Spacek, Stuart, Suzik, Mindock, Basina are 2023 ABC Raceway Champs
by Nick Gima
All photos below by Shooter Guy Photos
Ashland, WI, August 19 – The regular-season portion of WISSOTA Dirt Track Series action concluded on Saturday night at the ABC Raceway, with all five track championships decided on a sweltering mid-August night.
At the conclusion of the program, which was presented by Mountain Dew and North Star Beverage of Hurley, Cole Spacek of Phillips and Steve Stuart of Ashland claimed their titles in the Outlaw Wraps & Apparel WISSOTA Modifieds and Superior Floral WISSOTA Super Stocks, respectively, while Paul Suzik of Ironwood, MI (Harmony Wealth Management WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds); Brent Mindock of Prentice (Patsy’s Bar & Grill WISSOTA Pure Stocks), and Shane Basina of Bayfield (Lightning Storm Graphics ABC Six-Cylinders) punctuated their titles with feature wins.
The closest points race going into the night was for the Superior Floral WISSOTA Super Stocks crown, where Stuart entered the 20-lap feature just eight points ahead of Nick Oreskovich. After the qualifying heats, the pair lined up side-by-side in row 4 of the 15-car field and raced the first eight laps practically attached to one another in mid-pack.
Outside front-row starter Wayne Stricker grabbed the early lead, but Matt Deragon, who started behind Stricker, quickly moved up to challenge on lap 3. The Ashland pilot drove below Stricker a lap later for what would turn out to be the race-winning move, and after Terran Spacek followed Deragon into second, the pair debated the lead while pulling away from Kyle Copp and the rest of the field.
In the battle for the championship, Oreskovich had moved up to fourth by lap 12, leaving Stuart behind in seventh – just enough of a difference where, had the race ended there, Oreskovich would win the title by one point. But the complexion of the race changed dramatically when, first, a two-car get-together further back in the running order brought about a yellow flag, and then, on the restart, contact between Oreskovich and Spacek resulted in a melee that collected at least six cars – including Oreskovich and Stuart. The incident was pinned on Oreskovich, sending him to the back in the realignment and essentially clinching the title for Stuart.
Although Spacek was sent to the pits for losing his rear bumper in the latter incident, Deragon still had to contend with a determined Copp for the final eight laps, but he was up to the challenge and landed his 18th career feature win at Ashland and his second in a Super Stock, with the other coming back in July 2017. Copp was a little over six-tenths of a second back, followed at a distance by Andrew Mackey, Stuart and Patrick Beeksma.
For Stuart, the title is his third straight in the Super Stocks and his ninth overall at ABC, moving him ahead of Don Copp for second-most all-time in track history. Stuart is still the only driver to win championships here in four different divisions.
The Outlaw Wraps & Apparel WISSOTA Modified championship looked to be headed to the wire – especially when Brule’s Brandon Copp took over the lead of the 20-lap A-main with seven laps to go, but Spacek put himself in position to claim his second ABC Raceway title.
Rick Rivord shot away to a commanding early lead before Oreskovich’s ride stopped at the bottom of turn 1 at the end of the first lap. On the restart Rivord again shot away, while polestarter John Kallas headed up a tight-knit bunch, including Copp and Spacek, battling for second. Copp got around Bill Byholm for third, with Spacek following suit for fourth, on lap 5, but it took another four laps before Copp could overtake Kallas for second, just before a four-car collection against the guardrail in turn 3 stopped the fast-paced proceedings.
Copp immediately got past Rivord for the lead on the restart, but it took another three laps for Spacek to get by for second, allowing Copp to power away to a 3.7-second final margin of victory and his fourth win of the year here. Spacek’s second-place effort gave him a slim six-point advantage over Copp in the final standings for his second title (the other coming in 2021), with Oreskovich fighting his way through the field to finish third ahead of Rivord and Jake Hiatt.
For Suzik to nail down his fourth Harmony Wealth Management WISSOTA Midwest Modified point title, all he had to do was qualify for the feature, which he did by completing a lap in his heat race. Apparently that wasn’t enough, though, as he raced his way from the eighth starting position to his second win of the season.
There was plenty of door-to-door action throughout the field, as evidenced by the early battle involving Ryan Barningham, Dalton Mains, polestarter Matt Jacobson and Jimmy Latvala for the top four spots. The action was a little too door-to-door for Jacobson, who bobbled a bit coming out of turn 2 on lap 2 and was sideswiped by Tanner Hicks, ripping the driver’s-side door completely off Jacobson’s racer.
The remaining 18 laps after the caution ran non-stop, and Suzik took advantage of the opportunity to move from sixth to fourth a lap after the green flag waived. Mains got a great run off of the bottom of turn 4 on lap 5 and edged ahead of Barningham for the lead, and just when it looked as though Mains might be on his way to his first feature win here, Suzik worked the low lane to pass Barningham for second and soon reeled the leader in.
Mains fought off Suzik’s threats as long as he could, but on lap 17 Suzik got a run and took over, pulling away over the closing laps to a .85-second win – his second of the season and 11th at ABC, while putting a cap on his fourth track title, with the others coming in 2015, ’16 and ’18. Latvala held off a determined Marcus Dunbar for third, and Barningham completed a nice race with a fifth-place finish.
Mindock proved that may have wanted the Patsy’s Bar & Grill WISSOTA Pure Stock championship more than anything – he not only won the title, but he also won his second feature of the year and broke his own track single-lap record in the process.
Second-row starter Travis Hazelton pulled off a brilliant thread-the-needle move between rookies Don Cain and Katlin Pritzl in the opening corner of the ten-lap feature to take the initial lead, and it looked like Hazelton would run off to another easy win at a track where he has been so dominant over the past two seasons. But Mindock also passed the two rookies a lap later, and the soon-to-be-champ began chopping away at Hazelton’s half-second cushion.
At mid-race Mindock was at Hazelton’s back bumper, and during the next circuit around the three-eighths-mile oval he made an inside pass for the lead. Mindock didn’t let up from there, setting the new single-lap standard during the late stages with a time of 18.323 seconds (73.678 mph) en route to the win and the title.
Hazelton was 1.4 seconds back but well ahead of Aaron Bernick, Pritzl and Zene Anderson.
One can’t blame Basina for his disbelief of winning his first-ever Lightning Storm Graphics ABC Six-Cylinder title in just his third year of racing. Even though he had the crown sewn up as he took to the track for the 15-lap feature, he still had to get through a tight pack of cars, chase down and pass a tough customer in Dalton Truchon, and survive a blown radiator hose on the white-flag lap.
Truchon, who scored four feature wins of his own this season, swept around Chris Bretting for the early lead, with Jakob Bond following suit to second. It took Basina a couple more laps to work past Bretting to third, but once there he reeled in Bond to take over second on lap 4.
Truchon was three-quarters of a second ahead of Basina at that point, but that lead disappeared within a couple of laps, and Basina pressured Truchon for a long spell until, on lap 11, he found enough space to squeeze past Truchon and sail away. Even the blown radiator hose didn’t slow Basina, who held a one-second margin over Truchon at the checkers for his fourth win of the season.
Bond finished third, well back of Truchon but sufficiently ahead of his cousin Cameron Bond. Austin Olby came home fifth but was disqualified when he forgot to go to the tech-and-scale area immediately after the race, handing fifth-place money to Brad Hanson.
The Raceway hosted the Ashland area chapter of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Foundation, and representatives of that group used the opportunity to educate and raise awareness of the affliction to fans in attendance.
The ABC Raceway will now take a few weeks off to prepare for the 48th annual Red Clay Classic, to be presented by FastLane Motorsports & Custom Powdercoating, Tim’s Automotive Machine, and Red’s Auto of Ironwood, on Friday and Saturday, September 29-30. Over 200 WISSOTA Late Models, Modifieds, Super Stocks and Midwest Modifieds are expected to compete in what is one of the most prestigious and highly-anticipated short-track racing events in the Upper Midwest, with an event-record purse of over $120,000, plus contingencies and bonuses, to be offered.
Reserved seating and two-day grandstand passes are available, plus there are still a very limited number of primitive camping sites still available on the Raceway grounds.
For information on Red Clay Classic seating, campsite, and pit spot availability, send an e-mail to email@example.com, log on to the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com, or check out the Raceway’s FaceBook page.
Outlaw Wraps & Apparel WISSOTA Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: Brandon Copp, Brule; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Rick Rivord, Superior; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; John Kallas, Hurley; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Justin Weinberger, Elk Mound; Pat Cook, Washburn.
11-12: Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Lance Schilling, Laporte, MN.
Heat 1: Dunbar; C Spacek; Rivord; Byholm; Schilling; Oreskovich.
Heat 2: J Spacek; Hiatt; Weinberger; Kallas; Copp; Cook.
Superior Floral WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Matt Deragon, Ashland; Kyle Copp, Brule; Andrew Mackey, Duluth, MN; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Don Livingston, Washburn; Myron Basina, Bayfield.
11-15: Randy Graham, Trego; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Rita Anderson, South Range; Terran Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: Oreskovich; Spacek; Beeksma; Stricker; Mackey; Graham; Mashlan; C Anderson.
Heat 2: Deragon; Livingston; Copp; Stuart; McFadden; Basina; R Anderson.
Harmony Wealth Management WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Dalton Mains, Foxboro; Jimmy Latvala, Solon Springs; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; James Vendela, South Range; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Tad Schoonover, Eagle River; Jesse Polson, Superior; Matt Jacobson, Bessemer, MI.
11-12: Mitch Kieber, Rhinelander; Bryan Lund, Ashland.
Heat 1: Latvala; Hicks; Jacobson; Vendela; Lund; Kieber; Cory Jorgensen, Duluth, MN.
Heat 2: Dunbar; Mains; Suzik; Barningham; Polson; Schoonover.
Patsy’s Bar & Grill WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-6: Brent Mindock, Prentice; Travis Hazelton, Chippewa Falls; Aaron Bernick, Duluth, MN; Katlin Pritzl, Park Falls; Zene Anderson, Superior; Don Cain, Park Falls.
Heat: Hazelton; Bernick; Mindock; Pritzl; Cain; Anderson.
Lightning Storm Graphics ABC Six-Cylinders
Feature: 1-7: Shane Basina, Bayfield; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Jakob Bond, Mason; Cameron Bond, Mason; Brad Hanson, Glidden; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Travis Swanson, Ashland.
Heat: Truchon; Basina; J Bond; C Bond; Bretting; Hanson; Jimmy Stearns, Superior; Austin Olby, Ashland; Swanson.