By BOBBY SWEENEY
BREWERTON, NY – Ronnie Davis III completed the rarest of feats in Dirt Modified racing at Brewerton, winning his big-block Modified debut.
Pat Ward led the field to the first green flag of the season, controlling the pace in the opening laps. Defending track champion Jimmy Phelps saw his night come to an early end, as a broken axle sent him to the pits on lap three.
After the restart for Phelps slowing, Ward stayed put out front, but second was up for grabs as Larry Wight and Ronnie Davis III battled door-to-door. Eventually, Davis was able to break free of Wight and set sail after Ward, but a yellow for Nick Krause’s broken machine on lap 13 halted that charge.
On the restart, Ward went to the middle, with Davis high and Wight down low. With 15 circuits complete, Davis got the bite he needed on the cushion to clear the Gypsum teammates and steal the lead.
Meanwhile, Billy Decker was recovering from a rocky start, breaking into the top five by lap 19. By this point, Davis and Ward were beginning to separate themselves from Wight, Tom Sears, and Decker.
With ten laps remaining, Davis began to stretch out his lead over Ward, gapping him by a second. The fastest car on the speedway seemed to be Sears, who spent his time riding around near the inside tires. Sears clawed by Wight down there, then went after Ward.
However, by the time Sears got to second, the lap counter was past 30 and Davis had extended the advantage to nearly two seconds. When the checkered flag fell, it was Ronnie Davis III crossing under it first, claiming the win in his Big Block Modified debut. Tom Sears Jr. grabbed second, with Larry Wight, Pat Ward, and Billy Decker rounding out the top five.
“This is amazing, I don’t even know what to say,” Davis said, still in shock. “Man, I was getting tired in there. I was just trying to hit my marks every lap, the top was really fast tonight. To be able to compete with and run with these guys is just crazy, to pass Pat Ward, and heck this whole top ten is the best of the best. The longer we ran the better our car got, and I was just able to find that middle to high lane and get it rolling. Once I started reeling Pat in, I started to realize I might have something.”
Dave Axton looked strong in the opening stages of the 25-lap Empire Super Sprints feature, pulling away from Jason Barney early on. Eventually, Barney switched off his usual bottom lane and flung it hard on the top, driving by Axton and into the lead on lap 12. One circuit later, Danny Varin did the same move to claim second, with Davey Franek hot on his heels. Larry Wight started deep, but he also found himself near the lead battle just after halfway.
With six laps left, Varin was only a few car lengths behind Barney. Behind Varin, Wight was right on his tail tank looking to steal second. Varin briefly dropped off of Barney, and Wight faded and handed third back to Franek. However, Varin had enough car left to mount one last charge at Barney, drawing to two car lengths at the two-to-go signal. That’s as close as Varin would get, as Jason Barney defended home turf and scored the popular victory. Danny Varin was second, followed by Davey Franek, Larry Wight, and Chuck Hebing, who destroyed his primary car in a flip in hot laps.
“I was nervous all night,” Barney stated. “There’s a lot of friends and family here. We’ve lost more races here than we’ve won, and I always got a lot of reason to run good when we race here. Not bad for a car that’s been sitting on my shop floor for two years because I haven’t felt like running it.”
Chris Mackey found his way around the outside of Corey Barker in the late stages of the first Sportsman feature to grab his first checkered flag of the year, while Kevin Root dominated the majority of the second Sportsman main en route to victory. Evan Wright found victory lane in the 4-Cylinder feature despite the last minute decision to even race.
McDonald’s ® Restaurants Opening Night May 24 Results
(Tracey Road Equipment DIRTcar Modifieds 35 Laps) – RON DAVIS III, Tom Sears Jr., Larry Wight, Pat Ward, Billy Decker, Chris Hile, Tim Sears Jr., Rob Bellinger, Roy Bresnahan, Chad Phelps, Dave Marcuccilli, Joe August, Andrew Ferguson, Tyler Trump, Jason Occhino, Tim Murphy, Nick Krause, Jim Witko, Katelyn Hile, Matt Hulsizer, Jimmy Phelps, Tim Harris.
(DOT Foods DIRTcar Sportsman #1 25 Laps) – CHRIS MACKEY, Corey Barker, Mark Yorker, Alan Fink, Billy Clark Jr., Brent Joy, Tyler Murray, Stephen Denton, Zach Sobotka, Mike Button, Tim Devendorf, Earl Rudy, Ricky Yelle, Mike Prentice, Quinn Wallis, Willy Decker Jr., Colby Herzog, Bailey Groves, DNS Rick Rogala.
(DOT Foods DIRTcar Sportsman #2 25 Laps) – KEVIN ROOT, Mike Stanton Jr., Amy Holland, Jim Spano, Rich Townsend, Jeff Taylor, Mike Fowler, Dylan Zacharias, Joey Buonagurio, John Strickler, Tyler Corcoran, Joe Sobotka, Dorian Wahdan, JJ Courcy, Chris Bonoffski, Jeff Prentice, Jake Petit, Torrey Stoughtenger.
(Fleet Repair Truck & Trailer Repair 4-Cylinders 15 Laps) – EVAN WRIGHT, Ray Bechler, Chris Bonoffski, Quinn Wallis, Jerry Curcie Jr., Chuck Powelczyk, Clayton Koch, Jacob Dupra, Damien Bechler, Dylan Curcie, Colby Herzog, Sam Curcie, DNS Adam Gates.
(Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints Don Gillette Memorial 25 Laps) – JASON BARNEY, Danny Varin, Davie Franek, Larry Wight, Chuck Hebing, Dave Axton, Jordan Poirier, Paul Kinney, Tommy Wickham, Kyle Moffit, Billy VanInwegen, Denny Peebles, Shawn Donath, Parker Evans, Scott Holcomb, Matt Tanner, Jared Zimbardi, Jeff Cook, Todd Gracey, Chad Miller, Josh Azzi, Pete Richardson, Brett Wright, Paulie Colagiovanni, Kelly Hebing.