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Photo courtesy of Skip Hunter (shunter@skiphunterphotography.com)

Superior's Uotinen returns to ABC Raceway victory lane

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By Nick Gima

For The Telegram

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ASHLAND — Defending WISSOTA Modified track champion Al Uotinen of Superior won his first feature in nearly eight years at the ABC Raceway Saturday night, while two other drivers — Paul Suzik and rookie Ethan Beeksma, both of Ironwood, Mich. — each earned their first career feature wins in another fast-paced AmsOil Dirt Track Series race program.

With the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce as the presenting sponsor, 80 entries took to the mutli-groove, sticky-fast red-clay track for a full five-division show, after which the Raceway — in the middle of its 50th Anniversary season — hosted a picnic and party for all in attendance on a clear, comfortable evening.

For the second straight program no feature winner started from the front row, including Uotinen, who started the 20-lap Mod main directly behind polesitter Paul Niznik.

As Steve Lavasseur moved around the outside on Niznik for the initial lead, Uotinen slipped by to the inside for second, while Kevin Eder, points leader Steve Stuart and visiting Andy Jones battled feverishly close behind for fourth.

Uotinen stuck to the bottom groove and Lavasseur stayed high on the wide racing surface, and those two staged a great side-by-side battle for the lead, until Donnie Lofdahl and Dustin Hudack got together on lap 6 to slow the pace. Then, on the restart, Eder and Jones spun and collected Neil Balduc, sending Eder to the tail for the next green flag.

With the final 14 laps clicking off non-stop, Uotinen again battled with Lavasseur, with the pair swapping the lead with every lap, before Uotinen finally gained the advantage for good on lap 13. By then Stuart had finally fought his way past Niznik for third, and by the time he caught and passed Lavasseur for second with two laps remaining, Uotinen had built a significant enough lead that he crossed the final stripe nearly two full seconds ahead for his 25th career feature win in Ashland but first since August 2006.

Jody Bellefeuille followed Stuart into third with two laps to go, and Lavasseur held on for fourth ahead of second-in-points Jeff Spacek, who started 16th.

The 11th annual “Pure Excitement 25” Pure Stock special will take place at the ABC Raceway this Saturday. Fans and businesses are welcome to contribute to an overall feature purse that is expected to exceed $5,000 and will pay at least $700 to the winner.

All five divisions will be in action on this next-to-last points-paying night of the 2014 season. 

Hot laps start at 6:15 p.m. Saturday and the first green flag of the night will fly at around 7.

The grandstand and pit gates open at 5 p.m., and admission tickets for fans ages 13-and-older are $10, while fans ages 12-and-under are welcome in for free when accompanied by a paying adult.

ABC (Ashland) Raceway

Saturday, Aug. 9

WISSOTA Modifieds

Feature: Al Uotinen, Superior; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Jody Bellefeuille, Duluth; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Andy Jones, Princeton, Minn.; Paul Niznik, Medford; Rick Rivord, Superior; Pat Cook, Washburn; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Travis Nye, Ashland; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Donnie Lofdahl, Duluth; Dustin Hudack, Ashland; Talon Laabs, Stetsonville; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, Mich.

Heat 1: Eder; Niznik; Jones; Lavasseur; Balduc; Nye; Laabs; Rivord; Cook. 

Heat 2: Stuart; Bellefeuille; S. Hudack; Uotinen; Mikkonen; Lofdahl; D. Hudack; Spacek; Zack Pagels, Marengo.

WISSOTA Super Stocks

Feature: Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Cory Casari, Montreal; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Andy Grymala, Superior; Ken Truscott, Greenland, MI; Shawn McFadden Jr, Ashland; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, Mich.; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood, Mich.; DJ Keeler, Superior; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, Mich.; Dave Elliott, Minocqua; Myron Basina, Washburn; Mike Hince, Watertown; Marcus Dunbar, Marenisco, Mich.; Randy Spacek, Phillips.

Heat 1: Casari; Grymala; Muzzy; Elliott; Hince; Dunbar; Anderson; Kuklinski.

Heat 2: Lawrence; Oreskovich; McFadden; Truscott; Spacek; Keeler; Basina.

WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds

Feature: Paul Suzik, Ironwood, Mich.; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Michael Truscott, Chippewa Falls; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; Cody Carlson, Superior; Mickey Nosser, Phillips; Tad Schoonover, Eagle River; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, Mich.; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, Mich.; Ryan Adamczak, Ashland; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Rick Przybylski, Ashland; Chris Bretting, Washburn; Ricky Davis, Bruno, Minn.; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Paul Niznik, Medford; Tyler Vernon, Ashland.

Heat 1: Klopstein; Stricker; Przybylski; Suzik; Brad Seavers, Rib Lake; Nosser; Carlson; Spacek; C. Bretting; Davis.

Heat 2: Truscott; Niznik; Adamzak; Schoonover; Tad Bretting, Ashland; Hicks; Dunbar; Muhlig; Barningham; Vernon.

Six-Cylinders

Feature: Ethan Beeksma, Ironwood, Mich.; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Dale Coddington, Hayward; Colten Vernon, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Ken Tyykila, Iron River; DeJay Mihalek, Ashland; Brendon Ottman, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Brady Jokinen, Mellen; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland.

Heat 1: Coddington; Schultz; Mihalek; Mashlan; Traaholt; Jokinen; Vernon; Tyler Hudack, Ashland.

Heat 2: Beeksma; Tiffany Hudack; Tyykila; Ottman; Popp; Zack Pagels, Marengo.

Pure Stocks

Feature: Matt Deragon, Ashland; Chad Nikstad, Superior; Michael Blevins, Hibbing; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Steve Udeen, Superior; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Randy Graham, Trego; Jeff Christman, South Range; Tim Carbon, Highbridge; Rita Anderson, South Range; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Matthew Cunha, Hibbing.

Heat 1: Nikstad; Graham; Blevins; Christman; Anderson; Spacek.

Heat 2: Udeen; Carbon; Hanson; Cunha; Pupp; Deragon.

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