Flynn Edges Keeler in Exciting GLS Super Stock Series Win
by Nick Gima
Superior, WI, July 20 — To use a spin off the old TV beer ads, would two friends go at it this hard for a feature win?
If it means getting that elusive first A-main win of the season and standing on the victory stage to receive a $600 winner’s paycheck, then the answer was definitely “yes” on Friday night.
Superior’s Dave Flynn edged his friend and fellow hometown driver DJ Keeler by less than a car-length to capture the win in a thrilling 30-lap FastLane Motorsports Northland Super Stock Series A-main, capping off a full night of racing and other activities at the Gondik Law Speedway.
To kick off the program, five new members were inducted into the track’s Hall of Fame – former drivers Jim Gaskill, Steve Egersdorf and AJ Foat; current driver Todd Gehl, and contributor Joyce Klick. Then 124 entries took to the big oval at the western edge of Lake Superior in seven different divisions – including two classes representing the Northern Vintage Stockcar Racers (NVSR) vintage-car group – on a track that was wide, fast, smooth and multi-lane throughout the program during a cool, cloudy evening.
For the FastLane Series, the stop at Superior was night number three of five, and 40 entries were on hand. The field was narrowed through five heats and two B-mains to 24 starters for the feature, where former Series champs Scott Lawrence and Curt Myers led the field to the green. Lawrence edged in front initially, but Myers, challenging Josh Zimpel for runner-up honors, looped his ride in front of the entire balance of the field, bringing about the only yellow-flag slowdown of the event.
Lawrence spent most of the next seven laps fending off challenges from Nick Oreskovich, but eventually the 2015 track champ took over at the point. Keeler, finding the outside line to his liking, hustled his way up from a fifth-row start into the top five within just a couple of laps, and he held the third spot when Oreskovich took the lead.
By mid-race, Flynn – who started 12th – was also into the top five, and not long after that Kevin Burdick, who had started 23rd, took over fifth behind Flynn. Keeler worked hard to get around Oreskovich by lap 16, and with ten laps to go Flynn and Burdick had displaced Lawrence for third and fourth, respectively.
The top four were a full straightaway ahead of the battle for fifth between Lawrence and Andy Miskowic, with Keeler holding off Oreskovich for the lead and Flynn and Burdick closing. Once Flynn was close enough, he drove low to get by Oreskovich for second and began to threaten Keeler, while Burdick took up the fight with Oreskovich for third. Keeler and Flynn raced side-by-side for nearly four full laps before Flynn edged ahead for good while taking the white flag. Coming out of the final turn Keeler gave it one more try on the outside, and Burdick dove low, but Flynn led the trio under the checkers in tight formation, with Keeler holding his edge over Burdick.
Oreskovich was a good distance back of the lead pack, while Miskowic earned fifth.
There was plenty of drama for several of the drivers entering the night’s action in the top ten in points. Besides the victory for Flynn (who came into the program eighth in the Series’ standings) and the near-win for Keeler (fifth), the top two in the standings and winners of the first two races of the Series – Tim Johnson and Burdick, respectively – each had to work their way into the A-feature by garnering second-place finishes in their respective semi-features. Johnson’s car failed him early in the 30-lapper and he ended up finishing 23rd.
Also, third-in-points Myers could not recover from his early spin and subsequent back-of-the-pack restart, eventually finishing 21st.
The Series was set to continue at the ABC Raceway in Ashland on Saturday, July 21, before concluding at the Proctor (MN) Speedway on Sunday the 22nd.
Six of the seven features – including the Supers’ – combined for just five caution flags, keeping the action as intense as possible throughout that portion of the program. The WISSOTA Late Model feature contributed just one stoppage to that total – but it was a significant one that played a key role in the outcome of the race.
Polestarter Don Shaw got the jump on Steve Laursen and the rest of the field at the start of that 25-lap event, and he cruised to a comfortable early margin. Travis Budisalovich, who had started inside on row 3, quickly sped past Laursen as well, and within a couple of quick tours around the track he closed the gap on Shaw. Budisalovich then used an inside move to take the lead away early in lap 4, and although Shaw tried a slide-job move to swipe the spot back on the other end of the track, Budisalovich held firm.
By the end of lap 10 Budisalovich had caught the tail-end of the field, and he proceeded to weave his way through the backmarkers and maintain his advantage on Shaw, who was also cutting through slower traffic without much resistance. But on lap 16, as Budisalovich was trying to put the father-son pair of Terry and Aaron Lillo a lap in arrears, Shaw trimmed the distance to the lead significantly.
On lap 20 Shaw tried another slide-job on the leader, but to no avail. Shaw then tried a slide move on the lapped Tim McMann in an effort to keep up with Budisalovich, but he made heavy contact with McMann’s ride and spun himself on lap 23, bringing about the only stoppage of the race.
Budisalovich had no trouble outrunning the field from there, and the young hotshoe from Minneapolis, MN, drove home to his second feature win of the season in Superior. Visiting Mike Prochnow spent much of the race holding off Darrell Nelson, and after Shaw’s spin the battle became for second, which Prochnow claimed. Tenth-starting Kyle Peterlin and Rick Hanestad completed the top five.
Jody Bellefeuille of Duluth, MN, took the WISSOTA Modified field to school in their non-stop 20-lap feature. Bellefeuille, who started outside on row 3, used a thread-the-needle move between Skeeter Estey and Neil Balduc to take third place on the opening lap, and then he closed as front-row starters (and now fellow Hall of Famers) Gehl and Al Uotinen discussed the lead.
On lap 4 Bellefeuille went around Uotinen for second, and then he repeated the move two laps later to take the lead for good. From there Bellefeuille disappeared into the night, eventually building a half-straightaway lead that would not shrink once he caught backmarkers.
Uotinen and Gehl continued a heated debate over runner-up honors, with Nelson joining the battle at the halfway point. Nelson slid by Gehl to take third with seven laps to go, but Uotinen would not give up the second position. Balduc followed Gehl home to round out the top five, as Bellefeuille cruised to his first feature win of the season here.
Despite the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds tallying just as many caution flags thrown during feature action as the other classes combined, their 15-lap headliner did not lack for action – or for a good story line, as the Estey brothers came home 1-2 again, with younger brother Mack leading the way this time.
After early stoppages for debris and a stalled Dan Kingsley, the next ten circuits clicked off non-stop, highlighted by a battle between youngsters Gunner Peterson, Jack Rivord, and the Estey boys. Mack Estey took advantage of the early restart to slip past the rookie Rivord for second behind Peterson, and it took six more laps of intense battling before Estey got by Peterson for the lead. Estey then pulled away as Peterson and Rivord raced for second, but Nick Ziegler’s spin brought the pace to a halt and began a tense series of laps.
Skeeter Estey slipped by Rivord to take third on the restart, as Mack rebuilt some of his lead over the next two laps, but a two-car get-together closed up the field. Skeeter then pulled a quick low-groove move on his brother at the drop of the green, but Mack got him back with an inside move of his own before the lap was complete. Then a three-car mess deep in the top ten a lap later ended the night for Nick DaRonco – and with it, his Mid-Mod track-record streak of 473 consecutive feature laps completed – and set up a green-white-checkered finish.
Mack, who hails from Hibbing, MN, held off his brother’s last-ditch efforts and grabbed his first feature win of the season here. Peterson, Deven Van House, and 14th-starting James Trantina III filled out the top five.
Challenging the Super Stocks for most entertaining feature of the night were the WISSOTA Pure Stocks, where Cory Jorgensen of Hermantown, MN, led a tight-knit pack for his second win of the year here.
Polestarter Darrin Lowney’s car broke loose in the very first turn to start the race, bouncing off Dylan Shelton’s ride before collecting Michael Blevins’ car. But the next ten laps were uninterrupted and saw the lead pack consist of as many as six cars in very close formation.
Trevor Treviranus assumed the lead on the restart, but Jorgensen grabbed second from Shaina Rapp and dueled with Treviranus. James Vendela overcame a three-wide battle on lap 5 and began to mount his own threat on Treviranus, and within a couple of laps the lead threesome were joined by Blevins and Shelton. Treviranus got shuffled back a bit in the late stages of the run and brought out the race’s final stoppage on lap 10 when he spun while holding fifth place.
Jorgensen drove the final five laps with several different cars hanging close to his rear bumper, but he prevailed over Blevins, Vendela, Shelton and Rapp.
In the NVSR full-bodied stock car feature, Duluth, MN’s Bobby LePage powered his Richard Petty-liveried 1970 Dodge Challenger to the front on lap 3 of 10 and ran away from Paul Dolphy and Tom Godfrey for the win. Later, Deerwood, MN’s Brian Vang drove his gorgeous NVSR super-modified to a slim margin of victory over Mark Peine in that division’s A-main, with Butch Bethke coming home third.
The Gondik Law Speedway will host a visit by the WISSOTA Wollak Construction Late Model Challenge Series on Friday, July 27, during its AmsOil Twin Ports Twin 25s special. WISSOTA Super Stocks and Pure Stocks will join the Late Models, which will run two 25-lap features paying $1,500 to win each.
A $500 bonus will be paid to the driver that has the best average finish between the two Late Model feature races, and that offer will be doubled to $1,000 if the driver sweeps both feature wins. Several other bonuses will be paid out as well, including for non-qualifiers, hard charger, longest tow and more.
Hot laps are at 6:30 and racing is at 7 pm. The Gondik Law Speedway is located at 4700 Tower Ave in Superior; for more information log onto the track’s website, www.gondiklawspeedway.com.
WISSOTA Late Models
Feature: 1-10: Travis Budisalovich, Minneapolis, MN; Mike Prochnow, Menomonie; Darrell Nelson, Hermantown, MN; Kyle Peterlin, Hibbing, MN; Rick Hanestad, Boyceville; Jeff Massingill, Keewatin, MN; Mike Keller, Menomonie; Dave Flynn, Superior; Aaron Lillo, Proctor, MN; Tim McMann, Duluth, MN.
11-17: John Toppozini, Thunder Bay, ON; Terry Lillo, Duluth, MN; Robbie Cooper, South Range; Chris Lillo, Duluth, MN; Don Shaw, Ham Lake, MN; Steve Laursen, Cumberland; Kevin Carlson, Hermantown, MN.
Heat 1: Shaw; Nelson; Toppozini; Laursen; Flynn; C Lillo; T Lillo; A Lillo; Cooper.
Heat 2: Budisalovich; Prochnow; Keller; Hanestad; Peterlin; Massingill; McMann; Carlson.
Feature: 1-10: Jody Bellefeuille, Duluth, MN; Al Uotinen, Superior; Darrell Nelson, Hermantown, MN; Todd Gehl, Solon Springs; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Skeeter Estey, Kelly Lake, MN; Duane Dale, Hibbing, MN; Johnny Broking, Grand Rapids, MN; Danny Vang, Deerwood, MN; Cody Wolkowski, Thunder Bay, ON.
11-16: Jeffrey Lien Jr, Mora, MN; Tyler Kintner, Hibbing, MN; Rick Rivord, Superior; Bryan Hessler, Chetek; Jeff Lien, Mora, MN; Ryan Garson, Wrenshall, MN.
Heat 1: Wolkowski; Gehl; Estey; Balduc; Dale; Rivord; Hessler; Garson; Bob Broking, Grand Rapids, MN.
Heat 2: Nelson; J Broking; Bellefeuille; Uotinen; Lien; Lien Jr; Cody Carlson, Superior; Vang; Kintner.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Dave Flynn, Superior; DJ Keeler, Superior; Kevin Burdick, Proctor, MN; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Andy Miskowic, Princeton, MN; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Dave Mass, East Bethel, MN; Dexton Koch, Becker, MN; Josh Zimpel, Braham, MN; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk.
11-20: Kurt Becken, Big Lake, MN; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Cory Casari, Montreal; Andy Grymala, Superior; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Ronnie Malecki, Superior; Jim Campbell, Two Harbors, MN; Rich Bishop, New Richmond; Dan Severson, Ironton, MN; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI.
21-24: Curt Myers, Cameron; Mike Bellefeuille, Duluth, MN; Tim Johnson, Brainerd, MN; Cole Chernosky, Thunder Bay, ON.
Heat 1: Becken; Miskowic; Mass; Chernosky; Klopstein; Keith Kern, Superior; Annika Hammitt, Cloquet, MN; Bob Galovich, Superior.
Heat 2: Bishop; Oreskovich; Flynn; Casari; Bellefeuille; Burdick; Don Eischens, Richmond, MN; Brian Carl, Duluth, MN.
Heat 3: Josh Zimpel; Deragon; Grymala; Campbell; Kevin Salin, Iron, MN; Johnson; Austin Niemeyer, Brainerd, MN; Rita Anderson, South Range.
Heat 4: Lawrence; Severson; Beeksma; McFadden; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Doug Koski, Chisholm, MN; Willie Johnsen Jr, Superior; Matt Hammitt, Cloquet, MN.
Heat 5: Myers; Keeler; Koch; Malecki; Jared Zimpel, Braham, MN; Jon Hammitt, Cloquet, MN; Joel Snyder, Mora, MN.
Semi-Feature 1: Klopstein; Burdick; Jared Zimpel; Koski; Niemeyer; Salin; Carl; A Hammitt; M Hammitt; Snyder.
Semi-Feature 2: Bellefeuille; Johnson; Eischens; Kern; Johnsen; Mikkonen; Anderson; Galovich; J Hammitt.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: Mack Estey, Hibbing, MN; Skeeter Estey, Kelly Lake, MN; Gunner Peterson, Mason; Deven VanHouse, Silver Bay, MN; James Trantina III, St Cloud, MN; Jack Rivord, Superior; Dan Kingsley, Superior; Ryan Savoy, Superior; Brandon Copp, Brule; David Simpson, Thunder Bay, ON.
11-20: Tanner Williamson, Fort Frances, ON; Craig Lofdahl, Duluth, MN; McLean Andrews, Duluth, MN; Colin Chaschuk, Neebing, ON; Dalton Mains, Foxboro; Zach Benson, Princeton, MN; Billy Milne, Thunder Bay, ON; Wayne Jacques, Thunder Bay, ON; Nick Ziegler, Cloquet, MN; Andrew Inman, Hermantown, MN.
21-23: Nick DaRonco, Britt, MN; Carey LePage, Culver, MN; Michael Blevins, Hibbing, MN.
Heat 1: Rivord; S Estey; Savoy; DaRonco; Simpson; Copp; Milne.
Heat 2: M Estey; Kingsley; Inman; Benson; Trantina; Lofdahl; Chaschuk; Mains.
Heat 3: Peterson; VanHouse; Blevins; Williamson; Andrews; Ziegler; Jacques.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Cory Jorgensen, Hermantown, MN; Michael Blevins, Hibbing, MN; James Vendela, South Range; Dylan Shelton, Wrenshall, MN; Shaina Rapp, Saginaw, MN; Josh Miller, Spooner; Aaron Bernick, Duluth, MN; Richard Dzelak Jr, Superior; Trevor Treviranus, Hawthorne; Darrin Lowney, Superior.
Heat 1: Jorgensen; Vendela; Blevins; Shelton; Bernick; Dzelak.
Heat 2: Rapp; Treviranus; Lowney; Miller; Kyle Copp, Brule.
NVSR Vintage Cars
Full-Bodied Feature: 1-7: Bobby LePage, Duluth, MN; Paul Dolphy, Mounds View, MN; Tom Godfrey, Backus, MN; Mike Kelly, Spooner; Travis Doyle, Duluth, MN; Mike Hudyma, Duluth, MN; Scott Chilberg, Duluth, MN.
Full-Bodied Heat: Hudyma; Dolphy; LePage; Godfrey; Doyle; Chilberg; Kelly.
Super Modified Feature: 1-6: Brian Vang, Deerwood, MN; Mark Peine, White Bear Lake, MN; Butch Bethke, Oakdale, MN; Dennis Olson, Braham, MN; Mike Bjorklund, Sandstone, MN; Dave Whirley, Grand Rapids, MN.
Super Modified Heat: Olson; Peine; Bethke; Bjorklund; Whirley; Vang; Kevin Lipsky, New Richmond.