Mass Scores Opening-Round Super Stock Series Win at ABC
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, July 22 — East Bethel, MN’s Dave Mass waited out an hour-and-a-half rain delay, started on the pole, held off a determined Scott Lawrence, overcame heavy lapped traffic, and led every lap to win the opening round of the third annual Northland Super Stock Series, presented by FastLane Motorsports & Custom Powdercoating, at the ABC Raceway on Saturday night.
For the third straight week the northern Wisconsin speedplant hosted a triple-digit car count – a season-high 130, including 49 WISSOTA Super Stocks – for its weekly five-division PolyDome Dirt Track Series program in front of a huge crowd. With the inclusion of make-up features for the WISSOTA Modifieds and Midwest Modifieds from the rain-shortened July 8 show, even a passing thunderstorm couldn’t deter the 26-race program.
Mass led the entire way in the headliner, which ran 33 laps in honor of the late former area racer and car owner Don Koivisto, whose cars sported that number for years at ABC. But Mass was unable to shake the challenges of Lawrence, the 14-time track titlist and defending Series champion.
Mass, Lawrence and Shane Kisling ran in tight formation for the first couple of laps before first-time visitor Shane Sabraski shook loose from his early-race battle with Jeff Klopstein for fourth and caught up with the leaders. Mass ran a high line around the track, while Lawrence took the short way around, with Kisling staying in Lawrence’s tire tracks and Sabraski following Mass’ path around Kisling to third on lap 3.
The laps clicked off quickly on the lightning-fast, smooth red-clay surface, and by the race’s mid-point Mass had already caught up to track points leader Nick Oreskovich, who was mired behind a thick pack of slower cars. Mass’ three-quarter-second lead disappeared in a hurry as he worked hard to maneuver through the backmarkers, with Lawrence never less than a car-length back. It was in this heavy traffic that Kisling retook third from Sabraski with 12 laps remaining.
Mass and Lawrence broke free of the traffic with three laps left, but coming for the white flag Mass had to make an abrupt evasive move to avoid contact with a slowing Charlie Anderson, allowing Lawrence to pull to Mass’ rear fender. Mass held on for an exciting half-second margin of victory, while Lawrence edged a fast-closing Kisling for second. Sabraski was a distance back in fourth but still had plenty of breathing room between himself and fifth-place DJ Keeler.
The 33-lap feature took little more than ten minutes to complete, paced by Mass’ race-best 17.246-second lap. Seventeenth-starting Kevin Burdick was awarded hard-charger honors after a ninth-place finish.
The Series was scheduled to start on the Friday night before at the AmsOil Speedway in Superior, but a massive thunderstorm ended that program before it could really get started. The Series was slated to continue at the Proctor (MN) Speedway on Sunday, July 23, with the rescheduled conclusion to be held on Friday, July 28, at Superior.
In the regularly-scheduled WISSOTA Modified A-feature, Steve Stuart of Ashland ran the high groove to his second feature win of the season here. It was the second time on this night and the fourth straight time that the Mods ran their 20-lap main event non-stop.
Jeff Spacek slipped under polestarter Steve Lavasseur and claimed the top spot coming out of the very first corner. But it only took a couple laps for the high-riding Stuart to come from the outside of the third row to sweep around Lavasseur to take second place, and within another circuit he was repeating the move to steal the lead from Spacek.
By lap 5 Stuart had built up a 1.5-second advantage on Spacek, with Lavasseur well back. The best battle on the track was for fourth, where points leader Bill Byholm had his hands full fending off visitors Jody Bellefeuille, Mike Anderson and Sabraski.
Over the final seven laps Stuart swept around slower traffic, but he held enough of a cushion to score the 31st ABC feature win of his career. Spacek did trim a half-second off the final margin of victory, well ahead of Lavasseur, while Anderson and Sabraski won the battle to claim the fourth and fifth spots. Stuart’s 16.303-second lap, set just after he took the lead, was the fastest of the race.
In the make-up Mod main from the rain-shortened July 8 show, Spacek had the pole, but the run belonged to Jacob Hiatt of Mason, who led all 20 circuits for his first-ever feature win in Ashland. Hiatt made quick work of Spacek by flying around the high side of the track, and over the course of the first eight laps Hiatt had a nearly two-second lead.
Hiatt also found himself slogging through backmarkers before the run was complete, and after Stuart slipped by Spacek for second with three laps remaining he closed the gap on the leader. Hiatt survived one tense moment in which he tried to go high-side to put Jason Zdroik a lap down and nearly flattened his car against the concrete wall coming out of turn 4, but he managed to hold off the charging Stuart by seven-tenths of a second.
Spacek, Pat Cook and Al Uotinen filled out the top five. The race took only six minutes and 12 seconds to complete, with Hiatt setting the fast lap at 16.965 seconds.
In recent weeks the Midwest Mods have been coming to the ABC Raceway in droves to compete, and Saturday night was no exception, as 34 entries came to play on the clay. But while caution-filled features had been the norm for them, on this night they spun off two 20-lap A-mains with just three yellow flags thrown between them.
Ashland’s Kevin Eder tacked his A-mod tin to a Mid-Mod and stormed to the front early in the regularly-slated 20-lapper, coming from his third-row starting spot to drive past Tanner Hicks and Tyler Hudack into second within the first two laps. Eder was in the process of taking the lead from polestarter Justin Weinberger when the first of two cautions was thrown for Hudack’s spun ride on lap 3, and after John Kallas went around on that restart, Eder completed his task and paced the rest of the run.
Hicks got by Weinberger for second within a couple laps after that second re-do and spent the rest of the race about a second back of the leader. Twelfth-starting Paul Suzik quickly picked his way into the top five and battled with Tyler Vernon for a few laps before claiming third with five to go, and Ryan Adamzak stayed in the top-five throughout most of the run and landed a fifth-place paycheck.
The last 17 laps ran off without a hitch as Eder sped to his 27th career feature win at Ashland and seventh in a Mid-Mod, leading Hicks by .894 seconds at the checkered flag and setting the fastest lap of the race at 17.293 seconds. But perhaps the most dramatic turn of the race occurred on the very last lap, when points leader Wayne Stricker’s car suffered a rear-end gear failure and stalled, delegating him to a 22nd-place finish and allowing Vernon to pull to within a point of Stricker in the standings.
Front-row starter Marcus Dunbar looked strong early in the Mid-Mod make-up feature, which kicked off tonight’s show, and led the field until the lone stoppage of the race, after a five-car mess on lap 2. But two laps after the restart, two-time defending track champ Suzik, of Ironwood, MI, dove low on Dunbar and led the 16 remaining non-stop laps for his second feature win of the year.
Hicks worked his way by Dunbar for second just prior to the halfway point of the race but could not get close enough to challenge Suzik the rest of the way. Adamzak had gotten past Jesse Aho for fourth on lap 5, but he wasn’t able to track down Dunbar.
Suzik had just started working his way into slower traffic when the white flag waived, and he led Hicks by a full second at the final stripe while setting the fast lap of the race at 17.415 seconds in the process. The win was Suzik’s fifth of his career at ABC.
The fast, sticky track was very much to Tiffany Hudack’s benefit, as she stuck to her favored bottom groove and ran off to her third feature win of the season in the Six-Cylinder 15-lap headliner. Hudack, the defending division champ from Ashland, had a rare motor failure last Saturday that knocked her from the feature, but on this night she started on the outside of row 3 and patiently worked her way forward in heavy traffic, taking second from Josh Saunders on lap 5 and restarting behind leader John Darwin after Vernon and Forrest Schultz tangled while battling in the top five during the next circuit.
Hudack made her move just a lap after the restart with a low-line pass, as Darwin couldn’t make his car wide enough to block both her and points leader Scott Ovaska, who was challenging him to the outside. Once in the lead Hudack sped away, while Ovaska needed another tour around the oval before displacing Darwin. Randy Graham snuck by Darwin as well for third and engaged in a dogfight with Ovaska over the next few laps, allowing Hudack to build on her lead.
Devin Dalbec’s spin with three to go drew the field back to Hudack’s rear bumper, but in the sprint to the finish Hudack re-established her advantage, winning by 1.25 seconds and setting a race-best lap of 18.088 seconds. Ovaska edged Graham for second but saw his points advantage trimmed to just five over Hudack, while Vernon and DeJay Jarecki followed at a distance in fourth and fifth, respectively.
The WISSOTA Pure Stock feature saw a penalty factor into the final results. Jake Nevala took the early lead from polstarter Annika Hammitt and held off Chad Nikstad for the first few laps, while three- and four-wide racing became the norm behind them. Nikstad worked to the inside on Nevala to take over the lead on lap 4, and a lap later Kyle Copp followed suit into second, bringing Michael Brennan along to third.
Copp then used a low-groove move to get past Nikstad for the lead, and over the next few laps positions behind Copp were being swapped frequently. But with two laps to go Tyler Keup’s car, which had been troublesome all night for him, broke down and stalled. On the first attempt of a green-white-checkered finish Nevala spun in traffic on the front stretch, and on the second try Andrew Hanson, who had restarted sixth, got a huge run on the field and passed several cars to steal second.
Hanson immediately pulled alongside Copp for the lead, and the pair battled side-by-side before Hanson edged ahead under the checkers. But the run he got on the last restart was too good, in fact, as Hanson was called for a “jump” of the start and penalized two positions in the final finishing order, giving Copp, of Brule, his fourth feature win of the season here and solidifying his points lead. Nikstad also gained in the rundown for a career-best second-place finish, and Brennan and Graham completed the top five.
Just as the checkered flag was flying over the final heat race of the night, a strong band of thunderstorms swept quickly over northern Ashland County and dumped a significant amount of rain on the Raceway grounds. However, the storm cleared out less than 20 minutes later, and the track prep crew hustled to run in the precipitation on the wet oval.
Within an hour-and-a-half after the rains first began, race cars were called out onto the track to help put the finishing touches on the track-packing effort. The end result was an incredibly fast, sticky, smooth race surface that allowed for feature lap times that were within a half-second of the Raceway records in each of the four electronically-timed divisions. Drivers were very generous in their praise of the efforts and hard work by the prep crew.
Saturday, July 29, will be a very special night at the ABC Raceway, as the Ashland-Bayfield County Racing Association will honor its fourth Hall of Fame class with formal induction ceremonies at the track during intermission of its five-division show, to be presented by Zar’s Banquet Hall of Ashland. In addition, Northern Clearing Inc and Heartland Communications, both also of Ashland, will sponsor the Raceway’s annual “Race to a Cure” cancer research and awareness fundraiser, and the track will catch up on the features postponed from the July 8 program with that night’s Pure Stock A-main starting off the show.
All fans in attendance will be admitted into the main grandstands free of charge for this one very important night of racing and special activities. Free-will offerings will be accepted throughout the race program for the fundraiser, with all monies collected donated directly to Chequamegon Bay area cancer awareness and treatment programs.
Hot laps start at 6:15 pm, followed by qualifying heats 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 more information log onto the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com. or on race days call (715) 682-4990.
Feature: Steve Stuart, Ashland; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Mike Anderson, Colfax; Shane Sabraski, Rice, MN; Jody Bellefeuille, Duluth, MN; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Al Uotinen, Superior; Joey Jensen, Harris, MN; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Todd Gehl, Solon Springs; Jacob Hiatt, Mason; Greg Chesley, Duluth, MN; Pat Cook, Washburn; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Kelly Checkalski, Poplar; Rick Rivord, Superior.
Heat 1: Stuart; Bellefeuille; B Byholm; Lavasseur; Gehl; Anderson; Balduc; Cook; Rivord; Checkalski.
Heat 2: Sabraski; Jensen; Spacek; Uotinen; T Byholm; Hiatt; Eder; Chesley; Jason Zdroik, Eagle River.
Make-up feature from 7/8: Hiatt; Stuart; Spacek; Cook; Uotinen; Eder; B Byholm; Balduc; T Byholm; Lavasseur; Rivord; Chesley; Gehl; Checkalski; Zdroik; Mikkonen
WISSOTA SUPER STOCKS
Feature: Dave Mass, East Bethel, MN; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Shane Sabraski, Rice, MN; DJ Keeler, Superior; Cory Casari, Montreal; Jim Campbell, Two Harbors, MN; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Kevin Burdick, Proctor, MN; Willie Johnsen Jr, Superior; Ronnie Malecki, Superior; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood; Eric Olson, Ladysmith; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Dave Flynn, Superior; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Josh Zimpel, Braham, MN; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; Mike Loomis, Columbus, MN; Derek Vesel, Hibbing, MN.
Heat 1: Kisling; Klopstein; Johnsen; Beeksma; Flynn; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Andy LaBarge, Keewatin, MN; Colten Vernon, Ashland; David Simpson, Thunder Bay, ON; Matt Hammitt, Cloquet, MN.
Heat 2: Keeler; Campbell; Kuklinski; Burdick; R Spacek; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Vesel; Dalton Landwehr, St Cloud, MN; Alex Wolff, New London, MN; Andy Grymala, Superior.
Heat 3: Lawrence; Anderson; Loomis; Muzzy; Brandon Kellen, St Cloud, MN; Keith Kern, Superior; Brian Carl, Duluth, MN; David Elliot, Minocqua; Jason Oftedahl, Inver Grove Heights, MN; Joel Snyder, Mora, MN.
Heat 4: Sabraski; Malecki; Zimpel; McFadden; Jon Stepan, Brandon, MN; Cooper Berlin, Rice Lake; Larry Both, Thunder Bay, ON; Keith Corcilius, Phillips; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Doug Koski, Chisholm, MN.
Heat 5: Mass; Casari; Olson; T Spacek; Oreskovich; Jared Zimpel, Isle, MN; Marcus Simonson, Luck; Mike Hesselink, Deer Park; Myron Basina, Washburn.
Semi-Feature 1: Flynn; Oreskovich; Mikkonen; Simonson; Koski; Berlin; Carl; Kellen; Simpson; Oftedahl; Landwehr; Hammitt; Corcilius; Grymala
Semi-Feature 2: R Spacek; Vesel; Jared Zimpel; Deragon; Vernon; Kern; Basina; Mashlan; Elliot; Both; Stepan; Wolff; Hesselink.
WISSOTA MIDWEST MODIFIEDS
Feature: Kevin Eder, Ashland; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Ryan Adamzak, Marengo; Cody Carlson, Superior; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Denny Cutsforth, Rice Lake; Brady Jokinen, Mellen; George Truscott, Greenland, MI; Gunner Peterson, Mason; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Brandon Copp, Brule; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Marcus Dunbar, Wakefield, MI; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Jim Kannegiesser, Hayward; Jared Stricker, Highbridge; John Kallas, Hurley; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Darren Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Cy Hoaglan, Ashland.
Heat 1: Weinberger; Eder; Fuhrman; Kannegiesser; M Dunbar; Austin Zdroik, Eagle River; J Stricker; Dalton Mains, Foxboro; Diamond Bressette, Spooner.
Heat 2: Vernon; Hudack; Duane Dunbar; Hoaglan; Kallas; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Cutsforth; Brady Larson, Amery; Mitchell Larson, Roberts.
Heat 3: Carlson; Adamzak; W Stricker; Jokinen; Copp; Aho; Jeff Hanninen, Marengo; Chris Bretting, Washburn.
Heat 4: Hicks; Truscott; Suzik; Peterson; Barningham; Darren Dunbar; Anthony Forfa Jr, Phillips; Jake Kruzan, Marengo.
Semi-Feature 1: Aho; J Stricker; Bretting; Hanninen; Mains; Bressette.
Semi-Feature 2: Darren Dunbar; Cutsforth; Lindquist; B Larson; Forfa; Kruzan; M Larson.
Make-Up Feature from 7/8: Suzik; Hicks; M Dunbar; Adamzak; Aho; Truscott; Carlson; W Stricker; Fuhrman; Hudack; Barningham; Duane Dunbar; Weinberger; Jokinen; Vernon; Peterson; Hoaglan; J Stricker; Darren Dunbar; Kannegiesser.
Feature: Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Scott Ovaska, Marengo; Randy Graham, Trego; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Cole Vernon, Ashland; John Darwin, Iron River; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Josh Saunders, Spooner; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Devin Dalbec, Ashland; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Bella Bretting, Washburn.
Heat 1: Schultz; Graham; Hudack; T Vernon; Dalbec; Popp; Anderson.
Heat 2: Jarecki; Ovaska; Saunders; Darwin; C Vernon; Bretting; Truchon.
WISSOTA PURE STOCKS
Feature: Kyle Copp, Brule; Chad Nikstad, Superior; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Michael Brennan, Ashland; Randy Graham, Trego; Jimmy Holden, Rice Lake; Annika Hammitt, Cloquet, MN; Austin Gibson, Trego; Josh Miller, Spooner; Brock Beilke, Hayward; Dylan Shelton, Wrenshall, MN; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Tyler Keup, Superior; Matt Olson, Ashland.
Heat 1: Brennan; Graham; Nikstad; Nevala; Gibson; Miller; Keup.
Heat 2: Hanson; Copp; Shelton; Hammitt; Holden; Beilke.