Utica-Rome race report 2003-05-04

VERNON,NY- Jim Rothwell won his first win in 5 years in the DIRT 358-Modified event at Utica-Rome Speedway, with Jamie Christian, Jerry Holmes, Jim Thomas, and Cory Sparks also winning on Crossroads Community Church night. Jim Rothwell and Mark...

VERNON,NY- Jim Rothwell won his first win in 5 years in the DIRT 358-Modified event at Utica-Rome Speedway, with Jamie Christian, Jerry Holmes, Jim Thomas, and Cory Sparks also winning on Crossroads Community Church night.

Jim Rothwell and Mark Flach led the DIRT 358-Modified field to the green flag, with Flach grabbing the early lead. Flach continued to lead after two quick cautions, but the veteran Rothwell took the lead over the young Flach on lap 3. Rothwell survived several more early caution periods and on lap 10 was being chased by a JJ Michaels, Willy Decker, Dale Planck, and Mitch Gibbs. Paul Kinney, Matt Sheppard, Flach, Todd Burley, and Randy Chrysler filled out the top 10.

Planck, who started 17th on the grid, began to make his presence felt on lap 17 when he passed Decker for third and then got by Michaels for second a lap later. Planck then immediately began to pressure Rothwell for lead. On lap 20, Rothwell continued to fend off the hard charging Planck with Michaels, Decker, and Gibbs chasing.

Planck grabbed the lead on lap 21 only to have Rothwell grab it back going down the backstretch.

Planck continued to pressure the veteran Rothwell, only to have every move turned back. A caution on lap 29 for a hard crash involving Matt Sheppard and Tony Ross slowed the pace for the final time. Both Ross and Sheppard were unable to continue. Rothwell and Planck were being followed by Decker, Michaels, and a late charging Burley at the caution. Michaels had another fine run ended by mechanical woes under yellow, and pulled in during the caution period.

Rothwell tried to run away from Planck on the final restart, but Planck was able to close on the final turn, but didn't have enough for the leader. Decker, Burley, and Gibbs filled out the top 5. Following in the top 10 were Kinney, Ryan Baye, Kevin Crave, Jeff Kotary, and Scott Brady.

Due to handicapping, Steve Way and Darren Keyser led the DIRT Sportsman to the green flag, with third place starting Jamie Christian taking the lead by the end of the first lap. Christian easily paced the field until a lap 10 caution for a crash involving Jessica Zemken, Bill Price, Lance Willix, and Tim Nye bunched the field. John Scarborough, Tim Mayne, Bill Shantel Jr, and Paul Carey followed in the top 5.

Christian wasn't to be denied on this evening, taking his second win of the weekend after winning the previous evening at Fulton Speedway. Chasing Christain across the finish line were Scarborough, Shantel Jr, Carey, and Tim French.

In the DIRT Pro Stocks, Bill Knapp and Brian Belden led the 23 car field to the green with Belden getting the early advantage. A multi-car wreck involving last weekend's winner Buddy Hencke, Jason Rood, Stan Clark, and Chad Ray slowed the early pace. Only Hencke and Ray were able to continue. On the restart, contact from another competitor sent the leader Belden around in turn 1, scattering the field and bringing out the yellow again with Mark Effner now being scored the leader with Mark Lightaul, Denny Smith, Bill Knapp, and invader Dave Bissonette in the top 5.

Effner continued to lead until lap 9, when 11th place starter Jerry Holmes grabbing the lead. At the halfway mark, Holmes still led, with Effner, Bissonette, Lightaul, and Smith trailing in the top 5.

Despite two more caution periods for minor incidents, nobody could make a run at Holmes for the win. Holmes took the win, and Brett Belden, Effner, Lightaul, and Wayne Archer finishing in the top 5.

In the exciting Pure Stock division, second place starter Rick Condes gained an early adavantage over pole sitter Phil Norman. Jim Thomas grabbed the lead on the second lap from his third place starting position, holding the advantage until being passed by Chuck Cushman on lap 5. At the halfway mark, Cushman led Thomas, Dave Pope, George Schulze, and Waylan Wilczek across the line.

Cushman dropped out while leading on lap 13, setting up a three-car battle for the win between Thomas, Pope, Wilczek. Thomas barely held off Pope and Wilczek to the line, with last week's winner Herm Staats and George Schulze filling out the rest of the top 5.

In the companion Central New York Mini Sprints, Cory Sparks took the lead just past halfway to take the win with Bryan Holland, Doug Norrie, Mike Emoff, and Barry Virts chasing.

NOTES- 32 DIRT 358-Modifieds, 18 DIRT Sportsman, 24 DIRT Pro Stocks, 14 Pure Stocks, and 23 CNY Mini Sprints checking in for the night's event. Heat winners for the 358-Modifieds were Jim Rothwell, Dale Planck, Willy Decker, and the consolation won by Scott Brady. Jamie Christian and Tim Clemons took the Sportsman heats, Jerry Holmes, Brett Belden, and Jason Rood won the Pro Stock heats, and Dave Pope and Waylan Wilczek took the Pure Stock qualifying events.

-urs-

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