By BOBBY SWEENEY
FULTON, NY – The wait is over for Max McLaughlin as he scored his first ever big-block Modified win on Saturday night, driving away from the competition at the Fulton Speedway.
Katelyn Hile took the lead at the drop of the green flag for the 35-lap feature, but relinquished the top spot to Roy Bresnahan two laps into the race. While Bresnahan settled into the lead, Max McLaughlin began making moves, driving from seventh to second in the first eight laps. A lap later, McLaughlin drove around Bresnahan for the lead, rocketing around the cushion and began to drive away.
Behind McLaughlin, Billy Whittaker and Larry Wight were also on the move. Wight broke into the top five on lap 14, then reached third soon after. By halfway, Whittaker and Wight had begun battling for second, but their battle was a full straightaway behind McLaughlin. Wight was finally able to secure the second spot with nine laps remaining, and then took off after McLaughlin.
As the lap counter clicked closer to 35, the lapped traffic got thicker and faster. By the end of the feature, McLaughlin was battling fast cars, attempting to put them a lap down. Wight quickly knocked down much of McLaughlin’s lead.
With five to go, the once big lead had now been cut in half, with Wight possibly on pace to catch the leader before the end. However, McLaughlin made a number of daring moves to get past traffic, allowing him to keep some distance between himself and Wight. When the checkered waived, it was McLaughlin scoring his first ever big-block Modified feature ahead of Wight, Chad Phelps, Tom Sears and Tim Sears. Whittaker crossed the line in third, but came up light on the scales.
“Man, we’ve been working so hard for this moment. We’ve been fast, but just left wondering when this would happen, if it would ever happen,” McLaughlin said in victory lane. “Lapped traffic was really tough, but I’ll run through that all day if it means I can stand here. This means everything, I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”
Throughout the entire first Sportsman feature, Chris Cunningham held a steady lead over the rest of the field. While Tyler Trump, Mike Phelps, and Todd Root battled hard for second, no driver could clear one another to chase down Cunningham for much of the race. While Trump eventually cleared the battle and got alongside Cunningham for the win on the last lap, Cunningham held on for his first Sportsman win at Fulton.
The second Sportsman feature was pure domination from defending champion Ronnie Davis III, who switched back to his Bicknell last night at Brewerton after spending the entire season behind the wheel of a Teo. Davis took the lead early in the 25-lap feature and ran unchallenged the rest of the distance.
Chad Homan returned to victory lane in the Late Model division, rolling under Dale Caswell for the lead in the middle of the race and cruising to another win. Rachel Zacharias scored the first Novice Sportsman feature, coming out on top of a battle that saw the top three running three wide for the lead with less than half a lap remaining. Matt Becker, who sells 50/50 tickets at Brewerton in order to earn money to race at Fulton, led nearly the whole way en route to the win in the second Novice race.
23 Modifieds, 16 Late Models, 50 Sportsman, and 18 Novice Sportsman signed in for action Saturday. Surprisingly, 68 individual Sportsman cars is not the high for the season, five off this season’s record coming a few weeks back.
(Tracey Road Equipment Big Block Modifieds 35 Laps) – MAX McLAUGHLIN, Larry Wight, Chad Phelps, Tom Sears Jr., Tim Sears Jr., Pat Ward, Jimmy Phelps, Jim Witko, Chris Hile, Matt Hulsizer, Roy Bresnahan, Mike Bowman, Adam Roberts, Ryan Jordan, Tim Kerr, Katelyn Hile, Joe August Jr., Kody Graham, Tim Murphy, Tim Mayne, Billy Whittaker DNS – Roy Shields, Tim Harris.
(SUNY Canton Sportsman #1 25 Laps) – CHRIS CUNNINGHAM, Tyler Trump, Mike Phelps, Todd Root, Nick Krause, Alan Fink, Jeremy Dygert, Kyle Fink, Ryan Hatherill, Corey Barker, Tyler Singleton, Jessica Power, Mike Stanton Jr., Tim Falter, Steve Marshall, Rich Riggs, Jimmy Moyer, Jim Spano, Torrey Stoughtenger, Josh Blackwell, Aron Backus, Wade Chrisman, Ricky Yelle, Michelle Courcy, Brandon Carvey.
(SUNY Canton Sportsman #2 25 Laps) – RON DAVIS III, Billy Clark Jr., AJ Miller, Chris Mackey, Matt Janczuk, Jeremy Pitcher, Glenn Forward, Dylan Zacharias, Mike Button, Amy Holland, Willy Decker Jr., Will Shields, Nate Higgins, Tyler Thompson, Rich Townsend, Joe Isabell, Joey Bounagurio, Jason Amidon, Kevin Root, Colby Herzog, Tom Juno, Dave Talbot, Dorian Wahdan, Kyle Perry.
(Billy Whittaker Cars & Trux Late Models 20 Laps) – CHAD HOMAN, Chris Fleming, Bret Belden, Dale Caswell, Jason Occhino, Kevan Cook, Jason Parkhurst, Steve Coit, Steve Gwinn, Max Hill, Brandon Carvey, Alan Chapman, Stan Clark, Harry Halliday, Sean Beardsley, AJ Kingsley.
(E&V Energy Novice Sportsman # 1 15 Laps) – MATTHEW BECKER, Jake Petit, Kelly Smith, Tyler Rogers, Brandon Thompson, Bill Megnin, Tyler Hall, Pat Nolan, Kyle Rood.
(E&V Energy Novice Sportsman #2 15 Laps) – RACHEL ZACHARIAS, Casey Cunningham, Bill Sauve, Dan Dupra, Kearra Backus, Larry Taylor, Jake Davis, Tim Abate, Wesley Hayes.