VERNON, NY - The Utica-Rome Speedway in Vernon crowned the 2001 track champions on Sunday September 2 following the final points races of the season. The Champions were Todd Burley in the headline DIRT 358-Modifieds, Tim Clemons in the DIRT Sportsman, Bret Belden in the DIRT Pro Stocks, Jeff Pastorella in the Pure Stocks, and Denny Tilison in the Slingshots.
When the 2001 racing season began, no one thought any driver would dominate the mighty DIRT 358-Modified division. After all, eleven different drivers visited victory lane in the previous year out of the thirteen races run. Enter Todd Burley, the driver of the Mirabito Fuel Group / Troyer No. 89b, racing in his third full season of competition at Utica-Rome. Burley simply dominated the track, with a total of seven feature wins, thirteen top fives, and fourteen top ten finishes enroute to his first career DIRT 358-Modified track title. It could not have been sweeter for the versatile Spencerport pilot.
Burley was dedicated to Utica-Rome as he made the nearly three hour trip from Western New York each Sunday night, as well as racing on Friday nights at Ransomville and also on the Super DIRT Series where he represented Utica-Rome with a fine fifth place points finish. He was the driver to beat at Utica-Rome week in and week out, and many times came from deep in the field to finish up front. He had the most laps led (115) and completed (430) of any driver at the speedway. Burley had such a dominant season that he was 154 points higher than second place finisher Ryan Baye. Completing the top five in points was Jason Barney in third, Gus Schmidt Jr in fourth, and J.J. Michaels in fifth. Jack Johnson, John Ramsey, Mitch Gibbs, Steve Hulsizer, and Paul Jensen rounded out the top ten.
The legendary veteran Jack Johnson was strong, winning three features out of four events in three weeks during June and July. J.J. Michaels and Mitch Gibbs won two features each, while John Ramsey, Ryan Baye, and Aaron Excell had one win apiece. Danny Johnson was victorious in the 100-lap Super DIRT Series Mother's Day event, while Alan Johnson closed out the 2001 season with his first Utica-Rome victory since 1987 in the Super DIRT Series 100. In all, nine different drivers visited victory lane in the 358-Modifieds out of a total of nineteen events. Billy Decker was the winner of the Big Block Modified Super DIRT Series 100-lap special in August.
Tim Clemons of Gloversville was a dominant driver in the DIRT Sportsman division, and it led him to his first career track title at Utica-Rome. Clemons beat the invaders in the Sportsman Super DIRT Series race, and won six other features to boot. Second in points was Willy Decker, followed by Jamie Christian, Paul Carey, and Kevin Crave. Jim Roberts, Bill Trexler Jr., John Christian, Gordy Button, and Steve Davis completed the top ten. Also winning features were Willy Decker with five victories, Jamie Christian with three, and Shawn Donath and Brian Murphy each with their first career win.
Bret Belden of West Edmeston only visited victory lane once during the regular points season but an incredible string of consistent top five finishes in every point race led him to the 2001 Utica-Rome DIRT Pro Stock track title. Belden was also track champion in 1990 and 1991. Jerry Holmes finished second by 18 points in what was the closest championship battle of the season at the track. Wayne Archer, Jason Rood, and Dave Moyer completed the top five in the point standings. Mark Effner, Brian Belden, Eric Vanderhoof, Mark Hoffman, and Gerry Newman filled the rest of the top ten positions.
Belden also won the Pro Stock Super DIRT Series race, leading all 25-laps for the second year in a row. Leading the way in feature wins was Holmes with seven triumphs, followed by John Pietrowicz with three, Bret Belden, Chad Ray, and Jason Rood with two each. Dave Moyer and Mark Hoffman both won their first career Pro Stock features.
Jeff Pastorella of Westmoreland simply dominated the Pure Stock division in 2001, with eleven total feature wins and his first track championship. Completing the top five in points were Waylan Wilczek, Jim Thomas, George Schulze, and Rob Seavy. Art Newman Jr., David Pope, Herm Staats, Les Lewis, and rookie Tim Nye rounded out the top ten. Dave Mannise won four features, and taking their first career wins were Schulze and Wilczek.
Denny Tilison of Cobleskill captured the Slingshot track championship, with Randy Marsh, Mike Teachout, A.J. Digsby, and Mike Waterman completing the top five. Leading in the win column was Mike Teachout with three wins, and two wins each to J.J. Courcy, Marsh, Dave Barrows, Tilison, and 13-year old Joe DeJohn. Waterman and Brian Thomas had one feature win apiece.
The 2002 race season at Utica-Rome Speedway is set to go green flag racing on May 5 for the 41st anniversary season opener. Weekly Sunday evening competition on the fast newly-clayed half mile will once again include the DIRT 358-Modifieds, DIRT Sportsman, DIRT Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks, and the entire season will lead up to the "New Yorker 150" event for the 358-Modifieds on September 15.
For more information, contact the speedway office at (315) 829-4557 or log on to the speedway website at www.newuticaromespeedway.com.
UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY 2001 FINAL POINT STANDINGS
DIRT 358-Modifieds - Todd Burley 814, Ryan Baye 660, Jason Barney 654, Gus Schmidt Jr. 632, J.J. Michaels 619, Jack Johnson 594, John Ramsey 584, Mitch Gibbs 539, Steve Hulsizer 536, Paul Jensen 517, Wayne Reutimann Jr. 506, Andy Romano 481, John Barker Jr. 450, Joel Thomas and Chad Ward 391, Ron Holmes 385, Bill Shantel Sr. 383, Roger Phelps 377, Ted Lamb Jr. 354, Pete Taylor 332, Aaron Excell 318, Jeff Kotary 227, Jim Rothwell 172, Mark Flach Jr. 158, Mike Schoonover 147.
DIRT Sportsman - Tim Clemons 698, Willy Decker 664, Jamie Christian 631, Paul Carey 562, Kevin Crave 475, Jim Roberts 447, Bill Trexler Jr. 443, John Christian 432, Gordy Button 429, Steve Davis 408, Bill Shantel Jr. 396, Dan Yankowski 393, Shawn Donath 374, Jessica Zemken 371, Shane Donath 368, Tom Denton 357, John Kinsella 319, Paul Kinney 297, Mike Button 286, Daryl Hagen 275, Tim Mayne 267, Steve Way 255, Brian Murphy 240, Tony Ross 235, Butch Reiter 194.
DIRT Pro Stocks - Bret Belden 840, Jerry Holmes 822, Wayne Archer 744, Jason Rood 696, Dave Moyer 620, Mark Effner 609, Brian Belden 596, Eric Vanderhoof 580, Mark Hoffman 577, Gerry Newman 571, Bill Knapp 568, Chad Ray 542, John Roese 500, Dave Meeks 455, Heath Carney 413, John Pietrowicz 411, Gus Gould 376, Doug Grimaldi 356, Ray Fancher 334, Chuck Jones 288, Jim Normoyle 262, Bob Gloska 256, Charlie Pike 146, Warren Williams 137, Stan Clark 133.
Pure Stocks - Jeff Pastorella 854, Waylan Wilczek 736, Jim Thomas 686, George Schulze 653, Rob Seavy 550, Art Newman Jr. 538, David Pope 526, Herm Staats 511, Les Lewis 479, Tim Nye 420, Joe Dote 392, Bill Mason 363, Brett Haman 358, Cody Streeter 314, Dave Mannise 296.
Slingshots - Denny Tilison 734, Randy Marsh 684, Mike Teachout 674, A.J. Digsby 656, Mike Waterman 624, Joe DeJohn 602, J.J. Courcy 364, John Powers 338, Dave Barrows 314, Jackie Botindari 186.