Makin’ Tracks – Phelps Returns – Sportsmen Population Explodes at Fulton – DTD Exclusive

By BILL FOLEY

This sport simply beats you up.

You can be on top one week and struggling to qualify the next.

You can run as fast as you ever have run only to have motor blow.

You can run your heart out only to come up light on the scale.




You celebrate and have despair, but the end result is that you come back.

Some would call it the sport while others would simply say it’s an addiction.

Racing at Fulton Speedway on Saturday night had a bit of everything as Jimmy Phelps, who started the season off well, went into a slight drought before finally arriving in victory lane for a well-deserved win. In victory lane with his family it appeared Jimmy had a tremendous weight lifted off his back.

Corey Barker was going for the lead only to hit a yuke tire collapsing his front end in the waning laps of a Sportsman main while Jeremy Pitcher was fast and he looked like a night of celebration was on tap only to have the engine blow.

Jessica Power drove one of her best races of the year for fifth in the Sportsman feature and she turns out to be too light at the scales.

This sport simply has too many ebbs and flows, but thankfully for the fans the drivers keep coming back.

Wins Mean So So Much

Chris Mackey won the second Sportsman main and the veteran racer has been around quite some time.

The team hasn’t been getting results and sat in ninth in the point standings entering the night at Fulton.

Chris was choked up in victory lane and close to crying as he was full of emotion.
The father and son have been doing this for years.

Afterwards Chris, when asked why he was so emotional, said, “My dad works so hard on this car and spends so much time in the garage. It feels good to win one with him.”

His dad Bernie noted, “This is Chris’ first win since 2010”. The team has run Open Sportsman, two years in the Mods and then moved back to Sportsman when finances simply couldn’t be had to continue to do what they had been doing and loved so much.

Bernie continued, “Last Saturday when we came back from Fulton Chris was out in the shop until 4:30 Sunday morning working on the car.” He had finished second, but wasn’t content.

Chris said, “When you finish second to Todd Root there is nothing wrong with that, but I can’t settle for that. Finishing second forces me to want to get better.”

And he “got better” this past Saturday night as he celebrated in victory lane.

When Is It Too Much of a Good Thing

Friday night a mid-twenty number of Sportsman were pit side at Brewerton, but 24 hours later the gates of the Fulton Speedway swing open and there were 48 Sportsman and 25 Novice Sportsman. That’s 73 different cars for a regular show.

While other support divisions are suffering, and I mean suffering, the Sportsman division has grown in leaps and bounds. I don’t think any track has had less than a full field of Sportsman for a regular show, but for some reason they all come out at Fulton.

Talking with Dave Medler, the pr specialist for Fulton, he noted that so far 85 Sportsman are in the point standings (and these don’t include any that were visiting for the DIRTcar season opener) and that there have been 41 different Novice Sportsman handicapped this year.

So 126 Sportsman have been at Fulton this year and basically for weekly regular shows, not any specials.

There is no doubt some teams would like to move up, but they can’t afford the big-block route and there is nothing in between.

With Modified fields throughout the area tipping around 20-22 a week it might be time to consider an alternative for guys to move up that would be something for them and attractive to the fans. However, this is not an easy task.

The car count at Fulton was 22 Mods, 48 Sportsman, 25 Novice Sportsmen, 15 Late Models and 9 Four Cylinders.

Pit Stops

Can-Am closed for a huge go kart show and Canandaigua was underwater so a few different faces showed up at Fulton. They included Mike Mandigo, Tim Falter and Chris Thurston in Sportsman while also new was Dave Talbot a former Late Model driver…

Novice newcomers included Chad Tessler, Skylar Greenfield, James Brown, Jeff Lawrence, Tom Mackey (back in the 7d) and Mikey Wight returns off the injured list…

Sam Carista was going to attempt to drive and was told he did hot laps, but didn’t run the races in his purple people eater 30. Sam is recovering from health issues and turns 87 in the Fall…

Tom Sears is cutting back schedule a bit as he is at Fulton each week. He noted that they are down to one motor as they lost their other one a couple of weeks ago…

Chris Hile and his crew had their work cut out for them overnight as they got caught up in a Brewerton accident the night before. Chris noted that the front end and shock at to be fixed as well as work on the rear end and frame…

A couple cars had difficulties in hot laps as Jim Spano had to be pushed back to his hauler and Tim Kerr never got out for Mod hot laps and was pushed back to his parking place…

The Cunninghams have Chris and Casey running in the Sportsman and Novice. Casey noted that the mount for the bottom of the shock tower broke off and he thought his dad would have to use his car and he wouldn’t be able to race. Larry Wight came over and to weld the car to get them back out. Casey ended up second in his Novice main…

If you weren’t impressed by Amy Holland and here 17th to third place drive then you weren’t watching. She not only did that but probably picked up four of those spots to get to third in the last five laps. She ran the bottom smoothly and patiently. Her new Teo is certainly getting her around. The previous week she was in the top ten when she went around between three and four on the final lap…

Ron Davis III had a totally different night. He dropped to the infield. His dad said, “We went through tech on Friday night and they turned the rev box down to see if it was working and we forgot to turn it back on. It was the first time ever we didn’t go out for hot laps because he was hot lapping Joe Abass’ car as there was something wrong with that. Just bad luck.” He salvaged a seventh in the Sportsmen main…

Matt Janczuk took out the front end of his car in the heat, but came from 24th to fifth in the second Sportsman main. Matt said, “We were running great and the car was solid, but under the yellow I suddenly lost all brake ballast and I was done.”…

Definitely a feel good moment of the night was Sean Beardsley taking the former Dave Talbot LM to victory lane as he got a stiff challenge from Jason Parkhurst who was less than a second behind at the end. Sean has been doing a lot of prep work for other teams and probably moved into the top five in points with the run…

Steve Guinn, crew chief for Patrick LaPage racing, debuted in the Late Model division with a car out of the 911 Restoration shop…

Harry Halliday and Stanley Clark were new faces in the Late Models…

Jason Occhino and Chad Homan performed a perfectly time synchronized spin in prelim LM action…

The third Mod heat battle between Jimmy Phelps and Ryan Jordan was a classic as they put on one heck of a show…

Lone upside down car of the night was Remington Hamm in the Novice. It was a chaotic first Novice main and Hamm tried to save the car on the backstretch, but eventually got a tire which sent him over. He was okay and car didn’t appear as bad as it could have been…

Mod feature saw Ryan Jordan lead early and it was on lap nine when Phelps took the lead. Second place battle between a high flying Adam Roberts, Tim Sears Jr. and Larry Wight was classic and fun to watch…

Larry Wight had a mechanical problem and spun on lap 22, but pitted and rallied for 11th…

Pat Ward had his new car out. He had built it over the winter and was second on the night 1.7 seconds behind Phelps…

Max McLaughlin started 12th and came home fourth…

Roberts managed a well driven fifth just edging out his brother-in-law Tim Sears by a half second…

Tyler Trump continues to display as he edged Dave Marcuccelli by 1.8 seconds in Sportsman main action. “Wow” was the only word to use watching him and the veteran Jeremy Pitcher swap the lead lap after lap…

Mike Phelps steady and consistent all race long for a third in Sportsman main one…

Corey Barker appeared headed for good things and had second wrapped up while challenging for the lead got that yuke tire and was credited with 16th. He was frustrated and extremely disappointed…

Mike Stanton put together a solid weekend with a fourth in his Sportsman main event…

Billy Clark dropped after his front end went away in getting together with Kyle Perry…

Mike Button and Alan Fink were fourth and fifth when they tangled on lap 16 and were done for the night…

Weight troubles hit even the Novice as Ryan Guston went from fifth to DQ’d…

Tom Juno and Jimmy Moyer are getting use to winning these Novice mains…

Any comments, news etc. send along to foley395@hotmail.com