Ashland, WI, – On its final points-paying night of the 2014 race season, the ABC Raceway crowned its regular-season track champions after a fast-paced AmsOil Dirt Track Series program presented by Northstar Beverage of Hurley, Pepsi, and WIMI, 99.7 FM, of Ironwood, MI, on Saturday night. Repeat points champions included Steve Stuart of Ashland with his second title in the WISSOTA Modifieds and fifth overall here; Scott Lawrence of Superior for the 11th straight time in the WISSOTA Super Stocks and 14th overall in Ashland; Michael Truscott of Chippewa Falls for the first time ever here in the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds; Tiffany Hudack of Ashland for the first time ever in the Six-Cylinders; and Matt Deragon of Ashland for the second time in the Pure Stocks. Seventy-seven entries took to another lightning-fast red-clay racing surface on a cool, humid night, with the 17-race program completed by 9:45 pm.
Stuart held a 30-point advantage as the 14 Modifieds took to the track for their 20-lap feature and started on row 4 as outside front-row starter Neil Balduc took the initial lead. He maintained that lead after the race restarted following Paul Niznik’s stopped car after one lap was scored, and although Jeff Spacek dove low on Scott Hudack to take second and Stuart also worked inside against Eder for fourth, the passes were negated when Hudack slapped the turn 3 guardrail, ending his night.
Balduc sprinted away from Spacek and quickly built a lead of over a second on the field, while Eder stole second place away from Spacek. Stuart overtook Spacek for third on lap 3 and threatened Eder for several circuits while Balduc posted the fastest lap of the race during those early stages at 16.220 seconds – a mere two one-thousandths of a second off Stuart’s track record – while building his lead to nearly two full seconds.
At mid-race Stuart took a peek to the inside on Eder in a bid for second, but Zack Pagels’ spin set up a restart to kick off the second half of the run. Stuart swiped second on that restart and pulled Spacek along to third, but Eder reclaimed third two laps later. Balduc rebuilt most of his big lead, holding Stuart at bay by several car lengths for all but the final lap.
After taking the white flag, Stuart’s car suddenly broke loose coming out of turn 2 and he slowed dramatically, the victim of a flat right-rear tire. Balduc, of Bessemer, MI, cruised to his second straight feature win by nearly four seconds, with Eder holding off Spacek for second. Al Uotinen and Rick Rivord completed the top five. After his 12th-place finish Stuart’s final points margin was 21 over Spacek.
After a wild start to the 20-lap WISSOTA Super Stock A-main, Cory Casari of Montreal held off a determined Nick Oreskovich to win his 22nd career ABC Raceway feature and second in a Super, with the other coming back in June 2011. Brian Mikkonen grabbed the initial lead from pole-starter Greg Kuklinski, but before the second lap was scored Mikkonen spun in front of the field, after contact by Kuklinski. Casari captured the lead from Mikkonen on the restart and set the pace, with Oreskovich moving into second a lap later. The lead pair spent the next few laps pulling away from the field, with Oreskovich staying right in Casari’s tire tracks. After Shawn McFadden Jr won a one-lap tussle with Randy Spacek for third, Lawrence, who started outside on row 4, made a successful three-wide pass for fourth on lap 6.
The field was tightened up after a multi-car mess on lap 10, but Casari and Oreskovich pulled away again after the restart. Spacek shuffled Lawrence back to fourth and then overtook McFadden for third on lap 13, but three circuits later Lawrence regrouped to take fourth with three laps left. But the show was up front, where Oreskovich threw several moves at Casari in a bid for the win, albeit to no avail. Dave Flynn made a last-lap pass of McFadden to score fifth-place money.
Lawrence finished just 12 points ahead of Casari for the crown, as nine of the top ten in points took nine of the top ten finishing positions in Saturday’s feature. Last week Paul Niznik of Medford finished dead last in the 20-car WISSOTA Midwest Modified feature here, but he reversed his fortunes in a big way, holding off champ Truscott for his second win of his career here, with the other coming in June 2006. Duane Dunbar held the initial lead before Tyler Vernon took it away two laps into the 15-lap race, with Niznik slipping into third. After a scrum on lap 4 forced on the yellow lights, Niznik used the outside lane to sweep around Dunbar for second on the restart, pulling ninth-starting Truscott to third.
Niznik stayed upstairs to take the lead away from a strong-running Vernon on lap 7, one tour before Tad Bretting’s spin slowed the pace for a second time. Truscott passed Vernon for second on the restart, and after Cole Spacek’s car stopped just off the track to bring about another caution flag with six laps left, Truscott challenged Niznik with a low-side move, edging ahead with three laps left. Niznik, however, drove a determined race and fought back to take the lead with two to go, maintaining his momentum on the high line to hold on for a quarter-second margin of victory. Paul Suzik was not far back in third, followed by a nice run for Tyler Luger and Vernon. Truscott needed only to take a green flag at the start of the night to claim his first career points title here, with a 51-point final advantage over Suzik.
The family affair in the winner’s circle after the Six-Cylinder championship had an historic tone, as Ashland’s Tyler Hudack won the 15-lap battle but his older sister Tiffany Hudack won the war, becoming the first female racer to earn a points championship at the ABC Raceway in its 50-year existence. Zack Pagels edged ahead to set the initial pace of the non-stop run before a strong outside move by Colten Vernon on lap 2 put the rookie into the lead. Tyler Hudack followed into second, and the lead pair put on a fantastic show of door-to-door racing, swapping the point as they drew away from the field.
Tiffany Hudack, who sewed up the title after heat-race action was completed, moved by Pagels into third and watched from a distance as her brother and Vernon raced for the win. Tyler gained a little edge with a couple laps remaining, but Vernon came back strong, and in a photo finish Hudack claimed his fifth feature win of the season, and 13th of his career, by a final margin of just .12 seconds. Behind Tiffany in the top five were Pagels and Forrest Schultz. The final difference in the points was 38, in favor of Tiffany over her brother. Deragon had the Pure Stock title well in hand when he took to the track for the final regular-season feature of the year at Ashland, and he worked his way from the fourth row to win the eleventh ABC Raceway Pure Stock main event of his career to finish things off with a flourish.
Going back to lap 3 of the August 9 feature, the Pure Stocks closed the season here with 46 straight green-flag feature laps, as Jeff Christman pulled away from the pole to lead the first half of the 12-lap finale. Terran Spacek and Tim Carbon moved by Rita Anderson for second and third just after the start, but within two laps Deragon had caught and passed Carbon for third. The points champ then used a three-wide pass to take second on lap 3 and hunted down Christman, and while the leader made it a challenge, eventually Deragon got by, taking the lead on lap 6 and pulling away to a near-straightaway lead at the checkers.
Chad Carlson had taken third just before mid-race and slipped by Christman to take second on lap 7, where he stayed for the duration of the run, although Christman was not far behind him at the finish. Glenn Dammer, who started alongside Deragon, came home fourth, a ways ahead of Spacek. Deragon’s track-best eighth Pure Stock feature win of 2014 tied Casari’s track record, and his final 52-point advantage over Spacek was the largest winning margin in the five divisions. Fast-lap bonuses were awarded to Oreskovich (16.968 seconds) and Tyler Hudack (18.271), while Lawrence received the $50 bonus for having the Raceway’s 50th Anniversary decal on his car, based on a random draw.
The ABC Raceway crew will now take the next few weeks to prepare for the 39th annual Red Clay Classic on September 26-27. WISSOTA Late Models will join the Modifieds, Super Stocks and Midwest Mods for the traditional end-of-season special, with upwards of 200 racers expected to compete for a purse set at over $80,000. Event information, such as gate openings, start times and other happenings taking place in conjuction with the Classic, will be released over the next couple of weeks. A limited number of on-site camping spots, reserved grandstand seats and pit spots are still available, with contact information posted on the Raceway’s website, www.abcraceway.com. “Race Night” will provide up-to-date racing news and weather information live from the track on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and online at www.wbszfm.com, from 3-4 pm on both nights of the event.
The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13 and one mile west on Butterworth Road.