Stewart Friesen Takes Opening Night Laurels At Utica-Rome Speedway VERNON, NY- With rain predicted to hit the speedway all day, Utica-Rome Speedway management snatched an event from Mother Nature with a fast paced program on Community Crossroads...
Stewart Friesen Takes Opening Night Laurels At Utica-Rome Speedway
VERNON, NY- With rain predicted to hit the speedway all day, Utica-Rome Speedway management snatched an event from Mother Nature with a fast paced program on Community Crossroads Church and Wilber-Duck Chevy/Buick night. Stewart Friesen, Jessica Zemken, and Roy Fifield grabbed victories on opening night. The Pure Stock and Four Cylinder Super Stock features were lost to rain.
The first step towards the $10,000 Utica-Rome Speedway 358-Modified championship started with Todd Burley and Jeff Kotary leading the charge to Matt Burdick's green flag. Burley led the field to the stripe to complete lap 1 with Dave Camara following in second from his 6th place starting spot. A battle soon started for the second position between Camara, Stewart Friesen, Jeff Kotary, and Mitch Gibbs while Burley motored off.
On lap 4, the red flag was thrown when the 45m machine of Mike Ward went over in turn 1, bringing Burley back to the field. Ward was uninjured and the field was quickly racing again. On lap 6, Friesen wrestled second away from Camara and set his sights on the the leader Burley. Friesen quickly caught Burley and made short work on him, taking the lead on lap 7.
Friesen began to stretch a large lead while Gibbs starting to make some noise behind him, grabbing the runnerup spot on lap 10. The final caution flew on lap 15 when Brian Weaver and Mark Flach made contact in the front stretch, with Weaver sustaining heavy damage. When the green flag came out again, Friesen easily outdistanced himself from the rest of the field, leaving the rest of the competitors to battle amongst themselves.
The red came out again on lap 22 when Camara's mount went over in turns 1 and 2. Camara was unhurt in the ordeal, but the same could not be said his mount. At this point, the rains that had been predicted all day came in, making the race official. Friesen, from Niagara on the lake Ontario, gained his first career win at the Utica-Rome Speedway with Gibbs, Burley, Willy Decker, and Flach chasing. With the victory, Friesen puts himself in the early lead for the $10,000 championship.
Paul Carey got the early jump over fellow fron row starter Steve Way and looked like he would be the driver the beat for the race. Unfortunately for Carey, the spring-time track conditions caught up with Sportsman veteran when he got a flat tire on lap 6. Mike Button inherited the lead for a lap until young Jessica Zemken snatched the lead and began to pull away. Despite several minor cautions slowing the field, Zemken was too fast for the rest of the competition until the end of the 20-lap affair. Zemken took home her second career win at the Vernon oval, with Tim Nye, Tim Mayne, Button, and John DeForest surviving to finish out the top five.
The DIRT Pro Stocks took the green flag with Bret Belden and Eric Vanderhoof bringing the field to racing speed with Vanderhoof gaining the early advantage. Vanderhoof held on for two laps, but Roy Fifield, coming from the fourth position, grabbed the top spot. Fifield, despite nearly driving off the speedway just past halfway point, was never seriously challenged for the remainder of the 15-lap event. Vanderhoof and third place starter Jason Rood put on a nearly race long battle for the runner-up spot, but on the last lap they made contact, sending Rood around. Vanderhoof crossed in second, with Bret Belden, defending champion Jerry Holmes, and Dave Moyer filling out the top five.
Double Pure Stock and Four Cylinder Super Stocks will run double features on Sunday May 16.
Next event at the "Action Track of the East" is the annual Mother's Day Special, with Mirabito "The Energy Leader" and Wilber-Duck Chevy/Buick presenting the Turning Stone Casino 358-Modified Super DIRT Series (100 laps). Also on tap is the opening round of the East Region Sunoco Race Fuels Super DIRT Series for the Sportsman and the Four Cylinder Super Stocks. Utica-Rome Speedway is located on Route 5 in Vernon NY, just minutes from New York State Thruway Exit 33. The latest news and point standings can all be found on the speedway website at www.uticaromespeedway.com. For more information, call the speedway office at (315) 829-4557.
CROSSROADS COMMUNITY CHURCH/ WILBER-DUCK CHEVY/BUICK RACE SUMMARY
DIRT PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (15 LAPS)- ROY FIFIELD, Eric Vanderhoof, Bret Belden, Jerry Holmes, Dave Moyer, Matt Smith, Chad Ray, Brian Belden, Bill Knapp, Dave Briggs, Ed Ostrander, Jason Rood, Tom Denton, Mark Effner, and AJ Digsby.
DIRT SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- JESSICA ZEMKEN, Tim Nye, Tim Mayne, Mike Button, John DeForest, Mike Zimmerman, Steve Way, Bill Price, Jeremy Vunk, Butch Reiter, Bill Shantel Jr, Paul Carey, and Ken Stafford.
DIRT 358-MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- STEWART FRIESEN, Mitch Gibbs, Todd Burley, Willy Decker, Mark Flach, Jeff Kotary, Gus Schmidt, Jamie Christian, Don Mattison, Dave Camara, Dave Rauscher, Brian Weaver, Paul Kinney, John Ramsey, Paul Jensen, Mike Doty, Mike Ward, Chris Ostrowsky, Mark Tily, Todd Thomas, and Ben Bushaw. DNS-Ken McGuire and Cass Bennett.