Lillo, Broking, Mass, Estey Gain Superior RoC Berths
by Nick Gima
Superior, WI, August 17 — Aaron Lillo and Johnny Broking each led their respective features flag-to-flag and earned invitations to compete in the Afco Shocks Race of Champions during the WISSOTA 100 weekend as a result of their wins at the Gondik Law Speedway on Friday night.
Also winning Race of Champions berths were Dave Mass and Skeeter Estey, while Jeremy Cash captured his first career feature win at the big Superior oval.
Despite a small car count (70), the action was fast and – in the case of three of the features and most of the heats – non-stop on the next-to-last night of the 2018 season under cool, cloudy conditions.
Lillo, of Proctor, MN, started the 25-lap WISSOTA Late Model feature from the pole and, after an early challenge from Tim McMann, pulled away to a lead of no more than a few car lengths. Track points leader Travis Budisalovich moved quickly from his outside-third-row starting spot into third, and John Toppozini and Kyle Peterlin began a nearly-race-long battle for fourth.
McMann drew in close enough to Lillo’s right-rear fender to get a couple of looks around the high side of the leader, but Lillo stuck to the absolute bottom of the speedway through the corners and got a strong enough pull off the bottom to not only retain the lead but even extend it at times.
McMann’s best shot at the win was when he pulled alongside Lillo coming across the start-finish line on lap 11; the two cars were dead-even at the stripe, and within three more circuits McMann had worked his way into the lead. But as the leaders caught Chris Lillo running at the tail of the field with ten laps remaining, Aaron Lillo made a strong low-side move past McMann to reclaim the lead, and Budisalovich went up a groove to sweep around and into second.
On lap 19 Budisalovich tried to get around Lillo for the lead, but Aaron worked his way expertly through the backmarkers and extended his advantage over the closing laps for his first win here of the season. Peterlin won the battle with Toppozini with a half-dozen laps remaining, and he eventually caught and passed McMann for third with just three laps left.
Budisalovich will carry a 70-point advantage over Aaron Lillo into the final night of the regular season next Friday, meaning he shouldn’t need much more than to take a lap in his heat race in order to qualify for the feature to claim his second track title here in the past three seasons.
Just like the Late Models did, the WISSOTA Modifieds clicked off their A-main without a single yellow-flag delay, and Broking, from Grand Rapids, MN, also shot away from the pole and led every lap. Unlike Lillo, however, Broking, who was driving his father’s car on this night while his was having engine work done at home, was never threatened throughout his run.
The best battle early in the 20-lapper was for second, as Todd Gehl fended off a determined Rick Rivord for better than half the run. The dogfight for fourth was a pretty good one, too, as Danny Vang tried to keep Al Uotinen and Jody Bellefeuille at bay. As Broking had his way with the field, Bellefeuille eventually got some bite from his preferred outside groove and swept by Uotinen on lap 12 and then Vang a circuit later, with Uotinen diving low to pass Vang as well with six laps remaining.
Despite slower traffic coming into play with five laps to go, Broking cruised by and continued on to his third feature win of the season by roughly a straightaway. Bellefeuille caught the Gehl-Rivord debate and passed both cars coming under the white flag to steal second, and Gehl held on for third. Uotinen came home fifth.
Broking is in a similar situation to Budisalovich in that, with a 50-point advantage on Uotinen headed for the final night, he doesn’t need much more than to qualify for his feature next Friday to claim the title.
Mass, a frequent visitor from East Bethel, MN, started on the outside of the front row of the 20-lap WISSOTA Super Stock main event, and although he also led every lap, he had to endure a couple of late-race restarts in order to claim his third feature win here in four visits to the track in 2018.
Mass beat polestarter Kurt Becken into and out of the first corner to claim the lead and pull away, while Becken had a fight on his hands for second from DJ Keeler. Becken eventually gave up the spot on lap 3, but Keeler was a full straightaway back of the leader by lap 7 as Mass ran a flawless line.
At mid-race Mass put Bob Galovich a lap down as he continued to build on his lead, but when visiting Jason Schill’s car coasted to a stop on the front straight Mass’s huge advantage evaporated. On the first attempt to restart the race Matt Hammitt slammed the turn 3 wall, and on the next try Dave Flynn, who restarted sixth, dug low to get by Scott Lawrence and Mike Bellefeuille for fourth, although Bellefeuille charged back to retake the position.
Divisional points leader Kevin Burdick, who had started the run eighth and was mired in heavy traffic to this point, made a move around Lawrence and Andy Grymala to take sixth on the second restart, and Flynn swapped himself with Bellefeuille for fourth again two lap later. With four laps left Flynn got by Becken for third, but a Matt Deragon-Keith Kern mix-up negated that move.
Burdick fell back a bit after the restart, as Oreskovich and Grymala got by late. As the white flag waived Keeler took one last shot at a move for the lead, but Mass held true and grabbed the win. Becken, Flynn and Bellefeuille completed a close-knit top five.
Burdick’s eight-place finish, combined with Keeler’s impressive run, closed the gap between the two with one night remaining, to 32 points in favor of Burdick.
It took Estey a lot longer to get to the front than his fellow winners here on Friday, but in doing so he increased his points lead. The defending national WISSOTA Midwest Modified champion from Kelly Lake, MN, started that division’s 20-lap A-feature directly behind polestarter Jeff Nelson, but he slipped into second immediately after the green flag waived and chased Brandon Copp for the first six laps until a three-car tangle stopped the show.
Second-in-points Dan Kingsley restarted alongside Estey and snuck by on the low side to take second, but before the lap was over Estey regained the spot. The front trio ran nose-to-tail for the next three laps before Dalton Mains’ spin stalled things for the second and final time in this race.
Estey took advantage of this restart to pull alongside Copp and edge ahead on lap 11, and within three more laps Estey had a comfortable lead. Kingsley took third from Copp on lap 15, and a circuit later Ryan Savoy moved by Copp for fourth. As the white flag waived Savoy worked inside to displace Kingsley for second, but Estey was safely on his way to his fourth win of the season here. Savoy’s second-place effort was his first top-five run of the year, with Kingsley right behind. Andrew Inman overtook Copp for fourth late in the go.
Estey stretched his points lead over Kingsley to 37 heading into the final night of the season next Friday.
Cash has been chalking up career firsts for over a month now, and the young driver from Duluth, MN, scored his first feature win of the season in Superior on Friday in the WISSOTA Pure Stock headliner. Cash started on the pole and led all 15 non-stop laps.
As Cash pulled away to a strong early margin, Kyle Copp worked his way past Trevor Treviranus for second, and by lap 3 he was far ahead of a wild race for third in which Cory Jorgensen squeezed ahead of Treviranus, James Vendela and Aaron Bernick.
Midway through the race Copp began to reel in Cash, but his car also began leaving a trail of tell-tale blue smoke. Copp got to Cash’s back bumper by lap 9, and Dylan Shelton replaced Treviranus in the scrum for third, making for two entertaining battles on the track.
Cash fended off Copp’s advances for his landmark win, while Jorgensen held on to third ahead of Bernick, Shelton and Vendela, as the foursome crossed under the checkers in close formation.
Jorgensen closed to within a single point of division leader Vendela, which should make the Pure Stock feature very entertaining come next Friday night.
Fans were also treated to youngsters on trikes and three-wheelers racing on the track’s front straight during intermission.
The final night of the regular season will be on Friday, August 24, with trike races involving several of the drivers added as part of the intermission entertainment. All five regular weekly divisions will be in action, and the 2018 track champions will be crowned. Hot laps are at 6:30, and the first heat race of the night takes the green flag at 7 pm.
The 30th annual Northern Nationals are set for September 6-8. 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: Aaron Lillo; Travis Budisalovich; Kyle Peterlin; Tim McMann; John Toppozini; Terry Lillo; Dave Flynn; Derek Vesel; Kevin Carlson; Robbie Cooper.
11-12: Dave Esse; Chris Lillo
Heat 1: T Lillo; Toppozini; McMann; A Lillo; Vesel; Esse.
Heat 2: Budisalovich; Carlson; Peterlin; Flynn; C Lillo; Cooper.
Feature: 1-10: Johnny Broking; Jody Bellefeuille; Todd Gehl; Rick Rivord; Al Uotinen; Danny Vang; Kelly Estey; Neil Balduc; Cody Carlson; Donnie Lofdahl.
11: Marcus Simonson.
Heat 1: Estey; Balduc; Vang; Carlson; Bellefeuille; Lofdahl.
Heat 2: Broking; Rivord; Uotinen; Gehl; Simonson.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Dave Mass; DJ Keeler; Kurt Becken; Dave Flynn; Mike Bellefeuille; Andy Grymala; Nick Oreskovich; Kevin Burdick; Jim Campbell; Scott Lawrence.
11-19: Marcus Simonson; Keith Kern; Rita Anderson; Matt Hammitt; Jon Hammitt; Bob Galovich; Matt Deragon; Jason Schill; Annika Hammitt.
Heat 1: Mass; Burdick; Bellefeuille; Grymala; Schill; Kern; Galovich; Anderson; A Hammitt; J Hammitt.
Heat 2: Simonson; Keeler; Becken; Lawrence; Oreskovich; Flynn; Campbell Deragon; M Hammitt.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: Skeeter Estey; Ryan Savoy; Dan Kinglsey; Andrew Inman; Brandon Copp; Deven Van House; Craig Lofdahl; Shane Howell; Jimmy Latvala; Jeff Nelson.
11-17: George Dalbeck; Tanner Williamson; Carey LePage; Jeff Forseen; Dalton Mains; Justin Bassa; Jack Rivord.
Heat 1: Estey; Nelson; Rivord; Savoy; Bassa; Inman; Williamson; Mains; Van House.
Heat 2: Copp; Kingsley; Lofdahl; Latvala; Dalbeck; Forseen; LePage; McLean Andrews; Howell.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Jeremy Cash; Kyle Copp; Cory Jorgensen; Aaron Bernick; Dylan Shelton; James Vendela; Trevor Treviranus; Darrin Lowney; Richard Dzelak Jr; Shaina Rapp.
Heat 1: Copp; Bernick; Vendela; Jorgensen; Lowney.
Heat 2: Cash; Dzelak; Rapp; Treviranus; Shelton.