Byholm, Vernon, Ovaska & Hanson are First-Time ABC Champs; Oreskovich Repeats
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 26 — It wasn’t the crescendo to the season that the fans, drivers or track staff had hoped for, but the significant rainfall that hit the Chequamegon Bay area on Saturday forced the cancellation of the ABC Raceway’s Championship Saturday Night.
Despite the decision to call off the final five-division PolyDome Dirt Track Series regular-season race program of 2017 at the award-winning northern Wisconsin speedplant, to have been presented by Pepsi, North Star Beverage of Hurley, and WIMI, 99.7 FM, of Ironwood, MI, four first-time track champions were determined, while one other driver successfully defended his 2016 title.
It’s the first time since 2000 that the ABC Raceway finished a season with only one champion having won a title here before.
Among the first-timers, no one had waited longer than Bill Byholm. The veteran driver from Glidden tallied three heat race victories and five feature finishes of fourth or better (although no feature wins) en route to the WISSOTA Modified title – the first of his 27-year racing career. It is the 15th time that Byholm has finished top-five in points at ABC, but this championship may be especially sweet due to the fact that he raced a good part of this season along with his son Tanner, who has just completed his rookie season in the “big Mods.”
Known in local racing circles as the “Flyin’ Farmer,” Nick Oreskovich of Mason claimed his second straight WISSOTA Super Stock championship at Ashland. Oreskovich’s strong season included four feature wins – including a string of three straight early on to establish his status at the top of the standings – as well as a division-best seven heat wins. In addition to repeating as champ here, he finished second in points at AmsOil Speedway in Superior this summer.
Tyler Vernon of Ashland took over the WISSOTA Midwest Modified division’s points lead in late July and held on for his first-ever track title. In a banner year for his race program, Vernon scored a career-best three feature wins and placed in the top-five in five other features, while also garnering five heat victories. Vernon was also very much in the hunt for the Raceway’s Six-Cylinder title before tonight’s cancellation.
Speaking of the Sixes, Scott Ovaska of Marengo became another of the ABC Raceway’s first-time titlists because of the rain-out. Ovaska came back from a two-year hiatus to finish second in the standings in 2016 to Ashland’s Tiffany Hudack. This season ends with Ovaska edging Hudack in the final tally by just one point. It is the eighth time in his 13-year career that Ovaska will finish in the top-five in Sixes points, thanks to four heat wins and 11 finishes of third or better in 12 features run, including one feature win.
By surviving a wild finish to this season’s WISSOTA Pure Stock points battle, Andrew Hanson of Iron River also became an ABC Raceway track champ for the first time. The high school senior edged fellow “young gun” Kyle Copp of Brule by a single point, in what could be a preview of a very competitive rivalry in the entry-level class at Ashland. Hanson started and ended 2017 strong, capturing three feature wins, eight other feature finishes of fourth or better, and a division-leading seven heat wins.
The staff of the ABC Raceway will now take some time to prepare the facility for one of the Upper Midwest’s biggest and most prestigious race events, the 42nd annual Red Clay Classic, to be held Friday and Saturday, September 29-30. Along with the WISSOTA Modifieds, Super Stocks and Midwest Mods, the mighty WISSOTA Late Models will return to headline the program, which will offer a recently-increased total purse of over $90,000 to the estimated 200 racers in attendance.
Other details of the event will be released soon. “Z-93 Race Night” will air live on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and stream online at www.wbszfm.com, prior to each night’s racing action, with at-the-track news and weather updates. Program times will be announced in the near future.
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.