So Swanson started 18th in the 19-car field for the 20-lap A-main presented by Auto Value Auto Parts, with $400 awaiting the winner.
Polesitter Greg Jaeger edged ahead of Ken Tyykila for the
early lead, and Shawn McFadden slipped past Tyykila for second. The lead
pair pulled away from the field by a healthy margin during the first
half of the event, which ran non-stop, while Dale Coddington struggled
to get around Tyykila.
Swanson, meanwhile, methodically picked off each position, using a higher line around the red-clay oval than most of his competition, until he broke into the top ten only seven laps into the run.
Jaeger and McFadden had just put backmarker Justin Bretall a lap down one circuit after midrace when the complexion of the race changed due to a Adam Traaholt spin. Swanson restarted sixth and moved outside to challenge Pat Beeksma for fourth, just as Coddington did to finally overtake Tyykila, but Swanson then used the same move to pass Coddington on lap 13.
Swanson slipped to the inside on McFadden a lap later, but when Traaholt’s car stopped atop the infield marker tires a moment later McFadden got a reprieve. So on the restart Swanson went back to his favored outside route, sped around McFadden, and was about to do the same to Jaeger when Jim Anderson’s car scraped the guardrail and slowed with three laps left.
Jaeger was unable to hold off Swanson’s charge any longer after the restart, and the second-year Ashland pilot scooted off to his fifth feature win of the season here. McFadden followed Jaeger closely at the stripe, and Coddington and Tyykila completed the top five.
“Talk about a fun race!” Swanson exclaimed in victory lane, with the win moving him into a tie for fourth place in the division’s points standings.
In other AmsOil Dirt Track Series action, three drivers earned landmark wins and two others were equally impressive in their efforts.
It took three attempt to get the 20-lap WISSOTA super stock feature going, but once underway there were no caution flags to slow the action, and it turned into a nailbiter.
On that third restart polesitter Ron Hmielewski lead Kevin Eder and Nick Oreskovich away from the pack. Hmielewski started to build a lead, but once Eder got into a rhythm he drew up to and alongside the leader by lap 8.
For the next eight laps Hmielewski and Eder ran side-by-side, while Scott Lawrence, after passing Oreskovich for third, pulled up to join the lead battle on lap 12. The three of them ran within inches of each other and even three-wide at times, as Eder and Hmielewski exchanged the lead at the start-finish line and Lawrence searched for a way past. Eder didn’t have a clear advantage on Hmielewski at the stripe until they sped under the white flag, and the finish was still in doubt until Eder came off turn 4 for the final time
mere feet ahead for his first-ever WISSOTA-sanctioned win.
Just behind him, Hmielewski nipped Lawrence by less than a hlaf-foot for runner-up honors in a finish that couldn’t have been decided if not for the transponder system utilized by the track. Joe Oliver weaved through the thick traffic well back of the leaders to take fourth, just ahead of Oreskovich.
“I never had so much fun racing a guy,” the Ashland speedster stated afterwards about his run with Hmielewski. “He raced me clean the whole way.”
Lawrence’s effort, combined with a hard-fought sixth-place performance by Randy Spacek, moved him into a one-point lead over Spacek in the super stock standings.
Kent Baxter of Dorchester made that long haul worth his while, running off to a straightaway victory over the rest of the WISSOTA modified field for his first feature win here ever. Baxter dominated from the drop of the green, with no yellows to interrupt his run after a failed first attempt to start the 20-lap race.
Behind him Dean Yrjanainen won a three-car battle for third and then took second place away from Scott Hudack on lap 4. But Baxter’s car was just too stout on this night, running the middle to upper groove to perfection with only one minor stumble along the way, which he recovered from without giving up any ground.
Yrjanainen’s steady run nearly became a nightmare when he developed a flat right-rear tire on the final lap, dropping him from second to sixth under the checkers. Jerry Hartman and Bill Byholm came on strong late and blew by Yrjanainen for second and third, respectively, while Al Uotinen and Hudack filled out the top five.
The mod points battle tightened up considerably, as Jeff Spacek’s lead was trimmed to just two over Byholm and Uotinen.
The pure stock feature was a down-to-the-wire affair as well, with Superior’s Jeff Christman squeeking past Dustin Follett at the stripe for his first-ever ABC Raceway win. Christman, making his first appearance here this summer, started next-to-last in the 11-car field but, like Swanson would do later, utilized the outer lane of the track while his fellow racers searched for a preferred groove.
The night nearly came to an early end for both Christman and Follett, as one lap in to the run Follett was turned sideways in the middle of the back straight and “t-boned” by Christman in the passenger-side door for the race’s first caution flag. Both drivers were able to continue, although it wasn’t discovered until later that Follett suffered a severe shoulder injury.
Zene Anderson paced the event until lap 5 of the ten scheduled, when Follett made a move for the lead. Three laps later Christman took third away from Tim Carlson, and the next time around he slipped by Anderson, setting up the dramatic finish.
Coming off the last turn Christman drew alongside Follett and scraped against the front-straight concrete wall, but his momentum carried him past by half a car-length. Anderson held off division points leader Chad Carlson and Tim Carbon for third.
Cory Casari of Hurley won the WISSOTA street stock feature in impressive fashion. He worked by Canadian visitor Don Craig for second place just before the 12-lapper’s only caution flag was thrown on lap 2, for Steve Anderson’s stopped racer. From there Casari used an inside move to overtake Paul Milanowski and pulled away to an eight-length win.
John Kallas worked the perimeter route to climb into second with two laps to go after starting eighth, and Greg Kuklinski finally edged past Craig on the final lap for third. Divisional points leader Larry Haderly finished fifth.
In the WISSOTA Midwest modified 15-lap main event, Shane Halopka was victorious for the third time this season, but the race was marred by a violent wreck that damaged seven cars, eliminated three of them and saw Adam Archer suffer minor injuries. The incident occured on lap 3, when Mike Truscott’s car was bounced off the back-straight guardrail and into the tight-knit traffic. Several cars scattered and slammed into each other, and points leader Duane Dunbar’s car became airborne for just a moment as it rode over
another, but the majority of the damage came when those drivers trailing the incident came upon it quickly with nowhere to go and no chance to avoid it, including Archer’s.
After a red-flag stoppage that lasted over half an hour, Halopka brought the field back to the green flag and survived two more caution-flag slowdowns for minor incidents before speeding off to a straightaway margin of victory. Lance Solem was impressive in his second-place effort, fending off strong challenges from Truscott, Jimmy Latvala and Steve Stuart.
During the night’s intermission several drivers “passed the helmet” throughtout the grandstands to collect donations for former driver and track worker Chris Lustig, who has struggled with a variety of health issues in recent months. Fans again dug deep and generously contributed $735 toward this worthy cause.
Next Saturday, the track will host its fifth annual “Pure Excitement 25″ pure stock special, presented by the Ashland-Bayfield County Sportman’s Club. A total purse of over $4,000 has been raised for the entry-level division, with the winner’s share set for at least $650. Hot laps are set for 6:15 pm, with racing starting at 7. “Racenight” will air live on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, 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, .