For The Telegram
ASHLAND — Michael Truscott beat Paul Suzik by one of the slimmest margins ever recorded in ABC Raceway history to win the 11th “Mid-Mod Madness” feature here on Saturday night.
The five-division PolyDome Dirt Track Series program, presented by the Lake Shore Cafe of Ashland and the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce, provided fans with two first-time feature winners and plenty of plot twists and turns, as a warm early-August night greeted the 99 entries — including several first-time visitors to the northern Wisconsin red-clay oval.
Truscott, the former ABC track champ from Chippewa Falls, fought his way through from a fourth-row starting spot, and the going was not easy. Pole-starter Cody Carlson held off two-time “Madness” winner George Dalbeck’s persistent challenges for the first three laps of the WISSOTA Midwest Modified headliner, while James Kannegiesser was impressive in fending off Suzik’s charge in the early stages of the 20-lapper on the wide, racy track.
Clay Passuello’s slowed ride collected several cars for the first of six yellow-flag slowdowns, and the restart gave Dalbeck the opportunity to take advantage of Carlson’s slight wash-up on the turn 2 banking to grab the lead. Over the next three laps Dalbeck drew away a bit from the intense battles for position behind him, but the field came back to his rear bumper on lap 6 after Ryan Adamzak’s car ground to a stop against the guard rail at the top of turn 2.
Suzik, who restarted third, slipped high in the first corner after the restart, allowing Truscott and defending race winner Shane Halopka to drive by for third and fourth. Suzik recovered to retake fourth a circuit later, and during the next tour around the oval Truscott got by Carlson to become the new runner-up.
Dalbeck still had a three-quarter-second lead when the yellow lights came on again on lap 12, for debris on the track. After another delay for a similar reason on the restart, Truscott made his move, diving low to take the lead from Dalbeck. Within a lap Truscott had pulled to nearly a full-second advantage, while Suzik — who had taken third from Carlson just prior to the lap 12 caution — worked the low line to slip past Dalbeck for second.
After Denny Cutsforth’s car stalled at the top of turn 4, and the subsequent restart was negated by a five-car mess involving top-five contenders Carlson and Halopka, Truscott was thought to have things well in hand for the final five uninterrupted laps. But Suzik made a determined effort to stay with the leader, and as the pair raced under the white flag Suzik took a look to the inside. Truscott kept the two-time defending track champ at bay for most of that final lap, but Suzik pulled alongside coming off of turn 4 for the checkers. Truscott held on to win by 98 one-thousandths of a second — about four feet — for his first-ever “Mid-Mod Madness” win, the 16th feature win of his career here, and his first here since opening night in mid-May.
Truscott quipped in Victory Lane that, once again, “that fourth-row start helped me,” and he later joked, “I haven’t lost a race here yet this year. At this rate I may not come back until the Red Clay Classic!”
Dalbeck, whose logging business donated a $400 boost to the winner’s share (giving Truscott a healthy $1,000 payday), held on for third, ahead of Michael’s uncle, 15th-starting George Truscott. Wayne Stricker, who started dead-last on the 24-car grid after transferring from a semi-feature, clawed his way to a fifth-place finish and earned a $200 “hard-charger” bonus from Northern Clearing Inc of Ashland.
The WISSOTA Modified A-main offered its share of heartbreak for one driver that resulted in a first-time win for another. Outside front-row starter Greg Chesley swept around pole-starter Todd Gehl for the initial lead of the 20-lap run, and within a couple of laps Mike Anderson followed Chesley into second.
On lap 5 divisional points leader Bill Byholm slipped low on Gehl and grabbed third, with Steve Stuart in tow to fourth, but one lap later Pat Cook worked past Stuart, just before Neil Balduc and Paul Wrazidlo got together to bring out the race’s first caution flag. The second yellow flag followed soon after, when Jacob Hiatt’s racer broke down and stopped on the back straight.
Stuart swiped fourth back from Cook on the restart, and Anderson made a run on Chesley for the lead, but a two-car spin slowed the pace again. Then, just past the halfway point, Anderson made another inside move for the lead, and a lap after completing the pass Chesley spun while trying to hold off Stuart’s challenge for second, collecting Byholm and Paul Niznik in the process.
Stuart chose the outside of row 2, as was his option under the “Delaware double-file” restart rule, and he immediately drove around Anderson for the lead as the green flag waived again. Stuart then built up a huge lead over the final four laps, following a last restart for Niznik’s stalled ride, resulting in a 1.75-second advantage - or at least half of a straightaway — at the finish on Anderson. But Stuart’s car was found to be shy of its minimum weight requirement during a post-race weigh-in, thus giving Anderson his first-ever ABC Raceway feature win.
“I sure don’t want to win it this way,” the Colfax driver admitted in Victory Lane afterwards. “We had a good car tonight, but (Stuart’s car) has been awfully fast up here lately.”
Jeff Spacek recovered from early-race struggles to climb to second in the adjusted official finishing order, ahead of Cook, Balduc and Gehl.
Like Truscott, Shane Kisling of Park Falls also started in the fourth row, and he also took advantage of several well-spaced restarts to grab his third WISSOTA Super Stock feature win of the season.
Pole-starter Greg Kuklinski set the early pace as cars scattered upon the initial drop of the green flag to avoid Scott Lawrence’s broken car. Kuklinski then fought off points leader Nick Oreskovich’s early threats over the first five laps before the race was slowed for the second time by visitor Steve Martin’s spinning ride.
Kisling restarted sixth but quickly challenged Shawn McFadden Jr. for third after the restart, as Oreskovich dove low to try to take the lead from Kuklinski. Cory Casari’s spin on lap 7 stopped the action momentarily, and three laps later Kisling went low-groove to take over runner-up honors from Oreskovich.
One lap after mid-race, Kuklinski bobbled coming off of turn 4 and Kisling went by for the lead, with Oreskovich right behind. During the next circuit tenth-starting Jeff Klopstein took to the outside line to get around the fading Kuklinski, and then a caution flag for debris slowed the pace.
Oreskovich had a run on the leader coming off of turn 2 upon the subsequent restart, but Kisling recovered and ran out to a three-quarter-second lead by lap 17, when Brian Mikkonen’s spin bunched up the field one more time. After another Martin spin, Kisling drove away to a final margin of victory of .80 seconds, ahead of Oreskovich, Klopstein, McFadden and Randy Spacek.
“You can win a race on a restart, and you can also lose a race on a restart,” Kisling said in his post-race interview. “Of course, I’d rather run non-stop, but you have to take advantage of opportunities when you can.”
Both divisional leader Scott Ovaska and second-in-points Tiffany Hudack won their respective heat races earlier in the program, so Ovaska still led Hudack by one tally going into the 15-lap ABC Six-Cylinder feature. But Trego’s Randy Graham continued to shine, scoring his fifth main-event win of the season in the Sixes.
In a non-stop race that only took five minutes, pole-starter Dalton Truchon held on for as long as he could before much of the field overtook him, including Graham, who went around the sophomore racer on lap 5. In the ensuing laps Tyler Vernon took second, and Ovaska took advantage of a side-by-side battle for position in the closely-packed field to sweep around for third, leaving Hudack behind him by a few positions until she, too, could clear the logjam for fourth.
With five laps remaining Graham had built a 1.14-second lead on Vernon, who himself had plenty of breathing room ahead of the nose-to-tail battle for third between Ovaska and Hudack. Graham added slightly to that lead as he took the checkers for the eighth time in his career at Ashland and third time in the past four Sixes features. Behind Vernon in second was Ovaska, who gained one more point on Hudack in the division’s standings. Neil Adamzak came home fifth.
The other, even tighter, points battle coming into this night of racing was in the WISSOTA Pure Stocks, where Andrew Hanson and Kyle Copp were deadlocked at the top of the rankings. But on this night the visiting Dustin Doughty from Oakdale, MN, claimed his first-ever ABC Raceway feature win.
Doughty, who holds a huge lead in the points at Rice Lake Speedway, took advantage of a pole-position start and pulled to a strong lead after another visitor, Jimmy Holden, stopped his car upon the initial start due to a flat tire. Dylan Shelton, who was caught behind Joe Pajtash and Graham on the restart, successfully completed a “thread-the-needle” move between them and took over second on lap 2, with Graham claiming third one circuit later.
The first half of the race ran off without another hitch, with Doughty solidly out front, but on lap 8 Jake Nevala’s car spun to start a series of yellow-flag slowdowns that also included Brock Beilke’s spin and Matt Olson’s lost front tire on the subsequent restarts. Shelton had one opportunity to snare the lead away from Doughty on the last of those restarts, but the visitor was too strong over the final four laps and pulled away to a decisive victory.
“It was my first time starting on the pole all season,” Doughty told the crowd from Victory Lane afterwards. Based on the points-average metric used to determine feature line-ups, Doughty knew he would probably start up front, stating, “I had to take advantage of it.”
Shelton held off Graham for second, and Hanson finished fourth ahead of Pajtash. Hanson will take a tenuous four-point advantage over Copp into next Saturday’s night of action.
Feature fast-lap bonuses were awarded to Stuart in the Mods (16.560 seconds), Kuklinski in the Supers (16.925), Michael Truscott in the Mid-Mods (17.289), and Graham in the Sixes (18.383).
Prior to the race program, the five winners of the July 29 “most popular driver” contest were awarded trophies. Voting was based on fan contributions, valued at one dollar per vote, collected during last Saturday’s “Race to a Cure” cancer research and awareness fundraiser, with all monies collected contributed to the fundraiser.
The winning drivers included Stuart (Mods), McFadden (Supers), Brandon Copp (Mid-Mods), Kyle Copp (Pure Stocks), and Bella Bretting (Sixes).
ABC (Ashland) Raceway
Feature — Mike Anderson, Colfax; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Pat Cook, Washburn; Neil Balduc, Bessemer, Mich.; Todd Gehl, Solon Springs; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls; Rick Rivord, Superior; Greg Chesley, Duluth; Paul Niznik, Medford; David Baxter, Eau Claire; Paul Wrazidlo, Duluth; Jacob Hiatt, Mason.
Heat 1 — Anderson; Gehl; Chesley; Hiatt; Rivord; Spacek; Lavasseur; Baxter.
Heat 2 — Steve Stuart, Ashland; B. Byholm; Niznik; Cook; Wrazidlo; Balduc; T. Byholm.
WISSOTA SUPER STOCKS
Feature — Shane Kisling, Park Falls; Nick Oreskovich, Mason; Jeff Klopstein, Tomahawk; Shawn McFadden, Ashland; Randy Spacek, Phillips; Cory Casari, Montreal; Matt Deragon, Ashland; Terran Spacek, Phillips; Don Muzzy, Ironwood; Greg Kuklinski, Ironwood; Charlie Anderson, Ironwood; Myron Basina, Washburn; Aaron Mashlan, Ashland; Colten Vernon, Ashland; Jordan Kurtti, Bruce Crossing, Mich.; Steve Martin, Farmington, Minn.; Brian Mikkonen, Iron River; Patrick Beeksma, Ironwood, MI; Scott Lawrence, Superior.
Heat 1 — McFadden; R. Spacek; Casari; Kuklinski; Muzzy; Kurtti; Deragon; T. Spacek; Vernon; Martin.
Heat 2 — Lawrence; Oreskovich; Kisling; Beeksma; Klopstein; Mikkonen; Basina; Anderson; Mashlan.
WISSOTA MIDWEST MODIFIEDS
Feature — Michael Truscott, Chippewa Falls; Paul Suzik, Ironwood; George Dalbeck, Wakefield; George Truscott, Greenland, Mich.; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Tanner Hicks, Ashland; James Kannegiesser, Hayward; Jesse Aho, Toivola, Mich.; Tim Ekdahl, Cameron; Dan Roatch, Cameron; Peter Jokinen, Mellen; Ross Fuhrman, Ashland; Ryan Adamzak, Marengo; Clay Passuello, Ironwood; Jared Stricker, Highbridge; Marcus Dunbar, Wakefield; Cy Hoaglan, Ashland; Ryan Barningham, Bayfield; Cody Carlson, Superior; Brandon Copp, Brule; Shane Halopka, Greenwood; Denny Cutsforth, Rice Lake; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, Mich.
Heat 1 — M. Truscott; Vernon; Ekdahl; Roatch; Hoaglan; D. Dunbar; Adamzak; Jordan Barningham, Bayfield; Justin Weinberger, Park Falls.
Heat 2 — Suzik; Hicks; Copp; Passuello; Cutsforth; Jokinen; Steve Altman, Mercer; Diamond Bressette, Spooner.
Heat 3 — Halopka; Carlson; M. Dunbar; G Truscott; Fuhrman; Gunner Peterson, Mason; Jeremy Lindquist, Ashland; John Ford, Oakdale, Minn.
Heat 4 — Dalbeck; Kannegiesser; Aho; J. Stricker; R. Barningham; Chris Bretting, Washburn; W. Stricker; Tyler Hudack, Ashland.
Semi-Feature — Adamzak; Jokinen; D. Dunbar; W Stricker; Peterson; Bretting; Hudack; Lindquist; Weinberger; Altman; Ford; Bressette; J. Barningham.
Feature — Randy Graham, Trego; Tyler Vernon, Ashland; Scott Ovaska, Marengo; Tiffany Hudack, Ashland; Neil Adamzak, Ashland; Dalton Truchon, Ashland; Forrest Schultz, Ashland; John Darwin, Iron River; Cole Vernon, Ashland; Jonathan Popp, Iron River; Devin Dalbec, Ashland; Adam Traaholt, Ashland; DeJay Jarecki, Ashland.
Heat 1 — Hudack; T. Vernon; Graham; Schultz; Darwin; Popp; Traaholt; Brendan Ottman, Ashland.
Heat 2 — Ovaska; Adamzak; Truchon; C Vernon; Bubba Anderson, Trego; Jarecki; Joshua Saunders, Spooner.
WISSOTA PURE STOCKS
Feature — Dustin Doughty, Oakdale, Minn.; Dylan Shelton, Wrenshall, Minn.; Randy Graham, Trego; Andrew Hanson, Iron River; Joe Pajtash, Lake Nebagamon; Kyle Copp, Brule; Ken Larson, Balsam Lake; Brandon Hakala, Tomahawk; Jimmy Holden, Rice Lake; Jeff Christman, South Range; Austin Gibson, Trego; Matthew Olson, Ashland; Jake Nevala, Ashland; Brock Beilke, Hayward.
Heat 1 — Doughty; Shelton; Pajtash; Holden; Beilke; Larson; Gibson; Don Livingston, Ashland.
Heat 2 — Hanson; Hakala; Copp; Graham; Christman; Nevala; Olson; Michael Brennan, Ashland.