Barton wins Tri State LM fnale; Close takes title by a point. (Little Valley, NY) Dick Barton prevailed over a fast closing David Scott by little more than a bumper in the final race of the Tri State Championship series for Late Models,...
Barton wins Tri State LM fnale; Close takes title by a point.
(Little Valley, NY) Dick Barton prevailed over a fast closing David Scott by little more than a bumper in the final race of the Tri State Championship series for Late Models, contested at Raceway 7 in Ohio, McKean County Raceway in Pennsylvania, and concluding at Little Valley Speedway in New York, on Sunday, July 14th. Despite Barton winning at Little Valley and Saturday night at McKean, Bob Close won the title by a single point by virtue of his third place finish in the final race. The title was worth $3000 to Close from Eldred, PA, while Barton from Ashville, NY, collected $3333 for winning the 33 lap race, plus $1000 more for finishing second in the series point battle.
The race was a high attrition affair, with only ten cars running at the end from a starting field of twenty-four. It was also punctuated by nine cautions, which prevented any driver from establishing much of a rhythm. Even though there were numerous race stoppages, there was plenty of excitement as the drivers went all out to claim the top prize.
Scott Haus from Hamburg, PA, took the early lead from the outside of row one, but almost immediately the first yellow flag flew when Rick Isadore slammed the wall on the front straightaway after a scrum with several cars. Haus re-established his lead on the restart, ahead of Kirk Bradley, Mike Blose, and Barton. Barton jumped into second, while Mr. Outside, Ron Davies, made a spirited charge from ninth to lie 5th after three laps. Unfortunately, the Warren, PA, driver, winner of the first round series race at LVS, went into turn one a little hot and smacked the wall while trying to negotiate an outside move for fourth. He continued momentarily, but rolled to a stop in turn four and was through for the night.
When the race resumed Haus moved out to a big lead while Scott, from Garland, PA, moved in to challenge Barton after starting eighth, eventually passing the No. 28B for second on lap eight. Following another caution on lap nine for a flat tire on Mike Wonderling's Z1, Scott took the lead, passing Haus in turn three, with Barton lurking in third.
By lap fifteen there was a five car break away, with Scott, Haus, Barton, Close, and former MACS Champ Blose all vying for the lead. Barton was able to get by Haus on lap fifteen to claim second, and then slipped under Scott into first just before the caution flag flew on lap eighteen for Haus, who clipped the berm in turn four and went around. On the restart, Barton led Scott, Close, and Blose. They endured another caution on lap nineteen before Scott got the jump on Barton, powering by on the outside in turn four to take the point on the restart.
Barton, running low and Scott, running high, put on a dazzling show for the next several laps, before Barton edged in front on lap twenty-six. The two continued their intense struggle through two more cautions, with Scott rim riding and Barton hugging the bottom in a classic duel. On the final lap Scott got a run on Barton and with the crowd on its feet, they drag raced to the finish with Barton holding a razer thin edge at the line.
Barton made up his mind early that the bottom was the way to go. He noted after the race, "That's' the way I had to approach this. He (Scott) had his line and I had my line. In the end the bottom of the race track was less than a car length faster than the top. We made a commitment to the bottom and the credit goes to the guys who gave me a car capable of doing it tonight." Referring to the championship, he added, "We won the battle, but we lost the war."
Scott had this to say about the incredible battle he waged with Barton, "Me and Dick are pretty good friends. He was good on the bottom, and I was good on top and we just raced our hearts out out there. It would have been nice if it had been one more lap. I think I could have got the job done. It was a heck of a race. I'm sure all the fans liked it."
Close knew exactly what he needed to win the title, commenting, "We did what we had to do, and Dick did everything he had to do. He fell behind on Friday night, and he had to win last night and tonight. My hat's off to him. I feel awful lucky to pull this thing out by a point. On the restarts this thing was a rocket ship for about one lap, and then it fell apart. I don't know if it was tires or what. After that I was done."
In other action, defending Super Stock Champion at McKean, Bill Holmes from Chaffee, won his second Super Stock Feature in two nights, squeezing past leader Todd Rice from Eldred, PA, in turn two on lap seventeen of the 20 lap event and then holding on for the win. The race was slowed by five cautions, the most serious on lap 10, when Don Wagner, who had led early, spun in front of the field in turn four as he was battling for second. He collected Todd Hanson and Kyle Bradigan in the incident, and all three cars went off on the hook. Jack Harrington from Great Valley got by Rice to finish second, with Tim Rockwell, and Jim Johnson rounding out the top five.
In the 15 lap Street Stock event, Jim Kennerknecht from Erie, PA, won his eighth race in his last ten starts at LVS, taking the lead on lap two and holding off Rob Stromecki from Freedom to claim the victory, and in the final event of the evening, Kenny Foster from Great Valley prevailed in the ten lap school bus race over Ray Wright from Little Valley.
Notes: There was a good crowd on hand for the finale of the Tri State Series, with Dennis Shutt from McKean and Ron Neilson from Raceway 7 on hand for the ceremonies at the conclusion of the event.. The top ten in points (points in parentheses) and the payout were: Close (526) - $3000, Barton (525) - $1000, Scott (443)- $500, Brent Rhebergen (417) - $300, Jim Yoder ($200), Scott Haus (350) - $200, Dutch Davies (335) - $200, Mike Blose (311) - $200, Andy Kania (309) - $200, and Paul Davis (294) - $200.A total of 77 different cars ran in the series at one time or another..15 cars ran all six races.