Utica-Rome 'Dig Safely NY' Sportsman season opener preview

"Dig Safely NY" Sportsman Super Dirt Series Opens At Utica-Rome Sunday May 13 VERNON, NY - The "Dig Safely New York" Sportsman Super DIRT Series will open its 2001 campaign this Sunday May 13 at the Utica-Rome Speedway with a 30-lap $1,000 to...

"Dig Safely NY" Sportsman Super Dirt Series Opens At Utica-Rome Sunday May 13

VERNON, NY - The "Dig Safely New York" Sportsman Super DIRT Series will open its 2001 campaign this Sunday May 13 at the Utica-Rome Speedway with a 30-lap $1,000 to win special event. Also in action will be the headline Sunoco Race Fuels 358-Modified Super DIRT Series in a 100-lap affair as well as the new Slingshot division. Race action will take the green at 6pm, with 358-Modified time trials at 5:30pm on the Mother's Day special, sponsored by NICE N' EASY GROCERY SHOPPES.

Defending race winner Steve Gray will lead all competitors in the special all-star event for the DIRT Sportsman division, which will offer a guaranteed starting spot for the Syracuse Mile 'Firecracker' event on July 3rd. Last year, Gray held off a hard charging Chris Schultz in the final laps to score his first career Utica-Rome and Super DIRT Series victory. Just some of the top invading names from the DIRT circuit on hand will be tough drivers such as Chad Brachman, Justin Haers, Jim Spano, Stewart Friesen, David VanHorn, and Randy Chrysler.

2000 Mr. DIRT Sportsman champion Matt Sheppard will not be in a Sportsman, as the talented driver who won six Super DIRT Series events last summer, has moved up to the tough DIRT 358-Modified division. Sheppard will compete in the 100-lap Super DIRT Series event for the mighty 358-Modifieds.

What home track regulars have a shot at the glory of defending their home turf from the invaders? Jamie Christian, seven-time winner during the 2000 season, is the best bet for a victory in the top race of the year at Utica-Rome for the Sportsman division. Christian simply dominated last year, holding off all other drivers (8) to one victory each. However, last year's track champion Kevin Crave could also be tough if he can find the handle of his new Bicknell machine. You also cannot forget popular local driver Willy Decker, who seems to be a driver to beat right now in his new TEO Pro car entry. Decker dominated opening night at Fulton Speedway and has established himself as a tough competitor for the new season.

Another driver that has to be considered a favorite is Mike Button, who will be competing in his first full season at Utica-Rome this year. Although he has never won a feature at the speedway, he is a former Mr. DIRT champion and many time feature winner/track championship holder at the Canandaigua and Cayuga County Fair Speedways.

Other top Utica-Rome regulars looking for the huge victory include Paul Carey, John Christian, Dan Yankowski, John Kinsella, Craig Pritchard, Jim Roberts, Steve Davis, Tony Ross, Paul Kinney, Tim Mayne, Ray Zemken, and two-time DIRT Pro Stock track champion Tom Denton.

The Sunoco Race Fuels 358-Modified Super DIRT Series will also be in action, bringing the very best names of the mighty 358-Modified division across Northeast to Utica-Rome for the 100-lap feature, paying $3,000 to the winner. Also in action will be the all-new Slingshot division.

Gates for the NICE N' EASY GROCERY SHOPPES Mother's Day sponsored program this Sunday May 13 at Utica-Rome Speedway will open at 4pm with 358-Modified time trials taking place at 5:30pm and racing hitting the track at 6pm. Free parking and overnight camping is allowed on speedway grounds.

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

-URS-

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