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Big money up for grabs during packed Bemidji Speedway races

It was double the excitement at Bemidji Speedway on Sunday night, with the AFCO Race of Champions and the Dean Olafson Memorial Pure Stock and Hornet Special taking center stage at the track.

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Travis Olafson and family carry American flags onto the track on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- It was double the excitement at Bemidji Speedway on Sunday night, with the AFCO Race of Champions and the Dean Olafson Memorial Pure Stock and Hornet Special taking center stage at the track.

Ninety-eight cars in six classes filled the pits, and with extra pay incentives in the Dean Olafson Memorial Special and the Wissota Midwest Modifieds, the action was fast and furious. The Wissota Pure Stocks were racing for $1,000 and the Wissota Hornets $500, but Doyle Erickson Logging added an extra $100 to each class. In the Wissota Midwest Modifieds, Dean Eggebratten of Paul Bunyan Mini Storage added an additional $250 to the first-place winner, $150 to the second-place winner and $100 to the third-place winner in addition to the regular purse, plus $100 for the Hard Charger winner.

Big winners on the night were Shane Sabraski with a clean sweep of both the Wissota Super Stocks and the Wissota Modifieds and Skyler Smith with a clean sweep in the Wissota Mod Fours. In the Dean Olafson Memorial Pure Stock Special, it was Dustin Puffe taking the feature, and in the Wissota Hornets, Carter Matthews came from 16th place to claim the win. Bikes, scooters and other prizes were given out to lucky kids.

On Sunday, Aug. 14, the second and last Kids Night will be held, with all kids 12 and under receiving free admission. During intermission, kids and fans of all ages can meet the drivers on the track. Races start at 5:30 p.m. with all classes running.

Wissota Midwest Modified Feature AFCO Race of Champions Qualifier

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Josh Beaulieu won the Midwest Modifieds on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer

The first feature race of the night was the Wissota Midwest Modifieds, with Josh Beaulieu on the pole and Alan Olafson to his right. With flagman Tim Jackson waving the green flag, Beaulieu powered to the lead, with Olafson, Darrin Lawler, Jeff Reed and Jake Smith in the top five. Reed raced inside, passing Lawler for third, but Smith was on the move down the back straight and passed both Lawler and Reed. A few laps later, a three-wide battle for the lead with Beaulieu, Olafson and Smith took place on the back straightaway. Beaulieu charged back and regained control, picking up the feature win and extra cash. Olafson, Smith, Reed and Aaron Blacklance filled out the top five. Beaulieu, with the win, qualified for the AFCO Race of Champions in September.

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Wissota Pure Stock Dean Olafson Memorial Feature

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Dustin Puffe, right, won the Pure Stocks on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer

Racing for $1,000, 18 Wissota Pure Stocks drove on track, with Kade Leeper and Dustin Puffe in row one. The two raced side by side for several laps before Leeper moved to the front, with Puffe, Austin Carlson, Dusty Caspers and Michael Roth trailing. Roth, last year's winner, raced inside and into fourth as Caspers and Josh Berg dueled for fifth. Roth continued his attack, racing high in turn four and into third. Puffe caught and passed Leeper to take the lead, as Roth also moved inside and passed Leeper. Puffe and Roth pulled away from the pack and battled to the end, with Puffe holding to the finish line and picking up the feature win and the big check. Roth, Leeper, Carlson and Caspers trailed the leader.

Wissota Hornet Dean Olafson Memorial Feature

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Carter Matthews, right, won the Hornets on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer

Brooklyn Vernlund was on the pole, with Chad Reller to her right. The two raced side by side for a lap before Reller moved to the lead. Tristen McLynn pulled up into second, with Justin Barsness, Vernlund and Zachary Rusich in the top five. Barsness raced inside to pass McLynn for second as Travis Olafson made his way into the top five. Carter Matthews charged through traffic and pulled up behind Reller. It became a three-car race with Reller, Barsness and Matthews. Barsness took the lead from Reller, and Matthews and Reller raced door to door for second. With the white flag waving for the final lap and the leaders racing through lapped traffic, Matthews beat Barsness to the finish line. Barsness was second, with Reller, McLynn and Olafson in the top five. Matthews pulled into Victory Lane and received the check for $600 from the Olafson family.

Wissota Mod Four Feature

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Skyler Smith won the Mod Fours on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer

The Wissota Mod Fours were led on track by Blake Erickson and Landyn Randt. A fast start led Erickson to the lead, with Skyler Smith racing up into second followed by Doyle Erickson, Randt and Dean Shaver. Smith raced up on the inside of Blake Erickson and the two battled door to door for the lead. Smith took the lead two laps later and drove to his sixth feature win at Bemidji this summer. Blake Erickson, Randt, Doyle Erickson and Conrad Schwinn rounded out the top five.

Wissota Super Stock Feature

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Shane Sabraski won the Super Stocks on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer

Racing for the right to go to the AFCO Race of Champions, the Wissota Super Stocks drove on track with Shane Sabraski and Jeffrey Frey in row one. Sabraski quickly raced out to the lead, with Jack Koranda, Dexton Koch, Frey and Jake Froemke trailing. Sabraski, Koranda and Koch pulled away from the pack as Froemke made a move and passed Frey for fourth on the high side. Sabraski had a nearly 1/3-lap lead over the field, but a late caution flag brought the pack back to him for a restart. On the restart, Froemke moved up into second as Sabraski once again pulled out and picked up the feature win on a green-white-checkered finish to the race. Sabraski also picked up the right to represent Bemidji Speedway at the Race of Champions. Froemke, Koch, Dalton Carlson and Frey finished in the top five.

Wissota Modified Feature

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Shane Sabraski won the Modifieds on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, at Bemidji Speedway.
Lisa Rhen / Special to the Pioneer

The final feature of the night was the Wissota Modifieds, again racing for a berth in the Race of Champions in September at the I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls. John Farrington had the pole position, with newcomer to the modified division Joey LaValley to his right. LaValley powered to the lead, with Farrington, Josh Beaulieu, Tanner Williamson and Shane Sabraski in the top five after one lap. Sabraski pulled up door to door with LaValley, and the rookie and veteran raced side by side for a lap. Sabraski won the battle and quickly drove away from the field, picking up his second clean sweep of the night and second ROC qualifier. Williamson and Beaulieu got by LaValley for second and third, with LaValley finishing fourth and Farrington fifth.

Related Topics: BEMIDJI SPEEDWAYAUTO RACING
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