Makin’ Tracks – Fulton New Winners & Tough Breaks – DTD Exclusive

By Bill Foley

First time winners Max McLaughlin and Chris Cunningham were able to celebrate in victory lane, but guys like Corey Barker, Glenn Forward, Billy Whittaker, Wesley Hayes and many others had a night that was forcing them into situations they didn’t want to be in.

Such was Saturday night at the Fulton Speedway.

I have to admit as an announcer there is nothing like interviewing folks who have never been to victory lane.

Well, at the end of the night Max McLaughlin ran out of gas, but there was no heartbreak involved this time as it happened at the exit ramp off turn two after celebrating for the first time in victory lane.


The car stopped at the finish line and pulling up behind him was teammate Jimmy Phelps who got out, walked up to the 6H, reached inside to congratulate Max on his first one. You just love to see that type of camaraderie.

McLaughlin has set fast time on the Super DIRTcar Series tour and has been so close to getting his first Big Block win in his second year of competition.

Well, the 17-year-old took the lead on the 10th lap and pulled away with the yellow flag staying in starter Ricky Breed’s holster for the event. In the waning stages he had a six second lead over Larry Wight that became five, four, three, two and even just over one second, but Max got the win.

Late race traffic and the desire to save his tire were incremental in Max’s run.

It got really interesting in the closing stages, but this was going to be a McLaughlin night.

Later on as the night was coming to a close Chris Cunningham, who started racing street stocks at Fulton back in 1981, brought the 29K into victory lane for the first time in the Sportsmen division.

Earlier he had watched his son Casey lose on the last lap of the Novice main as the younger Cunningham got caught up in three wide battle entering turn three.

Chris was in total control of the Sportsman main, but on the last lap between three and four Tyler Trump dove down low, showed him a tire and was prepared to ruin the night for the 29K team. However, Chris held on for a .446 second win.

However, when the night came to an end it was Chris Cunningham, whose family was always know as the ones who ran MOPAR power for years and years, celebrating in victory lane. He was extremely emotional as it has been a long time coming. His thank you comments went on for many minutes as he was stunned.

Bad Luck Strikes Many

Billy Whittaker brought the 109 to a strong driven third place finish only to come up light on the scales and he was relegated to last in the Mods.

However, there were others with misfortune throughout the night.

Glenn Forward entered the night third in the Sportsman point standings.

He dropped out of his heat in the very early going which wasn’t good on a night that brought 50 Sportsman to the pits.

He said, “I ended up bringing my Brewerton car to Fulton for a couple of reasons. I wanted to keep one ready for Rolling Wheels on Thursday and the other to see if we had our motor issue fixed. Come to find out we didn’t after we changed carbs, fuels pumps and fuel filters we finally figured out that the fuel pump push rod was bad, but of course not until feature time, but at least we figured it out. I was good we got rained out Friday. That was the car I ran at Fulton and it was the first time I ran it there. We were pleased with it as I am sure you will see it again.”

Forward started 25th in the feature event and drove home with a seventh. So his hit in the point standings wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Corey Barker came into the night fifth in points, but he too got bit. In heat action he was challenging for the lead when he suddenly broke and was towed off rear end first. He noted, “I broke a rear axle, but we got it out, got a new one in and there was no visible damage to the rear end.” He too salvaged a night starting 25th and coming home 10th.

Novice Wesley Hayes led the majority of his feature, but Casey Cunningham was chasing him. Coming off two on the final lap Rachel Zacharias saw an opening to the inside and suddenly the novices were three wide entering three. Hayes ended up sliding into the wall just a third of a lap away from victory. Cunningham, who was second all night long, settled for second as Rachel got the win.

Not Fulton, but Important

Ryan Bartlett lost his primary motor a week ago Saturday at Can-Am.

They were just going to survive the rest of the season, but this past Saturday night he not only returned to Can-Am, but won the feature.

Ryan said, “It was a small-block that has sat for five years. We got it out from under the table and finished putting it together to get it in for this week. My brother had run it once last Spring in a pinch, but it has been sitting ever since. The car was just handling great around the bottom. You never know what to expect in racing, but if you keep at it long enough good things are bound to happen.”

Pit Stops

Both Roy Shields and Tim Harris lost motors in their Mods…

Ronnie Davis III was beginning to doubt his driving ability so they brought Pearl (the car he had so much success with last year back out). He pulled off a four second win over Billy Clark for win number four on the year. He felt good…

I don’t care whether you cheer or jeer Larry Wight. You have to admit he is definitely fun to watch. He started well back in the field by virtue of his handicap situation and works his way up usually in pretty eye catching fashion…

Chad Phelps ran a consistent and steady Mod main for third while Tom Sears was fourth and Tim Sears fifth…

Jimmy Phelps started 18th and came home with a seventh place finish…

There was some good racing up front early by Jim Witko and Roy Bresnahan, but they fell back slightly in the last half of the race with Witko eighth and Bresnahan 11th. Roy had a scare on Friday night at Brewerton when his car pulled to the infield on lap four.

He said, “The drive shaft broke and a piece went into my shoe and burnt right through it. It took out the top of the shield and everything else.”

The pieces were all over the cockpit. He got a bruise and hot feet in the situation…

Ray Graham’s big-block is nearly finished and he should be out soon to join his son Kody in racing action…

Kevin Root was in his brother Todd’s back up car which was numbered 11…

Richie Riggs also had a drive shaft break on Friday night and pieces hit his leg, but fortunately he was uninjured…

New Novice at Fulton was Tyler Hall in the Brent Joy car. Roy Shields was back for the first time and new Sportsman included Joe Isabell, Rich Townsend while Tom Juno moved up from Novice…

Tyler Singleton made the haul from Montrose, PA. He hasn’t found a home full time this year and really enjoys Fulton where he says he has never been treated this well and accepted before in his racing travels. He finished a solid 11th in one of the Sportsman features…

Chris Fleming rebounded well as he had no brakes at Brewerton on Friday after the seventh lap, but finished second to Chad Homan in the Late Model main on Saturday…

Brett Belden came from 10th to third for a solid LM run…

Kyle Rood got collected and slammed the front stretch wall big time in one of the Novice mains…

First few laps of the LM main were mind boggling with Brandon Carvey, Dale Caswell, Chad Homan, Jason Occhino and Fleming simply velcroed together. It was unreal…

Point leader Kevan Cook finished sixth in the LM main while point runner up Jason Parkhurst finished seventh. Third in points was Homan and he won…

Michael Phelps had one heck of a run in the Sportsman main as he came home a solid third and appeared capable at one point at closing in on the leader…

Over 90 different Sportsman have been in the Fulton pits for regular nights of racing (more if you included the season opening DIRTcar Tour race). I can’t imagine how many will be in for the huge Industrial Tire of CNY Sportsmen Shootout during Outlaw Weekend…

A.J. Miller third in the Sportsman main for one of his best runs of the year…

Matt Janczuk started back in 13th and came home fifth as his lengthy battle for position with Jeremy Pitcher was fun to watch. It went on for lap after lap.

Matt later said, “I had nothing at the end as I burned off my tires battling with Jeremy.”…

Matt Hulsizer was out in the Larry Wight car again. Larry underplayed what he had done and simply said, “The car was just sitting there and he needed a ride.”…

Mod driver Ryan Jordan feeling better before the night of racing as he has fared quite well recently. However, if you don’t get into the handicapped position it is costly. Such was his case and he started 20th, but could only salvage 14th…

Sean Beardsley saw his car destroyed in a fourth lap accident that also involved A.J. Kingsley. A.J. was able to drive away, but thought there might be frame damage. Beardsley’s machine took two tow trucks to cradle it to his pit stall…

Fulton continues to offer pit tours. At approximately 6:30 p.m. fans can line up near the pole barn in turn four and Jim Butler will drive up and invite folks to load on to the tram for a cruise through the pits. Well over 150 people did this the first week and last week the folks continued to line up. This is for everyone and free. There might also be runs during intermission. You can’t get off in the pits, but it was fun to see the interest from those on board as they went through last week. Great fan idea…

Fan fest, sponsored by Billy Whittaker Cars and Trux is set for this week. After hot laps drivers and cars will come up to the midway area where fans can visit. Sort of like family autograph night with more of a festive feel. It is $20 a car load night so come on out…

I feel like I walked 20 miles on Saturday as Adam Buchanan had a commitment and the seven trips down the stairs to the track was an effort…

Interesting week for me as I got to work with an announcer I never met as Jim King was in the booth on Wednesday at Fonda and it was reunion night at Utica with Shane Andrews as we were together for years at Brewerton and Fulton…

Any notes, news or comments send along to foley395@hotmail.com. I enjoy hearing from folks reading this column or other DTD stories that I submit.