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Bemidji Speedway: Hot action on a cool Sunday night

After making contact with Keith Keena's No. 3 car, Matt Sparby's No. 81 car becomes airborne during Sunday's action at Bemidji Speedway. (Dennis Peterson | Special to the Pioneer)

Dennis Peterson

Special to the Pioneer

BEMIDJI -- Wind, rain, hats, gloves and blankets. One would think you were watching the classic Paul Bunyan Stampede held in late September or October at Bemidji Speedway but that was the scene Sunday night at the speedway as fans braved the cold and wet conditions to cheer on their favorite drivers for the Mid-season Championships.

A pair of first-time winners in 2014 highlighted the on-track action with Nathan Higginbotham winning his first ever feature in the Wissota Super Stocks and Tim Jackson, in just his second night of racing following his return to Bemidji Speedway, won the feature in the Wissota Midwest Modified class. Jenny Watrud posted a clean sweep in the Mini Stocks, Al Sadek Jr. won his third in the Pure Stocks and Jerry Esler was the Wissota Mod Four champion for the second time.

Next Sunday the track will host all boys and girl scouts. Scouts in uniform will get in free and the Bemidji Wrestling Club will be giving awaybikes to two lucky kids during intermission.

Mini Stocks

Joe Doti took the initial lead with Jenny Watrud charging up behind him on the back straight. Watrud charged forward and took the lead by the time she hit the finish line for the first lap and continued on to claim feature. Doti was second with Sue Berg, Brodey Kropuenske, and Nicole Feda in the top five.

Wissota Mod Fours

Jerry Esler and Tonja Stranger held the front row and Esler quickly took the lead. Esler won the flag to flag race and complete a clean sweep for the night. Conrad Schwinn, Tyler Larson, Dean Larson and Jess Geesey took top five honors.

Wissota Super Stocks

With a light rain falling and umbrellas appearing in the grandstands the Wissota Super Stocks entered the track and as the rains became heavier Nathan Higginbotham built a huge lead over the field. The race was halted for about 20 minutes as the drivers slowed and continued to try and keep the track raceable. Additional cars, Midwest mods and pure stocks joined them and soon the rains disappeared and clear sunlit skies warmed the fans and dried the track. The race was restarted with Nathan Higginbotham, who was looking for his first ever win, out front. Higginbotham successfully held off the hard charging Gary James Nelson for several laps to claim his first ever feature win in the Super Stock class. Nelson took second with Dalton Carlson, Keith Keena and Blake Higginbotham in the top five.

Wissota Midwest Modifieds

Early in the race and coming out of turn four Tim Jackson, in just his second race of the year at Bemidji, came out in the lead and Skyler Smith raced up from his second row start to pull up behind Jackson for second. Jackson and Smith pulled away quickly the duel between the two fine drivers was on. Jackson eventually crossed the finish line and took the checkered flag. Jackson won his first of the summer with Smith taking a well-raced second.

Pure Stocks

Al Sadek Jr. took the early lead and, after a restart caused by a spinout, Sadek Jr. extended his advantage. Sadek Jr. maintained his lead the rest of the way and won his third feature of the summer.

Mini Stock Feature – Jenny Watrud, Joe Doti, Sue Berg, Brodey Kropuenske, Nicole Feda, Ev Barrett

Heat 1 – J. Watrud, B. Kropuenske, J. Doti, S. Berg, N. Feda

Wissota Mod Four Feature – Jerry Esler, Conrad Schwinn, Tyler Larson, Dean Larson, Jess Geesey, Fran Hauber, Mike Margl, Josh Seeleye, Tonja Stranger

Heat 1 – J. Esler, T. Larson, C. Schwinn, F. Hauber, T. Stranger

Wissota Super Stock Feature – Nathan Higginbotham, Gary James Nelson, Dalton Carlson, Keith Keena, Blake Higginbotham, Matt Sparby

Heat 1 – G. J. Nelson, N. Higginbotham, M. Sparby, B. Higginbotham, K. Keena

Wissota Midwest Modified Feature – Tim Jackson, Skyler Smith, Bret Schmidt, Brandon Bahr, Weston Ramsrud, Gary James Nelson, Lon Vettelson, John Halvorson, Ron Reed, Trent Dyrdahl, Alex Johnson, Jerad Lene.

Heat 1 – S. Smith, W. RAmsrud, T. Jackson, L. Vettelson, G. J. Nelson

Heat 2 – B. Schmidt, B. Bahr, J. Halvorson, T. Dyrdahl, R. Reed

Pure Stock Feature – Al Sadek Jr., Sterling Knaeble, Kevin Baumgarner, Josh Berg, Al Sadek Sr, Bill Chaboyea, Austin Carlson, Chad Tabaka, Harley Kroening, Tyler Kroening

Heat 1 – A Sadek Jr., K. Baumgarner, C. Tabaka, J. Berg, A. Carlson

Heat 2 – S. Knaeble, B. Chaboyea, H. Kroening, T. Kroening, J. Lutgen