LM Challenge Series Returns to ABC on Saturday
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 12 — For the first time since 2009, the ABC Raceway will host the WISSOTA Shaw Trucking Late Model Challenge Series this Saturday night.
Over two dozen drivers of the WISSOTA Promoters Association’s premier division are expected to be in attendance and compete in the $2,000-to-win, $200-to start 40-lap A-feature. The show in Ashland will be the middle stop of the next-to-last weekend swing of the tour, running between Friday’s “Duane Mahder 55 Memorial” at the Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie and Sunday’s “Prelude to the Silver” at the Proctor (MN) Speedway.
This will be only one of two visits by the high-powered Late Models at the Ashland track in 2017, with the other during the 42nd Red Clay Classic on September 29-30.
The Challenge Series schedule began in mid-May and includes 17 total events at 14 different tracks in four states. Prior to Friday’s show in Menomonie, 108 different drivers from six states and three Canadian provinces have participated in at least one show. Of the 11 Series features run prior to Friday, Ham Lake, MN’s Don Shaw has won four of them. But 2015 Challenge Series champion John Kaanta of Elk Mound held a slim three-point lead over Cumberland’s Steve Laursen as the tour headed into Friday’s show at Menomonie.
Sitting third in tour points going into Red Cedar, just five points back of Kaanta, was defending Challenge Series champion Jake Redetzke of Eau Claire, who won the feature the last time the Series ran on Ashland’s award-winning red-clay oval, on July 24, 2009. It was the second-generation driver’s first-ever win at ABC. Redetzke is also the most recent driver to win a Late Model feature here, when he captured his fourth Red Clay Classic title last October 1. However, he has yet to win on the Challenge Series tour in 2017.
Kaanta, Laursen and Redetzke are all familiar with the northern Wisconsin speedplant – all have won Red Clay Classics – but it will be interesting to see how many drivers still in the thick of the Series championship hunt will make the weekend trek this direction who haven’t raced at ABC before – such as Jeff Wildung of Nassau, MN, who sits fourth in the Series standings, or some of the top South Dakota stars like Kent Arment, Blake Swenson, Curt Gelling, Scott Ward and Chad Becker.
Saturday’s show could also turn out to be a tune-up and note-taking session for many of the drivers in attendance, in anticipation of returning for September’s 42nd Red Clay Classic.
The WISSOTA Modifieds, Midwest Mods and Pure Stocks will also be in attendance for a full points-paying program of qualifying races and features. Glidden’s Bill Byholm is on solid course to capture his first-ever ABC Raceway track championship with three scheduled race nights remaining, as he brings a 15-point lead on Washburn’s Pat Cook into Saturday night’s show.
Tyler Vernon of Ashland is also working toward his first track title, as he leads two-time defending track champ Paul Suzik of Ironwood, MI, by 19 in the Mid-Mod standings. In the Pure Stocks, Andrew Hanson of Iron River is up on Kyle Copp of Brule by just four tallies as each battles to become a first-time ABC champ.
Saturday’s race program will have special grandstand admission pricing, at $20 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6-12. Children ages 5 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. “Z-93 Race Night” will air on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and stream live on www.wbszfm.com, from 4:30-6 pm with up-to-date track news and weather information.
Hot laps will start at 6:15 pm, followed by green-flag action at approximately 7 pm. 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,