The third attempt to get in Opening Day at the Black Rock Speedway saw plenty of sunshine, race cars and fans on a pleasant day considering the weather in the spring thus far.
The featured class of the day was the IMCA Modifeds in the World Products Empire State Series season opener. With 21 cars on hand from all around invading Yates County, the racing was tight and fierce, especially for the lead in the late stages.
Josh Sawyer, of Lindley, NY, made his return to an IMCA modified after a two-year hiatus a triumphant won as he held steady early on in the event and jumped on an opportunity to take the lead and hold on through some traitorous moments for the win.
Defending Series Champion Chris Fleming jumped to the lead from the outside pole and seemed as if he could rim-ride to the win. Eddie Sites was up to the task though and after four cautions slowed the event before lap four, Sites used the middle of the track to take the lead. His time up front would be short-lived though as Fleming would steal the lead back for a lap and then duke it out with Sites for the next five laps.
On a lap 16 restart, Fleming slowed and pulled to a stop, ending his day prematurely. The caution would allow Sawyer, along with Canadian Ryan Scott, who had pitted early in the event to replace a flat right front tire, to close in on Sites for the lead. The pair would duke it out with Sites over the final green flag stretch with all three showing moments of brilliance and keeping the result in question.
Sawyer made a daring move on the inside of Sites on lap 18 and would begin to pull away. The others could not hang close to the No. 01s, the only thing that would stop Sawyer would be a bobble off the fourth turn, which is nearly what did him in off the final corner.
“I had a handful of steering wheel off that final corner; I don’t know what happened there but it worked out,” noted Sawyer in Victory Lane about his final left hand turn that had him pointed towards the infield. Sawyer also noted after the race that patience was critical during the race and finding the right line was imperative.
Ryan Scott would charge back to finish second, while fellow heat race winner Sites was third. Gary Roberts and Kevan Cook would complete the top-five.
The other feature on the afternoon ended in thrilling fashion as Clayton Weaver inherited the lead from Mike Nichols on the final lap of the Klein Steel Retail Enduro Series Opener. The race saw nine different lead changes, the final two of which were a result of mechanical issues.
Gary Baker had command of the race for a majority of the race’s midsection until his engine went up in smoke with just five laps remaining. Mike Nichols inherited the lead, with Weaver chasing him down. When the white flag was shown, Weaver appeared that he had run out of time but just then smoke began to emanate out of Nichols’ No. 88. Even though he was able to complete the event, his hiccup was just enough to allow the No. 1 to finish in spot 1. Nichols and 2010 “Big One” Winner Ronnie Hill rounded out the three cars to finish on the lead lap.
All three defending track champions that were in competition in their respective divisions won their heat race to put them on the front row next Friday night.
With 17 sportsman cars on hand, Ron Cartwright Jr. ran down Tyler Siri for the pole position. In the second heat, Donnie Lawson used an early restart to move by polesitter Brady Fultz to claim the outside pole.
Chris Fisher dominated the first street stock heat to start from a positioned he finished in often in 2010. Local Jared Hill won a wild heat 2 to lock in his spot for next weekend.
Jason Knowles, sporting a new paint scheme and driving his father’s No. 4, pulled away from Mikey Wondering to win the late model Heat.
With defending 4-cylinder champion Terry Povoski vacating his ride, Brandon Morseman took the opening and claimed the heat race for that division in thrilling fashion.
Racing will move to the normal Friday Night Lights program next weekend for the 53rd Annual Rock Launcher. The Fab 5 Show will also include the first appearance of the bandits as well as spectator races and free monster truck rides for the kids. For more information, visit www.BlackRockSpeedway.com.
Black Rock Speedway Results: 4/9/2011-
IMCA Modified Feature (20 Laps)- JOSH SAWYER, Ryan Scott, Eddie Sites, Gary Roberts, Kevan Cook, Josh VanTassel, Mike Wimot, Brandon Carvey, Robbie Compton, Mark Griffen, Jason Sullivan, Scott Bennett, Mike VanDyke, Chris Fleming, Mike Smith, Joe Bennett, Brad Weaver, Matt Roberts, Rich McNeal Jr., Rich Karlnoski, Jerry Lobdell Jr. (DNS).
Lap Leaders- Fleming 1-5, Sites 6-10, Fleming 11, Sites 12-17, Sawyer 18-25.
Heat Winners- Sites, Smith, Scott.
Klein Steel Retail Enduro Series Top-3 (30 Laps)- CLAYTON WEAVER, Mike Nichols, Ronnie Hill.
Lap Leaders- Clonch 1, Boylan 2, Baker 3, Boylan 4-6, Baker 7-9, Boylan 10, Baker 11-24, Nichols 25-29, Weaver 30.
Hoselton Auto Mall Sportsman Heat Winners- Cartwright, Lawson.
Late Model Heat Winner- J. Knowles.
Street Stock Heat Winners- Fisher, Hill.
Signs Plus of Kanona/ Watkins Glen NAPA 4-Cylinder Heat Winner- Morseman.