Loos makes early visit to ABC worthwhile in openerSpacek, Nye, Beeksma, Christman earn checkers
By: By Nick Gima, For The Telegram, Superior Telegram
ASHLAND -- Beautiful blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures greeted fans as the ABC Raceway opened its stock car racing season Saturday night.
In the AmsOil Dirt Track Series five-division program presented by the Northern State Bank, Jared Loos of Loyal made a rare trip north pay off with the WISSOTA modified feature win. Also collecting season-opening first-place paychecks were Randy Spacek of Phillips, Travis Nye of Ashland, Pat Beeksma of Ironwood, MI, and Jeff Christman of Superior.
Pole-starter Loos gained the early edge over Al Uotinen in the 20-lap headliner and the lead pair built up a solid advantage on the balance of the field. But Uotinen came up behind Loos too quickly in turn 3 on lap 2 and spun up the banking to avoid contact. Curt Myers, who was riding the high groove, also spun trying to avoid contact and the two cars came to rest against the guardrail.
From there the race ran without interruption on the smooth, wide track, and Loos paced the field throughout, gradually pulling away from his closest challengers while posting the fastest lap of the race in the process. Myers restarted second and stayed there until the halfway point of the run, when Jeff Spacek drove to the low line and overtook him for the position.
During the final quarter of the event Robby Bunkelman’s ride was the strongest, as he closed on and passed Myers for third with five laps to go, then took second away from Spacek during the final tours. Loos held nearly a three-second margin of victory at the checkers for his second career ABC Raceway feature win, with Bunkelman, Spacek, Myers and Pat Cook completing the top five.
Randy Spacek had a similar situation to Loos in the WISSOTA super stock 20-lap feature, but his big lead disappeared just after mid-race when a rash of caution flags closed the field to his bumper for the back half of the event. Fortunately for Spacek his racer was strong enough to fend off any challenges for his 34th career win in Ashland.
Dave Flynn, starting outside on the front row, got into trouble in the very first corner, spinning in front of the field, but everyone came away without damage and the race was resumed. Then polesitter Joe Olson slipped ahead of some bumping and grinding that sent a couple of cars spinning, and the field was reset once again.
This time Flynn and Cory Casari dueled for second just off Olson’s bumper for a lap until Spacek swept around both and took the spot, before the pace was slowed again for debris on the track. The next ten laps went without stoppage but not without drama.
On the restart Flynn was punted into the infield and his night ended. Then Spacek used another outside move to get by Olson for the lead, and with the long green-flag run he was able to build that lead up to over five-and-a-half seconds, while Casari began a heated exchange with Olson for second at the head of a tight pack of cars. At the halfway point Casari worked to the inside and his car rode up the driver’s side of Olson’s for a few dozen yards before it was able to climb down and gain the position, but on the next circuit Olson drove right back by.
On lap 12 Casari’s car was spun by the stout-running Willie Johnsen, and it took another three attempts to get the run back underway. But each time Spacek’s car was strong enough to pull from the pack, although not by as much as before.
Making a surprising and crowd-pleasing run to the front was veteran racer Greg Kuklinski, who started last on the 15-car grid and was running in the top seven before the series of second-half cautions. Kuklinski charged around the high side and swept past nearly everyone, including Olson for second with five laps left. But he couldn’t cut into Spacek’s lead, which was back up to a shade over two seconds by race’s end.
Myers, pulling double-duty on this night, made a late pass of Casari for third, and Nick Oreskovich, who was charged with Flynn’s spin on the very first lap and restarted from the back at the time, clawed his way back to fifth.
Nye needed a few laps to get past pole-starter Rob Weber for the lead, then fought to stay there to win his second-ever feature here in the WISSOTA Midwest modified A-main. Weber had enough to do holding off a hard-charging Jesse Aho during the early rounds of the 15-lapper, but once Nye found the high groove to his liking the lead was his by lap 3.
Rookie Cole Spacek’s spin on the next circuit slowed things for the moment, and another rookie, Paul Suzik, stumbled on the restart, but after that Nye was able to stretch his advantage a bit while behind him a family fued between Aho and Mike Truscott raged, displacing Weber back to fourth.
After John Kallas’ new racer failed him on lap 9 and a four-car jumble delayed the restart, Truscott worked his way around Aho to second, but with two laps left Aho returned the favor and was the first to follow Nye across the final stripe. Cody Carlson came through with an impressive fourth-place effort, while Rick Przybylski claimed fifth.
An enthusiastic Nye was rewarded for his efforts with bonuses from for posting the fastest lap of the race and from Topside Tavern of Barksdale.
Only one of the four defending track champs in attendance faired well on this night, and that was Beeksma, who charged by Dale Coddington halfway through the 15-lap six-cylinder feature and drove to his 21st career win at Ashland.
Don Muzzy held the early advantage from the pole as Coddington moved up to second with a pass of Tad Bretting after an early restart. Coddington then worked his way past Muzzy a lap before Shawn McFadden Jr’s car slowed in turn 4.
Beeksma took third from Bretting on that restart and a lap later displaced Muzzy for second. After a caution slowdown for Aaron Mashlan’s spin Beeksma sized up Coddington, and during the race’s middle stages he tried a couple of inside moves before finally taking the lead on lap 8, with Muzzy following to second.
DeJay Mihalek’s stalled racer brought out the final yellow flag with three laps left, and from there Beeksma pulled away to a comfortable win. Muzzy’s bobble with two tours left dropped him from contention, with Coddington reclaiming second followed by Greg Jaeger, Tyler Hudack and Brian Mikkonen.
The 12-lap pure stock finale saw plenty of excitement and shuffles for position, but in the end Christman was the man in Victory Lane. Jim Eliason and Matt Deragon duked it out for the early lead, with Deragon getting the better of the fight by using an inside move. DJ Keeler followed him right into second just before a two-car mess stalled the progress of the run.
Christman restarted fifth and, taking a cue from what Kuklinski did earlier in the supers, jumped to the outside line and picked off positions until, after another restart, he found himself alongside Deragon for the lead. Christman completed the pass but didn’t get far from the action, as Keeler slipped to the outside and crept by Deragon for second just behind the leader with four laps to go. Christman held on for his second career win here, with Keeler, Deragon, Ken Tody Jr and Nick Nye - in his first race action at ABC in nearly 30 years - in tow.
Next Saturday the ABC Raceway will present another five-division program, presented by the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce, with hot laps set for 6:15 pm and racing starting at 7. “Race Night” will air live on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and 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 raceday information call (715) 682-4990, or log on to the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com.
Feature: Jared Loos, Loyal; Robby Bunkelman, Abbotsford; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Curt Myers, Cameron; Pat Cook, Washburn; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Al Uotinen, Superior; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Ross Lightner, Washburn; Kent Baxter, Elk Mound; Jeff Tardy, Hibbing, MN; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Paul Niznik, Medford.
Heat 1: Uotinen; Loos; Byholm; Tardy; Spacek; Lightner; Eder.
Heat 2: Bunkelman; Cook; Myers; Hudack; Lavasseur; Baxter; Niznik.
WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature: Randy Spacek, Phillips; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood, MI; Curt Myers, Cameron; Cory Casari, Montreal; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Joe Olson, Superior; Scott Lawrence, Superior; Ken Truscott, Greenland, MI; Willie Johnsen, Superior; Roy Pumala, Mason; Dave Elliott, Minocqua; Terry Kroening, Colby; Shawn Rivord, Superior; Dave Flynn, Superior.
Heat 1: Spacek; Olson; Myers; Truscott; Johnson; Pumala; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Kuklinski.
Heat 2: Flynn; Lawrence; Oreskovich; Casari; Kroening; Elliott; Rivord.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: Travis Nye, Ashland; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Mike Truscott, Chippewa Falls; Cody Carlson, Superior; Rick Przybylski, Ashland; Paul Niznik, Medford; George Dalbeck, Ironwood, MI; Alex Van Natta, Minocqua; Dan Kingsley, Superior; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, MI; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Rob Weber, Ashland; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Chad Adamzak, Ashland; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Cole Spacek, Phillips; Tyler Luger, Iron River; David Simpson, Thunder Bay, ON; Bill Muhlig, Calumet, MI; Chris Huther, Medford; John Kallas, Hurley; Paul Suzik, Ironwood, MI.
Heat 1: Niznik; Aho; Weber; Dunbar; Van Natta; Kingsley; Huther.
Heat 2: Dalbeck; Truscott; Carlson; Fuhrman; Luger; Muhlig; Balduc.
Heat 3: Nye; Przybylski; Suzik; Adamzak; Byholm; Simpson; Spacek.
Feature: Pat Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Dale Coddington, Hayward; Greg Jaeger, Mellen; Tyler Hudack, Ashland; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Don Muzzy, Ironwood, MI; Shawn McFadden, Jr, Ashland; Neil Adamczak, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; Tad Bretting, Ashland; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; Bill Anderson, Wakefield, MI; DeJay Mihalek, Ashland; Ron Lillie, Wakefield, MI.
Heat 1: Coddington; Hudack; Adamzak; Jaeger; Mihalek; Beeksma; Anderson; Lillie; Katie Pelto, Ashland.
Heat 2: Mikkonen; Muzzy; McFadden; Bretting; Schultz; Popp; Mashlan; Traaholt.
Feature: Jeff Christman, Superior; DJ Keeler, Superior; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Ken Tody Jr, Ashland; Nick Nye, Ashland; Chad Carlson, Superior; Tim Carbon, Highbridge; Andy Udeen, Superior; Steve Udeen, Superior; Jim Eliason, Ashland; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Mark Smith, Solon Springs; Bob Anderson, Iron River; Joe Wolfe, Ironwood, MI; Dean Waby, Ashland; Brandle Pupp, Ashland; Jonathon Vanusek, Mellen.
Heat 1: Keeler; Carbon; Deragon; S Udeen; Christman; Nye; A Udeen; Pupp; Anderson.
Heat 2: Eliason; Hudack; Tody; Vanusek; Smith; Wolfe; Carlson; Waby.