Utica-Rome Speedway race report

- Doug Zupan VERNON, NY - North Norwich's Mitch Gibbs started seventeenth and took the lead from Dale Planck on lap 19 of the 30-lap DIRT 358 Modified feature en-route to his first victory of the 2000 season Sunday August 27 at the New...

- Doug Zupan

VERNON, NY - North Norwich's Mitch Gibbs started seventeenth and took the lead from Dale Planck on lap 19 of the 30-lap DIRT 358 Modified feature en-route to his first victory of the 2000 season Sunday August 27 at the New Utica-Rome Speedway. Other winners were Rushville's Steve Gray in the UFPO "Dig Safely" Sportsman Super DIRT Series event, West Winfield's Jerry Holmes in the DIRT Pro Stocks, Bridgewater's Mark Effner in the Pure Stocks, Utica's David Nimey in the Senior Slingshots, and Fulton's A.J. Kingsley in the Junior Slingshots.

Rich Price and Bill Shantel Sr. led the 30-lap DIRT 358 Modified feature down to the flags of Starter Chip Burdick, and Shantel took the lead. Price then mounted a charge on Shantel, taking the lead on lap 2. The first yellow of the race came out on lap 2, when Gus Schmidt bobbled in turn three, collecting points runner up J.J. Michaels, Jason Barney, Tim Clemons, and Jeremy Smith. Barney and Smith were done for the night, and Michaels made a quick pit spot and returned without losing a lap.

On the restart, Dale Planck, who started seventh, took over third, just as Mitch Gibbs started flying through the pack. Planck took over second, and then quickly took the lead on lap 6 from Rich Price. On the same lap, Jack Johnson, Jason Barney, and Ted Lamb Jr. collected each other on the frontstretch. Barney, last week's feature winner, was done for the night, and Johnson and Lamb returned after quick pit stops.

On the restart, Barker leaped past Price for the second spot, and just one lap later, bad luck befell points leader heading into the event, Ron Holmes. Holmes slowed in turn three and pulled into the infield with a broken rearend, forcing a yellow flag period.

On the restart, Gibbs literally shot himself out of a cannon as he went from eighth to fourth in turn one. A lap later, Gibbs found himself in third, after passing Mike Hulsizer for the spot. On lap 10, Todd Burley spun in turn three, causing a quick yellow. Two side by side battles in the top five quickly developed on the restart with Planck and Barker plus Gibbs and Hulsizer. By the 13th circuit, Gibbs caught Barker, and a lap later, Gibbs was in second, while J.J. Michaels took over fourth from Hulsizer.

At the halfway point, the top five was Planck, Gibbs, Barker, Michaels, and Mike Hulsizer.

Michaels, who went into the night the runner up in points, was just flying, and trying to gain every point he could now that Holmes was out of the action. By lap 16, he caught Barker and passed him later that lap. On lap 18, Gibbs, who was running the top side, caught Planck, who was running the bottom. With a burst of speed, Gibbs took the lead on lap 19. Two laps later, Jack Johnson, who recovered from the early race crash on the homestretch, took over the fifth spot.

On lap 22, Joe Slawiak turned into the turn four wall, collecting Rich Price. On the restart, Michaels tried to get around Planck for second, but to no avail. Jack Johnson continued his march towards the front, as he took over fourth from Barker on lap 23. However, Barker took the spot back just as Michaels went high off turn two, setting off a three wide battle for third between Michaels, Johnson, and Barker. Johnson moved back into fourth, with Michaels third, and Barker fifth. Then, a quick yellow for debris on lap 28 set up a battle for the win.

On the final restart, Johnson passed Barker for fourth, just as Dale Planck made a move to the inside of Gibbs for the lead. Gibbs held him off, but Planck was still there on his bumper for the final lap when Planck looked low again. However, Gibbs and his Teo Pro Car were just too strong for Planck and his brand new Bicknell chassis, which sported an unfamiliar paintjob. At the checkers, it was Gibbs the winner, followed by Planck (started seventh) in second, Jack Johnson who took the third spot on the final lap, J.J. Michaels (started tenth) in fourth, and John Barker (started eighth) in fifth. Rounding out the top ten, it was Gus Schmidt, Todd Burley, Billy Wilcox, Roger Phelps, and Mike Hulsizer.

The win for Gibbs, who led all drivers with six victories last season, was his first on the 2000 season. For J.J. Michaels, the race was very important, as he took over the points lead from Ron Holmes, who has led the points race most of the season. Michaels now holds a slim six point lead over Holmes as they head into next week's final points event. For Jack Johnson, who started eighteenth, his third place finish was his second in less than a week for the Utica-Rome legend.

Gibbs commented, "This car does not quite work like last years car. We've been trying some different things and tonight it all worked out. Hopefully we will be good for the rest of the year."

Mike Hulsizer, Jeremy Smith, and Dale Planck won the Modified heat races, and Todd Burley won the Modified consi.

Shawn Donath took the early lead of the 30-lap UFPO "Dig Safely" Sportsman Super DIRT Series event. Dan Yankowski took the lead on lap 2 and Matt Sheppard, who started sixth, moved into third on lap 3, and raced with Donath for second a lap later. Sheppard took the spot, and two laps later, Donath hit the turn three wall, causing a yellow. During the yellow, Sheppard, the Super DIRT Series point leader, slowed and was pushed to the pit area. On a lap 7 restart, Steve Gray moved into second when runner-up Jamie Christian bobbled and set his sights on Yankowski. Several cautions slowed the early race, and on a lap 10 restart, Gray took the lead from Yankowski. Christian lost a spot when series runner Chris Schultz passed him for third on lap 11. After several other yellows, Gray was able to open up a sizable lead, but the battle for second raged on between Yankowski and Schultz. On lap 26, Schultz took over second, and set his sights on Gray. A late restart on lap 28 showed that Schultz had something for Gray, but Gray was able to hold on for his first career Utica-Rome Speedway DIRT Sportsman victory, and his first on the Super DIRT Series for the Sportsman division. Following Gray across the finish line it was Schultz in second, Yankowski in third, Jamie Christian in fourth, and Justin Haers in fifth.

During post race technical inspection, an infraction was found with Gray's Sportsman, and he lost half of his points and money for the evening, but the win will stand.

Dan Yankowski, Shawn Donath, Jamie Christian, John Plumb, Steve Gray, and Matt Sheppard won sportsman heat events, while 14-year old Jessica Zemken, Willy Decker, and Paul Carey won the Sportsman consi races.

Jerry Holmes started third and led the entire distance of the 15-lap DIRT Pro Stock feature, which saw a competitive battle for second through fifth positions. At the checkers, it was Holmes for his second win of the 2000 season, followed by last week's winner Bret Belden, Jason Rood, Dave Moyer, and John Kiskiel.

Kiskiel and Holmes won the Pro Stock heat races.

Waylan Wilczek took the early lead of the 15-lap Pure Stock feature, but Mark Effner, looking for his first career win, took command on lap 3. Dave Mannise, who has dominated the division with five wins this season, put heavy pressure on Effner, taking over the lead on lap 12. However, Effner was determined and took over for good on lap 13. Effner led the rest of the way for his first win ever, and he was followed at the checkers by Mannise, Jeff Pastorella, Waylan Wilczek, and Dave Arbes.

Mark Effner, Chad Ray, and Dave Mannise won the Pure Stock heat events, while Dave Arbes notched the Pure Stock consi race.

Ryan Phelps took the early lead of the 15-lap Senior Slingshot event, and Randy Marsh took command on lap 7. David Nimey, who started ninth, caught Marsh and took the lead on lap 10. Nimey led the rest of the way, and he was followed by Marsh, A.J. Digsby, Todd Land, and Denny Tilison.

A.J. Kingsley led the entire distance of the 12-lap Junior Slingshot feature. He was followed by Larry Wight.

Jackie Botindari, Ryan Phelps, and Larry Wight won the Slingshot heat races.

Coming up this Sunday September 3, Utica-Rome will hold the final points races for all divisions, and track champions will be crowned. Scheduled in a regular show dubbed the "Night of Champions" are the DIRT 358 Modifieds, DIRT Sportsman, DIRT Pro Stocks, Pure Stocks, and Slingshots plus the ELS Super Sprints. The gates will open at 4pm and racing will begin promptly at 6pm.

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

Notes - 31 Modifieds, 52 Sportsman, 20 Pro Stocks, 32 Pure Stocks, and 12 Slingshots filled the Utica-Rome pit area with 147 cars.




DIRT 358 Modifieds (30 Laps) - 1)MITCH GIBBS, 2)Dale Planck, 3)Jack Johnson, 4)J.J. Michaels, 5)John Barker Jr., 6)Gus Schmidt, 7)Todd Burley, 8)Billy Wilcox, 9)Roger Phelps, 10)Mike Hulsizer, 11)Ronnie Johnson, 12)Tim Clemons, 13)Paul Jensen, 14)Bill Shantel Sr., 15)Andy Romano, 16)Jim Rothwell, 17)Mark Schoonover, 18)Rich Price, 19)John Ramsey, 20)Joe Slawiak, 21)Ted Lamb Jr., 22)Ron Holmes, 23)Jason Barney, 24)Jeremy Smith.

Lap Leaders - Shantel (1-2), Price (3-5), Planck (6-18), Gibbs (19-30).

Did Not Qualify - Joel Thomas, Rick Kroll, Mike Gillette, Mike Fusco, Pete Taylor, Rob Hughes, Steve Hulsizer.

Current Unofficial Point Standings (Top 5 Only) - 1)J.J. Michaels 475, 2)Ron Holmes 469, 3)Billy Wilcox and Dale Planck 441, 5)Tim Clemons 430.

UFPO "Dig Safely" Sportsman Super DIRT Series (30 Laps) - 1)STEVE GRAY, 2)Chris Schultz, 3)Dan Yankowski, 4)Jamie Christian, 5)Justin Haers, 6)Stewart Friesen, 7)Rich Swartout, 8)Chad Brachman, 9)Kevin Duryea, 10)Jim Davis, 11)Willy Decker, 12)Gary Moreash, 13)Jim Spano, 14)Paul Carey, 15)Randy Chrysler, 16)Ron Richardson, 17)David VanHorn, 18)Karl Comfort, 19)Steve Way, 20)Jim Roberts, 21)Jessica Zemken, 22)Ryan Odasz, 23)John Christian, 24)Steve Davis, 25)Shawn Donath, 26)Kevin Wills, 27)Kevin Crave, 28)Matt Sheppard, 29)John Plumb, 30)John Kinsella, 31)Paul Kinney.

Lap Leaders - Donath (1), Yankowski (2-10), Gray (11-30).

Did Not Qualify - Brian Johnson, Dave Bargabos, Ray Zemken, Mark Tily, Bill Deerfield, Dick Park, Jim Lavalla, Tim Mayne, Greg Doust, Geoff VanRiper, Derek Loonan, John Powers, Brian Murphy, Bill Shantel Jr., Butch Reiter, Craig Pritchard, Jeff Holt, Bob Henry Jr., Robert Sawyer, Shane Donath, Chad Phelps.

DIRT Pro Stocks (15 Laps) - 1)JERRY HOLMES, 2)Bret Belden, 3)Jason Rood, 4)Dave Moyer, 5)John Kiskiel, 6)Wayne Archer, 7)Tom Denton, 8)Brett Haman, 9)Richard Stevenson, 10)Stan Clark, 11)Doug Grimaldi, 12)Chuck Mathews, 13)Gerry Newman, 14)Dave Meeks, 15)Chuck Jones, 16)Eric Vanderhoof, 17)John Roese, 18)Mike Watkins, 19)Gus Gould, 20)Aaron Jacobs.

Lap Leaders - Holmes (1-16).

Pure Stocks (15 Laps) - 1)MARK EFFNER, 2)Dave Mannise, 3)Jeff Pastorella, 4)Waylan Wilczek, 5)Dave Arbes, 6)George Schulze, 7)Frank Burnell, 8)Rob Seavy, 9)Bobby Newman, 10)Chad Ray, 11)Herm Staats, 12)Mike Kirk, 13)Mark Webb, 14)Marty Collmer, 15)Dave Horning Jr., 16)Art Newman Jr., 17)Jeremy Bargabos, 18)Bill Gibson, 19)Zig Kellum, 20)John Clark, 21)Les Lewis, 22)Jim Thomas, 23)Ray Fancher, 24)Bob Gloska.

Lap Leaders - Wilczek (1-2), Effner (3-11), Mannise (12), Effner (13-15).

Did Not Qualify - Chris White, Dennis Kelly, Ron Poland Jr., Matt Spisak, Cali Hall, David Pope, Bill Lashen, Walt Koperda Jr.

Senior Slingshots (15 Laps) - 1)DAVID NIMEY, 2)Randy Marsh, 3)A.J. Digsby, 4)Todd Land, 5)Denny Tilison, 6)Ryan Phelps, 7)Jackie Botindari, 8)Todd Thomas, 9)Bob Hoffman, 10)J.J. Courcy.

Lap Leaders - Phelps (1-6), Marsh (7-9), Nimey (10-15).

Junior Slingshots (12 Laps) - 1)A.J. KINGSLEY, 2)Larry Wight.

Lap Leaders - Kingsley (1-12).

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Series Stock car
Drivers Jim Roberts , Pete Taylor , Brian Johnson , Brian Murphy , John Clark , John Barker , Jeremy Smith