Story By: JOHN TIFF / UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY – VERNON, NY – The weather gods finally smiled on the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night as the speedway completed just it’s third racing program of the season. There must be something about Sprint Cars as all three shows Mother Nature has allowed this season featured the winged warriors.
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints along with the DirtTrackDigest.com DIRTcar 358-Modifieds, the DIRTcar Sportsman Series, the Ted’s Body Shop DIRTcar Pro Stocks as well as the Bernie’s Extreme Performance Parts Rookie Sportsman completed the card presented by Broedel Fuel Group and Pioneer Window Manufacturing. Feature winners on the night included Erick Rudolph, Davie Franek, Matt Janczuk, Luke Horning and Carter Gibbons.
For DirtTrackDigest.com DIRTcar 358-Modified winner Rudolph, it was his second triumph of the 2019 season at Utica-Rome Speedway. He was able to quickly get forward from 12th starting spot to earn the win.
“I found a nice line down here and down there,” commented Rudolph. “The car was just going tonight. We made a couple of fine tune adjustments before we came out. I was really happy with how the car worked. I like racing here at Utica-Rome. It’s always in mint condition and easy on equipment. Hopefully we’ll be back.”
Claude Hutchings Jr., opened the race by leading the first lap before Glenn Forward found something on the top of the speedway allowing him to secure the best spot at the front of the field on lap three.
Rudolph methodically worked his way forward taking third position just six laps into the 30-lap Modified main. He watched as Pat Ward ran down Forward and got his taste of the front on lap 11. At that point Rudolph made his moved to get around Forward as well before beginning to stalk Ward.
Ward ended up missing the bottom lane in turns one and two on lap 14 making way for Rudolph to make the pass. Rudolph tucked low on the speedway allowing him to drive under Ward for the best spot in the running order.
The only other challenge for Rudolph came with a handful of laps remaining as the back-end of the field came into play. As he had been the rest of the feature, he was flawless keeping the field behind him.
Rudolph took the checkers while Ward hung on to finish second. Billy Whittaker had his best run of the season in finishing third after starting sixth. Billy Dunn motored his way forward from 13th to finish in fourth with Western New York invader Ryan Susice coming home a strong fifth.
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints capped off another edition of Donath Motor Worx Central New York Speedweek Sunday night. All the heavy hitters were in the house vying for one more shot at a win after four prior nights of racing action.
Lucas Wolfe opened up the 25-lap race by taking the lead from his pole starting position. He set a quick pace from the onset. After just one lap was scored United Kingdom invader Ryan Harrison took a tumble down the backstretch requiring the red flag. He wasn’t harmed in the incident that also collected Larry Wight.
Once action was able to resume it was Wolfe keeping his car at the front while Chuck Hebing looked to challenge from second. That lasted until lap six when Davie Franek and Paulie Colagiovanni got together in the first turn. Colagiovanni stopped necessitating the yellow flag. The
green flag came again as Scott Holcomb challenged Hebing for the runner-up spot taking it briefly on lap seven before Hebing blasting back by him on lap eight to resume his pursuit of Wolfe.
The midway point saw Wolfe and Hebing racing for the lead while Franek began making his charge. At this point he ran fourth in the running order. Wolfe began encountering slower cars at the tail of the field one lap later.
As the laps clicked off Hebing closed on Wolfe as he worked traffic with Franek finding a lane on the bottom of the speedway in turns one and two. This allowed him to quickly move forward. On lap 17 he took third and five laps later he drove by Hebing for second.
The 24th circuit saw Franek finally track down Wolfe. He wasted little time going by as he planted his car on the bottom of the track to take the lead off the second turn. Franek went on to score his second win of 2019 at Utica-Rome in Sprint Car competition.
Wolfe finished second with Hebing third. Jordan Poirier ended the nigh fourth with Danny Varin rounding out the top five.
The DIRTcar Sportsman Series field a strong contingent of cars the Utica-Rome after being washed out back in mid-June. As is usually the case the local drivers are hard to beat as Janczuk earned the checkers for the second time in 2019. The solid field of DIRTcar Sportsman was led to green by Jackson Gill and A.J. Filbeck. Filbeck led the opening circuit before giving way to Gill on lap two.
A lap three caution for a spinning car bunched up the field allowing fifth starting Janczuk to make a run for the lead. Janczuk went to the top of the speedway at the green in turns one and two to drive by Gill for the advantage. He remained in control with Kyle Inman motoring his way to second after starting seventh as well.
Janczuk and Inman battled hard for the top spot in the race only to have the caution come out again on lap 10 as an implement tire was moved out onto the speedway surface causing the yellow. Once the green came again, Janczuk fired with Inman staying with him on the high-side. Inman used the very same move Janczuk had used earlier in the race to get the front spot.
The top two remained unchanged as the race reached the halfway point and then the 10 laps to go mark. It was Inman and Janczuk outclassing the rest of the competition as the ran nose-to-tail out front with Gill and Connor Cleveland racing hard for the third position.
The race took on a different complexion on lap 25 as traffic became a major issue for Inman. Inman started picking his way through with Janczuk hot on his heals. Janczuk had the better view in traffic as Inman did his best to navigate his way around the slower cars. Janczuk saw his opening on lap 28. Inman got boxed in on the bottom of the speedway as Janczuk took his No. 33 to the very top of the speedway. The pair exited the fourth turn three-wide in traffic with Janczuk carrying enough speed to take him to the lead. He’d stay there for the final laps to earn the $1,000 win.
Inman crossed the line in second while Gill was third. Cleveland took home the fourth position after driving his way to the front from 23rd. Alan Fink advanced from 14th to complete the top five.
Horning made a rare start in the Ted’s Body Shop DIRTcar Pro Stocks on Sunday night payoff by taking home his first win of the year at Utica-Rome. Horning went off for the 20-lap feature from the outside of row four. He quickly made tracks getting to the front. A lap three restart was what he needed as he got a run to the outside of Shane Henderson to gain the lead. Horning set the pace with a late caution on lap 16 for a slowing Nick Stone setting up one final challenge for Horning. He was up to the task as he held off all comers to score the win. Josh Coonradt made some great moves late to finish second with Henderson hanging on to third. Pete Stefanski and Mike Welch completed the top five.
The final feature of the evening was the 15-lap Bernie’s Performance Parts Rookie Sportsman feature. Payton Talbot has been the dominant car in 2019 in the division. He wasted no time opening up the lead at the start. He was quickly joined at the front of the field by newcomer Rich Christman with Gibbons running third. Talbot and Christman had a thrilling battle for the fans right up until the final lap. The pair raced side-by-side into third turn only to have contact between the pair end both of their nights. Gibbons inherited the lead and held on to it on the final lap to take home the feature win for his first of the season at Utica-Rome.
This coming Friday Tony Stewart’s Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All-Star Circuit of Champions Presented by Mobile1 makes it’s one and only appearance at the speedway in a program presented by Turn One LLC and Clinton Tractor. Currently Aaron Reutzel, of Clute, Texas, leads the point standings over multi-time series champions Dale Blaney. Tony Stewart is expected to compete when the series visits the track on July 12. They’ll be joined by Paul McMahan, Brock Zearfoss, Cory Eliason and a host of others all looking to snag a feature win. The last time the All Stars visited Utica-Rome Speedway former Knoxville Nationals winner Tim Shaffer reigned supreme.
The All-Stars will be joined by the Modifieds in an open competition event. The 30-lap, $2,000 to win feature rules are posted on the Utica-Rome Speedway website. Drivers may utilize numerous motor combinations along with an open tire format. No sail panels are allowed.
The grandstands admission price for this event is $30 with seniors/military members/students costing $27. Kids 16 and under are $5. Pit prices for the event are $40 for all competitors. Pit gates will open at 3pm while spectator gates open at 4:30pm. Racing starts at 7pm.
UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY RACE RESULTS (7/8/19) – BROEDEL FUEL GROUP / PIONEER WINDOW MANUFACTURING
DIRTTRACKDIGEST.COM DIRTCAR 358-MODIFIEDS FEATURE FINISH (30-LAPS): 1 ERICK RUDOLPH 2 Pat Ward 3 Billy Whittaker 4 Billy Dunn 5 Ryan Susice 6 Lance Willix 7 Bobby Varin 8 Dave Marcuccilli 9 Glenn Forward 10 Brad Godshalk 11 Randy Shantel 12 Rusty Smith 13 Dave Doig 14 Claude Hutchings Jr. 15 Lucas Heintz 16 Jim Walsh 17 Collin Dubois 18 Aaron Jacobs 19 Billy Shantel Jr. 20 Brian Murphy 21 Kevin Poitras 22 Mat Williamson 23 Anthony Cardamone
LUCAS OIL EMPIRE SUPER SPRINTS (25-LAPS): 1 DAVIE FRANEK 2 Lucas Wolfe 3 Chuck Hebing 4 Jordan Poirier 5 Danny Varin 6 Billy VanInwegen 7 Scott Holcomb 8 Bobby Varin 9 Shawn Donath 10 Jonathan Preston 11 Jason Barney 12 Matt Tanner 13 Cory Sparks 14 Mike Kiser 15 Dylan Westbrook 16 Steve Glover 17 Emily VanInwegen 18 Kelly Hebing 19 Jeff Cook 20 Paulie Colagiovanni 21 Josh Flint 22 Denny Peebles 23 Larry Wight 24 Ryan Harrison 25 Tommy Wickham
DNQ: Dave Axton, Pete Richardson, Chad Miller
DIRTCAR SPORTSMAN SERIES FEATURE FINISH (30-LAPS): 1 MATT JANCZUK 2 Kyle Inman 3 Jackson Gill 4 Connor Cleveland 5 Alan Fink 6 Kevin Root 7 Chris Mackey 8 Zach Sabotka 9 Tyler Corcoran 10 Eric Giguere 11 Charlie Tibbits 12 Dave Moyer 13 Jessica Power 14 Nick Guererri 15 A.J. Filbeck 16 Dalton Rombough 17 James Meehan 18 Tim Falter 19 Addison Bowman 20 Robert Bublak 21 Dave Manchester 22 Mike Fowler 23 Travis Welch 24 Jeff Taylor 25 A.J. Miller 26 Mike Button 27 Mark Yorker 28 Brad Alger 29 Kyle Kiehn 30 Dylan Zacharias 31 Brent Joy 32 Chris Johnson
DNQ: Justin Buff, John Strickler, Mark Effner, Mike Richmond, Casey Cunningham, A.J. Digsby, Brian Borst, Remington Hamm, Tye-Scott Rood, Tony Ballestero, Brendon Gibbons, Richie Riggs, Stephen Denton, Rocco Leone, Kearra Backus, Ed Lukas
TED’S BODY SHOP DIRTCAR PRO STOCKS FEATURE FINISH (20-LAPS): 1 LUKE HORNING 2 Josh Coonradt 3 Shane Henderson 4 Pete Stefanski 5 Mike Welch 6 Justin Knight 7 Mike Kazlauskas 8 Ivan Joslin 9 Jim Normoyle 10 Aaron Page 11 Jerry Streeter 12 Frank Hyatt 13 Bobby Newman 14 Nick Stone
BERNIE’S EXTREME PERFORMANCE PARTS ROOKIE SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (15-LAPS): 1 CARTER GIBBONS 2 Alexis Jacobs 3 Ernie Staelens 4 Rich Christman 5 Payton Talbot 6 Jason Lopez 7 Bobby Heintz