By RICH VLECK
BATAVIA, NY – One of the biggest events in the history of Genesee Speedway did not disappoint with impressive track conditions presented for feature action for the 1st Annual Topless Crate Nationals. With a filled pits and lots of money on the line, the intensity was high, and thus so was the emotion.
Bryce Davis had his chance at a win on Saturday Night go out the window with five laps remaining; on Sunday Night with three laps left to go he got an opportunity to get the lead and capitalized on it to win twice as much.
Davis, of Hornell, drove up for the 12th starting spot to claim the Crate Late Model win in the 40-lap Topless Crate Nationals. The climactic moment of the race occurred on lap 38 when leader Jason Genco spun around in turn one while Davis was in hot pursuit. There was high drama as to whether Davis made enough contact with the No. 29J to spin him around, but that declaration could not be made, allowing Davis to inherit the lead and ride to the win.
“I was right up under (the back of the No. 29J) but I don’t even know if I got in to him,” stated Davis in Victory Lane. “If I did I don’t think it was enough to spin him around. Regardless, I can’t say enough about my crew, they thrashed on this car all night to get back here for a day race and got it done.”
Davis, along with Max Blair, sliced through the field to move in to the top three positions, with Blair maintaining second behind Genco. On a lap 26 restart, Davis moved up to the very top of the track to rim-ride around the outside of Blair’s potent No. 111 and apply pressure to Genco. On multiple occasions, Davis appeared to have a run for the lead, only to see the door get slammed on each attempt. The final time occurred on lap 38 when Genco went around.
As Davis ran off to the win, Max Blair would cross in second after starting 11th. Jeremy Wonderling would drive up for 18th to finish in third for another hard-charging finish. Jimmy Johnson and John Lacki would round out a strong top five.
Another driver to early sweet redemption on the night was Ricky Newton, who shook the monkey off his back to win the Sportsman Feature. Newton, of Oakfield, took the lead away from Zack Sam on a lap 18 restart and then put his No. 11N on cruise control over the second half of the race to win the 40-lap event.
“I don’t even think this has sunk in yet,” admitted Newton in Victory Lane. “My dad always used to tell me when out front just act like you are running practice laps, and that’s what I kept trying to think.”
Newton started in the fourth position but followed outside polesitter Zack Sam to take the top two spots early on in the event. Sam was pulling away early on, but as the race neared the midway point Newton began to reel him back in.
“I saw (Sam) burning off his tires and figured we’d have lapped cars or something and so when that caution came out I knew I could get by him,” noted Newton afterwards.
After getting out in front, Newton had to not only hit his marks on the top of the 1/3-mile oval with very tactical track conditions, he had to shake off the memories of lost opportunity at Batavia earlier this year.
“I almost won the Fair race earlier this year and got taken out by a lapped car on the final lap so it was hard to relax until it was over.”
As Newton was driving off to the $3,000 top prize, Sam would settle in to score an impressive runner-up finish. Adam Leslie was also strong, crossing in third. James Henry and Cody McPherson completed the top five.
Kyle Couchenour capitalized on a slip-up by leader Vic Earle Jr on lap 18 of the 25-lap Street Stock race and would never look back to win the $1,000 top prize. Couchenour, who finished runner-up to Earle on Saturday night, charged up from the ninth starting position to claim the win. While he was applying pressure for much of the race, it was Earle who opened up the door coming off of turn four when he snapped loose and had to scramble just to hang on to the car. Earle would charge hard in the closing laps but would come up just a foot shy of passing the No. 299 back and would settle for second. Track Champion Byron Dewitt started 17th and made a strong run up through the field, taking second momentarily, but would settle for third. Glenn Whritenour and Bob Buono would complete the top five.
Brad Shepard may not have run enough races to contend for the Mini Stock Championship at Genesee in 2017, but he was still good enough to claim five wins in dramatic fashion. Shepard, the three-time track champion from LeRoy, swapped the lead with 2017 Track Champion Dante Mancuso five times, with Shepard taking the lead for good on lap 14 of the 20 lap feature to pick up the $300 top prize. Mancuso led the first five laps but Shepard was quick to apply pressure and once he made a bid for the lead, the dance was on for the top spot. The duo had to swim through lapped traffic, which forced Shepard to venture down to the bottom groove that he would rather not occupy, but he made it work to capture the victory. Mancuso would settle for second while Eric Weis ran to a fine third place finish. Brandon Shepard and Leroy Buscub rounded out the top five.
Genesee Speedway Results: 9/17/2017-
Topless Crate Nationals Night 2
$3,000-to-Win Topless Crate Late Model Feature (40 Laps)- BRYCE DAVIS, Max Blair, Jeremy Wonderling, Jimmy Johnson, John Lacki, Chris Fleming, Beamer Guzzardi, John Waters, Zack Carley, JJ Mazur, Mikey Wondelring, TJ Downs, Kurt Stebbins, David Pangrazio, Kyle Murray, Jon Rivers, Darin Horton, Billy DuBois, Jason Genco, Carl Shetler, Brad Mesler, Doug Ricotta, Andy Boozel, Sean Beardsley, Alan Chapman.
Did Not Qualify: Val Stephens.
Lap Leaders- Fleming 1-7, Genco 8-37, Davis 38-40.
Heat Winners- Davis, Mesler, Genco, Blair.
Consolation Winner- M. Wonderling,
$3,000-to-Win Topless Sportsman Feature (40 Laps)- RICKY NEWTON, Zack Sam, Adam Leslie, James Henry, Cody McPherson, Brad Rouse, Luke Carleton, Rocky Warner, Austin Fugle, John Venuto, Kyle Inman, Jim Harbison, Ray Bliss, Ross Vleck, Dave DiPietro, Cam Tuttle, Tony Muscato, Matt Steffenhagen, Dave Conant, Tyler Thompson, Robbie Johnston, Zach George, Andrew Smith, Scott George, Ray Bliss Jr, Austin Susice.
Did Not Qualify: Sarah Johnson, Brett Buono, Andrew Patton, Doug Smith, Mike Denning.
Lap Leader- Sam 1-17, Newton 18-
Heat Winners- Henry, Rouse, Newton, Steffenhagen.
Consolation Winner- Muscato.
$1,000-to-Win Street Stock Feature (20 Laps)- KYLE COUCHENOUR, Vic Earle Jr., Byron Dewitt, Glenn Whritenour, Bob Buono, Dalton Martin, Rick Crego, Bill Kowsky, Marc Minutolo, Mick Seeley, Ryan Allen, Tommy Cooper, Tracy Dunn, John Zimmerman, Adam DePuy, Bryan Faulkner, Jared Hill, Bob Babbitt, Kurt Stebbins, Quinn Sutherland, Brandon Sherwood, Kenny Cook Jr, Morgan Dewitt, Nate Arnold.
Did Not Qualify: Michael Kelly, Kenny Cook III, Roy Amadick, Dylan Cecce.
Lap Leaders- Seeley 1, Martin 2-9, Earle Jr 10-17, Couchenour 18-25.
Heat Winners- Buono, Hill, Earle, DePuy.
Consolation Winner- Babbitt.
$300-to-Win Mini Stock Feature (15 Laps)- BRAD SHEPARD, Dante Mancuso, Eric Weis, Brandon Shepard, Leroy Buscub, Ashley Blech, Cole Susice, Nick Tarnowski, Steven Krawczyk, Tony Kulesza, Dan Brumsted, Olivia Coniber, Jessica Schleede, Bobbie Lynn Spillman, Ruben Coffey, Brian Gregory, Jenn Galbo, Andrew Gayton, Ryan Allen.
Lap Leaders- Mancuso 1-5, Brad Shepard 6, Mancuso 7-8, Brad Shepard 9, Mancuso 10-13, Brad Shepard 14-20.
Heat Winners- Mancuso, Brad Shepard, Brandon Shepard.