VERNON, NY- This past Sunday evening on September 12, 2 drivers used the season finale to put a exclamation point on their championship seasons while another capped off his best season ever with a victory. C-Weaver Chevy and Hanifin Tire &...
VERNON, NY- This past Sunday evening on September 12, 2 drivers used the season finale to put a exclamation point on their championship seasons while another capped off his best season ever with a victory. C-Weaver Chevy and Hanifin Tire & Service night saw Stewart Friesen take the $2500 top prize in the 358-Modified finale, Paul Carey taking the win to continue his breakout year in the Sunoco Race Fuels Sportsman Super DIRT Series race, and Russ Marsden cap off a dominating season when he won the $400 to win Pure Stock finale.
Mitch Gibbs and Bobby Varin brought the 24-car starting 358-Modified field down to Matt Burdick's green flag to start the 40-lap affair with Gibbs gaining the early lead. Varin would show some early muscle and take over the lead a lap later on lap 2. Varin would continue to lead the field with Gibbs close behind when the 1st yellow flag flew on lap 7 for the spun car of Gus Schmidt. At that point is was Varin, Gibbs, Stewart Friesen, Paul Kinney, and Jamie Christian riding in the top 5. When the racing resumed, Varin jumped out front again and began to open up a sizable lead. On lap 13, Friesen was able to get by the Gibb's Nice n' Easy machine and quickly set out for the leader Varin. Heavy lapped traffic would begin to play a role as Varin began lap cars at a quick rate while Friesen slowly chipped away at Varin's lead. At the halfway point of the race it continued to be Varin, Friesen, Gibbs, Todd Burley, and Christian riding in the top 5 spots.
By lap 22, Friesen was now stalking Varin as they both were negotiating traffic and several laps later on lap 27, Friesen saw Varin get hung up behind a slower car and made his move. Going into turn 1, Friesen found a lane that was being used by anyone and went by Varin for the lead and was scored as the official leader on lap 28. Despite a caution on lap 31 that brought Varin back to Friesen's rear bumper, the restart saw Friesen take off again. Varin would keep himself within striking distance of Friesen, but at the 21 year old Friesen would not make a mistake as he led to the finish. Varin would come home in 2nd with Burley charging from 13th to 3rd at the end. Gibbs would hang on to 4th with Christian crossing in 5th. The win capped off a stellar rookie season with his 8th win to go along with his 2004 Utica-Rome Speedway 358-Modified track championship. With his 2nd place finish, Varin earned a starting spot in the Victoria 200 All-Star race held at Fulton Speedway, which gives him an extra opportunity to qualify for the Victoria 200. Gibbs, Varin, and Friesen were the heat race winners.
Chad Phelps used the pole starting spot to his advantage as he took the lead over Bob Henry at the start of the 30-lap Sunoco Race Fuels Sportsman Super DIRT Series event. Henry would not let Phelps get away as he chased him around the fast half-mile in the early portion of the race. Jessica Zemken began to make some noise on lap 7 when she moved into the runner-up position while Russ Hefti followed her into 3rd. It took Hefti 2 circuits to get by Zemken as he then set his sights on the front running Phelps. Hefti and Phelps ran side by side for several circuits with Phelps holding off Hefti until lap 14 when Hefti was scored as the leader. Paul Carey quietly moved into 2nd when Hefti took the lead and immediately looked to take over the top spot. The halfway point saw Hefti, Carey, Scott George, Billy Price, and Henry in the top 5.
Lap 17 saw Carey make his move by Hefti as Carey was looking to win his first ever Sportsman series event. George slid by Hefti for 2nd and looked to be the fastest car on the speedway at the time as he quickly closed the gap between him and Carey. George hounded Carey lap after lap and exiting turn 4 on lap 23, George made his move. Carey was up high as George dove in turn on low side and slid up in front of Carey on the exit on turn 4, executing a classic slide job. George seemed to have the race in hand as he began to open up a comfortable lead. The defining moment of the race came on lap 27 when George drove into turn 1 too hard and jumped over the banking. Carey regained the lead on George's miscue with Hefti following through into 2nd. George recovered for 3rd and looked to make up for his mistake as again moved into 2nd by lap 28 and looked to get by Carey for the lead again. Time ran out for George as Carey held him off for the big $1500 payday. George crossed in 2nd, with Kevin Bates making a late charge to come home in 3rd, Hefti in 4th, and Bill Price rounding out the top 5. Phelps, Henry, Elmo Reckner, and Bill Price were the qualifying heat race winners with Eldon Payne and Mike Button winning the consolation events.
All-time Utica-Rome Speedway Pure Stock winner Dave Mannise immediately took control of the 20-lap Pure Stock main. Dan Hoffman was pressuring Mannise early but Mannise would repel any of Hoffman's attempts. Chuck Cushman and Russ Marsden, who started 19th and 21st respectively, quickly made their way to the front as they both were in the top 10 by the halfway point. Cushman was in the top 5 by lap 8 and was immediately pressuring the top 3 for position. Marsden's progress to the front brought him into the top 5 by lap 11 and like Cushman, he began to look for a way by the front runners. Cushman's efforts for the win would be for nothing as his motor expired on lap 13. Marsden gained control of the runner-up spot on lap 14 and with 5 to go, he was on Mannise's rear bumper. Marsden would show Mannise a bumper at every turn, but Mannise would not falter. Lap 19 would see Mannise make a rare mistake as he bounced off the front stretch wall which would end his bid for his 82nd career Utica-Rome Speedway win. Marsden would be handed the lead at that point which would be a lead he would not relinquish. Marsden would take the checkered flag with Art Newman having an outstanding run as he crossed in the 2nd position, with Paul Harrington, Nathan Peckham, and Mike Murphy crossing in the top 5 spots. Newman's fine efforts earned him a guaranteed starting spot in the Pure Stock portion of the Victoria 200 weekend at Fulton Speedway. Mannise, Hoffman, and Walt Koperda won the heat race events with Cushman the lone consolation winner.
With the 2004 racing now concluded at the Utica-Rome Speedway, the focus will now shift to the annual Awards Banquet which is held on November 13 at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort in Verona, NY. The track champions will be officially crowned on that evening plus special awards will be handed out in each division. Stewart Friesen will receive his $8,000 check for being the 2004 358-Modified track champion. The other track champions to be honored on that evening will be Jessica Zemken in the Sportsman, Roy Fifield in the Pro Stocks, George Catanzano in the IMCA Modifieds, Russ Marsden in the Pure Stocks, and Chuck Powelczyk in the Four Cylinder Super Stocks. Tickets for the awards gala are $30.00 per person and must be purchased in advance. For ticket information and orders, you can call Connie Plows at (315) 822-6336, Brenda Ann Belden at
(315) 855-7688, or Barb Clark at (315) 893-1822. For more information on the off season happenings at the Utica-Rome Speedway, please log on to the official speedway website at www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the (315) 822-6336.
C-WEAVER CHEVROLET/HANIFIN TIRE & SERVICE RACE SUMMARY
DIRT 358-MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (40 LAPS)- STEWART FRIESEN, Bobby Varin, Todd Burley, Mitch Gibbs, Jamie Christian, Paul Jensen, Dave Rauscher, Paul Kinney, Don Mattison, Gus Schmidt, Jeremy Smith, Donnie Wetmore Jr., Dave Bargabos, Josh Pieniezck, Mark Tily, Gordy Button, Ray Zemken, Steve Way, Joel Thomas, Stan Lemiesz, Brian McGuire, Bill Trexler Jr., Willy Decker, and Cass Bennett.
SUNOCO RACE FUELS SPORTSMAN SUPER DIRT SERIES FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- PAUL CAREY, Scott George, Kevin Bates, Russ Hefti, Adam Ferri, Chad Phelps, Kyle Inman, Boyd McTavish, Mike Zimmerman, Mike Button, Eldon Payne, Kenny Stafford, Donnie Wetmore Jr., Shawn Donath, Elmo Reckner, Kyle Lewis, Pat O'Hanlan, Tony Ballestero, Adam Smith, Matt Janczuk, Daryl Hagen, Jeremy Vunk, Kevin Wills, Lance Willix, Butch Reiter, Tim Nye, Waylon Wilczek, Jessica Zemken, and Rob Ledingham. DNS-Walt McArdell
PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH (15 LAPS)- RUSS MARSDEN, Art Newman, Paul Harrington, Nathan Peckham, Mike Murphy, Ron Hawker, Dan Hoffman Sr., Walt Koperda, Rick Condes, Dave Janczuk, Dave Fetterly, Herm Staats, Chris Cunningham, Ted Crawford, Frank Hyatt, Steve Woodworth, Dave Mannise, Ricky Marshall, Bob Bird, Chuck Cushman, Jim Thomas, Dan Hatch, Rusty VanLueben, and Dave Marcuccilli.