by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 6 — Another strong field of 96 cars – including some first-night visitors – filled the ABC Raceway’s pit area on Saturday night, and three of the five feature winners were repeat visitors to the track’s Victory Lane.
The track hosted its first-ever “Summer Blast,” a combination block party and family picnic which included food and drink specials, games for the kids, and giveaways to fans all night long, as well as deejay-provided music after the races. The WISSOTA PolyDome Dirt Track Series five-division program, presented by Northern Wisconsin Fence of Phillips and Outlaw Wraps & Apparel of Ashland, was kicked off by a half-hour on-track “meet the drivers” autograph session sponsored by Little Caesar’s Pizza of Ashland.
The repeat winners included Ashland’s Matt Deragon in the WISSOTA Pure Stocks, and Bubba Anderson of Trego in the ABC Six-Cylinders. Steve Stuart of Ashland grabbed his third feature win of the summer but first since June at ABC in the WISSOTA Modifieds, Shane Kisling of Park Falls in the WISSOTA Super Stocks picked up his second win of the season, Wayne Stricker of Highbridge topped the WISSOTA Midwest Modifeds for his first win in Ashland since June 2014.
Kisling’s climb to the front in his A-main took a while to develop, as the Super Stocks suffered from an early case of “yellow fever.” Caution flags for incidents and accidents came after each of the first five laps of the 20-lap event were scored. Pole-starter Jim Campbell held the lead through each of the restarts, while pressure from the likes of Randy Spacek, Kisling and Cory Casari was constant. However, after the fifth caution slowdown – for a Randy Mashlan spin – the last 15 laps clicked off non-stop.
Kisling and Casari raced side-by-side throughout the early stages, and then for a couple more laps after that last restart, until Kisling finally cleared the stubborn Casari. It didn’t take Kisling long to reel in Campbell, however, and on lap 7 he slipped by and set sail, leading by half a second at mid-race and stretching that to nearly three seconds in the closing stages while setting the fast lap of the race at 17.541 seconds.
Pat Beeksma worked his way past Casari for third just prior to the halfway point of the race, and a circuit or so later he overtook Campbell for second, where he finished a full 2.98 seconds back of Kisling. Divisional points leader Nick Oreskovich overcame an early spin and clawed his way back to third with a late-race pass of Campbell, while Scott Lawrence worked his way to a fifth-place run.
Deragon, who has battled gremlins with one car after another this summer, ran like the defending champ that he is in claiming the Pure Stock main event win, and in doing so became the track’s all-time leader for feature wins in the division with number 16 of his career.
After a first-try caution stoppage, Randy Graham slipped under both front-row starters Don Livingston and Jeff Christman for the early lead, while visiting Jason Havel showed his strength with an inside move of his own from the fourth row to take second. Havel gave Graham fits for the first six laps, while Deragon and Andrew Hanson settled into fourth and fifth behind Livingston.
Deragon got by Livingston into third just before Havel bumped into one of the infield marker tires and momentarily lost control. The miscue nearly cost Havel his runner-up spot, but a caution-flag stop gave him second place back for the restart. Once back under green, Deragon and Havel ganged up on Graham, with Deragon taking the lead for good on lap 7.
On lap 11 Livingston ran into Brock Beilke as the frontrunners were putting Beilke a lap in arrears, and on the restart Havel and Graham made contact, cutting the left-rear tire on the visitor’s car and sending him to the pits for a replacement. Jeff Christman’s spin set up a green-white-checkered finish, and after the field crossed under the white flag Havel and Brandle Pupp tangled mid-pack, sending Havel’s car into a marker tire. The race was deemed complete, with Graham, points leader Justin Weinberger, Hanson and Chad Carlson completing the top five behind Deragon.
For Anderson it was deja vu, as again he found himself needing to outrun Sixes points leader Tiffany Hudack to the finish. On this night there was more breathing room, however, as he was a full second-and-a-half in front at the checkers.
After a first-lap tangle forced a complete restart, rookie Dalton Truchon bolted by polestarter Brendon Ottman to the initial lead, while another rookie, Joshua Saunders, made an impressive outside move to take second. Anderson used the inside lane to swipe third, and after four laps he made the winning pass of the race with an inside three-wide move through turn 2, while Saunders took second on the high side.
Forrest Schultz had just taken over third place on lap 7 when DeJay Jarecki’s car inexplicably stalled to bring out the first of the two caution slowdowns of the 15-lapper. One circuit after restart Schultz worked inside against Saunders for second, with Hudack diving low for third, just before Joe Newago looped his ride. From there the chase was on, as Hudack swept around Schultz for second and got a run on Anderson, but the leader’s car was too strong and got stronger as the race stayed green. Anderson set a fast-lap time of 18.615 seconds as he cruised to his third win of the season, while Hudack, who has the other five Sixes feature wins this year, finished second for the third time in 2016. Schultz, Saunders and Scott Ovaska completed the top five.
Stuart has been getting used to his new Mod with the much more affordable “Concept” motor, and he finally planted it in the winner’s circle with his third feature win of the season. Stuart started the 20-lap headliner alongside pole starter Brian Mikkonen, and the pair put on a door-to-door show for a couple of laps before Stuart gained an advantage that he would not relinquish.
The first of just two yellow flags was thrown on lap 3, when Paul Niznik ended up in the infield just off of turn 2, and from there Stuart set the pace for another dozen laps, although not without challenge. Paul Wrazidlo dove to the bottom groove to take third place from Bill Byholm shortly after that restart, and after a few laps of side-by-side racing with Mikkonen, Wrazidlo snared second. On lap 9 Wrazidlo drew alongside Stuart in a bid for the lead, but that became a wake-up call for the six-time track champ, who not only survived the threat but pulled away, building up a 1.24-second lead as Byholm regrouped and passed Wrazidlo for second.
Dustin Hudack’s stalled ride brought out the caution flag for the second and final time in the event with five tours remaining, but Stuart would not be denied his 29th career feature win in Ashland and 15th in the “big Mods.” Byholm trailed by a second-and-a-third at the checkers, with Wrazidlo on his tail, while Kevin Eder and points leader Neil Balduc filled out the top five.
Of the night’s feature winners, Stricker had been away from Victory Lane the longest, but it was as impressive a run as he’s had in some time. The effort by Tanner Byholm to lead the first three laps and keep Stricker and pole starter Marcus Dunbar at bay was just as impressive, but after the ride of visiting Shane Halopka stopped on the track, Byholm spun his racer in front of the field on the lap 3 restart. It was amazing that no one hit him, but he restarted at the tail of the grid.
Stricker inherited the lead and knew what to do with it, racing away to a lead of 1.88 seconds before the next yellow flag was thrown on lap 10. During that green-flag run, double-duty racer Eder moved past Dunbar for second and brought Tanner Hicks along to third. Hicks in turn used a strong outside run to get around Eder, with Ryan Adamzak in hot pursuit, before a Jordan Barningham spin at mid-race slowed the pace.
Eder returned the favor on Hicks on the restart and gave Stricker his only real test for the lead, but Stricker held on and restarted at the front after the last caution flag of the night was thrown for Tyler Hudack’s spin on lap 12. Again Hicks overtook Eder for second once the green flag came back out, and Eder slipped out of the top five as Cole Spacek and Kisling proceeded forward in the running order. Eventually Hicks gave up second to Adamzak during a great three-car dogfight for the spot along with Spacek, but that just allowed Stricker to run off to a 1.39-second margin of victory.
Spacek and Kisling finished fourth and fifth, and Stricker became the fourth winner of the night to set the fastest lap in his respective feature win a time of 17.946 seconds.
Over 20 bikes donated by racers, sponsors and fans were given away to the younger fans at the track on this night, and many other prizes went to the adult fans. The generous contributors included Andy Poll, Cole Spacek and Steve Altman Motorsports, Dave Anderson Trucking, Don Muzzy, Jeff Klopstein, Jeff Spacek, Jokinen Racing, Moore’s Army-Navy Store, Oreskovich Racing, Outlaw Wraps & Apparel, Pat Cook Racing, Peapatch Racing, Shawn McFadden, and Tiffany and Tyler Hudack.
On Saturday, August 13, the ABC Raceway will host a very special night with its third annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, to be presented by Zar’s Banquet Hall of Ashland, as well as its “Race to a Cure for Cancer” fundraiser night, to be presented by Northern Clearing Inc of Ashland. A private banquet for the inductees and current HoF members will be held at Zar’s on Saturday afternoon, and the formal introduction of the Class of 2016 will be held during intermission of the race program.
The Raceway will also rely on the never-ending generosity of its fans, drivers and sponsors in its efforts to raise funds for the American Cancer Society, with Northern Clearing offering to match the first $1,000 in donated funds.
Hot laps are set for 6:15 pm, and green-flag racing starts at 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: Steve Stuart, Ashland; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Paul Wrazidlo, Duluth, MN; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Al Uotinen, Superior; Mike Anderson, Colfax; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Pat Cook, Washburn; Rick Rivord, Superior; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Jacob Hiatt, New Richmond; Dustin Hudack, Ashland; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Paul Niznik, Medford.
Heat 1: Stuart; Wrazidlo; Balduc; Niznik; Eder; Lavasseur; Hiatt.
Heat 2: Spacek; Anderson; Byholm; Mikkonen; S Hudack; Uotinen; D Hudack; Rivord.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Pat Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Jim Campbell, Two Harbors, MN; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Jeff Klopstein Jr, Tomahawk; Cory Casari, Montreal; Shawn McFadden Jr; Ashland; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; Steve Thomas, Menomonie; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Myron Basina, Washburn; Jordan Kurtti, Bruce Crossing, MI; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Keith Corcilius, Phillips; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Cory Marincel, Ashland; Colten Vernon, Ashland.
Heat 1: Kisling; Klopstein; R Spacek; Beeksma; Vernon; T Spacek; Corcilius.
Heat 2: Casari; Anderson; Oreskovich; Muzzy; Kurtti; Kuklinski; Marincel.
Heat 3: McFadden; Lawrence; Campbell; Thomas; Basina; Mashlan.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; George Dalbeck, Wakefield, MI; John Kallas, Hurley; Brady Mesko-Jokinen, Mellen; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Tad Bretting, Ashland; Brandon Copp, Eau Claire; Tyler Luger, Iron River; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Kyle Runkle, Chetek; Shane Halopka, Greenwood.
Heat 1: Hicks; Spacek; Copp; J Barningham; Kallas; Passuello; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland.
Heat 2: Stricker; Suzik; Dalbeck; Vernon; Halopka; Gunner Peterson, Cable; R Barningham.
Heat 3: M Dunbar; Byholm; Bretting; Kisling; Hudack; Runkle; Cy Hoaglan, Ashland.
Heat 4: Eder; Adamzak; Luger; Mesko-Jokinen; D Dunbar; Lindquist; Robert Hyde, Ashland.
Semi-Feature: Runkle; Lindquist; R Barningham; Passuello; Peterson; Fuhrman; Muhlig; Hyde; Hoaglan.
Feature: Bubba Anderson, Trego; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Joshua Saunders, Spooner; Scott Ovaska, Marengo; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Brendon Ottman, Ashland; Bella Bretting, Washburn; Joe Newago, Bayfield; Cole Vernon, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland.
Heat 1: Anderson; Saunders; Truchon; Ottman; Newago; Bretting; Lindquist.
Heat 2: Schultz; Hudack; Ovaska; Jarecki; Vernon; Traaholt.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: Matt Deragon, Ashland; Randy Graham, Trego; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Chad Carlson, Superior; Chad Nikstad, Superior; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Randy Conner, Hayward; Andy Poll, Two Harbors, MN; Don Livingston, Ashland; Joshua Kallas, Hurley; Bob Skrobot, Manitowish Waters; Jason Havel, Rice Lake; Brock Beilke, Hayward; Jeff Christman, South Range; Zene Anderson, Superior; Steve Pohl, Manitowish Waters.
Heat 1: Havel; Christman; Weinberger; Hanson; Pohl; Conner; Poll; Carlson; Beilke.
Heat 2: Graham; Deragon; Livingston; Pupp; Nikstad; Skrobot; Anderson; Kallas.