Brandt Captures First-Ever Traditional Sprint Win at ABC
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, June 23 — Scott Brandt of Andover, MN, led all 25 laps to become the first-ever Upper Midwest Sprint Car Series (UMSS) Traditional sprint feature winner in the ABC Raceway’s 54-year history.
Brandt and 14 other drivers representing the Series in its inaugural visit to the historic northern Wisconsin red-clay oval were part of a six-division race program presented by the NAPA Auto Parts stores of Ashland and Washburn. A total of 95 racers came to play in front of a large crowd on a cool, cloudy night.
In the 25-lap A-main, Brandt started from the pole position and shot out to the lead right away, with Brad Peterson and Mike Mueller coming from the second row to take second and third, respectively. Mueller slipped by Peterson with an inside move on lap 2 to take second, and the top three ran in close formation for several laps while pulling away from Caley Emerson and the rest of the field.
On lap 7 Bryan Roach moved past Emerson to take fourth and drew away from the crowd of cars discussing fifth. A couple of laps later Brandt found a comfortable rhythm around the unfamiliar oval and sped away from Mueller and Peterson, who engaged in a dogfight for second that lasted most of the remainder of the race.
With seven laps left Brandt encountered slower traffic, but it didn’t keep him from extending his lead to nearly a straightaway on his way to his first UMSS win of the season. Mueller, who finally shook loose from the battle for second, left Peterson behind to fend off Roach for third, and former Late Model star and Red Clay Classic champ Harry Hanson got by Emerson late in the run to finish in the top five.
Brandt’s historic win marked the first time that full-sized non-winged sprints have competed at Ashland’s track. The sprints’ 25-lap feature and two ten-lap heat races were all run without caution slowdowns, and when added to the 45 laps run at Superior the night before, the UMSS drivers clicked off 90 laps of racing with only one yellow-flag stoppage in two nights.
Ashland’s Kevin Eder applied persistent pressure on Rick Rivord and took advantage of a late restart to capture his first WISSOTA Modified feature win of the season here. Rivord looked tough to beat as he outran polestarter Jacob Hiatt to the first turn and took off to an early lead. Eder, who started on the outside of row 3 in the 14-car field, took very little time getting past Hiatt as well, and a lap 2 caution flag for a two-car tangle brought Eder up to Rivord’s bumper.
Rivord ran a smooth, mid-track line for the next 13 laps and held off the hometown speedster in what developed into a great battle for the win. As the lead pair pulled away, Pat Cook used a thread-the-needle move between Hiatt and Steve Lavasseur to take third on lap 5.
Eder tried every trick he knew to swipe the lead, but Rivord stayed cool and steady under the pressure. Eder then fell back a few lengths before a tangle between fifth-place contenders Bill Byholm and Steve Stuart brought about a yellow flag with five laps remaining. Eder challenged Rivord on the restart, but Lavasseur’s spin reset the field for another try. This time Eder’s effort paid off, as he used an inside drive to get by Rivord for good.
A lap 17 stoppage for a five-car mess kept the field tight, but Eder covered the final laps for the win. Rivord found himself under fire from tenth-starting Al Uotinen during those closing laps but held on for second, while Byholm got by Cook late to take fourth.
The WISSOTA Super Stock A-feature provided plenty of dramatic plot twists, with the last one clearing the way for Shawn McFadden Jr’s first feature win here since 2015.
The second-generation driver from Ashland started on the outside of the third row but was shuffled up through the field as drivers ahead of him stumbled. The initial start of the 20-lapper was marred by a four-car mess in the first turn, and on the next try Cory Casari swept around polestarter DJ Keeler to take the lead, only to lose control and spin in turn 3 before completing the first lap and collecting several other cars in the melee.
Scott Lawrence moved up to the front row for the next restart and worked past Keeler for the lead, with McFadden shooting through to third. The field had just completed its first lap when another large pile-up slowed the show. It took three more tries to complete lap 2, as single-car spins kept calling for the caution flag.
The race finally found a rhythm over the next 14 laps, with Lawrence holding a scant lead on the battle for second between McFadden and Andy Grymala. Terran Spacek got into the act and displaced Grymala for third, but as Spacek was busy fending off Jeff Klopstein’s challenges, McFadden began to threaten Lawrence for the lead with some inside looks.
Spacek worked his way around McFadden for second on lap 11, and then the youngster charged up on Lawrence. The 14-time track champ worked a high line on one end of the track to maintain momentum, then dove low on the other end to shut the door on Spacek. On lap 16 that strategy apparently backfired, as contact between the two caused Lawrence to spin, and he was sent to the back as the cause of the restart.
Damage to Lawrence’s car forced him to grind to a halt shortly after the green lights came back on, and during this stoppage Spacek’s car needed to be pushed to the pits with issues of its own. This left McFadden at the point for the four-lap sprint to the checkers, and he held on despite a strong late charge by Klopstein. Grymala was a close third, 15th-starting visitor Willie Johnsen Jr took fourth-place money, and Patrick Beeksma came home fifth.
Another great race for the win took place during the WISSOTA Midwest Modified A-main, where veteran racer George Dalbeck of Wakefield, MI, held off determined young Brandon Copp for his first win here in three seasons. Dalbeck and Copp went at it literally from the drop of the first green flag, starting side-by-side on the front row of the 26-car field, and continued their debate after a first-lap stoppage for a three-car mess.
Dalbeck worked the smooth upper groove of the track, while Copp made strong advances despite struggling with the bumpier lower line. By lap 5 the pair had put some distance on Tyler Hudack’s battle for third with Gunner Peterson, who in turn had pulled away from a great multi-car dogfight for fifth.
On lap 9 a huge seven-car collection clogged turn 2, taking the lead duo out of lapped traffic. Then Peterson spun himself out of his fight for third to bring out an immediate caution flag, but the final 11 laps ran uninterrupted. Dalbeck and Copp resumed their duel up front, again slipping away from Hudack, who now had to contend with Marcus Dunbar. And again, that battle took place well ahead of the fight for fifth, this time involving Marcus’ dad Duane Dunbar and Dan Kingsley.
The race for the win got very tense on the final lap, as Copp went low to try to use the slower Wayne Jacques as a pick. But Dalbeck drove up a lane and swept around the Canadian visitor, maintaining his momentum off the final turn for a thrilling win by less than a car-length. The younger Dunbar cleared Hudack for third on the final lap as well, while his dad edged Kingsley for fifth.
After a first-lap spin by third-running DJ Jarecki, Randy Graham sped past three cars on the ensuing restart and ran off to his first ABC Six-Cylinder feature win of the season. Graham, from Trego, had originally started the 15-lapper on the outside of row 3, but within a lap after the green came back out after Jarecki’s loop, Graham passed Jonathan Popp, Bubba Anderson and polestarter Adam Traaholt in quick succession before the end of the next lap.
A three-car get-together during lap 2 was the only other delay in the run, after which Graham fought off a brief challenge by Anderson and sped away to build a comfortable lead. Forrest Schultz went up a lane and charged forward to take third on lap 4, but his high line also opened the bottom lane for Tiffany Hudack, who took advantage and displaced Schultz a circuit later.
Hudack then hustled past Anderson for second, but by then Graham was just too far gone and she finished a distant runner-up. Schultz ran a strong third, well ahead of Anderson and an impressive Jake Nevala.
Just as with the visiting sprints, the WISSOTA Pure Stocks ran clean and green during their main event, with Andrew Hanson grabbing the win. The defending track champion from Iron River had to slash his way through heavy traffic and avoided some pretty hairy moments in order to put himself in position to win.
Outside front-row starter Jeff Christman outran polesitter Darren Dudley through the first turn and built up a sizeable margin on the rest of the field through the first half of the 12-lap affair. Dudley and Chad Nikstad duked it out for second, and behind them the field jostled for position in close formation – at one time slapping against one another as they raced four-wide coming down the front straight.
Hanson cleared the chaos and moved into second on lap 6, and within a couple of laps he had chased down Christman. The leader was running as high a line around the red-clay oval as he could, but when he came out of turn 4 and smacked the concrete wall with four laps to go, it allowed Hanson to charge by on the inside and run away to his second win of the season. Christman held on for second, just in front of Graham and Kyle Copp, while Dudley maintained fifth.
In a post-race inspection, Copp’s car was deemed illegal, moving Dudley to fourth and Nikstad to fifth in the final rundown.
The ABC Raceway’s busy month of June finishes up with a special Friday night event on the 29th, when the WISSOTA Wollak Construction Late Model Challenge Series comes to town. The program, to be presented by the Bad River Lodge, Casino & Convention Center, will also include the WISSOTA Modifieds, Super Stocks and Midwest Mods, and will be highlighted by a 40-lap, $2,000-to-win Late Model feature.
Adult main grandstand admission tickets are $20 each, but fans who attended the June 23 UMSS sprint car show can receive a $2 discount on their admission price by presenting their wristbands from that show at the ticket window on Friday. Kids ages 12 and under will be admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. For the Late Model drivers, there will be no draw fee charged.
Hot laps will begin at 6:15 pm, with racing scheduled to start 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. Fans can also listen by downloading the free HCG Radio app onto their smart phone, tablet or other mobile device.
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.
UMSS Traditional Sprints
Feature: 1-10: Scott Brandt, Andover, MN; Mike Mueller, Stacy, MN; Brad Peterson, Lake Elmo, MN; Bryan Roach, Welch, MN; Harry Hanson, Eveleth, MN; John Lewerer, Andover, MN; Caley Emerson, Grand Rapids, MN; Denny Stordahl, Centuria; Cam Schafer, Minneapolis, MN; Neal Matuska, Foley, MN.
11-14: Al Stettner, Newport, MN; Gary Mueller, Chisago City, MN; Anna Hippe, Albertville, MN; Kevin Lear, Braham, MN.
Heat 1: Stettner; Peterson; Matuska; Emerson; Lewerer; Schafer; G Mueller.
Heat 2: M Mueller; Hanson; Brandt; Roach; Stordahl; Hippe; Lear.
Feature: 1-10: Kevin Eder, Ashland; Rick Rivord, Superior; Al Uotinen, Superior; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Pat Cook, Washburn; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Cody Carlson, Superior; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Tyler Luger, Oxford; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI.
11-14: Paul Niznik, Medford; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Todd Gehl, Solon Springs; Jeff Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: Eder; Stuart; Lavasseur; Hiatt; Carlson; Niznik; Luger.
Heat 2: Byholm; Spacek; Rivord; Cook; Uotinen; Balduc; Gehl.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Andy Grymala, Superior; Willie Johnsen Jr, Superior; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Cory Casari, Montreal; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Terran Spacek, Phillips.
11-16: Scott Lawrence, Superior; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; DJ Keeler, Superior; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Randy Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: Lawrence; T Spacek; Klopstein; Keeler; R Spacek; Mashlan; Johnsen; Eder.
Heat 2: Grymala; Casari; McFadden; Beeksma; Muzzy; Oreskovich; Kuklinski; Deragon.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: George Dalbeck, Wakefield, MI; Brandon Copp, Brule; Marcus Dunbar, Wakefield, MI; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Dan Kingsley, Superior; Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield; Darren Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI.
11-20: Jack Rivord, Superior; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Dalton Mains, Foxboro; Gunner Peterson, Mason; Diamond Bressette, Spooner; Billy Milne, Thunder Bay, ON; Jake Kruzan, Mellen; Wayne Jacques, Thunder Bay, ON.
21-26: David Simpson, Thunder Bay, ON; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Mark Kangas, Eveleth, MN; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls.
Heat 1: Dalbeck; Weinberger; Suzik; Kingsley; Duane Dunbar; Kangas; Darren Dunbar; Lindquist; Passuello.
Heat 2: Copp; Peterson; Hudack; Simpson; J Barningham; R Barningham; Kruzan; Jacques; Bressette.
Heat 3: M Dunbar; Hicks; Fuhrman; Kisling; Stricker; Rivord; Mains; Milne.
Feature: 1-10: Randy Graham, Trego; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Jake Nevala, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Joshua Saunders, Spooner; Jonathan Popp, Iron River.
11-12: Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Devin Dalbec, Ashland.
Heat 1: Hudack; Schultz; Anderson; Nevala; Traaholt; Stuart.
Heat 2: Graham; Popp; Jarecki; Dalbec; Mashlan; Saunders.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-9: Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Jeff Christman, South Range; Randy Graham, Trego; Darren Dudley, Ashland; Chad Nikstad, Superior; Don Livingston, Washburn; James Vendela, South Range; Tyler Keup, Superior; Andy Poll, Two Harbors, MN; Brock Beilke, Hayward.
Heat 1: Graham; Christman; Dudley; Keup.
Heat 2: Hanson; Livingston; Nikstad; Beilke.
All photos by Norm Tesch photo