Stuart, Graham Go Back-to-Back at ABC

by Nick Gima

                Ashland, WI, June 18 — Ashland’s Steve Stuart and Trego’s Randy Graham repeated as feature winners on Saturday night, as the ABC Raceway offered a “buy-one-get-one-free” adult grandstand admission ticket deal to race fans, courtesy of the Legendary Waters Resort & Casino of Red Cliff and Heartland Communications of Ashland.

For the third PolyDome Dirt Track Series race program of the season, the 88 cars in the pit area were greeted by a race track that was significantly different than the black-slick red-clay oval that they had raced on the Saturday before. Instead, a heavier, tackier surface brought speeds up significantly, with two single-lap track records bested during feature action.

Stuart started on row 4 for the 20-lap WISSOTA Modified A-main but took advantage of polestarter Scott Hudack’s breakdown after a bobble up in turn 2. As the field sped by, Paul Niznik got sideways down the back straight and collected Al Uotinen.

After a second attempt to start the run, Stuart took to his preferred low groove and drove past Pat Cook into second place, while Brian Mikkonen slipped up to the high side and shot to the lead. The pair raced side-by-side for a couple of laps before Steve Lavasseur’s stalled car brought about a caution flag.

On the ensuing restart Lavasseur pulled back onto the track after a visit to the pits just as the field was charging down the back straight under green. Mikkonen checked up to avoid contact, forcing the trailing Jeff Spacek to stop dead in turn 4, but the field continued on until the yellow caution lights were thrown. That’s when Dustin Hudack slipped up high in turn 1, caught the berm and barrel-rolled wildly across the top of the corner. He was helped out of the destroyed car but was unhurt.

The race ran non-stop over the final 17 laps, with Mikkonen and Stuart continuing their door-to-door battle and swapping the lead on nearly lap. Stuart finally gained the advantage for good on lap 14 with a strong charge off the bottom of turn 2, although he did not entirely pull away, as Niznik drove back into contention and was on Stuart’s tail at the checkers, just alongside third-finishing Mikkonen.

A strong run by Destin Lorimor earned him fourth-place money, just ahead of Spacek. Neil Balduc took home the fast-lap bonus with a time of 16.808 seconds.

In the make-up of the May 21 Mod feature, polestarter Kevin Eder of Ashland took the lead from Lavasseur on lap 5 and set the pace the rest of the way for his first win of the season here. The first 18 laps clicked off without delay as several side-by-side battles were sprinkled throughout the field.

Eder held nearly a full second on Lavasseur when Scott Hudack’s spin forced a green-white-checkered finish, but Eder nearly rebuilt that margin as he sped to the win. Uotinen slipped past Lavasseur for second on the restart, and Bill Byholm and Spacek completed the top five. Lavasseur posted the fastest circuit in that 20-lapper with a lap of 16.196 seconds – just two-tenths of a second off Stuart’s track record set last July.

Graham followed up his first career feature win last Saturday with a dandy run in the WISSOTA Pure Stock main event. Graham, who started on the fourth row, was one of two cars that stalled in the first corner on the initial start in an attempt to avoid an incident involving Chad Carlson. After that the 15-lap run ran non-stop, with Don Livingston leading the way.

When Livingston slowed and faded after lap 2, Andrew Hanson took over as the pace-setter, with Justin Weinberger challenging. Graham, who had clawed his way to third, drew up to the lead pair, and on lap 7 he dove inside for a three-wide move to take over the lead. Hanson, Weinberger and Brandle Pupp then duked it out for second, with Weinberger taking the position when Hanson broke loose and slipped back with three laps left.

Weinberger chased down and threatened Graham over the closing laps, but Graham held on for the back-to-back win. Hanson, Pupp and Jeff Christman followed in the top five.

Dave Flynn of Superior led flag-to-flag in a hotly-contested 20-lap WISSOTA Super Stock feature that was delayed by a track-lighting issue with seven laps to go. Flynn, who started on the pole, lost a side-by-side battle with Cory Casari over the first lap, but Greg Kuklinski’s spin negated Casari’s pass, and from there Flynn held a slim lead for the next 13 laps.

Just behind the leader, Casari had his hands full with Jeff Klopstein’s threats, while Nick Oreskovich charged up to challenge Pat Beeksma for fourth. With the front runners in a tight pack the race seemed poised for a great finish, but as the leaders passed under the flag stand to complete lap 13 a bank of lights that illuminated part of the back straightaway shut down, creating a dangerous situation that brought about a stoppage.

Track crews made repairs in about a half-hour, and from there two more restarts slowed the pace – one for a three-car mess involving Beeksma on lap 15, and another for the stalled and damaged ride of Cory Marincel on lap 16. However, Flynn held strong and led the field to his first win here this season. Casari took over second on the latter of the two restarts, but Oreskovich swept around him on lap 17 and followed Flynn home by .84 seconds.

Randy Spacek and Scott Lawrence, who made up row 3 to start the race, came home fourth and fifth. Oreskovich set the fast time with a 17.154-second circuit.

Oreskovich, of Mason, led from start to finish in the Super Stocks’ May 21 make-up feature that kicked off the program and set a new track single-lap record for the division in the process. Starting from the pole, the “Flyin’ Farmer” held off a strong run by Casari through all 20 laps, including after restarts stemming from five caution-flag slowdowns.

The last of the slowdowns came with eight laps remaining, when debris on the track eliminated a 1.85-second cushion that Oreskovich had built up over Casari. Still, Oreskovich raced the remaining laps to a slight margin over Casari at the final stripe, and somewhere over those last few tours he posted a lap time of 16.686 seconds, besting the old mark of 16.817 seconds set by Curt Myers in 2015. Randy Spacek edged Beeksma and Lawrence in a tight battle for third.

Visiting driver Nick Koehler, coming off of a feature win on Thursday at Jim Falls, used a strong move to drive past Tad Bretting and sped off to what he thought was his first WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature win in Ashland in two years, but a technical inspection after the race took his win away and gave it to Cole Spacek of Phillips.

Spacek, who started on the pole, battled with Bretting over the first seven laps of the 20-lap A-main, with Paul Suzik, Koehler and Wayne Stricker hot on their tails. Spacek gained the advantage on lap 6 with an inside move, and Suzik was poised to follow into second a lap later, but Ryan Barningham brought out the first of five caution flags with a spin.

After Tanner Hicks’ car stalled, Bretting slipped around Spacek on the restart, and Koehler followed into second. A lap after the halfway point Koehler pulled off what was thought at the time to be the winning move, diving low to take the lead from Bretting. From that point on Koehler was in command and ran away from the field after each of the race’s three remaining caution stops. Over the final seven green-flag laps Koehler had built up a 5.25-second lead in a dominant performance, while Spacek – who took second back from Bretting on the last restart – held off a strong effort by Suzik.

A post-race technical inspection found Koehler’s car illegal by WISSOTA rule, giving the win to Spacek. Behind Suzik in the top five were Bretting, Stricker and 13th-starting Tanner Byholm.

Koehler’s fast lap of 16.878 seconds did break Mike Truscott’s Mid-Mod single-lap record by 57 one-thousandths of a second.

Technically, Tiffany Hudack of Ashland also went back-to-back in winning the Six-Cylinder feature on this night, although her feature win from the week before was officially for the postponed May 21 season opener. Hudack had to start eighth on the 12-car feature grid but used a sweet three-wide move to take the lead just six laps into the 15-lap run.

Rookie Dalton Truchon led early but was overtaken by veteran Scott Ovaska on lap 3. Forrest Schultz grabbed second place one circuit later, and after two more laps Steve Martin – driving Bubba Anderson’s ride – spun to slow the pace.

Schultz tried an inside move on Ovaska to take the lead away just after the restart, but the pair slipped wide in turn 4 and opened up the bottom for Hudack, who scooted by and sped away. The only thing left to slow the 2014 track champ down was a lap 9 caution for debris, and she was a full 4.5 seconds ahead when she scored her fourth career feature win. She also posted a 18.425-second fast lap during the run.

Martin recovered for a strong second-place run in his first night racing here, just edging Ovaska and Schultz at the stripe. Truchon crossed the line fifth but was later disqualified for a short wheelbase on his car, handing the position to Adam Traaholt.

Next Saturday night, the ABC Raceway will offer up the second of its five divisional specials with its tenth annual Six-Cylinder “Summer Sizzler,” presented by Lake Shore Cafe. In addition to the Sixes running for an enhanced purse, the track will hold its Kids’ Meet the Drivers Night festivities, and the postponed Mid-Mod feature from the shortened May 21 season opener will also take place.

Hot laps will be at 6:15 pm, and the on-track “meet-and-greet” session is expected to start at around 6:30. The first green-flag racing of the night should follow by around 7. Adult tickets are $11, and fans ages 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. “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 visit the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com, or call the track on racedays at (715) 682-4990.

Results

WISSOTA Modifieds

Feature: Steve Stuart, Ashland; Paul Niznik, Medford; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Destin Lorimor, Superior; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Al Uotinen, Superior; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Pat Cook, Washburn; Mickey Nosser, Phillips; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Rick Rivord, Superior; Scott Miller, Rice Lake; Dustin Hudack, Ashland; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Kevin Eder, Ashland.

Heat 1: Stuart; Mikkonen; Miller; Niznik; Uotinen; Spacek; Lorimor; D Hudack.

Heat 2: Eder; S Hudack; Balduc; Cook; Lavasseur; Byholm; Nosser; Rivord.

Make-up feature from 5/21: Eder; Uotinen; Lavasseur; Byholm; Spacek; Niznik; Balduc; Mikkonen; Rivord; Nosser; Cook; S Hudack; Stuart; D Hudack; Lorimor; Jacob Hiatt, New Richmond.

WISSOTA Super Stocks

Feature: Dave Flynn, Superior; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Cory Casari, Montreal; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Andy Grymala, Superior; Pat Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Myron Basina, Washburn; Keith Corcilius, Phillips; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; Cory Marincel, Ashland; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI.

Heat 1: Kisling; Casari; Klopstein; Lawrence; Grymala; Basina; Kuklinski; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland.

Heat 2: Beeksma; R Spacek; Oreskovich; Flynn; Muzzy; Corcilius; Marincel; T Spacek.

Make-up feature from 5/21: Oreskovich; Casari; R Spacek; Beeksma; Lawrence; T Spacek; Basina; Muzzy; Grymala; Anderson; Corcilius; Klopstein; Mashlan; Shawn McFadden Jr, Ashland.

WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds

Feature: Cole Spacek, Phillips; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Tad Bretting, Ashland; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; Brady Mesko-Jokinen, Mellen; George Dalbeck, Ironwood, MI; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Jared Stricker, Highbridge; Darren Zorich, Marenisco, MI; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield; Tanner Hicks, Ashland.

Heat 1: Suzik; Kisling; Mesko-Jokinen; Byholm; R Barningham; Passuello; J Barningham; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI.

Heat 2: Bretting; W Stricker; Dalbeck; M Dunbar; D Dunbar; Lindquist; Deragon; Fuhrman; Robert Hyde, Ashland.

Heat 3: Eder; Spacek; Adamzak; Hicks; Hudack; Zorich; Stricker; Gunner Peterson, Drummond; Cy Hoaglan, Ashland.

Semi-Feature: Fuhrman; J Stricker; J Barningham; Deragon; Passuello; Peterson; Hyde.

Six-Cylinders

Feature: Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Steve Martin, Trego; Scott Ovaska, Marengo; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Derek Milligan, Bayfield; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Joe Newago, Bayfield; Dale Coddington, Hayward; Josh Saunders, Spooner.

Heat 1: Coddington; Hudack; Ovaska; Martin; Saunders; Newago.

Heat 2: Schultz; Jarecki; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Milligan; Traaholt; Lindquist.

WISSOTA Pure Stocks

Feature: Randy Graham, Trego; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Jeff Christman, South Range; Andy Poll, Two Harbors, MN; Chad Carlson, Superior; Randy Conner, Hayward; Steve Pohl, Manitowish Waters; Bob Skrobot, Manitowish Waters; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Brock Beilke, Hayward; Don Livingston, Bayfield; Nick Paoli, Ironwood, MI.

Heat 1: Hanson; Graham; Conner; Livingston; Christman; Skrobot; Paoli.

Heat 2: Carlson; Weinberger; Pupp; Poll; Nevala; Pohl; Beilke.

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