Burns, Opheim make long-awaited returns to victory lane

Kevin Opheim scored career win number 60 at Kossuth County Speedway when he topped the June 8 IMCA Sunoco Stock Car feature. (Photo by Jane Burd)

By Greg Grabianowski

ALGONA, Iowa (June 8, 2023) – It has been awhile since James Burns and Kevin Opheim have pulled their cars into victory lane as both drivers enjoyed that pleasure on Thursday to highlight an exciting night of dirt track racing at Kossuth County Speedway.

Burns earned his first IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock feature win in the past three years and his second overall, while Opheim picked up win no. 60 in Algona in his career, but his IMCA Sunoco Stock Car first since June 7, 2018.

The Hobby Stock feature saw Micah Lavrenz as the first car to go past the flag stand after the first lap as Doug Wickman took over the top spot two laps later. Wickman continued to hold the lead as an entertaining battle for second place was happening behind him between Mike Smith and Burns.

Wickman spun out on lap eight as Burns became the new leader as the yellow flag came out the next lap for a four-lap race to the finish.

Smith grabbed the lead off the restart by a half a car length and led lap 10 over Burns by the nose of his No. 22 rig.

Burns took over the lead on the 11th lap by a car length as he took the white flag and held that lead for his second career feature win in front of a happy crowd in the stands. Smith, who was on a string of winning the last five features he had started over the past 10 days, finished second followed by Brandon Nielsen, Josh Sidles and Steve Wickman.

The Stock Car feature saw Zavyn Feaster grab the early lead. Opheim closed the gap on Feaster and became the new leader on lap five and the caution flag flew one lap later.

Another yellow flag followed off the restart as five cars got tangled up coming out of turn two.

Opheim continued to lead as great battle for third place was going on between Calvin Lange, Donovan Smith and McCain Jennings, including going three-wide at times but nobody had anything for Opheim on this night.

Smith ended up in second place as Jennings was third with Lange taking fourth and Feaster was fifth. 

Last week’s winner Alex Smith was the early leader in the Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMod feature as Alec Fett and Smith had an early two car breakaway with Fett taking over the lead on the third lap.

Matt Looft was slowly closing on Fett before the yellow flag appeared on lap six. Looft grabbed the lead off the restart and was never threatened in the final eight laps to earn his third feature victory of the year at the track.

Fett was the feature’s runner-up with Jake Simpson placing third as Smith was fourth and Jarrett Franzen rounded out the top five cars.

Lucas Parsons went from fifth to first on the first lap before leading all eight laps and earning his first local Mach-1 IMCA Sport Compact feature win of the season.

And there was not a lot of suspense in the Friesen Performance IMCA Modified feature as Cody Knecht led every lap and won his second feature of the season at the track.

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