By TIM BALTZ
AKWESASNE, NY – Clear skies and bright sunshine was the only thing that rained down on the Mohawk International Raceway 2018 season opener Friday night. Despite the cold weather in the evening it didn’t stop the fans from seeing a great night of long anticipated racing at MIR.
The Twin Leaf Convenience 358 Modified division was dominated last year by Tim Fuller who came away with the track title. In the 2018 opener it was Fuller taking the lead from the pole much like last year with Brian McDonald, Jeremy LaSalle, Lance Willix and Chris Raabe giving chase in the early going. With cool temperatures the track became very fast as the night went on as Fuller used the top lane to pull away to a near full straightaway advantage by lap 10. McDonald and Raabe were in a tight battle for second as they put on a show for the fans as Raabe took over the spot on lap 14 but still had a long way to catch the leader. With 10 to go Fuller had lapped up to the 7th place car and showed no signs of letting up. On Lap 22 the first and only yellow of the race came out as Jeremy LaSalle saw a top 5 run go away as he spun off turn 2 with a problem. His car was towed to the pits done for the night. The final restart brought Raabe to the outside of row 1 as the green flag flew but the veteran Tim Fuller would take over the lead and begin to build up a solid advantage as McDonald, Willix and Lee Ladouceur were in a battle for a top 5 spot. In the end nobody was coming close to Tim Fuller as he notched his 2nd straight opening day win at MIR by a straightaway. Chris Raabe came across 2nd with Brian McDonald, Lance Willix and Lee Ladouceur rounding out the top 5.
In the Crossroads Tobacco Sportsman division Robert Delormier had a great car and he was also looking for his 2nd straight opening day win but Moise Page, defending track champion Johnathon Ferguson, Brianna Ladouceur and Jesse Hudson were not about to let him slip away to early as these driver put on a show in the early going. Delormier and Page had a great side by side battle for the lead as lap 10 went up on the board but Delormier stayed up front and in control. On lap 12 the only yellow of the night flew for defending Cornwall Speedway Sportsman Champion Justin Lalancette who spun off turn 1 ending his night early. This caution proved to be helpful for Johnathon Ferguson as it put him close to the race leaders. On the restart Delormier took the lead but Ferguson wasted no time of getting by Page for 2nd and on lap 14 would get by Delormier and pull away to a comfortable lead. Over the final 10 laps Ferguson would maintain a solid lead as Moise Page did everything he could but it wasn’t meant to be. Johnathon Ferguson would go untouched and claim the opening day win in the Crossroads Tobacco Sportsman division. Moise Page, Robert Delormier, Ricky Thompson and defending Unique Ecigs Sportsman Series champion Ryan Stabler would complete the top 5.
The Novice Sportsman took to the track for 15 laps and Kurt Russell would jump out to the lead and immediately pulled away over Josh Lavare and Brian McGinnley. Russell looked to have the dominant car early on but behind him Corbin Millar was on the charge as he took over 2nd from Lavare just after the halfway point and closed in on the race leader. On lap 11 the handling started to go away allowing Millar to drive by on the top side. Over the final 4 laps Millar had a strong car and after several Bandit feature wins would claim his first ever Novice Sportsman win at Mohawk. Kurt Russell would hold on to 2nd with Brian McGinnley, 18jr and Josh Lavare completing the top 5.
The Green’s Performance Mod Lite division saw the last 2 division champions in Deric Ellsworth and Nick Mallette lead the field to green with Ellsworth jumping out front with Mallette, Alex Rodier, Brad Reif and Stephane Bernier completing the top 5 early on. Ellsworth appeared to have a fast race car but Brad Reif was on the charge and using top side of the speedway to his liking as he charged to 2nd by halfway and tried to reel in the leader. With 5 to go Deric Ellsworth had his hands full with Reif. The top 2 put on a fantastic side by side battle for the top spot. On lap 11 Brad Reif finally got the advantage he was looking for as he took over the lead moving Ellsworth to 2nd over Nick Mallette, Tim Reif and Harley Brown. On this night Brad Reif finally put it all together scoring his first ever Green’s Performance Mod Lite feature win after years of trying. Ellsworth would come across 2nd with Tim Reif 3rd, Harley Brown pulled a last lap pass at the line to take 4th with defending champion Nick Mallette rounding out the top 5.
In Bandit action 2015 track champion Shane Ray would take command of the field at the drop of the green flag over RJ Tressider, Nick Perham, Gary Sharlow and Mike Pecore. Ray had his car running quick and it appeared there was no stopping him as he pulled away from a quality field. On lap 6 that would all change as Ray slowed in turn 2 handing the lead to RJ Tressider. Over the final 4 laps the battle was on between Tressider and new comer Nick Perham. On the final lap heading off turn 4 Perham found a groove on the bottom and pulled even with Tressider. The top 2 raced to the line side by side and by inches RJ Tressider would hold on for his first ever Mohawk Bandit win in just his 2nd start. Nick Perham finished a close 2nd with Gary Sharlow, Mike Pecore and Ian Bressett completing the top 5.
After an exciting opener next week should be just as exciting as Action Race Parts and Mohawk Plumbing present the Pete Mitchell Memorial Qualifier for the Crossroads Tobacco Sportsman division takes center stage for a 35 lap affair. The winner is guaranteed at least 13th starting spot into the 5th annual Pete Mitchell Memorial Sportsman event on August 9th. Twin Leaf Convenience 358 Modifieds, Novice Sportsman, Bandits and The Dirt Modified Nostalgia Tour will join the card, the Green’s Performance Mod Lites have the night off.
Twin Leaf Convenience 358 Modified
TIM FULLER, Chris Raabe, Brian McDonald, Lance Willix, Lee Ladouceur, Louie Jackson Jr., Corey Wheeler, Gage Morin, Matt Woodruff, Madison Mulder, John Mulder, George Foley, Ryan McLean, Jeremy LaSalle
Heat Winners: Tim Fuller and Brian McDonald
Crossroads Tobacco Sportsman
JOHNATHON FERGUSON, Moise Page, Robert Delormier, Ricky Thompson, Ryan Stabler, Brianna Ladouceur, Thomas Cook, Shane Pecore, Mike Stacey, Brent Kelsey, Jesse Hudson, Miguel Peterson, Michael Frennier, Cedric Gauvreau, Andy Howard, Kristian Smoke, Jamy Begor, Greg Snyder, Gab Cyr, Delbert Legrow, Justin Desrosiers, Junior Delormier, Adam Rozon, Delbert Legrow Jr., Nick Heywood, Bruce Makinson, Justin Lalancette, Anthony Rasmussen
Heat Winners: Miguel Peterson, Jesse Hudson, Robert Delormier and Johnathon Ferguson
Green’s Performance Mod Lite
BRAD REIF, Deric Ellsworth, Tim Reif, Harley Brown, Nick Mallette, Alex Rodier, Matt Fregoe, Scott Sharpe, Jason Premo, Karine Thibault, Brendan Villnave, Dan Reif
Heat Winners: Deric Ellsworth and Nick Mallette
CORBIN MILLAR, Kurt Russell, Brian McGinnley, #18JR, Josh Lavare, Richard Thornton, Corey McCoy, Eugene Tarbell, Lee Barcomb, Joshua Pete, Jonathan Rush, Tommy Jock III
Heat Winners: Josh Lavare and Kurt Russell
RJ TRESSIDER, Nick Perham, Gary Sharlow, Mike Pecore, Ian Bressett, Joey Lamica, Shane Ray, Andrew Fish
Heat Winner: Shane Ray