Balduc, Stuart, Jarecki Stay Hot on ABC Bike Race Night
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, July 10 – The ABC Raceway hosted one of its long-time favorite nights – the annual kids’ bike races – and saw three of its drivers continue their winning ways in feature action on Saturday.
In a program presented by Chicago Iron & Supplies of Ashland on a warm, comfortable night, Neil Balduc of Bessemer, MI, and Ashland drivers Steve Stuart and DeJay Jarecki kept winning streaks alive. Four of the six features were marred by multiple caution flags, as drivers struggled to master a sticky-fast race track.
In the 20-lap WISSOTA Modified headliner, front-row starters Jeff Spacek and Rick Rivord swapped the lead for a couple of laps until Balduc, who started behind Spacek in row 2, used outside-line moves to get around Rivord for second and then Spacek for the lead on consecutive laps.
Jake Hiatt’s spin on lap 5 triggered a series of five slowdowns over the next five laps, including one by Rivord that sent him to the tail of the field. Despite the closeness of the rest of the field behind him, Balduc kept his composure and held off a determined Spacek on every restart as the field shuffled frequently behind them.
After the final stoppage, for debris on lap 10, the race settled into a much smoother tempo, with Balduc eventually pulling away from Spacek for his second straight win and tenth of his career here. Robby Bunkelman, the Raceway’s 2010 Modified champ, made his first visit of the year pay off with an impressive third-place run after starting 11th, finishing just ahead of 12th-starting Pat Cook and Shane Kisling.
Stuart won the WISSOTA Super Stock feature for the third straight time, but this one wasn’t nearly as easy as the previous two. He started the run from the fourth row in his month-old car and fought through heavy traffic and stubborn opposition to get to the front late in the 20-lap run.
Polestarter Justin Weinberger held the early lead through the first two attempts to start the race, both of which were stopped by melees due to congested traffic. After one lap was finally scored a third yellow flag flew, for Patrick Beeksma’s spin, but for the next five laps the fans were treated to some incredible close-quarters racing at the front, as Shawn McFadden slipped around Weinberger to take over the lead on lap 3, and Nick Oreskovich worked inside to take third from Matt Deragon on lap 4.
Weinberger’s great run ended with a slowdown on lap 6, but what followed were ten laps of tense battles throughout the field. Stuart had worked his way to third by this point and joined McFadden and Oreskovich in a thrilling dogfight at the front, while Deragon had his hands full trying to hold onto fourth ahead of Cory Casari and Beeksma. Oreskovich and Stuart swapped the runner-up spot while tapping on McFadden’s rear bumper until lap 15, when Oreskovich slipped up high in turn 4, opening the door for Stuart. Oreskovich then spun on the next lap, setting up an intense battle for the win.
On that restart Deragon spun, collecting several others, and on the next try Casari got a strong run to pull alongside McFadden. But Stuart squeezed between both of them and shot through for the lead, although McFadden momentarily clawed back by. Finally, on lap 17, Stuart cleared McFadden and set off to his 38th career feature win, tying him with Late Model great Tim McMann for tenth on the track’s all-time list. McFadden held on to second ahead of Casari, while Oreskovich recovered to steal fourth from Beeksma in the final corner.
Jarecki ran his feature win streak to a track-leading five straight as he dominated the WISSOTA Hornets’ eight-lap A-main. After the initial start of the race was waived off, Jarecki bolted around the front-row pair of Brandon Hummelmeier and Derek Dunbar and ran off to his ninth career win.
Dunbar followed Jarecki into second, but Hummelmeier took the spot a lap later. Then, on lap 4, Shane Basina – in a Hornet for the first time driving Jarecki’s spare car – went around both Hummelmeier and Dunbar and went on to finish a distant second. Dunbar regained third late in the run.
Tanner Hicks of Ashland survived a WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature that was slowed eight times by caution flags, so he was as much relieved as he was overjoyed in Victory Lane. Polestarter Diamond Bressette spun in front of the field on the initial corner of the 20-lap event, and the realignment moved Hicks into the front row for the restart, which he immediately took advantage of.
James Vendela’s spin after a fourth-place restart forced a second attempt to begin the race, and another jam-up of cars delayed the start again. Then, after one lap was finally scored, Dalton Mains went high-side to get around Matt Jacobson for second before John Darwin looped his ride. The field did get in five good laps from there, during which Jack Rivord, who originally started eighth, worked the lower lane to get by Jacobson to third, with Tyler Vernon following into fourth. Hicks had established a healthy lead margin by lap 6, but that disappeared when a three-car mess deep in the field stopped the pace.
Jacobson spun on the ensuing restart, after which Rivord drove low to edge ahead of Hicks prior to another stop, this one for debris on lap 8. Hicks got a measure of revenge by sticking to the higher line and, on lap 10, reclaimed the lead. Rookie Neil Dees’ stalled ride on lap 14 was the last of the yellow-flag slowdowns, and over the final laps a great battle involving Hicks, Rivord, Vernon and Jesse Aho ensued.
Vernon slipped ahead of Rivord with three to go, and when Rivord bobbled coming to the white flag, Aho dove low to pull alongside Vernon. Hicks held on for the final circuit for his first win here since 2018, while Vernon edged out Aho for second within a few feet of the winner’s rear bumper. Rivord held on for fourth ahead of Mains.
With only three WISSOTA Pure Stocks in the house, both the heat and feature for that division ran off non-stop. In the feature, Aaron Bernick of Duluth, MN, scored a long-awaited first feature win at Ashland.
Bernick, who had taken both races in a double-header the weekend before in Superior for his first-ever career wins, started Saturday’s run here on the outside of the front row, beat Zene Anderson to the first turn, and led every one of the feature’s eight laps. RJ Holly also got by Anderson and put up a valiant chase, staying within three to four car-lengths of the leader, but he could not close the gap. Anderson finished a distant third.
The ABC Six-Cylinders’ feature win looked to be well in hand for Dale Coddington, as the three-time track champion from Hayward started on the pole and led every lap, despite numerous caution stoppages. However, each of those stops brought Coddington’s primary challengers – Tiffany Hudack, Dennis Groom and Dalton Truchon – closer to the front.
Coddington immediately ran away from his front-row starting mate, rookie Julian Root, but Root spun on lap 2 to bring about the first of the 12-lapper’s half-dozen yellow flags. The next seven laps clicked off without concern, with Coddington building a significant buffer ahead of Truchon, who had gotten the better of Bubba Anderson for second.
It was after Root’s second spin that things got both nerve-wracking for Coddington and testy for the rest of the field. The lap 9 restart resulted in a mess on the front straight which gave Anderson a flat tire, knocking him from competition. On the next try, both Truchon, to the inside, and Jake Nevala, to the outside, tried to overtake Coddington, squeezing him in a three-wide move that ended in Coddington’s car breaking loose, causing a chain reaction of cars scattering behind the leaders.
On the next attempt, Truchon’s car ground to a stop with damage in the first turn, knocking him out of the event. This put Nevala, Groom, and Hudack directly behind the leader for the next lap, which was completed before Jakob Bond and Mathew Rohlfing tangled while racing for seventh.
Nevala lost the handle on his racer on the first of the green-white-checkered attempts to finish the race, causing a pile-up that forced Groom to hustle to the pits to change a flat tire. Coddington fended off a determined Hudack for the final two laps to finally reach the checkers, with Basina, Rohlfing and Groom completing the top five. Only six of the 13 cars that started the event made it to the finish.
On Saturday, July 17, the ABC Raceway will formally induct the members of its Class of 2021 into its Hall of Fame in a ceremony during intermission of its six-division race program. Zar’s Bar & Banquet Hall will be the presenting sponsor of the evening’s festivities. The grandstand gates and pits will open at 5 pm, followed by hot laps at 6:15 and the first green flag of the night scheduled for 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.
Feature: 1-10: Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Robby Bunkelman, Abbotsford; Pat Cook, Washburn; Shane Kisling, Butternut; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Paul Niznik, Medford; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Alex Van Natta, Minocqua; Mike Klippenstein, Proctor, MN.
11-12: Rick Rivord, Superior; Brandon Copp, Brule.
Heat 1: J Spacek; Hiatt; Balduc; Copp; C Spacek; Cook.
Heat 2: Rivord; Niznik; Kisling; Klippenstein; Van Natta; Bunkelman.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Steve Stuart, Ashland; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Cory Casari, Montreal; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Justin Weinberger, Butternut; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Rita Anderson, South Range; Leslie Leu, Medford.
11: Scott Lawrence, Superior.
Heat 1: McFadden; Oreskovich; Weinberger; Mashlan; Leu; Jase Lien, Mora, MN.
Heat 2: Stuart; Deragon; Beeksma; Lawrence; Casari; Anderson.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Tyler Vernon, Mason; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Jack Rivord, Superior; Dalton Mains, Foxboro; James Vendela, South Range; Sean O’Brien, Manitowish Waters; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Chris Bretting, Washburn; John Darwin, Iron River.
11-19: Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Mitch Kieber, Ironwood, MI; Neil Dees, Hurley; Diamond Bressette, Spooner; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Matt Jacobson, Bessemer, MI; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Jesse Polson, Superior.
Heat 1: Vernon; Hicks; Jacobson; Hudack; Polson; Kieber; Bryan Lund, Ashland.
Heat 2: Rivord; Aho; Suzik; Dunbar; Bretting; Dees; Fuhrman.
Heat 3: Vendela; Bressette; Mains; O’Brien; Darwin; Barningham.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-3: Aaron Bernick, Duluth, MN; RJ Holly, Marengo; Zene Anderson, Superior.
Heat: Holly; Bernick; Anderson.
Feature: 1-10: Dale Coddington, Hayward; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Shane Basina, Bayfield; Mathew Rohlfing, Cable; Dennis Groom, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Jakob Bond, Mason; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Trenton Bond, Mason.
11-13: Bubba Anderson, Trego; Austin Olby, Marengo; Julian Root, Ashland.
Heat 1: Groom; Hudack; Coddington; Truchon; Basina; J Bond; Olby.
Heat 2: Anderson; Rohlfing; Root; Nevala; Traaholt.
Feature: 1-4: DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Shane Basina, Bayfield; Derek Dunbar, Iron River; Brandon Hummelmeier, Ashland.
Heat: Jarecki; Basina; Hummelmeier; Dunbar.