"Hot Shoe" Holmes set to defend Utica-Rome track championship

VERNON, NY - Popular driver Ronnie "Hot Shoe" Holmes of Oneida will begin defending his first ever Utica-Rome Speedway DIRT 358-Modified track championship beginning this Sunday May 6 during the 40th anniversary season opener at the ultra fast ...

VERNON, NY - Popular driver Ronnie "Hot Shoe" Holmes of Oneida will begin defending his first ever Utica-Rome Speedway DIRT 358-Modified track championship beginning this Sunday May 6 during the 40th anniversary season opener at the ultra fast half-mile track located in Vernon.

Holmes, 33, won two feature events last season on the way to his first ever Utica-Rome crown, and he is the only driver in the present day history of the speedway to score feature wins in each of the present day divisions. He was on the way to winning his biggest career win in the season ending Sunoco Race Fuels 358-Modified Super DIRT Series 100 on September 22, until he blew a motor while leading with eight laps to go. However, Holmes was still the season champion, and will lead the charge over all drivers during the 40-lap season opener to get an early jump on the 2001 title.

Holmes will have his hands full as there are many other top drivers looking to take the opening night win. Drivers such as last year's runner up Dale Planck, J.J. Michaels, Billy Wilcox, Roger Phelps, Todd Burley, Gus Schmidt, John Barker, Jack Johnson, Paul Jensen, Jason Barney, and Mitch Gibbs will all give Holmes a run for his money in the special 40-lap extra distance event.

A handful of invaders are also expected to tune up for the 100-lap Sunoco Race Fuels 358-Modified Super DIRT Series event scheduled for May 13. Race fans should not be surprised to see drivers such as Pete Bicknell, Andy Bachetti, Mike Romano, or even Ronnie Johnson on hand to challenge the regulars.

Last season out of 13 feature events run in the 358-Modified division, only Holmes and Burley were able to double up on feature wins. Drivers registering one win each include opening night surprise winner Andy Bachetti, Danny Johnson, John Barker, J.J. Michaels, Mitch Gibbs, Dale Planck, and Jack Johnson plus first time winners Ronnie Johnson and Jason Barney.

How will it all pan out this season in the mighty DIRT 358-Modified division at Utica-Rome? Will anyone dominate, or will there be multiple winners? Will Holmes be able to back up his title or will veteran driver J.J. Michaels win his first career and much deserved track crown? Without a doubt, it will again be one of the most competitive and exciting seasons ever in the 40-year history of the speedway.

Also scheduled during the opening night program on Sunday May 6 will be the first races of the 2001 season for the DIRT Sportsman, DIRT Pro Stocks, Pure Stocks, and Slingshots. Speedway management is expecting high car counts in every division to last through the entire season, as many new teams will be racing at the speedway.

You can be a part of the "Fastest Family Fun in Central New York" this summer at the Utica-Rome Speedway, a Sunday family tradition in the Mohawk Valley. The gates for the 2001 Season Opener on Sunday May 6 will open at 4pm and racing will begin at 6pm, with Slingshot heats taking the green from Starter Chip Burdick at 5:45pm. The speedway is located on Route 5 in Vernon, NY, and it is easily accessible from NYS Thruway Exit 33. Free parking and overnight camping is allowed on speedway grounds.

For more information, contact the speedway office at (315) 829-4557 or log on to the official website at www.newuticaromespeedway.com.

-URS-

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Series Stock car
Drivers John Barker