Follett Grabs Pure Excitement 25 at ABC; Spacek, Lawrence, Nye, Beeksma, Deragon are Champs
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 25 – The ABC Raceway capped off the summer portion of its 48th season of stock car racing with a busy Championship Saturday program, during which each of its five divisions crowned champions and Dustin Follett of Cloquet, MN, raced to the win in the ninth annual Pure Excitement 25.
Northstar Beverage of Hurley, Pepsi, and WIMI, 99.7 FM, presented an AmsOil Dirt Track Series program that was full of drama and special moments provided by the season-high 97 entries. Many fans were also treated to a large number of prizes as part of the Fan Appreciation Night festivities.
All 26 pure stocks started the 25-lap headline event with a purse of approximately $5,500 on the line, including the $1,000 winner’s check, and the added twist of a tight points battle for the track championship at stake. First-time visitor Dustin Doughty led the field from the pole but lost the initial lead to Jeff Christman. Doughty came back on lap 3 to take the lead with an outside move on the wide, smooth track, and a lap later Follett used a similar move to grab second.
The pace was slowed for the first time on lap 5 when Christman got turned around, and on the restart Brandle Pupp looped his ride to again stop the action. A lap after the green flag came back out Pupp stopped on the track again, this time after losing a wheel.
Follett tried a couple of moves to the inside on Doughty as he threatened to take the lead on the restarts, but Doughty was up to the task until the hooked bumpers of Tim Carbon’s and Rita Anderson’s racers caused both to spin and stop in the middle of the back straight on lap 7. During the caution flag a light fixture above the front straightaway burned out, resulting in total darkness between turns 4 and 1. Track officials worked quickly, and several race teams generously donated portable lights, generators and other tools, and after a 40-minute delay there was enough temporary light to allow the show to safely continue.
For the restart Matt Deragon of Ashland, who led the points chase by nine going into the feature, lined up third, but Christman took the spot away within a lap. Jeff Engelmeier’s spin on lap 8 was the final slowdown of the run, after which Follett used a good drive off the bottom of turn 2 to pull alongside Doughty, edging ahead by a fender at the start-finish line and then eventually clearing to a car-length lead.
Christman’s night ended just before mid-race with a flat tire, giving third back to Deragon, with Steve Udeen and second-in-points Ken Tody, Jr, in tow. Nick Nye, who was also in the hunt for the championship, charged through to fifth with 11 laps left, but a lap later his car slipped back in the pack.
Over the final ten laps Follett and Doughty weaved through slower traffic while staying within a car-length of each other. But the traffic allowed Udeen to reel in the lead pair, and on lap 22 he snuck a peak inside on Doughty. With the white flag waiving Udeen completed the pass, but this gave Follett enough breathing room to win his fifth career ABC Raceway feature and first since the 2010 season finale.
Doughty was a close third, followed by Tody and Deragon, who earned his first-ever track championship. Jim Eliason, Al Rapp, Tim Carbon, Josh Loucks and Nye completed the top ten.
The WISSOTA modified A-feature provided more nail-biting for the fans, as Jeff Spacek carried a four-point edge over Jared Loos into the 20-lapper. A wild four-wide race for the initial lead was thwarted by the spun ride of Curt Myers, after which pole-starter Paul Niznik held off Steve Stuart and Kent Baxter to pace the first lap under green. Loos, who started inside on row 4, slipped below everyone and sped by into the lead the next time around, and from there all he needed to do was stay four spots ahead of Spacek to steal the championship away.
Spacek, however, moved by Niznik and into fourth place on lap 3, and from there he spent the vast majority of the race trying to find a way to grab one more position and break the points tie for the title. Loos, Kevin Eder – who had snuck through to second on lap 3 – Stuart and Spacek raced in close formation, putting on a thrilling show for the large crowd in attendance.
Eder moved up one lane from the bottom groove and began an intense effort to take the lead away, but Loos fended him off on every lap. Then on lap 9 the lead group caught the slower John Carpenter, and Spacek – who was using the same line as Eder to try to get around Stuart for third – got caught up with Carpenter while trying to avoid him at the top of turn 1, spinning Carpenter around. Officials deemed Carpenter at fault, giving Spacek his fourth-place position back for the race’s only other restart.
Back under green Eder continued his threats against Loos, while Al Uotinen appeared in position to play a possible spoiler’s role, working inside on Spacek for fourth. But Spacek regrouped and swept back around the former four-time champ, then drew back up to the lead battle.
The championship-winning pass for Spacek happened while coming off turn 2 on the final lap, when his car gained just enough momentum to slip around Stuart’s on the high side. The one point that Spacek gained with that pass was the point that the popular veteran from Phillips won his sixth overall track title by, while Loos, who hails from Loyal, held off Eder by less than a quarter-second for his third win of the season here. After Spacek in third came Stuart and Uotinen in close order.
Apparently it was a good night to be a Spacek, as Jeff’s son Cole and brother Randy won their respective features, and each did so in dominant fashion.
Randy Spacek used an inside move on Brian Mikkonen to take second place one lap into the 20-lap WISSOTA super stock main event behind initial leader Myers. Scott Lawrence, who was trying to hold on to as much of his eight-point lead heading into the race as possible, also slipped past Mikkonen into third on lap 2. Spacek then stayed low on Myers and grabbed the lead a lap later, and from there the Phillips campaigner pulled away.
Lawrence tried to keep pace with the leader, taking second from Myers on lap 4, but by then Spacek’s lead was over a second-and-a-half. The difference had grown to nearly two seconds on lap 8, but Jacob Hiatt’s spin brought Lawrence and the rest of the field up to Spacek’s bumper for a restart.
Greg Kuklinski’s spin a lap before the halfway point was the last delay in the run, after which Spacek again pulled away from Lawrence. Nick Oreskovich worked inside on Myers for third with eight laps left, but he couldn’t gain any ground on the leaders. Spacek’s advantage grew to over a second going into the final five laps, and by the time he collected his third win of the season here he had a two-second cushion on Superior’s Lawrence, who scored an unprecedented ninth consecutive super stock title in Ashland and track-best 12th championship overall.
Myers and Dave Flynn, who finished second in the championship standings, completed the top five.
Cole Spacek, meanwhile, celebrated the WISSOTA Midwest modified track championship he earned at Tomahawk the
night before with his first-ever feature win in Ashland, putting an impressive exclamation mark on a solid rookie season. After a three-car scramble stalled the first green-flag effort, Rob Weber drove around pole-starter John Kallas for the early lead, with Spacek working the outer line to take second. Then, within a lap, Spacek swept around Weber for first just before Cody Carlson’s car spun to a stop.
Spacek throttled away to a significant 1.7-second lead within only four laps of the restart, while Weber had his hands full
trying to fend off stout challenges from Travis Nye and Mike Truscott. Nye, who entered the event only needing to turn one lap to nail down his first-ever track championship, instead drove hard while swapping second place with Weber and continued to do so after a Ross Fuhrman spin with five laps left.
Spacek drove away smoothly after the restart, cruising to a 1.27-second winning margin, and afterwards he received a enthusiastic pat on the head from dad Jeff in Victory Lane. Nye eventually cleared Weber for second and cemented his championship, and he, too, celebrated in front of the fans with his dad Nick. Behind Weber, Truscott and rookie Paul Suzik filled out the top five in the finishing order.
Like Nye in the Mid-mods, Pat Beeksma of Ironwood, MI, only had to take a green-flag lap in the feature to repeat as the Raceway’s six-cylinder champ. Instead, Beeksma accepted the challenge from Affordable Auto Repair to start in the back, with a $200 reward awaiting him if he won. Beeksma fell a couple positions short of collecting the bonus, but he did become the first driver since Jule Wilcox in 1991-’93 to repeat as six-cylinder champ at Ashland.
Neil Adamzak made the first move to the front as he swept around Dejay Mihalek to set the early pace. Dale Coddington took the low lane to grab second away within the first circuit, and Greg Jaeger followed Coddington into third. Coddington pulled alongside Adamzak going into turn 3 on lap 3, but Adamzak outdrove him to the corner, making Coddington wait for another opportunity.
That chance came on lap 5, when Coddington again pulled up to Adamzak’s door, and this time he completed the pass when Adamzak couldn’t get to his preferred low groove.
Coddington then held on through a restart for an Aaron Mashlan spin, while second-in-points Tyler Hudack drove by Adamzak at the drop of the green for second.
By this time Beeksma had already passed roughly half the field, and the restart put him in touch with the front half. He made a strong low-line run by four cars to move up from eighth to fourth within a lap, and he battled with Don Muzzy to keep fourth for a lap or two and restarted behind Muzzy after a slowdown for Mashlan’s dropped nosepiece.
Coddington, of Hayward, held on over the final six laps for his third win of the season, pulling away to a 1.87-second buffer over Hudack. Beeksma got by Muzzy and then Adamzak after the restart but couldn’t get any further forward than Hudack’s back push-bar in the final rundown. Adamzak held on for fourth-place money, and Muzzy came home fifth. In Victory Lane Coddington dedicacted the win to his friend and former racer Keane Laakson, who recently passed away.
Randy Spacek (18.519 secs) and Coddington (19.576) added fast-lap bonuses to their first-place efforts on the night, as presented by Northern Clearing, Inc.
Eder won an entertaining hot-dog-eating and hard-boiled-egg-carrying race held at intermission, earning two passes for the Red Clay Classic for fan Jake Johnson while receiving a paid pit admission for his car and one crew person to the upcoming end-of-season event.
The staff of the ABC Raceway will now take the next month to prepare for the 37th annual Red Clay Classic. The Northland’s traditional season-ending invitational will take place on Friday and Saturday, September 28-29, and feature upwards of 200 WISSOTA
late models, modifieds, super stocks and Midwest mods vying for their share of a purse scheduled to be in excess of $75,000 in one of the biggest stock car racing events in the Upper Midwest.
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.
Feature: Jared Loos, Loyal; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Al Uotinen, Superior; David Baxter, Eau Claire; Rick Rivord, Superior; Destin Lorimor, Superior; Ross Lightner, Washburn; Pat Cook, Washburn; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Curt Myers, Cameron; Paul Niznik, Medford; John Carpenter, Hibbing, MN; Kent Baxter, Colfax; Robby Bunkelman, Abbotsford; Bill Byholm, Glidden.
Heat 1: Lavasseur; Loos; Byholm; K Baxter; Spacek; D Baxter; Myers; Lorimor; Carpenter.
Heat 2: Stuart; Hudack; Eder; Niznik; Bunkelman; Uotinen; Cook; Rivord; Lightner.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: Randy Spacek, Phillips; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Curt Myers, Cameron; Dave Flynn, Superior; Ken Truscott, Greenland, MI; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Cory Casari, Montreal; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Willie Johnsen, Superior; Joe Oliver, Superior; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Dave Elliott, Minocqua; Jacob Hiatt, River Falls; Rick Randall, Wakefield, MI; DJ Keeler, Superior.
Heat 1: Flynn; Oreskovich; Spacek; Myers; Oliver; Keeler; Kuklinski; Randall.
Heat 2: Lawrence; Johnsen; Eder; Mikkonen; Elliott; Casari; Truscott; Hiatt.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: Cole Spacek, Phillips; Travis Nye, Ashland; Rob Weber, Ashland; Mike Truscott, Chippewa Falls; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Taylor Leuthner, Foxboro; Alex Van Natta, Minocqua; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; George Dalbeck, Ironwood, MI; Rick Przybylski, Ashland; Mark Kangas, Eveleth, MN; Cody Carlson, Superior; Neil Balduc, Ironwood, MI; John Kallas, Hurley; Chad Adamzak, Ashland; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Kevin Monteith, Rosslyn, ON; Tanner Byholm, Glidden.
Heat 1: Nye; Van Natta; Kallas; Weber; Byholm; Balduc; Carlson; Przybylski; Bretting; Adamzak.
Heat 2: Truscott; Spacek; Dalbeck; Suzik; Dunbar; Monteith; Kangas; Fuhrman.
Feature: Dale Coddington, Hayward; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Pat Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Neil Adamzak, Ashland; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Greg Jaeger, Mellen; Tad Bretting, Ashland; Shawn McFadden, Jr, Ashland; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; Bill Anderson, Wakefield, MI; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; DeJay Mihalek, Ashland; Cory Marincel, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Ron Lillie, Wakefield, MI; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland.
Heat 1: Muzzy; N Adamzak; Bretting; Mihalek; Mashlan; Traaholt; Anderson; Marincel; Lillie.
Heat 2: Tyler Hudack; Beeksma; Jaeger; Coddington; McFadden; Schultz; Tiffany Hudack; R Adamzak; Popp.
Feature: Dustin Follett, Cloquet, MN; Steve Udeen, Superior; Dustin Doughty, Ladysmith; Ken Tody Jr, Ashland; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Jim Eliason, Ashland; Al Rapp, Saginaw, MN; Tim Carbon, Highbridge; Josh Loucks, Carlton, MN; Nick Nye, Ashland; Lucas Carlson; Cloquet, MN; Andy Udeen, Superior; Gary Campbell, Duluth, MN; Josh Johnson, Superior; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Dean Waby, Ashland; Jeff Engelmeier, Saginaw, MN; Chad Nikstad, Superior; Rita Anderson, South Range; Ryan Savoy, Superior; Tim Ayers, Foxboro; Bob Anderson, Iron River; Jeff Christman, Superior; Joe Wolfe, Ironwood, MI; Glenn Dammer, Duluth, MN; Brandle Pupp, Ashland.
Heat 1: Carbon; Christman; A Udeen; Loucks; Tody; Nye; Pupp; Johnson; B Anderson.
Heat 2: Follett; Deragon; S Udeen; Carlson; Ayers; Engelmeier; Savoy.
Heat 3: Doughty; Rapp; Eliason; Dammer; Waby; Nikstad; Hudack; R Anderson; Campbell.