by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, July 30 — On a night that, at times, lived up to its billing, Ashland’s Kevin Eder held off a determined Ashley Anderson to win the fifth annual “Modified Mayhem” feature at the end of a full Saturday night of racing action at the ABC Raceway.
The WISSOTA PolyDome Dirt Track Series five-division program also included two other nail-biter features, a main event that never made it to its finish, and an overdue return to Victory Lane. A strong turnout of 96 entries were on hand for the 19-race program.
The visiting Anderson started on the pole of the 20-lap, $1,000-to-win WISSOTA Modified A-feature and battled side-by-side with Destin Lorimor briefly before establishing the early pace. Eder, who started outside on row 2, slipped to third ahead of fast-qualifier Neil Balduc just prior to the first slowdown of the race, for a stalled Scott Hudack.
On the restart Eder drove around Lorimor to take second, and Steve Stuart followed the same line past Balduc for fourth. Eder then went on the attack, reeling Anderson in over the next three laps before sweeping around him on lap 6 and then drawing away. Stuart continued his charge to the front by getting by Lorimor for third and challenging Anderson, as Eder drove to a nearly-full-second lead over the next couple of laps.
Another visitor, Scott Miller, looped his ride at the mid-race mark to slow the pace and bring the field back to Eder’s rear bumper, and then a lap after going back under green Stuart’s car mysteriously slowed, dropping him to the back. Right after that restart Balduc and Al Uotinen snuck past Anderson to take second and third, but Anderson clawed his way back by them over the next five laps.
Eder had re-established his one-second lead with four laps remaining, but Anderson chiseled that lead to less than half that distance by the time the checkers flew and set the fast lap of the race in the process at 17.542 seconds. Balduc held firm to third ahead of Uotinen, while 14th-starting Paul Wrazidlo took fifth away from Lorimor in the closing moments.
The winner’s share was bumped just prior to race time thanks to a $200 donation by George Dalbeck of Dalbeck Logging.
One would have thought that the $1,000 check was going to the winner of the WISSOTA Super Stock feature by the way that race unfolded. As many as nine different drivers had a legitimate shot at the win at one time or another during the 20-lap affair, and it boiled down to a tight green-white-checkered finish after two of the contenders got together while coming for the white flag.
It started with a great side-by-side battle for the lead between two very popular drivers – Charlie Anderson and Don Muzzy – who had started on the front row. Neither gave an inch until a lap 4 stoppage for a stalled Jim Campbell, by which point Muzzy had edged ahead. On that restart Shawn McFadden Jr slipped low to pass both Dave Flynn and Anderson for second, and a lap later McFadden again worked the low groove to nose past Muzzy for the lead.
After Dave Elliot’s spin on lap 5, Muzzy went back to work on McFadden, running the little-used middle line around the smooth, slick red-clay oval while McFadden hugged the low groove. By lap 8 Muzzy had inched ahead again, while behind them positions were being debated furiously. Cory Casari, who had started tenth, had worked his way to third before the mid-point of the run, and he had caught the lead pair by lap 13, but at that point he and McFadden made hard contact coming off of turn 2, causing McFadden to stall and sending Casari to the tail of the grid.
Scott Lawrence, who had been running in the top seven throughout the race, now restarted third alongside McFadden, but he slipped up the hill in turn 1. He recovered and charged down the back stretch with a four-wide pass for second by turn 3, but the move was negated by a grinding crash involving Colten Vernon and Andy Grymala. Lawrence restarted third again but was overtaken by Nick Oreskovich, while ahead of them McFadden drove low to again challenge Muzzy.
On lap 17 Oreskovich tried a thread-the-needle pass of both leaders but couldn’t make it stick. Then, the next time around, Lawrence tried to go low to pull alongside Oreskovich but instead made contact, causing Oreskovich to spin. With Lawrence sent to the tail, the field raced to a green-white-checkered finish, with Muzzy fending off McFadden at the front of a tight pack of cars for a quarter-second margin of victory – his first win ever in a WISSOTA-sanctioned feature. Oreskovich came home third just behind the leaders, with Jeff Klopstein Jr and Anderson completing the top five.
In Victory Lane after the race, all four other drivers finishing in the top five came over to congratulate Muzzy in an emotional show of support for the popular driver from Ironwood, MI. Casari gained the fast-lap bonus with a time of 18.111 seconds.
A rash of yellow flags caused the WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature to exceed its 30-minute time limit before its 20-lap distance was reached, but Cole Spacek of Phillips was out front when the race was deemed complete.
Dave Flynn tried to outrun Ryan Adamzak and Tyler Vernon for the early advantage, but Shane Kisling’s stalled ride nixed that move. Vernon held the lead after a two-car get-together following lap 1, and just after Adamzak slipped past Flynn for second on the restart, Flynn’s car dropped its driveshaft and slowed. He safely turned into the infield without causing a pile-up, but the debris brought about the caution again.
Eder started a charge toward the front from his third-row start, but a lap 4 stop for debris delayed his advance. Instead he grabbed some traction off the bottom of turn 2 on that restart and passed four cars to take the lead, with his teammate Vernon in tow. After Tanner Byholm’s spin on lap 5, and a tangle involving John Kallas and Brady Mesko-Jokinen on the next try, third-running Adamzak’s car refused to refire and he fell from contention.
Eder and Vernon then raced door-to-door for the lead, as did Tanner Hicks and Paul Suzik for third. Spacek, who had started ninth, was running fifth on lap 10, but he made the low groove work to his advantage and took away third by lap 12. Then Eder’s car gave up on him while leading, putting Spacek into a battle for the lead with Vernon. That dogfight continued until the lead pair were coming to take the white flag, when Vernon pushed too hard and spun himself in turn 3.
The field tried for a green-white-checkered finish, but a three-car pile-up behind the leaders brought out the caution flag and the race had reached its time limit, with Spacek being awarded his second feature win of the year at ABC ahead of Hicks and Suzik. Tad Bretting, who had started 23rd on the 24-car grid, charged to a fourth-place finish, ahead of Mesko-Jokinen. Early in the run Eder had set a fast-lap time of 17.898 seconds.
After a last-place finish in the ABC Six-Cylinder feature the previous week, and a tough outing during the division’s guest appearance at Proctor (MN) Speedway the night before, Bubba Anderson of Trego turned his luck around by holding off divisional points leader Tiffany Hudack in that class’s 15-lap A-main win. Anderson outran Dalton Truchon to the lead through the first pair of turns and led every lap for his second win of the year.
Tyler Vernon followed Anderson into second, and after a couple more laps Jeremy Lindquist took third away from the rookie Truchon. Hudack, who had won five of the division’s six features to date and the last four in a row, drove low to snare third on lap 4, and two laps later Lindquist’s ride failed him, stopping the race.
Vernon tried to drive around Anderson on the restart, but instead lost second to Hudack. Then Cole Vernon spun down the back chute to bring out the final yellow flag of the race, and while under the delay Tyler Vernon’s car stalled and his third-place run was gone.
Anderson kept his car as low and wide as possible to keep Hudack behind him and scored the win with the 2014 champ just a third of a second back. Scott Ovaska, DeJay Jarecki and Truchon completed the top five, and Hudack added the fast-lap bonus to her night after an 18.595-second circuit.
In the only feature to run non-stop, Ashland’s Matt Deragon completed his first truly successful night of the season, and it was a dandy. After struggling with an attempt to move up into the Mid-Mods, and then dealing with gremlins in a new WISSOTA Pure Stock, the defending Pure Stock track champ scored a clean sweep of heat and feature race action in the entry-level division.
After clearing pole-starter Don Livingston for the initial lead, Deragon looked like his old self again, driving away to as much as a half-straightaway lead with no yellow flags to draw the field back to him. He was lapping backmarkers with four laps to go, and no one came close to challenging him as he scored his 15th career feature win in the division, tying Casari for that all-time record at ABC.
Andrew Hanson had all he could do to hold off threats from Justin Weinberger and Andy Poll throughout the first half of the run, but eventually Weinberger got the better of him with six laps left. Poll tied his season-best effort with a fourth-place performance, while Randy Conner earned fifth-place money.
The final month of the regular season kicks off on Saturday, August 6, as the ABC Raceway will host a “Summer Blast,” to be presented by Northern Wisconsin Fence of Phillips and Outlaw Graphics & Apparel of Ashland. A “happy hour” concession stand special will run from 5:30 until 6:30, and race fans will get to meet their favorite drivers on the track during the Little Caesar’s Pizza “meet-and-greet” autograph session starting at 6:30. Plenty of fun and games can also be expected throughout the night.
Hot laps will follow the meet-the-drivers session, and green-flag racing should begin shortly after 7. Adult tickets are $11, and fans ages 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. “Z-93 Race Night” will air live on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and stream live 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 more information visit the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com, or call the track on racedays at (715) 682-4990.
Feature: Kevin Eder, Ashland; Ashley Anderson, Elk Mound; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Al Uotinen, Superior; Paul Wrazidlo, Duluth, MN; Destin Lorimor, Superior; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Rick Rivord, Superior; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Pat Cook, Washburn; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Jacob Hiatt, New Richmond; Dustin Hudack, Ashland; Scott Miller, Rice Lake; Scott Hudack, Ashland.
Heat 1: Balduc; Lorimor; Eder; Rivord; Miller; Cook; Mikkonen; Hiatt; Lavasseur.
Heat 2: Uotinen; Anderson; Stuart; S Hudack; Byholm; Spacek; Wrazidlo; D Hudack.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Shawn McFadden Jr; Ashland; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Jeff Klopstein Jr, Tomahawk; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Cory Casari, Montreal; Dave Flynn, Superior; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Pat Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Jordan Kurtti, Bruce Crossing, MI; Keith Corcilius, Phillips; Andy Grymala, Superior; Colten Vernon, Ashland; Myron Basina, Washburn; Dave Elliott, Minocqua; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Jim Campbell, Two Harbors, MN; Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Mike Hince, Medford; Terran Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: Kisling; Anderson; McFadden; Casari; Grymala; Vernon; Hince.
Heat 2: Oreskovich; Lawrence; Klopstein; Campbell; Elliott; Corcilius; Mashlan.
Heat 3: Beeksma; Muzzy; Flynn; Basina; R Spacek; T Spacek; Kurtti.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: Cole Spacek, Phillips; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Tad Bretting, Ashland; Brady Mesko-Jokinen, Mellen; Darren Zorich, Marenisco, MI; Jared Stricker, Highbridge; Brandon Copp, Eau Claire; Mike Jacques, Thunder Bay, ON; Tad Schoonover, Eagle River; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; John Kallas, Hurley; George Dalbeck, Wakefield, MI; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Dave Flynn, Superior; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Shane Kisling, Park Falls.
Heat 1: Flynn; Adamzak; Spacek; R Barningham; J Barningham; Andrew Inman, Hermantown, MN; Byholm; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI.
Heat 2: Hicks; W Stricker; Copp; J Stricker; Jacques; Bretting; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Cy Hoaglan, Ashland.
Heat 3: Eder; Vernon; Kisling; Dalbeck; D Dunbar; Kallas; Lindquist; Robert Hyde, Ashland.
Heat 4: Suzik; Mesko-Jokinen; Schoonover; Passuello; Zorich; Muhlig; Gunner Peterson, Cable.
Semi-Feature: Kallas; Byholm; Bretting; Lindquist; Inman; Peterson; Muhlig; Hoaglan; Hyde; M Dunbar; Fuhrman.
Feature: Bubba Anderson, Trego; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Scott Ovaska, Marengo; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Brendon Ottman, Ashland; Cole Vernon, Ashland; Bella Bretting, Washburn; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland.
Heat 1: Schultz; Hudack; Ovaska; Lindquist; C Vernon; Joshua Saunders, Spooner; Bretting.
Heat 2: T Vernon; Anderson; Traaholt; Truchon; Jarecki; Ottman.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: Matt Deragon, Ashland; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Andy Poll, Two Harbors, MN; Randy Conner, Hayward; Randy Graham, Trego; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Jeff Christman, South Range; Steve Pohl, Manitowish Waters; Josh Kallas, Hurley; Brock Beilke, Hayward.
Heat 1: Deragon; Hanson; Weinberger; Poll; Christman; Kallas; Michael Blevins, Hibbing, MN.
Heat 2: Conner; Graham; Pohl; Livingston; Pupp; Beilke; Bob Skrobot, Manitowish Waters.