Epping, NH - Lou Cicconi became a first-time winner of the prestigious Star Classic Saturday night when he finally had it all come together. Cicconi took the lead from Jamie Timmons on lap 28 only to lose it to Randy Ritskes on lap 83. It was a...
Epping, NH - Lou Cicconi became a first-time winner of the prestigious Star Classic Saturday night when he finally had it all come together. Cicconi took the lead from Jamie Timmons on lap 28 only to lose it to Randy Ritskes on lap 83. It was a classic duel through traffic for Cicconi and Ritskes with Cicconi reclaiming the point on lap 105. Brian Wood came up to make the last challenges on the 35-year old Pennsylvanian, but to no avail as Cicconi led the remainder of the event. The win, the second of Lou's short supermodified career, was worth $7,000 to the Jeff Miller team not including lap money and doing it driving a car which he had built several years ago, gave him much satisfaction.
It was a good race, said Lou, "I definitely paced myself the whole race because I knew if I would have worn my car out early, I would have gotten hollered at. So I paced myself literally even on the last lap. The last lap I knew that the second place car was two lap cars behind me. I knew I just had to be smooth and that he wasn't going to pass me. The last 3 or 4 laps I really lost my tires that's why I had to be smooth. Actually throughout the race I was trying to take it easy, trying to be fast but smooth with no wheel spin. I probably ran most of the race at half throttle. I wanted to save the tires. There started to be oil on the bottom of the track, so I just moved up another groove. It felt like I was actually faster the last 20 laps, but I'm not really sure. It might have just been my imagination. "
ISMA rookie Jamie Timmons took off and led the way for the 35th running of the Star Classic 200, but it only 9 laps were down before a yellow flew for past-winner Chris Perley who flew of the backstraight and into the brush. Perley was okay but did not restart. A breakage on the Miller 11 was deemed the culprit.
Another quick jingle came on lap 19 to slow Timmons' lead when the 84 of Brad Lichty and the 10 of Rick Wentworth spun off the track.
Green fell again on lap 22 in the cautions-count event. Several laps later the bright #4 of Cicconi put Timmons out of the lead. Cicconi was running with confidence and he said later, "From the very beginning of race I was backing off at the starter's stand and I tried not to use my brakes a lot because when I do, they start to fade. I have real offset wheels and they don't get a lot of air to the brakes. I was just cruising through the corners not using any brakes. But, then I had to step it up a little. The yellows came just right for me because that allowed the brakes to cool down I waited for Timmons to make a mistake and then I passed him."
The mistake Timmons made was actually that his tire was going down and one lap later he lost it completely trying to make his way back to the pits. Jamie Letcher pitted at this juncture.
The race began to settle in with Cicconi setting a smooth pace out front as Joe Gosek, Randy Ritskes, Brian Wood, Mike Ordway and Dave McKnight battled behind.
On the short 1/4 mile traffic always is key and things were no different here. As Cicconi melded into the lap cars, Ritskes came by his teammate Gosek by lap 61. Brian West and Ordway, in the Booth 61 were running side by side as well.
A lap 73 yellow for a Wentworth spin slowed things again and also sent Jamie Letcher into the pits for spewing liquids.
At the green Ritskes knocked on Cicconi's door and flew by the 4 on the outside. Cicconi stuck with Ritskes for a couple laps and then let the Canadian go."I knew as soon as Randy passed me that he wasn't going to be in contention," said Lou, " Because he was running high and loose right after that and that was about lap 80. I knew there was no way. I was running the bottom real good."
The fight for the lead intensified however, just the same and on lap 90, Cicconi came alongside the 29 to reclaim the lead, but Ritskes took it right back as the fans enjoyed the exciting exchange.
High and low they traversed the track, hitting the lap 100 mark with Ritskes out front. Two laps later the 29 slid high and soon thereafter Cicconi laid his game plan down and re-passed Ritskes.
Now the ball was in "Liquid" Lou's court and he took it and ran. With several lap cars in between him and the 29 and more back to the third place runner Brian Wood, Cicconi was in a comfortable spot. Wood, who had been laying low, now moved and was by Ritskes for second
Yellow flew again on lap 126 for the 10 again but it was only a quick stop. Now it was a Cicconi - Wood battle as the race flew toward completion. In and out of traffic then went, but Cicconi never really felt challenged as he said later. "I never really saw Brian Wood. I thought it was Ritskes or Gosek.I think I run well in traffic. It's kind of my forte. I was raised on Pinebrook(NJ) - me, my brother and Joe Payne Star Speedway is a lot like Pinebrook was. That was my favorite place. Now, I think Star will be my favorite."
With 25 to go, and no yellows to stop the show, Cicconi and Wood were the lead duo with Ordway and Gosek hanging back in third and fourth. Scotty Martel was fifth with Ritskes just off the 14.
On lap 189, with the end in sight, Martel's fine run ended as he slowed possibly out of fuel.
Lap 195 found one more stop in the 200-lapper as several cars were stopping on the speedway including Martel and Howie Page.
It was green-checkered as the caution laps had clicked the clock to 200. Cicconi had no fear at this point and easily crossed under the checkered ahead of Wood, Gosek, Ordway and Ritskes, who was one lap down. Cicconi and the Miller crew were ecstatic with their second victory in less than a month. "I don't know how to put it," said Cicconi, "Any time you win a race it's exciting. I'm happy for the Miller crew. They've had a tough year. They do a lot of work. Like at Oswego I blew a tire and crashed. Then we switched motors in the cars, put one on the dyno and then put it back in just to get ready for tonight. They worked so hard. I'm really happy for them. They did a great job for me. I feel very comfortable in my car. It's more consistent." Said the newly crowned 2000 Star Champion on his second place run, "It was fun. The traffic was tough out there. I got real close there. He didn't give me too much room, but that's racing. It would have been nice to win, but I'll take second any day. The car was great. The crew did an awesome job. The game plan was to hold back as long as I could and just stay with the front pack. The started speeding up at about 50 laps into the race and I didn't really want to go that fast that early. But, I had to stay in sight with them. I hung with them the first 100 laps or so, then I started passing a few cars. Then, I ended up second. I wish it were better, but what can you do? I almost got him a few times in traffic, but I just ran out of space. The cards didn't fall right but I was trying."
Said ISMA point leader Joe Gosek, who finished a tough third, "It was a good run. I would have liked to win or be second, but it's a tough little race, and guys who run here like Brian Wood are tough. He ran really strong. He won the championship here this year so you know he's good. My car kind of faded about mid-race, but then we caught back up. Some of the guys backed up to us late in the race. They got looser than we did. I tried to save it as much as I could, but the guys were going so fast. It was still a good race car all weekend and we probably finished where we belonged. We were a top five car and we finished third. It's good for the points. We'll just keep plugging away with three more to go and try to win some more races. "
Mike Ordway was all smiles after fourth with his return to driving for former mentor Clyde Booth, "It was good. It's going to be good. The car just loosened up on us. The track got real slippery and there wasn't much we could do. The car was running good - real good. We're going to run the next three races and see what happens for next year. It was like old times tonight, running up there."
Ritskes, who had led almost the entire 200 laps at the Oswego Classic only to loose out at the end, was faced with another disappointing finish. "I got loose at the end. It was kind of like the Classic all over again. The car worked good at the beginning and then it just got loose on me. There isn't much else to say. Fifth is not where I wanted to be, but it's not all that bad either." <pre> STAR SUMMARY Time trials: Top 16 locked in, top 8 handicapped: Top 8: Brian Wood, Eric Lewis, Randy Ritskes, Joe Gosek, Chris Perley, Jamie Timmons, Lou Cicconi and Mike Ordway Fast time: Brian Wood : 11.116 Heat(6 qual): Larry Record, Brian West, George Brothers, Scott Heil(44), Brad Lichty, Rick Wentworth. Bob Smith added as option. Crashes by 28 - Justin Belfiore and Bob Timmons who flipped in the front straight, brought out the red. 35th annual Classic: 1. Lou Cicconi(4), 2. Brian Wood(7), 3. Joe Gosek(26), 4. Mike Ordway(61), 5. Randy Ritskes(29), 6. Dan Soule(32), 7. George Brothers(6), 8. Brian West(15), 9. Ken Bell(31), 10. Larry Record(79), 11. Bob Smith(67), 12. Scott Martel(14), 13. Howard Page(18), 14. Rick Wentworth(10), 15. Eric Lewis(28), 16. Nick Fornoro(5), 17. Dave McKnight(94), 18. Joey Payne(06), 19. Jamie Letcher(58), 20. Jamie Timmons(97), 21. Scott Heil (44), 22. Brad Lichty(84), 23. Chris Perley(11).