by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 1 — Two-time Red Clay Classic champion Ashley Anderson of Elk Mound made a rare regular-season visit to the ABC Raceway pay off as he outdueled Jeff Spacek for an exciting WISSOTA Modified feature win Saturday night.
Anderson was one of four first-time winners on the season at the northern Wisconsin oval, as part of an 89-car PolyDome Dirt Track Series program that included kids’ bike races presented by Chicago Iron & Supply of Ashland and a tribute to the late engine builder Brian Koch presented by Northern Wisconsin Fence of Phillips.
Anderson and Spacek put on quite a show during a 20-lap Mod A-main that took just six minutes. Spacek wrestled the lead away from pole-starter Scott Hudack on the first lap and, with a Koch-built motor under the hood, looked determined to win on the night dedicated to his former sponsor and engine builder. Spacek ran the high groove to a full-second lead on the field when Anderson, who started outside on the third row, took over second on lap 4.
Anderson then chipped away at Spacek’s margin, eventually drawing alongside the leader on lap 9. On the next circuit the pair made significant contact, causing Anderson to bobble and drop back, but he made a great save and again tracked down Spacek.
On lap 14 Spacek slipped a little too far up the corner in turn 4, opening the bottom for Anderson to sneak by, but Spacek recovered nicely and resumed the battle. The leaders cleared the slower Dustin Hudack with a couple laps left, and Anderson pulled away from there to win for the first time here since his 2013 RCC victory. Spacek was over a second-and-a-third back but quite a ways ahead of Bill Byholm, Kevin Eder and Scott Hudack.
The points leader coming into the night, defending ABC Mod champ Steve Stuart, took a horrendous tumble during his heat race. He came away unhurt, and with his car badly damaged Stuart still made an effort to start the feature. He pulled the car off before taking the green, and his 14th-place finish assured him of enough points to hold on to a tie for second in the standings with Spacek, just three back of Al Uotinen.
The WISSOTA Super Stocks struggled through another caution-filled feature, with the race being cut to just 11 laps after the 30-minute time limit had been long exceeded. After polesitter DJ Keeler bobbled to stack up the field behind him on the initial start, Randy Spacek and Andy Grymala battled side-by-side for a couple green-flag laps before Randy’s son, divisional rookie Terran, looped his ride for the second caution flag of the race.
Shawn McFadden charged hard into third on the restart, bringing with him eighth-starting Shane Kisling. By lap 6 Randy Spacek had built up a 1.1-second advantage on the field, but a spun Dave Flynn brought the field back to his trunklid. McFadden and Spacek got together on the next restart, causing both cars to slow and drop back and handing the lead to Grymala.
On lap 8 second-in-points Jeff Klopstein’s car ground to a halt against the turn 2 guardrail, putting points leader Scott Lawrence and Kisling on Grymala’s tail for that restart. Kisling used an outside move to edge past Grymala at the drop of the green, but that was negated by Cory Casari’s stalled ride.
Kisling tried again on the next attempt to race, and on lap 9 he got by Grymala to stay. During the next circuit several other frontrunners were involved in a huge mess, sending Lawrence and Randy Spacek to the pits for repairs. Over the next two green-flag laps Kisling was able to build a three-quarter-second cushion, but Keeler’s car tagged the guardrail and stopped to slow the pace, and then McFadden’s car sputtered on the restart, with at least five cars scrambling and crashing in the melee behind him.
At this point the race was in excess of its allotted time, forcing a green-white-checkered finish, during which Kisling, of Sarona, ran off to a small cushion for his first win here since last July. Super Stock rookie Pat Beeksma charged up late for an impressive second-place performance, ahead of Grymala, Nick Oreskovich and Cole Spacek.
Although the WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature went its scheduled 15 laps, it, too, was a yellow-flag-filled event. The front-row pair of John Kallas and Brad Seavers put on a good battle up front for the large crowd in attendance prior to a lap 2 get-together involving visiting Tad Schoonover and Paul Niznik. The battle between Kallas and Seavers continued for a few more laps after the restart before Seavers claimed the lead, and just before a three-car collection on lap 5 stopped the race again.
Kallas’ night took a turn for the worse when his race car got loose and caused several cars behind him to check up and spin. Seavers then had hard-chargers Tanner Hicks and Wayne Stricker challenging him on that restart, and also after going back to green following Tanner Byholm’s stalled ride stopping the action on lap 8.
But over the final six laps all eyes were on Kevin Eder and Paul Suzik. Eder, who started the run ninth, restarted fifth and immediately went high-side to sweep around Tyler Vernon and Hicks for third. Eder then picked off Stricker for second on lap 12 and Seavers for the lead one circuit later, and he would stay there for the restart after Schoonover’s second spin on lap 14.
Meanwhile, points leader Suzik, who started 21st on the 22-car grid, restarted sixth and followed right in Eder’s tire tracks, taking fourth just before the lap 14 caution and then third on lap 16.
Eder scooted to a two-second advantage on the field while Suzik worked to get by Stricker for second, but Seavers’ stalled car just before the white flag was to be thrown set up a green-white-checkered finish. Suzik made a couple attempts to pass the leader, and he pulled alongside Eder coming off of the final turn, but Eder, of Ashland, held on to win his third Mid-Mod A-main of 2015 – and fourth feature win overall this summer at Ashland – by a mere seven one-hundredths of a second in a thrilling finish. Ryan Adamzak charged from the 13th starting spot to claim third, with Stricker and Vernon following close in the top five.
The Six-Cylinders put on a terrific show, with the top six staying within a couple car-lengths of each other for nearly the entire 15 laps of their feature event. Jonathan Popp set the pace from the pole and led for the first full half of the race, which was stopped only once, for a Bubba Anderson spin after the opening lap.
Popp held off a pack of contenders that included Neil Adamzak, DeJay Mihalek, siblings Tyler and Tiffany Hudack, and Dale Coddington, who swapped positions two through six frequently during the long green-flag sequence. It took until lap 7 for Tyler Hudack to finally make a definitive charge to the front, when he claimed second from Adamzak, and four laps later Hudack worked outside on Popp to get by for the lead.
Over the remaining laps Hudack pulled to a two-and-a-half-second advantage for his first win of the season, helping him move up to third in the standings. Popp held on for a career-best second-place effort, just ahead of points leader Coddington, Adamzak, and Ron Hmielewski, who sliced his way into the top five in the final half-lap.
The 15-lap Pure Stock finale was also stalled only once by a caution flag and also resulted in a first-time feature winner. Rookie Justin Weinberger of Park Falls outran polestarter Bob Skrobot to the first corner and held on for his first career feature win.
Weinberger led a tight pack of seven cars in the lead group but held a smooth, steady line as veteran Jeff Christman tried his best to shake the youngster. Randy Conner threatened to take second from Christman just before Jake Nevala spun on lap 6 for the race’s only delay. Weinberger, the grandson of two-time ABC Raceway champion Ron Weinberger, then ran off to a two-car advantage once back under green and stayed there ahead of Christman for the remainder of the race, while Matt Deragon, who retook the points lead, made a strong move around Connor for third with five laps to go. Brandle Pupp ended a solid night with a fifth-place finish.
Fast-lap bonuses, presented by Northern Clearing, were awarded to Anderson in the Mods (16.557 seconds), Randy Spacek in the Supers (17.374), Eder in the Mid-Mods (17.381), and Coddington in the Sixes (18.550). Northern Wisconsin Fence, along with a handful of other sponsors and race teams with close ties to Koch, put together a generous enhancement to the night’s purse while also passing out cash to a few lucky fans as part of a random drawing.
Chicago Iron & Supply, One-on-One Hair Design, Moore’s Army-Navy Store, Apostle Highlands Golf Course, Lake Shore Cafe, and Fred Lau Construction provided many more giveaways for the fans, and the Raceway gave away new bicycles to four lucky youngsters.
The Pure Stocks will be in the spotlight on Saturday, August 8, for the 12th annual “Pure Excitement 25,” presented by the Bad River Lodge, Casino & Convention Center of Odanah. A generous purse of nearly $4,000 is set for the entry-level division during this hugely popular event, and fan and business contributions will be welcomed as the track hopes to exceed the race’s record offering of over $5,500. All five divisions will be in action.
Adult tickets are $10, and fans ages 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. Hot laps are set for 6:15 pm, followed by heat and feature action at 7. “Z-93 Race Night” will air live on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and stream online at www.wbszfm.com, from 4:30-6 pm with at-the-track news and weather updates.
The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13 and one mile west on Butterworth Road. For raceday information call (715) 682-4990.
Feature: Ashley Anderson, Elk Mound; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Al Uotinen, Superior; Pat Cook, Washburn; Paul Niznik, Medford; Dustin Hudack, Ashland; Rick Rivord, Superior; Steve Stuart, Ashland.
Heat 1: Spacek; Anderson; S Hudack; Mikkonen; Uotinen; Lavasseur; Rivord.
Heat 2: Eder; Byholm; Niznik; Balduc; D Hudack; Cook; Stuart.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: Shane Kisling, Sarona; Pat Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Andy Grymala, Superior; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Cory Casari, Montreal; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Myron Basina, Washburn; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Brady Mesko-Jokinen, Mellen; Keith Corcilius, Phillips; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Dave Elliott, Minocqua; Shawn McFadden Jr, Ashland; DJ Keeler, Superior; Mike Hince, Medford; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Dave Flynn, Superior; Ken Truscott, Greenland, MI.
Heat 1: Klopstein; Grymala; Kisling; Muzzy; C Spacek; Truscott; Elliott.
Heat 2: R Spacek; Lawrence; Oreskovich; T Spacek; Casari; Hince; Mesko-Jokinen.
Heat 3: Flynn; McFadden; Keeler; Dunbar; Beeksma; Basina; Corcilius.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: Kevin Eder, Ashland; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Mickey Nosser, Phillips; George Dalbeck, Ironwood, MI; Rob Weber, Ashland; Tad Schoonover, Eagle River; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; Tad Bretting, Ashland; Robert Hyde, Ashland; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield; Brad Seavers, Rib Lake; John Kallas, Hurley; Ross Fuhman, Ashland; Paul Niznik, Medford; Tanner Byholm, Glidden.
Heat 1: Dalbeck; Stricker; Kallas; Niznik; Adamzak; Muhlig; J Barningham; Tyler Luger, Iron River.
Heat 2: Hicks; Eder; Dunbar; Nosser; Weber; Schoonover; R Barningham; Passuello.
Heat 3: Fuhrman; Seavers; Vernon; Bretting; Hyde; Suzik; Byholm.
Feature: Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Dale Coddington, Hayward; Neil Adamzak, Ashland; Ron Hmielewski, Marengo; DeJay Mihalek, Ashland; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Colten Vernon, Ashland; Brendon Ottman, Ashland; Ken Tyykila, Iron River; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Bella Bretting, Washburn; Cole Vernon, Ashland; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland.
Heat 1: Schultz; Coddington; Anderson; Popp; Colton Vernon; Mashlan; Tyykila; Ottman.
Heat 2: Tyler Hudack; Tiffany Hudack; Adamzak; Mihalek; Hmielewski; Traaholt; Cole Vernon; Bretting.
Feature: Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Jeff Christman, South Range; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Randy Conner, Hayward; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Tim Carbon, Highbridge; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Glenn Dammer, Duluth, MN; Randy Graham, Trego; Bob Skrobot, Manitowish Waters; Rita Anderson, South Range; Nick Paoli, Ironwood, MI; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Andy Compton, Ashland; Don Livingston, Bayfield.
Heat 1: Carbon; Deragon; Conner; Weinberger; Graham; Nevala; Compton; Livingston.
Heat 2: Pupp; Dammer; Christman; Skrobot; Hanson; Anderson; Paoli.