VERNON, NY- The fans at Utica-Rome Speedway got their moneys worth on a full night of racing when Nice n' Easy Grocery Shoppes presented the Night of Legends Reunion and New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) Safety Awards Night. Willy...
VERNON, NY- The fans at Utica-Rome Speedway got their moneys worth on a full night of racing when Nice n' Easy Grocery Shoppes presented the Night of Legends Reunion and New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) Safety Awards Night. Willy Decker held off the hard charging Matt Sheppard, Dale Planck, and Mitch Gibbs to collect his first ever DIRT 358-Modified main at the speedway. Jessica Zemken also held off all comers to net her first ever DIRT Sportsman win in the Sunoco Race Fuels Super DIRT Series event. Bret Belden took his first win of the season in the Pro Stock event while the Pure Stock feature was delayed until next week. Phil Claussen, Bill Kisselstein, and John Macnamee took the top honors in the Midstate Vintage Stock Car Club.
Ray Zemken and RC Faigle brought the 25-car field down to starter Matt Burdick's green flag with Zemken grabbing the early advantage going into turn one. The first caution of the night came out on lap 3 when John Ramsey spun on the frontstretch after contact with Todd Burley's 89b. Burley was sent to the rear of the field for the incident.
On the restart, Zemken again jumped to the lead with Faigle in tow. Zemken's lead was short lived however as he went off the track in turn two. When the caution flew for Zemken, and he went after Faigle under caution, feeling he had help leaving the racing surface. Zemken was black flagged for his actions. The top five at this point were Faigle, Willy Decker, Kevin Crave, Mark Flach, and JJ Michaels.
When racing action resumed, Faigle continued to lead with Decker all over his rear deck lid trying to get the lead with Decker getting by on lap 10. Faigle fell to second, with Crave in third, Dale Planck coming from twelfth to fourth, and Flach riding in fifth. Caution flew again on lap 11 for a multi-car wreck in turn one involving JJ Michaels, Gus Schmidt, Dave Rauscher, and Jeff Kotary. Only Michaels was unable to continue.
Decker continued to lead the field when green flew again, and it stayed in front despite restarts for some minor cautions. At the halfway point it was Decker with heavy pressure now coming for a fast approaching Matt Sheppard, with Flach, Mitch Gibbs, and, after jumping the cushion while in second on lap 14, Planck was in the fifth position.
While Decker led, a hard fought battle for second was being waged behind him between Sheppard, Gibbs, and Planck. Burley had made his was back up to fifth on lap 22, only to drop out on lap 26. Decker held on to win his first ever Utica-Rome Speedway DIRT 358-Modified feature win, with Sheppard nipping Planck at the line for second. Gibbs came across the line in fourth and Crave came home fifth.
In the Sunoco Race Fuels Sportsman Super DIRT Series feature event, 17 year old Jessica Zemken and Paul Carey led the starting field to the green with Zemken leading the field by the end of lap 1. Despite heavy pressure from Tim Sears, Paul Carey, and Tim Clemons and seven caution flags, Zemken held on to lead all 30 laps to collect her first ever DIRT Sportsman event. Sears was second, with Carey, Clemons, and Chad Phelps filling out the top five.
Bret Belden came through a multi-car wreck on the opening lap to grab the lead in the DIRT Pro Stock main event. Belden would lead the rest of the main event to collect his first win of the 2003 season. Eric Vanderhoof, Jerry Holmes, Tom Denton, and Jim Normoyle finished in the top five.
The Pure Stock Feature completed 6 laps, but two hard wrecks had left the speedway with no ambulance and a Grateful Dead concert going on across the street, a decision was made to run the final 9 laps next week.
NOTES- 26 DIRT 358-Modifieds, 29 DIRT Sportsman, 16 DIRT Pro Stocks, and 19 Pure Stocks came through the back gate for the night's activities. Winners of the 358-Modified heats were Ray Zemken, Jeff Kotary, and Dave Rauscher with John Ramsey taking the consolation event. Jessica Zemken, Paul Carey, and Chad Phelps were the victors in the DIRT Sportsman qualifying heats, with Buddy Hencke and Jim Normoyle taking the Pro Stock heats, and Chuck Cushman and Jim Thomas winning the Pure Stock heats. In the Midstate Vintage Stock Car Club heats, Bill Kisselstein was the highest finishing 50's car, Pat Sonnenberg took the 60's class, and Gary Bylerly won the 70's division. During intermission, drivers from Utica-Rome Speedway's storied past were honored as part of the "Night of Legends Reunion". Jessica Zemken joined Gerry Newman as a female feature winner at the half-mile oval. When Zemken took the checkered, the large Utica-Rome Speedway crowd roared their approval as it proved to be a very popular win.
Coming up next Sunday July 6, Nice n' Easy Grocery Shoppes presents an "Independence Weekend Fireworks Spectacular" featuring the Empire Super Sprints plus an exciting night of "live" DIRT racing with a regular show of DIRT 358-Modifieds, DIRT Sportsman, DIRT Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks. The final 9 laps of this week's Pure Stock feature will also be completed. A fireworks display will light up the night skies above the Vernon oval after the night's activities.
NICE N' EASY GROCERY SHOPPES NIGHT
DIRT 358-MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- WILLY DECKER, Matt Sheppard, Dale Planck, Mitch Gibbs, Ted Lamb, Kevin Crave, Mark Flach, Jim Rothwell, Chuck Hebing, RC Faigle, Jeff Kotary, Gus Schmidt, Dave Rauscher, Pete Taylor, Mark Tily, Joel Thomas, Todd Burley, Paul Jensen, Kory Gurney, Aaron Jacobs, JJ Michaels, Todd Thomas, Tim Harris, John Ramsey, and Ray Zemken. DNS- Paul Kinney. DNQ- Ted Teal.
SUNOCO RACE FUELS SPORTSMAN SUPER DIRT SERIES FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- JESSICA ZEMKEN, Tim Sears, Paul Carey, Tim Clemons, Chad Phelps, Jim Roberts, Jamie Christian, Jason Potter, John Scarborough, Loren Lincoln, Tim Mayne, Steve Way, John Pfeffer, Billy Price, Jeremy Vunk, Tim Nye, Lance Willix, Stan Jablonka, Butch Reiter, Elmo Reckner, Josh Flint, Mike Button, Tim Dwyer, George Dyer, Eldon Payne, Bill Shantel Jr., Russ Hefti, Donnie Wetmore Jr. DNS- John Johnson.
DIRT PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (15 LAPS)- BRET BELDEN, Eric Vanderhoof, Jerry Holmes, Tom Denton, Jim Normoyle, AJ Digsby, Buddy Hencke, Chad Ray, Dave Moyer, Stan Clark, Ed Ostrander, Bill Knapp, Joe Palmer, Jason Rood, Eric Nelson, and Brian Belden.
MIDSTATE VINTAGE STOCK CAR CLUB 50'S AND 60'S TOP 5- PHIL CLAUSSEN (60's), Pat Sonnenberg (60's), BILL KISSELSTEIN (50's), Jim Hilimire (60's), and Jamie Banstar (60's).
MIDSTATE VINTAGE STOCK CAR CLUB 70'S TOP 5- JOHN MCNAMEE, Gary Byerly, Scot Gates, Lawry Siemens, and Gwen Williamson.