Story By: CHRIS MOORE / SHORT TRACK SUPER SERIES – OCALA, FL – One wild night.
Three words to accurately describe the final night of the Taylor & Messick ‘Sunshine Swing’ for the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled by Sunoco.
When starter Joe Kriss waved the Sunoco checkered flags, Boyertown, Pa.’s Mike Gular stood on top of the mountain after a 50-lap thriller on Saturday night. Gular claimed the win and the $8,000-plus victory in the Sunshine State.
The win was Gular’s second career STSS win and his first since October 2018. With the victory, Gular also became the first driver not named Friesen or Rudolph to win a ‘Sunshine Swing’ race, dating back to the ’20 inaugural swing.
A pair of ‘Outlaw Speedway’ cars led the field to green as Triangle, N.Y.’s Tyler Siri and Rochester, N.Y.’s Danny Johnson made up the front row. Siri quickly jumped out to the early lead and set the pace in the first several laps.
Unadilla, N.Y.’s Billy Decker was the man marching early, as he climbed from his fifth starting position to take the lead on lap 10.
The top-three drivers in ‘Sunshine Swing’ points were marching through the field. Mike Maresca, of Potsdam, N.Y., Erick Rudolph, of Ransomville, N.Y., and Stewart Friesen of Sprakers, N.Y., started 18th, 20th, and 22nd respectively.
Within the first 15 laps, the championship contenders reached the top-10, with Friesen beginning to march toward the lead cars. By this time, Gular had raced around Decker, and was setting the pace as the leaders closed in on lap traffic.
On lap 26, the race changed dramatically, as Gular and Friesen collided while for the lead. Friesen shot into the pit gate opening in the first turn before rolling over his No. 44. Fortunately, Friesen walked away uninjured. Gular remained the leader.
After a stretch of yellows, the last 16 laps produced a wild run to the finish. With Friesen’s car towed to the pits, Gular led through lap 31, with Decker taking over command on the 32nd lap.
Gular found the outside lane of the Ocala facility and swept back past Decker after a side-by-side battle on the 44th tour of the three-eighths-mile track and paced the remainder of the distance.
Rudolph made a late charge, taking over second spot in the late stages of the event. His run toward the front came up short with a runner-up finish but he earned the ‘Sunshine Swing’ championship including $500 from Precision Hydraulic & Oil, two free VAHLCO Wheels ($810 value) and a pair of Oakley Holbrook sunglasses courtesy of Design for Vision and Sunglass Central.
The veteran Decker drove his Jeremy Smith-owned No. 91 to third. Siri battled back for a fourth place finish and Savannah, N.Y.’s Matt Sheppard fought hard for a fifth-place finish.
Langhorne, Pa., driver Danny Hieber earned his best-career STSS finish, coming home sixth. Mike Maresca’s charge reached as high as second, but slowed back to seventh in the late stages with Gary Simpson’s No. 12K.
Mooresville, N.C.’s Max McLaughlin came from 21st to eighth and Jimmy Horton of Neshanic Station, N.J., was the Smith Site Development Hard Charger, coming from 29th to ninth. Pittsfield, Mass., driver Brett Haas rounded out the top-10 in his Dave Prime No. 55. Haas started 28th.
Sicklerville, N.J.’s Stephen Kemery won the 30-lap feature and the championship for the Crate 602 Sportsman ‘Sunshine Swing.’ Kemery took advantage of his outside pole starting position to take the lead from the start and never relinquished it.
The race win was worth $2,350 and he received $500 from Precision Hydraulic & Oil, two VAHLCO Wheels ($810 value) and a pair of Oakley Holbrook sunglasses courtesy of Design for Vision and Sunglass Central.
Mexico, N.Y.’s Addison Bowman pressured Kemery, but could never find the opportunity to drive underneath to unseat his lead. Hamburg, Pa., driver Craig Whitmoyer made the podium with a third-place finish. Keystone State driver Kyle Smith finished fourth and Parkertown, N.J.’s Ryan Heim rounded out the top five.
Saturday’s event concluded the STSS ‘Sunshine Swing’ at Bubba Raceway Park. The series resumes with the Velocita-USA South Region opener at Del.’s Georgetown Speedway Friday-Saturday March 12-13 with the running of the annual Melvin L. Joseph Memorial. Both the STSS Modifieds and Crate 602 Sportsman will be in action among a number of divisions.
‘SUNSHINE SWING’ RESULTS SUMMARY – BUBBA RACEWAY PARK JAN. 30, 2021
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Modified Sunshine Swing Event No. 3 Feature Finish (50 laps): MIKE GULAR, Erick Rudolph, Billy Decker, Tyler Siri, Matt Sheppard, Danny Hieber, Michael Maresca, Max McLaughlin, Jimmy Horton, Brett Haas, Mike Mahaney, Billy Pauch Jr., J.R. Heffner, Brandon Hightower, Danny Bouc, Tyler Dippel, David Schilling, Kyle Weiss, Danny Johnson, Joseph Watson, Marshall Hurd, Tim Buckwalter, Rusty Smith, Ron Cartwright Jr., Stewart Friesen, Jordan Siri, Jeremy Smith, Matt Stangle, Andy Bachetti, Danny Creeden
Did Not Qualify: Peter Britten, H.J. Bunting, J.R. Hurlburt, Cale Ross, James Hill, Chris Ostrowsky, Scott Ferrier, Eric Williams, Jacob Dgien, Anthony Perrego
Precision Hydraulic & Oil ‘Sunshine Swing’ Championship ($500): Erick Rudolph
VAHLCO Wheels ‘Sunshine Swing’ Championship (Two Elite Series Wheels – $810 Value): Erick Rudolph
Sunglass Central/Design for Vision Champion’s Bonus (Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses): Erick Rudolph
‘Sunshine Swing’ Final Modified Standings: 1. Erick Rudolph 335; 2. Matt Sheppard 301; 3. Michael Maresca 295; 4. Max McLaughlin 286; 5. Billy Decker 278; 6. Mike Gular 270; 7. Stewart Friesen 250; 8. Jimmy Horton & Billy Pauch Jr. 217 (tie); 10. Tyler Siri 215.
Velocita-USA Firesuit Drawing (Min. $999 Value): Anthony Perrego
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificates): Danny Hieber (sixth) & Brandon Hightower (14th)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Tyler Siri (fourth) & Jimmy Horton (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bucks ($50): Jeremy Smith (Redrew 10th)
Bill Brown & Company Heat-Race Hard Charger ($50): Danny Bouc (seventh to fourth)
Competition Carburetion Fast Lap Award ($50): Tyler Siri (15.494 seconds)
Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz Halfway Leader ($200): Mike Gular
DIG Race Products Bonus ($100 Certificate): Max McLaughlin (eighth)
Elite Welder Testing & Training Heat Winners ($50 each): Andy Bachetti, Tyler Siri, Billy Decker, Matt Sheppard & David Schilling
ERK Steering Repair Bonus ($50 Certificate): Tyler Dippel (16th)
Henry’s Exhaust Power Position ($50 Certificate): Mike Mahaney (11th)
Smith Site Development Hard Charger Award ($350): Jimmy Horton (29th to ninth)
Sunglass Central/Design for Vision Winner’s Bonus (Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses): Erick Rudolph
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Erick Rudolph (second), Billy Pauch Jr. (12th) & Tim Buckwalter (22nd)
TKS Painting Front-Row Cash: Tyler Siri (Pole – $50) & Danny Johnson (Outside Pole – $25)
Wilwood Brakes ‘Lucky 7’ Bonus ($75 Certificate): Mike Maresca (seventh)
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Crate 602 Sportsman Sunshine Swing Event No. 3 Feature Finish (30 laps): STEPHEN KEMERY, Addison Bowman, Craig Whitmoyer, Kyle Smith, Ryan Heim, Anthony Tramontana, Brian Fish, Michael Schane, Michael Ballestero, Finch Fenton, Michael DuBois, Scott Hitchens, Brian Calabrese, Brendan Gibbons, Josh Allen, Shawn McPhee, Jim O’Hara, Jim Passino, Derek Webb, Aidan Elliott, Lance Irwin, Gene Boyter, Jeff Brown, Kenny Bock, Chas Wolbert, Dale Welty, Tanner Van Doren, Peyton Talbot.
Did Not Qualify: Matt Sobiech, John Redner, Maverick Eldridge, Tommy Rascoe, Ray Bliss, Jr.
Precision Hydraulic & Oil ‘Sunshine Swing’ Championship ($500): Stephen Kemery
VAHLCO Wheels ‘Sunshine Swing’ Championship (Two Elite Series Wheels – $810 Value): Stephen Kemery
Sunglass Central/Design for Vision Champion’s Bonus (Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses): Stephen Kemery
‘Sunshine Swing’ Final Crate 602 Sportsman Standings: 1. Stephen Kemery 318; 2. Addison Bowman 286; 3. Kyle Smith 281; 4. Michael Schane 278; 5. Craig Whitmoyer 277; 6. Ryan Heim 254; 7. Brian Calabrese 252; 8. Brian Fish & Anthony Tramontana 242 (tie); 10. Finch Fenton 238.
Velocita-USA Firesuit Drawing (Min. $999 Value): Ryan Heim
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificate): Brian Fish (seventh)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bucks ($25): Finch Fenton (Redrew 12th)
Bill Brown & Company Bonus ($50): Ryan Heim (fifth)
Bruno’s Towing Winner’s Bonus ($500): Stephen Kemery
Chesapeake Paving Winner’s Bonus ($250): Stephen Kemery
Competition Carburetion Fast Lap Award ($50): Brian Fish (16.684 seconds)
Elite Welder Testing & Training Heat Winners ($50 each): Finch Fenton, Brian Calabrese, Addison Bowman & Shawn McPhee
ERK Steering Repair Bonus ($50 Certificate): Shawn McPhee (16th)
Evergreen Fuels Inc. High Temperature Bonus ($100): Stephen Kemery (winner)
Greg Hitchens Services Hard Luck Award ($250): Tanner Van Doren
Mancini Custom Homes Hard Charger Award ($150): Michael Ballestero (23rd to ninth)