Canandaigua, NY – July 14, 2012 – The time-tested Troyer clan took center stage Saturday at Canandaigua Motorsports Park with Jimmy Phelps and Paul Guererri splitting open-wheel feature wins on DigSafelyNewYork811 Night.
Both veterans pulled away for decisive half-straightaway victories as Phelps posted his second 35-lap Original Pizza Logs Big-Block Modified win of the season and Guererri registered his division-high fourth triumph in the 25-lap Safety Awareness Solutions Sportsman Modified main.
Russ Marsden remained the most dominant driver in 2012 after collecting his track-best ninth Parts Plus Street Stock trophy while fellow full-fender pilot Marc Minutolo added win number six in the Pure Stock ranks. North country newcomer Tyler Meeks scored his first-ever win in the New Legends Sportsman finale.
Phelps swapped spots with Rob Bellinger early in the Big-Block headliner before taking command for good on lap 15 aboard the potent Andy Phelps Motorsports no. 99J J&B Installations-Industrial Tire-Town Mechanical/Troyer machine.
“These (1st-place) trophies are hard to come by, so its pretty special,” remarked Phelps, who netted his first career Big-Block win at CMP in mid-May during his initial season as a fairgrounds regular. “Fortunately we had a real good starting position because we’ve been so bad the last few weeks.”
“We went back to basics this week and had a second last night (Brewerton). Sometimes you have to go back and start all over. Hopefully we’re back on the right track. But its still so tough out here, this whole field could win on any night. You just can’t let up or they’re going to be coming after you,” Phelps noted.
Pole-sitter Dave Rauscher grabbed an early advantage at the drop of the green with Phelps already maneuvering into fourth from his seventh starting slot. Just as Phelps took over second, the first of four yellow flags flew on lap three for the slowing mount of Daryl Hilkert.
Phelps never wavered despite returning back to the second row after having to revert back to the previously completed lap. The Baldwinsville driver charged from fourth to first on the ensuing restart, dropping Rauscher to runner-up status with sixth-place starter Bellinger moving into third.
On the brink of breaking into the Top-10, Alan Johnson suddenly dropped off the pace on the back chute to incur the second caution period on lap 14 and Bellinger took advantage on the restart to lead his first lap of the year. He could not not make it two, however, as Phelps charged by high in turns three and four the following circuit to regain the point.
In pursuit of his first checkered flag of the season, 15th-place starter Justin Haers was on the move as he overtook Gary Tomkins for third on lap 16 and sped past Bellinger for second on lap 20. Haers pulled up to Phelps’ back bumper on a lap 22 restart after Dave Allen looped his mount to force a brief slowdown. Phelps easily pulled away back under green before a turn four tangle involving Chad Homan, Justin Wright, Derrick Podsiadlo and Tyler Siri forced the ‘B-Ville Blizzard’ to do it all over again on lap 25.
While Phelps went unchallenged over the final 10 laps, constant change in positions behind him were far more dramatic during the last five miles. Danny Johnson pulled off a perfect slide-job past Tomkins for fourth on lap 29 before contact with Haers all the way around on lap 32 put the ‘Doctor’ in third behind Bellinger. Tomkins hung on for fourth while points leader Matt Sheppard stole fifth from Haers at the stripe.
“I saw the 19W (Wright) roll the outside on an early restart, thought I’d hate to get stuck down low and knew I needed to be on top going into turn one,” recalled Phelps, explaining his brief lead loss to Bellinger on the lap 14 restart after electing to fire from the outside of row one. “Obviously, it didn’t work and I got way behind going into turn one.”
“Rob kind of got loose coming into turn three and I stuck my nose in there. We had both come off turn four on the bottom and he stayed there which freed up the top and we were able to get back by him. We had a great car the rest of the way and were able to take advantage of it,” added Phelps, following the convincing victory.
While Phelps may be the new kid on the Canandaigua block, Guererri is a long-time resident at the fairgrounds where he owns an all-time division record 31 feature wins after Saturday night’s success.
“Feels great after being in a slump for awhile the last couple years,” said Guererri, who earned his first CMP victory in 1997, yet before this season had not reached the winner’s circle since 2007. “Picked up this new car, just can’t say enough about this new Troyer car. Looks like it was a good night for Troyer because Jimmy (Phelps) won too.”
Steering his own orange no. 3M Troyer entry, Jimmy Maier out-dragged pole-sitter Loren Lincoln at the drop of the first green flag. Guererri flew by Lincoln on lap four and needed six more circuits to nose by Maier for the final lead change.
While Guererri ran uncontested up front, Nick Guererri and points leader Dan Wiesner waged the best battle of the night as they fought rail to rail among the Top-5 for a dozen circuits; Wiesner fourth on lap 12, Guererri back ahead on lap 15, Wiesner by again on lap 17.
Lap 22 contact by last week’s winner Stu Sheppard sent Lincoln looping out of turn three and Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr. slammed in with no place to go. A rare red flag ensued for an ambulance check of Burnell, with action resuming after the Geneva driver was cleared.
On the final restart with just three laps to go, Wiesner bolted past Maier for second while Dave Marcuccilli unseated Nick Guererri in fourth. But the no. 7 Proctor Roofing-Al Raymond Collision-Pizza Logs/Troyer ride was nowhere to be found as the Geneva driver pulled away for a commanding 1.5-sec. victory.
“This car was really hooked. I have to thank my crew and dedicate this one to Dennis Wick, a long-time sponsor who passed away last year and his family is here tonight,” Guererri said.
“It was perfect right in the middle of the track tonight, right in the black. Didn’t know whether to run the bottom or top on the restarts, just figured I would stay on top where I was running all night. Car seemed to hook up pretty good there. It was a fun time knowing I could get around wherever I wanted,” Guererri added.
How to get around the smooth half-miler this season has never been a question for Marsden. Its only been a matter of time, as in how long until the Mexico, N.Y. pilot would take the lead aboard the white no. 28 Flack’s Hi-Rise Concrete Restoration-Coatings Plus/Chevrolet Impala.
“We just keep wrenching on this car, love racing and want to win every chance we get,” said Marsden, after emerging as the new Parts Plus Street Stock points leader ahead of defending champ Mike Welch, 758-752 through 15 events. “Haven’t had a season like this since maybe ’05, just keep plugging away and keep advancing.”
Marsden vaulted from third to first on the opening circuit followed by late-arriving Nate Peckham, and all that remained was who would finish next in the caution-free 15-lap feature. On this night strapping in behind the wheel of Keith Keuer’s no. 5K mount, Welch slipped by Blane Smith for third in the closing stages while Steve Pesarek rounded out the front-five in a brand-new black 30-numbered Chevy Camaro.
“We definitely like coming here, this place is fast,” Marsden added. “Fast on the top, fast on the bottom. You can pretty much go anywhere you want. I’m fortunate Pat (Flack, owner) lets me run his car, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be racing at all.”
One week after matching his father Mike Minutolo’s win mark of 30 at CMP, son Marc from Newark went one better on Saturday as he took his 31st checkered flag at the storied Routes 5&20 oval.
“Always have to thank my dad whenever I can win, so this one is really special tonight,” said Marc, after notching his second straight Pure Stock victory to tie him at six with points leader Vance Vanderwall. “My only goal this year was really to have fun, knowing I was going to miss a week going to Virginia with my friends. But sometimes being out of the points can be a little more fun, and a little less stressful.”
Fourth starting Minutolo appeared as relaxed as ever buckled into his familiar no. 25B Butch’s Body Shop-Big Mike’s Auto Chevrolet Camaro, snatching the lead from Vanderwall on lap seven and holding on for a two car-length victory in the 12-lap race. Derek Excell finished third in his season-debut with Eric Chapman and George LaVare Jr. filling out the Top-5.
Ironically, father Mike Sr. incurred the lone caution period on lap seven when his own no. 52B Gevos Rears & Gears-Advance Auto Chevrolet Monte Carlo went up in smoke and came to rest in turn two.
“I always try to keep the momentum up,” Minutolo added. “Got underneath (Vanderwall) and just tried to make it stick. Then when that caution came out it kind of sealed the deal on the pass. Kind of got a gift there but I always say ‘take it as I can get it.’ The track was really nice tonight. Anywhere you wanted to race, wherever your car was working you could go. And its always fun when you can go home with a win. That’s why we come.”
Pole-position was the place to be and CMP rookie Meeks took full advantage as the Evans Mills invader led the distance to capture his first 15-lap Legends Sportsman main.
“Starting on the pole was definitely an advantage but I still never thought (win) would come this quick,” admitted Meeks, who reached victory lane in just his third start at the historic half-miler, making him the division’s fifth first-time winner this season. “Have to thank my dad and Marty (Patchen, Marsden teammate) for setting the car up, it handled awesome all night.”
In the first caution-free affair of the night, Meeks jumped out early and never looked back in his no. 17T Allside Painting-Flack’s Hi-Rise Concrete Restoration-Meeks Trucking/Bicknell entry. Billy Brown moved past Jason Scales by lap five and was also never headed, although he fell a dozen car-lengths shy of Meeks at the finish. Jeff Davoli, Frank Guererri Jr.and Scales crossed the line next.
“I really like how this track is so smooth,” Meeks added. “Its never rough and you can really get a hold of your car here. We’re already looking forward to coming back. Its been a good track to get experience.”
The hot and heavy action continues at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Sat. July 21 when Corvettes By Turner presents a full card of Original Pizza Logs Big-Block Modified, Safety Awareness Solutions Sportsman, Parts Plus Street Stock, Pure Stock and New Legends Sportsman racing, plus the seventh appearance by the Castner Performance 305 Sprint Cars on Family Autograph Nite. Pit gates unlock at 4pm, grandstands open at 5pm and the first qualifying heat goes green at 7pm.