Deragon Wins First, Hanson Takes Two at ABC Cancer Fundraiser, HoF Night
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, July 29 — On a night when ten new inductees were added to the track’s Hall of Fame and several thousand dollars were raised for local cancer treatment and research programs, one driver scored a milestone feature win and another won two features in one night at the ABC Raceway on Saturday.
The five-division PolyDome Dirt Track Series program included the formal inductions to the Hall of Fame in a ceremony presented by Zar’s Banquet Hall of Ashland, while Northern Clearing Inc of Ashland, in conjunction with Heartland Communications Group of Ashland, presented the Raceway’s annual “Race to a Cure” fundraiser program. Ninety-four race entries competed in front of a near-capacity crowd that took advantage of free grandstand admission on a hot, humid late July night in northern Wisconsin.
The first-time winner was Ashland’s Matt Deragon, who is enjoying his rookie season in the WISSOTA Super Stocks. Despite a string of four straight top-ten finishes ending last week, the former three-time ABC Pure Stock track champion ran a smart low-groove line to his first feature win in his new class.
Deragon led every lap after starting on the pole, fending off the early challenges of Terran Spacek. Don Muzzy’s mishap after the first completed lap was the only slowdown of the race, as Deragon then sped away while Spacek lost second to DJ Keeler and third to divisional points leader Nick Oreskovich on consecutive laps.
It took Keeler a while to reel in Deragon – the leader’s advantage was nearly a full second by mid-race – but eventually he did catch up, when Deragon started to sift through slower traffic. But Keeler could not do much more than play follow-the-leader, as he, too, had to protect his position once Spacek, his father Randy Spacek, and Oreskovich erased the two-second cushion that the lead pair had enjoyed.
Keeler tried one final outside pass coming to the checkered flag, but Deragon held on by just shy of half a second for the landmark victory. The feature win was Deragon’s 17th overall at Ashland but first in anything but a Pure Stock, while Shane Kisling’s 17.804-second lap was the fastest set during the 20-lap run.
Hanson’s night was huge in terms of redemption after seemingly losing his chance at challenging Kyle Copp for the WISSOTA Pure Stock championship. Two weeks ago the “young gun” from Iron River was within four points of leader Copp in the standings, but mechanical woes kept him from starting that Saturday’s feature. Then last weekend Hanson gave away a feature win due to a “jump” penalty on a late-race restart, handing the victory to Copp.
Hanson started off this night’s action with his first feature win since opening night in mid-May. Cory Jorgensen led early from the pole, with Randy Graham and Hanson leading a tight pack of cars in hot pursuit. However, Chad Carlson, who was within that pack, lost the left-rear tire and axle shaft from his car on lap 2, which forced the race’s only stoppage.
Hanson restarted second and immediately went to work on Jorgensen with an outside pass for the lead. Hanson then put some distance on the field, as Graham, Dylan Shelton, Justin Weinberger and Copp all got by Jorgensen over the next few laps. Shelton overtook Graham for second on lap 6 of the 12 scheduled, and Weinberger used an outside move to steal second with one lap to go. By the time the checkers were shown, though, Hanson’s lead was several car-lengths, with Weinberger, Shelton, Copp and Graham completing the top five.
Later Hanson added a heat win to his tally, as did Copp, so when the time came to run the regularly-slated feature at the end of the night Hanson made sure he was in position to make it three-for-three. Annika Hammitt held on to the lead through four caution-flag stoppages – including one for her stalled ride after contact by Graham while battling for the lead. Hanson, who started on the outside of row 4, was already to third after the first slowdown, for a Jeff Christman spin, and he worked his way around Graham to second on the restart.
Hanson was about to pass Hammitt in heavy traffic when her contact with Graham occurred, and after Matt Olson and Jorgensen spun on consecutive restart attempts, Hanson finally completed the winning pass on lap 4, with Copp following suit to second.
The lead pair pulled away quickly, with Copp staying in Hanson’s tire tracks all the way to the finish as Hanson completed the three-race sweep. After the race, Copp’s car failed a technical inspection of its brakes, and as a result of the night’s action Copp’s 39-point advantage in the standings completely disappeared, leaving Hanson and Copp in a tie for the divisional lead going into the month of August.
Shelton was awarded second, Graham third, Hammitt a season-best fourth, and Joe Pajtash fifth in the final rundown.
Washburn’s Pat Cook sped away from his pole-position start and led all 20 laps for his second career WISSOTA Modified feature win. Cook built a lead of 4.2 seconds just prior to the race’s lone stoppage, and then again of nearly three full seconds afterwards, en route to the win.
Cook was already two-and-a-half seconds up on fellow front-row starter Paul Niznik just five laps into the affair, and he extended that margin when Neil Balduc began battling Niznik for second on lap 8. But contact with Kevin Eder forced Steve Lavasseur to spin for the Mods’ first caution flag in a feature since lap 6 of the June 16 show – a span of 102 green-flag laps.
Balduc and Tanner Byholm overtook Niznik for second and third as the race went back under green, and Steve Stuart stormed past Byholm for third within another lap, but again Cook was safely away from the chaos. Balduc’s car lost grip while sliding through the high side of turn 4 with 12 laps to go, and Stuart, in very close pursuit, tagged the back of Balduc’s car, but both drivers maintained their momentum and their positions.
Stuart finally got by Balduc for second as the pair came to the white flag, but Cook was too far away to challenge, winning by a 2.997-second cushion and setting a race-best 17.552-second lap in the process. Niznik and Paul Wrazidlo completed the top five, while 11th-finishing Bill Byholm saw his points lead in the division shrink significantly, from 20 points to 11 over Lavasseur and 16 over Cook.
On a night when his family’s business was one of the presenting sponsors, Tyler Vernon not only won his third WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature of the season but also took over that division’s points lead. Vernon started outside on the fourth row but took advantage of eight yellow-flag stoppages that kept the field close over the 20-lap run.
Brady Jokinen had things under control early on, building impressive leads despite a lap 3 spin by Bill Muhlig and a lap 5 Jared Stricker loop. Wayne Stricker then spun his ride on the lap 5 restart, and he later would drop out of the event.
Vernon took advantage of a loose-handling Tyler Hudack ride to knock him out of fourth on lap 6, and he took third from George Truscott during the next go-’round. Vernon then grabbed second away from Gunner Peterson just a lap before Ryan Barningham’s spin on lap 9.
One circuit after that restart Vernon pounced on Jokinen and grabbed the lead, and despite three more late restarts – on laps 15 and 17 for a pair of two-car get-togethers, and on lap 18 for a spun McLean Andrews with the leaders bearing down on him – Vernon managed to maintain a couple car-lengths on the field. Paul Suzik worked some outside-line magic to move from fifth place to second over those same five laps but could get no closer to Vernon than seven-tenths of a second at the final stripe, with Hudack a close third and Ryan Adamzak edging Duane Dunbar for fourth.
Vernon turned a one-point deficit on Wayne Stricker coming into the evening’s action into a ten-point advantage on Adamzak going into the final four weeks of the regular season; Stricker now sits third, 22 points back. Jokinen set the fastest lap of the race early with a circuit in 18.293 seconds.
Prior to the race, Peterson announced that he would donate his paycheck from the night’s action to the overall fundraiser collection; he finished eighth in the feature and third in his heat race.
Graham, who came into the night fourth in the Sixes’ standings but just 11 points out of the lead in the hotly-contested division, started the 15-lapper on the outside of the fourth row but moved up to third after a lap 2 restart due to a two-car crash. He then used the outside line to work his way past DeJay Jarecki for second on lap 4, and within another tour he had a run on John Darwin for the lead.
Graham built up a lead of 1.85 seconds on the battle for second between Darwin and Tiffany Hudack by the race’s midpoint, but that lead disappeared when the pace was slowed for Devin Dalbec’s spin on lap 8. After a second attempt to restart, Graham had his hands full as Hudack challenged at every turn. However, the defending champ’s efforts went unrewarded, even after a lap 12 yellow, and Graham held on for the win by just shy of half a second.
Scott Ovaska slipped back early but recovered for a third-place finish, a distance back of the leaders, causing his points lead to shrink from five to one over Hudack, while Graham pulled to within seven. Tyler Vernon claimed fourth to put him just nine points out of the lead, and Forrest Schultz roared back from an early-race crash to take fifth. Graham’s 18.577-second lap was the quickest of the run.
Monies collected for the fundraiser were generated by various means, including a dollar-per-vote favorite driver ballot, a numbered-button sale from which a large number of prizes were raffled off, and collection canisters located throughout the facility in which fans could drop off donations. Prizes provided by Lake Shore Cafe, Moore’s Army-Navy Store, Kravin’ Frozen Yogurt, the Proctor (MN) Speedway, and the AmsOil Speedway in Superior, as well as half of the cash revenue generated by the button sales, were raffled off.
During intermission of the race program, drivers Nick Oreskovich and Kevin Eder dropped candy from the flagstand to a huge crowd of younger fans in attendance, and the ABC Raceway held ceremonies introducing its fourth class of Hall of Fame inductees. Two local businesses – FastLane Motorsports & Custom Powdercoating of Ashland, and the NAPA Auto Parts Stores of Ashland and Washburn – were honored as unanimous selections for their long-time support of the Ashland track and of area stock car racing
The four new members added in the Volunteers and Contributors category, for long-time service to the overall success of the Raceway, were George and Mary Bowers, Mike Eder, Tom Lajcak and Nick Nye. In the Drivers category, eight-time ABC Raceway champ Don Copp, 1978 Late Model champion Jim Eliason, five-time ABC Street Stock champ Larry Haderly, and two-time Red Clay Classic winner Scott Hipsher were added.
On Saturday, August 5, the Midwest Modifieds will be spotlighted for their 11th annual “Mid-Mod Madness” special, to be presented by Lake Shore Cafe of Ashland. All five regular weekly divisions will be in action as the regular racing season heads into its “stretch run,” with all five points championships battles hotly contested.
Hot laps start at 6:15 pm, followed by qualifying heats at 7. Adult grandstand admission tickets are prices at just $11, while children are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. “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 on race days call (715) 682-4990.
Feature: Pat Cook, Washburn; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Paul Niznik, Medford; Paul Wrazidlo, Duluth, MN; Al Uotinen, Superior; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Jacob Hiatt, Mason; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Rick Rivord, Superior; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Todd Gehl, Solon Springs; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Kelly Checkalski, Poplar; Destin Lorimor, Superior; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Kevin Eder, Ashland.
Heat 1: Spacek; Uotinen; Balduc; T Byholm; Eder; Wrazidlo; B Byholm; Lorimor; Hudack.
Heat 2: Cook; Lavasseur; Stuart; Niznik; Gehl; Rivord; Checkalski; Hiatt.
WISSOTA SUPER STOCKS
Feature: Matt Deragon, Ashland; DJ Keeler, Superior; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Cory Casari, Montreal; Dave Flynn, Superior; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Colten Vernon, Ashland; Myron Basina, Washburn; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; Jordan Kurtti, Bruce Crossing, MI; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Keith Corcilius, Phillips; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI.
Heat 1: Klopstein; Kisling; Keeler; Lawrence; McFadden; Kuklinski; Flynn; Muzzy; Kurtti; Basina.
Heat 2: Oreskovich; T Spacek; Deragon; R Spacek; Casari; Vernon; Anderson; Mashlan; Corcilius.
WISSOTA MIDWEST MODIFIEDS
Feature: Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Ryan Adamzak, Marengo; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Brandon Copp, Brule; Brady Jokinen, Mellen; Gunner Peterson, Mason; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Dave Flynn, Superior; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; George Truscott, Greenland, MI; Jared Stricker, Highbridge; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Darren Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI; McLean Andrews, Duluth, MN; Dan Tocheri, Kakabeka Falls, ON; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield.
Heat 1: Truscott; Hudack; Duane Dunbar; Weinberger; Flynn; R Barningham; Cy Hoaglan, Ashland; Jake Kruzan, Marengo; Hicks.
Heat 2: Suzik; Vernon; Aho; Copp; Tocheri; Darren Dunbar; J Barningham; Diamond Bressette, Spooner; Jeff Hanninen, Marengo.
Heat 3: Adamzak; Jokinen; Peterson; W Stricker; J Stricker; Fuhrman; Dalton Mains, Foxboro; Andrews; Muhlig.
Semi-Feature 1: Hicks; Muhlig; J Barningham; Andrews; Mains; Kruzan; Hoaglan.
Feature: Randy Graham, Trego; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Scott Ovaska, Marengo; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Cole Vernon, Ashland; Neil Adamzak, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Devin Dalbec, Ashland; John Darwin, Iron River; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland.
Heat 1: Hudack; T Vernon; Graham; Ovaska; Anderson; Traaholt; Dalbec; Schultz.
Heat 2: Adamzak; Jarecki; Darwin; Popp; C Vernon; Bella Bretting, Washburn; Truchon.
WISSOTA PURE STOCKS
Feature: Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Dylan Shelton, Wrenshall, MN; Randy Graham, Trego; Annika Hammitt, Cloquet, MN; Joe Pajtash, Lake Nebagamon; Cory Jorgensen, Hermantown, MN; Andy Poll, Two Harbors, MN; Don Livingston, Ashland; Brock Beilke, Hayward; Austin Gibson, Trego; Jeff Christman, South Range; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Matthew Olson, Ashland.
Heat 1: Kyle Copp, Brule; Graham; Gibson; Hammitt; Poll; Olson; Jorgensen.
Heat 2: Hanson; Shelton; Weinberger; Christman; Livingston; Beilke; Pajtash.
Make-Up Feature from July 8: Hanson; Weinberger; Shelton; Copp; Graham; Livingston; Hammitt; Jorgensen; Poll; Beilke; Gibson; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Olson; Chad Carlson, Superior.