Utica-Rome Speedway report 2002-07-07

Jumpin' Jack Johnson survives wild Federated Auto Parts main for second win Of 2002 at Utica-Rome Speedway. VERNON, NY -- The legendary Jumpin' Jack Johnson of Duanesburg romped to his second 358-Modified stock car feature win of the 2002 season...

Jumpin' Jack Johnson survives wild Federated Auto Parts main for second win Of 2002 at Utica-Rome Speedway.

VERNON, NY -- The legendary Jumpin' Jack Johnson of Duanesburg romped to his second 358-Modified stock car feature win of the 2002 season last Sunday at Utica-Rome Speedway on Federated Auto Parts Night. Johnson, 57, started thirteenth and missed a wild mid-race pileup to take the lead on lap 10 from early leader Gus Schmidt. The 30-lap win for the second straight week by the popular veteran behind the wheel of the Sprint PCS / Teo No. 45 was worth $1,500 and it marked his twenty-fifth career victory at the track.

Mike Hulsizer and Gus Schmidt led the 25-car Federated Auto Parts 358-Modified feature down to the flags of Starter Matt Burdick with Schmidt racing out to the early lead in the 30-lap affair. Jack Johnson began his charge in the early stages and raced into ninth by lap 2. Several minor cautions bunched the field up, and that enabled Johnson to move up even farther. On a lap 4 restart, a determined Johnson flew around four cars and moved up into the fourth position on the field. By lap 5, Johnson took over third from Hulsizer, and three laps later he was in second, sending Jason Barney back to third.

On lap 9, the red flag flew for one of the wildest pileups in track history when Tony Ross tagged the wall in turn three, sending him high into the air. While in midair, Matt Sheppard nailed him, sending Ross in a 180-degree spin as the car landed. All hell broke loose behind them as Mitch Gibbs, J.J. Michaels, Aaron Excell, Willy Decker, and Gordy Button were collected in the accident. All drivers were uninjured but some of them will be sore for several days for sure. Ross, Gibbs, point leader Sheppard, Michaels, and Excell were done for the evening with severe damage, but Decker and Button returned to the race.

When the green flag flew, Johnson wasted no time and went right to work on Gus Schmidt for the lead. Johnson was low on the track with Schmidt high, and Johnson edged out in front out of turn four to take the lead on lap 10. Schmidt settled into second by then as Johnson began to pull away. At the halfway point, Johnson was the leader followed by Schmidt, Barney, Can-Am invader Billy Wilcox, and Mike Hulsizer. The battle for the second half of the race focused on Jason Barney and Gus Schmidt as they dueled for the runner-up position. Barney was able to take the spot on lap 23 as he set his sights on Johnson, who was ahead by a straightaway.

A quick yellow with two to go bunched the field up again, but Johnson was simply too dominant for Barney, who held on for second. In between three and four on the final lap, Schmidt spun, collecting Gordy Button who had charged from the rear. Billy Wilcox was third in his first start of the season, with Ryan Baye fourth and John Ramsey in fifth. Rookie Paul Kinney, Gus Schmidt, Button, Pete Taylor, and Willy Decker completed the top ten.

An exhausted sweat covered Johnson, who admitted he was under the weather, was happy in victory lane and gave much of the credit to his new engine builder Pat Morrison. "Pat Morrison has really done a good job with our motor program this year. We had some problems early on with the magneto but we have it all sorted out right now." Johnson also gave much credit to the track maintenance team, who have turned the track into a much racier and smoother surface over the past several weeks. "The track is coming along really well now. I really enjoy racing here," he said.

358-Modified heat victories went to Mike Hulsizer, Jack Johnson, and Tony Ross.

Tim Clemons of Gloversville copped his third straight 20-lap feature win in the first DIRT Sportsman feature. Clemons came from the eighteenth starting position to take the lead with three laps to go from Mike Button for the hard-earned victory. Button was second, followed by Kevin Crave, Jamie Christian, and Jim Roberts. Rookie Darren Keyser led the first six circuits until Tim Mayne took over the top spot on lap 7. Button was the leader beginning on lap 13.

Jamie Christian of West Winfield started sixteenth and put on a tremendous display of driving to claim his second DIRT Sportsman feature victory of the year in the second Twin 20-lap event. Christian took the lead on lap 12 of the caution filled affair. Tim Clemons survived several of the incidents and roared back to finish second. Kevin Crave was third, Tim Mayne was fourth, and John Christian was fifth. John Christian was the leader for the first three laps until Mayne led for the second time of the evening on lap 4. With his victory, Christian became the all-time Sportsman feature winner at the track, with twenty career victories over nine seasons of winning competition. Clemons, Steve Way, and Jim Roberts were victorious in the Sportsman heat races.

Buddy Hencke of Sand Lake used the pole starting position to his advantage and claimed his fourth DIRT Pro Stock feature win of the year. Hencke led the entire 15-lap distance. Jim Normoyle, Mark Hoffman, Chad Ray, and Joe Palmer completed the top five finishers. Pro Stock heat victories went to Hencke and A.J. Digsby.

Jeff Thorp of Vernon started fifth and won his first 15-lap Pure Stock feature of the season after beating a rapidly closing Art Newman Jr on the final lap. Newman held on for second, with Waylan Wilczek third, Ricky Trexler fourth, and Jim Thomas in fifth. Dave Arbes led the first seven laps until Thorp took command on lap 8 and led the rest of the distance. Dave Mannise and Thorp took heat wins.

Coming up this Sunday July 14 is Royce International Eyewear Night featuring the 358-Modifieds, Sportsman (Non-Point), Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks plus One On One Spectator Races. Race time is set for 6pm. For more information, contact the track office at (315) 829-4557 or log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com.

PIT NOTES -- 25 Modifieds, 29 Sportsman, 19 Pro Stocks, and 19 Pure Stocks were on hand for Federated Auto Parts Night. Nan-Way Speed Shop in Syracuse presented Driver of the Month Awards for May to Bret Belden in the Pro Stocks and Dave Mannise in the Pure Stocks. The Northeast Extreme Freestyle Motocross Series was on hand and performed various freestyle stunts in mid-air, much to the delight of the crowd. A spectacular fireworks display by American Fireworks of Utica completed the evening. Seven different winners have graced victory lane in the Modified division to date: Gibbs, Button, Burley (2), Schmidt, Danny Johnson, Steve Hulsizer, and Jack Johnson (2). The Modified chassis win count: Troyer 4, TEO 3, Bicknell 2.

-urs-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Jim Roberts , Pete Taylor