tenth starting spot was Wyatt Boyum up to fourth and Howell fifth. At the half
way point Uotinen was still in control but VandeKamp was on the move and got
by Uotinen for a couple laps until the first and only caution flag flew when Ashton
Schulte got turned into the front stretch wall toward the first turn. On the restart
VandeKamp had the lead with Uotinen in hot pursuit ahead of Boyum and Cain up
from his 17th starting spot to fourth. Howell had rebounded to land in fifth. All
eyes were on the battle for the lead as Uotinen tried everything to recapture the
lead and the win. VandeKamp seemed to have the measure of Uotinen until, on the
final circuit, Uotinen pulled a Banzi move going high in turns three and four in a
wall scraping move and came flying off the fourth turn onto the front straight,
dived to the inside and nipped VandeKamp at the line by less than half a car for
the spectacular win. It was Uotinen’s fifth feature win at his home track in 2021.
Then it was time for 35 laps for the scary fast WISSOTA Late Models. All
seventeen cars answered the call with Dave Mass and Pat doar leading the way. At
the green Mass took the point with Doar giving chase as they rapidly drew away
from Mike Bellefeuille in third. Closing on Bellefeuille was Travis Budiaslovich,
Don Shaw and Kyle Peterlin. Mass and Doar continued their torrid pace as
Budiaslovich got by Mike Bellefeuille to third. The front pack settled down to the
same order for several laps. Coming forward quickly was Derek Vesel who had
started ninth. Mass continued to hold off Doar and Budiaslovich as they quickly
drew away from the pack. Mike Bellefeuille led the second group ahead of Shaw
while Vesel got past Peterlin into sixth. As the laps wound down Doar got a run on
Mass and grabbed the lead. Soon after Budiaslovich found his way past Mass to
second. Doar held sway in the lead to the checkered flag for his third post season
win at the speedway. The laps went by without a caution flag. Budiaslovich, Mass,
Bellefeuille and Vesel finished in the top five, Shaw, Shane Edginton, kyle
Peterlin, Sam Mars and Harry Hanson rounded out the top ten.
Next up was the much anticipated Modified feature. If Shane Sabraski was to
win the 30 lap feature he would be the 2021 WISSOTA Modified National
Champion. He would then become one of three WISSOTA Racers to win two
National Championships in a single season as he had already won the Super Stock
Championship. If he did not win, Tyler Peterson, no matter where he finished,
would win instead.
Johnny Broking and Jeremy Nelson led the full field of Modifieds to the green
flag and Broking grabbed the lead at the outset with Nelson tagged onto his
bumber. Shane Howell and Matt Aukland along with Al Uotinen gave chase.
Sabraski started sixth and began a charge to the front chasing the Championship.
Broking found Nelson creeping alongside and they went side by side for a time
until Nelson found more traction and eased ahead into the lead. Sabraski moved up
to fourth right behind Aukland, but a caution flag flew when the 97 of Peter
Loecken had an incident. The restart also went bad as there was an incident in turn
four involving Josh Beaulieu. The restart came with 21 laps remaining. Nelson
maintained the lead over Aukland and Broking while Sabraski looked for a way to
challenge Nelson. Sabraski finally moved into second and began looking for a way
past Nelson and the championship. The protagonists soon found themselves in
traffic as Nelson tried to hold off Sabraski. Everything slowed down when caution
flag number three flew for the spun and stalled car of Brandon Copp in the third
turn. The restart came with eight laps to go, but the fourth caution flag came
quickly two laps later. This time there was six laps left when racing resumed. For
those six laps Sabraski tried to get past Nelson to no avail as Nelson got the win,
Sabraski was second, Dave Cain third, Matt Aukland fourth and Dan Ebert fifth.
Al Uotinen was sixth, Daniel Bargender seventh, Broking eighth, Clayton
Wagemon ninth and Kelly Estey tenth.
Tyler Peterson finished 12th and was named the WISSOTA National Modified
Sabraski couldn’t waste any time lamenting his loss as he was slated to start on
the pole for the Super Stock main event. On his outside was Dave Flynn driving
the car owned by Keith Kern. At the green Sabraski took off determined not to
lose the race while Flynn and Dave Mass gave chase along with Tristan LaBarge
and Brandon Duellman. Flynn chased Sabraski for several laps before giving way
to Mass who took up the chase but to no avail as Sabraski led all 25 laps for the
win, his 35th of the season and seventh at Gondik Law Speedway in 2021. The race
went caution free and took eleven minutes to run.
In the Mod Fours, Tommy Bawden who was already named National
Champion, survived three caution periods to take the win in a borrowed car. It was
his 31st feature win of the 2021 season. Jordan Fisher, Chad Funt, Skyler Smith
and Dustin Holtquist finished in the top five.
Mike Schnider dominated the Pure Stocks winning both rounds of the
qualifying heats as well as the feature. In the 15 lap feature he took the lead form
the pole and the order behind him stayed the same all the way through the event.
At post race inspection second place runner Tom Treviranues was Disqualified
moving Margo Butcher up to second, Aaron Burdick third, Jessie Limberios fourth
and Zene Anderson fifth.
The final feature of the night and the last to be run at Gondik Law Speedway
until May 2022 was for the Hornets. In this one DeJay Jarecki had to win in order
to be named National WISSOTA Champion. He did not as Justin Barsness of
Grand Rapids, MN took the win. Jarecki finished fifth meaning sixth place runner
Travis Olafson won the Hornet National Title.