Amundson Claims 12th ‘Pure Excitement 25’ at ABC Raceway
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 8 — Shawn Amundson decided at the last minute to make a trip to the ABC Raceway on Saturday, after his home track cancelled its show due to wet weather.
The decision paid off to the tune of $744 – the first-place payout awarded to the first-time visitor from Barron after he became the 11th straight different winner in the 12-year history of the “Pure Excitement 25” special for Pure Stocks at the ABC Raceway.
Of the season-high 115 entries, the Pure Stocks came out 31 strong for a total purse that reached $3,911, thanks in no small part by fan and business donations contributed throughout the night.
The first 18 laps of the “Pure Excitement 25” clicked off at a relatively fast pace, with only three cautions flags slowing the entertaining show. Amundson, who started on the pole, immediately established himself at the point and never gave up the position, although defending race champion Michael Blevins stayed right on his rear bumper for most of the run.
Matt Deragon challenged Blevins on several occasions during the first five laps before a two-car get-together on lap 5 stopped the event for the first time. Deragon himself then dealt with a determined Tim Carbon after the restart, while Tim Carlson, Tyler Carlson and Justin Weinberger shuffled the fifth spot between them over the next four laps.
On lap 9 Justin Madsen looped his car to bring out the yellow flag for the second time, after which visiting Nick Traynor made a strong move toward the front. Traynor, who restarted seventh, slipped past Carbon and Weinberger into fourth at the drop of the green, and then went around Deragon for third on lap 14.
Amundson and Blevins had separated themselves from the rest of the field by lap 18, and were about to begin putting slower drivers down a lap, when the caution lights came on as Traynor’s brilliant run came to a disappointing end due to mechanical woes. This triggered a series of stoppages that slowed the pace of the race to a crawl, which was especially frustrating for Amundson, who had a good rhythm going in keeping Blevins at bay.
Back-to-back messes delayed the field from scoring lap 19, and then Blevins got a run on Amundson for the lead coming off turn 2 on lap 21. But a five-car skirmish negated that move, and Blevins never had much of a chance to show a fender alongside Amundson after that.
On lap 22 Tyler Carlson’s car got loose and collected several others, including Andrew Hanson, whose car ended up on its roof. Hanson was unhurt. Then seventh-running Glenn Dammer’s racer dropped into the turn 2 infield to bring about the final caution stop of the race, after which he continued despite a badly-damaged rear suspension.
Amundson sped on to the historic win, with Blevins a short distance back. Deragon held third, while Weinberger claimed fourth place late in the run ahead of Tim Carlson.
“I had my line down,” explained a happy Amundson in Victory Lane afterward, “but I had to change it up,” after Blevins showed his hand with the inside move for the lead that was negated by the caution flag.
In the WISSOTA Modified 20-lap feature, Brian Mikkonen scored his first career feature win since moving into the division full-time three seasons ago. The former three-time Super Stock champ from Iron River led for the early portion of the race, gave up the lead on the race’s lone restart, and then got it back on the final lap.
Mikkonen beat pole-starter Neil Balduc to the first corner and rode the outside line of the three-eighths-mile red-clay oval to as much as a three-quarter-second lead, while Balduc had all he could do to keep Al Uotinen and Jeff Spacek behind him. Uotinen finally cleared Balduc for second on lap 8, just before Paul Niznik’s spin brought about the lone yellow flag.
Uotinen used a strong inside move to take the lead from Mikkonen just after the field took the green, and he worked his way to a half-second advantage with five laps to go, while Kevin Eder came on strong to get around Balduc for third with Kevin Adams in tow. But Mikkonen closed the gap and was right on Uotinen’s rear bumper as the leaders took the white flag. Uotinen, who ran the bottom groove for most of the event, slipped up the track going through the final set of turns, allowing Mikkonen to drive under and steal the win away – the 27th of his career at ABC.
Eder, Adams and Balduc followed to complete the top five. Uotinen interrupted Mikkonen’s Victory Lane interview with a big congratulatory hug of the winner.
By comparison to their past two feature runs here, the WISSOTA Super Stocks clicked off a relatively clean A-main, with only four caution-flag slowdowns, none of which resulted in significant damage. And when the 20 laps were completed Curt Myers of Cameron had his third feature win of the year here after taking a couple weeks off.
Polesitter Wayne Stricker, who had been concentrating on his Midwest Modified in recent weeks, brought the Super back out and outdueled Don Muzzy for the initial lead. Dave Flynn then worked his way by Stricker and set the pace for a few laps, with Myers claiming second on lap 5 just prior to a Marcus Dunbar spin.
Myers tried a couple of moves to get past Flynn after the restart before taking the lead away on lap 7, and even after a two-car get-together on lap 9, a Brady Mesko-Jokinen spin on lap 12, and a Nick Oreskovich slowdown on lap 14, Myers proved just too tough to catch as he sailed to his 22nd career feature win here.
Over the final half-dozen green-flag laps Shane Kisling tracked down and passed Flynn for second, while Randy Spacek held off division rookie Pat Beeksma for fourth.
Former two-time Red Clay Classic champion Shane Halopka made his first visit of the season count by scoring the win in the 20-lap WISSOTA Midwest Modified headliner. Halopka weaved through a lot of traffic to get to the front after starting inside on row 4.
Front-row starters Tad Bretting and Ryan Adamzak went tooth-and-nail for the top spot during the early stages of the run before Adamzak snagged the lead, while Paul Suzik grabbed second from Bretting a lap later. After a Rob Weber spin the field clicked off another 15 uninterrupted laps, during which Halopka, who started sixth, made his move.
As Adamzak and Suzik pulled away, Halopka won a three-car battle for third on lap 7, then he reeled in Adamzak and took second away on lap 8. After challenging Suzik for a couple laps, Halopka used the slower Bill Muhlig as a pick and slipped around the track points leader on lap 11 and would not be challenged from there, pulling away to as much as a 2.3-second lead before Ross Fuhrman’s spin brought about the yellow flag with three laps to go.
Halopka’s seventh career win in Ashland came with about a one-second lead on Suzik at the checkers, with eighth-starting Dan Kingsley and ninth-starting Eder following. Adamzak regained fifth from Tyler Vernon on the white-flag lap.
For the third straight week a Hudack sibling stood in Victory Lane after the Six-Cylinder feature, and for the second time in those three weeks it was Tiffany. The defending track champ from Ashland took advantage of two late restarts to steal the win.
After Colton Vernon worked his way around pole-starter Ken Tyykila for the lead on lap 2, it looked as though Vernon was on his way to his first career feature win, as the 15-lapper stayed green for the first 13 laps. DeJay Mihalek became Vernon’s closest threat on lap 4 with an outside pass of Tyykila, and Tiffany worked her way into third on lap 7, but by then the lead pair had a comfortable margin on the pack.
Hudack, however, closed the distance as the race progressed, and she found herself within a car-length of Mihalek when the caution came out for her brother Tyler’s stalled car on lap 13. Tiffany tried to get by Mihalek on the first restart, but after a caution for Jonathan Popp’s spin she slipped around Mihalek on that restart, and then dove low to take the lead for good coming under the white flag.
Points leader Dale Coddington also used the restarts to his advantage, taking second from Vernon on the final lap, while Mihalek held on for fourth. A last-corner scramble put a couple cars into spins, but first-nighter Travis Swanson was repositioned into fifth at the pay window.
Along with the many anonymous fan donations, a great many others contributed to the overall “Pure Excitement 25” feature purse, including Bruce Kalmon, NAPA Auto Parts, Auto Value Auto Parts, O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, Greg’s Ultimate Auto, Eder Brothers Auto Service, FastLane Motorsports, Manitou Inn, Cheri Deragon, Matt Deragon Racing, Cheryl & Nick Gima, Dalbeck Logging; JR Anderson Racing, Mike Kisling, Shane Kisling Racing, Chris Beeksma, Muzzy Racing, John Taitt, Jeff Spacek Racing, Randy Spacek Racing, Hudack Racing, Lake Shore Sales & Service, Uotinen Racing, Nick Oreskovich Racing, Nye Racing, Highbridge Oasis, All-Performance Dyno Service, and Chicago Iron & Supply.
John Taitt performed yeoman’s duty in organizing and collecting the contributions for the event.
Feature fast laps were set by Uotinen in the Mods (16.501 seconds), Myers in the Supers (16.860), Halopka in the Mid-Mods (16.994) and Tiffany Hudack in the Sixes (18.438). An overcast, cool night kept the track very fast and tacky, resulting in all four fast-lap times falling within approximately a half-second of their respective divisional track records.
The first-ever Midwest Modified Summer Nationals will make a stop at the ABC Raceway on Saturday, August 15, to be presented by the Ashland-Bayfield County Sportsmen’s Club and the Stagecoach Bar & Grill of Ashland. Mid-Mods will run for a $600 winner’s check, as the tour will start on Friday in Superior, run at Ashland and in Hibbing, MN, on Saturday, and finish with a $5,000-to-win show in Proctor, MN, on Sunday.
The Northern Vintage Stockcar Racers club is also scheduled to make its annual visit to compete with restored and vintage stock cars and super-modifieds.
Adult tickets are $10, and fans ages 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. Hot laps are set for 6:15 pm, followed by heat and feature action 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.
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: Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Al Uotinen, Superior; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Kevin Adams, Cameron; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Matt Leer, Bruce; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Greg Chesley, Duluth, MN; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Dustin Hudack, Ashland; Rick Rivord, Superior; Pat Cook, Washburn; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Paul Niznik, Medford; Zack Pagels, Mason; Paul Knauf, Marshfield.
Heat 1: Adams; Leer; Balduc; Mikkonen; Stuart; S Hudack; D Hudack; Pagels; Knauf.
Heat 2: Eder; Uotinen; Spacek; Byholm; Niznik; Lavasseur; Chesley; Rivord; Cook.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: Curt Myers, Cameron; Shane Kisling, Sarona; Dave Flynn, Superior; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Pat Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Keith Kern, Superior; Andy Grymala, Superior; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Shawn McFadden Jr, Ashland; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Myron Basina, Washburn; Brady Mesko-Jokinen, Mellen; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Willie Johnsen Jr, Superior; Todd Gillitzer, Hibbing, MN; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI.
Heat 1: Klopstein; R Spacek; Stricker; T Spacek; C Spacek; Johnsen; Basina; Anderson; Keith Corcilius, Phillips.
Heat 2: Kisling; Grymala; Muzzy; Beeksma; Oreskovich; Gillitzer; Mike Hince, Medford; Spencer Sorenson, Duluth, MN.
Heat 3: Myers; Flynn; McFadden; Eder; Lawrence; Kern; Dunbar; Mesko-Jokinen.
Semi-Feature: Anderson; Dunbar; Basina; Mesko-Jokinen; Corcilius; Hince; Sorenson.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: Shane Halopka, Greenwood; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Dan Kingsley, Superior; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Paul Niznik, Medford; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; George Dalbeck, Ironwood, MI; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Rob Weber, Ashland; JR Anderson, Superior; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI; Pete Paulus, Phillips; Tad Bretting, Ashland; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Cody Carlson, Superior.
Heat 1: Halopka; T Bretting; Suzik; Fuhrman; Niznik; Dunbar; Byholm; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield.
Heat 2: Carlson; Adamzak; Stricker; Weber; Anderson; Dalbeck; Hicks; Muhlig; Michael Blevins, Hibbing, MN.
Heat 3: Eder; Kingsley; Vernon; R Barningham; Passuello; Paulus; C Bretting; Robert Hyde, Ashland.
Semi-Feature: Hicks; Byholm; Muhlig; C Bretting; Blevins; Hyde; J Barningham; Lindquist.
Feature: Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Dale Coddington, Hayward; Colten Vernon, Ashland; DeJay Mihalek, Ashland; Travis Swanson, Barksdale; Ken Tyykila, Iron River; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Brendon Ottman, Ashland; Cole Vernon, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Bella Bretting, Washburn.
Heat 1: Tiffany Hudack; Tyykila; Popp; Tyler Hudack; Mashlan; Anderson; Traaholt; Bretting.
Heat 2: Schultz; Coddington; Colten Vernon; Mihalek; Swanson; Ottman; Cole Vernon.
Feature: Shawn Amundson, Barron; Michael Blevins, Hibbing, MN; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Tim Carlson, Superior; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Tyler Carlson, Cloquet, MN; Al Rapp, Saginaw, MN; Tim Carbon, Highbridge; Jeff Christman, South Range; Josh Clark, Zim, MN; Andy Poll, Two Harbors, MN; Jon Hammitt, Cloquet, MN; Randy Conner, Hayward; Steve Udeen, Superior; Glenn Dammer, Duluth, MN; Steve Pohl, Manitowish Waters; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Aaron Olson, Kelly Lake, MN; Justin Madsen, Foxboro; Nick Traynor, Barron; Dale Coddington, Hayward; Mark Korte, Duluth, MN; Chris Johnson, South Range.
Heat 1: Carbon; Tim Carlson; Hammitt; Poll; Korte; Conner; Christman; Jason Simonson, Superior.
Heat 2: Amundson; Weinberger; Traynor; Coddington; Olson; Chad Nikstad, Superior; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Dustin Follett, Cloquet, MN.
Heat 3: Deragon; Madsen; Clark; Udeen; Pohl; Johnson; Hanson; Charles Jahn, Mellen.
Heat 4: Blevins; Tyler Carlson; Dammer; Pupp; Rapp; Don Livingston, Bayfield; Rita Anderson, South Range.
Semi-Feature: Johnson; Hanson; Christman; Conner; Nevala; Anderson; Simonson; Nikstad; Livingston; Jahn.