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Season ends at Bemidji Speedway with Paul Bunyan Stampede

BEMIDJI — Among the longest running traditions in stock car racing in the Northland is the Paul Bunyan Stampede at the Bemidji Speedway. For 38 years the speedway has hosted racers and fans from across the Midwest in one of the premiere events of the season.

This 2013 Stampede was scheduled to be a Saturday-Sunday competition but it was shortened to just one day due to the steady rain on Saturday. On Sunday they day of racing attracted almost 90 cars in five classes.

Bret Schmidt, Andy Davey and Derek Vesledahl were winners in the Wissota classes and Jenny Watrud and Margo Butcher claimed the minis and pures.

The final event of the season will be the Awards Night Dec. 7 at the Keg and Cork in Bemidji.

Mini Stocks

Jenny Watrud used her front row pole position to full advantage, powering into the lead and holding off Tim Hart and Corey Pourier to capture her first Stampede win in the Mini Stock class.

Pure Stocks

The wild 23-car feature was interrupted several times by caution flags and after the final caution Margo Butcher caught Brandon Fahe and a side-by side race down the back straight ended with Butcher taking the lead and charging across the finish line. Fahe, Al Sadek, Josh Berg and Tim Carlson made up the top five finishers.

Mod Fours

Following an early caution Derek Vesledahl grabbed the lead from Tommy Sabraski. With the leader coming up on lapped traffic Sabraski took advantage and made the pass for the lead and was on cruise control racing into the final lap.

Looking like the race was all but over Sabraski came out of turn four with the checkered flag in view only to have engine trouble and slow him enough to hand the feature win over to Vesledahl who was trailing just a few car lengths back.

Vesledahl took the checkered with Sabraski able to coast across in second. Jess Geesey was third with Tyler Larson and Fran Hauber in the top five.

Super Stocks

Following a caution for a two-car mishap Andy Davey powered up high and around Andy LaBarge to take the lead in turns three and four.

After another late caution the field was led by Davey with Tyler Kintner, Gary Nelson Jr., LaBarge and Keith Keena in the top five after Jacobson slid and dropped out of contention. Davey was fast and controlled the final restart to pick up the stampede win. Kintner, Nelson Jr., LaBarge and Keena held the top five spots.

Midwest Modifieds

The largest class of the stampede was the Wissota Midwest Modifieds. Four heats and a consolation race determined the 24 cars and drivers who would race in the feature.

The first lap was a washout with a three-car crash sending all three to the pits for repairs.

Several cautions slowed the racing late, including a final caution for a four car crash in turn three. And when racing resumed it was all Bret Schmidt as he dominated the restart and won the feature with a sizeable lead. Dylan Miller finished second with Rich Pavlicek, John Halverson and Ron Sauer in the top five.

This story was written by Dennis Peterson, Special to the Pioneer

Mini Stock Feature – Jenny Watrud, Tim Hart, Corey Pourier, Jr., Doty, Ryan Hagen, Terry Larum, Bill Raimanin

Heat – Pourier, Doti, Watrud, Larum, Hart,

Pure Stock Feature – Margo Butcher, Brandon Fahe, Al Sadek, Josh Berg, Tim Carlson, Chad Puschinsky, Sterling Knaeble, Kyle Dykhoff, Cory Peterson, Jeremy MacAdams, Bill Chaboyea, Mike MacAdams, Todd Gettel, Ron Maickelson, Kelly Jacobson, Jessie Barnum, Bryan Feda, Dean Olafson, Lance Ennega, Joel Harvey, Mike Vajdl

Heat 1 – K. Baumgarner, J. Harvey, C. Puschinsky, T. Gettel, J. Barnum

Heat 2 – D. Olafson, B. Fahe, M. Vajdl, S. Knaeble, K. Dykhoff

Heat 3 – M. Butcher, A. Sadek Sr., M. MacAdams, K. Jacobson, R. Maickelason

Heat 4 – B. Chaboyea, J. Berg, L. Ennega, T. Carlson, C. Peterson

Wissota Mod Four Feature – Derek Vesledahl, Tommy Sabraski, Jess Geesey, Tyler Larson, Fran Hauber, Conrad Schwinn, Dean Larson, Mike Margl, Tonja Stranger, Mike Hart, Scott Dyrdahl

Heat 1 – A. Leininger, C. Schwinn, T. Larson, F. Hauber, M. Margl

Heat 2 – J. Geesey, T. Sabraski, D. Vesledahl, S. Dyrdahl, D. Larson

Wissota Super Stock Feature – Andy Davey, Tyler Kintner, Gary Nelson Jr., Andy LaBarge, Keith Keena, Bob Kintner, Dalton Carlson, Matt Sparby, Kyle Oman, Gordie Lancaster, Brennan Borg, Nathan Higginbotham, Eric Tardy

Heat 1 – B. Butcher, B. Borg, T. Hemphill, K. Keena, K. Oman

Heat 2 – T. Kintner, D. Carlson, G. Nelson Jr., R. Jacobson, B. Kintner

Heat 3 – A. LaBarge, A. Davey, M. Sparby, N. Higginbotham, E. Tardy

Wissota Midwest Modifieds Feature – Bret Schmidt, Dylan Miller, Rich Pavlicek, John Halverson, Ron Sauer, Rick Jacobson, Jeff Forseen, Brandon Bahr, Willy Thompson, Trent Dyrdahl, Larry Samuelson, Mike Johnson, Don Platow, Darrin Lawler, Jeff Nelson, Mark Kangas

Heat 1 – J. Halverson, B. Matzdorf, R. Jacobson, D.Platow

Heat 2 – D.Miller, R. Sauer, B. Bahr, J. Norman, J. Feltus

Heat 3 – T. Hall, R. Pavlicek, S. Smith, T. Dyrdahl, W. Thompson

Heat 4 – D. Erickson, B. Schmidt, J. Nelson, Gary James Nelson,

Consolation – M. Kangas, D. Lawler, J.Lene, M. Johnson, T. Jacobson, A. Vigness, R. Bladen, J. Wilde


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