Monday August 6, 2012
Lightner, Eliason end long victory droughts
by Nick Gima
George Dalbeck of Ironwood, MI, worked his way by Duane Dunbar after a restart and sailed off to a runaway win in the third annual “Midwest Mod Madness” main event during AmsOil Dirt Track Series action at the ABC Raceway on Saturday night.
In addition to Dalbeck’s impressive performance, Washburn’s Ross Lightner and Jim Eliason of Ashland ended long dry spells with feature wins, Randy Spacek of Phillips returned to Victory Lane for the first time since opening night, and Pat Beeksma of Ironwood continued his dominance at Ashland. A field of 79 racers came to play on the red-clay oval for the program presented by the NAPA Auto Parts stores of Ashland and Washburn.
In the 20-lap, $500-to-win WISSOTA Midwest modified headliner, Dunbar gained the early advantage from his pole-position starting spot, while Dalbeck, who started outside on the second row, quickly worked around rookies Paul Suzik and Cole Spacek into second. Neil Balduc’s ride suffered a flat tire after the first lap was scored to stop the show, but from then on the event ran without delay.
Dalbeck made his move on Dunbar with the drop of the green, working to the outside while Dunbar hugged the bottom groove, and within a lap Dalbeck had the lead. From then on it was just a matter of how much the defending track champ would win by, as he ran a smooth, steady line around the 3/8th-mile oval.
Behind the leader, however, Spacek, Alex Van Natta and Suzik stayed close behind Dunbar and frequently exchanged positions. Points leader Travis Nye joined the shuffle for top-five spots before mid-race, and Michael Truscott, who started 14th on the 16-car grid, gained significant ground during the middle stages of the run, clawing his way to fourth before his car gave up the fight and he pulled to the pits.
Dalbeck scored his division-best fourth feature checkers of the summer by a winning margin of over three-and-a-half seconds on Dunbar, who won a tooth-and-nail fight with Nye for runner-up money. Van Natta came home a distant fourth, while Spacek was impressive in completing the top five.
Dalbeck added to his winnings on the night by collecting the fast-lap bonus with a 18.199-second circuit during the race. Nye extended his points lead to 31 over Van Natta with three race nights remaining.
Unlike Dalbeck, Lightner’s winning pass came late in his feature, but it helped him break a cold spell of nearly five full years. Steve Stuart started outside alongside polesitter Jeff Tardy and won the race out of the first pair of turns for the initial lead of the 20-lap WISSOTA modified A-main, but Tardy kept the pressure on while Steve Lavasseur quickly gained third. Curt Myers also found the outer groove to his liking and swept up from the fourth row to take fourth away from Lightner with three laps in.
Myers grabbed third away from Lavasseur two laps later, and within another tour he was challenging Tardy for second, as Stuart extended his lead to just over half a second. The torrid pace came to a stop, however, on lap 7, when a multi-car mess ended points leader Jeff Spacek’s night while he was running seventh.
After Kevin Eder’s spin on the restart caused several to scramble, Myers went on the attack against Stuart, working his preferred outer line until he completed the pass for the lead on lap 9. Within four more laps Myers’ advantage was nearing a second, and he had built that up to 1.5 seconds by lap 15, but that disappeared when Bill Byholm, whose car ground to a stop in the infield grass two laps before, removed his helmet while still sitting in his car. Track officials deemed this unsafe and threw the yellow flag.
On the ensuing restart third-running Tardy’s car broke loose, collecting a couple of others and bringing about one more try for the five-lap shootout. When the green lights came back on Lightner was in third, lined up to the inside on Stuart and right on Myers’ push-bar. Stuart’s car, while trying to slip down low to make a pass for the lead, pushed up the track in turn 4, forcing Myers up the hill and opening the door for Lightner to drive by.
From there Lightner held off Stuart for four tense laps for his first win since August 11, 2007, which was his first in a mod. Stuart was a half-second back, while Lavasseur, second-in-points Jared Loos and a recovered Myers completed the top five.
Spacek’s lead has been reduced to four over Loos with three shows remaining. Myers set the fast lap during the run at 17.330 seconds and collected that bonus.
Eliason had to exercise a little patience during the pure stock finale to the night’s action, but he was rewarded with his first feature win since August 20, 2005, during his lone championship season. He also put himself in position to contend for another trophy, as the pure stock points chase continues to be a wild one.
Andy Udeen took the outside route to get by pole-starter Brandle Pupp after the initial corner of the 12-lapper, but Pupp charged back on the outside to lead lap 1. Udeen fought back to take control of the run a lap later, just before Tim Carbon’s spin.
Eliason restarted fourth but made a gutsy outside move on Pupp and Joe Wolfe to grab second, and then went low to steal the lead away from Udeen just before Pupp and Dean Waby got together to bring about another yellow flag.
Nick Nye drove past three cars to muscle his way into second on the restart, but Jeff Christman followed him through to third and then dropped to the inside line to challenge Nye for the spot, giving Eliason a chance to draw away. The field came back to Eliason’s trunklid at the race’s mid-point when Wolfe’s car stalled just off the front chute in the infield grass, and it took another try to get the race going again after Dustin Gay’s car stopped on the front straight.
Nye retook second from Christman on the final restart of the night, with Ken Tody, Jr, and Carbon in tow, but Eliason pulled away sightly over the closing laps and held on for the long-overdue win. Nye edged Tody for second, and Matt Deragon took advantage of Carbon’s flat tire on the next-to-last lap to grab fourth, just ahead of Christman.
Nye, Tody and Deragon came into the night tied for the points lead, with Eliason (who shares his driving duties with Paul Tutor) five tallies back. Heading into next weekend the trio are still tied for the lead, but the Eliason-Tutor team are now within a single point of the top spot.
The WISSOTA super stocks struggled for a second straight week to run a clean 20-lap feature, but after several early-race tangles Randy Spacek captured the lead and scored his 35th career Ashland win. Greg Kuklinski looked strong from the start as he led from the initial start and then again after a restart following a DJ Keeler spin.
It then took three tries to put lap 2 in the book and another attempt to finish lap 4, as the close-quarters racing made for some difficult moments. First pole-starter Ken Truscott’s car broke loose and collected several others in a grinding crash, and then Willie Johnsen and Nick Oreskovich spun together in front of the field while running second and third; surprisingly, no other cars were involved in that melee.
With the 15-car field whittled down to just ten, debris drew another yellow flag, after which Kuklinski fended off a stout challenge from Oreskovich for a lap until Spacek took over second. Spacek then grabbed some traction on the inside on lap 4 and took the lead, just before Myers’ spin stopped the race for the final time.
Oreskovich came back to work his way around Spacek for the lead two laps after the restart, and Dave Flynn, who restarted fifth, moved quickly up to third. Flynn, who started the night one point behind Scott Lawrence in the super stock standings, now found himself three spots ahead of the eight-time defending champ and pulling away as the lead trio distanced themselved from the remaining racers.
However, a lap past halfway Flynn’s motor gave up and he pulled into the pits, leaving Oreskovich and Spacek to decide who would win on this night. With six circuits left Spacek’s car found some bite on the inside line and he slipped by for good, while Oreskovich’s car seemed to slow somewhat. Spacek sped away to a winning margin of nearly two-and-a-quarter seconds, while Lawrence, who had caught the slowing Oreskovich, stole second from him on the final lap. Combined with Flynn’s misfortunes, Lawrence extended his points lead to five heading into next Saturday’s action.
Cory Casari finished solidly in fourth, while first-nighter Keith Kern was scored in fifth.
Beeksma also took advantage of a late-race restart, and in doing so he chalked up his track-leading seventh feature win of the summer and 27th overall here. Beeksma started eighth in the 17-car six-cylinder feature field but chipped positions away quickly as Greg Jaeger and Dale Coddington overtook Bill Anderson for the early lead. Coddington restarted at the point after a Ron Lillie spin on lap 3 and again after a six-car mess on the next green-flag attempt.
It was after that restart that Beeksma moved into the top five by working his way around the bottom lane. Tyler Hudack had taken second away from Jaeger and was threatening Coddington for the lead when Adam Traaholt looped his ride on lap 6, and back under green Don Muzzy became a challenger when he overtook Hudack.
Beeksma, meanwhile, moved by Jaeger for fourth, then used a three-wide move to get into the battle for second at mid-race. He completed the pass on Hudack for runner-up honors with five laps left, but just as Hudack was charging back Traaholt and Lillie got together to slow the pace on the next lap.
Beeksma, who restarted third, took a peek to the inside upon the restart, and within a lap he got by both Hudack and Coddington for the lead. The defending divisional champ then raced away to a lead of nearly a second at the checkers, with Coddington, Muzzy and Hudack in close formation behind. Tad Bretting completed the top five.
Next up for the ABC Raceway will be another full five-division program, this time presented by Rivord Trucking of Superior. Hot laps will start at 6:15 pm, followed by time trials for the sprints, while racing will follow at 7. “Race Night” will air on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and online at www.wbszfm.com from 4:30-6 pm with live at-the-track news and weather updates.
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: Ross Lightner, Washburn; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Jared Loos, Loyal; Curt Myers, Cameron; David Baxter, Eau Claire; Pat Cook, Washburn; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Jeff Tardy, Hibbing, MN; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Paul Brust, Rice Lake; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Paul Niznik, Medford.
Heat 1: Lavasseur; Myers; Hudack; Brust; Baxter; Loos; Niznik.
Heat 2: Spacek; Tardy; Lightner; Stuart; Eder.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: Randy Spacek, Phillips; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Cory Casari, Montreal; Keith Kern, Superior; DJ Keeler, Superior; Dave Flynn, Superior; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Curt Myers, Cameron; Willie Johnsen, Superior; Dave Elliott, Minocqua; Rick Randall, Wakefield, MI; Ken Truscott, Greenland, MI; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River.
Heat 1: Flynn; Lawrence; Spacek; Truscott; Elliott; Randall; Myers; Keeler.
Heat 2: Oreskovich; Kuklinski; Casari; Johnsen; Kern; Smith; Mikkonen.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: George Dalbeck, Ironwood, MI; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Travis Nye, Ashland; Alex Van Natta, Minocqua; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Kent Baxter, Colfax; John Kallas, Hurley; Rob Weber, Ashland; Rick Przybylski, Ashland; Cody Carlson, Superior; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Tyler Luger, Iron River; Michael Truscott, Chippewa Falls; Neil Balduc, Ironwood, MI.
Heat 1: Spacek; Dunbar; Bretting; Kallas; Przybylski; Balduc; Weber.
Heat 2: Nye; Van Natta; Dalbeck; Suzik; Baxter; Luger; Truscott; Byholm.
Feature: Pat Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Dale Coddington, Hayward; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Tad Bretting, Ashland; Greg Jaeger, Mellen; Neil Adamzak, Ashland; Shawn McFadden, Jr, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Bill Anderson, Wakefield, MI; DeJay Mihalek, Ashland; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Zach Pagels, Marengo; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Cory Marincel, Ashland; Ron Lillie, Wakefield, MI.
Heat 1: Bretting; Hudack; McFadden; Anderson; Schultz; Mashlan; Popp; Traaholt; Lillie.
Heat 2: Beeksma; Muzzy; Coddington; Jaeger; Adamzak; Mihalek; Pagels; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Marincel.
Feature: Jim Eliason, Ashland; Nick Nye, Ashland; Ken Tody Jr, Ashland; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Jeff Christman, Superior; Dean Waby, Ashland; Bob Anderson, Iron River; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Jim Laessig, Wakefield, MI; Tim Carbon, Highbridge; Dustin Gay, Ashland; Joe Wolfe, Ironwood, MI; Andy Udeen, Superior; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland.
Heat 1: Eliason; A Udeen; Pupp; Wolfe; Laessig; Tim Ayers, Foxboro; Carbon; Gay.
Heat 2: Deragon; Tody; Nye; Christman; Steve Udeen, Superior; Waby; Hudack; Anderson.
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This report was provided by an outside PR source and posted by Mike Neff.
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