Season Championships to be Decided at ABC Raceway Saturday
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 26 — Thirteen race nights. Nearly 240 races. Over 2,700 laps run by nearly 270 different drivers.
And nothing has been decided – at least not until Saturday night.
Pepsi, North Star Beverage of Hurley, and WIMI, 99.7 FM, of Ironwood, MI, will present “Championship Saturday Night” at the ABC Raceway. The final regular-season PolyDome Dirt Track Series race program of 2017 at the award-winning red-clay oval will determine this summer’s points champions in all five weekly divisions.
Heading into the final round, no driver holds more than a 21-point advantage in any division – not an insurmountable margin, based on the points system used at ABC. In fact, in two of the classes the distance between first and second place in the standings is just one point. And in four of the five classes, the current point leaders are looking for their first-ever titles.
It doesn’t get much more exciting than that.
In the WISSOTA Pure Stock division, Andrew Hanson of Iron River leads Brule’s Kyle Copp by just one point. Copp picked up his division-best fifth feature win last Saturday by virtue of a technical disqualification issued to another car. But Hanson has been on a late-season roll, chalking up four heat wins over the past five weeks and finishing fourth or better, including one win, in each of the last five Pure Stock features here.
Both young hotshoes are in search of their first ABC Raceway points title, as is Randy Graham of Trego, who has pulled to within 15 points of the top spot.
Another single-point margin separates the top two in the ABC Six-Cylinder class. Marengo’s Scott Ovaska has finished third or better in every Sixes feature this season, highlighted by a June 10 win, as he fights for his first-ever title. But defending and two-time champ Tiffany Hudack of Ashland is not making things easy, coming up with her fourth feature win of the summer last week to tighten the gap.
Adding to the drama in the Six-Cylinders is the fact that Tyler Vernon of Ashland (eight points out of the lead) and Graham (nine out) are still very much within striking distance of their first championships as well. Graham has a class-leading five feature wins this season, while Vernon has finished in the top-five in the last nine features in the division.
Vernon also has his sights on a trophy in the WISSOTA Midwest Modified division, where he holds a 21-point cushion on two-time defending track champ Paul Suzik of Ironwood, MI. Vernon has scored three feature wins in the Mid-Mods here in 2017, while Suzik has strung together a run of five straight feature finishes of fourth place or better.
Not to be counted out, Wayne Stricker of Highbridge may be back on track, taking his third feature win of the season here last week and pulling to within two points of Suzik in the battle for second.
WISSOTA Super Stock points leader Nick Oreskovich of Mason is the only defending champ leading his division, with an 18-point edge on Randy Spacek of Phillips. Oreskovich also leads the division with four feature wins this summer, while Spacek has collected four top-five runs in the last five features.
Cory Casari of Montreal picked up his first win of the season last Saturday in a wild Super Stock feature, and he sits just four points ahead of Superior’s Scott Lawrence in the fight for third.
It may be surprising to some fans that Glidden’s Bill Byholm has yet to win a points championship at Ashland – after all, this is his 27th season of racing in the WISSOTA Modifieds here. But while he has finished second in the final standings three times and third five other times – including after last season – he has not taken home the champion’s jacket.
This could be his year, although his 11-point advantage on defending “big Mod” champ Neil Balduc of Bessemer, MI, is not a comfortable one. Balduc gained on Byholm significantly by winning his second feature of the season last Saturday night. Byholm, meanwhile, does not have a feature win but has relied on consistency in a division where no driver has more than two feature checkered flags.
Hot laps for the season finale will start Saturday night at 6:15 pm, followed by heat races at approximately 7 pm. The champions will be recognized on the track after each of the five features. Adult grandstand admission tickets are just $11, and younger fans are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.
“Z-93 Race Night” will air on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and stream live on www.wbszfm.com, from 4:30-6 pm with up-to-date track news and weather information.
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.