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Bemidji Speedway opens up 2022 season with over 100 cars

Bemidji Speedway kicked off the racing season in style on Sunday, as 100 cars packed the pits in front of a packed grandstand and cheering fans.

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Ken Hron won the Northern Renegade Winged Sprints Feature on Sunday, May 29, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- Bemidji Speedway kicked off the racing season in style on Sunday, as 100 cars packed the pits in front of a packed grandstand and cheering fans.

Racing resumes at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 5, back at Bemidji Speedway. The track will honor and introduce all female drivers during intermission, and all women will receive a reduced entry fee into the grandstand.

Wissota Pure Stock Feature

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Austin Carlson won the Pure Stocks feature on Sunday, May 29, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer

First on track for feature racing were the Wissota Pure Stocks, with the 16 cars led by Josh Berg and Dusty Caspers. But it was second-row starter Deryk Weleski who raced inside and into the lead followed by Austin Carlson, Caspers, Berg and Al Sadek Sr. Weleski slid up high on the back straight and Caspers regained second with Dustin Puffe -- who was making a return to racing after several years -- moving up into third. Puffe stayed on the gas and powered up inside into second. In a flag-to-flag start to the racing season, Carlson claimed the initial feature win with Puffe, Caspers, Weleski and Berg also earning top-five honors.

Bemidji Mini Stocks Feature

A dozen Mini Stocks were next on track, led to the green flag by father and son race team Ashton and Conrad Schwinn. Conrad Schwinn powered to the lead with his son close behind, followed by Kalin Honer, Gordon Hunter and Hayden Engen. The race was tight and competitive early, but Conrad Schwinn pulled away from the field to pick up his first win of the new season. Honer passed Ashton Schwinn for second with Gordon and Brandon Hunter taking fourth and fifth.

Wissota Midwest Modifieds Feature

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Jeff Reed won the Midwest Modified feature on Sunday, May 29, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer

Nineteen Wissota Midwest Modifieds had the crowd on the edge of their seats as Darrin Lawler and Jeff Reed led the pack to the green flag. Several spins created restart situations early, with Reed and Lawler holding the front positions followed by Gary James Nelson, Doyle Erickson and Devyn Weleski. Reed pulled out to a huge, 10-car length lead as Lawler battled with Nelson for second. Weleski, in his second year of B Mod racing, came up and challenged the veteran Erickson and was able to take the fourth spot in an excellent race. Reed took the checkered flag with Lawler, Nelson, Weleski and Erickson trailing.

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Northern Renegade Winged Sprints Feature

A six-car field of the Northern Renegade Winged Sprints roared on track with Casey Lange on the pole and Travis Case to his right. Lang grabbed the early lead with Case and Ken Hron close behind. Following a caution, Hron charged up on the high side down the back straight and into the lead. Hron built a comfortable lead, but Lang was closing in late. One last caution created a green, white, checkered finish to the race and Hron held his line for the win. Lang, Nathan Sletto, Chad Wulff and Case rounded out the top five.

Wissota Mod Four Feature

With eight drivers in the Wissota Mod Four feature, the green flag waved for pole sitter Skyler Smith and outside front-row driver Conrad Schwinn. Smith took the lead with Dean Larson, Schwinn, Tommy Bawden and Blake Erickson trailing. Smith and Larson raced out to a sizable lead over the field, and the battle was on between the two. Erickson and Bawden waged their own battle for third. Larson crossed the finish line by a nose for the win, but in the inspection, he was disqualified for an equipment infraction. Smith was awarded the win with Bawden, Erickson, Schwinn and Nick McCann in the top five.

Wissota Hornet Feature

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Justin Barsness won the Wissota Hornet feature on Sunday, May 29, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer

The Wissota Hornet field of 19 cars buzzed on track led by Brooklyn Vernlund. To her right was Carter Matthews, grandson of legendary Bemidji racer Donnie Matthews and son of longtime racer Gary Matthews. Vernlund won lap one with Justin Barsness charging up into second with Matthews third, Travis Olafson fourth and Bonnie McLynn fifth. Barsness powered up on the outside on the front straight and into the lead. Olafson raced inside into second following a side-by-side duel with Vernlund. Matthews got by Vernlund while Aiden Helwig made up to fifth from his fifth-row starting spot. Barsness was impressive in picking up the win with Olafson, Matthews, Vernlund and Helwig taking top five honors.

Wissota Modified Feature

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Josh Beaulieu won the Modifieds feature on Sunday, May 29, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer

In the final race of the night, the Wissota Modifieds roared on track. Josh Beaulieu and Davey Mills led the pack of 11 to the green flag. Beaulieu outraced Mills to the lead in turn one with Devin Fouquette in third, Matt Fullerton in fourth and Jeff Reed in fifth. Charging up from his third-row starting position, John Farrington was gaining ground as Fouquette took over second. Mills was slowing and dropped out of the race, leaving Beaulieu a huge lead over the field. Farrington continued his assault on the leaders by passing Fouquette for second in an inside move. Lance Schilling made a late charge into fourth as Reed took fifth. Beaulieu drove to victory lane as Farrington, Fouquette, Schilling and Reed made up the top five.

Wissota Super Stock Feature

Delayed due to rain.

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The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.