Ashland, WI, June 22 – On a night in which the ABC Raceway honored ten new inductees into its Hall of Fame, six drivers collected a little fame of their own with feature wins on Saturday night.
Zar’s Bar & Banquet Hall of Ashland presented the Raceway’s sixth Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies program at the award-winning northern Wisconsin speedplant, with the introduction of the Class of 2019 during intermission of the race program.
Honorary inductees included long-time supporter Lulich Implement and former track reporter and photographer Bob Wedlund. The four drivers enshrined were former Six-Cylinder champs Chuck Hawkinson and Art Hyde; long-time competitor Don Roseen (posthumously), and successful Modified racer Dean Yrjanainen. Also added were former flagman Tom Koleski and his mother, the late Martha Koleski, who was a track treasurer; former track announcer Pete Miller (posthumously); local business owner Ray Parent (posthumously); and current track announcer, historian and publicist Nick Gima in the Volunteers & Contributors category.
The on-track action was mostly fast-paced and action-filled, with 74 entries completing the 17-race program in about two-and-a-half hours, not including the intermission ceremonies. Of the feature winners, one was a first-time-ever winner, one continued his strong start to the season, two were former track champions, and two had not been to ABC’s Victory Lane in at least a couple of seasons.
Defending track champ Kevin Eder of Ashland looked to be well on his way to dominating the WISSOTA Modified 20-lap headliner, grabbing the lead after a lap 2 restart and running away to a lead of over four seconds. But another yellow flag just past halfway brought the field back to his bumper, and he had to fend off heavy pressure the rest of the way for his first win of the season here.
Eder started four rows back of the race’s all-rookie front row of Dan Kingsley and Paul Suzik, who ran one-two for the first couple of laps after Steve Stuart’s spin in the initial corner. But over those first two laps Eder had already weaved through to third and was applying heavy pressure when a four-car entanglement brought about the lap 2 stoppage. Eder slipped low to pass Kingsley for the lead once the green lights came on again, and over the next ten laps he would not be challenged.
That all changed on lap 12, when three cars got together in turn 2. Eder restarted with Steve Lavasseur and Neil Balduc directly behind him, and both provided strong challenges the rest of the way while swapping second place among themselves. After a lap 14 delay for a two-car spin, Eder held on to a tight margin of victory, just ahead of Balduc, while Lavasseur was not far back. A charging Pat Cook came from his seventh-place alignment on the lap 14 restart to claim fourth, just feet ahead of Al Uotinen.
For Don Muzzy of Ironwood, MI, his first WISSOTA Super Stock feature win since June 2016 couldn’t have been much sweeter. After a brutal crash at Rice Lake Speedway earlier this spring, Muzzy bought a chassis from former Red Clay Classic champ Shane Kisling and proved that it was a force on the track, running strong ever since his first night in the car and winning the feature here on his wife Heather’s birthday.
Muzzy started on the outside of the front row and lead nearly every lap, beginning with an eventual lead of just over a second on polestarter Kyle Copp over the first four laps before Patrick Beeksma took over second. Aaron Mashlan’s stalled ride on lap 6 slowed the pace and closed the field to Muzzy’s trunklid, and on the restart defending track champ Nick Oreskovich used an inside move to make a four-wide pass for second and put the heat on Muzzy.
By lap 8 the lead pair were running side-by-side, and on lap 9 Oreskovich was scored as the leader by less than five one-hundredths of a second. But Muzzy charged back, working the higher groove to maintain his momentum, and edged ahead of Oreskovich just a couple of laps later. On lap 13 rookie Andrew Mackey looped his ride, bunching up the field again, but Muzzy held on for the remaining seven laps for his third career feature win here and second in the Supers. Cory Casari muscled his way past Oreskovich for second late in the run, and Dave Flynn was close behind in fourth, with Copp completing the top five.
George Dalbeck of Wakefield, MI, took advantage of a gift and turned it into his third WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature win of the season here. The gift came courtesy of Brandon Copp, who looked like a runaway winner of the event early on.
Copp started on the outside of the front row and, after a two-car tangle on the initial start, beat polestarter Steve Altman and everyone else out of the first turns and ran off to a huge lead. Within seven laps Copp had built a margin of over four seconds, and on lap 9 of the 20 scheduled laps he was already contending with a backmarker.
Unfortunately for the leader, he had to check up hard when he closed too quickly on the slower car, forcing Copp to spin to avoid contact. That put Gunner Peterson at the front for the restart, with the seventh-starting Dalbeck behind his left shoulder.
Dalbeck immediately looked to the low groove for a chance at the lead, and within a lap after the restart he had cleared the high-side-running Peterson. Craig Lofdahl’s smoking ride came to a stop on the front straight a lap later, but from the ensuing restart on Dalbeck drove away to nearly-two-second margin of victory. David Simpson grabbed second from Peterson a lap after the last restart and held it to the end, and Marcus Dunbar wrestled third away from Peterson late in the run, with Wayne Stricker completing the top five.
The Six-Cylinder feature saw an early dramatic twist when points leader Randy Graham and third-in-points Matt Deragon both dropped out of the event after contact and damage. That gave Bubba Anderson of Trego a chance to capture his first feature win here since May 2017, although it was not without a battle.
Anderson, who started outside on the front row, grabbed the early lead from polestarter Joshua Saunders and stayed just in front of the close-quarters racing for second on back. That tight cluster generated heavy contact on lap 2, with Graham getting sideways in front of the pack and scraping the front-straight wall, and Deragon’s car receiving significant front-end damage and coasting to a stop.
With both top contenders in the pits, Anderson had his hands full with Jake Nevala after the restart. Nevala dove inside to swipe the lead on lap 3, but Anderson battled back and worked the low side to pull even with the leader and eventually regain the point on lap 6. Nevala stayed on Anderson’s bumper and tried several times to overtake him, but Anderson held on for a winning margin of just over half a second. Forrest Schultz took third away from DeJay Jarecki during the closing laps, and Jonathan Popp came home in fifth.
Despite a small showing in WISSOTA Pure Stock numbers, Justin Weinberger of Park Falls and Graham provided some excitement in their feature, with Weinberger pulling off his second win of the season.
The ten-lapper went non-stop, with Weinberger getting by front-row starters Jason Simonson and Brandle Pupp within one lap for the lead. After the second circuit Graham had gained second, and the pair ran away from the rest of the field to decide the outcome. Graham stayed within a car-length or so for the entire run, but Weinberger ran a clean, strong line and led by just less than a second at the checkers.
Pupp slipped by Don Livingston for third-place money, and Simonson came home fifth.
The WISSOTA Hornets also ran off their ten-lap feature non-stop, and Tate Niehaus of Alborn, MN, became the division’s fourth different winner in as many shows this season.
Polesitter Paul Ripley fended off challenges from Niehaus and Derek Dunbar for the first lap, but Niehaus went around Ripley on the high side and grabbed the lead for good on lap 2. Paul George replaced Dunbar in third soon thereafter, and the tight-knit lead trio pulled away from the pack.
George and Ripley swapped second place behind Niehaus for several laps until George took over the position for good on lap 7, but Niehaus kept his challengers at bay for his landmark win, just a car-length or so ahead of George and Ripley. Dunbar held firmly to fourth, with Dayna Marken a few lengths back in fifth.
The best single-lap times in the features were posted by Uotinen in the Mods (17.609 seconds; 76.665 mph), Casari in the Supers (18.100; 74.586), Copp in the Mid-Mods (17.721; 76.181), and Graham in both the Sixes (19.293; 69.974) and Pure Stocks (19.859; 67.979).
Eder claimed the fastest-lap bonus in his feature with a single-lap time of 18.027 seconds (74.888 mph). Others gaining the same bonus were Muzzy in the Supers (18.329; 73.654), Copp in the Mid-Mods (17.352; 77.801), Nevala in the Sixes (19.707; 68.504), and Weinberger in the Pure Stocks (19.891; 67.870).
The ABC Raceway will move its program to Friday this week, hosting its Afco Shocks Race of Champions qualifiers for the WISSOTA-sanctioned divisions on June 28. The winners of the night’s features in the Mods, Supers and Mid-Mods will receive automatic berths in the prestigious Race of Champions features to be held during the WISSOTA 100 weekend at I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls, MN, on September 10-14.
The grandstands will open at 5 pm, and hot laps will start at 6:15, followed by the first green flag of the night at 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: Kevin Eder, Ashland; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Pat Cook, Washburn; Al Uotinen, Superior; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Todd Gehl, Solon Springs; Paul Niznik, Medford; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI.
11-17: Cody Carlson, Superior; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Jake Hiatt, Mason; Dan Kingsley, Superior; Tyler Luger, Oxford; Donnie Lofdahl, Duluth, MN; Cole Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: Eder; Cook; Suzik; Uotinen; Niznik; Gehl; Hiatt; Lofdahl; Luger.
Heat 2: Stuart; Balduc; Lavasseur; Kingsley; C Spacek; Byholm; Carlson; J Spacek.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: 1-10: Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Cory Casari, Montreal; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Dave Flynn, Superior; Kyle Copp, Brule; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Andrew Mackey, Roseville, MN; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI.
11-13: Terran Spacek, Phillips; Rick Randall, Wakefield, MI; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland.
Heat 1: McFadden; Copp; Deragon; Beeksma; Mackey; Mashlan; Randall.
Heat 2: Oreskovich; Muzzy; Spacek; Flynn; Kuklinski; Casari.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1-10: George Dalbeck, Wakefield, MI; David Simpson, Thunder Bay, ON; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Gunner Peterson, South Range; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Brandon Copp, Brule; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; Dalton Mains, Foxboro.
11-18: Jared Stricker, Highbridge; Jack Rivord, Superior; Bryan Lund, Ashland; Steve Altman, Mercer; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI; Craig Lofdahl, Duluth, MN; Darren Dunbar, Marenisco, MI.
Heat 1: Simpson; Rivord; Peterson; Stricker; Barningham; Weinberger; Passuello; D Dunbar; Lund.
Heat 2: M Dunbar; Copp; Altman; Dalbeck; Fuhrman; Stricker; Lofdahl; Mains; Muhlig.
Feature: 1-9: Bubba Anderson, Trego; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Dejay Jarecki, Ashland; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Josh Saunders, Spooner; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Randy Graham, Trego; Matt Deragon, Ashland.
Heat 1: Graham; Anderson; Popp; Jarecki.
Heat 2: Schultz; Deragon; Saunders; Nevala; Traaholt.
WISSOTA Pure Stocks
Feature: 1-5: Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Randy Graham, Trego; Brandle Pupp, Highbridge; Don Livingston, Washburn; Jason Simonson, Poplar.
Heat: Weinberger; Graham; Livingston; Pupp; Simonson.
Feature: 1-10: Tate Niehaus, Alborn, MN; Paul George, Princeton, MN; Paul Ripley, Duluth, MN; Derek Dunbar, Iron River; Dayna Marken, Duluth, MN; Mike Brennan, Ashland; Bobby Sheldon, Rhinelander; Mitch Kieber, Ironwood, MI; Austin Gibson, Springbrook; Neil Dees, Hurley.
11: Shawn Young, Stone Lake.
Heat 1: George; Ripley; Dunbar; Niehaus; Brennan; Dees.
Heat 2: Marken; Sheldon; Gibson; Kieber; Young.