Sabraski Tops Mod Tour & Super Stock Features at ABC
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, June 8 – After his performance at the ABC Raceway this past Saturday night, Shane Sabraski most certainly has washed away any remaining bad taste that he may have had after his visit here last September – and then some.
Sabraski not only redeemed himself by winning the WISSOTA Super Stock feature at the northern Wisconsin track, but he also swept both his qualifying heat race and the “Kwik-Trip 35” WISSOTA Modified headliner to capture his fourth win in the first six races of the 2019 schedule of the Advantage RV Mod Tour presented by Watertown Ford-Chrysler.
The eighty-seven entries for the Ashland area Kwik-Trip Convenience Stores-sponsored program included 30 Modifieds representing four states and two Canadian provinces. A smooth, black-slick racing surface produced three- and four-wide racing throughout many of the features.
Sabraski, of Rice, MN, had come into the Ashland stop on the Advantage RV Mod Tour as the series’ points leader, jumping ahead of defending Tour champ Dan Ebert after Sabraski’s feature win in Superior the night before. The pair had been alternating Tour wins over the first five shows of this year’s schedule going back to the previous weekend, but Sabraski put an end to that with a nearly flawless performance here.
For the second straight year the Tour feature at ABC went green-to-checkered without a stop. Ebert swept around polestarter Jody Bellefeuille to establish early control of the event and within five laps built a lead of nearly two full seconds, while Bellefeuille had all he could do to fend off former Tour champ Jeremy Nelson.
Sabraski had started on the outside of the third row but moved up to fourth place very quickly, albeit a distance back of the battle for second but well ahead of Johnny Broking, who had displaced Andy Jones for fifth on lap 8. As Ebert stretched his lead to 2.2 seconds after ten laps, Sabraski methodically caught and passed Nelson for third, then slipped by Bellefeuille for second over the next eight-lap stretch, using the tricky bottom lane while most other racers – including Ebert – were flying around the high side of the red-clay oval.
Ebert’s early dominance eventually became part of his undoing, as he caught backmarkers before lap 20. His efforts to weave and dodge through the slower cars allowed Sabraski to erase the two-second deficit and, on lap 21, slip low against Ebert in the heavy traffic to take over the lead. Ebert spent the next ten laps searching for a quicker route in order to keep pace with the leader, but Sabraski maintained a low-line strategy and pulled away to a 2.6-second margin of victory.
Nelson eventually re-established himself in third ahead of Bellefeuille, as those two waged a dogfight throughout the run, and eighth-starting Don Eischens came home fifth. Ebert set the fastest lap of the race early at 17.757 seconds (76.026 mph).
Sabraski’s measure of revenge on the Ashland oval didn’t come in the Mod race, but in the Super Stock A-feature. At last September’s Red Clay Classic he had battled from deep in the field to take the Super Stock feature lead late, then held on for what was assumed to be his first-ever win here, but his car did not pass the post-race technical inspection.
Saturday night’s story turned out much better for Sabraski, as his Super Stock was both very fast and perfectly legal. He started outside on the fourth row for the 20-lapper and bided his time as all-time ABC feature win leader Greg Kuklinski and rookie Andrew Mackey battled side-by-side for the early lead. As Kuklinski gained a small advantage, Mackey fell back into a pack with Don Muzzy and Nick Oreskovich in a debate for second.
An Aaron Mashlan spin on lap 3 slowed the pace down for a moment, and then contact between Kuklinski and Muzzy on the restart collected three other racers and forced a long caution slowdown. Another five-car mess on that restart delayed the proceedings again, but this time Sabraski was in position to pounce, restarting just behind Kuklinski and alongside Mackey in third.
Sabraski worked inside on Kuklinski and slipped by for the lead on lap 4 and was never to be challenged again, despite another stoppage for a spin by Mackey on lap 8. Kuklinski’s car began showing smoke and seemed off-pace throughout the rest of the run, which stayed under green, and he faded back, allowing Cory Casari, Oreskovich and others to pass by over the remaining laps.
Sabraski’s final margin of victory was 2.777 seconds, and he set the race’s fast lap with a time of 18.142 seconds (74.413 mph). Oreskovich threatened to take second away from Casari just after the lap 8 restart, but Casari prevailed for runner-up honors, and later in the run Matt Deragon got by Oreskovich for third. Shawn McFadden Jr completed the top five.
Four caution-flag slowdowns over the final nine laps of the WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature made for some frustrating racing, but Wakefield, MI’s George Dalbeck prevailed for his second feature win of the season here and his second in as many nights, after a dominant performance in Superior on Friday. Dalbeck, who also started on the outside of row 4, picked his way through to third place after just three laps, behind an entertaining battle for the lead between polestarter Brandon Copp and Clay Passuello.
Copp eventually pulled away as Passuello was overtaken by first David Simpson and then Dalbeck on lap 5. Dalbeck then slipped past Simpson and began to run down Copp, pulling alongside the leader under the flagstand just as the caution flag flew for visitor Michael McKay’s spin on lap 11.
Jesse Aho joined the battle for the lead as the green flag flew again, but Copp and Aho, running the outer groove, slipped too far up the track in turn 4, allowing Dalbeck to steal the lead away down low. Marcus Dunbar took third away from Aho just before a Darren Dunbar spin on lap 14 slowed the pace, and Wayne Jacques looped his ride after another lap was scored. Simpson retook third from Marcus Dunbar before a four-car melee brought about the final stoppage of the race with five laps to go, but Dalbeck had a stout enough ride to pull to a one-second advantage at the checkers over Copp, Marcus Dunbar, Simpson and Aho.
Dalbeck added the fast-lap bonus to his winnings with a time of 18.394 seconds (73.393 mph)
Trego’s Randy Graham did his best Shane Sabraski imitation by topping two features as well on this night. In the 12-lap ABC Six-Cylinder main event, Graham – who, like Sabraski and Dalbeck, started outside on the fourth row – picked his way through dense traffic and took advantage of a lap 5 restart to grab the first of his back-to-back wins.
Deragon held off Adam Traaholt early on for the lead, until Jonathan Popp took second away from Traaholt on lap 2. Graham worked inside on Popp for the runner-up position two laps later, but it took the lap 5 spin by Jordan Pearce to help eliminate Deragon’s sizeable advantage.
Popp caught Deragon and Graham napping on the restart and jumped by both for the lead, but they returned the favor on the next restart, which came two laps later after Devin Dalbec’s ride stalled at the top of turn 4. From there Graham got by Deragon and the lead pair sped away to finish a distant 1-2 ahead of Popp. Forest Schultz came home fourth, and Bubba Anderson crossed under the checkers in fifth but was disqualified for failing to visit the scales and teching area after the race, giving the position to Traaholt.
Graham’s other win came in the WISSOTA Pure Stock feature, but this time he didn’t have as far to go to get to the front. Starting alongside polestarter Brandle Pupp, Graham won the drag race into the first turn at the drop of the green and led all ten non-stop laps, although not without a challenge.
After two laps Justin Weinberger took over the second position, and for the balance of the race he kept the heat on the leader. James Vendela replaced Pupp in third on lap 3, but he was too far back to mount much of a threat for the win, although he was never challenged for the third spot, either. Visiting Dylan Shelton got by Pupp for fourth at mid-race, and Don Livingston overcame a couple of early-race stumbles to climb back to fifth at the finish.
After a couple of early-race cautions, Jake Smith of St Joseph, MN, became the third different WISSOTA Hornet feature winner in ABC Raceway history. Smith moved up quickly from his third-row-inside starting spot and restarted second behind polestarter Paul George after a lap 1 spin by Tate Niehaus. Smith made an immediate move to the inside line at the green and grabbed the lead, and for the next six laps the lead trio of Smith, George and Hunter McDougall raced nose-to-tail away from the rest of the pack.
Smith and George pulled away from McDougall over the final two laps, and coming out of turn 4 for the final time George dove to the inside in a last-ditch attempt to steal the win, but Smith’s car was too strong and he prevailed by less than a car-length. Niehaus recovered for fourth-place money, ahead of Derek Dunbar.
On Saturday, June 15, Northern Clearing Inc of Ashland will present its “Racing for a Reason” fundraiser night, to be co-sponsored by the Heartland Communications Group of radio stations. All grandstand admissions are free, and goodwill offerings will be accepted throughout the evening for local charitable causes, including the Chequamegon Bay area chapters of the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” program.
In addition, the Kids’ “Meet the Drivers” Night festivities, to be presented by Little Caesar’s Pizza of Ashland, has been rescheduled to take place prior to this Saturday’s race program. All six divisions will once again be in action.
The grandstands will open this Saturday at 5 pm, and hot laps will start at 6:15, followed by the “meet-and-greet” session. The first green flag of the night is scheduled to fly shortly after 7 pm. “Race Night” will air on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, with up-to-date track news and weather updates every 15-20 minutes from 4:30-6 pm; coverage will also stream on www.wbszfm.com and on the free Heartland Communications Group radio app.
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: Shane Sabraski, Rice, MN; Dan Ebert, Lake Shore, MN; Jeremy Nelson, Alexandria, MN; Jody Bellefeuille, Duluth, MN; Don Eischens, Richmond, MN; Pat Cook, Washburn; Dave Cain, Corcoran, MN; Johnny Broking, Grand Rapids, MN; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Andy Jones, Princeton, MN.
11-20: Mike Stearns, Hecla, SD; Tyler Luger, Oxford; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Darrell Nelson, Hermantown, MN; Joseph Thomas, Glyndon, MN; Bob Broking, Grand Rapids, MN; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Jerome Guyot, Fannystelle, MB; Cody Wolkowski, Thunder Bay, ON; Cody Carlson, Superior.
21-25: Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Todd Gehl, Solon Springs; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Corky Thomas, Glyndon, MN; Al Uotinen, Superior, WI.
Semi-Feature 1: D Nelson; J Spacek; Lavasseur; Wolkowski; J Thomas; Uotinen; Paul Niznik, Medford; Dan Kingsley, Superior.
Semi-Feature 2: Balduc; Carlson; B Broking; Byholm; Gehl; Stuart; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Cole Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: Eischens; Bellefeuille; Stearns; J Spacek; Uotinen; Wolkowski; J Thomas; Lavasseur.
Heat 2: Sabraski; J Broking; Cook; Carlson; Stuart; Balduc; Gehl; Suzik.
Heat 3: J Nelson; Luger; Guyot; D Nelson; Niznik; Corky Thomas, Glyndon, MN; Kingsley.
Heat 4: Ebert; Jones; Cain; Byholm; B Broking; C Spacek; Hiatt.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Shane Sabraski, Rice, MN; Cory Casari, Montreal; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Kyle Copp, Brule; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Andrew Mackey, Roseville, MN; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Rita Anderson, South Range.
11-12: Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Scott Lawrence, Superior.
Heat 1: Oreskovich; Muzzy; Mackey; Kuklinski; Mashlan; Anderson.
Heat 2: Deragon; Lawrence; Sabraski; McFadden; Casari; Copp.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: George Dalbeck, Wakefield, MI; Brandon Copp, Brule; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; David Simpson, Thunder Bay, ON; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Gunner Peterson, South Range; Darren Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Jimmy Latvala, Solon Springs.
11-18: Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI; Steve Altman, Mercer; Michael McKay, Sparta; Wayne Jacques, Thunder Bay, ON; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; Billy Milne, Thunder Bay, ON; Anthony Forfa Jr, Phillips.
Heat 1: Dalbeck; Simpson; Aho; Peterson; Jacques; Muhlig; Milne; McKay.
Heat 2: Copp; Latvala; Passuello; Barningham; M Dunbar; Weinberger; Altman; Forfa.
Feature: 1-9: Randy Graham, Trego; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Jordan Pearce, Ashland; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Devin Dalbec, Ashland.
Heat 1: Schultz; Pearce; Traaholt; Dalbec; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Josh Saunders, Spooner.
Heat 2: Graham; Jarecki; Popp; Deragon; Nevala.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-7: Randy Graham, Trego; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; James Vendela, South Range; Dylan Shelton, Wrenshall, MN; Don Livingston, Washburn; Brandle Pupp, Highbridge; Brock Beilke, Hayward.
Heat: Graham; Weinberger; Vendela; Shelton; Pupp; Beilke; Livingston.
Feature: 1-7: Jake Smith, St Joseph, MN; Paul George, Princeton, MN; Hunter McDougall, Duluth, MN; Tate Niehaus, Alborn, MN; Derek Dunbar, Iron River; Mitch Kieber, Ironwood, MI; Brad Currier, Alborn, MN.
Heat: Smith; McDougall; George; Niehaus; Dayna Marken, Duluth, MN; Dunbar; Currier; Kieber.