Cicconi Wins TQ Finale; Furlong Takes Title at Niagara Falls (Niagara Falls, New York) Lou Cicconi from Aston, PA, stormed to the lead midway in the race and cruised to a convincing and popular win in the 50 lap finale of four race Bobcat of...
Cicconi Wins TQ Finale; Furlong Takes Title at Niagara Falls
(Niagara Falls, New York) Lou Cicconi from Aston, PA, stormed to the lead midway in the race and cruised to a convincing and popular win in the 50 lap finale of four race Bobcat of Buffalo Niagara Indoor Midget Series at the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center on Saturday, March 9th before a large enthusiastic crowd. By virtue of his fifth place finish, Greg Furlong from Hannibal, NY, captured the Castrol Cup and the Championship, which was worth $1700. Cicconi, who set fast time earlier in the day, started in 7th position and bided his time until the track came to him. He took the lead on lap 30 and never looked back, winning comfortably over teenage sensation Dave Wollaber from nearby Ransomville, NY, who had won the previous two events and defending series champ Mike Stahl, from Niagara Falls, NY, who overcame a succession of bad luck to record a podium finish.
Dan May from Mt Hope, Ontario, took the lead from the pole over Stahl and Furlong. The order stayed that way until lap 16 when a four car scrum in turn one, caused when the No. 79 of Sprint car legend Jack Hewitt from Troy, Ohio, suddenly slowed on the front chute, brought out the first caution flag. The crash took out the No. 25 of Warren Mahoney from LeFroy, Ontario, the No. 41 of Glen Halbing from Union, New Jersey, and Hewitt. It was particularly tough on Halbing, president of the ATQMRA, who was sixth in points entering the feature. He ended up eighth.
On the restart May still lead but was being harassed by Stahl and Furlong. On lap 24 Cicconi, running sixth made a power move to pass Wollaber and Stewart Friesen, and the charge was on. On lap 25 he passed Furlong for third, and the following circuit he passed Stahl to claim second. On lap thirty he muscled past May into the lead.
Following a caution for a spin by Colin Turnbull from Cambridge, Ontario, and May, Cicconi checked out in the No. 75X while Stahl, Furlong and Wollaber battled for second. Following a caution for another spin by Turnbull, the No. 43 of former champion Mike Tidaback from Little Falls, New Jersey, and the No. 51 of Friesen from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, locked together and spun wildly in turn two with the No. 43 of Tidaback ending up on its side, bringing out the red flag. Tidaback said later that he lost his brakes and went over Friesen to start the incident. He noted that eventually the front of the Friesen car actually hit him in the tailbone as they came to a screeching halt. He was still sore after the race.
The final seven laps saw Cicconi leave the field to fight for second. Wollaber put the squeeze on Stahl as the No. 01 got very loose and took second on lap 48. Furlong, whose car began to run very hot, and whose motor began to pop, settled back to preserve a good finish and the title, surrendering fourth to a hard charging Joey Payne Jr., who started fifteenth.
Cicconi explained his victory. "The track was a lot better than it's been the last two times I was here. We had a good inside and a good outside. The car was really good. We changed it a little bit for the last practice. We kind of took a shot in practice to see if it would work. It worked and we left it like that. (Early in the race) I was behind Dave Wollaber and he was running just high enough I couldn't get around him on the outside and the outside wasn't quite in yet. I was waiting for the guys to get a little tired and make a little mistake here and there, and I just capitalized on it."
The youthful Wollaber, who finished second in points, turned in another stellar performance, once again drawing praise from his peers, especially Furlong and Cicconi. Furlong noted, "He's not only fast, but he's intelligent." Wollaber observed, "The car was awesome. It seems like every show my dad sets the car up for the end, obviously when I need it. I just hang on in fifth or sixth and then the car comes to me, right around the bottom. It was good high too, but that's not the fast way around."
For defending champion Stahl, it was a degree of vindication, after failing to finish in the first three races in the series. Even this third place finish was not easy. He noted, "I started blowing my brake fluid toward the end there. I had to pump up the brakes going into the turns. I was hanging on for dear life. I lost second to Wollaber when I got caught behind a lap car. I tried going on the outside of Dan May and couldn't get any bite. He snuck under me, got me at the right time."
Furlong, in his third year in the series, was ecstatic with the championship, after coming up only five points short to Mike Tidaback in his rookie year. He described his fortunes, "My rookie year I almost won the championship. I missed it by five points. It was Tidaback. He finished behind me (in the final race), but I had to pass one more car. The next year we came and ran like crap. We finished about eighteenth in points. This year we came right out of the box and won. The second race we should have had a top two, but Wollaber kind of got in between us (Cicconi and him). He wasn't the fastest car but he ran a good race. Last race I thought I had a better car, but I just couldn't get around him. He did exactly what he needed to do, and I finished second. Tonight he got by me. I was behind Stahl and I had a better car, but I just couldn't get by. I didn't want to be too aggressive, but I wanted to get by him. Things weren't going my way. Then one time my motor quit. It completely died. Then it came back on. This was early in the race. After that it started skipping and popping and it was running about 265 degrees and I was getting panicky. After that I just couldn't quite be that aggressive. (Winning the championship) is pretty important. To lead the whole thing, to come down to the wire, I didn't want to lose it. It's a good feeling. There are a lot of talented drivers (here)."
The B Main, won by Mark Sammut, from London, Ontario, was an event unto itself producing the most spectacular incidents of the night. On lap ten, Norm MacLeod from Cheektowaga, NY, brought out the red flag when his car flipped on its side on the back chute and careened into the foam blocks guarding the third turn- cage first. Though the cockpit filled with foam, the driver was unhurt, further testimony to the efficiency of the blocks in preventing injury. On the final lap, the No. 73 of Scott Nash from Red Creek, NY, lost a wheel after contact with the No. 93X, being driven by Wayne Turnbull on loan from Mel Raab. The wheel jumped straight up about thirty feet in the air after the contact, which also broke the front end of the No. 93X.
In fast-paced Kart action, the winners were Brett Stratford from Mt Hope, Ontario, in the Stock Heavy; Cody Geldart from Mossley, Ontario, with his fourth straight quarter midget win; Tim Fidanza from Middleport in the Stock Light; Erick Rudolph from Ransomville with his fourth straight Junior Sportsman victory; and Mike Adderley from Watertown, NY, in the Stock Medium division.
Notes: It was announced during the evening by promotor Harry Macy that contracts had been signed that will see the highly popular and successful series continued into the for-seeable future. This in spite of reports from some quarters that the Convention Center was earmarked as the sight for an anticipated casino in the Fall. The $15,000 point fund, largest in the country for an indoor series, provided by NResearch and CEO, Akos Sule, was swelled by $5,000 from the FOAR SCORE Fan Club.Chuck Hossfeld won the Ace Collision "Dash for Cash" for the midgets..The night got off to an inauspicious start as there was a red flag in the first turn of the first heat when four cars came together. Bill Mislin crossed the line first in the second heat, but was black flagged because he spun the leader, Mel Raab, in the final turn to do it. Former driver, now car owner, Vinnie Christiano, had all three of his cars qualify for the A Main- Wollaber, Vinnie Jr., and Hossfeld. In a remarkable show of strength and daring, Mike Bowman from St. Catharines, Ontario, after spinning early in the Stock Heavy Kart feature, flipped his kart later in the race, but as the kart went over, he put his arm out and pushed himself back up, continuing in the race. On the distaff side, Kristin Bicknell from St. Catharines, Ontario, daughter of modified great Pete Bicknell, logged a strong third in the Junior Sportsman division.
TQ Midget Feature: (50 laps) Lou Cicconi, Dave Wollaber, Mike Stahl, Joey Payne, Greg Furlong, Bob Reis, Vinnie Christiano Jr., Dave McIntosh, Colin Turnbull, Stewart Friesen, Bobby Holmes, Dan May, Mark Sammut, Mike Tidaback, Wayne Turnbull, Chuck Hossfeld, Jared Turnbull, Jack Hewitt, Glen Halbing, and Warren Mahoney. DNQ: Bernie Kotarski, Pat Pontello, Don Zrinski, Scott Nash, James Friesen, Norm MacLeod, Justin Mapes, Bill Mislin, Wayne Turnbull, and Mel Raab. Heat winners were Payne, Colin Turnbull, Stewart Friesen, and Hossfeld.
Top Ten Final Points and Point Fund Money: Furlong- 539 ($1700), Wollaber- 519 ($1525), Colin Turnbull- 447 ($1300), Mark Sammut- 418 ($1200), Lou Cicconi- 389 ($1100), Dave McIntosh- 383 ($925), Mike Stahl- 347 ($825), Glen Halbing- 337 ($700), Dan May- 332 ($625), and Jared Turnbull- 317 ($575).