Former track champ George Dalbeck of Ironwood, Mich., stole the lead away from Tyler Vernon early and ran off to his first feature win in nearly three seasons at the ABC Raceway on Saturday night.
Dalbeck was one of five drivers to take home huge trophies as part of the Kim Parsons Memorial Trophy Tour stop at the northern Wisconsin red-clay speedplant, on a warm late July night in which presenting sponsors Heartland Communications of Ashland and the NAPA Auto Parts stores of Ashland & Washburn invited fans to “Jam the Stands.” Organized by veteran racing announcer Steve Parsons, the Trophy Tour is designed to raise awareness for the need for organ and tissue donors, in memory of Steve’s late daughter Kim.
Eighty-one cars competed in the PolyDome Dirt Track Series event, with 19 coming out for the 20-lap WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature. After a lap 1 stoppage for debris, Cody Carlson scooted to the front from his outside row 1 starting spot, and Vernon quickly followed Carlson past pole-starter Ross Fuhrman into second. Vernon was able to overtake Carlson for the lead on lap 3 just prior to Robert Hyde’s spin.
On that restart Dalbeck used a strong outside move on Vernon to sweep around for the lead, and despite one more slowdown for a two-car spin on lap 4, Dalbeck led the field for the remaining 16 non-stop laps, with Vernon solidly entrenched in second. Dalbeck’s lead was as much as 1.3 seconds late in the run before Vernon trimmed that to just a shade under a second at the final stripe. In an emotional Victory Lane, Dalbeck dedicated his win to former racer Don Koivisto, who is battling significant health issues and was just inducted into the ABC Raceway Hall of Fame last Saturday.
Wayne Stricker took third place midway through the run and stayed there until the end, while Carlson held on for fourth and posted the fastest lap early in the race with a time of 17.758 seconds. Tanner Hicks finished up a solid night with fifth-place money, and Paul Suzik’s sixth-place effort moved him back into the Mid-Mod points lead, by one ahead of Vernon.
Back-to-back non-stop features finished up what had been a fast-paced program, despite a crash-filled WISSOTA Super Stock main event. The first of the two green-to-checkered runs came courtesy of the WISSOTA Modifieds, where Steve Stuart of Ashland chased and challenged Paul Niznik for the first 10 laps, then passed him and ran off over the latter ten to his second win of the season.
Niznik showed some early power by staying with Steve Lavasseur and eventually edging ahead of his front-row starting mate on lap 2. Niznik then stayed smooth as he fended off heated attacks from both Jeff Spacek and Al Uotinen, while Stuart, who started on the fourth row, slipped through traffic into fourth just four laps into the race.
On lap 10, with Stuart having already snuck under Spacek for third, the defending track champ stuck the nose of his car to the low side of the south corner, while Uotinen stayed up high, and the pair surrounded and overtook Niznik by the end of the back straight, with Stuart becoming the new leader and Uotinen retaining runner-up status. From there Stuart sped away to a full-second lead by lap 13, and he increased that to 2.3 seconds with three laps remaining.
Stuart’s second win of the season moved him back into the division’s points lead, with Uotinen following up his big win in Superior the night before with his best run of the year here and fifth-straight top-five finish. Niznik, who also claimed the fast lap bonus (17.684 seconds), took third ahead of impressive runs by Brian Mikkonen and Pat Cook.
The 20-lap Super Stock A-main was a crash-fest that knocked out or badly damaged at least a dozen of the 21 cars on hand. It started with front-runners Scott Lawrence and Shane Kisling connecting and taking each other off the track on the first attempt to start the race, and it continued with three more tries to get the first lap in, including a nine-car melee that took out Dave Flynn’s fast ride for the night.
On the fourth try polesitter Cory Casari paced the field for a couple of laps, but Nick Oreskovich, who worked an inside line to take second away from Kisling on lap 2, duplicated the move to slice his way past Casari for the lead on lap 4. After Don Muzzy’s spin slowed the pace again on lap 5, another three-car mess kept the event from continuing on.
The field settled down to just racing from there on out, and Oreskovich, from Mason, stayed out front for his first win of the season, setting the race’s fastest lap along the way (17.858 seconds). Kisling threw everything at him that he could to force the “Flyin’ Farmer” to make a mistake but had to settle for a close second, while Lawrence - who worked his way from the very tail of the 21-car grid after the early incident with Kisling - scored a third-place finish ahead of Shawn McFadden, Jr, and the badly-damaged car of Randy Spacek.
Tiffany Hudack of Ashland scored her second career feature win in the 15-lap Six-Cylinder feature, exactly one year to the weekend after chalking up her first-ever win. Hudack had to weave her way from the third row and wait for an opening to present itself while a determined DeJay Mihalek held off Tiffany’s hard-charging brother Tyler Hudack over the first 10 laps.
Tiffany had made her way to third by lap 6 and was a distance back of the lead-pair battle, but the break she needed came on lap 10, when Aaron Mashlan’s machine blew its motor and dropped oil along the length of the front straightaway to bring about the race’s first caution flag. Tiffany took advantage on the restart, using the low groove to slip past Mihalek for the lead. She then maintained that lead after a lap 12 restart that followed a two-car tangle, and she outran points leader Dale Coddington over the final three laps for the win. Tyler Hudack posted the fastest lap of the run (18.093 seconds) en route to a third-place performance, while rookie Bubba Anderson and first-nighter Neil Adamzak completed the top five.
A non-stop 15-lap Pure Stock finale kept those who stayed to the end entertained, as Darwin Brown of Cumberland made his first-ever appearance at Ashland a memorable one. Brown started dead-last on the 16-car feature grid, but by using a slightly higher line than most around the smooth three-eighths-mile oval he eventually overtook everyone in the field.
Jeff Christman jumped ahead of pole-starter Brandle Pupp and clung to the race lead for the first 14 laps and change, although Pupp was only one of a strong contingent of challengers right on Christman’s trunklid. Among those in hot pursuit was Tim Carbon, who worked his way past Pupp for second on lap 3, only to give the position back to Pupp by lap 5.
By mid-race Brown was up to fifth, and when Pupp’s ride wiggled a little on lap 9 Carbon took over the runner-up spot again, with Glenn Dammer following him to third. Brown took away fourth on lap 12, and with two laps to go he edged ahead of Dammer for third. Staying in the middle lane, Brown pulled even with Carbon and right behind Christman as the white flag waived, and over the course of the final lap he crept his way past both of them to take the lead coming off turn 4 for his first-ever win here. Christman, Carbon, Pupp and Dammer followed in the top five in close formation.
Randy Graham’s eighth-place effort, combined with a nightmarish night for Matt Deragon, gives Graham a one-point lead in the Pure Stock standings with five race nights remaining.
On Saturday night the ABC Raceway will invite the younger fans to come out and compete on the red-clay oval during its annual bike races, to be presented by Chicago Iron & Supply of Ashland. In addition, Northern Wisconsin Fence of Phillips will pay tribute to the late engine builder Brian Koch with some special offerings for both the drivers and the fans.
Adult tickets are $10, and fans ages 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. Hot laps are set for 6:15 p.m., followed by heat and feature action at 7. “Z-93 Race Night” will air live on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and stream online at www.wbszfm.com, from 4:30-6 p.m. 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.
Feature: Steve Stuart, Ashland; Al Uotinen, Superior; Paul Niznik, Medford; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Pat Cook, Washburn; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Dustin Hudack, Ashland; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Rick Rivord, Superior.
Heat 1: Balduc; Stuart; Spacek; Cook; D Hudack; Rivord.
Heat 2: Uotinen; Lavasseur; S Hudack; Niznik; Mikkonen.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Shane Kisling, Sarona; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Shawn McFadden Jr, Ashland; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Ken Truscott, Greenland, MI; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Pat Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Myron Basina, Washburn; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Brady Mesko-Jokinen, Mellen; Keith Corcilius, Phillips; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, MI; Cory Casari, Montreal; Andy Grymala, Superior; Dave Flynn, Superior; Dave Elliott, Minocqua.
Heat 1: Truscott; Flynn; Casari; Grymala; C Spacek; Basina; Mesko-Jokinen.
Heat 2: Beeksma; Lawrence; R Spacek; T Spacek; Elliott; Muzzy; Corcilius.
Heat 3: Kisling; Klopstein; Oreskovich; McFadden; Kuklinski; Dunbar; Anderson.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: George Dalbeck, Ironwood, MI; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Cody Carlson, Superior; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; Tyler Luger, Iron River; Mickey Nosser, Phillips; Ross Fuhman, Ashland; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; John Kallas, Hurley; Rob Weber, Ashland; Clay Passuello, Ironwood, MI; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Robert Hyde, Ashland; Paul Niznik, Medford.
Heat 1: Adamzak; Fuhrman; Dunbar; Dalbeck; Stricker; Suzik; Nosser; Weber; J Barningham; R Barningham.
Heat 2: Hicks; Vernon; Niznik; Carlson; Luger; Muhlig; Passuello; Hyde.
Feature: Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Dale Coddington, Hayward; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Neil Adamzak, Ashland; DeJay Mihalek, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Ken Tyykila, Iron River; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Brendon Ottman, Ashland; Colten Vernon, Ashland; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Cole Vernon, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland.
Heat 1: Tiffany Hudack; Popp; Colten Vernon; Anderson; Adamzak; Mashlan; Ottman.
Heat 2: Coddington; Schultz; Tyler Hudack; Mihalek; Cole Vernon; Traaholt; Tyykila.
Feature: Darwin Brown, Cumberland; Jeff Christman, South Range; Tim Carbon, Highbridge; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Glenn Dammer, Duluth, MN; Ryan Savoy, Superior; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Randy Graham, Trego; Randy Conner, Hayward; Don Livingston, Bayfield; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls; Rita Anderson, South Range; Charles Jahn, Mellen; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Bob Skrobot, Manitowish Waters.
Heat 1: Carbon; Christman; Graham; Pupp; Livingston; Anderson; Deragon; Brown.
Heat 2: Conner; Dammer; Savoy; Weinberger; Hanson; Skrobot; Nevala; Jahn.