Uotinen Returns to ABC Victory Lane
Flynn, Dunbar, Graham, House solidify title chances
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 22 — Superior’s Al Uotinen held on despite two mid-race caution flags and captured his first WISSOTA Modified feature win at the ABC Raceway since August 2014 on Saturday night.
Also during the Raceway’s “Summer Blast” program, presented by Northern Wisconsin Fence of Phillips and Outlaw Wraps & Apparel of Ashland, four drivers tightened their grips on their championship points leads by winning their respective features during a fast-paced show on a cool, muggy night in northern Wisconsin.
Uotinen, the six-time ABC “big Mod” points champ, started the 20-lap headliner on the inside of row 2 and used the low lane of a three-wide pass to get by polestarter Shane Kisling and Neil Balduc for second place behind initial leader Bill Byholm. Two laps later Uotinen slipped past the 2017 ABC Mod champ and began building a lead that grew to over two-and-a-half seconds by mid-race.
Pat Cook, who started outside on row 3, weaved his way forward until he had eventually gotten around Byholm on lap 9, with Brandon Copp and 11th-starting Jeff Spacek following into the top five. Although Uotinen looked unbeatable, a caution flag was thrown on lap 12 to bring the field back to the leaders. The close-quarters racing on that restart resulted in contact between Byholm and Copp on lap 13 that sent Byholm into a wild spin into the back-straight guardrail.
Over the final laps Uotinen had all he could do to keep Cook and Balduc at bay, but he survived for his 26th career feature win at Ashland. Balduc had gotten by Cook on the final restart and was close behind the winner at the checkers, and Spacek and Jake Hiatt completed the top five.
Cook’s podium finish, combined with a sluggish seventh-place run for Cole Spacek, resulted in the only change at the top of the points standings in any of the Raceway’s six divisions on this night. Cook will lead Cole Spacek by 11 and Balduc by 27 heading into Saturday’s season finale.
Superior’s Dave Flynn made it clear that he intends to claim his first WISSOTA Super Stock title at Ashland and snap Nick Oreskovich’s four-year grip on that crown by running away to a decisive feature win here on Saturday.
Flynn started roughly mid-pack – inside on row 4 – but had already moved up to fourth during the first two laps, behind polestarter Andrew Mackey, Cory Casari and Steve Stuart. After Jonathan Popp’s stalled ride on lap 3 brought about the only yellow flag of the 20-lap run, Flynn worked inside on lap 5 to take third from Casari, then used a similar move to grab the lead on lap 7.
From there Flynn ran away to a huge 4.46-second margin of victory. Behind him, though, as many as six cars clustered into a tight pack jostling for second, with Mackey eventually succumbing to the challenges of Casari on lap 10 and Matt Deragon following into third. Deragon overtook Casari on lap 13 but had nothing left to reel in Flynn, whose third win of the season was also the 21st of his career at ABC and helped him extend his points lead to 42 on Oreskovich, who finished fifth behind Stuart.
Marcus Dunbar of Marenisco, MI, not only won his second WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature of the season, but he also took advantage of some heartbreakingly bad luck cast upon his two closest challengers in the standings to greatly improve his chances for a first-ever title here.
Dunbar slipped by front-row mates Justin Weinberger and Tanner Hicks with a three-wide move right off the initial green flag and led all 20 laps of the race. Weinberger’s car slowed during the second circuit, and several cars bumped and bounced off of his, resulting in damage that knocked Weinberger’s as well as a couple of other cars from the run.
Dunbar was up by over half a second on Hicks and third-in-points Ross Fuhrman during lap 4 before John Darwin’s spin slowed the proceedings again, and two laps after that restart Fuhrman’s car shot sparks from its rear axle and he slid into the damp infield grass to stop the action again. Second-in-points Jimmy Latvala restarted in third, beat Hicks through the first set of turns back under green, and immediately began a determined assault on Dunbar’s lead.
Dunbar hugged the bottom groove while Latvala circled around the high lane, with Brady Uotinen following Latvala to get around Hicks for third. After Diamond Bressette’s lap 11 spin, Latvala used the upper route to close the gap on the leader, drawing nearly even with Dunbar on lap 13. But the leader switched to the high side once he was sure he had held Latvala off, and two laps later Latvala looped his racer to take himself out of contention.
From there Dunbar fled from first-night visitor Ryan Savoy to a 1.9-second win, with Uotinen solidly in third ahead of Hicks and Jesse Aho. Latvala and Furhman fell to 69 and 79 points back of the title spot, respectively, with their unfortunate nights.
Duluth, MN’s Cory Jorgensen was a repeat feature winner in the WISSOTA Pure Stocks and has moved into a tie for fourth place in the standings despite only running three nights here all season.
As opposed to the previous Saturday, when Jorgensen had to patiently thread his way through some difficult heavy traffic in order to get to the front, this night’s move to the lead was just a bit easier. Once he got around the front-row pair of polestarter RJ Holly and points leader Tanner Gehl, the defending national Pure Stock champ drew away to a significant 3.5-second cushion after just five laps, while Holly did an admirable job holding on to second ahead of Aaron Bernick, second-in-points Randy Graham, and Gehl.
Jorgensen had added another full second to his lead by lap 7 when the fifth-place Gehl spun, bringing the field back to the leader’s rear bumper for a three-lap sprint to the finish. But Jorgensen maintained for his second straight win here and third of his career at ABC. Holly held on to second, while Graham finished third to trim his points deficit to the fifth-finishing Gehl to just 17 with one night left. Bernick claimed fourth-place at the pay window.
Graham did add to his ABC Six-Cylinders points lead, though, by winning his fifth feature of the season in that division and 33rd of his career here.
It would take a late-race pass for the sixth-starting Graham to get the win, as Dennis Groom worked outside on polestarter Dominic Hmielewski before setting the early pace. Josh Saunders was strong in getting by Hmielewski for second on lap 2, with Graham following Saunders to third a couple of laps later.
Saunders continued his impressive run by taking the long way around Groom over laps 5 and 6 before staking his claim to the lead, while Graham used the shorter low line to displace Groom on lap 7. Graham stayed low to reel in Saunders, and with just three laps remaining the points leader from Trego took over the pace.
Graham’s final margin at the checkers was 1.066 seconds on Saunders, while Forrest Schultz edged Groom at the line for third. Dalton Truchon was a distant fifth. Graham’s points lead over Schultz has now grown to 34 going into next Saturday’s final night.
AJ House of Cloquet, MN, also built a little bit of breathing room between himself and DeJay Jarecki by winning his fourth WISSOTA Hornets feature of the season. House and Jarecki have combined to win eight of the nine features held for the division this summer.
In the non-stop ten-lap A-main, Jarecki drove by polestarter Mitch Kieber at the drop of the green and grabbed the initial lead, but House followed into second and the pair began another familiar battle for the win. This time House worked his way by Jarecki on lap 4 and fended off his foe’s advances throughout each of the remaining laps, winning by little more than a car-length.
First-time visitor Carson Gotelaere edged past third-in-points Josh Rose for third, and Kieber finished a solid fifth. House will lead Jarecki by 33 heading into Saturday’s finale.
The Raceway hosted bike races for kids in four different age groups during intermission, and well over a dozen new bikes were given away as well, thanks to donations from Home Expressions, Chicago Iron & Supply, Marcus Dunbar Racing, Bill Muhlig Racing, Saunders Racing, Mashlan Business Services, and the ABC Raceway and its front-gate crew. The Iron River Ambulance Service donated youth safety helmets that were given away as well.
The fastest posted feature laps on the night were set by Jeff Spacek in the Mods (16.605 secs; 81.301 mph), Flynn in the Supers (17.125; 78.832), Marcus Dunbar in the Mid-Mods (17.560; 76.879), and Graham in the Sixes (18.748; 72.008).
The ABC Raceway will complete the points-paying portion of its 2020 racing season on Saturday, August 29, with Mountain Dew Championship Saturday Night presented by WIMI, 99.7 FM, of Ironwood, MI. The track champions in all six regular weekly divisions will be crowned after a full evening of action. Then the Raceway will prepare for its “Prelude to the Clay,” to be presented by Ashland Ford-Chrysler Center, featuring WISSOTA Late Models, Modifieds and Super Stocks, on Thursday night, September 3, to kick off the region’s stock car racing invitational season.
Grandstand admission tickets for Saturday’s finale are just $11 for adults, and kids ages 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. Tickets are available either at the gate on race night or online via www.myracepass.com. “Race Reports” will air on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, as well as online at www.wbszfm.com, from 4:30 until 6 pm with the latest news and weather information from the track.
Reserved seating, advance tickets, and camping information for the “Prelude” are available by calling (715) 292-2672. Reserved pit parking and driver registration info are available by calling (715) 209-1373. Drivers who register via My Race Pass prior to September 2 will not have to pay a draw fee.
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, log on to the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com, or check out the track’s FaceBook page.
Feature: 1-10: Al Uotinen, Superior; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Pat Cook, Washburn; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Tyler Luger, Oxford; Shane Kisling, Butternut; Brandon Copp, Brule.
11: Bill Byholm, Glidden.
Heat 1: Byholm; Suzik; Kisling; C Spacek; Hiatt; J Spacek.
Heat 2: Cook; Uotinen; Copp; Balduc; Luger.
WISSOTA SUPER STOCKS
Feature: 1-10: Dave Flynn, Superior; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Cory Casari, Montreal; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Andrew Mackey, Duluth, MN; Kyle Copp, Brule; Rita Anderson, South Range; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; David Elliott, Minocqua.
11: Jonathan Popp, Iron River.
Heat 1: Flynn; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Deragon; Elliott; R Anderson; Popp.
Heat 2: Oreskovich; Mackey; Casari; Stuart; Copp; C Anderson.
WISSOTA MIDWEST MODIFIEDS
Feature: 1-10: Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Ryan Savoy, Superior; Brady Uotinen, Superior; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Dalton Mains, Foxboro; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; John Kallas, Hurley; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield.
11-19: Steve Altman, Mercer; Chris Bretting, Washburn; John Darwin, Iron River; Jimmy Latvala, Solon Springs; Diamond Bressette, Spooner; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Jack Rivord, Superior; Gunner Peterson, South Range; Justin Weinberger, Butternut.
Heat 1: M Dunbar; D Dunbar; Aho; Uotinen; Mains; Kallas; Bressette.
Heat 2: Fuhrman; Hicks; Weinberger; Peterson; Barningham; Passuello.
Heat 3: Latvala; Rivord; Savoy; Altman; Darwin; Bretting.
WISSOTA PURE STOCKS
Feature: 1-6: Cory Jorgensen, Duluth, MN; RJ Holly, Marengo; Randy Graham, Trego; Aaron Bernick, Duluth, MN; Tanner Gehl, Solon Springs; Jamie Chlebecek, Lehigh Acres, FL.
Heat: Jorgensen; Graham; Bernick; Gehl; Holly; Chlebecek.
Feature: 1-10: Randy Graham, Trego; Josh Saunders, Spooner; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Dennis Groom, Ashland; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Dominic Hmielewski, Marengo; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Jordan Pearce, Ashland; Mathew Rohlfing, Cable; Trenton Bond, Mason.
Heat 1: Pearce; Graham; Schultz; Saunders; Bond.
Heat 2: Truchon; Nevala; Groom; Hmielewski; Rohlfing.
Feature: 1-9: AJ House, Cloquet, MN; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Carson Gotelaere, Superior; Josh Rowe, Duluth, MN; Mitch Kieber, Ironwood, MI; Dan Moncher, Saxon; Gavyn Moncher, Saxon; Brandon Hummelmeier, Maple; Austin Bowens, Superior.
Heat: Jarecki; House; Kieber; Rowe; Gotelaere; D Moncher; Bowens