Utica-Rome race report 2002-06-02

Burley, Button, Hencke, & Mannise claim Utica-Rome Speedway feature wins on Canastota KART Speedway Night. VERNON, NY -- Todd "The Tornado" Burley of Spencerport returned to Utica-Rome Speedway in dramatic fashion last Sunday to claim the ...

Burley, Button, Hencke, & Mannise claim Utica-Rome Speedway feature wins on Canastota KART Speedway Night.

VERNON, NY -- Todd "The Tornado" Burley of Spencerport returned to Utica-Rome Speedway in dramatic fashion last Sunday to claim the 30-lap DIRT 358-Modified feature win over Ryan Baye on Canastota Kart Speedway Night. Burley, last season's track champion, missed the first two races, but picked up right where he left off last year by coming from the eighteenth starting position to roar into the lead with just four laps to go in the main event. The hard earned first victory of the year for the driver of the Mohawk Northeast / Troyer No. 89b machine was worth $1,500.

Other winners on the chilly evening were Mike Button of Chittenango in the Sportsman, Buddy Hencke of Sand Lake in the Pro Stocks, and Dave Mannise of Fulton in the Pure Stocks.

Tony Ross and Jim Rothwell led the 358-Modified feature down to the green flag from Starter Matt Burdick, with Ross racing out to the early lead in the 30-lap main event. Rothwell settled into second with Aaron Excell, Gus Schmidt, and John Ramsey filing into the top five positions over the first five circuits. Ryan Baye, who started twelfth, was on the move and made his presence known in the top five, as he raced into fourth on lap 8.

Rothwell led momentarily on lap 9, but just as some of the other top drivers began their moves to the front, a huge pileup in turn four on lap 9 slowed the field. Involved were Ramsey, Pete Taylor, Steve Hulsizer, Mike Hulsizer, Dave Rauscher, Gordy Button, and Ron Holmes. Taylor, Ramsey, Button, and Holmes were done for the evening, with Holmes reportedly in some pain after the accident.

Tony Ross opened up a sizable lead on the restart as Rothwell and Excell raced for the second position. Point leader Matt Sheppard raced into fifth, but Baye was moving up even farther as he took over second on lap 12 from Rothwell. Sheppard, who started fourteenth, was flying around the speedway, and even took over second momentarily, but out of nowhere came Todd Burley. On lap 14, he pulled a wild three wide move on the frontstretch, while making contact with Sheppard, who fell right out of the top five. Burley was now in third, with Jack Johnson making his presence known in fifth at the halfway mark.

Second place driver Ryan Baye caught right up to the Tony Ross machine, and pulled a slidejob with slight contact out of turn four to take the lead on lap 20. Johnson moved into fourth, while Rothwell settled into fifth. Burley was quickly catching Ross and passed him for second on lap 24. Johnson was right there was well and he took over third, just as Ross spun with 5 laps to go in turn two.

On the restart, Baye momentarily took the lead but Burley was right there and diamonded the corner in extremely close quarters to race out in the lead as they left the second corner. From there on out, Burley had everyone covered to take home the hard earned victory with Baye 1.313 seconds behind in second. 57-year old Jack Johnson charged from fifteenth to finish third, with Sheppard recovering for fourth, and Rothwell in fifth. Jason Barney, Aaron Excell, Mitch Gibbs, Gus Schmidt, and Mark Flach completed the top ten finishers.

Burley's performance was certainly vintage, as last season he visited victory lane seven times enroute to his first career track title in the Morrison powered machine. He was elated in victory lane, as his crew shouted "Just like old times Todd" in what was seemingly a homecoming of sorts.

Burley commented, "We are really happy tonight. What a great way to come back to Utica-Rome than with a victory. Ryan was running real good tonight down low. I started off down low, but I should have been up on the top from the get go." With Burley now a regular competitor on the Big Block Super DIRT Series, he will have to miss several Utica-Rome races, so he will not be a contender for the championship this season.

Several other minor cautions slowed the event. Jeff Kotary, Johnson, and Ross won the Modified heat races, and Steve Hulsizer won the Modified consi.

Former Mr. DIRT Champion Mike Button started fourth and claimed his first ever Sportsman feature victory at Utica-Rome after leading the entire 20-lap event. It was Button's second victory on the weekend, as he won the night before at Fulton. Defending track champion Tim Clemons was able to mount a serious challenge for the lead shortly after the halfway point, but Button was just too strong as he was able to hold him off for the win. Clemons was second, followed by Steve Way, Jamie Christian, and Paul Carey. Button's brother, Gordy, was the 358-Modified feature winner just one week ago. Jim Roberts, Steve Way, and 16-year old Jessica Zemken won the Sportsman heat races.

Invader Buddy Hencke won his second Pro Stock feature in a row after taking the lead from early leader Bill Knapp on lap 10 of the 15-lap affair. Hencke, who started in the fourteenth position enjoys racing at the speedway, and will become a weekly regular at the track. Jason Rood was second, Bill Knapp third, Jim Normoyle fourth, and former track champion Joe Palmer in fifth. Rood and Chad Ray were the Pro Stock heat victors.

Dave Mannise claimed his second 15-lap Pure Stock feature win of the season after coming from the tenth starting spot. Mannise took the lead from George Schulze on lap 7 and led the remainder of the distance. Dave Pope led the opening circuit, while Schulze was in command from lap 2 to lap 6. After Mannise at the finish it was Schulze, Jeff Thorp, Chuck Cushman and Waylan Wilczek. Pope and rookie Claude Hutchings won the Pure Stock heats.

Coming up next Sunday June 9 is Big Frog 104.3 Night featuring the 358-Modifieds, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks plus One on One Spectator Races. Gates will open at 4pm, with racing beginning at 6pm. For more information, contact the track office at (315) 829-4557 or log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com.

PIT NOTES -- 31 Modifieds, 26 Sportsman, 21 Pro Stocks, and 18 Pure Stocks filled the pit area with 96 cars on yet another beautiful evening. The representatives of Canastota Kart Speedway, located north of Canastota just off Thruway Exit 34, enjoyed the evening. On display was three of their race karts, one of them being the "official" Utica-Rome Speedway kart currently being raced at the speedway which boasts an indoor and soon to be outdoor tracks. Burley turned the fastest lap of the evening in the feature with one lap to go -- 20.364. Three different Modified winners have graced victory lane this season so far: Gibbs, Button, and now Burley. The Modified chassis win count is balanced: Teo 1, Bicknell 1, and Troyer 1.

Utica-Rome Speedway Race Summary
Canastota KART Speedway Night
Race Date: June 2, 2002

DIRT 358-MODIFIEDS (30-LAPS) -- TODD BURLEY, Ryan Baye, Jack Johnson, Matt Sheppard, Jim Rothwell, Jason Barney, Aaron Excell, Mitch Gibbs, Gus Schmidt Jr, Mark Flach Jr, Paul Kinney, Willy Decker, Jeff Kotary, Jason Herrington, Heath Carney, Dave Rauscher, Mike Hulsizer, Tony Ross, Ron Holmes, Steve Hulsizer, Gordy Button, John Ramsey, Pete Taylor, J.J. Michaels. Did Not Qualify -- Joel Thomas, Aaron Jacobs, Todd Thomas, Nick Vatalaro Jr, Mark Tily, Rich Price, Jim Lavalla.

DIRT SPORTSMAN (20-LAPS) -- MIKE BUTTON, Tim Clemons, Steve Way, Jamie Christian, Paul Carey, Kevin Crave, Tim Mayne, John Christian, Jessica Zemken, Craig Pritchard, Tim French, Jim Roberts, Daryl Hagen, Steve Davis, Steve Kotary, Josh Pieniazek, Dave Bargabos, Billy Price, Tim Nye, Jeremy Vunk, Darren Keyser, Fran Briant, Rob Carey, Bill Shantel Jr, Josh Flint. DNS -- Dan Yankowski.

DIRT PRO STOCKS (15-LAPS) -- BUDDY HENCKE, Jason Rood, Bill Knapp, Jim Normoyle, Joe Palmer, Bret Belden, Dave Moyer, Denny Smith, A.J. Digsby, John Roese, Gerry Newman, Paul Rogers, Jim Gould, Zig Kellum, Gus Gould, Chad Ray, Dave Meeks, Eric Vanderhoof, Dan Hatch, Chuck Jones, Mark Effner.

PURE STOCKS (15-LAPS) -- DAVE MANNISE, George Schulze, Jeff Thorp, Chuck Cushman Jr, Waylan Wilczek, Dave Arbes, Dave Pope, Jim Thomas, Art Newman Jr, Claude Hutchings, Ricky Trexler, Cody Streeter, Rob White, Rick Condes, Les Lewis, Ted Crawford, Chris White, Fred Pope.

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Series Kart
Drivers Jim Roberts , Pete Taylor