NELSON DOUBLES UP OPENING NIGHT AT AMSOIL SPEEDWAY
By Jerry O’Brien
5-12-17 Superior WI
Darrell Nelson began his 2017 season at AMSOIL Speedway by sweeping the WISSOTA
PolyDome Dirt Track Series Modified, heat and feature, following up with an easy win in the
WISSOTA Late Models. It was the fourth straight time the veteran driver has won the Modified
feature on opening night.
It could not have been a more pleasant night for one of the earliest openers in recent memory.
It’s a rare occurrence that early in the month of May that the temperatures would reach 75
degrees. Naturally, the Big Lake couldn’t leave well enough alone and a wind switch was
experienced later on. A very stout crowd was on hand to see racing all five WISSOTA divisions.
After qualifying heat races set the feature lineups, the first to head onto the immaculately
prepared high banked four tenths mile track was the 15 lap Midwest Modified main event.
Leading the 19 car field to the green flag was defending track champion Skeeter Estey who
jumped into a lead he would not relinquish as he led the entire distance. He weathered three
caution flags to take the win. Nick Daronco who started on the outside of the front row with
Wyatt Boyum, Cody Carlson and Tyler Vernon in the mix. Two laps in a three car pileup in turn
two brought out the first caution flag. For the next several laps Estey steadily pulled away from
Daronco while positions were traded further back. On the move was eighth starting George
Dakbeck who moved to third. As the laps wore away Dalbeck slipped past Boyum into third and
closed on Daronco. Caution flag number two flew with a pair of circuits remaining for the spun
Car of Tanner Williamson. The two lap shootout was delayed when Mike Jacques spun in turn
two. The green/white/checkers attempt was successful and Estey was the winner over Dalbeck,
Daronco, Boyum and Vernon.
Next up was 20 laps for the Super Stocks with Scott Lawrence on the pole. Lawrence took the
lead at the green with DJ Keeler claiming the second spot. Willie Johnsen, defending champion
Kevin Burdick and Nick Oreskovich ran in the top five. Not much changed in the order as
Lawrence and Keeler steadily move away. Johnsen, Burdick and Oreskovich waged their own
battle for third and finally Burdick was able to lay claim to the spot. At the halfway point the first
of three caution flags flew when Matt Hammitt spun in turn two. Lawrence was able to maintain
the lead but Burdick got by Keeler to second and, a lap later Johnsen took Keeler for third.
Burdick tried for a pass on Lawrence in the second turn but apparently got into the barrier tires
with help from Oreskovich who was charged with the incident. This restart saw Lawrence unable
to pull more than a car length on Burdick. Johnsen and Keeler battled for third with Johnsen
winning out. At this point Dave Flynn who had been hanging around in fifth or sixth, got by
Keeler for fourth. Burdick made another run at Lawrence in turns one and two and made the pass
only to have it negated by a caution flag for debris on the racing surface. The restart came with
four laps to go and Burdick again got by Lawrence in turn two. Lawrence came back and tried to
regain the top spot in turn four, got knocked around and collided with Oreskovich. Both spun
through the pack and ended up at the bottom of the exit to turn four. Both sustained damage and
did not finish. The restart saw Burdick in control to the checkered flag with Johnsen, Flynn,
Keeler, Andy Grymala, Matt Deragon and Matt Hammitt the only survivors of the dozen cars that
took the green flag.
The mighty WISSOTA Modifieds were next to run their 20 lap feature. The division produced
the most cars for the opener with 24 on hand. At the green flag outside pole sitter Bob Broking
got the jump on Jody Bellefeuille and shot into the lead with Bellefeuille, Darrell Nelson, Neil
Balduc and newcomer Nathan Sletto in hot pursuit. Nelson, Bellefeuille and Balduc got into a
hot skirmish with Nelson grabbing second. Danny Vang took fifth with Sletto and Johnny
Broking close by. With five laps in, the first caution flag appeared when Brian Mikkonen got
turned around at the bottom of turn four. Broking maintained the point on the restart but
Bellefeuille fell off the pace and rolled to a stop on the back straight. The restart order was
Broking, Nelson, Balduc, Vang and Johnny Broking in the top five. Nelson blasted by Broking to
the lead off turn two with 14 circuits left but the pass did not stand as Kelly Checkalski brought
out the caution with a spin in turn two. Nelson continued to lead at the green over Bob Broking
with Balduc ahead of Johnny Broking and Vang. Balduc took second ahead of the Brokings in
third and fourth while ninth starting Kevin Eder began to make his move at the half way point
arriving in sixth bringing along Dave Cain. The third caution period came when Tyler Jonson
spun in turn two. The yellow flag came with eight laps to go. Nelson was on his game and drove
off to a huge lead over Balduc and the Brokings in third and fourth. Eder was fifth and Cain
sixth. The fourth and final caution flag flew for Jeff Tardy’s incident in turn four that saw the #67
go off on the hook. With five to go, the green was out and Nelson again drove off into the night
leaving the rest to battle it out. Eder was a man on a mission and raced his way to second but had
no chance without a caution flag, to catch Nelson. Johnny Broking who started tenth finished
third, Balduc fourth and Bob Broking was fifth. Cain was sixth and Al Uotinen was seventh from
18th, Jeffery Lien ninth from 11th and Deven VanHouse tenth from 20th.
For some reason the WISSOTA Late Model count was very low with only eight cars on hand
to run a heat and a 20 lap feature. The feature started out with a caution flag on the first lap when
defending track champion Travis Budiaslovich encountered the marker tires in turn two with help
from T.J. Adams. The second try at a start saw Darrell Nelson shoot from the outside of row two
into the lead, one he held green to checkered. Terry Lillo, Tim McMann, Tim Lillo and Adams
settled into the top five in that order slipping into a follow the leader mode with no racing. With
seven laps remaining Gregg Hill finally made a pass on Adams for fifth.
The WISSOTA Pure Stocks finished out the program with their 15 lap feature. A pair of 11’s,
Tucker Quinn and Dylan Shelton led the 14 car field to the green. Quinn led the first lap, Shelton
took over on lap two while fourth starting Mike Blevins, a former track champion, charged from
the second row to third. Ryan Savoy and Kyle Copp were in the top five as Blevins moved to
second, then got by Shelton for the lead at the half way point. Blevins went on to record the
sweep. Shelton, Copp, Savoy and Al Rapp rounded out the top five.