Tricky track plays havoc

Anthony Leek

Racing at the Emo Speedway resumed Saturday night as the WISSOTA Modifieds, WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds, and Street Stocks hit the track for the Amsoil Dirt Track Racing Series.
The track was a picky one, though, with a combination of dry slicks and tacky grooves—and with both ends having completely different runs.
Some drivers took the inside on turns #1 and #2, and the outside of turns #3 and #4.
However they did it, it was exciting nonetheless.
The WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds opened the evening with three heats.
In the first one, Anthony Visser came from the back to capture the win over Brady Caul.
The second one saw John Hettinga add another heat win to his stellar season, beating out Kendal Gamsby, while long-distance traveller Paul Veert of Winnipeg edged out Matthew Mutz in the third heat.
In the Street Stocks, Daniel Hettinga showed how magic is made by finishing first in the heat after fending off challenges by Ron Westover and the high-flying Scott Messner.
And finally in the WISSOTA Modifieds, Glen Strachan ran a hard-fought battle against Bill Witherspoon, ending the lone heat race with a well-deserved checkered flag.
Very exciting feature races followed the heats. The tricky track wrecked havoc on all the classes except the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds.
That feature ran uninterrupted through the first 14 laps. Running up front for the first set of laps was Visser, who was hoping to complete an evening sweep with a heat and feature win.
On his tail was three-time track champion Gamsby, who had moved up from the fourth position to run right behind Visser.
Veert, who had started further back, faded to eighth before moving back towards the front.
But disaster struck on Lap 14 as a car started to spin in front of the main pack.
Most of the drivers were able to brake and avoid an accident except Caul, who clipped the right side of Cody Drennan, breaking his front left wheel, flying into the air, and landing hard but wheels down on the outside bank.
This turned out to be the only major wreck of the night.
On the ensuing restart, Gamsby got a good run on Visser and capitalized on a mistake made by the leader.
Further back in fifth, some rubbing got out of hand and several drivers spun in turn #4. Fast-thinking Christopher Leek took advantage as he ran a higher line to the sprawling drivers, setting himself up for a fifth-place finish.
He wasn’t the only driver to take advantage of the higher groove as Mike Wilson had a tremendous race, starting in 14th and finishing a respectable seventh.
With a few laps to go, Gamsby held off Visser, Veert, and Ken Anderson for his first feature win of the season.
Anderson continues to lead the points standings with 106 heading into Week 3.
The Street Stocks also had an interesting feature race. Right off the start, the cars ran almost four wide, which is something that usually never happens at the Emo Speedway.
Several early cautions slowed the pace down, however, as the tricky track seemed to get on the nerves of some drivers, causing spin-outs and ill-handling cars.
Richard Visser, Hettinga, Messner, and Terry Martin all were in the mix at the start, with no one willing to give way.
Suddenly, Hettinga started having handling problems as the car swung up the track several times. Lucky for him, caution flags played to his favour.
In the meantime, Messner took the lead over Westover—but the veteran driver wasn’t giving up easily.
The duo ran side by side for several laps, with Messner faster in corners #3 and #4 and Westover speedier in #1 and #2.
A late caution came out and within a lap of the restart, Messner’s night was shortened with an expired engine. Alas, a potentially-exciting finish between two great drivers ended prematurely.
The caution seemed to do miracles for Hettinga, however, who passed Martin late in the race to finish in second place.
Westover is now 2-for-2 this season and happily leading the points standings with 109.
Finally, the WISSOTA Modifieds started the feature with eight cars but finished with only three as mechanical issues plagued Denny Trimble at the start, then Bill Witherspoon as he led the race, Tyler Brown due to rear-end damage, and Ron Korpi for engine issues.
When all was said and done, Glen Strachan held off Gary Wilson for the win.
The race itself was super fast as the cars easily were reaching speeds of 90-plus m.p.h.
Dwayne Pelepetz led throughout much of the race, fighting off a fast Witherspoon on the low side.
Strachan also was moving in for the kill as all three drivers were running different grooves and even three wide at one point.
However, after the many cautions that plagued the race, the high side started to fade and Pelepetz lost most of the momentum he had shown at the beginning.
Strachan, meanwhile, stuck it hard in the corners and held off a late charge by Wilson.
With the win, Strachan took the points lead in the standings with 106, with Witherspoon only 10 back.
Be sure to join us at the Emo Speedway this Saturday night in conjunction with the Emo Walleye Classic.
During the races, driver introductions will start off the night while fans get to vote for what they think is the best-appearing car in each class.