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Steve Stuart Gets Hot in ABC Mods; Tyler Luger Gets First WISSOTA Win

Monday July 15, 2013


by Nick Gima

Steve Stuart of Ashland came back from a long work trip to Europe with a bug to get back in his race car. He made his return known by pounding the WISSOTA Modified feature field Saturday night at the ABC Raceway.

The Raceway’s “Jam the Stands” half-price admission night and kids’ bike race program, presented by Chicago Iron & Supply and Heartland Communications, included a full five-division AmsOil Dirt Track Series program on a warm, muggy night in front of a great crowd.

Stuart, who ran away to a dominant win in Superior the night before, took advantage of a 20-lap non-stop run to embarrass the field here Saturday. After a two-car spin on the initial start, pole starter Ross Lightner grabbed the early lead on “big mod” rookie Neil Balduc. Stuart then worked a low-groove move on Scott Hudack and Dean Yrjanainen to take third on lap 3.

Stuart continued his climb forward by quickly disposing of Balduc a lap later, and on lap 5 he switched to the outside line to challenge Lightner, eventually taking the lead away coming off turn 4 on lap 7. From there the 2011 track champ pulled away, increasing his lead from 1.25 seconds on lap 9 to nearly 3.9 seconds – or better than the length of the front chute – by the time the checkered flag flew.

Behind him, Balduc worked his way past Lightner for second just before mid-race, and during the back half of the race Curt Myers clawed his way past Lightner for third and gave Balduc all he could handle for second, but the rookie held on for runner-up honors. Myers took over the points lead with his third-place effort, while tenth-starting Kevin Eder took fourth away from Lightner in the closing laps.

In the other open-wheeled main event, Tyler Luger continued to impress by gaining the early lead and holding on for his first-ever WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature win. Luger, of Iron River, has enjoyed increasingly more successful runs in recent outings, and once he took the lead in the 15-lap feature he was smooth and patient despite some serious challenges.

Pole starter Ross Fuhrman spun in front of the entire field on the initial start of the race, and after a couple more attempts to get the race to stay green Luger gained control, only to have John Kallas sweep around the outside and gain four positions in one lap to move up to second. But Kallas’ car got sideways on lap 2, allowing Rick Przybylski and most of the rest of the field to get back by.

The race was restarted again a lap later for Paul Suzik’s spin, and from there Luger fended off Przybylski’s threats for nine non-stop tours, with Luger hugging the inside groove and Przybylski working the upper line. Cole Spacek charged from his tenth-place starting spot through traffic to get by Ryan Adamzak for third on lap 8, and over the next five laps he reeled in the leaders.

As the field was about to take the white flag, Travis Nye and Duane Dunbar tangled while battling for seventh place, with the pair spinning to bring out the yellow and force a green-white-checkered finish. Luger kept his cool and edged Przybylski by .116 seconds for the landmark win, with Spacek a quarter-second behind the winner at the stripe. Suzik took advantage of the late restart to swipe fourth away from Adamzak.

Nine-time defending WISSOTA Super Stock champ Scott Lawrence of Superior has struggled uncharacteristically in Ashland to start the season, but he found his way back to Victory Lane after that division’s 20-lap feature Saturday night. The win was a hard-fought one as he raced Wayne Stricker side-by-side for the lead through most of the run.

As with the other main events, it took a couple of tries to get the race into a rhythm, but once the field found its pace the show was very entertaining throughout. Stricker lined up alongside Lawrence on the front row and used the momentum from that outside line to edge ahead early, then stayed there through a series of caution slowdowns over the first three laps, including one in which points leader Myers spun and slammed hard trunk-first into the turn 1 guard rail.

Dave Flynn, who was staying right with Stricker and Lawrence in the early battle for the lead, slipped up the turn 4 banking during the next restart and ground to a stop just short of the guard rail, bringing his night to an end with mechanical issues and stopping the race for the final time. From there Stricker and Lawrence put on a show, with eight straight laps of clean door-to-door racing before Lawrence eked ahead at the stripe on lap 11.

From there Lawrence extended his lead to as much as eight-tenths of a second until he caught up with backmarkers, allowing Stricker to draw up to his rear bumper for one last, albeit unsuccessful, charge. At the checkers Lawrence led by half a second for his 52nd career feature win – one short of tying Jeff Spacek for fourth place on the track’s all-time win list. Randy Spacek worked hard to grab third place away from a strong effort by Nick Oreskovich, and rookie Shawn McFadden Jr once again impressed by earning another top-five paycheck.

The Six-Cylinder feature resulted in heartbreak for one driver and a repeat winning performance for another. A five-car melee deep in the field stopped the action before it ever started, and Tyler Hudack’s spin a lap after the green came back out stopped things again. But over the first seven scored laps Tyler Vernon was in perfect position to score his second career feature win.

Vernon had Scott Ovaska nipping at his heels from the time Ovaska took second away from Jonathan Popp on lap 3. The lead pair scooted away to a decisive margin over Popp’s battle with Hudack for third, but that cushion disappeared when DeJay Mihalek spun on lap 6. A lap after the restart Hudack moved inside on Ovaska and worked his way to second, bringing Pat Beeksma to third.

On the next lap Vernon’s ride skidded up the banking in turn 4, opening up the bottom for Hudack, Beeksma and Ovaska to speed by. In the next corner Vernon’s nightmares continued when he got together with Popp and spun, sending Vernon to the tail of the field as the cause of the incident.

With the only other slowdown of the 15-lapper coming as a result of Zach Pagels’ spin on lap 9, Hudack and Beeksma pulled away from the field to debate the win, with Ashland’s Hudack working hard for his second feature win of the season and taking over the points lead in the process. Tyler’s sister Tiffany Hudack continued her impressive rookie campaign in the Sixes by stealing third spot away from Ovaska with three laps to go, and Ron Hmielewski came home with a solid fifth-place run.

The 12-lap Pure Stock feature was full of plot twists and adventure, but it resulted in a great side-by-side race for the win. Pole starter Ryan Savoy slipped up the hill in turn 2 and forced outside-front-row starter Ken Tody Jr up as well, with Tody tagging the guard rail and doing significant damage. On the next attempt at green-flag racing Chad Nikstad, who inherited the pole, got sideways in turn 4 and snagged the infield marker tires, rolling his car over in front of the field. Nikstad was unhurt.

The ensuing restart put Tim Carbon – who initially was in row 4 – on the pole, and he and Matt Deragon began a great duel for the lead, with Deragon gaining the early advantage until first-nighter Charles Jahn spun on lap 3. Carbon got a run to the inside on Deragon to take the point on that restart, but Deragon charged back on the outside line and edged ahead by a fender just before a lap 7 caution for debris.

Again Carbon eased ahead on the restart, and again Deragon charged back on the high side until he was scored as the leader on lap 9. It was on that same lap that Ryan Savoy gained some high-side momentum and swept past Terran Spacek and Chad Carlson to fourth, and a lap later Savoy used the same move to grab third from Nick Nye.

On the final lap Savoy worked his way into second as Carbon’s car became loose, but Deragon, of Ashland, had enough of a lead to gain his second career feature win. Nye also got past Carbon for third, and Spacek was within feet of taking fifth from Carbon at the stripe.

Fast-lap bonuses were awarded by Northern Clearing to Lawrence in the Mods (18.389 seconds) and Hudack in the Sixes (18.846). Chicago Iron & Supply and AmericInn donated three bikes for giveaways, and they were awarded to Terance Carson, Dawson Nabozny and Jasmine Oliphant.

Bike race winners during intermission included Christopher Powell (ages 3-5), Eric Watson (6-9), and Jared Stricker (10-12).

On Saturday, July 20, the ABC Raceway will offer an enhanced purse for the “big mods” as part of its “Modified Madness” special, to be presented by PetroChoice. Adult admission is just ten dollars, and kids ages 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Hot laps are set for 6:15 pm, and racing gets underway at 7. “Race Night” will air live on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and at www.wbszfm.com, from 4:30-6 pm with 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.


WISSOTA Modifieds

Feature: Steve Stuart, Ashland; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Curt Myers, Cameron; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Ross Lightner, Washburn; Al Uotinen, Superior; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Pat Cook, Washburn; Paul Niznik, Medford; Rick Rivord, Superior; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; George Dalbeck, Ironwood, MI; Dean Yrjanainen, Lake Nebagamon; Jeff Spacek, Phillips.

Heat 1: Stuart; Yrjanainen; Lightner; Balduc; Cook; Byholm; lavasseur; Rivord.
Heat 2: Myers; Uotinen; Hudack; Spacek; Eder; Niznik; Mikkonen; Dalbeck.

WISSOTA Super Stocks

Feature: Scott Lawrence, Superior; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Shawn McFadden Jr, Ashland; Cory Casari, Montreal; Shawn Rivord, South Range; Ken Truscott, Greenland, MI; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; DJ Keeler, Superior; Chase Turner, Iron River; Mike Hince, Watertown; Andy Grymala, Superior; Dave Flynn, Superior; Curt Myers, Cameron; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI.

Heat 1: Spacek; Grymala; McFadden; Stricker; Rivord; Keeler; Casari; Hince; Turner.
Heat 2: Lawrence; Myers; Oreskovich; Flynn; Truscott; Kuklinski; Anderson; Muzzy.

WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds

Feature: Tyler Luger, Iron River; Rick Przybylski, Ashland; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; John Kallas, Hurley; Cody Carlson, Superior; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI; Travis Nye, Ashland; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Ken Tody Jr, Ashland; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Paul Niznik, Medford.

Heat 1: Nye; Kallas; Luger; Adamzak; Dunbar; Byholm; Bretting; Tody.
Heat 2: Suzik; Przybylski; Fuhrman; Carlson; Spacek; Niznik; Hicks; Muhlig.


Feature: Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Pat Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Scott Ovaska, Marengo; Ron Hmielewski, Marengo; Dale Coddington, Hayward; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; DeJay Mihalek, Ashland; Zach Pagels, Marengo; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Jim Anderson, Mason; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; Tad Bretting, Ashland; Bill Anderson, Wakefield, MI; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland.

Heat 1: Ovaska; Tiffany Hudack; Vernon; Popp; Pagels; Mashlan; Bretting; Traaholt; Lindquist.
Heat 2: Beeksma; Tyler Hudack; Coddington; Hmielewski; Schultz; Mihalek; B Anderson; J Anderson.

Pure Stocks

Feature: Matt Deragon, Ashland; Ryan Savoy, Superior; Nick Nye, Ashland; Tim Carbon, Highbridge; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Chad Carlson, Superior; Jeff Christman, South Range; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Rita Anderson, Superior; Ryan Madsen, South Range; Charles Jahn, Highbridge; Ken Tody Jr, Ashland; Chad Nikstad, Superior.

Heat 1: Nye; Nikstad; Deragon; Christman; Carlson; Anderson; Spacek.
Heat 2: Tody; Savoy; Carbon; Madsen; Pupp; Jahn.

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