Stuart, Groom, Jarecki Repeat as ABC Raceway Champs; Copp, Dunbar, Jorgensen Claim First Titles
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 27 – With storm clouds looming to the south and west, the ABC Raceway put on a fast-paced program to close out the regular-schedule portion of its 58th stock car racing season.
Mountain Dew and North Star Beverage of Hurley presented “Championship Saturday Night,” a 16-race program that was completed in less than 2-1/2 hours despite a delay for a minor rain sprinkle that interrupted one of the features.
When the program was over, the track named its season point champions. Successfully defending their titles from ’21 were Ashland drivers Steve Stuart in the WISSOTA Super Stocks, Dennis Groom in the ABC Six-Cylinders, and DeJay Jarecki in the WISSOTA Hornets.
In addition, Marcus Dunbar of Marenisco, MI, added a second WISSOTA Midwest Modified title to the one he earned in 2020; and Brandon Copp of Brule (WISSOTA Modifieds) and Cory Jorgensen of Duluth, MN (WISSOTA Pure Stocks) became first-time ABC champs.
Mike Anderson of Jim Falls returned to ABC after a favorable run in last Saturday’s Outlaw Wraps & Apparel WISSOTA Modified A-feature to make it two wins in a row to close out the season here. Anderson was even more dominant this time around while again leading from start to finish.
Anderson started outside on the front row and immediately shot to the lead, with Shane Kisling following him past polestarter Hunter Anderson to second. Second-in-points Rick Rivord took over third a circuit later, and on lap 4 Rivord worked his way past Kisling into second.
The 20-lapper ran off non-stop, and Mike Anderson built on his lead with every tour around the sticky-fast three-eighths-mile red-clay oval; by mid-race his lead was over four seconds on Rivord. Kisling, though, had his plate full in trying to fend off Copp and Pat Cook. On lap 12 Copp and Kisling made contact while Copp attempted a pass for position, and this caused both drivers to scramble into recovery mode while opening up the bottom lane for Cook. By the time cooler heads prevailed, Cook and Copp had taken third and fourth, respectively.
Anderson handled lapped traffic over the final five laps without issue and cruised to a 4.4-second margin of victory, or about the length of a straightaway. Rivord ran a solid race to earn second in both the feature and the final points standings, with Cook, champion Copp, and Kisling completing the top five.
Copp joins his father Don (eight titles) and uncle John (one) as an ABC Raceway champion.
Stuart tied Brandon’s dad with his eighth track championship after a fifth-place finish in the Arrowhead Auto Glass WISSOTA Super Stock feature. Their eight titles each are second only to Scott Lawrence, who has 14 at Ashland.
The other story of the night was Patrick Beeksma of Ironwood, MI, the former four-time ABC Six-Cylinder champ who won a feature for the first time in his eight years in a Super Stock – and his first win here since 2013. Like Anderson, Beeksma started his 20-lap A-main outside on the front row, and he rode the perimeter of the Ashland oval to the landmark win.
The first six laps of the run saw Beeksma, DJ Keeler and Kyle Copp in a terrific battle for the lead, with the trio pulling away from Andrew Mackey and the others. Josh Saunders’ spin on lap 5 and a tangle between championship contender Nick Oreskovich and Mackey on lap 6 momentarily delayed the fun up front, but after the lap 6 restart Beeksma found a rhythm up on the cushion and pulled away.
One more stoppage for Saunders’ second spin on lap 10 was the only other delay, after which Beeksma had things well in hand, extending his lead to over a second when he took the checkers for his 31st career win here. After the last restart Keeler fell victim to a mad scramble for the second position, which was won by Copp over Terran Spacek, Shawn McFadden and Stuart.
Dunbar had clinched the WISSOTA Midwest Modified title by taking the green flag in his heat race, so the feature was an exercise in patience for the hard-charging young second-generation driver. But Superior’s James Vendela wasn’t about to “settle” for anything, charging to the front from his third-row starting spot after just six laps and flying to his first feature win here in over two years.
Tyler Vernon used the pattern set by Anderson and Beeksma and darted to the lead from the outside-front-row starting position. Vendela moved quickly through traffic and claimed second within the first four laps, and he had an opportunity to steal the lead away from Vernon after a caution flag for a Diamond Bressette spin on lap 5 bunched up the field.
It had begun lightly sprinkling just prior to the start of the Mid-Mod main, and during the yellow-flag slowdown the showers picked up a bit, making the track very slippery and dangerous for the restart. However, the cars stayed out on the track for a good 15 minutes to run the precipitation in, and the race was cut from its original 20 laps to 15 when the green came back out, in order to help get the entire program completed.
Once back under green, Vendela worked outside on Vernon, Duane Dunbar dove inside, and after the three-wide move Vendela was out front to stay. Dunbar and Vernon battled for a bit before Vernon grabbed second, which he held on to until the checkers, and during the final lap Jimmy Latvala stole third away from Dunbar. Second-in-points Paul Suzik wound up fifth, and Marcus Dunbar secured his title with a sixth-place effort.
With only seven starters in the WISSOTA Pure Stock feature, Jorgensen – who started sixth – needed a top-five run to secure his first ABC title, especially with second-in-points Aaron Bernick starting outside on the front row.
But Jorgensen finalized the title quickly, moving up to third just three laps into the ten-lap A-main as Bernick battled with Travis Hazelton for the lead. Hazelton took over the top spot on the same lap as Jorgensen took third, and with no caution flags to bunch up the field, Hazelton continued on unchallenged for his fifth win of the season here.
Jorgensen, the 2019 national Pure Stock champion, grabbed one more spot by getting past Bernick with four laps left, but Hazelton, who has been traveling here from Chippewa Falls to compete somewhat regularly, was well on his way to a 2.4-second advantage at the final stripe. Bernick held off visitor Mitchell Kesan for third, and Tyler Kachinske took fifth.
Groom wisely played a conservative card on this night, which paid off with a fifth-place paycheck and his second consecutive ABC Six-Cylinder championship. Second-in-points Dalton Truchon of Ashland, however, was determined to chalk up one more feature win before the Sixes drivers put their cars away for the off-season.
A three-car mess on the opening lap eliminated a good chunk of the 12-car starting field, but the next 12 laps went without delay. That was good for Truchon, who had grabbed the lead from the pole and continued pacing the field after the green came back out.
A strong-running Shane Basina took second place from Mathew Rohlfing just after the restart, but within five laps Truchon was ahead by over a second. Tyler Hudack charged up to fourth in the late stages and, thanks to a Brad Hanson spin, was in position to steal second away on the green-white-checkered restart.
But Truchon was too strong on this night, disappearing to a 1.4-second margin of victory over Hudack. Basina held on for third, ahead of Bubba Anderson and Groom.
Jarecki had already nailed down his second straight WISSOTA Hornets title before last Saturday’s feature took to the track, but he wasn’t about to take the conservative approach. With Halvor Lines Speedway (Proctor, MN) champ AJ House in the field, Jarecki went on the attack and garnered his eighth feature win of the season and sixth in a row at ABC.
House got by polestarter Kristy Marken for the initial lead and stayed out front until mid-race. Jarecki, who started outside on row 2, had a little tougher time getting around Marken and Jonathan Popp, but once into second he reeled in House in short order.
Jarecki’s inside move on House with five laps left secured his 22nd career win at ABC, and the lead pair were well ahead of Popp, Brandon Hummelmeier and Marken, who completed the top-five in close order.
The staff of the ABC Raceway will now take a few weeks to prepare for the 47th annual Red Clay Classic, to be presented by FastLane Motorsports & Custom Powdercoating, Red’s Auto, and Tim’s Automotive Machine on Friday and Saturday, September 30-October 1. Over 200 WISSOTA Late Models, Modifieds, Super Stocks and Midwest Mods are expected to compete for a total purse in excess of $110,000 in one of the most prestigious dirt-track stock car racing events in the Upper Midwest.
More info will be provided in the coming weeks regarding the Red Clay Classic. The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13 and one mile west on Butterworth Road. For information, log on to the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com.
Feature: 1-10: Mike Anderson, Jim Falls; Rick Rivord, Superior; Pat Cook, Washburn; Brandon Copp, Brule; Shane Kisling, Butternut; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Hunter Anderson, Phillips; Jack Rivord, Superior; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI.
11-16: Tyler Luger, Oxford; Cody Wolkowski, Thunder Bay, ON; Todd Gehl, Solon Springs; John Carpenter, Hibbing, MN; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Terran Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: H Anderson; R Rivord; Hiatt; J Spacek; J Rivord; Wolkowski; Gehl; Carpenter.
Heat 2: Copp; Cook; M Anderson; Kisling; Byholm; Luger; Dunbar; T Spacek.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Kyle Copp, Brule; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; DJ Keeler, Superior; Andrew Mackey, Duluth, MN; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Randy Graham, Trego.
11-17: Don Livingston, Washburn; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Myron Basina, Bayfield; Will Fisher, Shell Lake; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Rita Anderson, South Range; Josh Saunders, Spooner.
Heat 1: McFadden; Stuart; Mackey; Graham; Basina; Stricker; Fisher; Anderson; Oreskovich.
Heat 2: Keeler; Spacek; Beeksma; Copp; Deragon; Livingston; Saunders; Mashlan.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: James Vendela, South Range; Tyler Vernon, Mason; Jimmy Latvala, Solon Springs; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Bryan Lund, Ashland; Bob Carver Jr, Maplewood, MN.
11-17: Matt Larson, Lake Elmo, MN; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Tacoma Randall, Rice Lake; Diamond Bressette, Spooner; Neil Dees, Hurley; Zach Slayton, Springbrook; Tad Schoonover, Eagle River.
Heat 1: Vernon; Bressette; Barningham; D Dunbar; Slayton; Bretting; Dees; Randall; Lund.
Heat 2: Latvala; Vendela; M Dunbar; Suzik; Fuhrman; Carver; Schoonover; Larson.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-7: Travis Hazelton, Chippewa Falls; Cory Jorgensen, Duluth, MN; Aaron Bernick, Duluth, MN; Mitchell Kesan, Medford; Tyler Kachinske, Duluth, MN; Nate Rose, Duluth, MN; Joe Pajtash, Trego.
Heat: Hazelton; Kesan; Bernick; Rose; Kachinske; Jorgensen.
Feature: 1-10: Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Shane Basina, Bayfield; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Dennis Groom, Ashland; Jakob Bond, Mason; Mathew Rohlfing, Cable; Brad Hanson, Glidden; Bella Bretting, Washburn; Julian Root, Ashland.
11-12: Austin Olby, Marengo; Jacob Johnson, Cable.
Heat 1: Truchon; Rohlfing; Basina; Johnson; Root; Bretting.
Heat 2: Bond; Anderson; Hudack; Olby; Hanson; Groom.
Feature: 1-7: DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; AJ House, Cloquet, MN; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Brandon Hummelmeier, Ashland; Kristy Marken, Duluth, MN; Josh Rowe, Duluth, MN; Noah Rose, Duluth, MN.
Heat: Jarecki; House; Marken; Rowe; Popp; Hummelmeier; Rose.