Ashland, WI, October 1 — The WISSOTA modified headliner was the final race ever for the Como Series, as it was announced earlier in the weekend that the Series would not be continued. So the 25-car field for the Subway A-feature – and in particular Jensen, Eric Pember and Kelly Estey – made it a race to remember.
Polestarter Jensen and his outside front-row mate Pember drag-raced into turn 1 and out of turn 2 to set the theme for the first 31 of the 35 laps. Pember held the early edge, while Estey quickly worked his way around Scott Miller for third. The lead trio separated themselves from the rest of the field, and Pember built a half-second advantage on Jensen while Estey began to lose contact with the lead duo.
On lap 12 Jensen was back to Pember’s trunklid, and as the two leaders caught the back end of the field Jensen took a look to the inside. Two laps later Jensen changed his strategy and pulled up alongside on the outer groove, and for the next 17 laps the two talented drivers weaved and dodged through heavy slower traffic while fighting each other literally door to door in a classic duel for the lead that had the crowd on its feet.
The battle was so close that on lap 28 Jensen looked to have the lead at the start-finish line by mere inches, but the electronic scoring system had Pember leading by four one-thousandths of a second.
All the while that the leaders were putting on their driving clinic, Estey was cutting into their margin by running a strong inside groove. The break he was looking for came with four laps remaining, when David Baxter spun his ride in turn 2 to bring about the only yellow-flag slowdown of the event. Jensen opted for the outside spot in row 2 for the restart, and he used it to work his way alongside Pember for the lead. This left the bottom open for Estey to run three-wide with the leaders, and as Jensen eventually overtook Pember for his first lead of the race on lap 32, Estey slipped beneath to take second.
Jensen held on from there for the $3,000 victory, the seventh of his career at ABC and third RCC trophy, including his second in the mods. Estey edged Pember for third, and Paul Knauf used an outside move on Nelson to claim fourth two laps before the checkers. Three-time RCC winner Craig Thatcher came home sixth, ahead of 19th-starting Cain, Larson, 21st-starting Mike Anderson and Miller.
Cain entered the race weekend holding a 53-point advantage in the Como Series standings and needed to start the feature to wrap up the $10,000 points championship. He was able to do so when he claimed fourth in his heat race on Friday. Cain was the only multi-time winner on the five-track, ten-race tour in 2011, claiming three feature wins, including in the June race here.
The WISSOTA Midwest modified 25-lap A-main was a slugfest of a race, with a string of yellow flags slowing the action and cutting the race by a lap due to exceeding the time limit. Jason Vandekamp ended up the victim of the “yellow fever,” although he held the early advantage and looked to be the class of the field through most of the event. After a first-lap melee damaged several starters from the front half of the field, Vandekamp sped away from Grant Southworth for the lead.
After Devin Van House spun while running fifth one lap in, Rob Weber moved around Southworth for second. But the pass was negated when Mike Truscott tagged the turn 3 guard rail and littered the north turns with debris. Charlie Castle Jr’s spin slowed the pace again after another lap was scored, and then the field clicked off a string of a dozen laps, during which Vandekamp built up a 1.9-second lead.
Dalbeck, who started tenth on the 24-car grid, had taken advantage of the cars lost or damaged in the earlier messes and used the outer line to sweep around Neil Balduc and Weber for third on the lap 2 restart. A lap later he used the same line to challenge Southworth for second, while behind them Weber had his hands full fending off 16th-starting Rick Przybylski, 14th-starting Cody Wolkowski, Clark Swartz and others.
By lap 11 Vandekamp was setting up to put Chad Adamzak a lap in arrears, while Swartz moved around Weber for fourth. Three laps later Przybylski and Travis Anderson spun together to bring a stop to the pace, and on the restart Dalbeck and Southworth ganged up on Vandekamp, with Dalbeck getting the edge down the back stretch and Southworth taking third. After lap 15 was scored Adamzak spun and stopped, and from there the yellow flag made several appearances to keep lap 16 from happening.
First Darren LaBlonde spun on the front straight before getting to the green flag, and then after another spin Ryan Adamzak looped and hit the turn 3 rail. Another multi-car mess was followed by rookie Tanner Byholm’s spin, after which officials deemed single-file restarts were necessary. Dalbeck led the field to the green, and Vandekamp slipped inside past Southworth for second while Wolkowski and Weber battled for fifth behind Swartz. With five laps remaining Swartz got by Southworth, but Byholm’s second spin erased that move.
Dalbeck, who earlier in the summer won his first track championship at ABC, pushed his lead to nearly half a second at the checkers for his first-ever RCC win, which paid $600. Southworth got around Vandekamp on the white-flag lap for second, and Swartz held off Weber for fourth. Wolkowski, Przybylski, Travis Nye, Paul Niznik and Balduc completed the top ten.
Northern Clearing Inc of Ashland awarded bonuses to the drivers who posted the fastest timed laps during the four features. The $150 bonuses went to Redetzke (late models, 16.323 seconds), Pember (mods, 17.998), Kisling (supers, 18.529) and Vandekamp (mid-mods, 18.511). A total of 170 racers registered Friday for the track’s final event of 2011, including 33 late models, 46 modifieds, 45 super stocks and 46 Mid-mods. After out-of-car introductions for the starters prior to each feature, fireworks provided a perfect accent to each class’s four-wide pre-race salute to the standing-room-only crowd on hand.
The ABC Raceway’s annual Awards Banquet will be held in January; fans and drivers are encouraged to watch the track’s website,
Feature: Joey Jensen, Forest Lake, MN; Kelly Estey, Kelly Lake, MN; Eric Pember, Pittsville; Paul Knauf, Marshfield; Darrell Nelson, Hermantown, MN; Craig Thatcher, Knapp; Dave Cain, Corcoran, MN; Brent Larson, Lake Elmo, MN; Mike Anderson, Colfax; Scott Miller, Rice Lake; Al Uotinen, Superior; Jeff Spacek, Phillips; Trent Follmer, Princeton, MN; Jody Bellefeuille, Duluth, MN; Ryan Aho, Chisholm, MN; David Baxter, Eau Claire; Brandon Jensen, Hammond; Duane Dale, Aurora, MN; Jayme Lautigar, Gilbert, MN; Shawn Kelley, Somerset; Kevin Eder, Ashland; Tim McMann, Duluth, MN; Skeeter Estey, Kelly Lake, MN; Paul Niznik, Medford; Curt Myers, Cameron.
Heat 1: Myers; Miller; Dale; Eder; Jerry Hartman, Marenisco, MI; Pat Hoffman, Rice Lake; Kent Baxter, Elk Mound; B Jensen; Pat Cook, Washburn; Jake Hartung, Elmwood.
Heat 2: Pember; Follmer; D Baxter; Uotinen; Bellefeuille; Anderson; Aho; Steve Stuart, Ashland; Jacob Morinville, Duluth, MN.
Heat 3: Thatcher; Spacek; Niznik; S Estey; Lautigar; Bill Byholm, Glidden; Don Copp, Brule; Destin Lorimor, Superior; Rick Kobs, Deer Park.
Heat 4: Nelson; K Estey; McMann; Cain; Scott Hudack, Ashland; Rick Niemi, Eveleth, MN; Jason Swan, Chippewa Falls; Robby Bunkelman, Abbotsford; Fred Aschenbauer, Deerwood, MN.
Heat 5: J Jensen; Knauf; Larson; Kelley; Wayne Stricker, Highbridge; Rick Rivord, Superior; Jared Loos, Loyal; Steve Lavasseur, River Falls.
Semi-Feature 1: Anderson; Lautigar; Kobs; Stuart; Bunkelman; Hartman; Cook; K Baxter; Copp; Niemi; Stricker.
Semi-Feature 2: Bellefeuille; Aho; B Jensen; Rivord; Lavasseur; Hudack; Morinville; Swan; Hoffman; Aschenbauer; Hartung; Lorimor; Byholm.
Pole Dash: J Jensen; Pember; Miller; K Estey; Nelson; Knauf; Follmer; Spacek; Myers; Thatcher.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: George Dalbeck, Ironwood, MI; Grant Southworth, Bloomer; Jason Vandekamp, Forest Lake, MN; Clark Swartz, Bloomer; Ron Weber, Ashland; Cody Wolkowski, Thunder Bay, ON; Rick Przybylski, Ashland; Travis Nye, Ashland; Paul Niznik, Medford; Neil Balduc, Ironwood, MI; Travis Anderson, Colfax; Eric Klafka, Wisconsin Rapids; Don Craig, Thunder Bay, ON; Kerry Halopka, Wheeler; Ryan Adamzak, Ashland; Charlie Castle Jr, Bovey, MN; Tanner Byholm, Glidden; Dan Kingsley, Superior; Shane Halopka, Medford; Duane Dunbar, Marenisco, MI; Darren LaBlonde, Baldwin; Chad Adamzak, Ashland; Mike Truscott, Chippewa Falls.
Heat 1: Weber; Niznik; C Adamzak; LaBlonde; George Truscott, Greenland, MI; M Truscott; John Feirn Chippewa Falls; Steve Anderson, Ironwood, MI; Charlie Castle III, Bovey, MN.
Heat 2: Balduc; Devin Van House, Silver Bay, MN; Craig; Castle Jr; Klafka; Kingsley; Jesse Aho, Toivola, MI; Dave Flynn, Superior; Chris Bretting, Washburn.
Heat 3: Southworth; Nye; Wolkowski; K Halopka; Dunbar; Travis Friske, Tomahawk; AJ Roschen, New Richmond; Ricky Davis, Bruno, MN; Bill Muhlig, Bessemer, MI.
Heat 4: Vandekamp; Swartz; Byholm; Przybylski; Jim Bandow, Stratford; Matt Anderson, Hibbing, MN; Dadn Sellung, Mason; Nathan Thums, Wausau..
Heat 5: S Halopka; Dalbeck; T Anderson; R Adamzak; Alex Van Natta, Minocqua; Jeff Lien Jr, Mora, MN; Joe Eckland, Springbrook; Chris Huther, Medford; Glenn Dammer, Duluth, MN.
Semi-Feature 1: Kingsley; Dunbar; Van Natta; Flynn; G Truscott; Thums; M Anderson; Muhlig; Dammer; Eckland; Roschen; Feirn.
Semi-Feature 2: M Truscott; Klafka; Aho; Lien; Bretting; Bandow; Davis; Huther; Friske; Sellung; Jerry Grasse, Phelps.