Lancaster race report 2001-08-04

Dave McKnight Takes Lancaster ISMA Victory Often times, race car drivers rarely seem entirely happy with their race cars. So usually when a driver refers to his car as being awesome, they mean it. Dave McKnight described his International ...

Dave McKnight Takes Lancaster ISMA Victory

Often times, race car drivers rarely seem entirely happy with their race cars. So usually when a driver refers to his car as being awesome, they mean it. Dave McKnight described his International Supermodified Association (ISMA) entry that he drove to victory in the ISMA 50-lapper Saturday night at Lancaster Motorsports Park as "an awesome car". No one that was there will dispute his claim.

McKnight, of Brampton, Ont., took advantage of a restart on lap 31 to rocket by leader Tim Jedrzejek of Independence, Oh., and then moved out to a convincing win. The victory was McKnight's second straight on the ISMA trail as he also won the Sandusky Hy-Miler 100, July 28 at Sandusky (OH) Speedway.

"The car was awesome, just absolutely wonderful," proclaimed win of 2001. "Once in the lead I just had to take care of the tires and stay smooth."

McKnight has also scored ISMA wins this season at Oswego Speedway on May 26 and July 6 at Kawartha (Ont) Speedway.

Mark Sammut of London, Ont., jumped into the lead at the beginning of the 50-lap event from his pole starting position. Joe Hawksby Jr., of Minetto, NY took up the chase in second with Jedrzejek and Howie Page of Fulton, NY., next in the running order.

Joey Payne of Hawthorne, NJ., drove by Page to get into the fourth position on lap three and Lou Cicconi Jr., of Aston, Pa., starting ninth, gained the fifth position on that same lap. Cicconi drove by Payne to grab fourth six circuits later.

The first caution flag flew on lap 13 as Joe Petro of Windham, NH., stalled in Turn Four. At this point, Sammut still had the top spot over Hawksby, Jedrzejek, Cicconi and Payne. When the green flag unfurled the top five remained the same but McKnight was already on the move from his 12th starting position.

McKnight was riding sixth as the race restarted. McKnight, a former Castrol Can-Am TQ Midget Racing Club champion, slipped by Payne for fifth on lap 14. The caution flag again flew on lap 15 as Johnny Payne of Hawthorne, NJ., spun out in turn one. Following the restart, Hawksby again applied heavy pressure on Sammut. When Sammut drifted too high coming out of turn two on lap 19, Hawksby took full advantage, gaining the lead down the backstretch.

Immediately Sammut began to fade. Jedrzejek sailed by Sammut to take second on lap 20 and Cicconi and McKnight also got by, moving to third and fourth respectively a lap later. The pace was slowed by the third yellow flag of the evening on lap 25 when Jamie Timmons of North Andover, Mass., looped his machine in the fourth turn.

On the restart, Jedrzejek pulled down under Hawksby as the pair approached the starters stand on the restart and Jedrzejek won the drag race into Turn One to assume the top spot. McKnight also improved his chances when he got by both Cicconi and Hawksby by lap 28 and then began his pursuit of the leading Jedrzejek.

The final caution period was needed on lap 31 when Charlie DiRosa of West Seneca, NY., hit the first turn wall. McKnight's car had been strong on restarts all evening and he needed one more hard charge to the green flag to gain the lead. Both McKnight and his car were up to the challenge.

On the restart, McKnight pulled to the outside lane and blew by Jedrzejek before the field even reached the first turn. From there, McKnight moved out to a 20-car length lead as the top five also became spread out. McKnight went on to the win with Jedrzejek, Cicconi, Payne and Hawksby completing the top five finishers.

"The car was really good on restarts," said McKnight. "The car was a little bit loose on longer runs but I knew that if I had to get Timmy it had to get it on a restart and really pick it up from there. "After I got the lead I just kept it at a conservative pace until such time that if I seen anybody I could pick it up from there. I didn't want to do anything stupid. If I had seen somebody then I had more left in the race car."

McKnight also came into the ISMA Lancaster race as the current ISMA point leader and the veteran driver gained a few more points with the victory.

"It's been five years since Brad (Lichty-car owner) and I got together and we've jelled well," explained McKnight. "It's still a long way to the championship and we want it real bad so we have to keep fighting."

Jedrzejek was all smiles after the race as his second place result equaled his best career ISMA finish. The run was also a dose of good medicine for the team after they finished dead last, 24th place in an ISMA event at Sandusky, July 27 following a serious crash.

"I didn't know that it was McKnight but obviously whoever was behind me on that final restart was going to be a strong car." replied Jedrzejek when asked about McKnight's winning pass. "I got the initial lead on the previous restart from Joey Hawksby so I knew I had to choose a lane to protect. I chose the bottom and that didn't stop McKnight from going up top and going around me.

"I have yet to win an ISMA race but this second ties my best ever finish. We're excited and glad that the cars still in one piece. Last weekend up at Sandusky we destroyed the car on Friday but the teams rebuilt me a pretty nice piece"

Cicconi had a steady run to finish third, surviving a strong last lap challenge from Payne. "I guess I finished third and that's up front in the field. It's sure more up front then fourth. I was just trying to cover my position. Our season has had its ups and downs but overall it's been pretty decent. "I think my car was a little bit tight overall, but I'll tell you Dave McKnight did a great job. Timmy J did a helluva good job.. I'm happy just to finish.""

Earlier in the evening, heat race victors were Chris Perley of Rowley, Mass., Hawksby and Ryan Coniam of Burlington, Ontario. Petro claimed the consolation race. Twenty-seven cars were on hand vying to make the 24 car feature field.

Notes...Three drivers failed to make the feature. Doug Boisvert, suffered mechanical problems and did not run a heat race. Randy Ritskes of Brockville, Ont., had in time to make the consolation event. Ritskes won the ISMA race at LMP last August when he was then driving for Team Dunigan. Dan Dadswell of Clarence, NY., finished last in the consolation event, thus not qualifying for the feature race.

-ISMA-

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