Utica-Rome race report 2001-07-08

VERNON, NY - "The Tornado" Todd Burley of Spencerport scored his third DIRT 358-Modified feature victory of the season at Utica-Rome Speedway last Sunday night on Family Autograph Night. Burley, 30, started ninth and took the lead from defending...

VERNON, NY - "The Tornado" Todd Burley of Spencerport scored his third DIRT 358-Modified feature victory of the season at Utica-Rome Speedway last Sunday night on Family Autograph Night. Burley, 30, started ninth and took the lead from defending track champion Ron Holmes of Oneida with a controversial slide job on lap 14 and rode on to the victory in the Mirabito Fuel Group/Troyer machine, worth $1,500. Holmes was none too pleased with the move, and it now appears that an intense rivalry is developing between the pair of top drivers.

Also winning were Tim Clemons of Gloversville in the DIRT Sportsman, Jerry Holmes of West Winfield in the DIRT Pro Stocks, Dave Mannise of Fulton in the Pure Stocks, and Denny Tilison of Cobleskill in the Slingshots.

Bill Shantel Sr. and Pete Taylor paced the headline 30-lap DIRT 358-Modified feature event down to the green flag from Starter Chip Burdick, and Taylor raced out to the early lead. Ryan Baye took control after a lap 4 restart, but taking over second was defending track champion Ron Holmes. Holmes, who was hungry for his first victory of the season, raced into the lead on lap 7, but just one lap later, Todd Burley took over the second position. On a lap 11 restart following a broken rear end for J.J. Michaels, Burley worked underneath Holmes in an entertaining battle for the lead, just as another minor yellow came out two laps later.

On the restart, Burley went high into turn one, diamonded the corner, and pulled a tremendous slide job on Holmes to take the lead. However, they made contact on the out of turn two the next lap, allowing Baye to go momentarily get by for the lead, but Burley took the top spot as they raced out of turn four. Holmes bobbled because of the contact and fell to third, with Baye in second. At the halfway point, Burley was the leader, followed by Baye, Holmes, Schmidt, and Hulsizer.

On lap 20, the best career race at Utica-Rome for Ryan Baye ended, with a broken driveshaft, giving second back to Holmes. As the race wore on, four time track champion Paul Jensen made his presence known, as he raced well into the top five, taking over third from Gus Schmidt with just four laps to go. From there on out, it was all Todd Burley, who opened up a commanding lead in the final laps as he rode on to his third victory of the season, his sixth career triumph at Utica-Rome. Holmes was second, Jensen third for his best finish of the season, Schmidt fourth, and Hulsizer fifth. Pete Taylor, Jason Barney, Ted Lamb Jr., Chad Ward, and Wayne Reutimann Jr. completed the top ten.

Following the race, Holmes showed his displeasure with Burley by nearly running him into the infield as the cars completed their cool down lap, and he also skipped victory lane ceremonies as normally the top three are interviewed.

"I guess he does not like to get passed," said Burley who felt that he pulled a perfectly clean slide job on Holmes.

Holmes, who let Burley drive his backup car at Utica-Rome last season to keep him in the points after his car was stolen in Canada, felt differently. "That was definitely not a clean pass, he has been doing that to everyone," said an obviously upset Holmes, who was also second to Burley on June 10. "I had to hit the brakes when I shouldn’t have had to. If I didn’t, I would have been wrecked."

Even though an intense rivalry appears to have developed, Burley was excited to have won his third victory of the year. He took over the points lead from Jack Johnson, who was racing the Big Block Super DIRT Series event in Cornwall, Ontario. "This car works real well here at Utica-Rome, and we’ve been good all year," said the driver of the Mirabito Fuel Group/New England Race Fuels/Sweet Racing Promotions/Troyer Engineering No 89b.

Wayne Reutimann Jr. and Holmes were the victors in the 358-Modified heats.

Point leader Tim Clemons won his fourth DIRT Sportsman feature event of the season last Sunday. Clemons came from the twelfth starting position to take the lead from Bill Trexler Jr. on lap 8 and lead the remainder of the 20-lap distance. Completing the top five were Trexler, Willy Decker who came from the rear after an early race accident, Jamie Christian, and John Christian. Trexler, Tony Ross, and John Christian were the Sportsman heat race victors.

Point leader Jerry Holmes took advantage of John Pietrowicz’s spin-out in turn four while leading with just four laps remaining to win his fourth 15-lap feature of the season in the DIRT Pro Stock division. Dave Meeks and former champion Wayne Archer led the opening circuits, until Pietrowicz took command on lap 4. With just four laps remaining Pietrowicz spun on his own, collecting Archer and Meeks, and giving the lead and win to Holmes, who started thirteenth. Jason Rood was second by less than a foot over Bret Belden, who finished third. Eric Vanderhoof and Mark Effner rounded out the top five. Holmes and Dave Moyer won the Pro Stock heat races.

All-time Pure Stock winner Dave Mannise won his third feature of the season, after coming from the twenty-second starting position in the 15-lap caution filled affair. Mannise took the lead from Art Newman Jr. on lap 5 and rode on to the victory, with Newman in second, Waylan Wilczek in third, Joe Dote in fourth, and point leader Jeff Pastorella in fifth. Brett Haman and Pastorella won the Pure Stock heat races.

Current point leader Denny Tilison won his first career 15-lap Slingshot feature event by taking the lead with three laps to go from early leaders Mike Waterman and Mike Teachout. Dave Barrows, Randy Marsh, A.J. Digsby, and John Powers rounded out the top five. Waterman won the lone Slingshot heat event.

Notes - 17 358-Modifieds, 26 Sportsman, 21 Pro Stocks, 21 Pure Stocks, and 8 Slingshots were in attendance for Family Autograph Night at Utica-Rome. Top drivers John Barker and Mitch Gibbs were missing due to motor problems, while former points leader Jack Johnson was at the Super DIRT Series event at Cornwall. Roger Phelps is still out of action due to severe burns suffered at Can-Am. The Modified chassis win count: Troyer 5, TEO 3, and Bicknell 1. The popular family autograph session was held in the midway area during intermission, but rushed along due to rain being in the area. The entire show was completed by 9pm. Coming up next Sunday July 15 at Utica-Rome will be Federated Auto Parts Night, featuring a regular program of DIRT 358-Modifieds, DIRT Sportsman (Non-Point Race), DIRT Pro Stocks, Pure Stocks, and Slingshots. The Federated Auto Parts NASCAR Craftsman Truck driven by Kenny Schrader will be on display throughout the evening in the midway area. Race time is set for 6pm. To catch up on the latest news, point standings, driver rosters, action photos, and more, log on to the official website at www.newuticaromespeedway.com.

-NURS-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Pete Taylor , Wayne Reutimann , John Barker