AFTON, NY – Friday May 17 served as the opening night of racing at the Afton Motorsports Park (A.M.P.) after finally Mother Nature started smiling down on the speedway late afternoon. It was their fourth attempt at getting the lid lifter for the 2019-racing-season in the books. All divisions were on the schedule and the Street Stock vs Pro Stock Challenge was a highlight of the evening with sponsored laps and many special monetary or products to be handed out. With all the rain outs here and so many other tracks the word to the Pro Stocks just didn’t get out as well as was expected. One Pro Stock from Utica Rome Speedway and one from Fonda showed for the event. A few extra Street Stocks showed so in all it turned out fine and maybe in the future could be tried again.
Alex Yankowski Covington Township, Pa. a visiting Modified competitor who has plans to compete at Big Diamond Raceway this season as like Afton has been weathered out weekly. On this Friday Big Diamond was not having his division on the schedule so the team decided to invade A.M.P. The choice turned out to be a very successful one, as after the heat he was in position for the redraw. Yankowski took his front row starting position in his (84Y) Fire Management Control of Pennsylvania, Inc in the ZMK Modified division all the way to the Mirabito Energy Products victory lane. The fifteen-year-old throttle jockey had to hold off many challenges throughout the race by defending track champion Brett Tonkin and seasoned veteran Paul Jensen. They both had their turn at trying to get by the young gun without success as Yankowski held his line to get his first career Modified win. To say he and the team were overjoyed in victory lane would be an under-statement. Tonkin followed Yankowski across the line for second followed by Jensen, Frank Yankowski, Alex’s Uncle and Darwin Greene rounding out the top five.
In the Rinker Insurance Agency Crate 602 Sportsman another fine youngster garnered his first career feature victory at the speedway on this night. Ryan Macartney in his Old Town Barns (24) used his pole starting spot to ride to a comfortable margin of victory. It is always a great way to get the season started and to grab the point lead going into next week. Macartney was followed across the line by another youngster Bobby Flood, Steve Anderson, A J Digsby and Kinser Hill rounding out the five. There was a lot of racing action going on all around the speedway for all the other positions.
The Chamber’s & Ohara Open Sportsman saw Oxford, N.Y. driver Dennis Clapperton in his Race Stat Control sponsored (D9) defending track champion get a good start on another championship this season with the feature win. It was a hard-fought win as once Clapperton got to the front he had to battle a pair of drivers trying to overtake the hot shoe to be the first to make it to the Mirabito Energy Products victory on night one. Clapperton was followed close across the line by Dave Rosa, Brandon Kuhn, newcomer Jim “Rocky” Rothwell and completing the hard fought twenty-lap feature was Bill Deckleman.
In the Pit Stop Auto Street Stock division it was the special night with the Pro Stocks invited to come and have a challenge race. Unfortunately, as stated above it did not get a great showing by that division, but as I write this, I believe at the right time it could have been way more successful. It was planned to be on week four of the season and the new surface would be right by then and but Mother Nature put a kibosh to that idea. Butch Green (57) the defending champion out of Newark Valley driving the Jack Holcombe owned Pop’s Automotive sponsored machine had a great night. Greene won the twenty-lap feature along with the five-lap Dash for Cash sponsored by Joe Infante of Precision Hydraulics & Oil of Wrightstown NJ. After the dash he mentioned that he done some damage to the car but it was his own mistake and that is part of racing. Returning to the Street Stock wars at A.M.P. this season is Doug Polhamus who heavily pressured Green after Jerry Lobdell Jr. broke after a fierce battle with Green. Following second place finishing Polhamus across the line to complete the top five was Dave Cronk, Steve Polhamus and Jake Fowston.
The Trophy Guy IMCA Modified division had a whale of a race going on for the entire race. Early on it was the returning driver to this division after sometime away racing other division Matt Roberts. Roberts, Tyler Stoddard and Bill Nichols had a big three-way dual going on and later Gary Roberts joined in the fray. Both Roberts suffered mechanical woes and dropped way off the pace and finally went pit-side. The eventual winner Brad Smith Horseheads, N.Y. with his (76) Smith Auto Center machine was on a late charge and after a hard-fought battle with Tyler Stoddard and did just enough to come out on top. On his tail was Tyler Stoddard, Rodney Morgan, Bill Nichols and completing the top five Beau Ballard.
Ralph Cuozzo, Unadilla, N.Y. in his potent R C Sales and Service (00) had no problem picking up the first feature of the season in the Four Cylinder Truck division. The division this season is letting Front Wheel Drive four-cylinder cars join them. The top five was Cuozzo, Doug O’Hara, Dylan Nichols, Jeff Young and first car finishing in fifth Beezer Wilkie.
Afton After Thoughts; With the weather predicting a late afternoon shower and knowing the plan was to race that night the track crew decided not to water early afternoon. Track came up dusty and crew put water down on the brand-new surface to alleviate the problem. There is no doubt that the track will be in great form once the crew can get on it for about two to three days in a row.
With just the one day at the track to get with all the lap sponsors Leon Andrus is sending out a huge thank you as it all got collected but one lap. If the sponsor ever pays, I will get it to the proper driver at that time. Big thank you to all the special award sponsors Precision Hydraulics & Oil, Speed Sport Showcase, Pop’s Automotive Dirt Track Digest, Fonda Speedway and Algonkin Motel. Two bigger sponsors also in the lap sponsors Glenn Stevens of Glenn Stevens Trucking and Mikal Thies a big race fan of the speedway.
On this first night of racing the track also held there first meet and greet down on the horse track It was for the Street Stocks and Pro Stocks since this was their big night. A bike was also given away to a lucky youngster as that is something, they like to do weekly.
ZMK Modified finish 19 cars
1.) 84Y Alex Yankowski (2.) 15 Brett Tonkin (3.) 57 Paul Jensen (4.) 127 Fran Yankowski (5.) Darwin Greene (6.) 9 Ken Titus (7.) 22 Brandon Walters (8.) 6H JR Hurlburt (9) 145 Alan Rudalavage (10.) 2G Mitch Gibbs (11.) 74D Chris Van Buren (12) 6NN Nick Nye (13.) 33T Travis Smith (14) 34 Rusty Smith (15) 89 Kurt Decker (16) 9X Jim Introne (17) S1 Steve Babicek (18) 8M Tim Mayne (19) 38 Jeff Sheely
Rinker Insurance Agency Crate 602 Sportsman 18 Cars
1. 24 Ryan Macartney 2. 91 Bobby Flood 3. 73A Steve Anderson 4. 99 AJ Digsby 5. 60x Kinser Hill 6. 44 Tyler Ward 7. 7H Alan Hodge 8. 23 Brandon Loucks 9. 7up Gary Smith 10. 9K Blain Klinger 11. 33g Mike Grover 12. 119 Fred Smith 13. 1m Gary Miller 14. 96 Dusti Harris 15. 10 Lisa Williams 16. 56K Kamden Maby 17. 13 Brandon Christ 18. 121 Jamie Cortazar (DNS)
Chambers & O’Hara Open Sportsman 13 Cars
1. D9 Dennis Clapperton 2. 61 Dave Rosa 3. 16 Brandon Kuhn 4. Jim Rockwell 5. 90 Bill Deckleman 6. 33 Rob Loucks 7. 10x Tyler Hart 8. 5R Olin Renwick 9. 28 Jim Gould 10. 42c Craig Pope 11. 21F Zack Falciani 12. 57 Dan Burman 13 30 Fred Christ
Pit Stop Auto Street Stock / Pro Stock this week only 16 cars
1. 57 Butch Green 2. KP1 Doug Polhamus 3. 01 Dave Cronk 4. 98P Steve Polhamus 5. 66 Jake Fowston 6. 1 Bob Crandall 7. 16 Donald Briggs 8. 00 Ralph Cuozzo 9. 17 Ernie Staelens 10. 07 Beau Ballard 11. 2L Jerry Lobdell Jr. 12. 160 Jonathan Fowston 13. 33 Tyler Yeagle 14. 57j Jason Burgher 15. 27m Brad smith 16. 67w Travis Welch (DNS)
The Trophy Guy IMCA Modified 15 Cars
1. 76 Brad Smith 2. 23 Tyler Stoddard 3. 89 Rodney Morgan 4. S/360 Bill Nichols 5. 15 Beau Ballard 6.96x Brandon Smith 7. 71 Jared Keeney 8.X Leonard Miller 9. 14L Logan Terry 10. 613 Matt Roberts 11. U2 Gary Roberts 12. 7 Jim Cummings 13. 3G J.T.Roe 14. 7S Eric Stumpf 15. 55 Eion Whitehead
Four Cylinder Trucks and Front Wheel Drive Cars 8 combined
1. 00 Ralph Cuozzo 2. 91 Doug O’Hara 3. 01 Dylan Nichols 4. 17 Jeff Young 5. 107 Beezer Wilkie 6. 33 Pete Christiansen 7. 95 Josh Hurlburt 8. 22 Dane Hedlund