Utica-Rome Speedway report 2002-08-04

Jumpin' Jack Johnson dominates for third win of 2002 on Triple B Welding Night. VERNON, NY - The legendary Jumpin' Jack Johnson of Duanesburg started thirteenth and dominated the 30-lap 358-Modified feature last Sunday at Utica-Rome Speedway on...

Jumpin' Jack Johnson dominates for third win of 2002 on Triple B Welding Night.

VERNON, NY - The legendary Jumpin' Jack Johnson of Duanesburg started thirteenth and dominated the 30-lap 358-Modified feature last Sunday at Utica-Rome Speedway on Triple B Welding Night. Johnson, 57, took the lead on lap 8 from early leader Jeff Kotary and rode on to the popular victory, his third on the 2002 season. The win for the veteran driver behind the wheel of the Sprint PCS No. 45 TEO Modified was worth $1,500.

Jeff Kotary and Dave Rauscher paced the 30-lap 358-Modified feature on Triple B Welding Night down to the flags of Starter Matt Burdick with Kotary racing out to the early lead. By the end of lap five, the top five drivers were Kotary, Willy Decker, Jim Rothwell, Paul Kinney, and Ryan Baye.

Jack Johnson was on the charge as he raced up into the eighth position by lap 6. Johnson was simply flying around the speedway, as he continued to pick up more spots. Several quick yellows bunched up the field, enabling Johnson to prove his worth as he raced up into the top five. On a lap 8 restart, Johnson flew down the backstretch, racing from fourth to second, and by the time he was between three and four, dove underneath Kotary for the race lead in an amazing move.

Kotary was still there pressuring but Gordy Button went past him for second on lap 12. At the halfway mark of the Triple B Welding 358-Modified main event, the top five was Johnson, Button, Gus Schmidt, Kotary, and Willy Decker. J.J. Michaels appeared to be the next driver on the move, as he split two cars out of turn two to go from seventh to fifth on lap 16.

Meanwhile, Johnson began opening a lead with Button still holding onto second as the laps continued to pass. Johnson narrowly missed the stopped car of Aaron Jacobs on lap 24 in turn two, but that did not phase the veteran as he continued the lead. On lap 26, second place driver Gordy Button hit the dirt pile in turn two, sending him around facing traffic. Button collected Bob Savoie and Dave Rauscher, with Savoie suffering the most damage of the evening.

On the final restart, Johnson went on cruise control to the finish. The real battle over the last several laps was between J.J. Michaels and Jason Barney who were dueling for fourth position. As the checkers flew, Johnson was the winner by 1.456 seconds over Gus Schmidt, Ryan Baye, J.J. Michaels, and Jason Barney. Completing the top ten it was point leader Matt Sheppard, Jeff Kotary, Mitch Gibbs, Jim Rothwell, and Gordy Button who recovered to finish tenth.

"The car was real good tonight, said Johnson in victory lane after his third win of the year. "We had a good setup, and the car was good everwhere, top or bottom. It is a heck of a racecar. We got off to a slow start this season, but things seem to be coming around."

The win for Johnson was the seventh 358-Modified victory and twenty-sixth victory overall of his career at the track he once formerly owned with Jim Beachy and Fred Burrows. Six cautions slowed the pace of the event, which was completed in 26 minutes and 38 seconds. Jim Rothwell, Jack Johnson, and Willy Decker claimed modified heat victories.

Daryl Hagen of North Syracuse won his first ever Sportsman feature at the speedway after leading the entire 20-lap distance from the outside pole. Jim Roberts, Brian Murphy, Kevin Crave, and Paul Carey were the remainder of the top five finishers in the rain-delayed feature from last week.

Tim Mayne of New Berlin won the regularly scheduled 20-lap Sportsman feature after leading the entire distance from the outside pole. Kevin Crave, Dan Yankowski, Jamie Christian, and Butch Reiter completed the top five drivers. Sportsman heat wins went to Yankowski, Mayne, and Tom Denton.

Buddy Hencke of Sand Lake claimed the 15-lap victory in the rain-delayed Pro Stock feature in a photo finish over Jason Rood. Hencke came from the eleventh starting position to lead only the final lap by inches in the exciting finish. Rood had to settle for second with Jim Normoyle third, Denny Smith fourth, and Joe Palmer completing the top five. Rood was the early leader until Jim Normoyle led for just one circuit on lap 13, with Rood taking the lead back as the white flag flew. The win for Hencke was the sixth of the 2002 season.

Joe Palmer of Leonardsville won his first Pro Stock feature since 1998 after coming from the sixth starting position to take the lead on lap 10 from early leader Gerry Newman, who finished second. Third was Bret Belden, fourth was Buddy Hencke, and fifth was Bill Knapp in the 15-lap regularly scheduled feature. A.J. Digsby and Palmer won the Pro Stock heat events.

Jim Thomas of Marcy collected his first 15-lap Pure Stock feature win at Utica-Rome since 1997. Thomas started fourth, took the lead on lap 2 from early leader Claude Hutchings, and rode on to the popular victory. Waylan Wilczek, Dave Mannise, Art Newman Jr, and Jeff Thorp completed the top five finishers. Rick Condes and Thomas were the heat race winners.

Coming up this Sunday August 11 is Wilber-Duck Chevrolet Night featuring Twin 30's for the 358-Modifieds, Twin 15's for the DIRT Pro Stocks, Twin 15's for the Pure Stocks (Includes the rain-delayed features from July 28 for 358-Modifieds and Pure Stocks), and a regular show for the Sportsman division on what promises to be an action packed evening of racing. The gates will open at 4pm with racing beginning at 6pm. For more information, contact the track office at (315) 829-4557 or visit www.uticaromespeedway.com.

PIT NOTES -- It was the 3rd annual "Night of Legends Reunion" with over 25 of the past competitors of the speedway in attendance. Many nostalgic items including antique stock cars, photos, movies and more were on hand in the concession area. New York State Stock Car Association (NYSSCA) Safety Awards went to Jack Johnson, Tim Mayne, Joe Palmer, and Jim Thomas, while veteran Joel Thomas was the Wild Card winner. Each driver received an extra $50 from NYSSCA for their efforts and for being NYSSCA members. Jack Johnson posted the fastest time of the feature on lap 14 with a 20.598 at 87.387mph. Eight different winners have graced victory lane in the Modified division to date: Gibbs (2), Button, Burley (2), Schmidt, Danny Johnson, Steve Hulsizer, J.J. Michaels, and Jack Johnson (3). The Modified chassis win count: TEO 6, Troyer 4, and Bicknell 2.

-urs-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Jim Roberts , Brian Murphy