Utica-Rome Speedway 2000-08-17

VERNON, NY - Eldred, PA's Bob Close advanced from the second starting position to a convincing victory in the first ever United Late Model Series (ULMS) Dirt Late Model Showdown held at the New Utica-Rome Speedway on Thursday August 17. West ...

VERNON, NY - Eldred, PA's Bob Close advanced from the second starting position to a convincing victory in the first ever United Late Model Series (ULMS) Dirt Late Model Showdown held at the New Utica-Rome Speedway on Thursday August 17. West Winfield's Jamie Christian was the DIRT Sportsman feature winner.

Mike Wonderling and Bob Close paced the start of the 40-lap ULMS Dirt Late Model Showdown and brought the 21-car starting field down to Starter Chip Burdick's green flag. Right away, Wonderling grabbed the early lead as Al Brewer and Jim Bernheisel went side by side for position. Brewer grabbed third, while Bob Close, a McKean County and MACS regular, looked for the lead on lap 2.

The first yellow flag of the race came out when Scott Pangrazio spun in turn two. On the restart, Wonderling got a good jump and resumed his lead, but Close kept right with him. Bernheisel was still in third, but putting some serious pressure on him was Penn-Can and Skyline Raceway hotshoe, Dan Stone. Then, the second yellow of the race came out on lap 5 when a car spun in turn two, collecting R.J. Windhausen, Lloyd Swaim, Bob Vormwald, Scott Pangrazio, and Rick Neff. All cars continued with minor damage, while Swaim went into the pit area and later returned.

The next restart was short lived, as Randy Brokaw spun in turn two, collecting Jim Mazur and Billy Marvin. All cars were able to continue from the mishap. On the restart, Wonderling again kept the lead, but Close was putting on quite a charge for the top spot. Just as that was happening, Dan Stone put his foot to the firewall and put a great show on between himself and Jim Bernheisel for the third position. Stone was rim riding the cushion near the wall in turns three and four, and he took the third position with a gutsy move out of turn four on lap 6. Just one lap later, Bernheisel slowed heading down the backstretch, bringing out the yellow for the fourth time. The popular Bernheisel, who builds the famous BRC Lazer III Late Model chassis, was done for the evening with an undisclosed problem with his No. 119.

On the lap 7 restart, the No. z1 of Wonderling kept his lead, but he was quickly slowed one lap later when Scott Pangrazio spun for the second time. On the next restart, Wonderling resumed his lead, but Close seemed to be a little faster. Al Brewer and Dan Stone were having a torrid battle for third, and the No. 21d of Stone was just flying in the outside groove on the speedway. Stone made his high groove work, and he took over third on lap 9. One lap later, the No. 5b of Kirk Bradley slowed on the backstretch, necessitating a yellow flag period.

The restart saw Wonderling lose the lead to Close, when the No. 04 of Close made an inside move in turn one. Just as this was happening, the popular Dan Stone was putting on yet another charge when he caught Wonderling. Stone continued on the outside and Wonderling in a mid-groove, but Stone could not muster enough power to get by.

Close was flying, and he stretched his lead out to half a straightaway when he reached lapped traffic around lap 15. Stone seemed to lose a little ground to Wonderling, and he was then caught by Al Brewer, who was having a fantastic run in his No. 71. A quick yellow then came out, when Scott Pangrazio spun, collecting Allen Coy. Both cars were able to continue, but a red flag was brought out for refueling. The cars stopped in turn one, and the drivers running alcohol as their fuel, refueled their machines.

When the race resumed, the race was at its halfway mark. Close was the leader, followed by Wonderling, Dan Stone, Al Brewer, and Ed Carley. Stone yet again put on another charge, when he shot himself out of a cannon, taking the second spot from Wonderling, who seemed to be slowing. The next yellow came out on lap 23, when Jeremy Stone slowed in turn four. On the restart, Stone and Brewer dueled it out again for second as Wonderling fell to third. On lap 25, Wonderling brought out the yellow with a shredded right rear tire, just as the No. 9n of Rick Neff spun on the backstretch. Wonderling changed his tire during the caution and made it back on the speedway without losing a lap.

On the restart, Carley and Brewer immediately began a side by side battle for third. Four laps later, second place runner Dan Stone slowed going into turn three, causing yet another yellow flag. The race resumed, and so did the war between Carley and Brewer. But coming from deep in the pack was Mike Wonderling, as he moved into fifth on lap 30. Two laps later, Wonderling took over fourth from Gene Sharpsteen, who was having a good run of his own. While that was going on, Carley was reeling in and catching Bob Close. Close was running low, with Carley high, and it almost seemed as though a duel for victory would occur, but Close pulled away from Carley with five laps to go. With two laps to go, Rick Neff spun in turn two, bringing out the final yellow flag of the race. On the restart, Wonderling looked underneath Brewer for third and they went side by side for the spot, but Brewer held him off. Close once again had opened a huge lead and he led the final two laps on his way to victory. Second was Ed Carley, third was Al Brewer, fourth was Mike Wonderling, and fifth was Gene Sharpsteen. Rounding out the top ten were Jeff Smith, Billy Marvin, Jim Mazur, Randy Brokaw, and Rick Neff.

After the race, a happy Close who went home with the $4,000 winners share, commented, "I think Wonderling chose a softer tire than we did. Carley was closing in on us with a few to go, but we had enough to hold him off. I was running the middle, then Ed went up to the topside and I went up there as well. This speedway is a really racy track, with 2-3 grooves. I am really impressed and I'd like to thank speedway management and the ULMS for having us up here. This was a four and a half-hour trip for us and it was well worth the trip. I think if the ULMS can get a couple back to back shows, there would be a bigger and better field of cars, but I think the fans got an excellent show tonight at Utica-Rome."

Carley, who started eighth and seemed as though he could possibly have beaten Close, said, "After Bob moved up to the top, I just had to settle for second."

Bob Close, with his ULMS victory at Utica-Rome, becomes a guaranteed starter for Little Valley Speedway's Late Model special on September 9.

Jim Bernheisel won the 6-lap ULMS Late Model $300 to win Dash for Cash in a spectacular photo finish over Bob Close. Scott Pangrazio, Ed Carley, Jim Mazur, and Jon Law rounded out the top six.

Jim Mazur, Ed Carley, and Bob Close won the ULMS Late Model heat races.

Bill Shantel Jr. grabbed the early lead at the start of the 20-lap non-point DIRT Sportsman feature event. On lap 2, Jamie Christian who started in the top seven, took over second on lap two and set his sights on the No. 97 of Shantel. One lap later, Christian caught him and took over the lead, while Crave also passed Shantel for second. On lap 6, Geoff VanRiper spun in turn one, causing a quick yellow. When the race resumed, Christian went wide, letting Crave get by for the lead. As Tony Ross moved into fourth on lap 7, the yellow came out for a spin in turn two. On the restart, Crave went to the inside and Christian to the outside, and Christian took over the lead. Willy Decker was then on the move, from deep in the pack, and he moved into tenth on lap 9.

At the halfway mark, Christian was the leader, followed by Crave, Tony Ross, Paul Kinney, and Dan Yankowski. Kinney and Yankowski battled for fourth, but Yankowski was too strong and he took over the spot. Decker continued his march to the front, and he passed Paul Carey for sixth on lap 13. A quick yellow came out on lap 16, when Shawn Donath slowed in turn four. On the restart, Decker passed Kinney for fourth and set his sights on Yankowski. Another quick yellow came out, and on the lap 18 restart, Decker quickly passed Yankowski. Decker then caught third place car Tony Ross, who went wide, allowing Decker to try to get past Ross. However, Ross pulled a slide job and kept Decker behind him as the checkers flew. Christian was the winner, followed by Crave, Ross, Decker, and Yankowski.

Christian's win was his fifth of the season at Utica-Rome.

Jamie Christian, Paul Kinney, and Kevin Crave won the DIRT Sportsman heat races.

Coming up this Sunday August 20 at the New Utica-Rome Speedway, FOREIGN AUTO PARTS will present a regular program of DIRT 358 Modifieds, DIRT Sportsman, DIRT Pro Stocks, Pure Stocks, and Slingshots. Also scheduled are a Rollover Contest and an Old Timer's Reunion. The gates will open at 4pm and racing will begin at 6pm.

For more information, contact the speedway office at (315) 829-4557 or visit the official internet website at www.newuticaromespeedway.com.

Notes: 23 Dirt Late Models and 22 Sportsman were on hand for the chilly evening's events at Utica-Rome. The race fans at Utica-Rome really seemed to like the Late Models, and the speeds that they turned on the lightning fast Utica-Rome half-mile clay oval. The top 4 Late Models from each heat race drew for starting position for the feature event. The draw was held on the frontstretch during intermission so the drivers could be interviewed and fans could see them up close.



Late Model Heat #1 (8 Laps) - Jim Mazur, Scott Pangrazio, Al Brewer, Jeremy Stone, Bob Vormwald, Randy Brokaw, Ricky Hunsinger.

Late Model Heat #2 (8 Laps) - Ed Carley, Jon Law, Mike Wonderling, Gene Sharpsteen, Jeff Smith, R.J. Windhausen, Rick Neff.

Late Model Heat #3 (8 Laps) - Bob Close, Jim Bernheisel, Dan Stone, Kirk Bradley, Lloyd Swaim, Allen Coy, Jim Sherman, Bob Baldwin.

Late Model Dash For Cash (6 Laps) - 1)Jim Bernheisel, Bob Close, Scott Pangrazio, Ed Carley, Jim Mazur, Jon Law.

ULMS Dirt Late Model Showdown (40 Laps) - 1)BOB CLOSE, 2)Ed Carley, 3)Al Brewer, 4)Mike Wonderling, 5)Gene Sharpsteen, 6)Jeff Smith, 7)Billy Marvin, 8)Jim Mazur, 9)Randy Brokaw, 10)Rick Neff, 11)Bob Vormwald, 12)Allen Coy, 13)Dan Stone, 14)R.J. Windhausen, 15)Jeremy Stone, 16)Scott Pangrazio, 17)Ricky Hunsinger, 18)Lloyd Swaim, 19)Kirk Bradley, 20)Jim Bernheisel, 21)Jon Law. DNS - Jim Sherman & Bob Baldwin.

Lap Leaders - Wonderling (1-11), Close (12-40).

DIRT Sportsman Heat #1 (6 Laps) - Jamie Christian, Bill Shantel Jr., Tony Ross, Steve Davis, Shawn Donath, Butch Reiter, Dave Bargabos, Donnie Wetmore Jr.

DIRT Sportsman Heat #2 (6 Laps) - Paul Kinney, Craig Pritchard, Paul Carey, Steve Way, Greg Doust, Mark Tily, Willy Decker.

DIRT Sportsman Heat #3 (6 Laps) - Kevin Crave, Jim Spano, Dan Yankowski, Daryl Hagen, Brian Murphy, Geoff VanRiper, John Christian.

DIRT Sportsman Feature (20 Laps) - 1)JAMIE CHRISTIAN, 2)Kevin Crave, 3)Tony Ross, 4)Willy Decker, 5)Dan Yankowski, 6)Paul Carey, 7)Paul Kinney, 8)Steve Way, 9)Dave Bargabos, 10)Craig Pritchard, 11)Greg Doust, 12)Daryl Hagen, 13)Butch Reiter, 14)Mark Tily, 15)John Christian, 16)Steve Davis, 17)Donnie Wetmore Jr., 18)Brian Murphy, 19)Shawn Donath, 20)Bill Shantel Jr., 21)Jim Spano, 22)Geoff VanRiper.

Lap Leaders - Shantel (1-2), Ja. Christian (3-6), Crave (7), Ja. Christian (8-20).

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Series Stock car
Drivers Brian Murphy , Jeff Smith