Utica-Rome race summary 2003-05-18

VERNON, NY- Defending track champion Matt Sheppard finally shook the black cloud that seemed to hang over him this season at Utica-Rome Speedway by taking the 30-lap DIRT 358-Modified main event on Canastota Kart Speedway/ Turning Stone Casino ...

VERNON, NY- Defending track champion Matt Sheppard finally shook the black cloud that seemed to hang over him this season at Utica-Rome Speedway by taking the 30-lap DIRT 358-Modified main event on Canastota Kart Speedway/ Turning Stone Casino Resort Employee night. Steve Way, Jerry Holmes, and Rick Trexler were also victorious.

RC Faigle jumped to the early lead from his pole position starting spot over Mark Flach when the green flag waved, with Gus Schmidt quickly grabbing second from Flach by the end of the first lap. A quick caution for Pete Taylor's disabled mount on lap 1 brought the field together again, and when the green flew again, sixth-place starter Matt Sheppard quickly made his presence felt. Coming off turn 4 to complete lap three, Sheppard passed Schmidt, JJ Michaels, and Faigle to take the lead in an impressive outside move. By lap 5, Sheppard had began to stretch his lead over Michaels, Faigle, Schmidt, and Flach. Michaels was once again bitten by mechanical gremlins, as he dropped out on lap 8. A yellow flew on lap 14 for Chuck Hebing, who stopped on the track for a flat tire. The caution lights came on again a lap later when with two separate incidents on the track eliminated Tony Ross, Todd Burley, and Kevin Crave from competition. At this point, Sheppard still led with Schmidt, Dale Planck, Paul Kinney, and Flach chasing.

On lap 16, sixteenth place starting Planck got by Schmidt and set sail after the leader Sheppard. Green flag racing prevailed until lap 27, when Planck made contact with the lapped car of Kory Gurney, and Gurney spun in turn 3. This slowed the field and allowed Planck to restart on Sheppard's bumper, but Sheppard wasn't going let this opportunity slip by. Even with another caution, Sheppard was able to hold off Planck at the finish with Schmidt holding for third, and Willy Decker and Kinney finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. Jack Johnson, Mitch Gibbs, Flach, Donnie Correllis, Jeff Kotary rounded out the top 10.

Steve Way and Darren Keyser led the 15-car starting field to Matt Burdick's green flag, with Steve Way grabbing the early advantage at the drop of the green. An early caution involving Bill Shantel Jr, Jamie Christian, and John Scarborough bunched field back up on lap 1, with Shantel being the only driver unable to return. Way conitnued to hold the early advantage after another caution on lap 2, and steadily pulled away from second place Tim Mayne. At the halfway point, Way continued to lead with Mayne, Jim Roberts, Paul Carey, and John Scarborough chasing.

A long green flag stretch that started on lap 2 ended on lap 19 when the disabled car of Darren Keyser stopped in turn four. This bunched the field up for on last time and this put Roberts, Mayne, Carey, and Scarborough on Way's rear deck for a one-lap dash. Way was able to hang on for his first win in five years at the speedway, with Roberts, Mayne, Scarborough, and Carey finishing in the top 5. Jessica Zemken, Butch Reiter, Rick Amo, Billy Price, and Robert Dyer rounded the top 10.

By virtue of a heads up start in the non-point DIRT Pro Stock event, Jason Rood and Jerry Holmes started on the front row, with Holmes taking the early lead at the start. Despite numerous cautions, Holmes held off Rood during the entire 20 lap distance with Mark Lighthall, Joe Palmer, and Bill Knapp filling out the top 5 after a torrid battle in the closing laps. Finishing out the top 10 at the finish was John Kiskiel, Mark Effner, Brian Belden, Eric Yager, and Eric Vanderhoof.

In the fan favorite Pure Stock division, Chuck Cushman jumped to the early lead over Rick Condes on the start and held that position until he dropped out on lap 4. George Schulze took command at that point and after brushing the frontstretch wall lap 6, lost the lead to Dave Pope. Pope led at the halfway point with Rick Trexler, Schulze, Condes, and Jim Thomas chasing. Trexler took command on lap 12 and sped off with his first-ever Pure Stock victory. Following in the top 5 in the green-to-checkered event was Pope, Herm Staats, Art Newman, and Condes.

NOTES- 30 DIRT 358-Modifieds, 16 DIRT Sportsman, 18 DIRT Pro Stocks, and 16 Pure Stocks signed in for competition on beautiful sunny Sunday evening. Heat wins went to JJ Michaels, Gus Schmidt, and Matt Sheppard in the 358-Modifieds, Jamie Christian and Tim Mayne in the Sportsman, Jason Rood and Jerry Holmes in the Pro Stocks, and Chuck Cushman and Jim Thomas in the Pure Stocks. RC Faigle brought his Sprint Car along for hot laps to in preparation for next week's Empire Super Sprint event. Bill Mason won the spectator one on one race.

Next event at the "Action Track of the East" is the Nice n' Easy Grocery Shoppes Memorial Weekend spectacular featuring the Empire Super Sprints plus a regular show of DIRT 358-Modifieds, DIRT Sportsman, DIRT Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks. Gates open at 4 p.m., with racing at 6 p.m. For more information, call the speedway office at (315) 829-4557, or visit the official speedway website at www.uticaromespeedway.com.

CANASTOTA KART SPEEDWAY/TURNING STONE CASINO EMPLOYEE NIGHT

DIRT 358-MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- MATT SHEPPARD, Dale Planck, Gus Schmidt, Willy Decker, Paul Kinney, Jack Johnson, Mitch Gibbs, Mark Flach, Donnie Correllis, Jeff Kotary, RC Faigle, Chuck Hebing, Ryan Baye, Dave Rauscher, Kory Gurney, Ray Zemken, Scott Brady, John Ramsey, Tony Ross, Todd Burley, Kevin Crave, Mike Dillenbeck, JJ Michaels, Mark Tily, and Pete Taylor. DNQ- Joel Thomas, Todd Thomas, Steve Davis, Aaron Jacobs, and Jim Rothwell.

DIRT SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)-STEVE WAY, Jim Roberts, Tim Mayne, John Scarborough, Paul Carey, Jessica Zemken, Butch Reiter, Rick Amo, Billy Price, Robert Dyer, Darren Keyser, Jeremy Vunk, Tim Nye, Jamie Christian, and Bill Shantel Jr. DNS-Brian Johnson.

DIRT PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- JERRY HOLMES, Jason Rood, Mark Lighthall, Joe Palmer, Bill Knapp, John Kiskiel, Mark Effner, Brian Belden, Eric Yager, Eric Vanderhoof, AJ Digsby, Chad Ray, Wayne Archer, Ed Ostrander, and Dave Moyer. DNS-Tom Denton, Stan Clark, and Chris Palmer.

PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH (15 LAPS)- RICK TREXLER, Dave Pope, Herm Staats, Art Newman, Rick Condes, Jim Thomas, Zeke McKeown, Waylan Wilczek, Ted Crawford, Dana Camenga, Dave Janczuk, Cody Streeter, Frank Hyatt, George Schulze, Phil Norman, and Chuck Cushman.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Jim Roberts , Pete Taylor , Brian Johnson