Little Valley report 2002-09-07

Andrews romps at Little Valley; Barton captures LM championship. (Little Valley, NY) Todd Andrews from Eldred, PA, who has been having a sub par year for him at Little Valley, brought a new car and a new attitude to the track on Saturday, ...

Andrews romps at Little Valley; Barton captures LM championship.

(Little Valley, NY) Todd Andrews from Eldred, PA, who has been having a sub par year for him at Little Valley, brought a new car and a new attitude to the track on Saturday, September 7th, and the result was awesome. Not only did he blow away the competition in the 25 lap Late Model Feature, he won by an incredible half a lap, against a good field of late models. The win vaulted him into 5th place in the final standings, earning him some extra cash. The title and $1200 went to "King Richard," Dick Barton from Ashville, whose third place run gave him an eighteen point advantage over runner-up Ron Davies.

Andrews bolted to the front on the first recorded lap from his fourth place starting position, swinging wide and powering his way to the lead, after a spin in turn one wiped out the original start. As he began to pull away, a caution flew when the No. 40 of Dutch Davies spun in turn two, collecting Barton, and forcing the two of them to restart at the rear of the field. When the race resumed Andrews led Mike Wonderling, who made a dazzling move on Barton to win his heat race, David Scott, who started sixth but was on the charge early, and Ron Davies, who started ninth and found the low groove to his liking.

A spin one lap later brought out the caution, and produced one change at the front as Davies got by Scott for third on lap five. Cautions on laps seven and eleven saw no change in the running order, but Barton had moved into contention after the early altercation put him at the rear of the field. >From there on the race went green, with Andrews checking out on the field, increasing his lead on virtually every lap.

Four cars battled for second, with Wonderling, whose car was stout all night, battling Davies, Scott, and Andy Kania, while Barton made his relentless march forward, moving into fourth by the sixteenth lap as Davies began to fade. By lap twenty the race for second was between Scott and Wonderling, with Scott finally prevailing.

One final bit of drama remained as Barton completed his comeback by claiming third on the final turn of the last lap, slipping by Wonderling on the inside, and consigning him to a hard earned fourth. Kania rounded out the top five.

Andrews was fairly low key about the win, giving the credit to his new car, which he practiced with at his own track, noting, "It was better than I thought it would be. When you roll out a new car like that, you're fortunate to win. We would have liked to have had it for last week. We got her together this week. We tested it at home Thursday night, and it turned out good for us. The new car gave me the feeling that I couldn't get all year long. I feel it now."

Scott, who finished a distant second, explained how his strategy changed from last week, "I ran a lot different tire combination tonight than I did last week, and set the car up to run right around the bottom. Last week we ran the cushion and set the car up to run there, but it was so far around the race track. Barton beat us on what we did tonight last week, so I put soft tires on and ran in the infield. It worked out. We got second and made a little money."

The companion feature was a 25 lap 358 modified race, which was a qualifier for Super Dirt Week at Syracuse and the All Star race on Victoria weekend at Fulton. Rookie driver Chad Brachmann from North Tonawanda, who has been having a strong campaign in his first season in the modifieds, drove a race that was almost a mirror image of Andrews' late model effort, as he shot to the lead from his sixth place starting spot after only two laps and proceeded to drive away from the field. By the halfway mark he had a twenty car advantage over second place runner, Jamie Turner from Caistre Centre, Ontario.

The only caution of the contest occurred on lap thirteen when the No. 1X of Willy Decker from Vernon rolled to a stop in turn two. Brachmann restored his advantage in short order when the green flag flew once more, and the only question was who would finish second and get one of the two guaranteed spots. Turner held it for the entire distance, outlasting Robbie Krull from Lockport, who made a strong bid on lap twenty-four, but couldn't get by and had to settle for third. Tim Murdock, who made the long tow from Georgetown, Ontario, was fourth, followed by Scott Wood from St. Catharines, Ontario, to round out the top five.

Brachmann was understandably pleased with the result, commenting, "This is our first time being here, and what an awesome facility this place is. The track stayed pretty bitey all night. We were pretty surprised about that. We had a great car right out of the box, and we didn't turn a bolt all night. I owe that to Bicknell Racing Products. They set us on the right track, and Mike Bumpers Excel Engine Machines puts an awesome power plant under the hood of this car." Brachmann noted that it only took him a few laps get a feel for the track, adding, "It really came quick. The track has a lot of resemblance to Rolling Wheels, so I kind of went back to that. The track just stayed great all night."

In other action, Doug Ricotta scored an emotional win in the twenty lap Super Stock Feature, outlasting a strong bid by point leader Bill Holmes from Chaffee. The race also produced the scariest event of the evening as Jack Harrington bounced off the concrete guarding an infield building on the front chute after being bumped in the heavy going. The driver was fine, not so for the car, which sustained heavy damage.

Gary McDowell from Smethport took the early lead and looked to be the class of the field. Ricotta was in second by lap five and Holmes, running his patient style, picked his way forward to lie third a short time later. The two then battled for second, while McDowell paced the field. A caution on lap ten slowed proceedings, and when the green flew again, Ricotta made a strong bid for the lead, actually getting a fender under McDowell at times, but never completing a pass.

Then on lap thirteen the race took a dramatic turn as McDowell suddenly slowed and ducked into the pits with what appeared to be a right front flat, handing the lead to Ricotta. Holmes and Ricotta then fought for the lead. On lap eighteen Holmes got under Ricotta in the third turn but Ricotta slammed the door and Holmes got off the throttle. Holmes, who never gives up, tried again on the final lap, with the two going side by side down the backstretch, but Ricotta was able to hold him off for the win. Ricotta explained the dramatic moment, declaring, "It's been a rough year. Billy's a good racer. I shut the door on him. I had to get the victory. He didn't push the issue. He gave me everything I deserved down there and tried to get me out of the way. He's the man, you know. He's the one to beat. That's what I was racing for, to beat Holmesee."

The fifteen lap Street Stock Feature went to Jason Schoonmaker from Salamanca, who took the lead from Rob Stromecki from Freedom on lap six and drove away for the win. Jim Kennerknecht, who trailed by two points going into the night, made a nice recovery after starting twenty-second following problems in his heat. The Erie, PA, driver threaded his way up to fifth to keep his title hopes alive going into the final race on September 21st. Point leader Wayne Mohawk from Irving finished second.

In the final event of the evening, Wayne Osgood from Little Valley won the rugged ten lap Bus Feature over point leader Kenny Foster, also from Little Valley, in a race that saw one bus flip and another blow an engine.

NOTES: The top five drivers in points in the Late Models shared $3000. In addition to the $1200 that went to Barton who finished with 145 points, others that cashed were Ron Davies with 127 points ($600), David Scott with 122 ($500), Andy Kania with 113 ($400), and Andrews who slipped into fifth with 108 points by virtue of his win ($300)In the 358s Brachmann chose the guaranteed starting spot in the Victoria All Star race, since he already had a Syracuse position, while Jamie Turner got the Syracuse SDW spot..There were 112 cars in the pits and a fine crowd on hand in perfect weatherThe track crew did an excellent job on the racing surface, attested to by the drivers, a task made more difficult by the spate of hot dry weather in the region recently, which makes track preparation a real challenge.The final event of the season is on September 21st when the Big Block Modified Tour, led by North Boston's Ron Smoker, and the Empire Super Sprints, led by Mike Woodring from Eden bring double barreled action to the Speedway. Super Stocks, Street Stocks, and Buses will also compete, with the rained out Open Cockpit Reunion an added bonus. Racing gets under way at 6:00.

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Series Stock car
Drivers David Scott