Copp Grabs First-Ever Win at ABC
Oreskovich, Hudack repeat; Balduc, Stricker score
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, June 3 — Kyle Copp of Brule ran away from the WISSOTA Pure Stock field and chalked up his first-ever feature win on Saturday night at the ABC Raceway.
Little Caesar’s Pizza of Ashland presented its popular “Kids’ Meet the Drivers” Night program, and nearly all 87 entrants that had signed in for the PolyDome Dirt Track Series show were parked on the front straightaway of the venerable three-eighths-mile northern Wisconsin oval for a half-hour meet-and-greet session with the many fans in attendance prior to racing action.
Drivers and fans also showed that their hearts were with the members of the Cody Kummer family on this night. A pass-the-hat collection taken up by several drivers during intermission on this night raised nearly $1,000, to be donated to Kummer, a WISSOTA Street Stock racer from Medford, and his family in memory of his mother, who was killed in a tragic traffic accident earlier this week.
Copp, the son of former Six-Cylinder and Super Stock star John Copp, started the 12-lap Pure Stock A-main on the inside of the second row, and he took to the low groove after a first-lap restart to get by pole-starter Jeff Christman and fall in just behind early leader Randy Graham. A lap later the sophomore driver moved low again to displace Graham at the point, and from there he paced the field.
By mid-race Copp had built a commanding lead, and with four laps remaining he was ahead of Graham and the rest by a full straightaway. But on lap 9 first-nighter James Vendela, running in the top five, got spun around and collected a couple of other racers, bringing out the second yellow flag of the event and drawing the field back to Copp’s trunklid for the restart.
This time the leader didn’t get away as easily, as after one more lap back under green Andrew Hanson worked his way by Graham and stayed on Copp’s tail. Over the final two laps, however, Copp pulled away to a ten-length advantage at the checkers for the landmark win. Hanson, Graham, Cory Jorgensen and Christman completed the top five.
Neil Balduc of Bessemer, MI, became the ninth different WISSOTA Modified winner over the first nine features run at WISSOTA’s “Tundra” tracks (ABC and Superior in Wisconsin, and Hibbing, Proctor and Grand Rapids in Minnesota) in 2017. Balduc started on the pole and led all 20 laps for his first ABC win since August 2014.
As Balduc outran Brian Mikkonen to take the initial lead, a speedy Jeff Spacek made an aggressive move to the low side in an attempt for fourth place and collected several cars on the opening lap. Spacek’s car suffered race-ending damage, and Balduc quickly opened a lead of nearly two full seconds just three laps after the restart.
Mikkonen had all he could handle just to hang on to second, but by lap 3 he had fallen victim to a strong inside move by “big-Mod” rookie Tanner Byholm. Three laps later Paul Niznik also worked his way past Mikkonen, as Balduc extended his lead to well over three seconds.
A spin into the infield grass by Al Uotinen’s broken ride slowed the pace, but the 2016 ABC Raceway points champ pressed on after the restart, pushing his lead back to over three seconds again within a few laps. Mikkonen retook second from Byholm on lap 7, and Tanner’s dad Bill Byholm passed him for third on lap 8, bringing Niznik along to fourth.
Just a lap after halfway the elder Byholm worked his way by Mikkonen for second, and just as Niznik was about to copy that move in a try for third, Dustin Hudack’s car broke and he dropped into the infield just inside of turn 4 to bring about the final stoppage of the race.
Over the final eight laps Balduc fended off Byholm’s challenges and then pulled away to a 1.29-second advantage at the final stripe, while Niznik, a resurgent Tanner Byholm and Rick Rivord completed the top five.
For Nick Oreskovich it was more than just business as usual, as the “Flyin’ Farmer” from Mason flew to his second straight WISSOTA Super Stock feature win in dominant fashion and set a new track record in the process.
Oreskovich started on the outside of row 2 just behind Scott Lawrence, but Lawrence’s car blew the right-front tire in the first corner of the 20-lap feature and slowed, bringing about the first in a rash of caution flags over the first three laps of the race. Oreskovich then restarted alongside Dave Flynn and beat the polesitter through the first turns, but the yellow flag flew for Cory Casari’s spin.
Visitor Jim Campbell got by Flynn for second on that redo, but after another lap the run was stopped for debris on the track. Flynn took a measure of revenge by retaking second from Campbell once the show was back under green, and then Campbell and Shane Kisling got together while dueling for third on lap 3 to delay the proceedings again.
Charlie Anderson’s looped ride stopped the race before another lap was scored, and while the yellow lights were on Kisling’s car, which was just a moment before challenging Flynn’s for second, stopped on the track and needed a tow to the pits.
Although the first three laps took over 13 minutes to complete, the final 17 took far less than that, as the race ran non-stop from there. Jeff Klopstein worked his way around Flynn for second, but over the remaining laps Oreskovich’s car was on a rail, lapping slower cars by lap 10 and pushing his lead over Klopstein to nearly eight full seconds – almost half a lap – over the final few circuits.
Oreskovich’s 15th career ABC feature win included a lap of 16.478 seconds, clipping a full two-tenths of a second off his previous track-record lap for the division. Runner-up Klopstein held a strong margin over Flynn, while Terran Spacek and Casari were not far back in fourth and fifth.
Highbridge’s Wayne Stricker may have bowed out of saying any words in Victory Lane on Saturday, but his sinister-black WISSOTA Midwest Modified did plenty of talking as he scored his fifth career feature win. Stricker started on the outside of row 4 but had moved into the top five well before the mid-point of his 20-lap feature.
Veteran Duane Dunbar was impressive early as he dove low on pole-starter Chris Bretting to grab the early lead, and he stayed at the point for a few more laps after Jeremy Lindquist’s lap 2 spin. It was on this restart that Stricker found some room on the upper groove and swept past three cars into fourth.
Paul Suzik, who had started the race ninth, also picked his way through the field and took third from Bretting on lap 4, then worked around Ryan Adamzak for second two laps later. Within the same circuit Suzik powered around Dunbar for the lead, and by lap 10 he was a full second-and-a-half up on Adamzak before a stray infield-marker tire slowed the pace.
Stricker grabbed second away from Adamzak on the restart, and as he and Suzik were debating the lead Suzik lost the driveshaft on his racer, causing all kinds of rear suspension damage and dropping him from the event. From there Stricker led the final nine laps, although Tyler Vernon stole second from Adamzak on the restart and dogged Stricker to the checkers. Lindquist made an impressive run to fourth, while Marcus Dunbar edged his father Duane for fifth.
Ashland’s Tiffany Hudack took advantage of a restart for the second straight weekend and won the ABC Six-Cylinder 15-lap headliner. Hudack worked her way into third place with a pass of Bubba Anderson on lap 2, and she trailed surprising rookie leader John Darwin and Forrest Schultz over the opening few laps.
Darwin had stretched his first-ever race lead to 1.66 seconds when, on lap 6, an infield marker tire was bumped onto the racing groove for the race’s only stoppage. Schultz opted for the inside of row 2 for the “Delaware double-file” restart, giving Hudack the chance to sweep around both Schultz and Darwin for the lead. Darwin was able to stay within a car-length of the leader for a few laps, but when a strong-running Graham pulled alongside the rookie to challenge for second, it allowed Hudack to draw away to a .84-second margin of victory.
Graham won the battle for runner-up honors, and a last-lap pass gave Scott Ovaska third place over Darwin. Schultz settled for fifth-place money.
Besides Oreskovich, Balduc (Mods, 16.149 seconds), Vernon (Mid-Mods, 17.333 seconds), and Graham (Sixes, 18.523 seconds) also earned fast-lap bonuses.
Several generous race teams, businesses and fans donated bikes and other gifts for giveaways to the young fans on this night. Those donating included Aaron Mashlan Racing, All-Performance Dyno Service, Al Uotinen Racing, Andrew Hanson Racing, Ashland Building Products, D&D Performance Horses, FastLane Motorsports, Foot 46 Racing, George Dalbeck Logging, Hiatt Trucking, Hudack Racing, Jacob Hiatt Racing, Jake Nevala Racing, Jeff Klopstein Racing, Jeff Spacek Racing, Jeremy Lindquist Racing, Lindquist Property Service, Mason-Grand View American Legion Post 516, Matt Deragon Racing, Memorial Medical Center, NAPA Auto Parts, Paul Niznik Racing, Renegade Race Bodies, River Rock Inn & Bait Shop, Second Street Bistro, ServiceMaster Lakeside, Tellers Waste, Tyler Luger Racing, Wick Buildings, and the ABC Raceway.
On Saturday, June 10, the ABC Raceway will welcome the Advantage RV Modified Series to its red-clay oval for the first time ever. The tour is expected to draw nearly all of the top Mod drivers from throughout WISSOTA for a shot at a winner’s check of at least $1,500.
The Series’ stop in Ashland will be part of a four-day tour through the northeastern region of WISSOTA, with stops at Grand Rapids, MN, on Thursday and Superior on Friday before coming to ABC. The tour’s weekend swing will conclude on Sunday at Proctor, MN.
Hot laps are at 6:15, followed by green-flag racing set for 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: Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Paul Niznik, Medford; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Rick Rivord, Superior; Pat Cook, Washburn; Paul Wrazidlo, Duluth, MN; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Jacob Hiatt, Mason; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Dustin Hudack, Ashland; Al Uotinen, Superior; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Jeff Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: Uotinen; Spacek; Cook; Balduc; Rivord; Wrazidlo; Hudack.
Heat 2: B Byholm; Mikkonen; T Byholm; Niznik; Lavasseur; Hiatt; Stuart.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Dave Flynn, Superior; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Cory Casari, Montreal; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Jim Campbell, Two Harbors, MN; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; Jordan Kurtti, Bruce Crossing, MI; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Myron Basina, Washburn; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI.
Heat 1: Oreskovich; T Spacek; Campbell; R Spacek; Deragon; Anderson; Kurtti; Basina; Colten Vernon, Ashland.
Heat 2: Kisling; Klopstein; Lawrence; Flynn; Casari; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Muzzy; Mashlan.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Marcus Dunbar, Wakefield, MI; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; Jesse Aho, Twin Lakes, MI; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Brady Jokinen, Mellen; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Jared Stricker, Highbridge; Gunner Peterson, Cable; John Kallas, Hurley; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield; Brandon Copp, Brule; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; George Dalbeck, Wakefield, MI.
Heat 1: W Stricker; Suzik; Vernon; Hicks; Hudack; Steve Altman, Mercer; Jeff Hanninen, Marengo; Jake Kruzan, Marengo; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland.
Heat 2: M Dunbar; Bretting; Dalbeck; Kallas; Passuello; J Barningham; J Stricker; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls.
Heat 3: D Dunbar; Adamzak; R Barningham; Lindquist; Jokinen; Aho; Peterson; Cy Hoaglan, Ashland; Anthony Forfa Jr, Phillips.
Semi-Feature: J Stricker; Peterson; Copp; Forfa; Hanninen; Weinberger; Kruzan.
Feature: Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Randy Graham, Trego; Scott Ovaska, Marengo; John Darwin, Iron River; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Cole Vernon, Ashland; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Josh Saunders, Spooner; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Bella Bretting, Washburn.
Heat 1: Anderson; Hudack; C Vernon; Darwin; Truchon; Traaholt; Popp.
Heat 2: T Vernon; Schultz; Ovaska; Jarecki; Graham; Saunders; Bretting.
WISSOTA PURE STOCKS
Feature: Kyle Copp, Brule; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Randy Graham, Trego; Cory Jorgensen, Hermantown, MN; Jeff Christman, South Range; Joe Pajtash, Lake Nebagamon; James Vendela, South Range; Don Livingston, Ashland; Josh Kallas, Hurley; Brock Beilke, Hayward; Matt Olson, Ashland; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Dylan Shelton, Wrenshall, MN.
Heat 1: Copp; Hanson; Vendela; Kallas; Nevala; Beilke; Pajtash; Olson.
Heat 2: Deragon; Pupp; Christman; Livingston; Shelton; Jorgensen; Graham.