Sites Takes Afton’s Billy Ward Memorial IMCA Mod Win

By Michael Benjamin

AFTON, NY – As the NY/Penn IMCA Modified Series opens the second race weekend of their season they pull into Afton Motorsports Park in Afton, NY to race in memory of one of their own. On this night the 16 cars that signed in for the nights events were there to celebrate and remember long time IMCA Modified driver Billy Ward. One of the cars entered into the event was the number 4 IMCA modified of the late Ward. His son William Ward would be the one to pilot to the green flag. Emotions were high and the atmosphere was electric. Up for grabs was $1504 to the winner. Along with that, there was also $100 from Midosa USA Ltd going out to the heat winners, $104 courtesy of WDW Logistics to the winner of the dash which is a new thing to the series this season. The series also collected money donations for every 25 laps of the feature event going to the drivers.

As the first heat hit the track, we saw eventual event winner Eddie Sites in the Aaron Benjamin owned 5s starting on the pole and on his outside was Rich Michael Jr in his 17x. Others in the first heat was Northeast Regional Director Jake Maynard, new to the series Michael Owen, Lance Conley, Tyler Stoddard, Will Ward, and Jacob McConnell. Sites would bring the field to green, just to be called off by the flagger. We saw Owens and Conley drop out of the heat before the first laps was recorded. Sites jumped out to a commanding lead until the completion of lap 2, where we saw our first caution of the heat for Will Ward spinning the 4 machine in the middle of turn 3 and 4. Sites brought the field to the restart and the flagger called it off. Race control decided to make Rich Michael Jr the command car coming to the restart due to Sites jumping the start. Michael Jr jumped out to the lead and that’s where he stayed. Rich would get the win of heat 1 followed by Sites, Maynard, McConnell, Stoddard rounding out the top 5. Michael Jr and Sites would transfer into the WDW Logistics Dash 4 Cash.

In heat 2 had Brad Sites starting on the pole in the 115 with Rodney Morgan to his outside followed by Jeff Cardinale, Rick Watt, veteran driver Gary Roberts, and Tyler Belcher. Not making the call was Shawn Bruce and JT Roe. After Sites brings the field to the green Roberts loses it in turn one and hits one of the Euk tires on the inside of the track ending his campaign and getting towed back to the pit area. While under the caution for Roberts, the 89 machine of Rodney Morgan ended up losing his left rear spring and ultimately ended his night as he would not make the repairs to make the feature. Morgan got his car cleared of the track, we would see the 7* machine of Shawn Bruce make a late call to the track to race in his heat event. Sites would bring the field to the restart and jump out to the early lead just to have the caution come out for Belcher and Bruce coming together in turn 3. The field would then again come to the restart with only one lap complete just for it to come out again for the Cardinale machine coming to a stop at the top of turn one and two. The green flag would finally fly for the last time and Sites jumps out to a commanding lead over the 99RW machine of Rick Watt and lead the field from flag to flag to pick up heat number 2 win. Watt was second followed by Belcher, Bruce, and Cardinale. Brad Sites and Rick Watt would transfer into the WDW Logistics Dash 4 Cash.

The WDW Logistics Dash 4 Cash would only see 3 out of the 4 qualified drivers make the call. Both Brad and Eddie Sites along with Rich Michael Jr stared the dash. Unfortunately Rick Watt having mechanical problems at the end of heat 2 prevented him from running the dash. We saw Brad Sites take command of the dash and lead all 4 laps of the event to win over his big brother Eddie and Rich Michael Jr to pocket the $104 prize.

As the sun sets over Afton Motorsports park and the temperature cools down, the action heats up as the IMCA Modifieds take the track for their feature event. Rick Watt and Jeff Cardinale start on the front row with Cardinale dropping to the back as he is dealing with an ill car moving Shawn Bruce up to the outside pole. As the field comes down the back stretch to head to complete lap one. All chaos broke loose and we saw our first caution of the feature event and the biggest one of the event which collected a total of 5 cars that included Maynard, heat 2 and Dash 4 Cash winner Brad Sites, new comer JT Roe, Tyler Belcher, and Lance Conley. Once the cars were cleared we were ready to go and Watt and Bruce brought the field to the green. The 5s of Eddie Sites and the 17x of Rich Michael Jr started on the second row made quick work of the front two cars and Sites took the lead and didn’t look back. Even with a few cautions through out the event after the lap one may lay, Sites was able to hold of every attempt, every charge of RMJ as he tried to find any way possible around the 5s machine. Sites would take the checker flag and score the $1504 payday and win the Billy Ward Memorial. Rich Michael Jr would finish second followed by Brad Sites who was able to bounce back after that lap one accident to finish third. Tyler Stoddard and Jacob McConnell would round out the top 5 for the event.  William Ward scored the Force Flow Pressure Services Hard Charger Award finishing in the 6th position.

NY/Penn IMCA Modified Series closes the night at Afton Motorsports Park and head to Woodhull Speedway in Woodhull, NY on May 20th as the series reaches the middle of a 3 race in 3 weeks stretch.

Billy Ward Memorial Results

1. 5s – Eddie Sites
2. 17x – Rich Michael Jr
3. 115 – Bad Sites
4. 23 – Tyler Stoddard
5. 777 – Jacob McConnell
6. 4 – William Ward
7. 69 – Jake Maynard
8. 99 – Rick Watt
9. 7* – Shawn Bruce
10. U23 – Gary Roberts
11. 7B – Tyler Belcher
12. 69c – Lance Conley
13. 28 – JT Roe
14. 12J – Jeffery Cardinale
15. 918 – Michael Owen (DNS)
16. 98 – Rodney Morgan (DNS)