By RICH VLECK
BATAVIA, NY – The first ever appearance by the GRIT Racing Series Sportsman Tour at Genesee Speedway saw 31 cars help to fill the pits on Thursday Night despite heavy rains hitting the track early in the afternoon. “The Real Deal” 30-lap feature had plenty of good racing, but as it turned out the race for the win was not where you might expect it to be.
Andrew Smith, of Lockport, was declared the winner of the race after initial winner James Henry was disqualified in post-race tech for an unapproved alteration. It would spoil what appeared to be Henry’s first win in a few years.
Henry took the lead from his pole starting spot and held a healthy lead for the first half of the race, but as the race moved in to its second semester, Canadian Cody McPherson closed the gap on the lead, peaking to the inside of the No. 21 starting on lap 18. A caution flag on lap 20 would reset the field, and on the restart McPherson completed a slide job that appeared would give him the lead, only to have the lap called off by a spin in the back of the field causing a caution. On the ensuing, the veteran Henry was prepared for the same maneuver.
McPherson’s luck went from bad to worse on the second lap 21 restart, as he jumped the cushion in turn four a lap later and fell back to fifth; which allowed Andrew Smith to take the runner-up position that would in actually be for the win. The victory is the second of the year for Smith at Genesee. Phil Vigneri III ran a sound race to earn a second place finish with point leader Kyle Inman ending up third for the fifth time this year. McPherson wound up fourth while Sarah Johnson completed the top five.
Jeremy Wonderling knew passing was at a premium in the Crate Late Model Feature, but he got himself close enough to Jimmy Johnson in the final three laps and setup a slick maneuver to take the lead and claim the $1,000 top prize. Wonderling, of Scio, took the lead coming to two laps ago then completed the pass off the second corner to ride off to his first win of the year at Genesee. Wonderling had stalked Johnson for much of the race, but the leader held strong up on the cushion forcing “Mr. Excitement” to develop a new plan to go for the lead. Wonderling started to drive to the inside of the No. 39J, and finally pulled it off in the waning laps. Johnson would settle for second while John Waters drove by Kyle Murray on the final lap for third. Bryce Davis slipped up on the final lap but would still round out the top five.
In the final feature of the night, Mike Jackson had to borrow a ride from Ryan Allen just to start the event, but then found his way to the front to win his second feature of the year. Jackson, of LeRoy, said he was working on three hours of sleep after the birth of his daughter just days ago and after the troubles with his car following the heats he was just plain exhausted, but persevered to win and take the point lead in the process. Tommy Cooper led early but Jackson took the lead when Cooper and Jesse Qutermous came together off turn four, allowing the No. 9 to drive by both. Gary Preston would find his way to second late in the event and made a peak to the inside of the leader but would settle for second. Cooper came back up to finish third while Bill Taylor and Jason Babbitt drove up on the final lap to round out the top five.
Dante Mancuso scored his third win of the season in Mini Stocks, passing last week’s winner Don Newton Jr. on lap three and never looking back to capture the checkered flags, as well as the point lead in the process. Mancuso, of Batavia, was unable to start the feature in his No. 1 last Saturday, but made the repairs needed for this week to drive away from Newton, who crossed in second. Brad Shepard rallied from an early race incident to finish third with Mike Taddonio and Ryan Allen rounding out the top five.
The Bandits ran a feature-only format on the night, but did not lack anything in excitement, as eight different drivers had a shot at the lead throughout, but in the end it was Jessica Traxler, the one driver that brought out a caution flag, that won the feature event. Traxler, the division point leader from Warsaw, made hard contact with the backstretch wall on lap six forcing the only yellow flag of the 15-lap event, but crept her way back through the field to the front while some amazing racing was going on for the lead. Traxler took the lead on lap 11 from Allison Dewitt and never looked back while Olivia Coniber drove up to finish in second. Adam Jackson, Bailey Logsdon and Marcus Jackson completed the top five.
The race teams will have this Saturday off to regroup for the stretch run of the season starting next Saturday, July 29 for a Super 6 at 6:00 program. For more information, visit www.Genesee-Speedway.com.
Genesee Speedway Results: 7/20/2017-
L&L Transmission Night
GRIT Sportsman Tour “The Wheel Deal” Feature (30 Laps)- ANDREW SMITH, Phil Vigneri III, Kyle Inman, Cody McPherson, Sarah Johnson, Chad Chevalier, Ray Bliss, Adam Leslie, Austin Susice, Ray Smith, Boyd MacTavish, Matt Steffenhagen, Dave DiPetro, TJ Newton, Tim Downs, Jeff Davoli, Tony Muscato, Stacy Jackson, Zack George, Doug Smith, Ricky Newton, Mark Loveland, Brett Clarke, James Henry (DQ).
Did Not Qualify- Greg Mrzywka, Chuck Kuhn, Shane O’Grady, Ray Bliss Jr., Eric Williams, Jeff Sonnenburg, Alan Bratek.
Lap Leader- Henry 1-30.
Heat Winners- Jackson, Leslie, Johnson, Henry.
Consolation Winner- MacTavish.
MHL Performance Crate Late Model Feature (20 Laps)- JEREMY WONDERLING, Jimmy Johnson, John Waters, Kyle Murray, Bryce Davis, JJ Mazur, Bill Holmes, Mikey Wonderling, Brad Mesler, Beamer Guzzardi, Alan Chapman, Val Stephens, Billy DuBois, TJ Downs, Josh Pangrazio, Zack Carley, Greg Mrzywka, David Pangrazio, Jon Rivers.
Lap Leaders- Johnson 1-17, J. Wonderling 18-20.
Heat Winners- Murray, Waters, Johnson.
Yasses Trucking & Construction Street Stock Feature (20 Laps)- MIKE JACKSON, Gary Preston, Tommy Cooper, Bill Taylor, Jason Babbitt, Jesse Qutermous, David Liles, Tiffany Rumsey, Dennis Cummings, Dalton Martin, Roy Amadick, Bill Kowsky, Butch Zimmerman, Kenny Begnouche, Ryan Allen (DNS), Morgan Dewitt (DNS), Byron Dewitt (DNS).
Lap Leaders- Cooper 1-8, Jackson 9-20.
Heat Winners- Qutermous, B. Dewitt.
Pellegrino Auto Sales Mini Stock Feature (15 Laps)- DANTE MANCUSO, Don Newton Jr., Brad Sheppard, Mike Taddonio, Ryan Allen, Eric Weis, Chris Leone, Tony Kulesza, Doug Brown, Steven Krawczyk, Lee Hicks, Mike Jackson, James Gayton, Cole Hicks, Paul Monroe, Cole Susice, Jenn Galbo, Ruben Coffey, Eddie Kowalczyk (DNS).
Lap Leaders- Susice 1, Newton 2, Mancuso 3-15.
Heat Winners- Newton, Sheppard.
DML Sealing Bandits (15 Laps)- JESSICA TRAXLER, Olivia Coniber, Adam Jackson, Bailey Logsdon, Marcus Jackson, Allison Dewitt, Jessica Schleede, Trinity Reynolds, Ally Rider.
Lap Leaders- Dewitt 1-10, Traxler 11-15.