Points battle tightens at Speedway
With only one week of points available for drivers after Sunday night's, races there was a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air at the Bemidji Speedway.
Next week's race will be the final opportunity to pick up points, with the race scheduled for Labor Day Monday, the Season Championships will begin at 4 p.m.
Eric Pierzina and Dalton Carlson led the first feature of the night on track in the Pure Stocks class. Pierzina took the lead at the green flag with Carlson on his bumper. Dan Vizenor, Jason Davis and Bill Chaboyea were all in the chase.
Vizenor slid up high in turn two and Davis raced inside to take over third. Davis attempted to pass Carlson with an inside move but failed and dropped back into third where he finished.
Pierzina picked up his first feature win at Bemidji with Carlson, Davis, Vizenor and Nathan Rice trailing.
Neil Fleming and Art Mertes were on the front row for the start of the Mini Stock feature with Mertes grabbing control of the race at the green flag.
Chris Dudley raced up into second with Billy Smith surviving a hard crash into the back guard rail to return to the race and finish third.
Mertes took the checkered flag, his sixth, followed by Dudley, Smith, Michelle Mertes and Leahna Barrett.
The final points race of the summer for the Bemidji Streets was led on track by Terry Blacklance on the pole and Jim Geringer to his right.
Blacklance and Geringer dueled for several laps for the lead before Geringer finally moved ahead. Lance Schill raced up into second followed by Schill, Scotty Messner and Josh Coons.
On the super fast track Coons wiggled slightly and both Dan Severson and Donahue Wittner raced passed. For Wittner, the race came to an end when he slowed in the number four corner and dropped to the tail end of the field.
On the next lap Schill slowed the same spot on the track and dropped to fourth as the leaders Geringer and Messner pulled out to big leads of the rest of the field.
Following a caution for a spin by Chris Schill in turn two racing resumed led by Geringer. With the white flag signaling the final lap, Messner powered up on the inside into the three-four turns and raced into the lead. Messner took the checkered flag with Geringer, Blacklance, Schill, and Severson trailing in a very entertaining race. This was Messner's first feature win at Bemidji and his sixth overall.
AMSOIL Dirt track series action was next on track led by Kevin Bahr and Jason Crabb. Down the front straight Bahr grabbed the lead followed by Jeremy Castle and Crabb.
Skyler Smith and Mike Bader held the fourth and fifth position after one lap but Bader slid up high in turn two and dropped back to seventh as Brian Bourquin charged into fifth. Bourquin continued forward racing low to pass Smith.
Crabb raced high in turn two and both Bourquin and Schwinn passed on the inside and began to look for the leaders Bahr and Castle.
Bahr cruised to the win with Castle a few car lengths back in second. Bourquin, Schwinn and Smith rounded out the top five finishers. For Bahr it was win number three at Bemidji in 2008.
The field of Midwest Modifieds came on track led by Nate Pochardt and Brian Strand with special guest driver X Games star Cowboy Kenny Bertrand starting back in the fifth row.
With the green flag waving the lead was grabbed by Strand with Bryan LePier, Adam Johnson, Doug Voss and Doug VanMill close behind. A quick caution slowed the race with Dustin Strand driving to the pits for repairs and returning tailback along with Pochardt.
With the race resumed a quick second caution again slowed the action for a spin in turns three and four with Pochardt towed to the pits and Cowboy Kenny sent tailback.
The race track was becoming black with rubber and very fast and the action was furious as VanMill, Gary Nelson Jr. and Johnson ran three wide down the back straight with Nelson Jr. taking fourth.
Up front the race for the lead was heating up with Brian Strand holding off the charges of LePier. Back in the pack Davey Mills was hard charging using the outside line around Voss and Dustin Strand for fifth.
The younger Strand charged back and the two fine drivers put on a side by side battle for the position. Incidentally, Mills holds a "one" point lead over Strand in the Midwest Mod class for Bemidji points making every position important.
Another caution slowed the race for a restart and every one caught their breath in anticipation of the finish.
Brian Strand led the field to the green flag once again with LePier, Nelson, Mills and Voss chasing. Mills and Nelson dueled side by side before Nelson also spun bringing another caution flag out and sending him tailback.
With the end of the race in sight, Dustin Strand had worked his way back from the tailback position up into fifth and then passed Adam Johnson in turn two on the inside for fourth. Nelson hit the back straight guard rail bringing out one last caution flag and setting up a green, white and checkered finish. Brian Strand kept his lead during those last three laps to claim the win with LePier, Mills, Dustin Strand and Johnson following in order in a brilliant and action packed race.
The cool night air had fans huddled under blankets to stay warm as the last feature of the night came on track led by Jerry Davis and Gordie Lancaster. Lancaster used his outside front row start to take the lead followed by Davis, Jeff Reed, Jay Kintner and Dale Lindell. Reed moved out high on the track and passed Davis for second but the caution flag waved and Davis was sent tailback for an incident in turn three.
The restart green flag waved for Lancaster with Reed, Kintner, Tal Lucken and Lindell running in order behind him. Kintner and Reed dueled door to door for second with Kintner racing the high side. Gary Nelson Jr. had been back in seventh place when he began his move towards the front passing Lindell on the back straight for fifth.
Another caution for a crash in the three-four corners had Lancaster towed to the pits and Reed sent tailback giving the lead over to Kintner and moving Tal Lucken into second. Nelson, Lindell and Darrin Gangl followed in the top five.
With the green flag of flagman Lynn Johnson once again waving Nelson raced inside down the back straight and by Lucken for second. Lucken's number 15 super did a 360 degree spin down the back straight staying in the race but dropping to the tail end of the field.
With fast and furious action everywhere on the track the leader Kintner slowed down the front straight. Kintner drove into the infield next to victory circle, as close as he would get to a victory on this night with apparent gear or drive shaft problems.
Nelson took over the lead with Lindell, Gangl, and Jay Pierzina trailing. Chris Molash running strong once again along with Davis who had charged back from his tailback position made the last passes of the races passing Pierzina on the last lap to take fourth and fifth respectively.
Nelson pulled into the Victory Circle to the loud applause of an appreciative crowd. Lindell, Gangl, Molash and Davis finished out the to five finishers. Ending another night of racing and setting up what should be a incredible last night of points racing Monday.
Feature - Eric Pierzina, Dalton Carlson, Jason Davis, Dan Vizenor, Nathan Rice, Bill Chaboyea, Jr. Jones, Brandon Hilliard, Wade Schmidt, Sadie Niemela
Heat 1 - Pierzina, Vizenor, Jones, Hilliard, Carlson
Heat 2 - B. Chaboyea, W. Schmidt, N. Rice, J. Davis, S. Niemela
Feature - Art Mertes, Chris
Dudley, Billy Smith, Michelle Mertes, Leahna Barrett, Neil Fleming
Heat 1 - Dudley, A. Mertes, Smith, Fleming, M. Mertes
Feature - Scotty Messner, Jim Geringer, Terry Blacklance, Lance Schill, Dan Severson, Don Bowman, Nathan Pederson, Josh Coons, Chris Schill, Donahue Wittner
Heat 1 - Messner, Wittner, Severson, C. Schill, Pederson
Heat 2 - L. Schill, Geringer, Blacklance, Coons, Bowman
Feature - Kevin Bahr, Jeremy Castle, Brian Bourquin, Conrad Schwinn, Skyler Smith, Fran Hauber, Jason Crabb, Brandon Bahr, Ev. Barrett, Jim Morris
Heat 1 - K. Bahr, Castle, Hauber, Crabb, Morris
Heat 2 - Schwinn, Mike Bader, Smith, Bourquin, Barrett
Feature - Brian Strand, Bryan LePier, Davey Mills, Dustin Strand, Adam Johnson, Gary Nelson Jr, Doug VanMill, Cowboy Kenny Bertrand, Marc Miller, Doug Voss
Heat 1 - D. Strand, LePier, Voss, N. Pochardt, Mills
Heat 2 - B. Strand, Johnson, Nelson, Bertrand.
Feature - Gary Nelson Jr, Dale Lindell, Darrin Gangl, Chris Molash, Jerry Davis, Jay Pierzina, Tal Lucken, Jay Kintner, Gordie Lancaster,
Heat 1 - Nelson Jr, Lindell, J. Davis, Gangl, Lucken
Heat 2 - Lancaster, Kintner, Jeff Reed, Pierzina, Molash