All photos by Tom Krob Shooter Guy Action Photography
Halopka Captures ABC ‘Mid-Mod Madness’ Win
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 3 – Shane Halopka of Greenwood continued with his high level of success the ABC Raceway this season by leading every lap of the 13th annual “Mid-Mod Madness” feature, presented by Ashland’s Lake Shore Cafe and Safari Tavern, and taking home a $600 winner’s check on Saturday night.
With several area tracks not running shows on this night, many visiting drivers helped fill out some formidable fields on a comfortably balmy northern Wisconsin night.
Halopka started on the outside of the front row of the 20-lap, 21-car WISSOTA Midwest Modified headliner and beat polestarter and track points leader George Dalbeck through the first pair of turns. Visitor Tony Bahr was judged to be the cause of a lap 2 caution stop and was sent to the back, but that would turn out to be a minor set-back for the defending Red Clay Classic champ.
As Halopka and Dalbeck pulled away on the restart, Marcus Dunbar used a strong outside move to zip past Canadian Colin Chaschuk and first-time visitor Corey Storck into third. Halopka pushed his advantage out to over two seconds over the next eight laps, while Dunbar gave Dalbeck fits in a great battle for second, taking the spot away on lap 9.
Debris on lap 11 brought the field back to the leader’s rear bumper, and Dalbeck retook second on that restart. Two laps later Storck lost fourth to Chaschuk, and Storck’s car ended up on the infield grass soon afterwards with mechanical trouble.
Over the first lap after that restart Dalbeck stayed right with Halopka, but Dalbeck dove low in turn 4 in an attempt to take the lead and made a rare error, looping his ride and taking himself out of contention. Bahr, who had fought his way back to sixth from the earlier incident, worked a low-line route past Brandon Copp, Mark Kangas and Chaschuk to steal third a lap after the re-do, and after Tyler Vernon’s ride died against the turn 2 guard rail with three laps remaining, Bahr dipped low again to take second away from Dunbar.
But Halopka was too tough to catch over the final laps, pulling away to a 1.1-second margin at the checkers. Dunbar and Copp charged back on the final lap, but Bahr nipped both at the line for second, and Chaschuk wasn’t far back in fifth.
The WISSOTA Super Stocks ran a little more than a feature and a half on this night, with the completion of their rain-shortened race from July 9 kicking off the show and their regularly-slated 20-lapper held later. In the make-up A-main, national points leader Kevin Burdick led the field to green for what was a lap 9 restart, but within a few quick laps Burdick was overtaken by track points leader Nick Oreskovich, with Curt Myers following in Oreskovich’s tire tracks into third a couple of circuits later.
The race ran off without caution, allowing Oreskovich, of Mason, to hold serve for his first feature win of the season here. Myers was a few lengths back in second, and Burdick held on for third ahead of Patrick Beeksma and Cory Casari.
In the scheduled A-main, division rookie Kyle Copp ran a superb race, but one too many caution flags and restarts did him in. Copp started from the pole and held to a smooth line around the three-eighths-mile oval, about two-third of the way up the track, while Myers tracked him and chased him every step of the way. After Matt Deragon’s lap 2 spin, Copp set a quick pace ahead of Myers and Casari, while Terran Spacek moved forward and Shawn McFadden Jr tussled with Burdick.
A stoppage on lap 7 for Canadian visitor Larry Both’s spin tightened up the field, but Copp and Myers pulled away over the next eight laps, while McFadden slipped past Spacek for fourth and Oreskovich copied the move for fifth. Spacek tangled with Oreskovich while trying to regain fifth on lap 15, which bunched up the field again, but Copp was up to the task once more, despite Myers pulling alongside of him and Casari and Oreskovich threatening as well on the restart.
It looked as though Copp had things in hand, but Greg Kuklinski’s spin brought about a green-white-checkered finish, and this time Myers took advantage. On the final lap Myers used a low-side move to pull even with Copp, then his momentum slipped him just ahead of the rookie, giving the former national champion from Cameron his 24th career win at ABC – and first in over three years – by two-thirds of a second over Copp. Oreskovich was a close third, and McFadden grabbed fourth from Casari on the final lap.
Neil Balduc of Bessemer, MI, earned his second feature win in as many nights in the WISSOTA Modifieds. Balduc, fresh off his victory at Proctor, MN, on Friday, led all 20 laps, but not without several fierce challenges.
Balduc and visiting Danny Vang slipped around polestarter Paul Niznik to run 1-2 over the first lap. Jeff Spacek’s stalled ride brought about a quick yellow flag, and Steve Lavasseur took advantage to swipe third from Niznik and Mike Anderson on the restart. Balduc extended his lead to just shy of a full second over the next few laps, but as the run stayed caution-free Vang was able to nip away at that margin, trimming it by better than half – or about a car-length – as the leaders reached the slower tail end of the field.
Vang made a strong move to dive low to challenge for the lead on lap 14, but he pushed too hard and spun himself in turn 4, spoiling his chance for a win in much the same manner as Dalbeck a race later. Visitor Dave Cain worked low to get by Lavasseur on the restart, with Anderson following suit to third, but Balduc maintained a slim half-second edge on Cain over the final six laps for his first win here in nearly two full years. Lavasseur took third back from Anderson in the closing stages, and divisional points leader Steve Stuart came from his tenth starting spot to finish fifth.
Ashland’s Tiffany Hudack once again made the most of her limited racing schedule, claiming her second Six-Cylinder heat and feature wins on this night in only her second appearance of the season. Hudack was mired in a thick pack of cars running behind early leader Adam Traaholt and polestarter Josh Saunders in the 15-lap feature when contact on the back straight caused significant chaos on lap 2, resulting in several damaged cars.
Hudack was able to avoid the incident and restarted seventh, but within three laps she worked her way by DeJay Jarecki and points leader Randy Graham into third, as Dalton Truchon took second while Saunders fell back. Another skirmish just behind Hudack, this time collecting Graham and second-in-points Forrest Schultz, tightened up the field for another restart with seven laps left, and the defending track champion took advantage, running the bottom groove to slip past Truchon. Within another lap Hudack got by Traaholt, and over the remainder of the run she ran off to a winning margin of over two seconds.
Graham recovered to charge through the field to take second from Traaholt on the final lap, with Truchon close behind in fourth and Jarecki a few lengths back in fifth.
The WISSOTA Pure Stock feature was a three-car battle throughout most of its ten laps, with Superior’s Jared Akervik holding on for a hard-fought win. Justin Weinberger and Akervik worked their way around rookie polestarter Jessie Mudgett to lead the way early, and midway through the second lap Akervik made what would be the race-winning pass.
Mudgett’s spin on lap 4 slowed the pace momentarily, but Akervik held firm as Graham took second from Weinberger and helped pressure the leader. Akervik was about three-quarters of a second ahead of Graham as he took his second feature checkered flag of the year at Ashland, with Weinberger a close third. Brandle Pupp and Jeff Christman completed the top five.
For the second time this season – and second time in Raceway history – two female drivers claimed feature wins on the same night here. This time defending WISSOTA Hornets national champion Brittany Smith of St Joseph, MN, joining Hudack in visiting ABC’s victory lane.
The ten-lap Hornets A-main was the only feature to run non-stop, but at the start polestarter AJ House nearly jinxed that as he lost control of his racer in front of the field in the first corner. Fortunately he righted his ship and the field slipped by, with Austin Gibson and Derek Dunbar setting the early pace.
Smith, in her first-ever visit here, took advantage of a lap 3 bobble by Gibson to claim second, and over the next four circuits she worked her way up to and eventually around Dunbar to take the lead for good. Smith ran off to a sizeable margin of victory, while Paul George used a three-side pass of Dunbar and a recovered House to take second. Josh Rowe came home a distant fifth.
Track conditions were challenging during the qualifying heats, but an excellent effort by the track prep team during intermission resulted in a wide, smooth, lightning-fast red-clay surface that generated lap times that threatened to break Raceway records. Myers (Supers; 16.780 seconds, 80.453 mph) and Akervik (Pure Stocks; 19.109, 70.647) were each within a third of a second of breaking their divisions’ respective records, Balduc (Mods; 16.368, 82.478) and Halopka (Mid-Mods; 17.200, 78.488) were about a half-second shy of setting new marks, and Graham (Sixes; 18.770, 71.923) was less than a second off that division’s record pace.
The ABC Raceway’s Kids’ Club held its annual backpack giveaway during the evening, with several race teams, fans and local businesses donating over 40 backpacks filled with back-to-school supplies provided for local youngsters. Those donating included All-Performance Dyno, Dave Anderson Trucking, Rita Anderson Racing, Ryan Barningham Racing (in memory of Jordan Barningham), Casari Racing, Coddington-Graham Racing, Copp Racing, Cor-Be-LL LLC, GA Dalbeck Logging, race fans Dave & Michelle, Matt Deragon Racing, Derek Dunbar Racing, Eagle Waste & Recycling, Eric & Betty Erickson, FastLane Motorsports, the FastLane Super Stock Series, Dave Flynn Racing, Jacob Hiatt Racing, Lightning Storm Graphics, Tyler Luger Racing, Lulich Implement, Shawn McFadden Racing, Don Muzzy Racing, Jake Nevala Racing, Paul Niznik Racing, Clay Passuello Racing, Jason Ronning Racing, Josh Saunders Racing, Scott’s Engines, James Vendela Racing, Tyler Vernon Racing, and the ABC Raceway.
The 2019 season’s stretch run continues at the ABC Raceway on Saturday, August 10, when extra money will be on the line for the track’s Six-Cylinders during the 13th annual “Summer Sizzler,” to be presented by the Ashland-Bayfield County Sportsmen’s Club. The Northern Vintage Stockcar Racers group will bring its throwback cars to the red-clay oval to compete, and the Sportsmen’s Club will hold its annual raffle drawing at the track during the race program’s intermission.
As an added bonus, the Raceway announced during Saturday’s program that it will offer an enhanced purse for the WISSOTA Pure Stocks during the August 10 race program.
The grandstands will open at 5 pm, hot laps will start at 6:15, and the first green flag of the night is set to fly at 7 pm. “Race Night” will air on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, with up-to-date track news and weather updates every 15-20 minutes from 4:30-6 pm; coverage will also stream on www.wbszfm.com and on the free Heartland Communications Group radio app.
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, or log on to the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com.
Feature: 1-10: Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Dave Cain, Corcoran, MN; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Mike Anderson, Jim Falls; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Ken Hron, Grand Rapids, MN; Paul Niznik, Medford; Todd Gehl, Solon Springs; Danny Vang, Deerwood, MN; Jake Hiatt, Mason.
11-18: Jayme Lautigar, Gilbert, MN; Pat Cook, Washburn; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Bill Yonke, Thief River Falls, MN; Tyler Luger, Oxford; Duane Dale, Hibbing, MN; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Jeff Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: Lavasseur; Hron; Niznik; J Spacek; Hiatt; Gehl; Lautigar; Luger; Cook.
Heat 2: Vang; Balduc; Anderson; Cain; Stuart; Suzik; Yonke; Dale; C Spacek.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Curt Myers, Cameron; Kyle Copp, Brule; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Cory Casari, Montreal; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Andy Grymala, Superior; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Andrew Mackey, Roseville, MN; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI.
11-16: Rita Anderson, South Range; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Larry Both, Thunder Bay, ON; Kevin Burdick, Proctor, MN; Terran Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: Spacek; Myers; Casari; Copp; Grymala; Muzzy; Both; Anderson.
Heat 2: Oreskovich; Beeksma; Kuklinski; Burdick; McFadden; Deragon; Mackey; Mashlan.
Make-up feature from 7/9: 1-10: Oreskovich; Myers; Burdick; Beeksma; Casari; Copp; Mackey; Mashlan; Muzzy; Grymala
11-19: Kuklinski; Anderson; Deragon; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Dave Flynn, Superior; Eric Olson, Ladysmith; DJ Keeler, Superior; Willie Johnsen Jr, Superior; David Elliott, Minocqua.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: Shane Halopka, Greenwood; Tony Bahr, Haugen; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Brandon Copp, Brule; Colin Chaschuk, Neebing, ON; David Simpson, Thunder Bay, ON; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Mark Kangas, Eveleth, MN; Jimmy Latvala, Solon Springs; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland.
11-20: Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Jack Rivord, Superior; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; George Dalbeck, Wakefield, MI; Corey Storck, Morris, MN; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Gunner Peterson, South Range.
21: Bryan Lund, Ashland.
Heat 1: Storck; Fuhrman; Rivord; Latvala; Vernon; Peterson; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; Lund.
Heat 2: Simpson; Kangas; Halopka; Copp; Hudack; D Dunbar; Muhlig; Diamond Bressette, Spooner.
Heat 3: Dalbeck; M Dunbar; Chaschuk; Bahr; Aho; Weinberger; Barningham.
Feature: 1-10: Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Randy Graham, Trego; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Josh Saunders, Spooner; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Bubba Anderson, Trego.
11-12: Jordan Pearce, Ashland; Devin Dalbec, Ashland.
Heat 1: Hudack; Jarecki; Schultz; Truchon; Dalbec; Popp.
Heat 2: Graham; Anderson; Traaholt; Saunders; Nevala; Pearce.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-6: Jared Akervik, Superior; Randy Graham, Trego; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Brandle Pupp, Highbridge; Jeff Christman, South Range; Jessie Mudgett, Park Falls.
Heat: Weinberger; Graham; Akervik; Mudgett; Devin Fries, Phillips; Pupp; Christman.
Feature: 1-10: Brittany Smith, St Joseph, MN; Paul George, Princeton, MN; Derek Dunbar, Iron River; AJ House, Cloquet, MN; Josh Rowe, Duluth, MN; Hunter McDougall, Duluth, MN; Austin Gibson, Springbrook; Neil Dees, Hurley; Mitch Kieber, Ironwood, MI; Jason Ronning, Ashland.
Heat 1: Dunbar; Rowe; McDougall; Ronning; Dees.
Heat 2: George; Smith; House; Gibson; Kieber.