(Niagara Falls, New York) Dave Wollaber from nearby Ransomville, driving for car owner Vinnie Christiano, racing in only his second year of indoor competition, scored an improbable win over veterans Lou Cicconi, Colin Turnbull and Greg Furlong on...
(Niagara Falls, New York) Dave Wollaber from nearby Ransomville, driving for car owner Vinnie Christiano, racing in only his second year of indoor competition, scored an improbable win over veterans Lou Cicconi, Colin Turnbull and Greg Furlong on Saturday, January 6th, in the second race of the Bobcat of Buffalo Niagara Indoor Midget Series at the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center. The eighteen year old former high school athlete, who is studying mechanical engineering at the University of Buffalo, made a stunning pass for the lead on a momentous lap forty, which saw leader Cicconi suddenly veer into the infield and second place runner Furlong swing wide giving the youngster the room he needed. He then survived two cautions in the final ten laps to post the win in the fifty lap event.
The race had a total of nine cautions, three of which occurred before an official lap could be scored. When the first lap finally was completed, Furlong, from Hannibal, New York, and winner of the first series race, was leading, having beaten pole sitter Mark Sammut from London, Ontario, to the first turn. The lead didn't last long, however, as Cicconi from Aston, Pennsylvania, who set fast time earlier in the day and started fourth, rocketed into the lead on lap three, passing Furlong on the inside of turn one after clearing Turnbull from Cambridge, Ontario, and Sammut from London, Ontario, a lap earlier. From there the top five settled in, with Cicconi leading Furlong, Sammut, Wollaber, who started sixth, and Turnbull. They remained in that order until lap thirty-eight, surviving three cautions along the way. The veteran Cicconi deftly negotiated lapped traffic, while Furlong, another seasoned campaigner and winner of the first race in the series in December, stayed right with him as the other three lost ground.
On lap thirty-eight, Wollaber slipped past Sammut into third, taking Turnbull with him into fourth. Following a caution, Cicconi, led Furlong and Wollaber to the fateful lap forty. As Cicconi exited turn four his wheels suddenly spun and his car shot to the left into the infield, allowing Furlong to make a move for the lead, but as he tried to make the move, his car swung to the outside. With Cicconi in the infield and Furlong outside, Wollaber shot under Furlong to take the lead going into turn one, with Turnbull following him into second, as Furlong desperately tried to prevent the pass. Wollaber explained, "Furlong was running the outside pretty much the whole race and they were starting to lose the track a little, I think. They (Cicconi and Furlong) were starting to slow up. A couple of restarts before that they were gone. I was content with third, but then they started going away, and I started catching them. I thought, 'Maybe I've got a chance.' I was running the bottom because I had a clean line and I was sticking good. I got under him going through three and four. He checked up a little bit and gave me some light, and there you go. I'm not lifting."
Furlong described it this way, "Louie and I were running really good. Louie was really fast, and he's great in traffic. At the very end it seemed like he was starting to go away a little bit. His car was starting to slip and slide, and so was mine. The track was really going away. There wasn't much left. He just got loose, and I thought I'd capitalize. I went to the outside. I thought I had him. The car was working great and then my car just plowed, plowed like a snow plow and just would not turn. The 22 (Wollaber) got underneath me and I thought I better get going. I got a good run down the straightaway and I thought I'd get on the cushion and barrel through the corner, but I got into turn one and the car just plowed again and I got freight trained. From there on the car would just not turn. I tightened it up during a caution, but by then it was too late."
Cicconi gathered his car up with a great save after his lap forty tour of the infield, was able to get back on the track in fourth, and then quickly moved to third when Furlong had his handling woes. He offered this observation of the lap forty turn of events, "I was just relaxing and taking it easy trying to be smooth. I knew I was in good shape. (On lap forty) I was going in really hard. I just let the wheels up, spun the wheels and spun out. I don't know if there was something on the track or what. The whole night it didn't do it. Then one lap it did. It caught me by surprise. Then I saved it. I got by Furlong again, but these guys (Wollaber and Turnbull) were too strong. I just couldn't do it."
Turnbull was in the hunt all night and was able to take advantage when it counted after falling back to fifth in the early going. He was content to follow Wollaber as the race progressed. "When Dave passed anybody, I just followed him. When Louie went into the infield, I thought, 'When he comes back out we're going to meet in turn one, but I just got by. Early in the race I could get under Dave, but at the end he was just coming off better. I couldn't believe it. We found out after the race that we had a left rear tire going down, but that's no excuse. Dave definitely had us."
In the final accounting, it was Wollaber, Turnbull, Cicconi, Furlong, and youngster James Michael Friesen from St. Catharines, Ontario, in the top five spots in a very entertaining race.
The 25 lap B Main was a war of attrition as only five cars were running at the finish from a starting field of sixteen. Polesitter Jared Turnbull from London, Ontario, prevailed over defending champion Mike Stahl from Wheatfield, New York, and Wade Litt from Lyons, Ontario, in the contest which was punctuated by seven cautions.
Warren Mahoney from LeFroy, Ontario, beat Wayne Turnbull from Paris, Ontario, Mel Raab from Eggertsville, New York, and Litt, in the Ace Collision "Dash for Cash" for the midgets.
In spirited kart action, Brett Stratford from Mt Hope, Ontario, took his fourth straight win, capturing the Stock Heavy feature, and then his streak was broken by Wayne Baker from Holland, New York, who beat him in the Stock Light Feature. Cody Geldart from Mossley, Ontario was victorious in the Micro-sprints. Erick Rudolph from Ransomville took his second Junior Sportsman feature in a row, while Bob Baker from Holland, New York prevailed in the Spec Mod division. Stratford finished the evening's kart festivities by capturing the Stock Medium race, giving him two wins and a second on the night. There were over sixty karts in the pits from Canada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, as well as New York.
Notes: There was a fine crowd on hand on a cool clear night in Niagara Falls, a far cry from the snowy mayhem of the previous week..... Thirty-two midgets were on hand to take time..... Mike Stahl's chances of repeating as champion took a big hit as he struggled to make the feature after timing fifth fastest. He qualified through the B Main but an altercation during the race damaged his car, relegating him to an eighteenth place finish.....Likeable former champion Mike Tidaback from Little Falls, New Jersey, continued to have mechanical woes. A blown head gasket in the B Main left him out of the feature. He suffered a similar fate in the first event... There were two flips in the heat races. In the first, Bernie Kotarski from Holland, New York had something break going into turn two, causing his car to climb the wall and flip on its side. He was unhurt. In the second, ISMA star Joey Payne from Fairlawn, New Jersey, flipped violently on the backstretch after contact with sprint car legend Jack Hewitt from Troy, Ohio. His car careened into the foam blocks guarding the wall at the end of the stretch, momentarily stunning Payne when his car struck the foam roof-first and it pressed down on him from the force of the contact. A final scary incident occurred in the third heat when the No. 7M of Dan May from Mt Hope, Ontario, and another car made contact in turn four. The impact pushed a radiator hose against the header pipe of May's car, with the hose melting and spraying scalding hot water on the driver. May suffered burns to his stomach from the incident, but returned to start the feature..... The next event is on Saturday, January 26th. The series concludes on Saturday, March 9th, with the awarding of the Castrol Cup and the distribution of over $15,000 in point fund money.
Midget Feature Finish: (50 laps) Dave Wollaber, Colin Turnbull, Lou Cicconi, Greg Furlong, James Michael Friesen, Mark Sammut, Dan Lawrence, Jared Turnbull, Glen Halbing, Vinnie Christiano Jr., Warren Mahoney, Wayne Turnbull, Bob Reis, Wade Litt, Jack Hewitt, Dave McIntosh, Scott Nash, Mike Stahl, Dan May, Bill Mislin, and Mel Raab. DNQ: Bob Holmes, Norm Macleod, Pat Pontello, Joey Payne Jr., Justin Mapes, Bernie Kotarski, Mike Tidaback, Don Zrinski, Link Smith, Bob Watkins, and Ryan Bartlett. Heat winners were Raab, Mislin, Wayne Turnbull, and Mahoney.
Stock Light: Wayne Baker, Brett Stratford, Mike Adderly, Chris Winnen, Tim Fidanza, Dave Foti, Andrew Mihalics, Tim Barbeau, Ron Dailey, Steve Sim, Chris Thurston, Lance Yeager, Jay Bean, and Andrew Spurback.
Stock Medium: Brett Stratford, Tim Fidanza, Bob Baker, Wayne Baker, Dave Foti, Mike Scott, Mike Adderly, John Woodward, Chris Winnen, Jonathan Reid, Chris Thurston, Tobin Powe, Dan Miller, Steve Sim, and Kevin Ward.
Stock Heavy: Brett Stratford, Tim Fidanza, (The rest of the finish is being reviewed.)
Junior Sportsman: Erick Rudolph, Nick Herriven, Mike D'Ilardo, Adam Fusco, Doug Kline, Ryan Susice, Cody Wolfe, Bobby Herrington, Joey Evans, Lauren Simmons, Kaitlyn Quinlin, and Brandon Sherwood.
Spec Mod: Bob Baker, Matt Kelchlin, Larry Stolzenberg, and Mike Evans.