Lewis Hangs On for First ABC Raceway Renegades A-Main Win
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, June 26 – Chris Lewis of Grand Rapids, MN, fended off persistent race-long challenges to win his first-ever Northern Renegades traditional sprint car feature at the ABC Raceway on Saturday night.
Lewis, who has collected a number of runner-up finishes so far in the regional wingless sprint car tour’s 2021 campaign, led nearly every lap to collect his first win of the season. The seven-division program, presented by Heartland Communications Group of Ashland, saw a combination of other first-time as well as repeat winners on a cool, cloudy night that saw light sprinkles dampen the track throughout the features.
Lewis started outside on the front row of the very quick, non-stop 20-lap A-feature and beat Brad Larson to the initial lead. Paul Schultz slipped past Larson into second and pestered Lewis throughout the run, using daring moves to grab the lead on a couple of occasions, only to give it back to Lewis shortly thereafter.
Lance Solem, who started alongside Schultz on row 3, fought through early traffic and soon caught the lead pair, creating a thrilling three-car battle for the win that lasted the final 14 laps. Lewis held his line, while Solem and Schultz swapped second place just a few feet behind him. On the closing lap Solem took one last shot at a pass for the win, but Lewis held on for a half-second margin of victory, with Schultz close behind in the third.
Caley Emerson and Zach Olson completed the top five. Solem posted a lap time of 16.160 seconds, or 83.540 mph, during the A-main run, obliterating the previous Renegades feature-lap track record of 16.928 seconds (79.750 mph) set by Jimmy Kouba last August. Earlier Solem ran a lap in 15.889 seconds (84.964 mph) to establish a record for Renegades in heat-race action.
After a pair of caution flags over the first scored lap, the WISSOTA Modified feature ran off its remaining 19 laps caution-free, allowing Neil Balduc of Bessemer, MI, to get out front and run away with his first feature win here since last August.
After a spin by Jeff Spacek to start the run, polestarter Tyler Luger made things difficult for Balduc in the early stages, holding the lead as the caution came out after one lap for another Spacek spin, this time caused by Brandon Copp. A lap after that restart, however, Balduc overcame the determined Luger to take the lead, and within three laps his advantage was a full second.
Shane Kisling got by Al Uotinen for third on lap 7 and passed Luger for second a lap later, but by then Balduc was better than two seconds up on Kisling and lapping slower traffic. As the laps wound down Uotinen caught and passed Luger for third, bringing Steve Lavasseur along to fourth, and late in the run Paul Niznik edged Lavasseur to steal fourth, as Balduc scored the win by nearly 3.4 seconds.
In a WISSOTA Super Stock feature that had more than its fair share of carnage, Ashland’s Steve Stuart turned in another dominant performance in his brand-new racer.
Multi-car incidents marred the first couple of attempts to score the opening circuit of the 20-lap A-main before Keith Kern established himself as the leader. Another stoppage on lap 3 gave Stuart, who restarted third, the chance to use a three-wide sweep around Kern and Scott Lawrence to take the lead, but Kern stubbornly fought back.
It took a couple more circuits before Stuart seized control, just prior to a caution stop for debris on lap 6. Then Lawrence’s car, which restarted third, ground to a stop on the front straight, knocking him from his strong run.
The final 13 laps clicked off without further delay, allowing Stuart to cruise to a 2.1-second winning margin – his second in as many nights in the week-old car. Dave Flynn fought his way through heavy traffic to take second from Kern after the final restart, and Shawn McFadden stayed in the top five throughout the run to claim fourth, ahead of Kyle Copp.
The WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds also struggled to get through their 20-lap feature, but eventually Tyler Vernon of Ashland became the division’s first repeat winner over the first five races of the season.
After a messy first lap slowed by two yellow flags for spins and crashes, Tyler Hudack took the lead away from Matt Jacobson and began to build up a strong cushion, with Diamond Bressette following into second. Over the next six laps Jesse Aho and Jack Rivord overtook Jacobson and Bressette in tandem to claim second and third, three-quarters of a second back of Hudack.
A caution flag for a three-car incident on lap 6 brought the field back to Hudack’s rear bumper, and on the ensuing restart Aho snared the lead, with the eighth-starting Vernon in tow to second. Vernon worked on an outside pass for a couple of laps, but then dove low to work his way past Aho for the lead with seven laps remaining.
Bressette’s spin on the front straight with three laps left, followed by Chris Bretting’s spun ride on the restart, briefly delayed Vernon’s sprint to his second straight feature win. Rivord got by Aho on the final restart and was two-thirds of a second back of Vernon at the checkers, with Hudack and Paul Suzik close behind.
Close-quarters racing and a chaotic finish marked another wild WISSOTA Pure Stock 10-lap headliner, which was won by Cory Jorgensen of Duluth, MN, for the second straight week and third time this season.
RJ Holly grabbed the early lead and built up some breathing room on the dogfight for second, in which Aaron Bernick tried to fend off threats from Jorgensen and Jared Akervik. On lap 2 Jorgensen moved low to edge into the runner-up spot, and a lap later Akervik went outside to take third. It took another four laps before Jorgensen caught the leader, just as first-nighter Tim Carlson lost a tire and spun to bring about the race’s only stoppage.
On the restart Jorgensen went low to try to work past Holly, and Akervik went high, and the three-wide battle went to Jorgensen by inches at the white flag. However, heavy contact between Akervik and Bernick sent both cars spinning into turn 2 on the final lap, and since all cars had crossed under the white flag before the incident, the race was ruled complete, giving Jorgensen the win.
Holly was awarded second and Bernick third, with Akervik penalized to the tail of the field as the cause of the incident. First-nighters Jason Simonson and Anthony Woodhull completed the top five.
Tiffany Hudack’s bid for a fifth-straight ABC Six-Cylinders feature win to start the season fell just 47 one-thousandths of a second short, as Ashland’s Dennis Groom held on for a photo-finish feature win.
Front-row starter Trenton Bond enjoyed a strong initial run, leading the first four of the race’s 12 laps and surviving two early restarts before Groom, who started alongside Hudack on the fourth row, worked his way alongside Bond on lap 5 to take over. Groom was about to pull away when Hudack, who is masterful in running the bottom groove in this class, found room low and worked past Bond into second, just a half-lap before Bond’s car broke and spun on lap 7.
Groom held off Hudack for three laps before Mathew Rohlfing’s spin set up a green-white-checkered finish, and an inside pass by Hudack after the restart was spoiled by a Jake Nevala spin. Groom took advantage of the reprieve and adjusted his line, forcing Hudack to dive just a bit lower coming off the final corner, but he slipped up from his own line just a bit and Hudack pulled alongside, coming up a foot or so short of the win at the final stripe.
Dalton Truchon, Jakob Bond and Shane Basina came home third through fifth, respectively.
DeJay Jarecki kept his winning streak alive in taking home his fourth-straight WISSOTA Hornets feature win in decisive fashion. Jarecki started outside on the second row of the 10-lap program finale and immediately drove around front-row mates Derek Dunbar and Carson Gotelaere for a lead that he would not relinquish.
Dunbar pulled away from Gotelaere to maintain second throughout the run, and Gotelaere held off Brandon Hummelmeier during the middle stages of the run to hold on to third, as Jarecki cruised to his eighth career feature win in the Hornets, extending his track record for wins in that division. Visiting Justin Barsness came home a distant fifth.
The sticky-fast conditions generated lap times that challenged the track records in the other electronically-timed divisions. Besides Solem’s record-setting laps in the Renegades, Spacek set a fast pace of 16.445 seconds (82.092 mph) in the Mod A-main, coming within three-tenths of a second of Todd Gehl’s feature-lap record set in 2018. Stuart’s 16.643-second (81.115 mph) lap in the Super Stock main event was less than two-tenths slower than Nick Oreskovich’s 2017 record lap. Vernon posted a 17.072-second (79.077 mph) circuit that was within a half-second of Brandon Copp’s Midwest Mod fast time back in 2018. And Tiffany Hudack’s best lap in the Sixes (18.667; 72.320) was within a second of her own 2015 track record.
Thirty bikes, four scooters and 16 youth bike helmets were given away to lucky young fans at the track on this night, thanks to the efforts of the Raceway’s Kids’ Club and contributions from 22RVR Racing; Anderson Well Drilling & Repair; Arctic Ice; Brandon Copp Racing; Cole & Ashley Spacek; Copp’s Tire & Auto and Kyle Copp Racing; Diamond Bressette Racing; FastLane Motorsports; Groom Racing and Patti’s Family Daycare; Hiatt & Son Trucking; Holly Racing; Iron River Ambulance Service and John Darwin; Jarecki Racing; Jimmy & Renee Baross; Lightning Storm Graphics; Mashlan Business Services and Mashlan Racing; Mathew Rohlfing Racing; Matt Deragon Racing; Nevala Racing; Oreskovich Racing; Robert & Sandy Lowndes; Spacek Racing; Vendela Racing; Zene Anderson; and the ABC Raceway.
The ABC Raceway will sit idle over the Independence Day weekend but will be back in action on Saturday, July 10, for a full six-division race program presented by Chicago Iron & Supplies of Ashland. Included in that night’s program will be bike races for the kids.
Admission will be free for all students that attend, with the pits opening at 4:30 pm, and the grandstand gates opening at 5 pm. Hot laps will start at 6:15, and the first green flag of the night will fly at 7 pm. WSBZ, 93.3 FM, will air updates from 4:30-6 pm on Saturday, with simulcasts 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: 1-10: Chris Lewis, Grand Rapids, MN; Lance Solem, Duluth, MN; Paul Schultz, Grand Rapids, MN; Caley Emerson, Grand Rapids, MN; Zach Olson, Grand Rapids, MN; Brad Larson, Ely, MN; Casey Lang, Linwood, MN; Jake Barsness, Grand Rapids, MN; Jesse Grife, Grand Rapids, MN; Danny Wait Jr, Cohasset, MN.
11-15: Allen Stettner, Hastings, MN; Brian Trembath, Hastings, MN; Teal Arnason, Balsam, MN; Zach Widdes, Rice Lake; Ken Hron, Grand Rapids, MN.
Heat 1: Hron; Barsness; Larson; Arnason; Olson; Wait; Grife; Lucas Logue, Rush City, MN.
Heat 2: Solem; Emerson; Lewis; Schultz; Lang; Trembath; Widdes; Stettner.
Feature: 1-10: Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Shane Kisling, Butternut; Al Uotinen, Superior; Paul Niznik, Medford; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Tyler Luger, Oxford; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Brandon Copp, Brule; Pat Cook, Washburn.
11-13: Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Anthony Forfa III, Blythe, CA; Rick Rivord, Superior.
Heat 1: Hiatt; Rivord; Kisling; Luger; Copp; Niznik; Forfa.
Heat 2: Balduc; Uotinen; Lavasseur; J Spacek; C Spacek; Cook.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Steve Stuart, Ashland; Dave Flynn, Superior; Keith Kern, Superior; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Kyle Copp, Brule; Darin Meierotto, Superior; Jeffery Eisner Jr, Merrill; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Matthew Hammitt, Cloquet, MN; Rita Anderson, South Range.
11-16: Scott Lawrence, Superior; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Justin Weinberger, Butternut.
Heat 1: Lawrence; Mashlan; Stuart; Eisner; Beeksma; Weinberger; Muzzy; Hammitt.
Heat 2: Kern; Flynn; Oreskovich; Deragon; McFadden; Copp; Anderson; Meierotto.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: Tyler Vernon, Mason; Jack Rivord, Superior; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; James Vendela, South Range; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Matt Jacobson, Bessemer, MI; Mitch Kieber, Ironwood, MI.
11-15: Anthony Forfa Jr, Phillips; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Jesse Polson, Superior; Tanner Gehl, Solon Springs; Brady Uotinen, Superior.
Heat 1: Hicks; Aho; Jacobson; Diamond Bressette, Spooner; Vendela; Gehl; Bretting; Neil Dees, Hurley; Jesse Polson, Superior.
Heat 2: Vernon; Suzik; Hudack; Barningham; Rivord; Kieber; Uotinen; Forfa.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-8: Cory Jorgensen, Duluth, MN; RJ Holly, Marengo; Aaron Bernick, Duluth, MN; Jason Simonson, Poplar; Anthony Woodhull, Superior; Jared Akervik, Superior; Tim Carlson, Superior; Zene Anderson, Superior.
Heat: Jorgensen; Akervik; Carlson; Holly; Bernick; Anderson; Woodhull; Simonson.
Feature: 1-10: Dennis Groom, Ashland; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Jakob Bond, Mason; Shane Basina, Bayfield; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Mathew Rohlfing, Cable; Austin Olby, Marengo; Julian Root, Ashland; Trenton Bond, Mason.
11: Dale Coddington, Hayward.
Heat 1: T Bond; Hudack; J Bond; Coddington; Nevala.
Heat 2: Groom; Truchon; Basina; Root; Olby.
Feature: 1-7: DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Derek Dunbar, Iron River; Carson Gotelaere, Superior; Brandon Hummelmeier, Ashland; Justin Barsness, Grand Rapids, MN; Gavyn Moncher, Saxon; Joe Pajtash, Lake Nebagamon.
Heat: Jarecki; Gotelaere; Hummelmeier; Dunbar; Barsness; Adam Young, Hayward; Moncher.