Rich Vleck, DUNDEE, NY, (August 10, 2012)- In the week leading into the highly-anticipated “Celebrity Night” the forecast was so poor that most had dismissed any chance of racing getting in. Even on Friday Morning, the predictions were so bleak that when the decision was made to attempt to get it in, most scoffed and were skeptical. After the sun set, the radar appeared that the night be abbreviated, but somehow everything got in.
Five years ago, Tony Stewart came to the Black Rock Speedway and realized he could race his sprint car at Black Rock. A year later, he made a rare appearance in his sprint car. Four years later, he has turned into one of the most seasoned sprint car drivers in the pits each time he slings the dirt.
Stewart, of Columbus, IN, moved by Randy West on lap eight of the 25-lap A-Verdi Sprint Championship to score the $4,000-to-prize in an event co-sanctioned by the Patriot Sprint Tour and Untied Racing Company.
“It was fun. The track was real wide and racy. The extra time the spent on the track was really worth it,” noted Stewart in Victory Lane. I’m just glad we got one. The second-to-last time we were here I was sitting upside-down in turn two after leading the heat race.”
Things worked out perfectly on the night for “Smoke”. After drawing the outside pole for his heat race, he dominated hot laps, as his Office Depot/ Mobil 1 No. 14 was a quarter-second quicker than any of the other 45 cars in competition on the night. He then dominated his 10-lap heat race and just after taking checkered flag broke the front axle. While his crew swapped it out, he drew the pole position for the feature and it appeared he would have a clear path to the win, but that was not quite the case.
On the drop of Scott Hixson’s initial green flag, it would be outside polesitter Randy West shocking the packed house, as he stole the lead from Stewart. Tony would settle into second place and ran in that position until a lap three caution for a Chuck Hebing spin.
“We didn’t get our car going forward as we needed to tonight,” noted the defending Sprint Cup Championship afterwards. “After we got a lap in the car came to life but we have to work on the starts a little bit.”
West would hold command after the restart, but Stewart would begin to stalk him for the lead, eventually claiming the lead on lap eight.
“I raced with (West) last week at Williams Grove so I at least knew someone I was racing with up there so I was really comfortable racing with him.”
Soon thereafter, the leaders would hit the tail of the field and it would have appeared that leading might not be the best position to be in, but Stewart jumped at the opportunity.
“I kind of looked forward to it,” “I thought our car was pretty maneuverable in traffic. We got a really good run on (West) and got by but I didn’t know if he found something. I got hemmed up a few times but I kind of liked (the lapped traffic) though.”
As the laps wined down, Stewart had a half-track lead over second but just four laps shy of the finish, May BRS winner Bobby Breen was charging through the pack and was battling with West for the runner-up spot when he tagged the backstretch wall in his No. 9. With lapped cars removed with under five laps remaining, West would have one more crack at Stewart, but his focus over that final minute would be on holding off Jason Barney.
As Stewart drove away, Barney planted his No. 87 on the bottom of the track and pulled up along side West’s Team 56 entry, but decided to race him cleanly. As West crossed in second, Barney was content to finish third at a track he did not care much for up until Friday Night.
Davie Franek put on his best performance at BRS as well, drive forward in both the heat and the feature to earn a fourth-place showing. Justin Barger was breathing down the No. 28F down the stretch, but would settle for fifth, making it his sixth straight top five finish at BRS.
Tommy Wickham put together a quality performance, finishing in sixth for his best career run in Yates County. Dylan Swiernik was impressive, driving from 24th to seventh. Ed Aikin was eighth while Scott Kreutter was ninth. Don Adamczyk won his heat, and then scored the Original Pizza Logs Super Dash win for the third time at BRS this season and parlayed that into a top-10 finish.
A total of 46 sprint cars were in the pits on the night. Drivers from six states and two Canadian Provinces were represented in the star-studded field, with many rolling in to pits late after laying back to see if Mother Nature would show her hand. A slow-moving band moved within a mile of the speedway around 9:00 P.M. but would hold off until after 11:00 P.M., well after Stewart had claimed the checkered flag.
A host of top point drivers from URC and PST struggled on the night. URC Point Leader Robbie Stillwaggon flipped while going for the final transfer spot in the B-Main and did not qualify. Josh Weller, who entered the night third in URC points, had to come from the B-Main. PST Point Leader Bryan Howland was leading his heat race when his power steering line broke and forced him to use a provisional. Tim Kelly, who was second in PST points, flipped on the opening lap of his heat race and then again in the B-Main and did not qualify. Defending PST Champion Jared Zimbardi, who was also the winner of this event last year, had engine trouble and also did not qualify.
The other special event on the loaded card was the annual Celebrity Match Race to benefit Motor Racing Outreach. Ryan Blaney led all eight laps to score the win, holding off his father Dave down the stretch for a wild finish. J.J. Yeley was close in tow for third and was exploring options to drive to the win on the final circuit.
In weekly BRS competition, each of the seven divisions ran a feature-only format. With an open draw for each division, the drivers entered the night with a great unknown as to where they would start. As it worked out for Brady Fultz, it would go in his favor; but that didn’t mean the win was assured.
Fultz, of Dundee, scored his second-straight Hoselton Sportsman Feature win, his fourth of the season to all but lock up his second track title. He started fifth, but when the caution flag waved at the conclusion of the opening lap, he was already in second and on the ensuring restart would be the leader for good.
As Fultz paced the field in the No. 70 though, defending track champion Donnie Lawson was charging up through the pack and on a late-race restart would drive underneath the point leader. Fultz was undeterred though, as he crossed over on the No. 11 and regained the lead, this time for good.
“We had a good draw tonight,” admitted Fultz in Victory Lane. “Donnie snuck in there but we were able to hold him off. I slipped up and he got underneath me so I had to get back to the bottom; there was a little bit of bite down there tonight.”
As two of the three drivers to win sportsman championships at BRS duked it out for the lead, street stock regular Bob Buono would run to a solid third place finish in his first start in the division. Trevor Sutherland would cross in fourth for his first top five of the year while Loren Lincoln completed the top five.
When John Waters took the lead on the fourth lap from Mikey Wonderling on the late model feature and it appeared as though he would cruise to his sixth win in eight starts at BRS this season, but the defending track champion would give him a battle, taking the top spot back for four circuits; it would not last though.
Waters, of Whitesville, showed why he is cruising to his first career BRS Track Championship as he moved back by the No. 57J and held a steady distance the rest of the way to continue his dominance of the 4/10-mile. Wonderling would hang on to second, but had to battle intensly with 2010 Track Champ Jason Knowles to do so. Brian Knowles and Jared Hill completed the top five.
The storied battle between street stock frontrunners Chris Fisher and Bob Buono added a new chapter on lap 15 of the feature when Buono made contact with Fisher, spinning around the leader’s No. 37 and forcing both to the back of the pack. That opened up the door for Larry Fenton Jr. to score his first career win, but as was the case back in June, Fenton lost the chance at his first checkered flag off the final corner as he slipped up and allowed former track regular Tim Gullo to sneak underneath to score the win. Dave Matwiejow would come across for third while Fisher would race back up to fourth. Nate Daggett would hold off Buono to round out the top five.
Rich Karlnoski admitted after the event that he still doesn’t feel like he has what it takes to stay with Mike Smith each night, but on this Friday he was able to withstand the advances of the defending champion and score his third win of the year.
Karlnoski, from Dundee, started in 10th but was on a mission early, taking the runner-up spot on the second lap and then moving by invader Chris Fleming just before halfway. Smith started in 12th but steadily moved forward without the aid of a yellow and explored various lines to get by the No. 55x but would come up short. The only caution on the night came on lap one when early leader Todd Stone spun and collected point leader Phil Yaw. Yaw would be unable to continue, which hands the point lead over to Mike Smith with two races remaining.
Rich Sharpsteen II once again showed his strength in the Signs Plus of Kanona 4-Cylinder Feature, winning his sixth feature in the last seven races; but what is particularly impressive is how he has learned how to be so strong on a slick track.
Sharpsteen started in 12th but had the second spot by the end of the first lap and one lap later was in the lead for good. His buddy James Kreidler III would chase up through quickly as well, inheriting the runner-up spot but having to ride in that spot over the final 14 laps run under green flag condition. Bobby Teed would score a solid third place showing while Chad Ayers and Jeremy Trank completed the top five.
Allison Teed opened up the night of racing in style as she scored the win in the bandit feature for her third victory of the season. Point leader Lance Irwin lead the opening four circuits but he would fall out on the same lap as Justin Eldridge, his nearest competitor in points. Teed would drive away from Brandon Mathews would over the second half of the race to win easily. Ray Bliss Jr. would round out the podium in third.
To end the night, the FWD 4-Cylidner Feature had a wild three-wild battle for the lead taking place when Mother Nature finally intervined and forced the checkered flag to fall at the same time as the caution. Jamie Eldridge Sr. was ahead by just a car length at the line to become the seventh different winner in the division this season. Eldridge narrowly edged out Cody Baker and Adam DelGrosso for the win.
It was a night that is sure not soon be forgotten. All of the racing on the card got in except the MRO Media Race. For more information, visit www.BlackRockSpeedway.com.
Black Rock Speedway Results: 8/10/2012-
A-Verdi and SP Wilson present MRO Night
A-Verdi Sprint Championship PST/URC A-Main presented by SP Wilson (25 Laps)- 1. Tony Stewart (14), 2. Randy West (56), 3. Jason Barney (87), 4. Davie Franek (28F), 5. Justin Barger (5), 6. Tommy Wickham (75), 7. Dylan Swiernik (7c), 8. Ed Aikin (7), 9. Scott Kreutter (49x), 10. Don Adamczyk (21), 11. George Suprick (87), 12. Bryan Howland (51), 13. Josh Weller (63), 14. Kevin Darling (9D), 15. Art Liedl (2L), 16. Tracy Potter (11), 17. Chad Trout (7cx), 18. Ryan Linder (87x), 19. Dan Mazy (X), 20. Patrick Vigneault (55), 21. Bobby Breen (9), 22. Chuck Hebing (45), 23. Jonathan Swanson (17J), 24. Kramer Williamson (73), 25. Glenn Styres (0).
Lap Leaders- West 1-7, Stewart 8-25.
Heat Winners- Stewart, Hebing, West, Barney, Adamczyk
Dash Winner- Adamczyk
B-Main Winners- Weller, Styres
Did Not Qualify: J.J. Yeley (77x), Scott Lutz (47), Eric Wiggins (47R), Tim Hogue (39), Brandan Warner (10B), Erica Bell (31B), David Swanson (117), Robbie Stillwaggon (89), Tim Kelly (12), Jeff Cook (10c), Jimmy Stitzel (12x), Charlie Donk (99), Mitch Brown (10), Andy Best (88B), Jared Fink (21F), Jamie Collard (7x), Joey Biasi (B1), Steve Hutchinson Jr. (2), Jared Zimbardi (35), Steve Collins (67), Clint Ide (3).
MRO Celebrity Race (8 Laps)-Ryan Blaney, Dave Blaney, J.J. Yeley, Brian Scott, Michael McDowell, Kevin White, Michael McDowell, Justin Allgaier, Bobby Decker.
Lap Leaders- R. Blaney 1-8.
Hoselton Auto Mall Crate Sportsman Feature (20 Laps)- BRADY FULTZ, Donnie Lawson, Bob Buono, Trevor Sutherland, Loren Lincoln, Ross Vleck, Fran Hilton, Ray Bliss, Josh Butler, Brent Ayers, Joe Cook Jr., Chris Silvers, Nicole Hoag, Gary Hotelling, Randy McCulloch, Rob Humphreys, Kyle De+Metro, Dale Welty, Brandon Butler, Chad Dailey, Chris Daughrety.
Lap Leader- Buono 1, Fultz 2-14, Lawson 15-16, Fultz 17-20.
Late Model Feature (20 Laps)- JOHN WATERS, Mikey Wonderling, Jason Knowles, Brian Knowles, Jared Hill, Steve LeBarron, Carl Cleveland, Chris Peacock, Bill Miller, Sparky Hills, Bruce Miller, Wally Wade.
Lap Leaders- M. Wonderling 1-3, Waters 4-7, M. Wonderling 8-11, Waters 12-20.
Street Stock Feature (20 Laps)- TIM GULLO, Larry Fenton Jr., Dave Matwiejow, Chris Fisher, Nate Daggett, Bob Buono, Lavern Knickerbocker III, Clint Miller, Jeremy Perkins, Chuck Winslow, Jake Karlnoski, Les McCann, Dylan Cecce.
Lap Leaders- Fisher 1-3, Buono 4-7, Fisher 8-14, Fenton 15-20.
IMCA Modified Feature (20 Laps)- RICH KARLNOSKI, Mike Smith, Chris Fleming, Ray Bliss, Victor McNeal, Bruce Tinsley, Dave Yehl, Rich McNeal Jr., Matt Roberts, Todd Stone, Rob Wilcox, Scott Sebring, Phil Yaw.
Lap Leaders- Stone 1, Fleming 2-8, Karlnoski 9-20.
Signs Plus of Kanona/ Watkins Glen NAPA 4-Cylinder Feature (20 Laps)- RICH SHARPSTEEN II, James Kreidler III, Bobby Teed, Chad Ayers, Jeremy Trank, Matt Benjamin, Zach Teed, Scott Bradley, Billy Cagle, Harold Fenton Jr., Donna Bliss, Erick Bell, Jayson Smart, Del Cummings.
Lap Leaders- Trank 1, Sharpsteen 2-20.
Front Wheel Drive 4 Cylinder Feature (10 Laps)- Jamie Eldridge Sr., Cody Baker, Adam DelGrosso, Steve Rogers, Alyssa Duby, Jamie Eldridge Jr., Matt Hamilton, Howard Bailey, Craig Mahrt.
Lap Leaders- Duby 1, Eldridge Sr. 2-10.
Home Necessities Bandits (10 Laps)- ALLISON TEED, Brandon Mathews, Ray Bliss Jr., Matt Mashewske, Desiree Force, Joey Rodbourn, Lance Irwin, Justin Eldridge.
Lap Leaders- Irwin 1-4, Teed 5-10.