By CHARLIE LANGLOIS
DELEVAN, NY- It was the second annual King of the Hill night at Freedom Motorsports Park as the Race of Champions Sportsman Tour made its final appearance of the year on Friday September 2. In a race that featured three leaders and four lead changes, it was first time visitor Chad Chevalier who took down the rich $1000 victory over the Tidds Towing Sportsman field. Other winners on King of the Hill Night were Jeremy Wonderling in the $1000 to win Wilson Crane Service Late Models, Al Brewer in the Pioneer Ford Street Stocks and Bill Weller Jr in the Danny Heineman & Sons Mini Stocks.
The Race of Champions Sportsman Tour began the night with group time trials and it was Adam Leslie who set fast time at 16.237. One of the pre race favorites, Cody McPherson, suffered driveline problems and was done for night. Bad luck would befall Leslie as well as he broke a transmission in his heat and was unable to start the main. In the redraw, Rouse and Matt Steffenhagen picked the coveted front row starting positions.
At the drop of the green in the Race of Champions/Tidds Towing Sportsman 40 lap feature, Rouse jumped to the lead with Steffenhagen, Kyle Inman, Ray Bliss and Tim Schram in tow. On lap 2, Chevalier worked his way around Schram for fifth.
As Rouse led, a furious battle for second between Steffenhagen and Inman fell to Inman who completed an inside pass on lap 5. Inman then went after leader Rouse. The first caution flew on lap 8 as Steffenhagen slowed in turns one and two.
On the restart, Inman was all over Rouse while Chevalier drove around Bliss, Schram and Tony Pangrazio to take third. The second caution flew on lap 10 when Alan Bratek and Ray Bliss Jr came together in turn two.
When the green flew, Inman flexed his muscle and drove around Rouse to take the lead as Pangrazio took third from Chevalier. As Inman and Rouse fought for the top spot, Bliss joined Pangrazio and Chevalier in a tussle for third. Schram eased past Chevalier on lap 16 which dropped Chevalier to fifth. Two laps later, Chevalier reclaimed fourth just before the caution waved on lap 19 for a Jeramie Josephite spin in turn two.
Inman chose the outside on the restart and it was Rouse who was able to get a great run off of turn two to dive underneath and retake the lead as Chevalier garnered third from Pangrazio. Schram completed the top five at halfway.
It was now Chevalier who was on the move as he went to the upper regions of the track to power around Inman for second on lap 23. Chevalier continued his rim-riding and bolted past Rouse for the lead on lap 24.
Over the remaining laps, Rouse tried valiantly but Chevalier of St. Catherines, Ontario was up to the task and captured the Race of Champions/Tidds Towing Sportsman big prize in his first ever visit to Freedom. Rouse hung on for second as Schram secured his best finish of the year in third. Fourth and fifth went to Bliss and Pangrazio. Rouse goes into the final race night with a thirty-five point lead over Bliss.
In the 35 lap Wilson Crane Service Late Model main, two time winner Jeremy Wonderling jumped to the lead at the start with Brad Mesler, Andy Michael, Joe Chamberlain and Bill Holmes two through five.
Wonderling was able to put some distance between himself and runner-up Mesler but the battle for third was tremendous as Michael, Chamberlain, Holmes and Jim Johnson were all over each other.
A couple of cautions allowed Mesler to take numerous shots at Wonderling, however, Wonderling would ease away after a few laps. The battle for third continued as Michael, Holmes and Johnson swapped positions. Holmes took third Michael on lap 17 but as the halfway flags flew, Michael took third back and Johnson commandeered fourth from Holmes.
Mesler gave it a gallant effort but it was Wonderling of Scio who wired the field to lead every lap and pick up the big King of the Hill $1000 payday, his third win of the year. Mesler took second as Holmes, Michael and Johnson rounded out the top five. With his third place finish, Holmes secured the 2016 track championship.
Randy Taylor looked to capture his second win of the year from his pole position start in the Pioneer Ford Street Stocks 20 lapper and took the lead at the drop of the green. Al Brewer was relegated to last starting spot when he broke a fuel pump in his heat.
As Taylor led Steve Sklar and Ted Mascho, Brewer was flying through the field and worked his way up to fifth on lap 8 and fourth as the halfway flags flew. On lap 12, Brewer spun in turn three and had to go to the back of the field.
On the restart, leader Taylor got a flat which handed the number one position to Sklar. Brewer again marched towards the front and made his way to the second position on lap 15. Coming to the checkered flag, Brewer of Belfast went to the outside and used the cushion in turns three and four to march past Sklar in spectacular fashion for his sixth win of the season and the 2016 track championship.
Cody Egner led the Danny Heineman & Sons Mini Stock main event for the first eight laps before he was overtaken by Holden Heineman. Heineman looked to be on his way to his second victory of the year until contact with a lapped car brought him to a halt in turn two. Bill Weller Jr of Rochester inherited the lead and took down the win over Deanna Shepard, Kurt Babcock, Duane Powers and Brian Grant. Brad Shepard leads the points going into the last night by only four over Deanna Shepard. Heineman and Billy Dubois still have a mathematical chance at the championship.
Freedom Motorsports Park is back in action on both Friday and Saturday September 9 and 10. On Friday, it will be Marcos Pizza Championship Night presented by Sunoco with the Wilson Crane Service RUSH Late Models, Tidds Towing Sportsman, Pioneer Ford Street Stocks and Danny Heineman & Sons Mini Stocks in action. Grandstands open at 6 pm and the show starts at 7:30 pm. On Saturday, the Sprint to the Cure Breast Cancer Research charity event for the 600 Micro Stocks will take place. Heats start at 5:00 pm.
Freedom Motorsports Park- Second Annual King of the Hill Feature Events September 2
RACE OF CHAMPIONS TOUR/TIDDS TOWING SPORTSMAN (40 Laps) – Chad Chevalier, Brad Rouse, Tim Schram, Ray Bliss, Tony Pangrazio, John Sekoll, Jeramie Josephite, Kyle Inman, Alan Bratek, Brian Bellinger, Sarah Johnson, Ray Bliss Jr, Matt Steffenhagen, Carl Inman. DNS- Adam Leslie, Cody McPherson. Heats- Pangrazio, Rouse, Bliss. Fast Qualifier- Adam Leslie- 16.237.
WILSON CRANE SERVICE RUSH LATE MODELS (35 Laps) – Jeremy Wonderling, Brad Mesler, Bill Holmes, Andy Michael, Jim Johnson, Joe Chamberlain, Mike Wonderling, Zach Weich, Nick Snayczuk, Sherman Gage, Randy Ralyea. Heats- J Wonderling, Mesler.
PIONEER FORD STREET STOCKS (20 Laps) – Al Brewer, Steve Sklar, Dennis Cummings, Ted Mascho, Randy Taylor, Patrick Nash, Steve Ely, Dennis Hathaway, Ryan Allen, Jim Claypool, James Thompson, Roy Amedick. Heats- Cummings, Mascho.
DANNY HEINEMAN & SONS MINI STOCKS (20 Laps) – Bill Weller Jr, Deanna Shepard, Kurt Babcock, Duane Powers, Brian Grant, Richard Kline, Cody Egner, Dave Lowe, Holden Heineman, Brad Shepard, Jake Masco, Mike Provose, Dylan Strade, Tom Childs, Billy Debois, Jessie Tarr, Matt Mowery, Scott Williams. Heats- B Shepard, D Shepard.