Top stars to return to Utica-Rome

DIRT's top stars to return to Utica-Rome Speedway on September 15th. VERNON- Racing action will resume at Utica-Rome Speedway this Sunday night when FX Caprara Car Companies presents the 100 lap Turning Stone Casino DIRT 358-Modified...

DIRT's top stars to return to Utica-Rome Speedway on September 15th.

VERNON- Racing action will resume at Utica-Rome Speedway this Sunday night when FX Caprara Car Companies presents the 100 lap Turning Stone Casino DIRT 358-Modified Championship Series and the 25 lap Empire Sports Network Super DIRT Series for the Pro Stocks. Pit gates will open at 3pm while the grandstand gates will open at 4pm. Time trials will begin at 5:30pm with racing scheduled at 6pm.

DIRT's top 358-Modified drivers will be on hand to take on the strong field of Utica-Rome regulars. Steve Paine currently sits atop the points on the summer long Turning Stone Casino Series, with Pete Bicknell, Vic Coffey, Brett Hearn, and 2002 Utica-Rome Speedway 358-Modified champion Matt Sheppard filling out the top five. Ryan Baye, who tied for third in the Utica-Rome Speedway standings, sits ninth in the series standings.

Danny Johnson, who currently holds sixth place in the Turning Stone Casino Championship Series points, is looking to gain some momentum in the late season specials. Danny is having an off season by his standards, and with his strong history in the extra distance small block races at Utica-Rome, this could be the race that gets him back on track. In the six race history of the 358-Modified series at Utica-Rome Speedway, Danny has won three of them, including this season's series opener at Utica-Rome Speedway on June 19th. Alan Johnson is the defending champion of this event, while Jack Johnson was the winner in the 2000 season. Brett Hearn took the checkered flag in the first ever 358-Modified Super DIRT Series event run at the speedway in the fall of 1999.

Track regulars such as Matt Sheppard, Mitch Gibbs, Ryan Baye, Gordy Button, and Jason Barney will look to topple the DIRT superstars in this event. Sheppard, who is a series regular, is still looking for his first DIRT 358-Modified series victory. He has had a handful of second place runs in this year's tour events, and hopes that with the series coming to the track where he earned the track championship, he will take home the first series win. Mitch Gibbs had a top five run in the first series event in June, hopes to better that by taking the checkered flag. Baye, Button, and Barney are also hoping to better their performance from the June event and compete for the win.

Bret Belden is the two time defending champion of the Empire Sports Network Super DIRT Series for Pro Stock event. Belden, who came up short by 10 points in his bid to repeat as Utica-Rome Speedway's Pro Stock champion, will try to make up for by winning this event for the third consecutive time. Jason Rood, who won the 2002 Pro Stock track championship without scoring a victory, will like nothing better to score his first win for the 2002 season with this event. Buddy Hencke, Joe Palmer, and Denny Smith are also Utica-Rome regulars that will challenge for the victory in this event.

Rev. Mitch Mullenax, the Utica-Rome Speedway Chaplain, is planning to have the children of the driver sing the national anthem during the pre-race ceremonies as a tribute to the victims of September 11th. Anyone who needs more information or wants to volunteer, can call Mitch at (607) 674-6887, or meet him at the base of the officials tower at 4:30pm on race night.

Utica-Speedway is located on Route 5 in Vernon, just a few minutes from New York State Thruway Exit 33. For more information, call the speedway office at (315) 829-4557, or access the website at www.uticaromespeedway.com

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Series Stock car
Drivers Brett Hearn