EBERT STEALS MINNESOTA MOD NATIONALS MAIN EVENT
By Jerry O’Brien
(Superior, WI) 5-21-20
With our country battling the Covid-19 Pandemic, are economy in disarray and everyone wondering which way is up, it seems perfectly “New Normal” to have the 15th Annual Minnesota Modified Nationals held at the Gondik Law Speedway located in Superior Wisconsin!
For this edition of the Mod Nationals, five more WISSOTA Divisions were in play to support the Modifeds. A total of 125 cars were on hand including a nice total of 29 Mods.
It worked out that there were enough cars in each division that only the Modified were forced to run a B Feature. After all the qualifying heat races were in the books including the 12 lap Modified B Feature, it was time for feature action to begin.
The northern part of the upper midwest has not been blessed (or cursed) with very little precipitation. As a result the big four tenths mile speedway is in mid season condition before an event has been held on it.
The first to hit the track were the Midwest Modifieds led out by former track champion Skeeter Estey with Cody Carlson on the outside. After a season in a WISSOTA Modified, Carlson decided to field a Midwest Modified for the 2020 season. At the green Estey blasted off as Ryan Savoy, Carlson and Ryan Gierke squabbled over second. Gierke had the spot for a lap before Carlson gathered it up grabbed second with Jimmy Latvala, Savoy and Tyler Vernon in the top five. A quick first caution flag appeared when Mitch Weiss looped in the second turn. Estey and Carlson maintained the top two spots on the restart which came with 16 laps of 20 left. Gierke was third ahead of Savoy when caution flag number two flew for another spinner in turn two. There were now 14 laps to go when the field took the green light, but, caution flag number three occurred with another lap gone when Vernon and Brennan Gave tangled in turn two. With thirteen laps remaining they settled down a bit as Estey and Carlson got the jump at the green and opened up a gap on the pack. Latvala kept up for a while but soon lost touch with the leaders and was soon alone with a large gap in front of him and a large one behind as the top three were out to run away with the event. It soon became evident that Carlson was almost the equal of Estey as he moved up to within a half car length of his bumper. Estey won but Carlson was right there at the checkered flag. Latvala came across a distant third while another #21 Wyatt Boyum was fourth. Savoy was fifth and sophomore driver Jack Rivord who is now 15 years old, proved his rookie season was no fluke advancing from 14th to sixth.
Next up was the main event that everyone was looking for, the 30 lap Minnesota Modified Nationals. Sitting on the pole was a driver who could be known as the forgotten man until he eased back into Modified racing in 2019 after being on the sidelines for several years. Greg Chesley of Duluth used Thursday night’s program to remind everyone how good he really was and show that he never lost it. After coming from tenth to second in his heat finishing just behind hotshoe Johnny Broking, he had to contend with having him start right next to him. At the green Chesley shot out to the lead with Broking, Al Uotinen, Kelly Estey, Dave Cain and Jody Bellefeuille in hot pursuit. Chesley kept adding to his lead while the battle for position raged behind him. Uotinen won that skirmish and set out after Chesley while Broking, Estey and Cain continued their battle. Michael Truscott arrived from tenth to join up and the very fast Dan Ebert pushed his number 60 up from 12th to eighth. Everyone’s advantage and disadvantage was broken up when Tyler Vernon and brought out the caution in turn two with 18 laps to go. Just prior to the caution flag, Broking had caught and passed Uotinen but lost the advantage to the caution flag as Uotinen was restored to second. On the restart Chesley was unbeatable, but something was awry on Uotinen’s #98 as he began to lose ground right after the green flag flew with 16 remaining. In two laps Uotinen was seventh and dropping fast as his good night dropped to a DNF. Estey was second followed by Broking, Cain and Bellefeuille. The top three were joined by Ebert who had made his way past Bellefeuille to fourth. The status quo remained for a few laps in the front four with Cain sixth and Jeremy Nelson in seventh. The third caution flag appeared with six laps remaining as Estey’s mount suffered a flat tire and spun in turn four. At the same time Broking also apparently suffered a tire problem and just like that two top contenders were sidelined. It appeared that Greg Chesley was going to take home the big check for the win, but he failed to reckon with Ebert who was now in second after tire problems removed those who were in his way. It came down to the last corner of the final circuit. Ebert was going to try a last ditch slide job he said in his victory lane interview, but Chesley seemed to lose control and slid sideways in the fourth turn. Ebert slipped through to take the win, his second Mod Nationals feature victory. Bellefeuille, Jeremy Nelson, Cain and Truscott finished in the top five. Shane Sabraski was forced to take a provisional and came from 25th to sixth. Chesley was able to regain control and finished eighth.
Two dozen of the 26 Super Stocks in competition started the 25 lap feature event. Superior’s Willie Johnsen, Jr was slated to start from the pole in the feature but was unable to answer the call which moved Dave Mass from the outside to the pole position. After the field was reset and the green flag flew, Mass drove to the front and stayed there fighting off all comers leading all 25 laps for the win. There were a host of stout racers in the field that fought amongst themselves all race long for a chance to try and catch Mass to battle for the win. Amongst hose combatants were 2019 WISSOTA National champ Kevin Burdick who had won 33 features on his way to the crown. When he was second to Mass that meant that the two of them had won between them 53 features. Though Mass led all the way, he didn’t have it easy as three caution flags closed up the field along the way. The first caution flag early on, was for Kurt Becken who spun in turn two with 19 laps to go. At this point Mass had Burdick, Dave Flynn, Shane Sabraski, Curt Myers, Tim Johnson, Josh Zimpel and Scott Lawrence who had started 15th all looking to cut into his lead. Two laps later with 16 to go, Matt Sparby spun in turns three and four. This time Burdick tried but failed to jump Mass and Myers had grabbed third ahead of Sabraski. Another spinner in turn four set up another restart and this time Myers got the jump on Burdick for second. That little skirmish enabled Mass to do some “Social Distancing” of his own as he was able to keep Myers from making a run at him. Sabraski also got by Burdick to third and Flynn mustered enough to grab fifth.
Grayson Pratt took his #63x from the pole to the cash as he led the entire distance in the 15 lap Hornet main event. Hunter McDougall and AJ House started and finished second and third while DeJay Jarecki came from eighth to fourth ahead of Michael Egan.
Heat winner Parker Anderson won the only heat in the Street Stocks and was set to start the 15 lap feature on the pole, but fate stepped in and there was a collision at the start with Brittany Smith. Smith was charged with the caution and Anderson’s car was too damaged to continue. The second caution occurred on the restart caused by a spin by Smith. On the restart Andrew Hanson nabbed the lead and never looked back as he drove to the win. Jimmy Randall chased him all the way but couldn’t find a way past. Jack Korandal was third, Charlie Shiek was fourth and William Fischer was fifth, the last on the track.