Van Guilder, Olson Take Home Big Money at ABC’s Small Car Classic
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, August 5 – Familiar names and first-time winners graced the ABC Raceway’s victory lane on Saturday night, with Hunter Van Guilder and Ryan Olson arguably the biggest winners of all during the track’s second annual Small Car Classic.
The event, presented by the Ashland-Bayfield County Sportsmen’s Club and Heartland Communications Group, drew 94 entries to the northern Wisconsin speedplant, including several racers competing here for the first time, and produced three first-time feature winners, including Olson.
Van Guilder, of Rice Lake, was not a first-time winner here. In fact, he was the defending champion of the event and has now won a WISSOTA Street Stock feature here in each of three straight seasons. He started on the pole for the 20-lap, $800-to-win main event and fought for two laps to get the lead from front-row mate David Blackberg. Once Van Guilder claimed the lead, Blackberg fell into a fierce battle with Nick Traynor and Adam Soltis for second.
The first of the race’s four slowdowns was for Cody Cimfl’s spin while battling for fifth on lap 8, and the second stoppage was for a Michael Tuma-Aden Saunders get-together on the restart. But the next six laps stayed under green, with Traynor overtaking Blackberg for second and Levi Randt following into third. Traynor shadowed Van Guilder for a couple of laps, but when Traynor pushed wide on lap 12 the leader gained a little breathing room.
That cushion disappeared on lap 12 when young Kammron Rose looped his station wagon, and it gave Traynor another chance to challenge for the win. But Van Guilder held tight and, after a bump sent the third-running Blackberg to the infield with damage, Van Guilder survived the green-white-checkered dash to the finish barely more than a half-second ahead of Traynor.
A lot of position-shuffling over the final few laps resulted in Cimfl slipping through for third, Randt landing in fourth, and Soltis recovering for fifth.
Olson, of Ladysmith, had no less of a challenge in hanging on for his first career ABC Raceway win, which paid him $500 after the Patsy’s Bar & Grill WISSOTA Pure Stock headliner. Olson, who is in line for a third straight Pure Stock points title at Rice Lake Speedway, also started from the pole in his 15-lapper, but unlike Van Guilder he led every lap.
The race started out in frightening fashion, as Hope Eisel, making just her second-ever start at ABC, tangled with first-time visitor Skylar Findley at the completion of lap 1; Eisel’s car was turned sideways under the flagstand and then pushed over onto its roof as the pack edged by. Both Eisel and Findley were uninjured, but neither driver’s car could continue the event.
Charlie Pitcavage’s spin on the restart delayed the proceedings, but from there Olson led the next ten non-stop laps, pulling away from a great fight for second between Aaron Bernick and George Richards, with Travis Hazelton charging up to join the skirmish. Eventually Richards and Hazelton got by for second and third, with Olson a second-and-a-half ahead, but on lap 11 Hazelton’s car failed him, dying on the front straight and bringing the field back to Olson’s trunk.
After Bernick’s stop in turn 2 on the restart, track points leader Brent Mindock – who started 14th on the 16-car grid – swapped runner-up honors with Richards for a couple of laps, allowing Olson to get away just enough for a .63-second winning margin. Richards edged Mindock for second at the checkers, with James Rahn and 13th-starting RJ Holly settling for fourth and fifth at a distance.
Nick Oreskovich of Mason put himself in the right place at the right time to score his first-ever feature win in an Outlaw Wraps & Apparel WISSOTA Modified. Oreskovich, the four-time ABC Raceway WISSOTA Super Stock champ who is a rookie in the “big Mod” division, started 12th in the 17-car field but took advantage of the race’s frequent late cautions.
Polestarter Pat Cook led the race for its first 16 laps, surviving one challenge after another, whether under the green flag or on restarts. Marcus Dunbar, who is also a rookie in this class, won a three-wide battle for second after the first lap and drove around the very perimeter of the three-eighths-mile oval while Cook, the 2020 Mods champ here, stayed tight to the bottom groove of the fast, wide track. Momentum took Dunbar right to Cook’s door on several occasions, but he couldn’t complete a pass until lap 11, when he was scored the leader for the first time by .038 seconds – and then gave it away when he pushed too hard into the next turn and spun.
After Kennedy Swan’s car stalled two laps after the restart, another youngster, Jack Rivord, picked up where Dunbar left off, working the outside line while leading a three-car assault on Cook. But one of those cars – driven by Jake Hiatt, slipped too high in turn 1 and slapped the guardrail hard to stop the race again with four laps left, and on that restart Rivord was bumped and flew nose-first into the barrels protecting the end of the turn 1 guardrail.
The final yellow-flag slowdown was for a crunch involving Justin Weinberger and Rick Rivord on the next re-do, but it was at the next green flag when Oreskovich, who had crept up through the field into second place, used the outer lane to sweep by Cook for the lead. And although divisional points leader Cole Spacek momentarily got by him a lap later, Oreskovich fought back for a half-second margin of victory – the 27th of his career at Ashland but first in anything other than a Super Stock.
A disappointed Cook settled for third, just ahead of Mike Anderson and Shane Sabraski.
One race later Sabraski got the best of the Superior Floral WISSOTA Super Stock field, coming from the ninth starting spot for his fourth win of the year here, third in a Super Stock, and third in the past three shows here.
Polestarter Chad Johnson held off Myron Basina and Terran Spacek for two laps before Ken Larson’s spin brought about a yellow flag. Sabraski, from Rice, MN, then used the low groove to dive below Basina and Spacek for second, and a lap later he displaced Johnson for the lead.
Warren Bartelt’s spin on lap 7 was the only thing that delayed Sabraski’s effort from there, although Spacek didn’t make it easy for a few laps. But over the course of the final third of the 20-lap run Sabraski, who is in the midst of a tight battle for a fourth straight national championship, eventually pulled away to a 2.3-second final advantage even as he put backmarkers a lap down during the closing laps.
Spacek was never challenged for second, keeping plenty of distance on third-running Kyle Copp throughout the back-half of the run. Oreskovich came home fourth, and divisional points leader Steve Stuart wound up fifth.
Zach Benson finally added a feature win in Ashland to his impressive resume after Saturday’s Harmony Wealth Management WISSOTA Midwest Modified A-main. Starting outside on the front row, Benson, the national points leader from Princeton, MN, grabbed the lead early from polestarter Jimmy Latvala and held off Nick Koehler late for his first win here in a rare appearance.
Benson stayed outside until he could clear Latvala on lap 2, then grew the lead to over a second within another lap while Dunbar tried to chase him down. Koehler, another infrequent visitor, executed a slide-job on Dunbar on lap 7 to take second place away, but neither he nor Dunbar would have had much of a chance to catch Benson if it hadn’t been for the 20-lap run’s only caution stop – for debris on lap 10.
Over the back half of the race Benson and Koehler pulled away to decide its outcome, while Dunbar settled into an unchallenged third, well ahead of a developing dogfight for fourth between Paul Suzik, William Moelter and rookie Blake Adams. Koehler trimmed almost half of Benson’s .8-second lead away over the final four laps but still trailed by better than a half-second at the checkers as Benson scored the landmark win. After Dunbar, divisional points leader Suzik edged Moelter and Adams for fourth.
The Lightning Storm Graphics ABC Six-Cylinder feature went down to the wire as well, and that 15-lap run saw a former track champion return to victory lane for the first time in better than two years.
Hayward’s Dale Coddington, who never made a lap during last Saturday’s “Six-Cylinder Summer Slam” event due to mechanical issues, took his time to get around Dalton Truchon and then polestarter Chris Bretting for the lead on lap 3. As the three-time champ built his lead to 1.76 seconds, Travis Swanson burrowed his way through the field, working his way around Truchon into second on lap 6. But two tours later Swanson’s car slowed, allowing Truchon to get into second, albeit now four-and-a-half seconds back.
A huge break for Truchon and company came on lap 9 when Cameron Bond, amidst heavy traffic, dropped too low in turn 4 and bumped one of the heavy truck tires marking the inside of the turn onto the track. His penalty almost cost Coddington, though, as Truchon and the third-running Bretting were joined by a surging Shane Basina to challenge for the win.
Truchon provided the biggest threat, muscling his way inside on Coddington and edging ahead several times over the final six laps, but the savvy veteran prevailed for a near-photo finish at the stripe – .081 seconds – for his 28th ABC Raceway feature win but first in two years. Unfortunately for Truchon, he was called for a jump on the lap 9 restart, costing him two positions and putting divisional points leader Basina in second and Jakob Bond in third. Austin Olby rounded out the top five.
Only two regular-season race nights remain on the ABC Raceway’s 2023 schedule, with Kids’ Backpack Night presented by WIMI, 99.7 FM, of Ironwood, MI, next on the list, on Saturday, August 12. The track’s five regular weekly offerings will run a complete program of heats and features, and as season-championship battles wind down the action is sure to get more intense.
The grandstand gates and pits will open at 5 pm, with hot laps starting at 6:30 followed by the first green flag of the night at 7 pm. The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13, then one mile west on Butterworth Road. For raceday information call (715) 682-4990, 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: Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Pat Cook, Washburn; Mike Anderson, Jim Falls; Shane Sabraski, Rice, MN; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Parker Anderson, Phillips; Brandon Copp, Brule; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Kyle Helling, Rice Lake.
11-16: Tyler Luger, Oxford; Justin Weinberger, Elk Mound; Rick Rivord, Superior; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Jack Rivord, Superior; Kennedy Swan, Chippewa Falls.
Heat 1: J Rivord; Cook; M Anderson; Dunbar; Swan; Helling; Oreskovich; Copp; Luger.
Heat 2: C Spacek; Hiatt; Sabraski; P Anderson; R Rivord; Taylor Olson, Colby; J Spacek; Weinberger.
Superior Floral WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Shane Sabraski, Rice, MN; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Kyle Copp, Brule; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Austin Blom, Saginaw, MN; Andrew Mackey, Duluth, MN; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Chad Johnson, Colfax; Shawn McFadden, Ashland.
11-20: Warren Bartelt, Medford; Don Livingston, Washburn; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Randy Graham, Trego; Myron Basina, Bayfield; Andy Ladd, Cumberland; Doug Bolt, Rosslyn, ON; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Ken Larson, Cumberland; Rita Anderson, South Range.
Heat 1: Spacek; Blom; Johnson; Deragon; Bolt; Mashlan; Larson.
Heat 2: Stuart; Basina; Copp; McFadden; Livingston; Anderson; Ladd.
Heat 3: Beeksma; Oreskovich; Sabraski; Bartelt; Mackey; Graham.
Harmony Wealth Management WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: Zach Benson, Princeton, MN; Nick Koehler, Bloomer; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; William Moelter, Elk Mound; Blake Adams, Cameron; Jimmy Latvala, Solon Springs; Landyn Randt, Siren; Aiden Hoffman, Rice Lake; Shadow Kitchner, Arkansaw.
11-15: Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Patrick Davis, Sioux Lookout, ON; Cory Jorgensen, Duluth, MN; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Glen Brown, Rosslyn, ON.
Heat 1: Benson; Koehler; Dunbar; Latvala; Moelter; Hoffman; Hicks; Davis.
Heat 2: Adams; Suzik; Kitchner; Randt; Jorgensen; Barningham; Brown.
WISSOTA Street Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Hunter VanGilder, Rice Lake; Nick Traynor, Barron; Cody Cimfl, Chetek; Levi Randt, Siren; Adam Soltis, Ladysmith; Brady Larson, Amery; Travis Loew, Barron; Kammron Rose, Dorchester; Michael Tuma, Weyerhaeuser; Dylan Baskin, Arkansaw.
11-15: Alyssa White, West Fargo, ND; Adam Wraspir, West Fargo, ND; Eric Haupt, Trego; David Blackberg, Eagle River; Aden Saunders, Spooner.
Heat 1: Blackberg; Cimfl; Randt; Tuma; Larson; Rose; Loew; Baskin.
Heat 2: VanGilder; Traynor; Soltis; Saunders; Haupt; White Wraspir.
Patsy’s Bar & Grill WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Ryan Olson, Ladysmith; George Richards, Mondovi; Brent Mindock, Prentice; James Rahn, Poskin; RJ Holly, Marengo; Tyler Kachinske, Duluth, MN; Devin Fries, Phillips; Katlin Pritzl, Park Falls; Brian Bartelt, Rib Lake; Aaron Bernick, Duluth, MN.
11-16: Charlie Pitcavage, Menomonie; Kristy Rose, Duluth, MN; Zene Anderson, Superior; Travis Hazelton, Chippewa Falls; Hope Eisel, Rhinelander; Skylar Findley, Clayton.
Heat 1: Rahn; Hazelton; Bernick; Eisel; Bartelt; Pritzl; Holly; Mindock.
Heat 2: Findley; Richards; Fries; Olson; Pitcavage; Rose; Anderson; Kachinske.
Lightning Storm Graphics ABC Six-Cylinders
Feature 1: 1-10: Dale Coddington, Hayward; Shane Basina, Bayfield; Jakob Bond, Mason; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Austin Olby, Ashland; Cameron Bond, Mason; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Brad Hanson, Glidden; Trenton Bond, Mason; Alex Bond, Iron River.
11: Travis Swanson, Ashland.
Heat 1: Coddington; Swanson; Bretting; Hanson; C Bond; T Bond.
Heat 2: Basina; Truchon; J Bond; Olby; A Bond.