Superior, WI, — Darrell Nelson and Matt Leer ran off to dominant feature performances, while Curt Myers, Cody Wolkowski and Michael Blevins worked hard to earn their checkered flags on a Friday night at the AmsOil Speedway during which fans got a chance to meet the favorite drivers.
The AmsOil Dirt Track Series program included a season-high 105 entries competing on a smooth, fast race track during a cool, comfortable night. The vast majority of those cars were on trackside prior to the start of the program, as fans young and old alike were invited onto the race surface for an up-close look at the cars and get pictures, autographs and other treats from the drivers.
The features held extra significance to the drivers in the WISSOTA-sanctioned divisions, as on this night the winners of those four main events earned the honor of an entry into the prestigious AmsOil Race of Champions, to be held as part of
the WISSOTA 100 in mid-September in Huron, SD.
What Nelson did to the other drivers in the 20-lap WISSOTA Late Model feature could be described as nothing short of embarrassment. The division’s points leader from Hermantown, MN, started on the pole, beat Don Copp out of turn 2, and ran away and hid, building up a lead that extended to a full straightaway before the race was half over.
Copp, who was bringing out his car for the first time this summer, entrenched himself firmly in second spot throughout the non-stop affair, but behind him there were several spirited battles, including Dave Esse grabbing third away from Steve Laursen and Todd Gehl during the first few laps.
At the crossed flags Nelson was putting backmarkers Robbie Cooper and Scott Herrick in arrears and was well ahead of Copp and the battle for third, which now included Canadian visitor Riley Matthews. Even while slicing his way through slower traffic, Nelson continued to increase his lead over Copp to better than nine seconds – nearly half a lap – with still six laps remaining. By the time the checkered flag flew Nelson had become the sixth different Late Model feature winner at Superior in as many shows this season, with Copp at least three-quarters of a lap behind and only six of the 14 starters on the lead lap. Laursen eventually won the argument over third place, while Esse and Travis Budisalovich completed the top five.
What Nelson did to the Late Model field, however, Leer did to Nelson and the rest of WISSOTA Modified feature grid one race later. After EJ Hietala’s hard first-lap hit into the turn 3 concrete delayed the start of the 20-lap “big mod” headliner, the young man from Bruce worked his way around pole starter Kevin Eder and into the lead. Then, after first-night visitor Brett Hoium spun with one lap in the books, Leer disappeared into the night, opening up a four-second lead before the race reached its mid-point.
Nelson, who also leads the Mod points standings here, used a similar outside move to gain second from Eder just after the restart, and a circuit later Steve Stuart copied the move to take third. It took a few more laps for Jeff Broking to displace Eder in fourth, but with no more caution flags to allow the field to catch up, Leer extended his lead while working his way through slower traffic after mid-race. The field settled in at a steady, speedy pace for the balance of the run, and the advantage was about five seconds when Leer, who hails from Bruce, crossed the finish line for his first-ever feature win on the big Fairgrounds oval. Nelson had plenty of room between himself and third-finishing Stuart, Broking was a distance back in fourth, and Eder barely held on for fifth by edging Al Uotinen, who extended his track record for consecutive feature laps completed to 750. The other three feature wins weren’t quite so definitive, although the WISSOTA Super Stocks kept their caution-flag delays just as minimal during their 20-lap A-main. Pole starter Dave Flynn jumped ahead of a three-wide battle for second on the opening lap, but that battle for runner-up honors got ugly on lap 2, when Kevin Burdick, DJ Keeler and others collected in turn 2 in a crash that eliminated divisional points leader Joe Oliver from the race.
Myers restarted third and edged into the runner-up spot when the green lights came back on, while Donnie Lofdahl and Tristan LeBarge swapped fourth and fifth over the next couple of laps. Myers slowly crept up to the back push-bar of Flynn, and over a ten-lap stretch the veteran from Cameron stayed right in the leader’s tire tracks, occasionally peeking over Flynn’s shoulder for an opening. With three laps to go Myers tried to make his move by looking to the outside, but lapped traffic and a fast car helped Flynn keep him at bay. Then Myers used Kevin Salin’s slower ride as a pick and slipped by as the lead pair took the white flag, and over that final lap Myers established a car-length lead for his third straight AmsOil Speedway feature win. Burdick also took advantage of the traffic to steal second away coming out of the final turn, while Flynn managed to keep Andy Davey a half a car-length back for third. Thirteenth-starting Scott Lawrence finished a distant fifth.
The WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature started with a bone-jarring hit in the first corner and ended with a late-race pass for the win. Originally scheduled for 20 laps, the race was cut to 15 after David Simpson’s car got sideways in turn 1 and
then was hit hard in the driver’s-side door by the nose of Joe Vork’s racer. The race was red-flagged for 15 minutes, and the wreck eliminated a half-dozen racers, including that of Adam Shinn, who suffered a shoulder injury as a result. On the restart Danny Vang pulled around pole starter Ross Fuhrman for the lead, while Wolkowski used a similar move to take third away from Jason Goldfine. Devin Van House began a charge toward the front by overtaking Goldfine on lap 4, just before Mid-Mod points leader Dan Kingsley’s car stalled in turn 4 with a flat right-front tire. Wolkowski drew up alongside Fuhrman and slipped past for third on that restart, but the pass was negated by a three-car pile-up on the backchute.
For the final restart of the race Wolkowski repeated his pass of Fuhrman for second, and within three laps Van House captured third with an inside move. The lead trio then pulled away in close formation, with Van House sneaking a peak around Wolkowski on lap 8 and then completing the pass the next time around. But when Van House made a play for the lead with four laps to go, Wolkowski took advantage and stole second, then looked to the bottom for room to get by Vang, taking over the top spot with two laps left.
The margin of his first feature win of the season here wasn’t much more than a car-length or two for the youngster from Thunder Bay, ON, while Vang did his best to hang on for second as Van House threatened alongside. Fuhrman enjoyed a great run in maintaining fourth throughout the balance of the run, while Goldfine fended off Skeeter Estey for fifth.
A fierce two-car battle for the win highlighted the 15-lap Pure Stock feature. Justin Madsen grabbed the early lead by getting past Ryan Savoy, with Andy Udeen following Madsen through to second. Points leader Blevins, of Hibbing, MN, charged up from his third-row start to move by Savoy on lap 2 and then Udeen on lap 3, and from there the lead pair put on quite a show, quelled only by the occasional caution flag.
The first of those slowdowns came when Lucas Carlson slowed on lap 3, and the next one came just after the restart, when third-running Savoy looped his ride. Under that yellow flag Udeen took his car to the pits for the night with mechanical woes, giving third to Mike Sirois.
With the green flag waiving Blevins threw several challenges at Madsen for the lead, but Madsen kept his poise. Finally Blevins took advantage of a slight opening on lap 6 and slipped past, but Madsen stayed on the new leader’s rear bumper right up until Mark Korte’s car spun with five laps to go.
Blevins, who captured his fifth feature win of the season in six shows, and his fourth straight, didn’t gain any breathing room until the final two laps, while behind him there was plenty of jostling and position-swapping. Madsen held off a determined Sirois and a last-lap threat by Steve Udeen for second. Carlson charged back up through the field after his early-race issues for fifth.
Action at the AmsOil Speedway continues with two special nights of racing during the annual Head of the Lakes Fair. On Tuesday, August 13, the program will feature the Late Models, Modifieds and Pure Stocks, while on Friday night, August 16, racing action will include the Super Stocks, Midwest Mods and Pure Stocks. The show will start at 7 pm on both nights. For more information log on to the track’s website, www.amsoilspeedway.com.