VERNON, N.Y. (WKTV) - A beautiful night and a full night of racing greeted the fans at Utica-Rome Speedway and they saw plenty of action which saw Stewart Friesen and Larry Wight pick up wins in the $2,000 to win each Twin 20 lap Modified features. Jeremy Vunk picked up another Sportsman win while Bret Belden found victory lane for the first time this season in the Pro Stocks. Ron Hawker was the victor in the Pure Stock main event. The fans also were treated to an on track autograph session during intermission on Bill Cole, NYCM, and Whelen Engineering night
In the first Modified Twin 20 lap feature, pole sitter Tim Mayne looked strong early as would hold on to the top spot for the first 11 laps. With Mayne leading the way, the battle for position behind him was raging as Jason Rood, Pat Ward, Willy Decker, and Matt Janczuk were swapping positions lap after lap. Defending track champion Stewart Friesen started to make his presence felt as he moved into the top five on lap three after starting seventh. On lap seven, Friesen then made the pass of Decker to gain the fourth spot and then began to pursue Ward for third. It was the halfway point when Friesen finally took second as Mayne was still the leader over Rood, Friesen, Ward, and Ryan Phelps.
After a lap 10 caution and restart, Friesen was then able to complete the outside pass of Rood to grab the runner up spot and give his full attention to the leader Mayne. It took one lap for the Friesen to make the pass for the lead and begin to pull away. The final caution of the event came out on lap 16 but no one was strong enough to challenge for the lead as Friesen would collect his seventh win of the year with Mike Mahaney making a late race charge to finish second while Ward, Phelps, and Decker finished out the top five with the top ten being completed by Janczuk, Matt Sheppard, Larry Wight, Alan Barker, and Mayne.
During victory lane ceremonies in the first feature, Friesen drew for the inversion for the second feature and drew eighth, putting eighth place finisher Wight on the pole for the second event. Wight used that draw to its fullest as he jumped out to the early lead at the drop of the green to begin the second of the twin 20 lap features. Outside pole sitter Sheppard settled into the second spot with Janczuk, Decker, and Ward chasing. Eyes were on eighth place started Friesen as he was again making his way to the front to try and complete the sweep. It took five circuits for Friesen to crack the top five and it was until the halfway point when he was able to get into the top three. With 10 laps to go, Wight was putting on a clinic out front as he steadily pulled away with Sheppard, Friesen, Janczuk, and Decker in pursuit.
Once into the third spot, Friesen was unable to mount a serious challenge for the runner up Sheppard who at the same time was watching Wight drive away. Wight was able to finish off the strong run to score his second win of the season while Sheppard, Friesen, Mahaney, and Decker rounded out the top five. Positions six through ten were filled out by Janczuk, Ward, Phelps, Danny Varin, and Adam Roberts. Unofficially, Friesen is again the point leader by a mere four points going into next week.
In the Sportsman 20 lap main event, Randy Shantel used his outside pole starting spot to his advantage as he led the first 13 laps of the event. While Shantel set the pace, 10th place starter Jeremy Vunk was on the move as he broke into the top five by lap four. On lap five, he was in the third spot and was still looking for more. Lap seven saw Vunk pass second place runner Craig Pope and then set off after the leader Shantel. It took several laps for Vunk to chase Shantel down and then it took another couple laps to complete the pass for the top spot, but on lap 13 Vunk made his move to become the new leader. Vunk then pulled away to collect his second consecutive win and sixth overall. Claude Hutchings Jr., Steve Way, Randy Shantel, and AJ Filbeck completed the top five finishers.
Pro Stock outside pole sitter Chris Cunningham led the first two circuits of the 20 feature, with third place starter AJ Digsby grabbing the lead on lap three. Digsby’s turn out front was short lived however, as four time winner Glenn Forward took over on lap four. The driver that was on the move though was Bret Belden, who started in the 14th spot, and was up on the rear deck lid of Forward on lap five. For the next 11 circuits, Belden hounded Forward for the lead and on lap 16 he finally made the winning pass to collect his first win of the season. Forward held on to finish second with Tom Denton, Digsby, and Ryan Lund chasing.
Ron Hawker vaulted from his fourth place starting spot to the lead on the opening lap of the 15 lap Pure Stock nightcap as point leader and ninth place starter Russ Marsden up to the second spot in lap two. For the 13 laps, Marsden threw everything he had at Hawker but was unsuccessful at wrestling the lead away. Hawker would narrowly beat Marsden at the finish with Bill Mason, Frank Hyatt, and Ricky Breed.
Next week at the “Action Track of the East”, Dick Waterman will present another exciting show of NASCAR Modifieds, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks. The action will again start at 6 p.m. with gates opening at 3:30 p.m. For more information, please log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the speedway office at (315)829-4557.