Solem Outruns Renegade Sprints, Young Uotinen Scores First Win at ABC
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 14 – Lance Solem of Duluth, MN, swapped positions with his fellow Northern Renegades competitors early and often during their 15-lap feature, then maintained the lead over the final ten laps to claim his first-ever sprint car win at the ABC Raceway on Saturday night.
The visit by the Traditional (non-winged) regional sprint series was the third and final one of the 2021 season at Ashland. The seven-division program, presented by WIMI, 99.7 FM, of Ironwood, MI, also produced repeat wins for Brandon Copp of Brule; Ashland drivers Steve Stuart and DeJay Jarecki; and Cory Jorgensen of Duluth; while Dalton Truchon of Ashland scored his first feature win of the season here and Superior’s Brady Uotinen collected his first-ever ABC Raceway feature win.
Solem, whose only other win on Ashland’s historic red-clay oval was in a WISSOTA Midwest Modified in August 2008, started the Renegade sprint A-main on the outside of row 3 and took advantage of an early bobble by polestarter Nick DaRonco to quickly move into the top four behind Chris Lewis, Ken Hron and Caley Emerson. After multiple shuffles in the running order over the first three laps, Hron’s spin brought about the race’s first slowdown, and three laps after that Solem – who restarted second – dove inside and took the lead from Lewis.
The position-swapping was frequent and furious throughout the run, as Paul Schultz displaced Lewis for second on lap 7, Emerson followed suit for third a lap later, and DaRonco took fourth away on the next circuit, just before Lewis spun to stop the race for the second and final time. Hron, who had slipped by DaRonco prior to the caution, moved past Emerson after the restart and challenged Schultz over the final five laps for second, allowing Solem to pull away to a full-second margin of victory. Schultz held off Hron for second, and Lewis recovered for fourth just ahead of Emerson.
Uotinen, the son of six-time ABC Raceway WISSOTA Modified track champion Al Uotinen, was fresh off of a dominant feature win at Superior the night before, and he capitalized on his outside-front-row starting spot in the Midwest Mod main event by blasting past polestarter Diamond Bressette at the drop of the green flag and leading every lap here for his landmark win.
Paul Niznik’s spin on lap 1 was the only slowdown of the 20-lapper, and Uotinen never flinched on the restart, speeding away to a two-second lead by lap 6. Tanner Hicks, who followed Uotinen into second at the initial start of the race, maintained a safe cushion on the battle for third during the early stages of the run, until Paul Suzik weaved his way from his eighth-place starting spot into that spot.
Uotinen had already begun putting slower cars a lap back by mid-race, but he continued to build on his lead. The slower traffic helped Suzik and divisional points leader Tyler Vernon catch Hicks, however, and the threesome thrilled the fans with their ongoing battle for runner-up honors among the backmarkers.
As Uotinen cruised to a nearly half-a-lap winning margin, Suzik – who had edged ahead of Hicks for second on the white-flag lap – suddenly slowed while coming out of turn 4 for the final time. Hicks had nowhere to go in the heavy surrounding traffic and smacked into the back of Suzik’s car just yards short of the finish line, allowing Vernon to slip past. Once the dust settled, the finish was scored by the running order on the last completed lap, with Hicks replaced in second, Vernon delegated to third, Jesse Aho and Ross Fuhrman completing the top five, and Suzik relegated to the end of the running order as the cause of the incident.
Truchon’s win in the ABC Six-Cylinder feature was long overdue, as he had been running strong in recent weeks but did not have a heat or feature win to show for his efforts. The 19-year-old fifth-year driver started fourth on the 12-car grid but restarted second behind Shane Basina after a lap 1 caution stop for debris, and he used a quick inside move to grab the lead and didn’t look back.
The rest of the 12-lap run clicked off non-stop, with Truchon fending off persistent challenges from Dale Coddington. Truchon’s advantage was never more than a second on the three-time champ, but he maintained a smooth line and held on for a .409-second margin of victory.
Tiffany Hudack weaved her way through heavy traffic to snare third, ahead of Jake Nevala and Basina. With points leader Dennis Groom struggling to an eighth-place finish, the top six in the division’s championship standings are now within 80 points of each other with only two scheduled nights of racing remaining.
Copp’s third feature win of the season in the WISSOTA Modifieds had to be particularly satisfying, considering the significant repairs that had to be made after his car was gathered up in an altercation during the “big Mod” feature at Superior the night before. Both car and driver looked none the worse for wear while capturing the win here, however.
Copp followed polestarter Rick Rivord past Shane Kisling to run 1-2 in the early going of the 20-lapper. As Niznik was taking third from Kisling two laps later, Copp went outside on Rivord and claimed the lead, and on lap 3 Niznik dove low to get by Rivord for second. One circuit later divisional points leader Cole Spacek grabbed third, as Copp extended his edge to eight-tenths of a second.
That’s as far away as Copp would get from Niznik, who closed the gap to less than a car-length by mid-race. But Copp held on despite Niznik’s strong run – even as they worked their way past slower traffic late in the go – and Copp’s final winning margin was just shy of three-quarters of a second. Spacek didn’t lose much of his points lead with his third-place finish, while a strong run by Jake Hiatt netted him fourth-place money ahead of Pat Cook.
The early going of the 20-lap WISSOTA Super Stock feature was the messiest portion of that race, with each of the four yellow flags over the first four scored laps coming about due to multi-car incidents. But Stuart was out front on the last of those restarts and drove away to his fifth feature win of the year here to strengthen his points lead.
Just as the first lap was completed, several cars were crunched together on the front-straightaway for the first of the delays. Outside front-row starter Justin Weinberger led Stuart, Matt Deragon and the rest back to the green, but several cars never got that far as another jumble occurred coming out of turn 4 for the restart. Close-quarters, four-wide racing produced another four-car melee on lap 2, and after Stuart slipped by Weinberger for the lead on that restart, another four-car mess resulted in a penalty to the back of the pack for Deragon.
From there the race – and the rest of the evening’s program – went caution-free. Nick Oreskovich worked inside on Weinberger to take second, with Shawn McFadden repeating the move just behind him on Scott Lawrence for fourth. Oreskovich had notions of taking the lead from Stuart by lap 8, but within two more laps the leader had pushed his advantage to over a second, and it would only increase from there.
With six laps left McFadden took third away from Weinberger, and over the final laps he caught and passed Oreskovich for second, but Stuart’s 2.5-second lead at the checkers was more than enough. Oreskovich, Weinberger and a battered Cory Casari completed the top five.
Points leader RJ Holly started from the pole and grabbed the early lead of the ten-lap WISSOTA Pure Stock feature, but Jorgensen went by him before the first lap was completed and sped away to his division-leading fifth feature win of the season here to help tighten the championship battle in that class.
Jorgensen survived a wild feature at Superior the night before for a win, but he was under a lot less stress on this night, as once out in front he was never seriously challenged. A mid-race battle between Holly and Aaron Bernick did not last long, with Holly getting the better of Bernick for second. Zene Anderson drove to a distant fourth.
Jarecki took one more step toward his first career points championship with his ninth-straight WISSOTA Hornets feature win. Basina, once again driving Jarecki’s spare car, zipped around polestarter Derek Dunbar for the early lead, with Jarecki following to second right away.
On lap 3 Jarecki went low to pass Basina for the winning move, and although he never really pulled away by much Jarecki’s final margin of victory was about four car-lengths. Dunbar fell to last in the four-car running order early but recovered to get by Brandon Hummelmeier by mid-race for third.
The evening’s fastest timed feature laps were recorded by Lewis in the Renegade sprints (17.504 seconds; 77.125 mph); Niznik in the Modifieds (17.391; 77.626); Stuart in the Super Stocks (17.419; 77.502); Uotinen in the Mid-Mods (17.539; 76.971); and Coddington in the Sixes (18.692; 72.223). After the last yellow flag of the Super Stock feature, the balance of that race and the entirety of the Modified, Pure Stock and Hornet A-mains – the final 54 laps of the evening – ran non-stop, with the program ending shortly after 10 pm.
The ABC Raceway will offer another seven-divisions-for-the-price-of-six race program on Saturday, August 21, when the WISSOTA Street Stocks come to town for the rescheduled second annual “Battle by the Bay,” to be presented by Anderson Auto Body of Phillips. The Street Stocks will be running for a minimum of $1,000 to win in their feature.
In addition, the Hornets will be running for an enhanced purse as part of the Safari Bar “Hornet’s Nest 25,” and the entire race night will be presented by the Ashland-Bayfield County Sportsmen’s Club. At intermission during Saturday’s race program, the Club’s raffle drawing will be held. And there will be no increase in the grandstand admission ticket prices, with advance tickets and pit passes available via the My Race Pass website and mobile app.
The grandstands will open at 5 pm, hot laps start at 6:15, and the first green flag of the night is scheduled for 7 pm. WSBZ, 93.3 FM, will air updates from 4:30-6 pm on Saturday, with simulcasts aired online via the station’s website, www.wbszfm.com. 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, or log on to the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com.
Northern Renegades Traditional Sprints
Feature: 1-8: Lance Solem, Duluth, MN; Paul Schultz, Grand Rapids, MN; Ken Hron, Grand Rapids, MN; Chris Lewis, Grand Rapids, MN; Caley Emerson, Grand Rapids, MN; Nick DaRonco, Britt, MN; Brian Trembath, Hastings, MN; Corey Olson, Duluth, MN.
Heat: DaRonco; Solem; Emerson; Rob Caho Jr, Rush City, MN; Lewis; Schultz; Hron; Trembath; Olson.
Feature: 1-10: Brandon Copp, Brule; Paul Niznik, Medford; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Pat Cook, Washburn; Alex Van Natta, Minocqua; Rick Rivord, Superior; Al Uotinen, Superior; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Mike Klippenstein, Proctor, MN.
11: Shane Kisling, Butternut.
Heat 1: Copp; Cook; Kisling; Rivord; Uotinen; Klippenstein.
Heat 2: Hiatt; Balduc; Spacek; Niznik; Van Natta.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Steve Stuart, Ashland; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Justin Weinberger, Butternut; Cory Casari, Montreal; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Rita Anderson, South Range; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Scott Lawrence, Superior.
11-12: Myron Basina, Washburn; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI.
Heat 1: Stuart; Weinberger; Deragon; Mashlan; R Anderson; Casari.
Heat 2: Oreskovich; McFadden; Lawrence; C Anderson; Muzzy; Basina.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: Brady Uotinen, Superior; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Tyler Vernon, Mason; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Jack Rivord, Superior; Dalton Mains, Foxboro; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield.
11-18: Paul Niznik, Medford; Mitch Kieber, Ironwood, MI; Matt Jacobson, Bessemer, MI; Bryan Lund, Ashland; Diamond Bressette, Spooner; Neil Dees, Hurley; James Vendela, South Range; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI.
Heat 1: Vernon; Hudack; Bressette; Kieber; Dees.
Heat 2: Uotinen; Vendela; Hicks; Mains; Jacobson; Barningham.
Heat 3: Suzik; Aho; Fuhrman; Rivord; Niznik; Lund.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-4: Cory Jorgensen, Duluth, MN; RJ Holly, Marengo; Aaron Bernick, Duluth, MN; Zene Anderson, Superior.
Heat: Jorgensen; Holly; Bernick; Anderson.
Feature: 1-10: Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Dale Coddington, Hayward; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Shane Basina, Bayfield; Trenton Bond, Mason; Mathew Rohlfing, Cable; Dennis Groom, Ashland; Jakob Bond, Mason; Austin Olby, Marengo.
11-12: Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Julian Root, Ashland.
Heat 1: Coddington; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Root; T Bond; Rohlfing; Traaholt; Nevala.
Heat 2: Truchon; Groom; Hudack; Basina; Olby; J Bond.
Feature: 1-4: DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Shane Basina, Bayfield; Derek Dunbar, Iron River; Brandon Hummelmeier, Ashland.
Heat: Jarecki; Basina; Dunbar; Hummelmeier.