Ashland, WI, — Ashland’s Kevin Eder passed Bill Byholm midway through the WISSOTA Modified A-feature and captured his 25th career win at the ABC Raceway’s 53rd season opener on Saturday night.
With a large crowd braving cool mid-May temperatures to watch, other winners in the Northern State Bank-sponsored PolyDome Dirt Track Racing Series program included Shane Kisling of Rice Lake in the WISSOTA Super Stocks, Michael Truscott of Chippewa Falls in the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds, Bubba Anderson of Trego in the Six-Cylinders, and Andrew Hanson in the WISSOTA Pure Stocks. Eighty-six cars registered for action as the Raceway completed its first season opener as scheduled since 2012.
Eder, who started on the inside of the fourth row for the 20-lap headliner, was one of the drivers gathered up in a four-car collection caused by a check-up by Steve Stuart, who was challenging for third place just a lap in to the event. Up front, a great battle heated up right from the start between veterans Jeff Spacek and Bill Byholm, with Byholm gaining the early advantage.
Defending track champion Neil Balduc, who was also involved in the early fracas, slowed and ground to a stop on the back straight with a flat tire after lap 4 was scored, and Eder restarted fourth behind Byholm, Spacek and Paul Wrazidlo. Spacek took one unsuccessful peek inside to work past Byholm after the restart, and Eder quickly passed both Wrazidlo and Spacek and immediately began multiple attempts to overtake Byholm.
On lap 10 Eder was nearly clear of Byholm, with Spacek right behind, but it took another tour of the fast and smooth three-eighths-mile red-clay oval before Eder was scored in front. Two laps later Dustin Hudack spun to bring about the final yellow-flag slowdown of the night, and from there Eder extended his lead to as much as 1.92 seconds on Byholm at the checkers, setting the high single-lap time for the race at 16.545 seconds in the process.
Wrazidlo, a surprisingly strong Pat Cook, and Steve Lavasseur completed the top five.
Kisling started from the pole and led every lap of the 20-lap Super Stock main event, but the run was not a cakewalk. After a first-lap four-car melee, Kisling held off a determined threat by fellow front-row starter Greg Kuklinski, but when Kuklinski got loosened up as a result of the close-quarters racing for the top seven or so positions he fell back, leaving Jeff Klopstein as the primary challenger for Kisling’s lead.
The lead pair opened up some room on third-running Nick Oreskovich before another two-car spin brought about a lap 4 stoppage. Kisling scooted away to a full-second lead over the next few circuits, and on lap 7 Oreskovich slipped by Klopstein for second. Kisling maintained his lead over the defending track champ until lap 12, when Terran Spacek’s car coasted to a stop on the front stretch.
Oreskovich restarted right on Kisling’s rear bumper but his car would not respond at the drop of the next green, giving second place back to Klopstein. Debris on the back straight stopped the race right away, but after that restart Kisling, hugging the bottom groove, drew away to an eventual 3.17-second win while posting a race-quickest lap of 16.734 seconds. Klopstein held off a determined tenth-starting Shawn McFadden for second, just ahead of Randy Spacek and 11th-starting DJ Keeler.
Only one caution flag slowed the progress of the 20-lap Mid-Mod feature, but that’s all Truscott needed to overtake 2016 division champ Paul Suzik for his sixth overall feature win of the young season. Ryan Adamzak, David Simpson and Tyler Vernon put on a show to start as they swapped the lead often, with the young Canadian Simpson claiming the point on lap 2. But Suzik was also strong early as he slipped past Adamzak to take second after just five laps, while the eighth-starting Truscott stayed right on his tail.
On lap 8 Suzik made an inside move stick to take the lead from Simpson, and Truscott slipped around the high side for second a lap later. The lead pair pulled away to decide the win, with Truscott threatening high and low and Suzik responding to every challenge. Then with five laps to go Mike Jacques, who had just been lapped by the leaders, looped his ride to bring about the lone caution stop.
On the restart Truscott took advantage, coming from the outside of row 2 by choice under the double-file rules to sweep around Suzik and run away to a 1.25-second margin of victory, while posting a race-best 17.037-second fast lap. Wayne Stricker ran a stout race throughout and earned third-place money, while Simpson settled for fourth just ahead of Adamzak.
After a first-lap caution flag for marker tires knocked onto the race surface, Anderson led flag-to-flag from the pole for his sixth career feature win in the Sixes A-feature. Anderson had his hands full early with Randy Graham, while Scott Ovaska fended off Neil Adamzak for third a few lengths back. Once DeJay Jarecki got around Tyler Vernon for fifth, and 2016 division champ Tiffany Hudack followed into sixth, things got tense up front, but Anderson held firm.
Ovaska edged past Graham for second at mid-race, and Adamzak followed suit into third a few laps later, but Dalton Truchon’s lap 10 spin wiped out Anderson’s .81-second lead and shuffled the deck. Graham retook second from Ovaska shortly after the restart, and Jarecki was displaced back to fifth as Adamzak reclaimed fourth, but Anderson was too tough on this night in posting the win.
Jarecki topped all Sixes in the speed chart during the 15-lap run with a lap of 18.250 seconds.
Despite some wild moments, the 12-lap Pure Stock feature ran non-stop, with Hanson running away to his second career win in Ashland. Hanson started on the pole, beat Josh Kallas in a drag race into the first turn, and never looked back.
Chad Carlson slipped into third past Graham during the first lap, with visiting Dylan Shelton copying the move for fourth a circuit later. But Shelton’s car broke loose in an attempt to take third from Carlson, dropping him back and out of the top five temporarily. Carlson not only regained third but also bypassed Kallas for second, but by then Hanson was too far away to catch.
Shelton reloaded and became part of a wild three-car battle for third with Kallas and Kyle Copp, and on lap 8 Shelton again moved past Carlson, this time for second. But again Shelton lost control and slipped back, and with Carlson also slowing Kallas swiped second, bringing Copp to third, and that’s where those two finished behind Hanson. Once more Shelton recovered but could climb no higher than fourth, well ahead of Graham.
In earlier heat-race action, Jake Nevala got caught up in a logjam for second place in his Pure Stock heat race and, with a little help from the other cars involved, his car was rolled onto its side and then its roof. The incident was mild enough that not only was Nevala unhurt, but his car was also able to take the green flag for his feature and run a few laps before dropping out.
Next Saturday, May 20, will be a salute at the Raceway to those who have served in our Nation’s military, in a full five-division program presented by the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce. All active and retired Armed Services personnel showing a military ID will be admitted into the main grandstand free of charge.
Hot laps are at 6:15, with green-flag racing set for 7 pm. Adult grandstand admission tickets are $11, and fans ages 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. “Z-93 Race Night” will air live on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and stream online 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 more information log onto the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com. or on race days call (715) 682-4990.