Burdick Nails Down FastLane Series Title in Exciting Proctor Feature

by Nick Gima

              Proctor, MN, July 22 -- Proctor’s Kevin Burdick let the feature win slip away, but he still had done more than enough to capture the title during the thrilling finale of the FastLane Motorsports Northland Super Stock Series on a clear, cool Sunday night at the Proctor Speedway.

              Burdick, coming off a win the previous night in the fourth race of the five-track, five-night Series at Ashland, WI, won his heat race earlier in the program to carry a 16-point advantage over 2015 Series champion Curt Myers into Sunday’s 30-lap WISSOTA Super Stock spotlight event. After a huge wreck on the very first turn, in which polesitter Kurt Becker spun in front of the field and knocked out himself, Myers and Mike Bellefeuille, Burdick moved quickly from his outside-third-row starting spot to take second place from Dave Flynn just behind 2016 Series champ Scott Lawrence. Burdick then lost the spot just as quickly to a hard-charging Tim Johnson, who came up fast from a fifth-row start.

              Just behind the frontrunners, traffic was heavy, with plenty of three- and sometimes four-wide racing. Josh Zimpel’s lap 3 spin was only a temporary delay, as the dogfight for second between Johnson and Burdick resumed immediately. Flynn, who was next in line behind Burdick for a bid at the title after Myers’ departure, was part of a close-knit seven-car battle for the rest of the top-ten positions, but contact between him and Don Eischens resulted in both cars spinning down the front straight and off of turn 1 on lap 7. The incident effectively ended the night for both drivers.

              Despite not knowing that the Series title was now easily within reach, Burdick concentrated on a strong finish, moving outside on Johnson during the subsequent restart and moving into second place. Burdick then began a series of serious challenges on Lawrence, while defending Series champ Dave Mass had caught the lead group and swapped third place with Johnson a couple of times. Johnson made a daring three-wide move under Lawrence and Burdick for the lead on lap 16, but Burdick took the high side around Lawrence and stayed with Johnson entering turn 1. Hard contact between the two caused Johnson to spin, bringing out the last caution flag of the night and sending Johnson to the tail of the field.

              Burdick led Lawrence and Mass to the green and edged out to a half-second advantage by working a smooth, steady line around the low to middle lanes of the track. Lawrence, however, adjusted his line and began running the high lane, catching and gradually drawing alongside the leader. With two laps remaining Lawrence pulled even with Burdick, and with the white flag in the air Lawrence edged ahead. Burdick gave it one last push into turn 3 for the final time, but Lawrence’s momentum pulled him around and to the finish line a scant third of a second ahead. Mass trailed by less than a car-length, while DJ Keeler completed another impressive FastLane Series run from his 11th-row starting spot to take fourth, just ahead of 13th-starting Andy Miskowic. Johnson charged back to claim sixth.      

              “That was one heck of a race,” Lawrence, the multi-time track champ from Superior, WI, exclaimed in Victory Lane afterwards. “I thought Burdick was gone, but I changed my line and we reeled him back in.”

              “It was a good race to watch between Kevin and Scotty,” Mass told the crowd when asked what he thought of the battle just ahead of him. “I had nothing for them.”

              “I started running a little slower to hold my line,” explained Burdick afterwards about the final 14-lap run. “Scotty started gaining on me, and there wasn’t much I could do.

              “(Winning the Series title) is a pretty awesome feeling. There is some very tough competition here - the best in WISSOTA. We were just hoping to get into the top five, and we’re just happy to finish where we finish.”

              Keeler enjoyed an incredible five-race run in the Series and captured second place in the final standings, just a single point ahead of Johnson. Keeler also edged out Burdick for top Hard Charger honors for the tour.

              Burdick becomes the fourth different champion in the Series’ four years of existence.

              The WISSOTA Modified feature saved its drama until the very end, with Darrell Nelson of Hermantown stealing the win. Danny Vang moved around polestarter Donnie Lofdahl and ran the high groove to a solid advantage early on, while Deven Van House took second within a lap. Nelson, who started outside on the fourth row, picked his way forward a little at a time, grabbing fourth from Neil Balduc on lap 2, and then displacing Lofdahl for third the next time around.

              Over the next half-dozen laps Nelson tracked down Van House and worked to get by, while Vang was cruising ahead with a second-and-a-quarter to spare. Nelson made an inside pass of Van House on lap 9, but it was negated by a Ryan Garson-Todd Carlson get-together. The caution did put Nelson and Van House right on Vang’s rear push-bar for the restart, however, and under green Nelson quickly dispatched with Van House and put the pressure on the leader.

              After several threats, Nelson finally drove low on Vang as the white flag flew over them. It took until the final corner for Nelson to clear Vang, as both cars moved up the track in turn 4 to avoid the slowed ride of Paul Schultz, but the defending track champ sped home with his second feature win of the season, with Vang right behind. Jody Bellefeuille, who started alongside Nelson, came home in third, with Van House and Balduc in tow.

              Coming off a win in the WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature (as well as his first-ever “big Mod” feature win) at Hibbing Raceway the night before, Skeeter Estey of Kelly Lake set the tone early and led all 15 laps for his second win of the season here. The defending national WISSOTA champ started outside on the front row and overtook Jack Rivord through the first turns to claim the lead. After Rivord spun on the next lap to bring about a caution flag, Estey stayed in front of a great battle for second between David Simpson and Dan Kingsley.

              Kingsley moved outside on Simpson just after the restart, and cars were stacked up behind them in multiple battles for position, but Estey eased out to a full-second lead before Billy Milne’s spin stopped the action. Within a couple of laps after Andrew Inman’s loop during the subsequent restart, Estey had re-established another half-second lead.

              An incident involving Craig Lofdahl, Wayne Jacques and Inman put the race on pause on lap 7, and a Carey LePage spin slowed the restart, but Estey continued to keep the field at bay. One final slowdown for another LePage spin brought about a green-white-checkered sprint, but Estey was up to the task. The races for position behind him were exciting, though, with Simpson edging Kingsley on the final corner for second, and Van House reclaiming fourth from Brandon Copp.

              Like Burdick, Andrew Hanson of Iron River, WI, also followed up a win in Ashland the night before with his first of the year here in the WISSOTA Pure Stock A-main. Hanson patiently worked through heavy traffic from his third-row start as Markia Smith claimed the early advantage over polestarter Aaron Bernick. Smith maintained the lead after the race’s only caution stoppage, for Mackenzie Bjorklund’s stalled ride on lap 1, and fended off Jeremy Cash’s challenges for several laps.

              By lap 3 Hanson was a distant third, but he reeled in the lead pair within a couple of circuits and took second from Cash and then the lead from Smith with a couple of smooth moves on lap 7. From there Hanson powered away to the win, while Michael Blevins charged back from an early bobble and some lost track position to finish a distant second. Smith, Al Rapp and Bernick completed the top five.

              The 18-car WISSOTA Hornet feature field offered fans much more action and drama than most thought could fit in a 12-lap race. Grayson Pratt began the run from the outside of the front row and paced the vast majority of the event, although there were plenty of challenges once tenth-starting Allen House moved through the pack to join Paul Ripley as contenders for the win.

              Behind the lead battle, positions were swapped often and wildly, resulting in spun cars, bent parts and frayed nerves all over the track. A couple of well-spaced restarts - for a Brad House spin on lap 6, and for a Hunter McDougall spin on lap 8 - kept the field close, and an intentional bump-and-spin of McDougall brought about a black flag for House. But the race for the win got more intense as Derek Ament and Jim Ripley joined the party.

              Pratt fought off every challenge over the final two laps to take the checkers first, but his car failed a post-race technical inspection, giving Barnum’s Ament his second win of the year here, ahead of Jim Ripley, Allen House, Paul Ripley and McDougall.

              The Proctor Speedway will host kids’ bike races on Sunday, July 29, and fans are asked to donate toys on that night for its “Christmas in July” children’s toy drive. The track will then hold its annual Hornet Nationals on Friday, August 3, followed by its “Midsummer Night of Mayhem,” featuring bus races, daredevil stunts and more, on Saturday, August 4. There will not be a race program held on Sunday, August 5.

              Hot laps will start at 5 pm, and the first heat race of the night is scheduled to start at 5:30. The Proctor Speedway is located at the South St Louis County Fairgrounds; for more information log onto the track’s website, www.proctorspeedway.com.

Results

WISSOTA Modifieds

              Feature: Darrell Nelson, Danny Vang, Jody Bellefeuille, Deven VanHouse, Neil Balduc, Jeff Wood, Adam Ayotte, Donnie Lofdahl, Ryan Garson, Todd Carlson, Paul Schultz.

              Heat 1: Nelson, VanHouse, Balduc, Carlson, Schultz, Ayotte.

              Heat 2: Vang, Bellefeuille, Lofdahl, Wood, Garson.

WISSOTA Super Stocks

              Feature: Scott Lawrence, Kevin Burdick, Dave Mass, DJ Keeler, Andy Miskowic, Tim Johnson, Jeff Klopstein, Nick Oreskovich, Dexton Koch, Jared Zimpel, Jim Campbell, Matt Deragon, Kyle Oman, Ronnie Malecki, Brian Mikkonen, Andy Grymala, Rich Bishop, Brian Carl, Josh Zimpel, Dave Flynn, Don Eischens, Curt Myers, Mike Bellefeuille, Kurt Becken.

              B Feature: Keeler, Grymala, Malecki, Carl, Willie Johnsen Jr, Cole Chernosky, Matthew Hammitt, Jon Hammitt, Joel Snyder, Kevin Salin, Patrick Beeksma.

              Heat 1: Lawrence, Becken, Johnson, Miskowic, Deragon, Dan Severson, Grymala, Carl, Annika Hammitt.

              Heat 2: Burdick, Koch, Mass, Mikkonen, Oman, Chernosky, Malecki, Snyder, J Hammitt.

              Heat 3: Myers, Bellefeuille, Oreskovich, Klopstein, Bishop, Salin, Schmidt, M Hammitt.

              Heat 4: Flynn, Eischens, Campbell, Josh Zimpel, Jared Zimpel, Keeler, Johnsen, Beeksma.

WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds

              Feature: Skeeter Estey, David Simpson, Dan Kingsley, Deven VanHouse, Brandon Copp, Gunner Peterson, Andrew Inman, Craig Lofdahl, Josh Heavirland, McLean Andrews, Wayne Jacques, Carey LePage, Billy Milne, Jack Rivord, Michael Blevins.

              Heat 1: Peterson, Simpson, Lofdahl, Rivord, Inman, LePage, Andrews, Jacques.

              Heat 2: Copp, VanHouse, Kingsley, Estey, Milne, Heavirland, Blevins.

WISSOTA Pure Stocks

              Feature: Andrew Hanson, Michael Blevins, Markia Smith, Allen Rapp, Aaron Bernick, Cory Jorgensen, Cody Herrick, Jon Burt, Jeremy Cash, Carter Nelson, Jason Simonson, Mackenzie Bjorklund, Dylan Shelton.

              Heat 1: Burt, Hanson, Smith, Rapp, Nelson, Simonson, Bjorklund.

              Heat 2: Blevins, Cash, Jorgensen, Bernick, Herrick, Shelton.

WISSOTA Hornets

              Feature: Derek Ament, Jim Ripley, Allen House, Paul Ripley, Hunter McDougall, Tyler Kachinske, Cordell Kylven, Tate Niehaus, Kristy Marken, Ken Hapy, Patrick Passeri, Joseph Fitzsimmons, Wally Ament, Jake Smith, Brittany Smith.

              Heat 1: Grayson Pratt, McDougall, Brad House, Niehaus, Marken, Hapy, Fitzsimmons, Passeri, Jason LeDoux.

              Heat 2: B Smith, J Smith, D Ament, P Ripley, A House, W Ament, J Ripley, Kachinske, Kylven.