By DAVE SULLY
LITTLE VALLEY, NY- Max Blair, from Centerville, PA, showed why he has authored over 200 wins in his career, as he swept the Super Late Model and Crate Late Model Features at Little Valley Speedway on Friday, June 9th before a dedicated following. The 27 year old son of long time Super Late driver Robbie Blair, a many time winner himself, took home $3,558 for his night’s work.
Blair started eighth in the 13 car, 25 lap Super Late Feature, but was on the prowl early, moving into third by the fourth lap, while veteran Bump Hedman drove out to a seemingly commanding lead. While Blair’s trip to third went quickly, his ascension to second was a little more problematical, as he ran into stiff resistance from long time Little Valley competitor, Dutch Davies. Hounding Davies both high and low it took seven laps before he was able to complete the pass for the runner-up spot, ultimately driving around Davies on the outside in the often treacherous turn two. Blair allowed, “There wasn’t much room when I got to one. I ended up way above the cushion. I thought it was going to hurt me, but it launched me through the center of the corner. I had such a run. I got pretty lucky there.”
From there, the obviously faster Blair quickly ran down Hedman, driving past him for the lead two laps later. By lap 17, he had built nearly a straightway lead and he cruised to the win. Davies. who claimed second from Hedman late, finished second, with heat winner Greg Oakes, and Chad Valone rounding out the top five.
Blair offered, “I love racing here. That has a lot to do with it. When I come here, I want to win more than anywhere else.”
The 25 lap Crate Late Model Feature was the Duclon Memorial, named for famed car builder Mike Duclon, originally scheduled for the May 28th opener, which was rained out. Starting on the outside pole, Blair blasted into the lead at the drop of the green and was never challenged, easily managing a lap six caution and opening a straightaway lead at the checkered flag. Heat winner Brad Mesler finished second, while Jeremy Wonderling made a determined run from tenth to finish third. John Waters and Jason Knowles rounded out the top five.
Commenting on his dominance Blair gave credit to his father, noting, “It doesn’t hurt to have Rob Blair in my corner. He’s one of the smartest people in this sport. That’s where it’s at, right there.”
The 25 lap E-Mod Feature was the Randy Bradley Memorial, named for the long time driver and dedicated car owner, whose family helped make it one of the highest paying E-Mod races in the area- $2,000 to win. After a first lap mishap eliminated one of the potential favorites, Dan Davies, Joel Watson took the early lead, with former Super Late star, David Scott, who famously won nine straight SLM Features at the speedway some years ago, moving into second on lap two.
Scott hounded Watson for seven laps before easing into the lead inside in turn four. He then opened a good lead, when suddenly on lap 15, his car suddenly slowed, allowing Watson to close dramatically. Watson drove past Scott to take the lead before Scott righted the ship and retook the top spot. Scott explained, “When I got in the ripples, the car would stall. It would just stop running. It’d take sixty to seventy feet before it would start running again. I thought I had a pretty good lead before Joel drove by and I thought I can’t let this happen.”
Once ensconced back in the lead, Scott, from Garland, PA, went on to the win, easily weathering two cautions along the way. Watson settled for second, with Vic Vena, who came from eleventh to claim the hard charger” award, finishing third. Tim Peterson and Al Brewer completed the top five.
Scott, who struggled in his heat race, offered. We didn’t change anything for the feature. I figured I drove around this place enough that I’d figure out a way to get around here pretty good. The track was good. You could race all over that thing. He added, “I’ve known Randy (Bradley) for a long time, so this race is pretty special to me because we were fairly close friends.”
Finally, Vic Vena, from Portville, won an abbreviated 12 lap Pro Mod Feature over Nate Hartzell. The race drew a disappointing five cars. The class, featuring a crate motor and operating under RUSH rules, had hoped for a better turnout and looks for improvement in the future.
NOTES: The weather, which has plagued the speedway for several years, costing the track more than half its shows, finally yielded a beautiful night for racing……………….The hope is that the weather cooperates on Monday, July 3rd, when the track will present its most diverse racing card ever, the traditional Freedom Daze Special, sponsored by Media One Group. Along with its signature Super Late Models, the Crate Late Models, the BRP Big Block Modified Series, back after a long absence, the Modified Sportsman with their first appearance with the Bellinger Electric Lightning Series, and the Street Stocks will comprise the ambitious card.
Super Late Models: (25 laps) – 1. Max Blair, 2. Dutch Davies, 3. Bump Hedman, 4. Greg Oakes, 5. Chad Valone, 6. John Lobb, 7. Chris Hackett, 8. Nathan Hill, 9. Dave Dubois, 10. Mike Wonderling, 11. Terry Porter, 12. John Lacki, and 13. Damien Bidwell DNS: Bobby Rohrer. Heat winners were Blair and Oakes.
Crate Late Models: (25 laps) – 1. Max Blair, 2. Brad Mesler, 3. Jeremy Wonderling, 4. John Waters, 5. Jason Knowles, 6. Paul Grigsby, 7. Chad Valone, 8. Bill Holmes, 9. Wyatt Scott, 10. Steve LeBarron, 11. John Haggerty, 12. Erin Peters, 13. DJ Krug, 14. Zack Wiech, and 15. Chad Silleman. Heat winners were Mesler and Blair.
E-Mods: (25 laps) – 1. David Scott, 2. Joel Watson, 3. Vic Vena, 4. Tim Rockwell, 5. Tim Peterson, 6. Al Brewer, 7. Jeff Johnson, 8. Kirk Bradley, 9. Mike McGee, 10. John Woodward, 11. Kyle Bedell, 12. and 12. Dan Davies. DNS: Mike Potosky. Heat winners were Watson and Bradley.
Pro Mods: (12 laps) – 1. Vic Vena, 2. Nate Hartzell, 3. Steve Dixon, and 4. Chad Silleman. DNS: Kevin Ruhlman. Heat winner was Dixon.