Utica-Rome results 2003-08-23

VERNON, NY- Twin 20-lap main events and a tight point race going into the final night of points for the DIRT 358-Modifieds proved to be an exciting combination on J & J Yamaha night. After a night of high drama, Dale Planck came out the victor in...

VERNON, NY- Twin 20-lap main events and a tight point race going into the final night of points for the DIRT 358-Modifieds proved to be an exciting combination on J & J Yamaha night. After a night of high drama, Dale Planck came out the victor in the season long point chase in the 358-Modifieds. Paul Jensen and John Ramsey took the win in the 20 lap main events, with Jamie Christian victorious in the Sunoco Race Fuels Series event, Bret Belden taking the Pro Stock main, and Chuck Cushman and Dave Mannise winning the Pure Stock events.

On the original start of the first 20-lap feature event for the DIRT 358-Modified feature, Gus Schmidt made hard contact with the turn four wall, collecting Bob Enright's racer. Both drivers were eliminated from contention. On the restart, Paul Jensen quickly jumped out to the lead. At the completion of the second circuit, second place Brian Murphy's racer slowed going into turn 1, causing a melee behind him. After everything was done, Mark Flach, Todd Burley, RC Faigle, Murphy, and Dave Barrows were stopped in turn one. Only Faigle and Flach were able to continue. During the caution period, Dale Planck and Matt Sheppard ducked into the pits, Sheppard with rear end damage, and Planck with front end damage. Planck was apparently done for the evening, while Sheppard returned a lap down, limping around the speedway to collect valuable points.

The battle for the point chase was getting interesting at this point, with point leader Mitch Gibbs appearing to have things going in his favor as he was the only driver in the top five in contention at this point. Planck, and Burley were pitside, Sheppard was in a heavily damaged racer, and Willy Decker was in a borrowed ride. Gibb's luck all changed on the next restart however.

At the cars raced through turns one and two, Jeff Kotary got a run of turn two and attempted a three-wide pass for position on John Bellinger and Ted Lamb. Contact was made between Kotary and Lamb, sending Lamb into a spin in the middle of the backstretch with the remainder of the field bearing down on him. Fifth place running Gibbs clipped the front end of Lamb's racer and sending him into a vicious barrell roll down the back chute. Gibbs was uninjured during flip but the same could not be said for his Nice n' Easy Grocery Shoppes Bicknell. During the extended red flag for Gibbs incident, Planck was able to repair his racer and return the event.

At this point, Jensen was the leader, with Paul Kinney in second, Bellinger in third, Pete Taylor in fourth, and Aaron Excell rounding out the top five. Jensen again raced out to the lead when the green flew again, looking to return to the winning form he showed at the speedway in the late 80's and early 90's. Kinney pressured the leader Jensen on a few occasions throughout the remainder of the 20-lap event, but Jensen was too strong for him. Jensen took the checkered flag, his first win at the speedway since June 21, 1998, with Kinney hanging on for second, Excell coming home in third, Planck recovering for fourth, and John Ramsey rounding out the top five. After the dust settled and points tabulated from the event, Planck and Gibbs went into the second race tied for the point championship.

Due to the inversion after the first race, Mark Tily and Mike Ward led the the field to the green for the second 20-lap event, with Ward claiming the top spot at the completion of lap 1. Ward continued to lead the field early in the event, while John Ramsey was charging to front from his tenth starting spot, moving into second on lap 5. Ramsey's charged continued on lap 7 when he took the top spot from Ward and took off from the rest of the field.

Planck, after starting in position number eleven, moved into second on lap 9. Planck closed in on leader Ramsey, now able to see the track title within his grasp. Ramsey held off all bids by Planck to steal the lead, including a last lap bid in turn one. Ramsey took his first win of the year, with Planck in a close second, Jim Rothwell, Ward, and Gibbs in his backup car filling out the top five. By finishing ahead of Gibbs, Planck became the 2003 Utica-Rome Speedway track champion in the DIRT 358-Modified division.

The Sportsman competed in a Sunoco Race Fuels Super DIRT Series event, with track regular Tim Clemons grabbing the point at the start. Clemons looked to be the man to beat, while Bill Shantel, Jr, Tim Sears, and Jamie Christian battled for the second position. Sears grabbed the spot from Shantel on lap 2, and set sail for the leader. Clemons slowed with a flat right rear on lap 13, bringing out the yellow. Clemons ducked into the pits to change the tire and returned to competition. East region point leader Tim Sears now had the point, with Christian, Jessica Zemken, Shantel, and John Scarborough running in the top five.

Sears continued to lead with heavy pressure being applied by Christian, with Christian able to get by Sears to lead lap 21. Christian held off Sears for the remainder of the 30-lap event, with Sears settling for second, Shantel holding on for third, Clemons coming back up to fourth, and Scarborough in fifth.

Brian Belden led the opening three laps of the Pro Stock main until brother Bret Belden passed him to take over the top spot. Bret led his brother for the remainder of the 15-lap feature, with Brian holding on to second, Jerry Holmes crossing in third, Jason Rood and Bill Knapp crossing in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Ted Crawford took the early lead in the Pure Stock feature, until invading Dave Mannise took over the top spot on lap 4. Rick Trexler moved into second on lap 6 and began pressuring the front running Mannise. Trexler's bid for the victory fell short as Mannise held on to win the event, with Trexler in second, Chuck Cushman in third, Ted Crawford, and Rick Condes making up the rest of the top five.

In the rain delayed Pure Stock Feature event from August 3, Rob Seavy led the opening lap of the 15-lap main from his pole starting spot until Chuck Cushman powered by him to lead the second circuit. Cushman, who started 8th, dominated the remainder of the race to record his 4th win of the season. Herm Staats, Rob Seavy, Dave Pope, and Art Newman filled out the remainder of the top five.

NOTES- 27 358-Modifieds, 25 Sportsman, 18 Pro Stocks, and 22 Pure Stocks entered the pits for the night's activities. Heat wins went to Paul Jensen, Jeff Kotary, and Jim Rothwell for the 358-Modifieds, Bill Shantel Jr, Tim Clemons, and Tim Sears in the Sportsman, Bill Knapp and Joe Palmer in the Pro Stocks, and Phil Norman and Rick Condes in the Pure Stocks.

J & J YAMAHA RACE SUMMARY

FIRST DIRT 358-MODIFIED TWIN 20 FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- PAUL JENSEN, Paul Kinney, Aaron Excell, Dale Planck, John Ramsey, John Bellinger, Pete Taylor, Mark Flach, Jeff Kotary, Jim Rothwell, Dave Rauscher, RC Faigle, Mike Ward, Mark Tily, Joel Thomas, Willy Decker, Matt Sheppard, Mitch Gibbs, Ted Lamb, Brian Murphy, Kevin Crave, Todd Burley, Dave Barrows, Gus Schmidt, and Bob Enright.

SECOND DIRT 358-MODIFIED TWIN 20 FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- JOHN RAMSEY, Dale Planck, Jim Rothwell, Mike Ward, Mitch Gibbs, Dave Rauscher, Mark Flach, Matt Sheppard, Ted Lamb, Paul Kinney, Jeff Kotary, Todd Burley, Pete Taylor, Kevin Crave, John Bellinger, RC Faigle, Mark Tily, Joel Thomas, Dave Barrows, Aaron Excell, Willy Decker, and Paul Jensen.

SUNOCO RACE FUELS SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- JAMIE CHRISTIAN, Tim Sears, Bill Shantel Jr., Tim Clemons, John Scarborough, Donnie Wetmore, Jr., Mike Ketchum, Tom Perrego, Steve Way, Elmo Reckner, Jim Roberts, Jeremy Vunk, Billy Price, Tim Mayne, Matt Janczuk, Jason Potter, Neil Dixon, Lance Willix, Rick Mill, Chad Phelps, Jessica Zemken, Tim Dwyer, Eldon Payne, Tim Nye, and Butch Reiter.

DIRT PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (15 LAPS)- BRET BELDEN, Brian Belden, Jerry Holmes, Jason Rood, Bill Knapp, Eric Vanderhoof, Kenny Gates, Ed Ostrander, Harold Humphrey, Chad Ray, Joe Palmer, AJ Digsby, Dan Rickard, Chris Palmer, Roger Chrysler, Dave Moyer, Mark Effner, and George Kiskiel.

PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH (15 LAPS)- DAVE MANNISE, Rick Trexler, Chuck Cushman, Ted Crawford, Rick Condes, Dave Pope, Art Newman, Nathan Peckham, Rocky Warner, Don Carlson, Herm Staats, Rob Seavy, Phil Norman, Dave Janczuk, Frank Hyatt, Dana Aikens, Don Warner, Joe Smith, Jim Thomas, Mike Budka, Devon Camenga, and Waylan Wilczek.

RAIN DELAYED PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH FROM 8/3 (15 LAPS)- CHUCK CUSHMAN, Herm Staats, Rob Seavy, Dave Pope, Art Newman, Nathan Peckham, Ted Crawford, Dana Aikens, Rick Condes, Waylan Wilczek, Phil Norman, Dave Janczuk, Frank Hyatt, Jim Thomas, and Rick Trexler. DNS- Dana Camenga, Don Decker, and Jeff Waterman.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Pete Taylor , Jason Potter , Brian Murphy