Makin’ Tracks: Gullick, Sears, Mahaney, Sheppard, Johnson and More at Fulton and Utica-Rome – DTD Exclusive

By BILL FOLEY

Great runs are so much fun to watch and sometimes they don’t have to begin too deep in the field to be fun to watch.

Such was the case at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night in the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints main.

Coleman Gullick is one of those guys who started racing at a very young age and simply appeared to get burned out. He had raced wingless Silver Crown and Sprints in the Midwest, but has finally settled down in his home stomping grounds of New York.

Well, he burned the field on Sunday with a third place finish. You might think, “What is so big about third?”




It’s how he did it. He started 11th, but was simply fearless as he made outside moves that had folks shaking their heads. He nearly got Jason Barney for second (as no one was going to catch winner Danny Varin).

It was simply a sensational drive and one of those you walk away from the track talking about for the next couple of days.

Man I wish my wife was a racing fan so she understood what I was talking about.

Tom Sears Jr. Gets One

A brand new race car has been evolving for Tom Sears Jr. and it all came together on Saturday in the 35-lap Modified feature.

He started seventh and on lap 14 got under Ryan Jordan for second place.

Adam Roberts was having the run of his life at the front of the field and everyone, and I mean everyone, was chasing him. It wasn’t until the 28th lap that Sears was able to take the lead on the backstretch.

In victory lane Tom simply stated, “I tried to keep the car wide” at the end.

Matt Sheppard in Legendary Atmosphere

The honor roll of top feature winners at Utica-Rome will always have Matt Sheppard among the top three as he picked up his 34th career win and passed Rome legend and multi time NASCAR champ Richie Evans in winning on Sunday.

A lapped car ruined leader Pat Ward’s night as the car went high forcing Ward to go higher and the bottom opened up and Sheppard planted himself down there.

Sheppard realizes the elite company he passed and talked about the legends who have come before him at UR. Ahead are Stewart Friesen with 55 and Dale Planck 42.

Celebration to Heartbreak for Roberts

Was this going to be Adam Roberts night to shine and bath in the spotlight?

Adam Roberts was quick. Sure he started outside the front row, but he led for 27 laps.

Okay so after Sears got by him there were Jimmy Phelps and Larry Wight applying the pressure. Could he hold on?

Unfortunately the answer is “No”.

He deserved a top five after such a sensational night, but racing isn’t kind as in the waning laps Max McLaughlin and Chris Hile got by.

Marc Johnson Hits the Road

Marc Johnson hauled from Guilderland (out in the eastern part of NY) to compete at the Fulton Speedway on Saturday night.

Marc noted, “It’s been raining and I want to race. The last time I was here was back about 10 or so years ago and ran a Victoria. I really wanted to get my name on the Victoria t-shirt the next year, but they didn’t print one.”

He started 17th and on a late restart looked headed for a top seven finish, but he trailed off a bit at the end to finish 12th. Not sure if he’ll be back, but it is always neat to have another new driver invade.

For the past few years Marc has been small-block powered, but not this year. He has a big-block at his disposal and it was so potent that the week before in practice at Utica-Rome he unofficially set a new Modified track record.

Mike Mahaney Needs Change of Luck

In his career Mike Mahaney had been on his top twice in Microsprint and another time in the Charlie Davis Mod at Fonda.

However, during the past week he was on his top twice, but also on top once.

He took a wild ride in the ESS Sprinter on Saturday at Canandaigua as he got tangled up with a newer driver. Car damaged enough to keep him from racing it on Sunday at UR. Of course there was the wild flip at Brewerton the previous week.

However, midweek he headed to Action Track USA to compete in a star studded field of Speedsters where he won. This is a newer Speedster for him. He got involved a year ago and got a good deal on a car that paid for itself the first night out.

At UR on Sunday he got 11th.

Jim Mahaney noted he has had one flip in his career at Fulton several years ago where he got launched off one of the light pole banks.

Jim indicated the car destroyed at Brewerton will have one of their frames under it when it returns to the Demon.

Darn Rain Causing Migration

Rain has brought some different species to Central New York.

I don’t mean birds or animals. I mean race drivers.

With Mother Nature hitting New York State with what I hope will be drought ending rain the “species” in this case are race drivers.

Suddenly drivers who can’t get on their home tracks are traveling. Marc Johnson along with Sportsman drivers Matt Janczuk, Kyle Kiehn and Kyle Demetro to Fulton while Utica-Rome saw a whole bunch of new faces including Mod drivers Erik Rudolph, Peter Britten, Rick Richner, Ray Hoard Jr., Dave Allen and Don Bellen and Sportsmen Kathy Bellen, Tyler Singleton and William August.

Guys just want to race.

Well, two out of three isn’t all that bad when it comes to getting shows in. Brewerton, hoping for a break in wet weather, cancelled early and for good reason. The forecast and then the weather simply sucked. Rain this week probably won’t provide any drying conditions, but hoping for the best on Friday night.

Saturday and Sunday were solid this past weekend with perfect conditions both at Fulton and Utica-Rome. Much credit to Bill Shea and company as they have been busting their butts to get the surface out of the early season Spring conditions.

Fields this past weekend were pretty darn good.

We’ll see what this week brings.

Good & Bad of Sportsman Double Features

Have to admit 40 Sportsman cars in the pits at Fulton is a surprisingly solid number as for the third time this year twin full point, full purse features were run.

I credit the Fulton management for doing this, but it might be time to fine tune it a bit.

Just a suggestion, but in talking to some of the drivers contending to win each week there is a desire to run against one another. It makes sense and maybe run heats, qualify five from each of the four prelims, run consis and take four. They go to the A Main or maybe call it A Plus. This one should pay full points and purse. The remainder of the cars could run a second 25 lapper for full purse, but not points. This gives all the teams a solid amount of track time. This would put all of the top contenders in one feature.

As always just a suggestion, but think about it. If it keeps going this way the only time fans will see all the top contenders going head to head is on a DIRTCar or Grit Series feature. Don’t you want the best field possible in the main feature?

Fulton Pit Stops

Tim Mayne, a regular at Utica-Rome has been in the Fulton Mod field the past few weeks…

The previous week Novice feature winner Kyle Perry won the race on the last lap with a severely bent axle. ..

Tough night for Sportsman drivers Nick Krause and Brent Draper as both qualified in their heats only to start at the tail end of the features due to coming up light at the scales…

Ron Davis III got tangled up with J.J. Courcey in the heat, but Davis rallied for third. Heats winners were Tyler Thompson, Mike Button, Chris Cunningham and Chris Mackey…

Alan Chapman and Mike Kazmierzak were new Late Models in the pits…

Chad Phelps was in a qualifying spot on the last lap of his heat, but the car went around and he was forced to start deep in the field…

Pat Ward was irritated after being forced down low into a yuke tire by Tim Sears Jr. on a restart. A full day Sunday in the shop got him back for Utica-Rome. He noted Larry Wight came over and did the shocks, Scott Jeffery the rear end, Dennis Perry the body and he did the front end…

Midway through the Mod feature Ryan Jordan, Andrew Ferguson, Hile, Wight along with Phelps were all battling for the fourth spot. It was tremendous action…

A.J. Kingsley bent up his car after getting crowded together with Brandon Carvey in the early going of the Late Model main…

Chris Fleming seldom goes off on the hook, but a good amount of damage was inflicted in the LM feature crash with two other cars being collected…

Brandon Ford stepped out of his LM and RDIII was the pilot. Don’t know if this is long term or not…

Consistency is something to be proud of and leads to track championships as Jimmy Phelps and Larry Wight continue to be in the top three at Fulton on a weekly basis…

Max McLaughlin rebounded well from the week before with a solid fourth place finish…

Nice wins for Jeremy Dygert and Todd Root in Sportsman mains…

Chad Homan has found a home in Late Models as he rallied over Kevan Cook in the waning moments…

Congrats to Kyle Perry and Steve Marshall in the Novice Mains. Marshall got Tyler Rogers on the last lap. Heartbreak for John Strickler with a flat with two laps to go while leading…

24 Mods, 40 Sportsman, 21 Novice Sportsman, 15 Late Models, 14 Four-Cylinders…

Utica-Rome Pit Stops

Jeremy Wilder had his small-block Mod prepping for upcoming specials…

Sportsman driver Chris Curtis traveled from Canaan CT and noted he rained out on Friday and with the long weekend he wanted to go racing…

Shane Henderson drove a spectacular Pro Stock main event.  He was third behind Mike Welch and Jim Normoyle. Henderson hauls up from Catskill every Sunday by himself…

Peter Brittan is running a rather unique schedule this year and had the Romano 97 pitside. Albany-Saratoga on Friday and Sharon, Ohio on Saturday. He made a surprise appearance at UR and came home tenth…

After a day of repairs Pat Ward settled for a season best second…

Alan Fink won the Sportsman main with Matt Janczuk in hot pursuit…

Sportsman driver Charlie Tibbits got on his top and landed on top of the front end of Stephen Denton’s 44c in the main event.  He was okay…

Sportsmen driver Jeff Taylor was also one of the sponsors for the night as his own The Wild Animal Park was on board…

Shane Andrews, former UR announcer, back in the house in different form, as representative of other corporate night sponsor…Broedel Energy.

Sprints are always fun at UR and with 38 in the pits it was an pretty decent night add 25 Mods, 30 Sportsman and 13 Pro Stock…

That’s it for this time around. Send along comments, news and other tidbits to foley395@hotmail.com.