AFTON, NY – Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a driver who has it hooked up and that is certainly the case when it comes to Andy Bachetti of Sheffiled, MA racing at the Afton Motorsports Park. Starting 11th it looked as if Mike Trautschold was going to pull off the huge upset of a feature win, but he made one mistake. That mistake allowed Bachetti to make the winning pass with three laps to go and go on to his third consecutive Modified feature win.
Other feature winners on Modified Fan Appreciation Night were Don Hart, Jr. of Bainbridge, NY who rimrode to the Open Sportsman feature win. Defending track champion Harold Humphrey of Norwich, NY glued himself to the bottom groove to take the Crate Sportsman feature win. Rising star Damon Decker of Afton, NY for the second week in a row used the extreme high groove to take the Street Stock feature win. Ralph Cuozzo of Bainbridge, NY captured his first Four Cylinder Truck feature win of the year and with the win took over the point lead.
The 30 lap Modified feature was brought to green with Brett Tonkin and Mike Trautschold pacing the field. Tonkin with a new powerplant under the hood led the first four laps over Trautschold, Matt Roberts, Paul Jensen, and Alex Tonkin.
On a lap four restart Brett Tonkin kept the lead while his younger brother Alex made an exciting move to go from fifth to second. Trautschold, 11th place starter Andy Bachetti, and Jensen rounded out the top five.
The Tonkin brothers tried to run away and hide from the field and set up their own private battle for the win. But Trautschold started hitting his marks and impressively closed in on the duo as the leading trio entered lap traffic on lap 11.
The lap traffic slowed the leading trio just a bit and that allowed Bachetti to swoop in and make it a four car battle for the lead at the halfway point. Alex Tonkin slipped up in turns one and two and this allowed Trautschold to move into second on lap 16 with Bachetti following suit one lap later.
With Brett Tonkin running exclusively in the top groove this opened up the bottom groove and Trautschold took full advantage of the open lane to grab the lead with ten laps to go, Bachetti followed suit once again one lap later.
Now it became a two car battle for the win with the duo now racing in heavy lap traffic. Trautschold running possibly the Modified race of his life was hitting his marks every lap and there was nothing Bachetti could do to pass him.
Entering turn three coming around for lap 27 the only mistake of the entire race was made by Trautschold. Coming up upon the lap cars of Jeff Sheeley and Matt Roberts, who were both racing in the bottom groove, where lap cars are supposed to be. Trautschold just eased up a bit on the throttle and fell in behind the two lap cars.
Bachetti seeing the driver error by Trautschold quickly stayed on the throttle and moved to the outside groove to grab the lead. Trautschold followed Bachetti around the lap cars and didn’t give up the fight as he got under Bachetti in turns one and two. But Bachetti powered away exiting turn two to open up a lead that he would never lose despite a caution on lap 29 setting up a one lap race to the checker.
Bachetti in for the win over Trautschold, Alex Tonkin, 17th place starter and fastest car on the track Alan Barker, and Mitch Gibbs.
Qualifying heat races were won by JR Hurlburt, Bachetti, and Trautschold.
Jim Gould and Dave Rosa running the Olin Renwick car brought the Open Sportsman feature to green to start their 20 lap event. Rosa took the lead at the start over Gould, Lucas Heintz, Aaron Shelton, and Don Hart, Jr. Gould took the lead on a lap four restart with third generation racer Tyler Hart impressively moving into second from his eighth place starting spot.
Following a lap six restart it became a Hart Family battle for the lead as Tyler raced in the bottom groove and his uncle Don raced in the top groove. The two family members raced each other clean for several laps until Don, Jr. was able to take the lead at the halfway point.
With the great racing for the lead taking place up front, one driver was quickly closing in on the leaders and that was opening night feature winner Claude Hutchings, Jr. Claude was also hooked up in the extreme top groove after being involved in a lap four skirmish and he raced his way into third at the halway point.
After getting the lead Don Hart, Jr. opened up a big lead while nephew Tyler was left to do battle with Hutchings for second. These two drivers would fight tooth and nail for second until heavy contact between the two with four laps to go ended the night for both.
With the running order now shuffled due to the lap 16 accident. Don Hart, Jr. led the final four laps to claim the win over Gould, new point leader Craig Pope, first time visitor Bill Deckleman, and Aaron Shelton.
Qualifying events were captured by Butch Klinger, Don Hart, Jr., and Lucas Heintz.
The 20 lap Crate Sportsman feature was led to green by the front row of Travis Welch and Rob Loucks. Welch would grab the lead over Loucks, sixth place starter Harold Humphrey, Matt Cole, and Duane Knapp.
Humphrey found a liking to the bottom groove and he glued himself to it to take second on lap two and he immediately applied heavy pressure on Welch for the lead.
Meanwhile behind the leading duo an outstanding racing battle was taking place for positions three through sixth between Cole, Allan Hodge, John Christian, and Cody Clark.
On a lap seven restart Humphrey would grab the lead from Welch with youngster Hodge moving into third, Cole in fourth and Clark in fifth.
Hodge would take second with half the race to go and he set sail after Humphrey to challenge for the lead. But the veteran driver who claimed the track championship in this division last year was long gone.
Humphrey in for the win over Hodge, Welch, Clark, and Cole.
Qualifying saw Humphrey, Matt Brewer, and Loucks win the events.
Dave Cronk and Dustin Harris brought the Street Stock 20 lap feature to green with Harris grabbing the lead over Doug Polhamus, Cronk, Damon Decker, and Matt Bowman.
Decker using a setup that his dad, Modified racer Kurt put in the car quickly showed the other competitors the quick way around as he took the lead on lap two.
With Decker comfortably in front Harris, Polhamus, Bowman, and Cronk waged an all out racing battle for positions two through five. That four car battle was reduced by one as Polhamus slowed to a stop to bring out the only caution of the race with six laps to go.
Decker in for the very popular win over Harris, new point lead Bowman, Cronk, and Ralph Cuozzo.
Harris won the qualifying event.
The Four Cylinder Truck 15 lap feature was led to green by Pete Christensen, back in his own truck after blowing a motor during the first test and tune session and Jerry Lanfair. Bob Crandall who started third grabbed the lead over fourth place starter Ralph Cuozzo, Lanfair, newcomer Matt Johnson and Dustin Wilbur.
Cuozzo took the lead on lap two but Crandall didn’t give up as he stayed right even with Cuozzo for the lead. The two drivers raced cleanly for many laps side by side before Cuozzo was able to take control with five laps to go.
Cuozzo, the new point leader in for the win over Crandall, Johnson, Christensen, and Wilbur.
Crandall won the qualifying event earlier in the racing program.
NEW ERA NOTES; in an attempt to create less dust the racing surface was turned over during the week and watered heavily. Moisture did get into the surface but the normally smooth track surface did come up choppy on this night. The track maintenance staff went to work on getting the surface back to it’s normal smooth condition on Saturday morning and they apologize for the track condition on Friday night. Defending Open Sportsman track champion Charlie Hendrickson, Jr. made his season debut on this night in a Modified. A crazy and wild last lap of the Modified feature saw good finishes lost by Nick Nye who got spun into the infield in a racing incident, Brett Tonkin who had the front end break, and Brandon Walters who had a flat tire. In the Open Sportsman feature Tyler Hart was disqualified for rough driving ( receiving no points and a handicap penalty) and placed last in the running order by head flagger Gary Kinne for his part in the accident with Claude Hutchings, Jr. HALMAR Short Track Super Series head announcer Jeff Ahlum made a surprise visit and stepped in to call the Modified feature with his STSS announcing partner Leon Andrus. Despite a six minute late start due to track work the entire show was completed at 10:23 Friday night and this included an extended intermission period for the Modified Fan Appreciation activities.
Coming up this Friday night the Memorial Day Weekend kicks off at the Afton Motorsports Park with the Eric Wagner Memorial Race for the Chambers & O’Hara Four Cylinder Trucks. ZMK Construction Modifieds, Scorpion Security Products Open Sportsman, Ted’s Body Shop Crate Sportsman, and Auto Plus Street Stocks will also be in competition. Gates open at 4 pm, Hot laps at 6:15 pm, and first heat at 7 pm sharp.
For more information on the Afton Motorsports Park please log on to the World Wide Web at www.aftonmotorsportspark.com.
ZMK CONSTRUCTION MODIFIED FINISH; Andy Bachetti, Mike Trautschold, Alex Tonkin, Alan Barker, Mitch Gibbs, Paul Jensen, Rusty Smith, JR Hurlburt, Nick Nye, Brett Tonkin, Brandon Walters, Matt Roberts, Jeff Sheeley, Charlie Hendrickson, Jr., Eddie Newell, Ken Titus, Randy Brokaw, Kurt Decker, Steve Babicek.
SCORPION SECURITY PRODUCTS OPEN SPORTSMAN FINISH; Don Hart, Jr., Jim Gould, Craig Pope, Bill Deckleman, Aaron Shelton, Dennis Clapperton, Lucas Heintz, Dave Rosa, Dan Burman, Lisa Williams, Claude Hutchings, Jr., Travis Smith, Craig Pritchard, Brandon Kuhn, Butch Klinger, Skip Pickwick, Dwayne Jackson, James Christ. DQ; Tyler Hart ( Rough Riding ), DNS; Steve Andersen.
TED’S BODY SHOP CRATE SPORTSMAN FINISH; Harold Humphrey, Allan Hodge, Travis Welch, Cody Clark, Matt Cole, John Christian, AJ Digsby, Matt Brewer, Tyler Ward, Mark Effner, Duane Knapp, Craig Monroe, Colby Hendrickson, Rob Loucks, Tim French, II, Matt Priscott.
AUTO PLUS STREET STOCK FINISH; Damon Decker, Dustin Harris, Matt Bowman, Dave Cronk, Ralph Cuozzo, Doug Polhamus, Casey Cutting.
CHAMBERS & O’HARA FOUR CYLINDER TRUCK FINISH; Ralph Cuozzo, Bob Crandall, Matt Johnson, Pete Christensen, Dustin Wilbur, Brandon Clapperton, Jerry Lanfair. DNS; Jeff Young.
Afton Motorsports Park is fast, fun, and furious.