Little Valley report 2002-09-01

Dick Barton takes LM feature at Little Valley. (Little Valley) Dick Barton, known as "King Richard in these parts, charged forward from his twelfth place starting spot, passed leader Ron Davies on lap nineteen, and drove away from the field to...

Dick Barton takes LM feature at Little Valley.

(Little Valley) Dick Barton, known as "King Richard in these parts, charged forward from his twelfth place starting spot, passed leader Ron Davies on lap nineteen, and drove away from the field to capture the 30 lap Super Late Model Feature at Little Valley on Sunday night. The win was worth $3000 for the veteran pilot from Ashville, NY, and with second place point man Bob Close being eliminated in a frightening incident early in the race, took a strangle hold on his second championship in a row at the fast half mile clay oval. The final point race will be on September 7th.

Matt Urban from North East, PA, took the early lead over Matt Lux from Franklin, PA, with Ron Davies making his patented outside charge to take second on lap two. Shortly thereafter, Close, who was streaking up the on the inside after starting tenth, was bumped by the No. 24 of Dan Dunham as he exited turn two, nudging him into the berm at high speed. Close took a wild ride as his car got sideways and was pummeled by large clumps of mud, which were inexplicably left just off the racing surface after track preparation. By the time the No. 04 careened to a stop in the infield after nearly flipping, it had suffered serious damage and Close was through for the night.

The race continued under green as the Close machine came to rest a considerable distance from the track and out of harm's way. The first caution flew on lap seven for a spin in turn one, with the restart showing Urban on the point, followed by Davies, last week's winner David Scott from Garland, PA, Lux, and Barton, who made up seven positions in seven laps.

Davies immediately pounced on Urban when the green flew to restart the race, taking the lead on the backstretch, with Barton on the move to third one lap later. While Davies opened a sizable lead, Barton and Scott staged a classic battle for third, reminiscent of the previous week's fight for the lead, with Scott running high and Barton low. A caution on lap thirteen saw Davies, Urban, Scott, and Barton lined up for the restart. Davies took off and Barton made a determined move underneath to claim second coming out of turn four.

King Richard then set his sights on Davies, who was hooked up on the outside, while keeping a wary eye on Scott , who refused to quit, and kept battling in third.

As Barton made steady progress on Davies, the race took a dramatic turn on lap nineteen, when Davies slipped going into turn two and slapped the outside wall. He was able to continue unabated, but Barton stuck his car down low, drew alongside and then completed the pass on the front chute. Barton, who could run anywhere he wanted to, drew away from the field, withstanding a final caution on lap twenty-five, literally driving away, and leading by almost a straightaway at the flag. Davies held on for second, with Scott third, Urban fourth, and Lux completing the top five.

Barton, who suffered a disappointing and controversial loss to Scott last week, offered this explanation for his victory this night, commenting, "This race track is really slippery and that makes for really good racing. It puts more of a premium on the setup and driving it." Asked if he could have caught Davies, he added, "I'd have had a very difficult time because his line was where I wanted to run. When I saw that he slowed there, I knew I had to get up there because that was obviously the fastest way around. I tried everything I knew on the bottom and that wasn't going to work. I had to be able to get up and get in front of him and run his line in order to be able to win."

Davies was happy with second, noting, "We got into the wall a little bit on that one lap. My tires were going, and it just slipped up, and there really wasn't much of a cushion. We just kind of brushed the wall. It didn't hurt anything. Barton was under us, and I figured he was going to get us anyway. We were slipping off the corners at the end of the race. He ran a good race, a smart race, and I knew when he slipped in front of me it was over."

Scott, who fell back at the end, but hung on for third, commented, "The top was getting farther around and farther around. I actually had a little too much gear in my car. Me and Dick ran around a long time side by side there. Early I was better than him, but he just kept peddling around, and finally he got his rhythm going and he got good on top. Once he got by Ron, he just checked out."

In the companion feature, Jipp Ortiz from Ransomville, made his debut at Little Valley a winning one, taking the lead from James Henry from Middlesex, NY, on lap ten, and then holding off a determined bid by Dave Schulz from Somerset to claim the victory and a check for $1000. Henry, Pete Stefanski, and John Koeppen completed the top five.

Todd Rice from Eldred, PA, went wire to wire in the 20 lap Super Stock Feature, in a race that saw point leader Bill Holmes from Chaffee start twenty-second and finish fourth, while second place point man Steve Watson started ninth, but finish fourteenth, after getting caught up in two wrecks. Jason Dupont made a spirited charge at the end but fell short and settled for second.

Jim Kennerknecht from Erie, PA, winner of nine of the past twelve street stock features, started tenth, stuck to his formula of being patient and making use of his opportunities and recorded the win in the fifteen lap event. The talented driver took the lead on lap six, after a lap five restart eliminated a big lead for Rob Stromecki, and then cruised to the win, surviving two restarts in the process.

NOTES: Close, who narrowly avoided possible serious injury in his scary looking incident, was understandably upset after the race, commenting, "The 24 pinched me, and I guess nobody here knows how to run a grader and left all that mud up there. That's what destroyed my race car. I came pretty close to going over."..There were 101 cars in the pits and a nice crowd in the stands on a perfect night for racingThe Late Models finish their season on September 7th, with a DIRT 358 Modified Victoria All Star and Super Dirt Week qualifier as a co-headliner. The Super Stocks, Street Stocks, and Buses will also be on the card. Racing starts at 6:00, an hour earlier than the normal starting time.

-pvs-

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Series Stock car
Drivers David Scott