By JR KENNERUP
AFTON, NY – Improving track conditions at the Afton Motorsports Park on Friday night led to pretty good racing action in all divisions.
In the ZMK Construction Modified 30 lap feature Nick Nye raced to his first win of the season at the track and he had to work hard for it. Nye at first held off the relentless Andy Bachetti for the lead, until he spun out. Mike Mahaney was up next and tried many times to sneak by the Groton, NY driver but to no avail. Nye in for the win over Mahaney, new point leader Mitch Gibbs, Jeremy Smith, and 16th place starting Brett Tonkin.
In the Chambers & O’Hara Open Sportsman 20 lap feature long time veteran racer Dan Burman used his outside pole starting spot to full advantage. Burman led all 20 laps to claim the emotional feature win in front of his parents who were in attendance. Dave Rosa, Tyler Hart, Claude Hutchings, Jr., and Craig Pope rounded out the top five.
The 20 lap Butler Auto Sales Crate Sportsman feature was all Cody Clark for the second week in a row. Once getting past Aaron Shelton for the lead, Clark motored away for the win with Corey Cormier, Shelton, Gary Smith, and Blaine Klinger completing the top five.
The 20 lap The Trophy Guy IMCA Modifieds saw James Cornell win his third feature in a row, but it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Cornell moved from third to the lead with a daring three wide pass for the win. Behind him were Gary Roberts, Beau Ballard, Tyler Stoddard, and Matt Cole.
The 20 lap Rinker Insurance Agency Street Stocks for the third week in a row was all Butch Green in the Holcomb Racing entry. Dustin Harris, Dave Cronk, Ralph Cuozzo, and Jonathon Fowlston rounded out the top five.
The 15 lap Four Cylinder Truck feature saw the unthinkable happen as Bob Crandall passed Ralph Cuozzo for the lead and the win. Dylan Nichols got his career best finish with a third over Brandon Loucks and Jeff Young.
The 30 lap Modified feature saw Tim Mayne and Steve Babicek bring the field to green with Mayne grabbing the lead over a third place starting Nick Nye, Babicek, Jeff Sheeley, and Kenny Titus.
Lap two saw Craig Hanson enter fifth by passing Titus while Nye started to apply heavy pressure on Mayne for the lead. One lap later Nye got underneath Mayne going into turn three for the lead.
Lap four of the feature was a strange lap indeed with two near accidents taking place, which shuffled the running order significantly and finally a third incident that took out the point leader. When the dust settled Nye and Mayne were still pacing the field but now Mike Mahaney was in third, up from 11th and Mitch Gibbs was fourth while Babicek held on to fifth. The caution came out for a multi car wreck in turn four, which took out point leader Rusty Smith for the night with a broken front end.
On the restart Mahaney and Gibbs both made quick work by moving into second and third, but a trio of drivers deep in the field were making plenty of noise. Defending track champion Andy Bachetti, Jeremy Smith, and Brett Tonkin were all using the extreme top groove in their charge to the front.
Bachetti used his normal high line groove to go from tenth to fourth on lap seven. Seeing him make that move it prompted Smith and Tonkin who were both running in 11th and 12th at the time to go up and try the same groove and both of them had success.
A double file restart on lap 12 brought the Bachetti faithful to their feet as he moved from fourth to second by passing Mahaney and Gibbs. Once in second the Wild Child put immediate pressure on leader Nye for the lead. But Nye was up to the task as he hugged the inside track marking uke tires to keep Bachetti at bay. On lap 13 Bachetti tried another move in his bag of tricks to get by Nye for the lead, but this time disaster struck as Bachetti spun the car out in turn four to bring out the yellow.
On the restart the top three of Nye, Mahaney, and Gibbs pulled away. The driver on the move was Jeremy Smith who went from eighth to fourth and he closed in on the top running trio.
With the top four cars pulling away a nice four car battle for fifth was shaping up between Hanson, Titus, Darwin R. Greene who recovered from a flat tire, and Tonkin. These four drivers were exchanging positions every lap for the next nine laps in a row.
Despite one final restart on lap 29 Mahaney didn’t have enough on this night to get by Nye for the lead and win.
Nick Nye aboard his American Taxi sponsored, Morrison powered car in for the win over Mahaney, Gibbs, Jeremy Smith, and Tonkin.
Qualifying for the 17 car field saw heat wins claimed by Bachetti, Babicek, and Nye.
Skip Pickwick and Dan Burman brought the 20 lap Open Sportsman feature to green with Burman using his outside pole starting spot to get the lead over Pickwick, Dave Rosa, Tyler Hart and Craig Pope.
Burman pulled out to a big lead over a strong running Pickwick who held off Rosa for second who in turn had Hart all over his back bumper and Claude Hutchings, Jr. now raced into fifth on lap two.
As this caution free feature wore on Burman opened up his lead while Pickwick, Rosa, Hart, and Hutchings all raced for second in a crowd pleasing battle.
Rosa was able to get by Pickwick for second on lap nine and set sail after leader Burman. Hart and Hutchings were both able to get under Pickwick for third and fourth respectively on lap 13.
The torrid pace of leader Burman all of the sudden seemed to slow to almost a stop as once what was a full straightaway lead was now down to car lengths with five laps to go. As the laps clicked off the advantage Burman once had was now down to just inches as Rosa, Hart, and Hutchings all closed in.
Burman in for the win and just after the checkers spun out in turn one due to the transmission breaking, which slowed him at the end of the race. Rosa, Hart, Hutchings, and Pope rounded out the top five.
Heat races for the 11 car field were claimed by Hart and Burman.
The 20 lap Crate Sportsman feature was brought to green by Tighe Sherlock and Aaron Shelton. Shelton got the jump on the second generation racer to get the lead over him, Cody Clark, Gary Smith, and Corey Cormier.
Clark and Smith got past Sherlock for second and third respectively on lap two and both drivers set sail after leader Shelton.
On a lap four double file restart Clark used the ever improving track conditions as he used his outside front row starting spot to get the lead. Cormier moved from fifth to fourth and set sail after Smith who was in third.
Once in front the Clark machine was on rails and he opened up a huge lead within three laps. Meanwhile Shelton, Smith, and Cormier were all racing hard for second with Sherlock now locked into a tough race for fifth as he was holding off Blaine Klinger and Matt Roberts.
Cormier snuck under Smith for third on lap seven and he immediately applied pressure on Shelton for second. Cormier was finally able to get past Shelton for second with four laps to go and he ran out of time to challenge Clark for the win.
Clark in for his second consecutive win over Cormier, Shelton, Smith, and Sherlock. In post race tech inspection Sherlock failed to meet the minimum weight requirement and thus was disqualified and this awarded fifth to Klinger.
Qualifying for the 18 car field saw heat wins go to Sherlock, Shelton, and Clark.
Gary Roberts and Tim Vandemark brought the 20 lap IMCA Modified feature to post with Roberts getting the lead over Beau Ballard, James Cornell, Vandemark, and Tyler Stoddard.
The top three drivers pulled away and set up their own private race for the win. Behind them racing action was fast and furious as Vandemark and Stoddard had to deal with Jake Maynard and Matt Cole.
Up front Roberts was holding Ballard and Cornell at bay for the lead until Cornell decided it was go time. The veteran driver on lap five took his car to the extreme top groove and motored around Roberts and Ballard to make it a three wide race for the lead. Exiting turn two Cornell had the lead for good while Roberts held off Ballard for second.
With Cornell on rails out in front the racing behind him was good with Roberts and Ballard racing for second. Stoddard, Maynard, Vandemark, and Cole all raced for fourth as these four drivers all were exchanging positions lap after lap.
Cornell in for his third consecutive feature win over Roberts, Ballard, Stoddard, and Cole.
For the third week in a row Cornell made a clean sweep of the evening as he won the qualifying heat for the nine car field.
The 20 lap Street Stock feature saw Ralph Cuozzo and Jonathon Fowlston bring the field to green. Dustin Harris moved from fourth to grab the lead over Fowlston, Butch Green, Dave Cronk, and Cuozzo.
Green inherited second on lap two as Fowlston spun out and on the restart he applied pressure on Harris for the lead.
Green was able to get the lead following a lap three restart and once in front the veteran driver puled out to a huge lead, this left Harris and Cronk to battle for second.
Green in for his third consecutive win over Harris, Cronk, Cuozzo, and Fowlston.
Due to the short car count ( five ) no qualifying race was held.
The 15 lap Four Cylinder Truck feature had Derrick Brundege and Pete Christensen bring the nine car field to green in their feature only event. Rookie driver Brundege grabbed the lead over another rookie driver in Dylan Nichols, Christensen, ninth place starting Ralph Cuozzo and Jerry Lanfair.
Cuozzo made quick work of the drivers in front of him as he moved into second on lap two and into the lead one lap later. Many in attendance thought that Cuozzo would go on to his third consecutive win, but Bob Crandall had different ideas.
Crandall who hasn’t gotten off to a good start this year and on this night was a driver who was on a mission. Crandall moved into third by lap three and followed Cuozzo into second when he took the lead. Crandall chased down Cuozzo and when Cuozzo made one mistake on lap six, Crandall pounced on it and made the pass for the lead.
Once in front Crandall pulled out to a commanding lead with Cuozzo left all by himself in second. Behind the leading duo there was some really good racing action taking place featuring the young drivers in the division.
Brundege, Nichols, and Brandon Loucks all in their first year of racing were putting on a great racing show for the fans while racing for third. These three young guns were racing cleanly nose to tail and they all wanted to be third. The great run of Brundege ended on lap 12 when the truck stalled to bring out the yellow.
Crandall in for the win over Cuozzo, Nichols, Loucks, and Jeff Young.
NOTES; with a little help ( sunny and dry ) from Mother Nature and many hours of hard work the track surface was much better than previous weeks and this led to some pretty good feature racing during the evening. Brett Tonkin had to vacate his original starting spot ( fifth ) in the feature due to switching cars and he charged through the field for a fifth. At intermission a helmet collection was done for long time track friend and race fan Josh Newell who was recently diagnosed with Leukemia, $554 was raised and everyone would like to say Thank You. Matt Cole subbed for the vacationing Bill Nichols in the IMCA’s.
Next week at Afton Motorsports Park will be the first visit of the year for the CRSA Sprint Cars. Due to this special event the Butler Auto Sales Crate Sportsman will have the evening off and return to racing on Friday June 8th for their Fan Appreciation Night.
The Four Cylinder Trucks next week will be racing in the Eric Wagner Memorial Race, the most important race of the year for them.
Joining the CRSA Sprints and Four Cylinder Trucks this upcoming Friday will be the ZMK Construction Modifieds, Chambers & O’Hara Open Sportsman, Rinker Insurance Agency Street Stocks, and The Trophy Guy IMCA Modifieds.
Pit gates will open at 4 pm with grandstand gates opening one half hour later. CRSA heat in motors will be at 5:45 pm with hot laps beginning at 6 pm, and the first heat going green at 7 pm sharp.
Admission prices for this special event will be $30 for the pits with no license required, grandstand is $14, senior citizens age 62 and up is $12, youth aged 9 to 14 are $7, and 8 and under are free with a paid adult admission.
For more information on Afton Motorsports Park please log on to the World Wide Web at www.aftonmotorsportspark.com or please call 607 – 639 – DIRT or 607 – 624 – 3772.
Afton Motorsports Park is fast, fun and furious… come check us out!
ZMK CONSTRUCTION MODIFIEDS 17 cars 30 laps; Nick Nye, Mike Mahaney, Mitch Gibbs, Jeremy Smith, Brett Tonkin, Darwin R. Greene, Kenny Titus, Andy Bachetti, Craig Hanson, Steve Babicek.
CHAMBERS & O’HARA OPEN SPORTSMAN 11 cars 20 laps; Dan Burman, Dave Rosa, Tyler Hart, Claude Hutchings, Jr., Craig Pope.
BUTLER AUTO SALES CRATE SPORTSMAN 18 cars 20 laps; Cody Clark, Corey Cormier, Aaron Shelton, Gary Smith, Blaine Klinger, Matt Roberts, Tyler Ward, AJ Williams, AJ Digsby.
RINKER INSURANCE AGENCY STREET STOCKS 5 cars 20 laps; Butch Green, Dustin Harris, Dave Cronk, Ralph Cuozzo, Jonathon Fowlston.
THE TROPHY GUY IMCA MODIFIEDS 9 cars 20 laps; James Cornell, Gary Roberts, Beau Ballard, Tyler Stoddard, Matt Cole.
FOUR CYLINDER TRUCKS 9 cars 15 laps; Bob Crandall, Ralph Cuozzo, Dylan Nichols, Brandon Loucks, Jeff Young.
LIGHTENING SPRINTS 8 cars 15 laps; Justin Phillips, Jhamie Beaudry, Alex Adamsky, Justin Sheridan, Kurt Conklin.