by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 29 — The ABC Raceway wound up its 2015 stock car racing regular season on Saturday night with five drivers grabbing feature wins and five others earning track championships.
“Championship Saturday Night,” presented by Pepsi, North Star Beverage of Hurley, and WIMI-FM of Ironwood, MI, saw 99 entries for the regular-season-ending PolyDome Dirt Track Series program, during which all five division titles were still up for grabs before the night’s action started, and three of the five champs still hadn’t been pinned down until the features were run.
When all had been settled, Al Uotinen of Superior laid claim to his sixth ABC Raceway championship in the WISSOTA Modifieds, Tomahawk’s Jeff Klopstein gained the WISSOTA Super Stock crown, Paul Suzik of Ironwood, MI, was named WISSOTA Midwest Modified champ, Hayward’s Dale Coddington held on for Six-Cylinder honors, and Matt Deragon of Ashland repeated as Pure Stock champ.
Uotinen only needed to start the 20-lap ‘big Mod” headliner in order to nail down his sixth track championship here, but the story of the race was the strong run by outside front-row starter Steve Lavasseur of River Falls. Lavasseur battled with polesitter Jared Loos for a little over a lap before establishing himself as the man to beat, while Bill Byholm, Paul Niznik and Jeff Spacek lurked just behind.
Lavasseur found the upper groove to his liking and stormed away to a full-second lead within the first four laps, while Byholm used an inside move to take second from Loos. On lap 7 Stuart made a daring thread-the-needle move to swipe third from Loos and Spacek, but Loos charged back to try to retake the spot a lap later.
Just after the halfway point Byholm began to close the gap on the leader, and on lap 13 he was showing the nose of his car just alongside Lavasseur’s. But on lap 14 Byholm got too close, and the resulting contact sent Lavasseur’s car airborne for just a moment and then spinning in turn 4 to bring about the race’s only caution stop. Lavasseur’s car was none the worse for wear, however, and he shrugged off a brief challenge by Stuart for the lead on the ensuing restart before pulling away to his first feature win here since June 2012.
Stuart held on to win the dogfight for second over Loos, while Uotinen charged from his fourth-row start to take fourth and claim the title, ahead of Kevin Eder.
Klopstein followed up his first career Super Stock feature win here last week with his first-ever track championship, in this his first season in the division. The race was filled with drama for the champ, as a stout run by Sarona’s Shane Kisling for the win left Klopstein little room for error.
Kisling made up for a frustrating run in Superior the night before by charging to the front with a purpose in the 20-lap A-main. Cory Casari played a major role in the entire race, starting with his strong run to the inside on polestarter Scott Lawrence to challenge for the lead early, after which Nick Oreskovich surprised both with a dive to the bottom to pass them for first on lap 2.
The fourth-row-starting Kisling was already in third by lap 5 and dove low to take second from Lawrence on lap 6; with Klopstein running eighth on that lap the move essentially put Kisling and Klopstein in a tie for the points lead at that moment. But Klopstein moved by Marcus Dunbar for sixth a couple circuits later, before the race’s lone caution flag was thrown for Brady Mesko-Jokinen’s spin at mid-race.
Kisling worked an outside move to take the lead from Oreskovich for good a lap after the restart, giving him the points lead for just a moment, but the next time around Klopstein snuck by Casari for fifth, moving him back to the top of the standings. From there Kisling ran away to his second win of the year here by a two-second cushion, and Klopstein did all he could to keep Casari from taking fifth away from him and earned the title by one point.
A strong late charge by Eder in Greg Kuklinski’s racer was good for second-place money, while Oreskovich stayed just in front of Lawrence for third.
Entering the night, the standings difference from first to second was closest in the Mid-Mods, where Suzik held a five-point edge on Ryan Adamzak. Suzik’s heat win, combined with Adamzak’s third-place run in his heat, gave Suzik just a little more breathing room heading for their feature.
Duane Dunbar led the early laps of the 20-lap nightcap, just ahead of a very determined Tad Bretting and George Dalbeck. After Mark Kangas’ spin collected several cars for the race’s first yellow-flag slowdown on lap 3, Dalbeck moved past Bretting on the restart into second. Then on lap 6 Dalbeck slipped by Dunbar on the low side for the lead, while Bretting made it three-wide up high, just before the excitement was tempered by Niznik’s spin deep in the field.
After Kangas turned around again on that restart, Dalbeck began to build a bit of a lead, while Bretting battled with Dunbar. All this time the seventh-starting Suzik and tenth-starting Adamzak raced tail-to-nose in the second five, with Adamzak unable to take advantage of the limited opportunities he had to get by the youngster.
In what seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the night, Eder – running his third feature in a row – drove by Tyler Luger into fifth place as the race progressed into its second half, and he eventually got by Tanner Hicks for fourth. With eight laps remaining Eder was by Dunbar and threatening to take second from Bretting, and it was at this point that Suzik decided to put an end to the points battle, clawing his way past Dunbar for fifth while Adamzak was stuck in eighth.
Dalbeck, the 2011 track champ from Ironwood, made his one-second lead stand up for his second feature win of the season, and Suzik scored his first career track title with a solid fifth-place finish. Bretting was impressive in holding off Eder for second, and Hicks stayed in the top five throughout most of the run and finished fourth.
Coddington’s lead in the Six-Cylinder points was only seven after he only mustered a third-place run in his heat race, while Tiffany Hudack grabbed the win in hers. Then, midway through the 15-lap feature, a major slip-up nearly dashed Coddington’s title hopes altogether.
Ken Tyykila held an early edge on Ron Hmielewski and a three-wide scramble for third, from which Tyler Hudack came away with the spot on lap 2 and the momentum to pull alongside Hmielewski for second on the next go-’round. Tiffany Hudack, who started alongside Coddington on row 4, clawed her way past Bubba Anderson to move into the top five, while Coddington remained mired in seventh.
On lap 6 Tyler went around Tyykila for the lead, and as the run went uninterrupted he was uncatchable. A lap later, though, while trying to muscle his way down low for a pass, the seventh-running Coddington caught the inside edge of the track; the bobble nearly caused him to loop his car into the infield grass, and he lost several crucial positions as Tiffany threatened to take fourth from Tyler Vernon.
Fortunately for Coddington he had time to regroup, and over the remaining laps he picked off a position at a time, while Tiffany raced alongside Vernon but couldn’t clear him. Tyler Hudack, of Ashland, raced away to one of the biggest margins of victory of the season – just over seven seconds, while second-place Tyykila fought to his best run of the year. Hmielewski, Vernon and Tiffany Hudack followed in a tight cluster for third through fifth, and Coddington recovered for a ninth-place run – good enough for a third track championship by a scant three points.
The first championship of the night was settled when Deragon grabbed the win in the final Pure Stock heat race of the season. But when feature time came around the drama was not complete, as second-in-points Tim Carbon of Highbridge used a last-lap pass to gain the win.
Glenn Dammer, in what is believed to be his last race at Ashland, slipped past the front row of Andy Compton and Jake Nevala to set the early pace. On lap 2 Brandle Pupp attempted a three-wide pass for third, but contact from Randy Conner caused Pupp to spin, resetting the field just behind the 2007 ABC Raceway champ.
Pupp was again involved in a three-wide pass just after the restart – this time when Deragon tried to go high-side around Pupp and Randy Graham for second as Compton faded back. Graham was the beneficiary of the move, but within a couple of laps Deragon came charging back. On lap 6 Deragon was by Graham and in the process of sweeping around Dammer when debris was spotted on the front straight, slowing the pace. Then Nevala spun for the race’s final caution stoppage a lap later.
Graham made a strong move to the inside on the restart to take the lead from Dammer, while Deragon faded with a flat tire but stayed on the track for the final five laps to finish seventh. Carbon, who was lined up in fourth for the final restart, made several strong inside moves to gain third from Deragon and then second from Dammer with four laps to go. On the white flag lap the two-time ABC champ looked outside on Graham initially, then dove low on the back stretch to drive by Graham and take the lead into the final corner, holding on for his first feature win since July 2012.
Andrew Hanson had a brilliant run after the late restart for third-place money, while Dammer slipped back to fourth ahead of Pupp. Deragon’s title is his third in the past four seasons.
Fast-lap bonuses were collected by Byholm in the Mods (16.278 seconds), Oreskovich in the Supers (16.757), Eder in the Mid-Mods (17.197), and Tyler Hudack in the Sixes (17.828).
The staff of the ABC Raceway will now prepare for the 40th annual Red Clay Classic, to be held Friday and Saturday, October 2-3. Additional information will be provided soon as well as posted on the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com. “Z-93 Race Night” will air live on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and stream live online at www.wbszfm.com, starting at 3 pm on both days of the event 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 raceday information call (715) 682-4990.
Feature: Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Jared Loos, Loyal; Al Uotinen, Superior; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Paul Niznik, Medford; Pat Cook, Washburn; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Rick Rivord, Superior; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Dustin Hudack, Ashland.
Heat 1: Stuart; Uotinen; Eder; Spacek; Cook; Mikkonen; Balduc; Zack Pagels, Mason.
Heat 2: Loos; Lavasseur; Byholm; Niznik; S Hudack; Rivord; D Hudack.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: Shane Kisling, Sarona; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Cory Casari, Montreal; Pat Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Shawn McFadden Jr, Ashland; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Andy Grymala, Superior; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Jim Campbell, Two Harbors, MN; Mike Hince, Medford; Ken Truscott, Greenland, MI; Myron Basina, Washburn; Dave Elliott, Minocqua; Brady Mesko-Jokinen, Mellen; Keith Corcilius, Phillips; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge.
Heat 1: Lawrence; Kisling; Dunbar; T Spacek; Grymala; Stricker; Hince; Corcilius.
Heat 2: McFadden; Klopstein; Oreskovich; Beeksma; C Spacek; Anderson.
Heat 3: R Spacek; Eder; Casari; Truscott; Elliott; Basina; Mesko-Jokinen.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: George Dalbeck, Ironwood, MI; Tad Bretting, Ashland; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Tyler Luger, Iron River; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; John Kallas, Hurley; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Mickey Nosser, Phillips; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Paul Niznik, Medford; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Brad Seavers, Rib Lake; David Simpson, Thunder Bay, ON; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Pete Paulus, Phillips; JR Anderson, Superior; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield; Kevin Monteith, Rosslyn, ON: Peter Jokinen, Mellen; Rob Weber, Ashland; Mark Kangas, Eveleth, MN.
Heat 1: Monteith; T Bretting; Kallas; Paulus; Lindquist; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI.
Heat 2: Luger; Hicks; Adamzak; Byholm; Jokinen; Simpson; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Seavers.
Heat 3: Suzik; Dunbar; Kangas; Anderson; J Barningham; Robert Hyde, Ashland.
Heat 4: Eder; Dalbeck; Stricker; Weber; Nosser; Vernon; Cole Chernosky, Thunder Bay, ON; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland.
Semi-Feature: Simpson; Vernon; Niznik; Seavers; C Bretting; R Barningham; Muhlig; Chernosky; Hyde; Fuhrman.
Feature: Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Ken Tyykila, Iron River; Ron Hmielewski, Marengo; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Colten Vernon, Ashland; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Neil Adamzak, Ashland; Dale Coddington, Hayward; DeJay Mihalek, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Olivia Bretting, Ashland; Brendon Ottman, Ashland; Jonathan Popp, Iron River.
Heat 1: Tyler Hudack; Schultz; Coddington; T Vernon; C Vernon; Traaholt; Mashlan; Bretting; Travis Swanson, Washburn.
Heat 2: Tiffany Hudack; Anderson; Tyykila; Hmielewski; Mihalek; Popp; Ottman; Adamzak.
Feature: Tim Carbon, Highbridge; Randy Graham, Trego; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Glenn Dammer, Duluth, MN; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Andy Poll, Two Harbors, MN; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Andy Compton, Ashland; Nick Paoli, Ironwood, MI; Randy Conner, Hayward; Bob Skrobot, Manitowish Waters; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls.
Heat 1: Dammer; Graham; Pupp; Carbon; Hanson; Paoli; Skrobot.
Heat 2: Deragon; Conner; Compton; Nevala; Poll; Weinberger.