WOODHULL, NY – With over two hundred guests in attendance at the Watson Homestead Retreat & Conference Center in Painted Post, NY, Woodhull Raceway crowned the track champions of all of their divisions.
There were awards for the top point finishers in each division, along with point fund earnings as well as other bonuses earned from Woodhull’s great partners at Lias Tire/American Racer as well as Insinger Performance/Sunoco Race Fuels.
Billy Van Pelt was crowned for a record-extending twentieth time in his career as a Modified track champion. This was Van Pelt’s fifth championship in a row and second-straight championship since re-uniting with the team owned by Kevin and Karen Chilson. Van Pelt captured the championship in a fierce battle with Cory Costa, on the heels of three victories and ten Top 5’s in 14 points-paying shows.
The future Woodhull Raceway Hall of Famer also captured huge wins in the annual Short Track Super Series visit to Ted and Brandi White’s facility, as well as the Lyle Sherwood Memorial. It was also announced on Saturday that Van Pelt was awarded Dirt Driver of the Year by the Four Score Club in Buffalo, NY after winning titles at both Woodhull and Freedom Motorsports Park.
Josh Keesey was awarded the Sportsmanship Award for Modifieds, while young hot shoe Dayton Brewer took home Rookie of the Year honors.
The Dust to Glory Award was presented by Tony Van Pelt to Modified driver Cory Costa, who had a breakout season at Woodhull after claiming victory in Woodhull’s 2017 running of the Bullring Challenge. Costa backed that up in 2018 with two victories and finishing second to Van Pelt in a razor thin championship chase.
Jake Dgien was crowned as the Crate Sportsman division champion, on the heels of a thrilling battle that came down to championship night over Kenny Peoples Jr. Dgien had three wins and ten Top 5’s in 14 races. Brett Buono won Sportsman of the Year, while Rookie of the Year went to Westfield, PA youngster Cole Youse.
The soft spoken, heavy right-footed Steve LeBarron took home top honors in the Crate Late Models for the second-straight season. LeBarron celebrated his second Woodhull championship, while Darin Horton received Sportsmanship Award honors. First-year Late Model competitor Joe Layfield and the Layfield racing team was awarded Rookie of the Year, after a season where they celebrated many gains and are already rebuilding for 2019.
Dylan Cecce celebrated a five-win season while picking up the hardware for his third Woodhull title in the Street Stock division in the last four years driving the Potter Chassis house car. Cecce incredibly won five races by June 16, but never won again and rode on consistency the rest of the way.
Noah Talada moved up from the Youth Warriors division to Street Stocks in 2018 and made the most of a learning year, winning Rookie of the Year. Kurt Stebbins received the Sportsmanship Award.
Chris Woodard earned his third-straight track championship in the Mini Stock division after a dominant seven-win season. Six of those wins came in a row from May 19 through June 30. Local RC Racer turned dirt racer, Travis Webster earned four Top 5’s enroute to Rookie of the Year for 2018. Gleason also finished second in the standings to Woodard. Faithful competitor, Scott Lehman from Elmira Heights, NY, was awarded the Sportsmanship Award.
Codie Baker earned his second-straight and third career track championship in the Front Wheel Drive division at Woodhull, after winning six features and besting good friend Adam DelGrosso. Brendan Schweigart from Under the Hood Racing took home the Sportsmanship Award. Meanwhile, lady racer Cara Pitts was honored with Rookie of the Year and was welcomed as the biggest smile in the pit area week after week.
Young gun Carter Crooker earned his first track championship in the Woodhull Warriors youth four-cylinder division. Crooker will now set his sights on the Mini Stock ranks where he already has a victory in a Fall special just a few months ago.
Joe Birdsall took top honors and collected his championship jacket and hardware for the Hobby Stock division. AJ Niedermaier finished sixth place in points and was named Rookie of the Year. Veteran and all around great race supporter, Les Smith, made his return to dirt racing after twenty-some years and was awarded the Sportsmanship Award.
Other special awards included Tony Van Pelt receiving the Dedication to Motorsports Award for his work and years of service to Woodhull Raceway. Van Pelt has served as the head flagger as well as his work as Race Director, announcer, track representative and willingness to fill in wherever his services are needed.
After an offseason of hell battling medical issues and not once letting it mean he would miss a race, veteran racer and crew chief Don Lawson received this year’s Perseverance Award to a standing ovation. Lawson and the Lawson celebrated the award together on the heels of two big Modified victories during the 2018 season. 2019 will see three Lawson boys on track, which will keep ‘Big Don’ busy with son Donnie.
Megan Dupuy was awarded the annual Media Award for her dedication to Woodhull Raceway as well as her weekly contributions to the website, Facebook and announcing team. Dupuy finished her third season as Media Intern as she studies at Keuka College, pursuing an education and career in motorsports marketing and public relations.
The banquet ended with a farewell from Media Director and lead announcer Steven Ovens, who announced he will be leaving after the 2018 season. Ovens will be joining the staff at Land of Legends Raceway for 2019.
The annual Arnot Mall Car Show in Horseheads, NY is planned for St. Patrick’s Day weekend, March 15th, 16th and 17th. More information on the mall show and the 2019 schedule and returning sponsors will be forthcoming during the offseason.
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