Burley Celebrates Utica-Rome Championship With Seventh Win Of 2001 VERNON, NY -- Todd Burley of Spencerport celebrated his first career Utica-Rome Speedway DIRT 358-Modified track championship with a hard earned seventh victory of the 2001...
Burley Celebrates Utica-Rome Championship With Seventh Win Of 2001
VERNON, NY -- Todd Burley of Spencerport celebrated his first career Utica-Rome Speedway DIRT 358-Modified track championship with a hard earned seventh victory of the 2001 season last Sunday. Burley, who clinched the title last week, came from the seventeenth starting position to grab the lead from Aaron Excel with only seven laps remaining to lead the remainder of the 30-lap distance in the final points event of the year. The second consecutive victory for the driver of the Mirabito Fuel Group / Troyer No. 89b was worth $1,500.
Also winning were Willy Decker of Vernon in the DIRT Sportsman, Jason Rood of Oneida in the DIRT Pro Stocks, Jeff Pastorella of Westmoreland in the Pure Stocks, and Joe DeJohn of Frankfort in the Slingshots.
Chad Ward and Mike Schoonover paced the 25-car starting field for the headline DIRT 358-Modified feature down to the flags of Starter Dick Sweet, with Ward grabbing the early race lead. John Barker settled into second, with Aaron Excel, who started sixth, racing in third. Racing from deep in the pack were J.J. Michaels and Jack Johnson, with Michaels taking the fifth position on lap 5 and Johnson racing around three cars just one lap later. Excel took over second from Barker on lap 5, and immediately started pressuring Ward for the race lead, while Barker tried to retake second with Ted Lamb settling in third. Michaels was possibly the fastest car on the speedway, as he took over fourth on lap 10, while the leaders began encountering lapped traffic.
Last week's winner Todd Burley was also running strong, as he went from seventh to fifth on lap 11, while Johnson raced into ninth on the same lap. Burley was on a mission once again, as he caught Michaels and took over fourth on lap 13. Excel was right there underneath Ward, racing for the lead, with both drivers looking for their first career feature win.
At the halfway mark, Ward was the leader with Excel closeby in second, followed by Lamb, Burley, and Michaels. Ward was able to open a small margin over Excel, but Excel caught him by lap 18 and took the race lead just two laps later as Ward bobbled and fell several positions on the speedway. Burley was a rocket on the outside of the speedway in the third and fourth turns, as he took over second from Lamb and began closing in on Excel for the race lead. The race was caution free until lap 22, when Gus Schmidt lost a left rear tire on the backstretch.
On the restart, Burley went right underneath Excel to take the race lead on the frontstretch and then pulled a slidejob in turn two, allowing Excel to get right back underneath Burley. Excel would not give up but Burley was just too strong and he opened up a lead. Michaels bounced off the turn four wall on lap 26, and brought out the final yellow with possible steering problems on his Troyer machine.
On the final restart, Baye, who started twelfth, took third from Lamb, and making a wild move by driving deep into turn three was Jack Johnson who raced into the fourth position. As the white flag flew, all eyes were on Johnson who was racing for third with Baye. Burley, meanwhile, was gone and flew to his seventh win of the 2001 season at Utica-Rome, the tenth of his career over three winning seasons. Excel had to settle for second in his best career Utica-Rome finish. Baye held on for third with Johnson who qualified with a third in the consolation race and started twenty-first in the feature to finish fourth and Lamb in fifth. Jason Barney, Barker, Mitch Gibbs, John Ramsey, and early leader Chad Ward completed the top ten.
"It means a lot," said Burley of his championship and seventh win of the season. "It's always more fun to win from the back, it's just gratifying. I've got to thank the track owner Eric Kingsley, too, for the track conditions here. This is a real racy place."
358-Modified heats were won by Excel, Barker, Michaels, while Malta and Lebanon Valley driver Wayne Jelley won the consi in his first ever appearance at the speedway.
Willy Decker survived a caution filled DIRT Sportsman feature to claim his fourth win of the 2001 season in the division. Decker started seventeenth and missed the accidents to take the lead on lap 7 en route to the popular win for the local driver. Completing the top five Jamie Christian, Tim Clemons, Tim Mayne, and Paul Carey. Steve Way was the early race leader until Decker took command. With his finish, Clemons clinched the 2001 Utica-Rome DIRT Sportsman track championship. Dan Yankowski, Mayne, and 15-year old Jessica Zemken were the heat race winners in the Sportsman division.
Jason Rood used the outside pole starting position to his advantage and won his first DIRT Pro Stock feature since 1999 by leading the entire distance of the 15-lap event. Gerry Newman was second, followed by Wayne Archer, John Roese, and point leader Bret Belden who came from eighth to fifth on the final lap. Newman and Archer won the Pro Stock heat races. Belden now holds a 22-point lead over Jerry Holmes heading into the final points race this Sunday in the quest for his third career Utica-Rome track title.
Jeff Pastorella came from the seventeenth starting position to claim his ninth Pure Stock feature of the year. Pastorella took the lead from George Schulze on lap 5 and led the remainder of the 15-lap distance. Schulze, Waylan Wilczek, Art Newman Jr. and David Pope completed the top five. Joe Dote, who led the opening circuit of the feature, won a heat race while Newman won the second heat. Pastorella will be crowned the 2001 track champion this Sunday, as he has a commanding lead in the standings.
13-year old Joe DeJohn won his second Slingshot feature of the season after leading the entire 12-lap distance. A.J. Digsby, J.J. Courcy, Randy Marsh, and Denny Tilison completed the top five. DeJohn swept the night by winning the lone Slingshot heat event. Tilison just needs to start next Sunday's feature event to claim his first career track title.
Notes -- 28 Modifieds, 26 Sportsman, 22 Pro Stocks, 18 Pure Stocks, and 9 Slingshots filled the Utica-Rome pit area. Racing was completed by 9:15pm, and for the second week in a row we beat the rain. Willy Decker, Gerry Newman, and George Schulze won the John's Mobile Homes / Thomas Video Dash for Cash events. Special thanks to the Michaels family for the bottle of champagne. The Modified chassis win count: Troyer 10, TEO 5, and Bicknell 1. Six different drivers have won in the headline DIRT 358-Modifieds to date, including Todd Burley (7), Jack Johnson (3), J.J. Michaels (2), Mitch Gibbs (2), Danny Johnson (1), and John Ramsey (1). Coming up this Sunday, the Empire Super Sprints will return to the speedway for the first time since 1996. Also scheduled will be the DIRT 358-Modifieds as well as the final points races for the DIRT Sportsman, DIRT Pro Stocks, Pure Stocks, and Slingshots. Race time is set for 6pm. For more information, contact the speedway at (315) 829-4557 or visit www.newuticaromespeedway.com.
NEW UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY RACE SUMMARY
RACE DATE: AUGUST 26, 2001
DIRT 358-Modifieds -- TODD BURLEY, Aaron Excel, Ryan Baye, Jack Johnson, Ted Lamb Jr., Jason Barney, John Barker Jr., Mitch Gibbs, John Ramsey, Chad Ward, Roger Phelps, Wayne Reutimann Jr., Andy Romano, Wayne Jelley, Bill Trexler Jr., Mike Gillette, Joel Thomas, Darrell Hurlburt, Al McCoy, J.J. Michaels, Gus Schmidt Jr., Jim Rothwell, Jeff Kotary, Mike Schoonover, Bill Shantel Sr.
Did Not Qualify -- Jim Lavalla, Todd Thomas, Casey McCoy.
DIRT Sportsman -- WILLY DECKER, Jamie Christian, Tim Clemons, Tim Mayne, Paul Carey, Steve Way, Bill Shantel Jr., Jessica Zemken, Gordy Button, Ben Novak, Shawn Donath, John Kinsella, Donnie Wetmore Jr., Jeff Jones, Kevin Crave, Dan Yankowski, Jim Roberts, Butch Reiter, Aaron Jacobs, John Christian, Steve Davis, Daryl Hagen, Brian Murphy, Craig Pritchard, Tom Denton, Shane Donath.
DIRT Pro Stocks -- JASON ROOD, Gerry Newman, Wayne Archer, John Roese, Bret Belden, Makr Effner, Joe Palmer, Mark Hoffman, Jerry Holmes, Doug Grimaldi, Dave Meeks, Brian Belden, Bob Gloska, Gus Gould, Charlie Krouse, Bill Knapp, Eric Vanderhoof, George Dyer, Dan Rickard, Chad Ray, Ray Fancher, Dave Moyer.
Pure Stocks -- JEFF PASTORELLA, George Schulze, Waylan Wilczek, Art Newman Jr., David Pope, Rob Seavy, Les Lewis, Mike Kirk, Bill Flask, Walt Wilczek, Walt Koperda Jr., Tim Nye, Cody Streeter, Ricky Trexler, Dennis Kelly, Brett Haman, Jim Thomas, Joe Dote.
Slingshots -- JOE DEJOHN, A.J. Digsby, J.J. Courcy, Randy Marsh, Denny Tilison, Mike Waterman, Brad Belden, Mike Teachout, Jackie Botindari.