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Bemidji Speedway: Drivers qualify for Wissota 'Race of Champions'

Andy Davey (top), Nathan Higginbotham (middle) and Kevin Burdick jockeyed for position heading around a turn during Sunday’s Super Stock feature at Bemidji Speedway. Dennis Peterson | Special to the Pioneer

Dennis Peterson

Special to the Pioneer

BEMIJDI -- Qualifying for the Wissota 100 later this fall at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds was on the minds of many of the drivers Sunday because Bemidji Speedway was hosting the “Race of Champions” qualifying night and the winners of the Wissota races punched their tickets for the big race.

Sunday’s winners included Jerry Esler in the Mod Fours, Kevin Burdick in the Super Stocks and Bret Schmidt in the Midwest Modifieds.

Kids also enjoyed a special night at the Speedway as the “Kids Box Car” races were held on the track during intermission. About 25 kids, ranging in age from 2 to 12 raced their replica cars for awards and each received a special medallion for racing.

Coming to Bemidji for the first time in a decade, the Wissota A-Modifieds will be on hand Aug. 17 as part of the Advantage RV’s Modified Tour. Racing for a purse of more than $10,000 and with the winner earning $1,500, this will be the largest payout in decades at the track. Also running will be the Wissota Midwest Modifieds, Bemidji Pure Stocks and Mini Stocks.

Mini Stocks

The feature was controlled and won by Mike Hart who picked up his third feature win at the track this summer. Point leader Jenny Watrud was second with Joe Doti and Nicole Feda trailing.

Wissota Mod Fours

The first of the Wissota Race of Champions qualifier races was the Wissota Mod Fours and, after the initial lap, Jerry Esler eased into the lead with Dean Larson in hot pursuit. Esler and Larson put on a show Larson challenging high and low but later he slid high and allowed several cars to get by him. Esler drove to a flag-to-flag victory and earned his right to represent Bemidji Speedway at the Race of Champions. Conrad Schwinn, Skyler Smith, Aaron Leininger and Larson finished in the top five.

Wissota Super Stocks

The Wissota Super Stock feature field was diminished with several cars not making the feature due to heat crashes. At the start Kevin Burdick and Dalton Carlson raced side by side for a lap before Burdick took control coming out of turn four. The field, led by Burdick, quickly spread out around the track but Burdick maintained his lead throughout and completed a clean sweep on the night. Andy Davey finished second with Carlson, Gary James Nelson and Kyle Oman in the top five.

Wissota Midwest Modifieds

The race attractred a tremendous field of 16 drivers but, unlike the first two features, this race had many caution flags, including one after just the first lap.

Cautions and restarts continued to dominate the action and, after the final restart, Bret Schmidt gained the momentum he needed to propel him to the lead following a side by side duel with Brandon Bahr. Once out in front Schmidt pulled away for the win. Tim Jackson took home third with Rick Jacobson coming back to take fourth and Dylan Miller fifth.

Pure Stocks

With the infield lights blazing the Pure Stock feature was initially slowed by a pair of cautions. Following the second restart, Josh Berg pulled away and the father and son team of Al Sadek Sr. and Al Sadek Jr. battled for second. Berg raced out to a big lead and completed the feature win while the younger Sadek finished second and the elder Sadek placed third.

Kevin Baumgarner and Austin Carlson completed the top five.

Mini Stock Feature – Mike Hart, Jenny Watrud, Joe Doti, Nicole Feda

Heat – M. Hart, J. Watrud, J. Doti, S. Berg, N. Feda

Wissota Mod Four Feature – Jerry Esler, Conrad Schwinn, Skyler Smith, Aaron Leininger, Dean Larson, Jim Erdmann, Josh Seeleye, Jess Geesey, Scott Dyrdahl, Fran Hauber, Tonja Stranger

Heat 1 – D. Larson, S. Dyrdahl, A. Leininger, J. Seeleye, T. Stranger

Heat 2 – C. Schwinn, J. Esler, S. Smith, J. Geesey, J. Erdmann

Wissota Super Stock Feature – Kevin Burdick, Andy Davey, Dalton Carlson, Gary James Nelson, Kyle Oman, Keith Keena, Gary Nelson Jr.

Heat 1 – K. Burdick, D. Carlson, A. Davey, G. J. Nelson, K. Oman

Wissota Midwest Modified Feature – Bret Schmidt, Brandon Bahr, Tim Jackson, Rick Jacobson, Dylan Miller, John Halvorson, Bill Matzdorf, Jerad Lene, Lon Vettleson, Gary James Nelson, Tyler McClellan, Alex Johnson #13, Weston Ramsrud, Matt Fullerton, Ron Reed, Alex Johnson #18.

Heat 1 – R. Reed, B. Schmidt, R. Jacobson, W. Ramsrud, A. Johnson

Heat 2 – D. Miller, T. Jackson, G. J. Nelson, L. Vettleson, B. Matzdorf

Heat 3 – B. Bahr, J. Halvorson, M. Fullerton, A. Johnson, T. McClellan

Pure Stock Feature – Josh Berg, Al Sadek Jr., Al Sadek Sr., Kevin Baumgarner, Austin Carlson, Sterling Knaeble, Keith Koski, Tyler Kroening, Harley Kroening, Brian Feda, Chad Tabaka

Heat 1 – K. Baumgarner, A. Sadek Sr., S. Knaeble, B. Chaboyea, T. Kroening

Heat 2 – C. Tabaka, K. Koski, A. Sadek Jr., J. Berg, A. Carlson