Points Battles Heat Up During Next-to-Last ABC Raceway Program for ‘23
by Nick Gima
Photos below story by Shooter Guy Photos
Ashland, WI, August 12 – A couple of the points battles will come down to the wire next weekend after this past Saturday’s action at the ABC Raceway was completed.
The program, presented by WIMI, 99.7 FM, of Ironwood, MI, also included a backpack giveaway for kids in attendance entering grades 1-5, each complete with plenty of “back-to-school” supplies.
The tightest race of all will be in the Superior Floral WISSOTA Super Stocks, where Nick Oreskovich of Mason significantly closed the gap on two-time defending track champ Steve Stuart after his win in Saturday’s 20-lap A-main.
Oreskovich started from the inside of row 4, but it was the outer lane of the wide, racy three-eighths-mile oval that he found to his liking, especially after an early restart. Patrick Beeksma worked low to get by polestarter Don Livingston during the second lap of the run. Wayne Stricker, making his first start of the season, spun a lap later, and on the restart the entire top half of the track seemed to open up for Oreskovich, who sped from seventh to fourth in one corner, then passed Darin Meierotto and Livingston in quick succession before the next lap was complete to move up to second.
Oreskovich was just about to sweep around Beeksma for the lead on lap 7 when Aaron Mashlan’s spin negated the move, and then a five-car melee on that restart ended the night for frontrunners Meierotto and Livingston. Beeksma took away the high line from Oreskovich on the next re-do, but the leader pushed too high in turn 1 on lap 8, nearly backing his car into the wall and allowing Oreskovich and several others to whiz by.
Over the remaining laps Oreskovich pulled away from a great battle for second between Andrew Mackey and Shawn McFadden, which was eventually won by Mackey. Oreskovich was nearly a second-and-a-half ahead of Mackey at the final stripe for his third win of the season in the Super Stocks, while McFadden and Kyle Copp followed closely in third and fourth.
Stuart’s fifth-place finish sets up what should be a tremendous showdown for next weekend’s finale, with Stuart just eight points up on Oreskovich.
Brandon Copp of Brule, the defending Outlaw Wraps & Apparel WISSOTA Modified champ at ABC, has struggled through the past few races and came into tonight’s action third in points, behind ’21 champ Cole Spacek and “big Mod” rookie Oreskovich. But Copp’s feature win here on Saturday has made that division’s final-night scenario very interesting indeed.
Chris Oertel had to “thread the needle” though a four-car pack to take the initial lead of the 20-lap headliner, but after a Bill Byholm spin while battling for second a lap later, Oertel saw his chance at a win disappear when Copp and Jake Hiatt surrounded him and overtook him just after that restart. A circuit later Jeff Spacek got by Oertel for third.
Copp’s lead was just over 2.1 seconds at mid-race when Marcus Dunbar spun, but the leader was unfazed when the green flag few again, pulling away convincingly over the final ten laps to his third win of the season here but first since the end of May.
After the Dunbar spin, Jeff Spacek got around Hiatt for second and stayed there until the checkers, trailing Copp by 1.2 seconds at the final stripe. Cole Spacek, Jeff’s son, charged from the 11th starting spot to come home third, getting by Brady Uotinen on the white-flag lap to gain some crucial points, and Hiatt held on for fifth.
Copp moved up into second in the standings, just 11 points behind Cole Spacek, with Oreskovich 20 points back of Cole, and Jeff Spacek 29 points out, with one show remaining.
The Lightning Storm Graphics ABC Six-Cylinders provided the closest finish of the night in their feature, with the top three separated by barely more than a third of a second. But Dalton Truchon of Ashland prevailed for a division-leading fourth win this year despite the fact that, by his admission in Victory Lane after the race, his car is nowhere close to as good as it was early in the season.
Truchon got by polestarter Chris Bretting very early in the 15-lap run and then held on as Austin Olby moved up to second to challenge Truchon on lap 2. Divisional points leader Shane Basina made his way by Olby on lap 4 and applied significant pressure on the leader, while Travis Swanson stormed through to take third on lap 6.
Despite the race speeding along non-stop, Swanson soon caught the lead pair, creating a thrilling three-car battle for the win. Truchon’s only opportunities to pull away came whenever Swanson and Basina raced side-by-side behind him, but those chances were few, as the trio crossed under the checkered flag within a couple of feet of each other, with Truchon just .162 seconds ahead of Swanson, and Basina bumper-to-bumper behind the race winner. Olby was well back in fourth but comfortably ahead of Cameron Bond.
Basina’s third-place effort still has him 69 points up on Jakob Bond, who finished fifth. A top-ten feature finish next Saturday should give Basina his first career points title.
As tough to beat as Chippewa Falls’ Travis Hazelton has been here over the past two seasons – on Saturday he picked up his tenth career Patsy’s Bar & Grill WISSOTA Pure Stock feature win at ABC in just shy of two seasons – divisional points leader Brent Mindock has certainly presented his case for being just as tough. Mindock’s hard charge to threaten to take Saturday’s win away from Hazelton has put him in prime position to collect his first points title here next weekend.
Hazelton started on the pole and raced ahead of rookie Katlin Pritzl and a three-wide battle for third on the opening lap. The winner of that battle was Mindock, who eventually moved by Pritzl into second after three of the race’s ten scheduled laps had been scored, but he found himself over 1.4 seconds back of the leader.
Over the next six laps Mindock reeled in Hazelton, and coming to the white flag Mindock had pulled his right-front fender alongside Hazelton’s left-rear. Hazelton successfully fought off Mindock’s challenge and held on to win by less than a quarter-second, while Aaron Bernick was a significant distance back in third, ahead of Pritzl and Tom Treviranus.
A finish of 17th or better in next Saturday’s finale will clinch a first-ever ABC Raceway title for Mindock.
Ironwood MI’s Paul Suzik also went a long way to clinching a title here after a convincing win in Saturday’s Harmony Wealth Management WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature. Surprisingly, it was the first win of the season for the three-time track champ.
Front-row mates Tad Schoonover and Jimmy Latvala entertained the fans with a great duel for the lead that lasted the first seven laps, before Latvala laid claim to the pacesetter’s duties. Latvala could only extend his margin to just a tick over a half-second when first-nighter Reagan Ruffi’s car slowed along the front straight just the leaders were coming to the flagstand to complete lap 11, drawing the 20-lap run’s only yellow-flag slowdown.
As Latvala led the field back to the green, he had Schoonover and the seventh-starting Suzik directly behind him, and once Suzik cleared Schoonover it was only a matter of a couple more laps before he swept around Latvala on the high side and took command of the race.
Suzik had the field covered, crossing the final stripe nearly a full two seconds ahead of Latvala for his tenth career feature win at Ashland. Schoonover ended a very impressive night with third-place money, although McLean Andrews and Jesse Polson fought with him right down to the wire.
Suzik merely has to qualify for next Saturday’s feature in order to wrap up his fourth track championship here.
Another well-prepared red-clay surface provided fast, multi-groove racing throughout the program, as the fastest laps set in 11 of the night’s 14 races were within one-half second of their respective divisions’ all-time track records. In the Pure Stock heat, Mindock broke Devin Fries’ track record set just over a month ago with a time of 18.527 seconds (72.867 mph).
The ABC Raceway’s 2023 track champions will be crowned on Saturday, August 19, when the regular season concludes with Championship Saturday Night, to be presented by Mountain Dew and North Star Beverage of Hurley. 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 next race program after that will be the 48th annual Red Clay Classic on September 29-30. 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: Brandon Copp, Brule; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Brady Uotinen, Superior; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Rick Rivord, Superior; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Pat Cook, Washburn; Chris Oertel, Marshfield; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI.
11-12: Bill Byholm, Glidden; John Kallas, Hurley.
Heat 1: Copp; Byholm; Kallas; J Spacek; Dunbar; C Spacek.
Heat 2: Cook; Uotinen; Hiatt; Oertel; Rivord; Oreskovich.
Superior Floral WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Andrew Mackey, Duluth, MN; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Kyle Copp, Brule; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Randy Graham, Trego; Austin Blom, Saginaw, MN; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge.
11-16: Alex Myers, Cameron; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Rita Anderson, South Range; Don Livingston, Washburn; Myron Basina, Bayfield; Darin Meierotto, Superior.
Heat 1: Oreskovich; Mackey; Deragon; McFadden; Basina; Graham; Stuart; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI.
Heat 2: Copp; Beeksma; Meierotto; Livingston; Mashlan; Blom; Myers; Stricker.
Harmony Wealth Management WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Jimmy Latvala, Solon Springs; Tad Schoonover, Eagle River; McLean Andrews, Duluth, MN; Jesse Polson, Superior; Dalton Mains, Foxboro; James Vendela, South Range; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Matt Jacobson, Bessemer, MI.
11-14: Cory Jorgensen, Duluth, MN; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Bryan Lund, Ashland; Reagan Ruffi, Lake Nebagamon.
Heat 1: Latvala; Hicks; Mains; Schoonover; Jacobson; Jorgensen; Ruffi.
Heat 2: Vendela; Polson; Andrews; Suzik; Dunbar; Barningham; Lund.
Patsy’s Bar & Grill WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-7: Travis Hazelton, Chippewa Falls; Brent Mindock, Prentice; Aaron Bernick, Duluth, MN; Katlin Pritzl, Park Falls; Tom Treviranus, Hawthorne; Zene Anderson, Superior; Don Cain, Park Falls.
Heat: Mindock; Hazelton; Treviranus; Bernick; Pritzl; Anderson; Cain.
Lightning Storm Graphics ABC Six-Cylinders
Feature: 1-10: Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Travis Swanson, Ashland; Shane Basina, Bayfield; Austin Olby, Ashland; Cameron Bond, Mason; Jakob Bond, Mason; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Trenton Bond, Mason; Cody Eichmann, Park Falls; Brad Hanson, Glidden.
Heat 1: Swanson; Olby; Truchon; T Bond; Jimmy Stearns, Superior; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Eichmann.
Heat 2: Basina; C Bond; Bretting; J Bond; Hanson; Alex Bond, Iron River.