Burdick Takes Charge of Super Stock Series at ABC
First win in 14 years for Passuello in MMs
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, July 21 — A huge crowd took advantage of Free Admission Night at the ABC Raceway on Saturday, and they saw Kevin Burdick of Proctor, MN, take command of the FastLane Motorsports Northland Super Stock Series standings with his second feature win on the 2018 tour and second of the year at Ashland.
Fans also contributed generously to collections for two special fundraising efforts hosted by the Raceway and by Northern Clearing Inc of Ashland – to help raise money for the Ashland-Bayfield County chapter of the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” programs, and to collect non-perishable food items and other goods to be donated to The Brick Ministries, an organization that provides for needy families in the Chequamegon Bay area.
Of the 92 racers in the pit area on this night, forty were WISSOTA Super Stocks here for the fourth race of the five-night, five-track FastLane Series. Burdick had parlayed a win at the circuit’s second stop in Hibbing, MN, on the Saturday before, plus two other top-five runs, into a healthy points lead coming into Ashland, where he had already won in his only other visit here two weeks ago.
Dave Flynn and Shane Kisling led the 24-car field to the green flag for the 33-lap, $700-to-win spotlight event, and the pair raced side-by-side for the first three laps before Kisling edged ahead. Burdick quickly moved into third from his outside-second-row starting spot and kept pace with the lead pair until the race’s first yellow flag appeared for Ronnie Malecki’s spun racer on lap 5.
Three laps after the race went back under green, Flynn stole the lead with an inside move in heavy traffic, but Kisling fought back and regained the point, with Burdick on his tail. Tim Johnson, who won the Series’ opener at Sauk Rapids, MN, was close enough to take a shot at a pass for the lead, but Burdick got by first, working the outside line on lap 11, while Johnson dove inside on Kisling to grab second.
Burdick set a fast, steady pace that Johnson stayed with but couldn’t gain on, and the leaders gradually drew away from the rest of the field. Burdick’s lead was just shy of a full second when, on lap 17, debris was spotted on the track, and on the subsequent restart DJ Keeler, who was running ninth, was spun in the middle of the pack, forcing the balance of the field to dive and dodge to avoid contact.
The field clicked off a few more laps before more car parts were spotted on the racing surface. But for the final 12 laps the race stayed under green, and Burdick ran away to a winning margin of 1.122 seconds over Johnson. Curt Myers, the Series’ 2015 champion who came into the night tied for fourth in Series points with Flynn, slipped into third just after the last restart and stayed there to the end, finishing a full three seconds behind the winner.
Keeler climbed through the pack to finish fourth, while Kisling came home a close fifth. Flynn led the second five, ahead of Don Eischens, Terran Spacek, Nick Oreskovich and Cory Casari.
Dave Mass, the defending Series champion and winner of the Series’ race here last year, came into the night tied for second in points with Keeler, but his motor blew up while he was running away with his heat race earlier in the night. Despite coasting across the finish line second to Burdick, he opted to be pushed to the pits rather than to the infield scale and inspection area, thus sacrificing his heat points and all but eliminating any chance to defend his title.
The Series concluded on Sunday, July 22, at the Proctor (MN) Speedway.
One of the great feel-good stories of the 2018 season at ABC has to be Saturday’s WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature, where Clay Passuello of Ironwood, MI, captured his first feature win here in nearly 14 years. Passuello, a former Pure Stock and Street Stock competitor who had taken several years off from racing before returning with a Mid-Mod in 2015, has shown significant improvement this summer with one of the track’s most competitive cars.
Passuello started the 20-lap A-main from the pole and, after Ryan Savoy’s spin to avoid a slowing Jesse Aho forced an early restart, he fought off a persistent Wayne Stricker for the lead. Tyler Hudack took over second after a couple of laps but Stricker soon got back by him, and David Simpson, who had won the last two Mid-Mod features here, moved past fellow Canadian Colin Chaschuk into fourth.
Within five quick laps Passuello had built a lead of over a second-and-a-quarter, but traffic was very heavy behind him. On lap 6 Stricker, trying to dive low in turn 1, tagged one of the infield marker tires, which bounced onto the track in front of Hudack, who hit it and spun to bring about a caution stop. Stricker was penalized to the back of the field for the restart, and he eventually dropped out with car damage.
Simpson restarted second and immediately threatened to take the lead from Passuello, diving low and sliding across the front of Passuello’s car in the corners. But Passuello charged back by cutting down behind the sliding young Canadian and passing him on the inside down the straights. This thrilling cat-and-mouse game lasted several laps, while Brandon Copp, Jack Rivord and Dan Kingsley moved up into third, fourth and fifth together.
Finally, Passuello ended the game with a strong run off turn 4 on lap 11 and pulled away from there, extending his lead to nearly 1.5 seconds at the checkers. Simpson fended off a charging Copp for second, and a strong run by Marcus Dunbar gained him fourth place late in the go, ahead of Chaschuk.
The win was an emotional one for Passuello, who had lost his mother to cancer a few short years ago, and in victory lane he thanked the Vernon family of Northern Clearing for their work with the region’s various cancer research fundraising programs.
Randy Graham of Trego won the ABC Six-Cylinders feature for the second straight night, but he had to hold off a late charge by Tiffany Hudack to do so. Graham started the 15-lap feature second in points to Hudack, and from the outside on the fourth row he moved forward quickly, taking advantage of a lap 1 spin by Josh Saunders to restart second behind Jonathan Popp.
Graham slipped by Popp on the inside as the green flag waived again, and he drove off to a lead of nearly two seconds over Popp, who had the entire field glued to his rear push-bar. Hudack was mired in the thick crowd of cars behind Popp and couldn’t work her way forward for several laps, but a series of yellow-flag slowdowns from laps 6 through 12 helped her make passes on restarts that steadily improved her on-track position.
Hudack restarted fourth after DeJay Jarecki’s lap 8 spin, which erased another two-second advantage by Graham, and she slipped low on Tyler Vernon and Popp to take second on lap 9, at which point Graham again had built a commanding lead. Then Jake Nevala spun with three laps to go, putting Hudack right on Graham’s rear bumper for the final shootout. She stayed in the leader’s tire tracks to the end, with a couple of low-line attempts to pass thrown in, but Graham held on with a smooth mid-track line and collected his third win on the season, matching Hudack’s total for the year, and tying her for the points lead.
Vernon led a tight-knit pack of cars in third, ahead of Jarecki and 12th-starting Forrest Schultz.
In the 12-lap WISSOTA Pure Stock feature Graham and Andrew Hanson battled for the win, but Hanson, of Iron River, came out on top for a track-leading fifth time this season.
Cory Jorgensen had an early advantage on the field, but Graham got by after just two laps. Jorgensen then spun off the track on lap 4 and, although he recovered and kept going to avoid drawing a yellow flag, he lost significant ground to the rest of the pack and allowed Hanson to take over second.
Graham had a half-second lead when Aaron Bernick spun to stop the race at its midpoint and put Hanson on Graham’s tail. Hanson immediately pulled alongside the leader on the restart, and for the remaining six laps the pair put on quite a show, racing door-to-door and often bumping into – but never slamming – each other. The duo swapped the lead with every lap, and often multiple times within a single lap, and neither held more than a tenth-of-a-second lead at the start-finish line. Graham made a slight gain coming off of the final turn, but Hanson’s momentum pushed him ahead by 42 one-thousandths of a second – or no more than a couple of feet – at the checkered flag for one of the most exciting finishes in recent track history.
The mid-race restart also helped Jorgensen, who got by Don Livingston late for third. Bernick recovered for fifth.
Hanson set a new track record with his fastest posted lap in the Pure Stock feature, with a time of 18.821 seconds, or an average speed of 71.728 mph. Other fast-lap bonuses went to Burdick in the Supers (17.005 secs / 79.388 mph); Passuello in the Mid-Mods (17.353 / 77.796); and Graham in the Sixes (18.239 / 74.017).
Two other fundraising activities helped the Raceway collect monies for the “Relay for Life” programs – a sale of over 350 numbered lighted “pink ribbon” buttons, by which drawings were held for prizes; and a Favorite Driver vote, with fans donating one dollar per vote. The top vote-getters in the Favorite Driver vote were Steve Stuart (WISSOTA Modifieds), Shawn McFadden Jr (Supers), Copp (Mid-Mods), Popp (Sixes), and Graham (Pure Stocks).
McFadden and Jeff Klopstein provided a huge bin of candy for a “candy drop,” which Burdick and Kisling tossed from the flagstand to the large crowd of kids gathered below it at intermission.
The ABC Raceway will honor nine new inductees into its Hall of Fame as part of its fifth annual induction ceremonies on Saturday, July 28. Included in the very special race program, to be presented by Zar’s Bar & Banquet Hall of Ashland, will be a visit by the Northern Vintage Stockcar Racers group, who will bring their vintage racing equipment to the track to compete and show off to the fans.
WISSOTA Modifieds will rejoin the other four regular weekly classes for a full night of qualifying heats and points-paying features. Hot laps will begin at 6:15 pm, with racing set to start 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; fans can also listen by downloading the free HCG Radio app onto their smart phone, tablet or other mobile device.
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.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Kevin Burdick, Proctor, MN; Tim Johnson, Brainerd, MN; Curt Myers, Cameron; DJ Keeler, Superior; Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Dave Flynn, Superior; Don Eischens, Richmond, MN; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Cory Casari, Montreal.
11-20: Tristan LaBarge, Kelly Lake, MN; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Ronnie Malecki, Superior; Kurt Becken, Big Lake, MN; Eric Olson, Ladysmith; Jared Zimpel, Braham, MN; Andy Grymala, Superior; Mike Bellefeuille, Duluth, MN.
21-24: Andy Miskowic, Princeton, MN; Cole Chernosky, Thunder Bay, ON; Dan Severson, Ironton, MN; Willie Johnsen Jr, Superior.
Heat 1: Casari; Myers; Spacek; Chernosky; Olson; Rich Bishop, New Richmond; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Josh Zimpel, Braham, MN.
Heat 2: Johnson; Oreskovich; Grymala; Malecki; Johnsen; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Shawn McFadden Jr; Ashland; Joel Snyder, Mora, MN.
Heat 3: Kisling; Keeler; Eischens; Severson; Kevin Salin, Iron, MN; Jim Campbell, Two Harbors, MN; Matt Hammitt, Cloquet, MN; David Elliott, Minocqua.
Heat 4: Flynn; LaBarge; Mikkonen; Jared Zimpel; Lawrence; Bellefeuille; Annika Hammitt, Cloquet, MN; Brian Carl, Duluth, MN.
Heat 5: Burdick; Miskowic; Becken; Deragon; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Jon Hammitt, Cloquet, MN.
Semi-Feature 1: Olson; Bellefeuille; Beeksma; Klopstein; Carl; M Hammitt; J Hammitt; Snyder; Salin; Mashlan.
Semi-Feature 2: Lawrence; Johnsen; McFadden; Josh Zimpel; Campbell; Bishop; Kuklinski; Elliott; A Hammitt.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; David Simpson, Thunder Bay, ON; Brandon Copp, Brule; Marcus Dunbar, Wakefield, MI; Colin Chaschuk, Neebing, ON; Dan Kingsley, Superior; Jack Rivord, Superior; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI.
11-20: Austin Ellis, Rice Lake; Gunner Peterson, Mason; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Jared Stricker, Highbridge; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Jimmy Latvala, Solon Springs; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Steve Altman, Mercer; Ryan Savoy, Superior.
21-24: Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Paul Suzik, Ironwood; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; James Kannegiesser, Hayward.
Heat 1: Kingsley; Aho; Copp; Peterson; Vernon; Ellis; Savoy; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Billy Milne, Thunder Bay, ON.
Heat 2: Passuello; Hudack; Rivord; Kannegiesser; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Wayne Jacques, Thunder Bay, ON; Dalton Mains, Foxboro; Diamond Bressette, Spooner.
Heat 3: W Stricker; Hicks; M Dunbar; Latvala; Altman; J Stricker; Pete Paulus, Phillips.
Heat 4: Simpson; Chaschuk; Duane Dunbar; Suzik; Lindquist; Darren Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Brady Jokinen, Mellen; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield.
Semi-Feature: Ellis; Savoy; Weinberger; J Stricker; Jokinen; R Barningham; Mains; Paulus; Milne; Darren Dunbar; Jacques; J Barningham.
Feature: 1-10: Randy Graham, Trego; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Devin Dalbec, Ashland; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Joshua Saunders, Spooner.
11-12: Jordan Pearce, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland.
Heat 1: Hudack; Popp; Mashlan; Saunders; Dalbec; Traaholt.
Heat 2: Graham; Pearce; Nevala; Jarecki; Vernon; Schultz.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-6: Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Randy Graham, Trego; Cory Jorgensen, Hermantown, MN; Don Livingston, Washburn; Aaron Bernick, Duluth, MN; Darren Dudley, Ashland.
Heat: Hanson; Graham; Jorgensen; Livingston; Bernick; Dudley; Brock Beilke, Hayward.