First-Time Visitor Atkinson Scores ABC Mod Special Win
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, June 10 — Landon Atkinson of Little Falls, MN, made a strong last-lap pass of race-long leader Al Uotinen to steal the $1,500 Advantage RV Modified Touring Series win at the ABC Raceway on Saturday night.
The PolyDome Dirt Track Series race program was presented by the Bad River Lodge, Casino & Convention Center of Odanah and drew a season-high 101 cars to the three-eighths-mile red-clay oval to compete on a night when 90-degree temperatures and an incessant south wind helped the track become smooth, wide and black-slick.
Atkinson, one of five Mod drivers who had never competed at the northern Wisconsin speedplant before Saturday, started the 40-lap spotlight event on the inside of row 3 and waited for his opportunity to move forward, as polestarter Uotinen grabbed the initial lead from Steve Lavasseur. Kevin Eder used a daring inside-out pass of another first-time visitor, Series points leader Jeremy Nelson, to take third on lap 3, but Atkinson dropped low to sneak by Lavasseur and Eder for the spot, just a lap before Eder and Lavasseur made contact and spun to bring out the race’s first slowdown.
Over the next 12 laps Uotinen drew away from a great side-by-side battle for runner-up honors between Nelson and Atkinson, while behind them another first-timer, Dan Ebert, slipped by Lavasseur for fourth. Uotinen’s lead was up over a second by the time Atkinson had finally cleared Nelson on lap 10, but within five laps Atkinson was up to the six-time ABC champ’s pushbar and threatening to take the lead.
A corner-marker was kicked onto the track to stop the action on lap 16, after which Ebert used a wide-open outer lane to sweep around at least four cars and challenge Atkinson for second. However, Brian Mikkonen’s spin negated the strong move, and on the ensuing restart Lavasseur made note of Ebert’s move and changed lanes to block Ebert from making the same pass.
Ebert’s forward progress was stopped on lap 19, when he tried going one lane higher and looped his ride, collecting Steve Stuart in the process. On the restart Stuart tried Ebert’s strategy and moved from seventh to challenge Lavasseur for fourth, but he advanced no further and soon faded.
At the race’s midpoint visiting Andy Jones worked low to get by Nelson for third, and within a lap newcomer Matt Gilbertson displaced Lavasseur for fifth, but Uotinen and Atkinson pulled away from the field over the next ten laps, with the challenger within a half-car-length or less of the leader. Despite a couple of threats, Uotinen held firm, and then another stray corner-marker drew a yellow flag, setting up a nine-lap shootout.
The lead pair pulled away again to decide the win, running primarily nose-to-tail, until they came off of turn 4 with the white flag in the air. That’s when Atkinson found some bite off of that corner and made a drive deep into turn 1, nosing his ride ahead of Uotinen’s. Once in the clear, Atkinson pulled away to a nearly-full-second advantage to become the fifth different feature winner over the first five races of the Touring Series’ season.
Jones was a fair distance back of Uotinen for third-place money, while Lavasseur recovered for fourth ahead of Nelson. Atkinson also set the fast single-lap time in the event, at 17.854 seconds, to add that bonus to the $1,500 first-place check.
Another dominant performance kept Mason’s Nick Oreskovich well in front of the WISSOTA Super Stock field for the majority of its 20-lap feature run, but he had to survive a challenge after a late-race caution for his third straight win of the season here.
Oreskovich started on the outside of row 4 and used just two laps to sweep around pole-starter Matt Deragon, and from there the “Flyin’ Farmer” justified his nickname by riding the high groove all the way around the Raceway oval. Deragon, meanwhile, worked hard to fend off Cory Casari, Scott Lawrence and Dave Flynn throughout the next eight laps, before the yellow flag flew for debris.
Fifteenth-starting Jeff Klopstein charged through the field during those first ten laps and was threatening to take fifth away from Flynn when he tangled with another car and he looped his ride in front of most of the field with four laps to go, eliminating Oreskovich’s 1.8-second advantage. Klopstein made a run on Deragon on the restart, but the scramble that was caused by the bottleneck through the first turn gave Casari an opening with which to take second, and Lawrence followed to third.
Oreskovich could not pull away over the final four laps, and coming to the checkered flag Casari had a clean look off the bottom of turn 4 to steal the win, but the defending champ maintained enough momentum to get to the finish line first by three-tenths of a second. Lawrence was close behind in third, and Deragon held off Randy Spacek for fourth. Oreskovich’s race-best lap of 18.762 seconds was over 2.3 seconds slower than his record-setting lap from the week before.
In another landmark finish, Ashland’s Tyler Vernon nabbed his first-ever checkered flag in a WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature, taking the lead late in the 20-lap run from Jesse Aho.
Aho, starting from the inside on row 2, cleared Tyler Hudack and Marcus Dunbar to move into position, then swept around pole-starter John Kallas before the first lap was completed to take the lead. Ryan Adamzak drove hard to the inside to move by Hudack for second on lap 2, and Vernon, who had started back in row 4, followed along to third.
Over the first four laps Aho had stretched his lead to nearly a full second, but over the next couple of circuits Adamzak had closed most of that gap. Then a caution-flag slowdown for a marker on the track brought the field back to Aho’s bumper, and after a second attempt to restart the run Aho regained some of his advantage as Adamzak dueled with Vernon for second.
One lap past halfway Vernon completed an outside pass of Adamzak, and he stayed within a half-second of the leader until a lap 16 stoppage. Vernon opted for the outside line, as was his choice under the “Delaware double-file” restart rules, and within a lap he had cleared Aho for the lead with an outside-line pass. Aho charged back and took one more shot with a look to the inside on the white-flag lap, but Vernon’s momentum coming off the final turn helped seal the win by just over two-tenths of a second.
Adamzak, Wayne Stricker and Tanner Hicks completed a close-formation top-five. The fast lap of the race belonged to Vernon with a tour in 18.938 seconds.
Vernon also made some noise in the Six-Cylinder A-main, but the race belonged to Scott Ovaska of Marengo, who took advantage of mechanical woes by two different leaders and powered his way to his first win since June 2011.
Like Oreskovich, Ovaska started on the outside of row 4, but rather than charge to the front the veteran Sixes driver bided his time until the opportunity presented itself. After DeJay Jarecki’s spin on the initial start of the run, pole-starter Jonathan Popp held off Randy Graham as long as he could before surrendering the lead on lap 2, with Vernon following to second. After another restart a lap later, Bubba Anderson replaced Vernon in the runner-up spot as Graham scooted away.
What looked like a potential walk-away win ended in heartbreak for Graham, when the car coasted to a stop on the front straight with engine woes. Anderson inherited the lead for the lap 5 restart, but his car also gave out a lap later; Vernon was caught behind the slowing leader, and Ovaska charged around the high side to take the lead, which, without another caution-flag slowdown, he built to as much as 1.8 seconds with six laps left.
Jarecki also used the slowing Anderson as a pick to take second, but within two laps Vernon regained the spot, and in two more laps Tiffany Hudack squeezed by Jarecki for third. Vernon pedaled as fast as he could, posting the fastest lap of the race down the stretch at 19.296 seconds, and he trimmed the distance to the leader down to .52 seconds, but Ovaska still had plenty of cushion at the final stripe for the long-overdue win. Forrest Schultz completed the top five.
After a first-lap scramble collected several cars, the WISSOTA Pure Stocks rattled off 12 laps non-stop, with Kyle Copp of Brule recording his second-straight feature win in Ashland.
The second-year driver, who chalked up his first career win the Saturday before, came from the inside of the fourth row and followed visiting Ryan Savoy around the pack to the front within the first three laps. Then on lap 5 Copp dove low on Savoy and grabbed the point.
The lead pair pulled away from the rest of the field, with Savoy running in Copp’s tire tracks, while Andrew Hanson slipped around Dylan Shelton and Don Livingston to third. Hanson actually reeled in the leaders over the final eight laps, without the benefit of a caution flag, but Copp fended off the challenges for the win. Shelton and Graham, who had started dead-last on the grid, also claimed top-five paychecks.
Next on the ABC Raceway schedule is the 11th annual “Summer Sizzler” special for the Six-Cylinders, offering an enhanced purse for the unique-to-ABC class, on June 17. The Sixes will also be running in Proctor, MN, on the Friday night before for the first of two special appearances for the division there. Hot laps are at 6:15, followed by green-flag racing at 7 pm. “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 log onto the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com. or on race days call (715) 682-4990.
Feature: Landon Atkinson, Little Falls, MN; Al Uotinen, Superior; Andy Jones, Princeton, MN; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Jeremy Nelson, Alexandria, MN; Pat Cook, Washburn; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Dave Cain, Corcoran, MN; Matt Gilbertson, Montevideo, MN; Rick Rivord, Superior; Mike Anderson, Colfax; Dan Ebert, Lake Shore, MN; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Jacob Hiatt, Mason; Ken Hron, Nashwauk, MN; Paul Wrazidlo, Duluth, MN; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Alex Guthmiller, Huron, SD; Paul Niznik, Medford; Dustin Hudack, Ashland; Kevin Eder, Ashland.
Heat 1: Ebert; Stuart; Eder; Niznik; Anderson; Wrazidlo; Hron; Guthmiller.
Heat 2: Lavasseur; T Byholm; Atkinson; Jones; Cook; Hiatt; Hudack; Balduc.
Heat 3: Cain; Nelson; Uotinen; Gilbertson; Spacek; B Byholm; Mikkonen; Rivord.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Cory Casari, Montreal; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Dave Flynn, Superior; Andy Grymala; Shawn McFadden Jr, Ashland; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Colten Vernon, Ashland; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Dave Elliott, Minocqua; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Myron Basina, Washburn; Terran Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: Oreskovich; Kisling; Lawrence; Deragon; Grymala; McFadden; Basina; Mashlan.
Heat 2: Flynn; R Spacek; T Spacek; Casari; Kuklinski; Vernon; Anderson; Klopstein; Elliott.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; John Kallas, Hurley; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Marcus Dunbar, Wakefield, MI; Brandon Copp, Brule; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Reid Tiegs, Dallas; Jared Stricker, Highbridge; Gunner Peterson, Mason.
Heat 1: Aho; M Dunbar; J Stricker; R Barningham; Weinberger; Cy Hoaglan, Ashland; Scott Anderson, Phillips.
Heat 2: Hicks; Adamzak; D Dunbar; Copp; Bretting; Brady Jokinen, Mellen; Mike Jacques, Thunder Bay, ON.
Heat 3: W Stricker; Hudack; Peter Jokinen, Mellen; Suzik; Peterson; Steve Altman, Mercer; Jeff Hanninen, Marengo.
Heat 4: Vernon; Kallas; Lindquist; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield; Tiegs; Jake Kruzan, Marengo.
Semi-Feature: Weinberger; Peterson; Tiegs; Bretting; Jacques; Hoaglan; Altman; B Jokinen; Kruzan.
Feature: Scott Ovaska, Marengo; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Cole Vernon, Ashland; Josh Saunders, Spooner; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; John Darwin, Iron River; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Bella Bretting, Washburn; Devin Dalbec, Ashland; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Randy Graham, Trego.
Heat 1: Ovaska; Hudack; Truchon; Popp; Saunders; Darwin; Dalbec; Bretting.
Heat 2: Jarecki; Anderson; Graham; T Vernon; Schultz; C Vernon; Traaholt.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: Kyle Copp, Brule; Ryan Savoy, Superior; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Dylan Shelton, Wrenshall, MN; Randy Graham, Trego; Tyler Keup, Superior; Chad Nikstad, Superior; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Josh Kallas, Hurley; Joe Pajtash, Lake Nebagamon; Matt Olson, Ashland; Jeff Christman, South Range; Jake Sandmann, Rice Lake; Brock Beilke, Hayward.
Heat 1: Hanson; Copp; Pajtash; Don Livingston, Ashland; Nevala; Nikstad; Olson; Christman.
Heat 2: Savoy; Kallas; Shelton; Keup; Beilke; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Sandmann.