Jori Hughes of Tower, Minn., took advantage of another driver’s misfortune and held on to win the first-ever Northern Renegades’ traditional sprint car feature at the ABC Raceway on Saturday night.
On a sweltering 85-degree night, the program - presented by the NAPA Auto Parts stores of Ashland & Washburn - included 79 entries, 14 of which were from the regional sprint series, representing primarily northeastern Minnesota. The non-winged sprinters ran off a 20-lap spotlight event delayed by only four yellow-flag slowdowns - but the last of those was most crucial to the final outcome.
After Ken Hron’s spin negated the initial start, Caley Emerson outran his front-row starting mate Ryan Johnson to set the early pace. Paul Schultz looped his ride on lap 4 to halt the proceedings a second time, after which Emerson increased his advantage over the next four-lap green-flag stage. Hughes - whose only other laps on the northern Wisconsin oval came in a WISSOTA Midwest Modified during the 2010 Red Clay Classic - worked his way past Johnson for second during this stretch, while eighth-starting Denny Stordahl, the only Wisconsin native in the field, grabbed fourth from Chris Lewis.
The turning point of the race came on the restart after the lap 8 stoppage for Zach Olson’s spin. At the drop of the next green flag, Emerson’s car refused to go, forcing him to coast into the infield and hand the lead over to Hughes, who held the point for the duration of the run. Hughes and Stordahl drew away from the pack, with Hughes edging Stordahl by less than four-tenths of a second at the final stripe. Hron, who restarted dead last on the grid after his initial spin, made a tremendous drive through the field to finish third, with Johnson well back in fourth and Jake Barsness just nipping Lewis at the line for fifth.
The Northern Renegades are tentatively slated to return to the ABC Raceway on August 15.
Brandon Copp of Brule also got a bit of a gift when a caution flag wiped out a pass for the lead by Cole Spacek and went on to collect his first-ever feature win in the WISSOTA Modified division.
Tyler Luger swept around polestarter Bill Byholm at the start of the “big Mod” 20-lapper and set a strong early pace, with Copp close behind. On lap 5 Copp moved low to work past Byholm, and then he chipped away at Luger’s three-quarters-of-a-second lead before duplicating his inside move to get by Luger on lap 9.
With Copp storming to a 3.3-second lead over the next six laps, seventh-running Tanner Byholm spun to bring about the first caution flag on lap 15. Spacek took second from Luger on the subsequent restart, then made a strong drive to pull alongside Copp and take the lead, but Cole’s dad Jeff Spacek was tagged and spun, collecting Byholm in a hard wreck, before the lap was completed. Copp was replaced at the front, and he did not allow the younger Spacek - or anyone else - to take away his landmark win, pulling away to a 1.6-second cushion over the final laps.
Pat Cook, who started 12th, put up a stout effort to weave through the field, wrestling second from Cole Spacek with three laps to go, while 15th-starting Alex Van Natta also came on strong late to take fourth away from Luger on the final lap.
Four-time defending WISSOTA Super Stock track champ Nick Oreskovich on Mason maintained the lead through several early delays, then held on after a late caution to win his first feature of the season here.
Front-row starters Don Muzzy and Cory Casari battled fiercely during the first lap, but after fourth-place Matt Deragon’s spin, Oreskovich slipped by the lead pair on the outside. A multi-car melee on lap 2 stopped the action, after which Shawn McFadden Jr. replaced Casari in third and Dave Flynn followed him into fourth.
On lap 3 Deragon and Patrick Beeksma got together to draw another yellow, but the next 11 laps stayed under green, with Oreskovich widening his margin. McFadden grabbed second right after the restart, but Flynn took that spot away within a couple of laps. Oreskovich had a 1.8-second cushion when Flynn took over second, but that lead shrank by half a second over the next seven laps.
Muzzy’s spin on lap 14, and a Kyle Copp-Andrew Mackey get-together on that restart, put Flynn right on Oreskovich’s trunklid for the dash to the finish, but Oreskovich held on by a half-second for his 22nd career feature win at ABC. Casari battled back for third, and Deragon recovered for fourth ahead of McFadden.
Ashland’s Tyler Vernon took advantage of a long green-flag run over the latter two-thirds of the race to earn his second WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature win of the season.
Rookie Brady Uotinen started from the pole and showed that he has learned a lot from watching his dad, six-time ABC Raceway “big Mod” champ Al Uotinen, as he kept his cool in front of the chaos chasing him over the first seven laps of the 20-lapper. First, Justin Weinberger spun right behind Uotinen while holding second during lap 1, and then two cars deep in the pack looped on lap 2. Two laps later John Kallas took a hard hit into the turn 3 wall, but fortunately he was able to walk away.
On the following restart Vernon made a thread-the-needle, four-wide pass for the lead, but during the move the outside car of the four - Jimmy Latvala - spun his ride to nix Vernon’s dramatics. Over the next three laps Uotinen took on the challenges of Ross Fuhman, Vernon, and Jesse Aho until finally Fuhrman completed and inside move to take the lead on lap 7. Uotinen and Aho swapped second for a couple of laps until Aho finally cleared the rookie on lap 11, with Vernon in tow to third.
With five laps to go Vernon decided to try the high line, and with a three-wide move he swept around both Aho and Fuhrman for the winning pass. He then ran off to a 1.9-second margin of victory ahead of Aho, Fuhrman, and Marcus Dunbar and George Dalbeck, who started side-by-side in row 4.
With points leader Randy Graham running his WISSOTA Pure Stock elsewhere on this night, car owner Dale Coddington of Hayward climbed behind the wheel and swept both the ABC Six-Cylinders heat and feature to keep the car undefeated in 2020.
Coddington, the three-time Sixes track champ, moved quickly from his outside-second-row starting spot to get around Josh Saunders to take over the lead on lap 2, and from there it was an exercise in patience. The field was stopped on lap 3 for fluids leaking from the back of Dalton Truchon’s car, and on the restart the cars of Dominic Hmielewski and Saunders jammed together nose-to-tail and ground to a halt. With four cars left to run and the race cut to nine laps from the originally scheduled 12, Truchon tried a power move to get by Coddington for the lead on the restart but spun himself instead.
The remaining three ran off the final six laps, Coddington coasted to a 1.95-second win over Forrest Schultz and Mathew Rohlfing. The win was the 25th of Coddington’s career at ABC.
In the WISSOTA Hornet 12-lap A-main, AJ House of Cloquet, Minn., worked his way past Kristy Marken and ran off to his second win here this season.
After a stop for DeJay Jarecki’s jump of the initial start, Josh Rowe led a tight-knit pack for the first couple of laps, until Marken drove around him for the lead. House, who started eighth, moved into second and immediately challenged for the lead, taking the spot with an inside pass on lap 3.
It took a few laps before House had complete control of the run, eventually winning by a six-length margin over Marken, who had Jarecki threatening over the final few laps. Mitch Kieber and Hunter McDougall completed the top five.
The fastest laps timed in five of the six features were recorded by Stordahl in the sprints (17.715 secs; 76.207 mph); Luger in the Mods (17.336; 77.873); Oreskovich in the Supers (17.322; 77.936); Uotinen in the Mid-Mods (18.056; 74.767); and Coddington in the Sixes (18.603; 72.569).
The ABC Raceway will be off on the Fourth of July but will resume action on Saturday, July 11, with Northern Clearing Inc’s “Racing for a Reason” fundraiser program and Community Celebration event, presented by Little Caesar’s Pizza of Ashland. In addition to free general grandstand admission on that night, fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items as contributions to the fundraising efforts, and local organizations with raffle tickets to sell for their fundraising causes will be welcome to set up tables at the track that night.
The WISSOTA Pure Stocks will join the other five regular weekly divisions in action. The pits will open at 4:30 p.m. and the grandstands will open at 5, with hot laps set for 6:15 and the first green flag of the night scheduled for 7 p.m. “Race Night” will air on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, as well as online at www.wbszfm.com, from 4:30 until 6 p.m. on that Saturday with the latest news and weather information from the track.
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, log on to the track's website, www.abcraceway.com, or check out the track’s FaceBook page.
June 27 RESULTS
NORTHERN RENEGADES TRADITIONAL SPRINTS
Feature: 1-10: Jori Hughes, Tower, MN; Denny Stordahl, Centuria; Ken Hron, Grand Rapids, MN; Ryan Johnson, East Bethel, MN; Jake Barsness, Grand Rapids, MN; Chris Lewis, Grand Rapids, MN; Paul Schultz; Grand Rapids, MN; Josh Braford; Grand Rapids, MN; Brian Trembath; Grand Rapids, MN; Leah Steahl, Mound, MN.
11-12: Zach Olson, Grand Rapids, MN; Caley Emerson, Grand Rapids, MN.
Heat 1: Schultz; Hughes; Johnson; Braford; Lewis; Trembath; Steahl.
Heat 2: Hron; Stordahl; Barsness; Emerson; Olson; Danny Wait Jr, Cohasset, MN.
Feature: 1-10: Brandon Copp, Brule; Pat Cook, Washburn; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Alex Van Natta, Minocqua; Tyler Luger, Oxford; Al Uotinen, Superior; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Kelly Checkalski, Poplar; Jake Hiatt, Mason.
11-17: Paul Niznik, Medford; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Todd Gehl, Solon Springs; Rick Rivord, Superior; Shane Kisling, Butternut; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Jeff Spacek, Phillips.
Heat 1: Uotinen; Rivord; Copp; B Byholm; Suzik; Checkalski; J Spacek; Balduc; Hiatt.
Heat 2: C Spacek; T Byholm; Gehl; Luger; Niznik; Cook; Kisling; Van Natta.
WISSOTA SUPER STOCKS
Feature: 1-10: Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Dave Flynn, Superior; Cory Casari, Montreal; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Kyle Copp, Brule; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI.
11-14: David Elliott, Minocqua; Andrew Mackey, Duluth, MN; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Steve Stuart, Ashland.
Heat 1: Stuart; Flynn; Oreskovich; Muzzy; Beeksma; Mackey.
Heat 2: Copp; Deragon; McFadden; Casari; Elliott; Mashlan; Spacek.
WISSOTA MIDWEST MODIFIEDS
Feature: 1-10: Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; George Dalbeck, Wakefield, MI; Brady Uotinen, Superior; Jack Rivord, Superior; Justin Weinberger, Butternut; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Jimmy Latvala, Solon Springs.
11-17: Paul Ripley, Duluth, MN; Diamond Bressette, Spooner; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Bryan Lund, Ashland; John Darwin, Iron River; Jesse Polson, Superior; John Kallas, Hurley.
Heat 1: Fuhrman; Aho; Latvala; Weinberger; Darwin; Barningham; Polson; Ripley.
Heat 2: Vernon; Dunbar; Dalbeck; Uotinen; Rivord; Kallas; Hicks; Bressette.
Feature: 1-6: Dale Coddington, Hayward; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Mathew Rohlfing, Cable; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Joshua Saunders, Spooner; Dominic Hmielewski, Marengo.
Heat: Coddington; Saunders; Schultz; Hmielewski; Rohlfing; Truchon.
Feature: 1-10: AJ House, Cloquet, MN; Kristy Marken, Duluth, MN; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland; Mitch Kieber, Ironwood, MI; Hunter McDougall, Duluth, MN; Josh Rowe, Duluth, MN; Casey Fitzpatrick, Two Harbors, MN; Nate Rose, Duluth, MN; Brandon Hummelmeier, Maple; Austin Herr, Grand Rapids, MN.
11: Jake Wammer, Ashland.
Heat 1: House; McDougall; Rowe; Jarecki; Fitzpatrick; Shawn Young, Stone Lake.
Heat 2: Rose; Marken; Kieber; Herr; Hummelmeier; Wammer.