NEW FACES IN VICTORY CIRCLE
By Jerry O’Brien
The sounds of WISSOTA racing finally emanated from the confines of Gondik
Law Speedway Friday night. They were finally able to get a racing program in the
May even though it took until the last hours of the last day of the month to get the
opening night in.
Mother Nature did her best to discourage the program with brisk winds off
Lake Superior and temperatures in the upper forties even though the skies were
sunny with little chance of rain in the forecast. Despite the weather, track
promoters decided to forge ahead and run the full scheduled five division program.
Despite car counts and fan participation being a little on the light side, enough
cars in three of the five divisions drew enough cars for two heats. Only the
WISSOTA Super Stocks and Pure Stocks ran single heats.
Heat races ran off very well with the last qualifying event taking the checkered
flag at 8:40. While track prep proceeded in the background officials decided to try
something new, out of car interviews of all drivers in in the first feature which
happened to be the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds which contained nineteen
drivers. The first feature for the Midwest Modifieds flagged off at 9:03.
Before the first lap was complete Tanner Williamson was turned around at the
bottom of turn two by Andrew Inman. The restart saw outside pole sitter Mack
Estey take the point followed by Craig Lofdahl, Skeeter Estey, Brandon Copp and
Jack Rivord. As Mack continued to hold down the lead there was some shuffling
occurring behind him. When that round of shuffling was completed, Skeeter was
in second and in hot pursuit of his younger brother. Copp settled into third and
took up the chase for the fleeing brothers. The top three proceeded to run away
from the rest of the field leaving first Lofdahl to lead the pursuit then Rivord
slipped into fourth leaving Lofdahl in fifth attempting to hold off Shane Howell
and David Simpson. Little changed amongst the Estey Brothers and Copp as they
extended the gap back to Rivord who held several car lengths on Lofdahl. Skeeter
was unable to run down Mack who went on to take the win. Skeeter Estey, Copp,
Rivord and Lofdahl finished in the top five.
The 20 lap WISSOTA Super Stock main event belonged to Superior’s Dave
Flynn who started from the pole, shot into the lead and never looked back as he
led from wire to wire for the win. Keith Kern started from the outside of the front
row and kept pace with Flynn a few car lengths back as Doug Koski ran in third in
his first race in several years. DJ Keeler dogged Koski as did Kevin Burdick, Scott
Lawrence and rookie Kyle Copp. Just before half way Koski got a run on Kern and
grabbed second. While Flynn kept the field at bay, Kern returned the favor and
passed Koski for second. It appeared that the order of Flynn, Kern, Koski, Keeler
would hold to the end, but the only caution flag of the race with three laps to
go, changed the complexion of the event.
The caution flew when Keeler hooked Kern exiting turn two spinning him.
When the green flag flew again, Flynn had no trouble keeping the lead but behind
him changes occurred as Copp grabbed second, and Lawrence third shoving Kern
back to fourth. Kosski held on to a top five while Burdick who has been on a tear,
was not a factor and, along with Keeler, did not finish.
An even dozen Late Models were in the house. After heat race action the dozen
lined up for their 20 lap go with Kevin Carlson’s #79 setting the pace flanked by
Terry Lillo. At the green Carlson shot into the lead followed by Terry Lillo, Dave
Esse and Tim McMann. After a lap the caution flag flew for the #9 of Chris Lillo
around in the first turn. When action resumed Carlson had a strangle hold on the
top spot chased by Terry Lillo. Derek Vesel put a move on Esse and got past
towing Darrell Nelson along with him. Those two proceeded to slug it out with
Vesel able to stave Nelson off for a few laps. Terry Lillo caught Carlson and put a
move on him to take the lead. Nelson got by Vesel into third with McMann fifth.
Just past the mid point car of Todd Frank rolled to a halt in turn one. The restart
came with nine laps remaining and Terry Lillo still in the lead. Nelson was third
and got past Carlson to second but Lillo was not to be denied and held off Nelson
for his first ever Late Model victory at the speedway. Carlson held on the third
while McMann got by Vesel to take fourth. Late Model rookie Deven VanHouse
had a strong start to his season with a heat win and seventh in the feature.
Next up were the WISSOTA Modifieds led to the green by veteran driver Kelly
Estey who was lookingg to match his son Mack with a feature win. While other
main events proved to be fairly caution free, the 20 laps of Modified action would
breed eight yellow flags. Estey was flanked by Modified rookie Dan Kingsley
who, after a stellar season in the Midwest Modifieds, decided to move up to the
big Mods. At the green Estey grabbed the point but gave it up to the flying
Kingsley. After a lap the first caution flew for Rick Rivord. Kingsley led the way
on the restart over Estey, Danny Vang, Cody Carlson and veteran Al Uotinen.
Those players would remain at the front of the field staving off challenges from
Darrell Nelson and Jody Bellefeuille. Caution flags were charged to John
Toppozini, Todd Gehl, Bellefeuille, Carey LePage, Bellefeuille again his second.
That was the eighth stoppage with 14 of 20 laps still to go. After restart number
eight thing settled down with Kingsley leading Estey, Vang, Nelson, Carlson,
Donnie Lofdahl and Todd Gehl. This order stayed the same except that Gehl got
past Lofdahl with five circuits remaining as Kingsley captured his first career
Modified feature win.
The evening wrapped up with a 12 lap feature for the WISSOTA Pure Stocks.
At the green flag James Vendela spun out. It was a complete restart with no laps
complete. Jared Akervik grabbed the lead over Vendela with Mike Sirois, Aaron
Burnick Trevor Treviranus and Cory Jorgenson trailing. Akervik held onto the
lead over Vendela when the second caution flag flew when Treviranus spun by
himself with ten laps to go. Akervik held the lead for another lap until Vendela got
a run on him and surged to the lead. The ordder remained the same until there
were five laps to go when Bernick made several moves to take over second but
was unable to catch Vendela the defending Pure Stock track champ. Akervik,
Sirois and Treviranus rounded out the top five.
Next Friday June seventh the Advantage RV WISSOTA Modified Series will
be at GLS as part of a four day four track tour.