Smith Claims ABC Hornet ‘Stinger’; Wolkowski Gets 1st Mod Win Here
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, July 13 — Jake Smith of St Joseph, MN, ran away with the ABC Raceway’s Hornet “Stinger” special and the $400 first-place check that went with it on Saturday night, while becoming the track’s first-ever repeat winner in that division.
Also, Canadian Cody Wolkowski dominated early but barely held on for his first career WISSOTA Modified win at ABC on a night highlighted by the popular annual kids’ bike races, presented by Chicago Iron & Supply of Ashland.
Smith, the national leader in WISSOTA Hornet points coming into the weekend, inherited the lead right away as polestarter Tyler Kachinske – fresh off his first career feature win the night before in Superior – could not get his car to go when the green flag dropped to start the 15-lap spotlight event. Smith then pulled away from Hunter McDougall, who sits second in the current national championship standings, and was never really challenged despite a couple of restarts.
The first yellow flag flew on lap 4, when AJ House’s car stopped after tagging the turn 2 guardrail and suffered a flat tire. The other slowdown came on lap 11 when Nate Rose did the same thing as House did at almost the same spot on the track, although he nursed his car around for another half-lap before stopping.
Smith took the checkered flag nearly half a straightaway ahead of a great battle for second, with McDougall holding off Paul George and Paul Ripley over the final four laps. Dayna Marken was a distance back in fifth after starting 15th out of the season-high 16 entries.
In seven Hornet features held at ABC (six this season, plus an exhibition race held in May of last year), Smith is the only driver to win twice.
First-night visitor Josh Rowe threw a little scare into the crowd during the second of the two Hornet heat races, when he flipped his car over while racing for a top-three position. The car rolled once and landed on all four tires, and it had to be pushed into the pits, but after making repairs Rowe was able to start the feature and finished a respectable eighth.
Wolkowski – an infrequent visitor from Thunder Bay, ON – has been steadily stepping up his game over the five or so years that he has been racing in the “big Mods,” so after his runaway win in his heat race he had to like his odds starting from the pole in the A-main. Over the first half of the non-stop 20-lapper he flew away to a huge lead, while Neil Balduc overtook Bill Byholm for second early and then raced side-by-side with Jeff Spacek for several laps.
Wolkowski’s lead had grown to 2.03 seconds by mid-race, but with each lap over the second half of the run that margin thinned. Balduc had grabbed second with an inside move on lap 13 and was within 1.348 seconds of the leader by then, but a bobble in turn 2 the next time around gave runner-up honors back to Spacek.
Over the final five laps Spacek cut noticeably into Wolkowski’s lead, and at the white flag the six-time ABC Raceway champ was only behind by a car-length. Spacek made one last inside dive coming off the final turn, as Wolkowski ran the same outer line that had been working so well for him, and Wolkowski edged Spacek by .008 seconds – one of the smallest of margins ever for a win at Ashland. Balduc maintained third to the end, ahead of Steve Stuart and Kevin Eder.
George Dalbeck of Wakefield, MI, continued his dream 2019 campaign by chalking up his fifth WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature win of the season at ABC, the 21st of his career here, and his 18th in a Mid-Mod to give him the Raceway’s all-time lead for feature wins in the division.
The 20-lap run was hardly uneventful, as each of the five caution-flag slowdowns had significant impacts on the running order. Right after the drop of the first green, front-row starter Marcus Dunbar slapped the back-straight guardrail and suffered a flat tire, dropping him from the event. David Simpson stole the lead from polestarter Gunner Peterson on the restart, but Peterson drove right back by the next time around, with the sixth-starting Dalbeck already in third.
Dalbeck drove low to slip past Peterson for the lead on lap 6, just a circuit before Don Craig smacked the turn 3 wall to bring about the second yellow flag. On the restart Colin Chaschuk was spun while challenging for a top-five spot, and after that restart Simpson took second away from Peterson, whose car broke loose a lap later and slid wildly into the infield with an apparent rear-axle failure, taking him out of contention.
Brandon Copp got by Simpson for second on that restart, but over the next few laps Dalbeck extended his lead to over a second-and-a-quarter. Then, on lap 15, top-ten-running Clay Passuello’s steering broke, forcing his car to dive from the extreme outer edge of turn 4 down across the front straightaway toward the infield. Passuello’s car slammed Ryan Barningham, who was running a lower line a few positions back, causing Barningham’s car to bounce up and over the front of Passuello’s before careening to a stop on the front straight. Fortunately, both drivers were unharmed as they climbed out of their cars to check on each other.
One lap after the final restart of the race Simpson stole second away from Copp, but Dalbeck was uncatchable, speeding to a 1.436-second margin of victory. Visitors Brandon Jensen and Michael Blevins Sr claimed fourth and fifth at the pay window.
Former ABC Six-Cylinder champion Dale Coddington of Hayward completed a successful return to the driver’s seat with his 24th career feature win and first since August 2015. Coddington was providing a “shakedown run” for a car he built for another driver, and it proved to be a successful one.
Two laps into the 15-lap Sixes main event, Bubba Anderson got into points leader Randy Graham while the pair were battling just outside of the top-five, causing a stoppage. Over the next two laps Coddington used an outside line to threaten to take the lead from Jordan Pearce, and after Josh Saunders’ lap 4 spin, Coddington made the move work on the ensuing restart, while Forrest Schultz dove low at the same time to get by Pearce for second.
Coddington was ahead by 1.71 seconds when the caution flag came out for Jake Nevala’s spin on lap 8, and the lead pair were joined by Graham for what turned into a very entertaining three-car dogfight for the win from there on, interrupted only by Dalton Truchon’s spin with three laps remaining. Graham followed Coddington’s outside route past Schultz for second a lap after the restart, but Coddington held on by just .417 seconds at the checkers. Schultz was penalized two spots for a jump on one of the restarts, giving Pearce third and DeJay Jarecki fourth.
Justin Weinberger of Park Falls took advantage of another driver’s misfortune and drove to his third WISSOTA Pure Stock feature win of the season, pulling him into a tie for that division’s points lead with Graham in the process.
Brandle Pupp got the better of polestarter Mikey Blevins and drew to the early lead down the back stretch, but just as he did the driveshaft dropped out from under his car, slowing it dramatically and forcing the rest of the field to take evasive action. From there, however, the rest of the 12-lap event ran without interruption, with Weinberger slipping by Blevins to take the lead and bringing James Vendela along to second.
Weinberger and Vendela ran away from the pack to decide the win, with Vendela throwing his car low into the corners on nearly every lap attempting to wedge his way by, but the 2016 ABC Pure Stock champ was undeterred. Graham got by Blevins for third four laps into the run, but the lead pair were too far away to catch without the aid of a caution stop.
Weinberger answered every one of Vendela’s efforts to muscle past and held on for a half-second margin of victory. Graham followed at a distance, while Blevins held off Dylan Shelton for fourth. However, Blevins did not report to the technical inspection area after the race, disqualifying him from his effort and moving Jeff Christman to fifth in the finishing order.
Fast-lap bonuses in the features went to the winners – Wolkowski in the Mods (17.245 seconds; 78.284 mph), Dalbeck in the Mid-Mods (17.596; 76.722), Coddington in the Sixes (19.229; 70.206), and Weinberger in the Pure Stocks (19.563; 69.008).
Although the WISSOTA Super Stocks were off this past Saturday, they’ll return with a bang on July 20 for the fourth race of the five-night, five-track FastLane Motorsports Northland Super Stock Series, presented by Halvor Lines. Over 50 Super Stocks are expected to compete for the $700 feature winner’s check, which is part of the more than $40,000 in purse, points fund and contingencies to be paid out to participating drivers over course of the Series.
The WISSOTA Hornets will get the night off, but the WISSOTA Modifieds, Midwest Mods and Pure Stocks and the ABC Six-Cylinders will be in attendance for this show. Hot laps will start at 6, and the first green flag of the night is set to fly at 7 pm. WBSZ, 93.3 FM, will air “Race Night” from 4:30 until 6 pm with pre-race coverage.
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: Cody Wolkowski, Thunder Bay, ON; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Danny Vang, Deerwood, MN; Pat Cook, Washburn; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Bill Byholm, Glidden; John Toppozini, Thunder Bay, ON.
11-15: Tyler Luger, Oxford; Paul Niznik, Medford; Todd Gehl, Solon Springs; Al Uotinen, Superior; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls.
Heat 1: Stuart; Byholm; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Vang; Toppozini; Gehl; Uotinen; Niznik.
Heat 2: Wolkowski; Spacek; Balduc; Eder; Lavasseur; Hiatt; Cook; Luger.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: George Dalbeck, Wakefield, MI; David Simpson, Thunder Bay, ON; Brandon Copp, Brule; Brandon Jensen, Ellsworth; Michael Blevins Sr, Hibbing, MN; Colin Chaschuk, Neebing, ON; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Steve Altman, Mercer; Bryan Lund, Ashland.
11-18: Wayne Jacques, Thunder Bay, ON; Billy Milne, Thunder Bay, ON; Don Craig, Thunder Bay, ON; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; Gunner Peterson, South Range; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI.
Heat 1: Copp; Jensen; Peterson; Simpson; Craig; Altman; Weinberger; Jacques; Muhlig.
Heat 2: Chaschuk; Blevins; Dunbar; Dalbeck; Fuhrman; Passuello; Barningham; Lund; Milne.
Feature: 1-10: Dale Coddington, Hayward; Randy Graham, Trego; Jordan Pearce, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Devin Dalbec, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Jake Nevala, Ashland.
11-12: Josh Saunders, Spooner; Jonathan Popp, Iron River;
Heat 1: Anderson; Pearce; Truchon; Traaholt; Dalbec; Saunders.
Heat 2: Schultz; Popp; Graham; Coddington; Nevala; Jarecki.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-8: Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; James Vendela, South Range; Randy Graham, Trego; Dylan Shelton, Wrenshall, MN; Jeff Christman, South Range; David Nabozny, Ashland; Brandle Pupp, Highbridge.
Heat: Vendela; Graham; Weinberger; Blevins; Pupp; Nabozny; Christman; Skylar Olson, Grand Rapids, MN; Shelton.
Feature: 1-10: Jake Smith, St Joseph, MN; Hunter McDougall, Duluth, MN; Paul George, Princeton, MN; Paul Ripley, Duluth, MN; Dayna Marken, Duluth, MN; Neil Dees, Hurley; Jason Ronning, Ashland; Josh Rowe, Duluth, MN; Austin Gibson, Springbrook; Mitch Kieber, Ironwood, MI.
11-16: Kristy Marken, Duluth, MN; Shawn Young, Stone Lake; Derek Dunbar, Iron River; Nate Rose, Duluth, MN; AJ House, Cloquet, MN; Tyler Kachinske, Duluth, MN.
Heat 1: George; Dunbar; Smith; Kachinske; Ronning; K Marken; Young; D Marken.
Heat 2: Ripley; McDougall; Rose; House; Gibson; Kieber; Dees; Rowe.