Uttica-Rome race report 2001-06-18

VERNON, NY - Ageless veteran Jumpin' Jack Johnson of Duanesburg passed race leader Steve Hulsizer with two laps to go to claim his first win of the season after a thrilling showdown in the DIRT 358-Modified feature last Sunday at Utica-Rome ...

VERNON, NY - Ageless veteran Jumpin' Jack Johnson of Duanesburg passed race leader Steve Hulsizer with two laps to go to claim his first win of the season after a thrilling showdown in the DIRT 358-Modified feature last Sunday at Utica-Rome Speedway. Johnson, 56, started in the ninth starting position and steadily worked his way to the front of the 30-lap event in classical Jumpin' Jack style. The win for the legendary driver behind the wheel of the Witz Roofing orange No. 12a was worth $1,500 and marked an important milestone as his 400th career victory.

Also winning were Willy Decker of Vernon in the DIRT Sportsman, John Pietrowicz of Phoenix in the DIRT Pro Stocks, Jeff Pastorella of Westmoreland in the Pure Stocks, and Randy Marsh of West Edmeston in the Slingshots.

Pete Taylor and Wayne Reutimann Jr. led the 30-lap headline DIRT 358-Modified feature down to Starter Chip Burdick's green flag, with Taylor racing to the early lead. Jason Barney took command on lap 3, while Ron Holmes, Jack Johnson, and Todd Burley were beginning to make their moves to the front during the first night of handicapping. Steve Hulsizer, having one of his best weekends in some time, dove underneath Barney in turn four and took the race lead on lap 7. The driver really on the move at this time was defending track champion Ron Holmes, who was having a dogfight with rookie driver Wayne Reutimann Jr. Reutimann was able to hold him off, and even began closing in on Hulsizer. But as that was going on, an entertaining three car battle went on between Holmes, Johnson, and Burley.

At the halfway point, the top five was Hulsizer, Reutimann, Holmes, Johnson, and Burley. On a mid-race restart, Johnson went right to work on Holmes, until on lap 19 Holmes slowed with a flat tire on his Bicknell No. 82, giving third to Johnson. When the race resumed, Johnson took over second by passing Reutimann, and set his sights on Hulsizer. However, Todd Burley had other thoughts and got around Reutimann, who was having the best dirt race of his young career.

Johnson began catching Hulsizer as the laps continued to tick by, and by lap 23, Johnson was right on the rear bumper of the Hulsizer No. 88. With lapped traffic entering into play, Burley also caught the top two and an entertaining battle ensued, which shook Utica-Rome to its foundation. Hulsizer was able to hold Johnson off for several laps, but Johnson was trying the outside lane in turn one, and seemed to be getting a run on Hulsizer off of turn two. With just two laps to go, Johnson was able to get outside of Hulsizer on the backstretch, but Hulsizer drove into turn three very deep. Too deep however, as he pulled a slidejob on Johnson as they exited turn four, enabling Johnson to move a classical slingshot move off turn four to take the race lead as they took the white flag. Hulsizer bobbled momentarily, enabling Burley to take over second, but from there on out, it was all Jumpin' Jack, who crossed the finish line for his first victory of the 2001 season at Utica-Rome.

Hulsizer had to settle for third, with Mitch Gibbs fourth and Jason Barney in fifth. J.J. Michaels, Paul Jensen, Ryan Baye, John Ramsey, and Joe Slawiak completed the top ten.

"It was awesome, what a heck of a race," said Johnson in response to the loud cheers of the excited Utica-Rome crowd. "I figured I would get a run off the top and come back down off the bottom. Sometimes it works, and maybe things are turning around for us now. Hopefully, we will have a good year now. This Witz Roofing 358 team is one of the best things to happen to me in a long time."

"Old Jack's pretty tough, huh?" said second place finisher Todd Burley, who had two consecutive victories heading into the event.

The victory for the ageless veteran was his 400th career victory, an important milestone for the popular driver who was Utica-Rome Big Block track champion in 1982. It capped off a tremendous week for Jack, as he won the Super DIRT Series event at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown on Thursday. At Utica-Rome, it was his 21st career victory, spread out in seven winning seasons, and it was the first victory of the year for the popular TEO Pro Car chassis, breaking the Troyer stronghold. During 2000, Johnson scored the 100-lap win in the season ending Utica-Rome Super DIRT Series race, his first victory in over 13 years at the track. It was a sentimental win for Johnson, who was a former part owner of the speedway with Jim Beachy and Fred Burrows when it was called New Venture Int'l during the 1985 season

Gibbs, Roger Phelps, and Johnson won the 358-Modified heat events.

Willy Decker won his second consecutive DIRT Sportsman feature, but it certainly was not easy, as he had to come from the seventeenth starting position to claim the win. Rookie Tom Denton raced out to the early lead in the 20-lap affair and led the first nine circuits, until a high flying Decker went underneath and took the lead on lap 10. Decker went unchallenged for the victory, his second of the season. Kevin Crave, Jamie Christian, Paul Carey, and Tony Ross completed the top five. Bill Trexler Jr., Decker, and Tim Clemons won the Sportsman heat races, while Jim Roberts won the consi.

John Pietrowicz stopped the three race DIRT Pro Stock win streak of Jerry Holmes by taking the 15-lap victory, his first career win at Utica-Rome. Stan Clark led the first eight laps until fourth place starter Pietrowicz took over on lap 9. Rounding out the top five, it was Jason Rood, Jerry Holmes, Gerry Newman, and Bret Belden. Newman and Pietrowicz copped the Pro Stock heats with victories.

Jeff Pastorella started fifteenth and won his second Pure Stock feature of the season by taking the lead from George Schulze on lap 12 of the 15-lap event. Schulze held on for second in his best career finish, with Herm Staats in third, Bill Mason in fourth, and Rob Seavy in fifth. Schulze and Waylan Wilczek won the Pure Stock heats.

Randy Marsh won his first career Slingshot feature event, by leading the entire 15-lap distance. Following Marsh, it was Denny Tilison, Brian Thomas, A.J. Digsby, and Mike Teachout. J.J. Courcy and Digsby won the Slingshot heat events.

Notes - 101 cars, including 24 358-Modifieds, 28 Sportsman, 22 Pro Stocks, 15 Pure Stocks, and 12 Slingshots were on hand for the evening's racing action, which was completed at 10:30pm. Utica-Rome veteran 358-Modified driver John Barker Jr. will be out of the action for an undetermined amount of time, as he blew his motor on Saturday at Fulton Speedway. Jack Johnson's win in his TEO Pro Car was the first win of the year for other than the Troyer Chassis. DIRT Motorsports racing continues this Sunday June 24 at Utica-Rome Speedway on Student Night. Scheduled is a regular program of DIRT 358-Modifieds, DIRT Sportsman (Non-Point), DIRT Pro Stocks, Pure Stocks, and Slingshots. Race time is set for 6pm. To catch up on the latest news, point standings, driver rosters, action photos, and more, log on to the official website at www.newuticaromespeedway.com.

<pre> NEW UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY RACE SUMMARY

RACE DATE: JUNE 17, 2001

DIRT 358-Modifieds (30 Laps) - JACK JOHNSON, Todd Burley, Steve Hulsizer, Mitch Gibbs, Jason Barney, J.J. Michaels, Paul Jensen, Ryan Baye, John Ramsey, Joe Slawiak, Gus Schmidt Jr., Bill Shantel Sr., Ron Holmes, Rich Price, Chad Ward, Nick Vatalaro, Aaron Excell, Wayne Reutimann Jr., Pete Taylor, Andy Romano, Frank Yankowski, Roger Phelps, Joel Thomas, Jeff Kotary.

Lap Leaders - Taylor (1-2), Barney (3-6), Hulsizer (7-28), Johnson (29-30).

Unofficial Point Standings - 1)Todd Burley 228, 2)Jack Johnson 196, 3)Ryan Baye, 4)Gus Schmidt Jr. & Steve Hulsizer 172.

DIRT Sportsman (20 Laps) - WILLY DECKER, Kevin Crave, Jamie Christian, Paul Carey, Tony Ross, Tim Clemons, Jim Roberts, Gordy Button, Steve Way, Mike Button, Jessica Zemken, Bill Trexler Jr., Dan Yankowski, Daryl Hagen, Todd Thomas, Tim Mayne, Tom Denton, Butch Reiter, Jim Rothwell, Paul Kinney, Steve Davis, Ed Ferris, Shane Donath, John Christian, Mark Tily, Shawn Donath. DNS - John Kinsella. DNQ - Jim Lavalla.

Lap Leaders - Denton (1-9), Decker (10-20).

Unofficial Point Standings - 1)Willy Decker 226, Tim Clemons 218, Jamie Christian 214, Kevin Crave 174, Mike Button 170.

DIRT Pro Stocks (15 Laps) - JOHN PIETROWICZ, Jason Rood, Jerry Holmes, Gerry Newman, Bret Belden, Dave Moyer, Brian Belden, Mark Effner, Wayne Archer, Jim Normoyle, Bill Knapp, Mark Hoffman, Eric Vanderhoof, Dave Meeks, Chuck Jones, Heath Carney, Gus Gould, Ray Fancher, Stan Clark, Doug Grimaldi, Charlie Pike, John Roese.

Lap Leaders - Clark (1-8), Pietrowicz (9-15).

Pure Stocks (15 Laps) - JEFF PASTORELLA, George Schulze, Herm Staats, Bill Mason, Rob Seavy, Ricky Trexler, Waylan Wilczek, Jim Thomas, Art Newman Jr., David Pope, Bob Gloska, Brett Haman, Tim Nye, Mark Jennings, Les Lewis, Joe Bono.

Lap Leaders - Schulze (1-11), Pastorella (12-15).

Slingshots (15 Laps) - RANDY MARSH, 2)Denny Tilison, Brian Thomas, A.J. Digsby, Mike Teachout, David Nimey, J.J. Courcy, A.J. Kingsley, John Powers, Dave Barrows, Joe DeJohn, Mike Waterman.

Lap Leaders - Marsh (1-15).

-URS

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Series Stock car
Drivers Jim Roberts , Pete Taylor , Wayne Reutimann , John Barker , Brian Thomas