Utica-Rome race report 2001-08-12

Gibbs Holds Off Burley For Second Win Of The Season A Utica-Rome On Nice N' Easy/F.X. Caprara Night VERNON, NY -- Former track champion Mitch Gibbs of North Norwich came from the eleventh starting position to win his second 30-lap ...

Gibbs Holds Off Burley For Second Win Of The Season A Utica-Rome On Nice N' Easy/F.X. Caprara Night

VERNON, NY -- Former track champion Mitch Gibbs of North Norwich came from the eleventh starting position to win his second 30-lap DIRT 358-Modified feature of the season last Sunday at Utica-Rome Speedway on Nice N' Easy Grocery Shoppes / F.X. Caprara Car Companies night. Gibbs, 38, ran the top side of the speedway to take the lead from Ryan Baye on lap 21 and held off the furious last lap charge of point leader Todd Burley for the popular victory. The win for the driver of the Cossitt Concrete / TEO No. 2G was worth $1,500.

Other winners were Tim Clemons of Gloversville in the DIRT Sportsman, Chad Ray of Verona in the DIRT Pro Stocks, and Jeff Pastorella of Westmoreland in the Pure Stocks.

John Ramsey and Chad Ward led the 25-car starting field down to the flags of Starter Dick Sweet, with Ramsey grabbing the race lead. Early on in the event, many of the top drivers started making their moves from deep in the pack, especially Todd Burley, who went three wide on lap five to take the seventh position. Ryan Baye and Ted Lamb had their own battle as they raced side by side for several laps until Baye took over second on lap 6. Baye was on a mission to win his first career feature, as he raced right around Ramsey for the lead just two laps later and opened up a commanding lead.

Burley was still flying, as he moved into the top five and raced into fourth on lap 10 when he passed Jason Barney. He continued his march to the front as he raced with Lamb for third in a side by side battle for several laps, until he finally got around on lap 13. By this time, Baye had a straightaway lead in his quest for his first career win, as eventual winner Mitch Gibbs raced into fifth.

At the halfway mark of the 30-lap event, the top five was Baye, Ramsey, Burley, Roger Phelps and Gibbs. On a lap 15 restart, Gibbs went right to the topside of the speedway and went around Roger Phelps for fourth. It seemed as though someone turned on the rocket boosters on the Gibbs machine, as he worked the outside groove, and took over third from a surprised Burley just one lap later. Gibbs was getting his best run in the middle of the turn and coming off, and he thrilled the fans with a flying pass by John Ramsey for second on lap 18.

Burley took over third from Ramsey on a lap 19 restart, but by this time Gibbs had caught Baye and put some serious pressure for the lead. The pair raced side by side for nearly two laps with Baye low and Gibbs high, until Gibbs took command on lap 21. Burley quickly caught Baye, and with a daring move he took over second on lap 24. Baye would not give up, and pulled a slidejob off of turn four, slamming the door and retaking second. However, Burley regained the spot and began reeling in Gibbs as the final laps ticked by.

With just two circuits remaining Burley was right there in contention, but just didn't seem to have enough to win the race. With just one to go, the caution came out, and it set up a thrilling battle for the race win. On the restart, Burley was able to get underneath Gibbs, and the pair raced side by side as the Utica-Rome race fans rose to their feet. Through the first and second turn, they were alongside each other, but as they raced down the backstretch and into turn three, Gibbs powered out in front. From there on out, it was all Gibbs who raced to his second win of the 2001 season at Utica-Rome, the sixteenth victory of his career at the track. Burley, who started thirteenth, had to settle for second, followed by Baye in third, Roger Phelps in fourth, and John Ramsey in fifth. Jason Barney, Andy Romano, Frankie Caprara, Ted Lamb, and Gus Schmidt completed the top ten.

"That's a bad place to be on a restart with one to go," said Gibbs in reference to the final lap. "This crew never gives up, and it's a great win for our team. I don't really know if I could have caught Baye," he said.

Gibbs' win just a month ago at Utica-Rome came while he was subbing for the injured Roger Phelps in the Beesmer's Furniture No. 99, so this was the first victory of the season for Gibbs in his self-owned Cossitt Concrete No. 2G / TEO Pro Car. It capped off a spectacular weekend for Gibbs, who won at Afton on Friday, placed second at Five Mile Point on Saturday, and won last Sunday at Utica-Rome.

Four yellows slowed the event, all for minor spins or mechanical problems. J.J. Michaels, runner-up in points heading into the event, broke a driveshaft on lap 5, dropping him from second to fifth in the standings. Gibbs, Ramsey, and Chad Ward won the 358-Modified heats.

DIRT Sportsman point leader Tim Clemons continued his dominance of the division by winning his seventh feature of the season. Clemons started in eighteenth and steadily worked his way to the front, taking the lead from John Christian on lap 9 and leading the rest of the distance of the 20-lap affair. Gordy Button copped his best career Sportsman finish in second, as did John Christian, who finished third. Dan Yankowksi and Paul Carey completed the top five. Craig Pritchard led the opening four circuits, until Christian took command on lap 5. Steve Davis, Carey, and Brian Murphy were the heat race victors.

Chad Ray started twelfth and won his second consecutive 15-lap DIRT Pro Stock feature, after holding off the late race run by Bret Belden, who came from thirteenth to finish second. Third was Wayne Archer with Brian Belden and Bill Knapp completing the top five. Dave Meeks and Mark Effner were the early race leaders until Ray took over on lap 8. Effner and Gerry Newman won the Pro Stock heat races.

Jeff Pastorella came from the twelfth starting position to take the lead on lap 8 of the 15-lap Pure Stock feature, enroute to his seventh victory of the 2001 season. Joe Dote was second, followed by Dave Pope, Jim Thomas, and Herm Staats. Dote led the opening seven circuits, while the heats were claimed by Dote and Thomas.

Notes -- 25 Modifieds, 28 Sportsman, 21 Pro Stocks, 17 Pure Stocks, and 4 Monster Trucks filled the Utica-Rome pit area. The WWF Monster Trucks from Wildfire Motorsports were on hand for a thrilling free style/drag competition. Crushing cars were the trucks -- Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kane, Undertaker, and Towasaurus. The Modified chassis win count: Troyer 8, TEO 5, and Bicknell 1. Six different drivers have won in the headline DIRT 358-Modifieds to date, including Todd Burley (5), Jack Johnson (3), J.J. Michaels (2), Mitch Gibbs (2), Danny Johnson (1), and John Ramsey (1). Coming up this Sunday August 19 is the 40th anniversary celebration of the speedway, featuring the "Night of Legends Reunion" plus NYSSCA Hall of Fame Night. In race action will be the DIRT 358-Modifieds, DIRT Sportsman, DIRT Pro Stocks, Pure Stocks, and Slingshots. Race time is set for 6pm. For more information, contact the speedway office at (315) 829-4557 or log on to www.newuticaromespeedway.com.

-NURS-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Brian Murphy