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LaValley, Williamson, Berg, Erickson Lead Bemidji Speedway Victors

Cejay LaValley won the Wissota Hornet feature at Bemidji (photo by Lisa Rhen)

I covered Bemidji Speedway remotely on Sunday – I wanted to cover that track at least one more time before special seasons – and it was season championship night at the quarter-mile. Several point races went down to the wire.

It is Bemidji’s final race before the Wissota MPH Invitational on Sept. 9-10. That event will feature Wissota Mod 4s, Pure Stocks and Hornets, with a practice night on Sept. 9 and all the racing on Sunday. I’m hoping this is a good event with 25-30 cars per class at least, and I hope Wissota makes this event a big deal for those divisions as those classes haven't been given much attention at the Wissota 100, if I am being honest. Bemidji also hosts the two-day Paul Bunyan Stampede in September so there are a couple of big events ahead.

The Wissota Hornets had the closest point race – Grand Rapids driver Justin Barsness led Chad Reller of Waskish by one point. Whoever finished ahead between those two would win the point championship.

Cejay LaValley of Bemidji, who picked up her first career feature win at Grand Rapids earlier this month, surged past Dylan Black of Bemidji for the lead. Brooklyn Vernlund of Bemidji moved into second and those two had quite a bit of distance on third place. The third-place battle was a three-car fight between AJ House of Cloquet, Reller and Barsness.

House moved into second with Vernlund in third, but the real battle was for fourth between Relly and Barsness who were locked in a very close battle on the track.

LaValley would roll to her second career win in impressive fashion as House held off Vernlund for second. Reller edged Barsness for fourth – and won the point title as a result in a race that literally went down to the wire.

The Wissota Modified feature felt like survival of the fittest.

The Wissota Mods did not get off to a good start as there was a several-car pileup in turn one that involved point leader Nic Jacobson of Bemidji, Alan Olafson of Blackduck, Michael Roth of Grand Rapids and John Farrington of Akeley. Jacobson entered the night with a 27-point lead over Farrington and a 36-point lead over Jeff Reed of Bemidji in the points. Jacobson suffered a flat tire and had to go pitside but returned.

Tanner Williamson of Fort Frances, Ont., and Skyler Smith of Bemidji led the front row of the mods on the restart with Smith taking the lead. Reed moved into third.

Smith checked up suddenly in turns three and four, and that led to a mess which saw Billy Kendall of Walker, Saturday’s feature winner, end up on his side on the side of Reed’s 2R car. Reed’s car had some damage, but he continued Kendall had significant damage on the right side and would leave on the hook. It was a case of him being in the wrong place at the wrong time for the 9 car. Kendall had quite the roller coaster weekend, winning on Saturday and being in a wreck on Sunday. Smith was charged with the yellow.

Williamson led on the restart with Reed now in second. Lance Schilling of Laporte slowed and pulled into the infield, he was in the top five at the time.

The veteran Alan Olafson of Blackduck was running third. Reed’s 2R slowed on the backstretch and he was clipped by Rick Jacobson of Bemidji to bring out the caution. My guess is that Reed’s 2R car had encountered more damage from the earlier incidents; he and Jacobson both left on the hook. Nic Jacobson had another flat to change but came back. Just three laps into the feature, and the 12-car field had shrunk to seven cars – and a few cars still racing on the track had damage.

Williamson got a great restart to open up the field with Olafson in second. Roth was in fourth with Skyler Smith pressuring him. Williams built the lead to 2.4 seconds over Olafson. Smith was all over Roth for third with Nic Jacobson, with a battered 032 car, close behind.

The lead grew to 3.783 seconds for Williamson as Smith finally got by Roth for third. Jacobson also got by. Smith was starting to catch Olafson as the laps waned.

Williamson crushed the field by 5.377 seconds for his sixth feature win of 2023. Olafson topped Smith for second with Nic Jacobson of Bemidji clinching the point title in fourth. Roth rounded out the top five. Only six cars finished.

Bemidji had a good turnout of 17 Wissota Pure Stocks, with Austin Carlson of Cohasset and national point leader Josh Berg of Bemidji on the front row. Carlson is sixth in the national points while second row starter Justin Barsness is tied for eighth. Berg led Kade Leeper of Guthrie by 20 points for the Bemidji track title. Leeper started in 11th.

Unfortunately, the caution flag ruled the pure stock main event which took more than 20 minutes.

Berg edged ahead of Carlson on the start with Barsness moving into third. Leeper had moved to sixth when the caution waved with 10 to go for a spin on the frontstretch. Josey LaValley of Bemidji was also running in the top five but later would pull in with a puff of smoke.

All Berg had to do was finish ahead of Leeper to win the points, but for national point purposes, a feature win would be even more valuable. Leeper would move up into the top five after Cameron Labelle of Laporte was penalized two spots for jumping the start.

Berg had a couple of car lengths on Carlson with Barsness close behind. Leeper had moved into fourth with nine to go. Cautions plagued the pure stock main event and another would occur one lap later – which was charged to Leeper, sending him to the tail. The time limit was starting to creep up on the pure stocks because of the numerous cautions.

Labelle moved back into third on the start with Chad Tabaka passing Barsness for fourth. Another caution would wave with six to go when a couple of cars got into a turn-four barrel.

The most frustrated person with all of the cautions usually is the leader. The race was shortened to a green-white-checkered because of the numerous yellows, including one as the white flag waved.

Berg probably felt like the race was an enduro, but he would survive to pick up the feature win and wrap up the season points title. He won by .726 seconds over Carlson. Labelle was third. Kevin Baumgarner was fourth and Deryk Weleski took fifth in a race that lasted more than 20 minutes, way too long for this fan. 😊

Blake Erickson won the Mod 4 feature and point title at Bemidji (Photo by Lisa Rhen)

Only five Wissota Mod 4s were on hand as Conrad Schwinn of Little Falls opened up a sizeable lead over Ashton Schwinn. Blake Erickson was battling Ashton Schwinn for second with Nick Seitz of Bemidji running fourth.

Schwinn would get crossed up in turn four and hit a barrel to bring out the caution. That would send the 6 car to the tail and move Ashton Schwinn to the top spot. Erickson, who started fifth and led the points by 98 going into the evening, made a move on the outside on the restart to take over the top spot and was in firm control from there.

Conrad Schwinn moved back to third and was chasing Ashton Schwinn for second as Erickson, who also won on Saturday at Bemidji, was dominating in picking up his fifth feature victory of the season, winning by 3.485 seconds to put an exclamation point on the track championship. Ashton Schwinn was second, Conrad Schwinn was third, Seitz was fourth.

Seven Wissota Super Stocks were on hand; Matt Sparby of Bemidji led Dalton Carlson of Cohasset by 44 points in the season standings as the race came down to those two.

Max Dondelinger of Grand Rapids led the super stock main event with Brandon Bahr applying some pressure. Sparby moved past Carlson for fourth with Nic Lewis running fifth.

Dondelinger turned the race into a complete runaway, building a 4.794 advantage over Bahr, who had Sparby all over him. Carlson was running fourth.

Dondelinger's margin of victory was 5.888 as he destroyed the field. Bahr held off Sparby for second; Sparby is the 2023 Bemidji Speedway track champion. Carlson was fourth and Lewis was fifth in the caution-free main event.

Doyle Erickson of Bagley led Brennan Schmidt of Bemidji by 11 points in the Wissota Midwest Modified points going into the feature.

Darrin Lawler of Grand Rapis jumped to the Wissota Midwest Modified lead over Brendan Bahr of Tenstrike; you had a complete fight for the third spot between Joey LaValley and Michael Blevins Sr. of Hibbing. LaValley would take the spot and was driving the wheels off of the 11L.

Lawler had his hands full with Bahr as Blevins and Joey LaValley were closing on both. Those two were in a real dogfight for third. Erickson was running in ninth ahead of Schmidt, which is all he needed to do to win the points.

Landon Gross spun with two to go to bring out the first caution of the race. On the restart LaValley challenged Bahr for second, and that allowed Lawler to pull away to a .772 second win. It was Lawler’s second feature win of the 2023 season. LaValley finished second with Bahr in third. Hunter Weeks of Laporte went from sixth to fourth with Devyn Weselski of Blackduck rounding out the top five.

Ashton Schwinn took the lead from the outside pole with Conrad Schwinn running second of the Mini Stock feature. Peyton Emerson of Grand Rapids, who won a feature at Bemidji earlier this summer, was working Schwinn for second. The caution would wave a few laps into it.

Ashton Schwinn opened up a pretty good advantage on Conrad Schwinn, who was contending with Emerson. Corey Nelson and Hayden Engen had a nice duel for the fourth spot which seemed to go on all race long.

Ashton Schwinn won comfortably to wrap up the points title as Conrad Schwinn edged Emerson for second. Nelson held off Engen for fifth.

Buffalo River Wins to Skalicky, Dvergsten, Jacobson, Martin, Clauson, Orvedal and Ussatis

Jesse Skalicky of Fargo won the IMCA Modified feature over Tyler Hall of Fertile Sunday night at Buffalo River Speedway near Glyndon. Allen Kent of West Fargo wrapped up the point title with a third-place finish. Kevin Oeder of Enderlin was fourth and Cody Peterson of Glyndon was fifth.

Dexter Dvergsten of Greenbush won the POWRi Minn-Kota Lightning Sprints over Bryce Haugeberg of West Fargo. Kelsi Pederson of East Grand Forks was third, and Kate Taves of Detroit Lakes capped off the track championship by finishing in fourth. Evan Yanish of Cavalier was fifth.

Kelly Jacobson of Fargo won the IMCA Sport Mod feature over Rich Pavlicek of Casselton. David Siercks of Princeton was third, Chris VanMIl of Barnesville was fourth and Scott Jacobson of Fargo was fifth. Pavlicek is the 2023 Buffalo River Speedway track champion.

Preston Martin of Lincoln, N.D., won the INEX Legends feature over Evan Hendrickson of Mapleton. Zander Compson of Valley City started 24th but finished third with Scott Richardson of Pelican Rapids finishing fourth after starting 14th. Joshua Wiest of Jamestown rounded out the top five. Hendrickson is the 2023 INEX Legends track champion at Buffalo River.

Weston Clauson of Kathryn won the Short Tracker feature – he also won Thursday at Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon – with Christian Kast of Fairmount going from ninth to second. Troy Lesmann of Fargo was third, Tyson Roush of New York Mills was fourth and Adrian Kubitz of Fargo was fifth. Hunter Goulet is the 2023 Short Tracker champion at Buffalo River.

The veteran Brad Orvedal of Fargo clinched the IMCA Hobby Stock point title with a feature win. Andrea Jacobson of Fargo was second, Maranda Borg of Harwood was third, Tyler Hehn of Horace was fourth and Todd Gettel of Mahnomen was fifth.

Kasey Ussatis of Nome won the Wissota Street Stock feature over Mike Mund of Milnor. Tucker Pederson of East Grand Forks was third, Cole Greseth of Harwood was fourth and Royce Jawaski of Adrian was fifth. Greseth picked up his first street stock track championship.

Buffalo River Speedway will host an enduro next Saturday and then the Corn Cob Nationals on the following weekend.

Casino Speedway Crowns Track Champions

Chad Becker of Aberdeen won the Wissota Late Model feature Sunday night at Casino Speedway in Watertown. With the win he wrapped up the points title at the ¼-mile bullring.

Morgan Ward Grosz of Watertown was second, national point leader Tyler Peterson of Hickson was third, Trajan Schmidt of Watertown was fourth and Kyle Jensen of Brookings fifth.

Mike Nichols of Watertown won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature over Scott Hansen of Garden City. Derek Rieck of Ortonville was third, Tommy Nichols of Watertown was fourth and Luke Johnson of Miller was fifth. Tommy Nichols is the 2023 track champion, his first points title of his career.

Justin Vogel, in a fight for the Wissota Street Stock national title, won the feature in the division over Jason Marko of Watertown. Maria Broksieck of Goodwin, who started eighth, finished third and clinched the point title. Matt Goth of Huron was fourth and Tyler Lamb of Clark was fifth.

Curt Kranz of Watertown won the Gen X Late Model main event over Trevor Walsh of Watertown. Tony Croninger of Watertown, who leads the Daytona Gen X points overall, was third with Bodie Croninger of Watertown was fourth and Scott Harrington of Waubay was fifth. Tony Croninger is the 2023 Gen X Late Model champion at Casino.

Tyler Peterson dominated the Wissota Mod main event after starting fourth. Joe Thomas of Fargo, who finished second, is the 2023 Casino track champion. Dale Ames of Huron was third, Nate Heinrich of Bellingham fourth and Cayden Schmeling of Watertown was fifth.

Bradley Rossow of Florence won the Wissota Hornet feature in convincing fashion over Adam VanDerostyne of Canby. Nathan Smith of Watertown was third. VanDerostyne is the 2023 Casino track champion.

Casino will host the Draw/Re-Draw Challenge next Sunday night.

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