Makin’ Tracks – Utica Rome Finally Runs Again – DTD Exclusive

By BILL FOLEY

Utica-Rome Speedway has had eight scheduled race nights in the 2018 season and up until this past Sunday night Bill and Kim Shea had simply one completed show.

That all changed this week as rain disappeared, but 90 degree temperatures took it to the other extreme.

But, finally at last, 36 Empire Super Sprints, 21 358 Mods, 36 DIRTcar Series Sportsman along with eight Pro Stocks and nine Rookie Sportsmen filled the pits.

History will show Pat Ward won the small-blocks, Kevin Root captured his first ever DIRTcar Sportsman Series race, Travis Welch won his first ever Pro Stock main and Ted Starr also was a first time winner in the Rookies while Shawn Donnath snapped a bad luck streak and returned to victory lane.

Action was hot and heavy just about all night long, but the nerf bar jarring battle between two vets Ward and Billy Dunn was classic. Neither one was really willing to give too much up to the other guy and in the end even though Pat won I got a feeling he wasn’t totally happy (and neither was Dunn). It was indeed exciting.

The Mod main, much like the Sprint and Sportsman, went green to checker. Dunn made up several seconds in the closing laps and with five to go it appeared he might be able to get Ward, but the Genoa Giant held on.

Root was extremely emotional in capturing his first series win. He was choked up and tears were in his eyes as he expressed appreciation to everyone and talked about the meaning of finally getting a series win.

The moment was when his young son Nicholas and him raced toward each other and the resulting huge loving hug was enough to touch the heart of even the most emotionless fan.

For Root, it was special as he not only got the win, but beat the best in Matt Janczuk and Dave Marcuccilli.

Shawn Donath appeared on a benefit run as he was running away, but in the end of the ESS main event there was Bryan Howland just four-tenths of a second behind.

The Pro Stock main was a classic with Mike Welch and Travis Welch (no relation) in a race long crap shoot. Side-by-side, bumper to bumper the two gave it everything it was worth. Sensational Pro Stock main despite the fact there weren’t many cars.

Another guy all choked up was Starr as he had worked for years as a crew member for Mike Bowman, but finally decided he wanted to go racing. He got behind the wheel this year and outlasted eight other drivers for his win. Teddy was just speechless in victory lane and he talked about the unbelievable feeling of being there.

On to a Junior Flagger

For the past several years a young fan has his flags and does his “job” just past the start finish line at the Utica Rome Speedway.

The flags were a gift for Christmas seven years ago and he treasures them.

Well, on Sunday night someone stole his checkered flag.

The audacity of some people to take what isn’t theirs is mind boggling

The youngster is heartbroken and the track management and announcers reached out to the fans asking that the flag be returned and no questions would be asked.

Guess what? I wish I had happy news, but I don’t …the flag wasn’t returned.

Some people just suck.

Pit Stops 

Steve Way a career best fifth place in the 358, but DQ’d due to technical problems…

The trip to the track wasn’t uneventful for Pat Ward as he rolled to the Thruway toll gate in Vernon only to have his truck come to a stop. It was noted that it has happened in the past a couple times when the team headed to Lebanon Valley. They sat by the side of the highway, turned the ignition off and waited a few minutes before trying to fire it up again…

Kingston, Ontario’s Bobby Herrington finished fourth. He has been running Fulton on Saturday and noted that his plans when the season started were Fulton and UR every week. He also won his heat…

Erick Rudolph was third and said “I just needed a well placed yellow.”…

Marc Johnson rounded out the top five….

Sixth to tenth was Jack Lehner, Rocky Warner, Lance Willix, Jeremy Wilder and Mike Mahaney…

Bobby Varin edged Pat Ward by three –hundredths of a second in winning a heat…

Some new faces in the pits included Sportsman drivers Matt Steffenhagen, Joe Williams Jr., and Canadian Dan Ferguson along with rookies Jeff Fesko, Scott Mallette, Josh Amodio, Carl Inman and Robert Gage…

Apparently, Kyle Inman who was a top five runner in the Sportsman was also DQ’d by DIRTcar officials…

Great ESS field with Bobby Varin, Matt Tanner, Paulie Colagiovanni and Matt Billings winning heats…

The race between Bobby and Danny Varin on Father’s Day was nothing short of sensational as Bobby won the heat by just over one-tenth of a second. In the main event the two swapped positions as Danny was fourth behind Matt Tanner and Bobby finished fifth…

Bryan Howland, who did a farewell tour last year, really gave Donath a run for his money in the closing laps of the main…

Mike Mahaney won the ESS dash…

Tough break for Ricky Thompson as he got a yuke tire and collapsed the front end of his Sportsman…

Pro Stock third place runner Shane Henderson was a distant third and noted, “I just hoped that those two (Travis and Mike Welch) would beat the crap out of each other.”…

The King of Dirt Series is in the house this Sunday with 358’s, Sportsman and Pro Stocks along with the regular Rookie Sportsman. It should be a good one.

News, notes, comments etc to foley395@hotmail.com