DUNDEE, NY – The drama was big heading into Championship Night at Outlaw Speedway. The Friendly Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Ram Modifieds had the closest point race in all divisions at the track, with the likely scenario of the title being decided on actions within the last lap.
That is precisely what happened as a pass for position with half a lap remaining decided the title.
The race started with Jim LaRock having a breakout night and leading the opening circuit in the 30-lap championship event. LaRock stormed to the lead from his third starting position after passing Ron Cartwright Jr. in the first turn and passing the event polesitter Jeff Daugherty in the third turn.
The championship contenders started tenth (Danny Johnson), eleventh (Steve Paine) and twelfth (Bobby Varin). Kyle Coffey started at the tail of the field due to not making the call for lineup.
Just ahead of the title contenders, local hero Brady Fultz was hustling the Barney Moravec Water Wells No. 70 to the fourth position after starting eighth. With his Big Block smoke under the hood, Fultz was absolutely loving the outside cushion that had been left behind following the 360 Sprint Car championship race.
As lap 6 went on top of the leaderboard, Fultz grabbed the fourth spot away from Billy Paine. By Lap 7, Daugherty fell to Fultz who now had the third position. The pace would slow on Lap 10 as title contender Varin in the Outlaw Speedway, VP Racing Fuels No. 28 hit the hot pit lane with a flat right rear American Racer.
The Lap 10 restart put Fultz on the bottom lane as LaRock and Adam Hilton occupied the front row. Fultz tried hustling the LKF Vineyards ride down low but the car very much liked the top better. The driver out of Dundee, NY went to the top on Lap 12 and proceeded to dispatch of Hilton for second.
Behind Fultz, Paine clawed his way very patiently along the bottom groove to vault into the Top 5 with all other contenders racing behind him.
Fultz made a move on LaRock for the lead on Lap 13, but Eldon Payne’s No. 28p stopped in Turn 1 and brought out the yellow. It was, however, a different story on the restart as Fultz got the advantage in the drag race to Turns 1 & 2 and officially led the race on Lap 14.
Danny Johnson used the cushion to launch himself into the Top 3 as he, LaRock and Fultz would all go three deep off Turn 2 on Lap 16 for the top spot. Fultz would hang on and would settle into a rhythm working the outside lane and keeping a safe distance of two to three car-lengths on the potent No. 27J.
A restart with 10 to go changed the game for Varin, who was charging back through the pack with a fresh right rear tire to take the fourth spot away from Paine and the third spot away from Jim LaRock with 5 laps to go. Varin needed to maintain a two-position gap on Paine at that point to win the title and not have Danny Johnson win the race.
But “The Doctor” was up front with Fultz pulling every trick out of his doctor’s bag he could muster. Fultz held the top line on the cushion to perfection and raced his way back to Outlaw Speedway Victory Lane for the first time in six years.
Jim LaRock found a little something on the final lap to repass Varin off Turn 2 on the white flag lap for third place at the checkers. That pass by LaRock shuffled Varin back to fourth, just one spot ahead of Paine, which clinched Paine’s record 10th Outlaw Speedway track title for the Waterloo, NY shoe.
“We’ve been so so good this season,” said an elated Fultz.
“We’ve just had horrible luck here. Last week we thought we had one and when we came in the pits (after losing the race late to Kyle Coffey) we found the right rear had only six or seven pounds in it.”
But it wasn’t even the thought of past mechanical challenges that had Fultz concerned on this night.
“I saw Danny down there and I said ‘you’ve just got to keep pushing harder’ and we got ‘er!”
Paine was very matter of fact about the fact that late in the going- he was the biggest Brady Fultz and Jim LaRock fan.
“I think Jimmy was trying to give me the bottom there late but my tires fell off so bad there that I couldn’t pass him,” noted Paine.
Paine was asked if he gets wrapped up inside the numbers of wins, championships and the like?
“I don’t really have much of a memory, but this is fun. We like to be consistent, finish all the races and come away with a few wins along the way. It’s just fun.”
Championships are won with consistency and wins but they’re also won with a lot of racing luck too. Luck was not on the side of the point leader in the Lanes Yamaha 360 Sprint Car division on Championship Night as Paulie Colagiovanni saw a championship effort vanish as his No. 10 did a flip in Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 2.
Jared Zimbardi and Kyle Drum started on the front row with Zimbardi running away and hiding on the opening laps. On Lap 2, Drum would catch the cushion wrong and his No. 74 bicycled and landed on all four tires without going over. Unfortunately for Colagiovanni, Drum landed and stopped right in front of the Ground Control Lawn and Snow sponsored machine driven by Colagiovanni.
Colagiovanni had nowhere to go, made contact and flipped over. Extensive damage was done to the front end of the car but Colagiovanni climbed from the car unhurt.
That meant that the 2021 sprint car title would be settled by Zimbardi and Davie Franek, or Jonathan Preston if the new front runners had trouble at all. Preston would run third on this night but the title would be decided by Zimbardi and Franek in the end.
Zimbardi dashed away to a good advantage over Franek on the restart, pulling out to nearly a full straightaway as his largest lead. As the race approached halfway it was Zimbardi’s car that started to lose the handle on the top, requiring a move to the bottom lane. That was just what Franek needed as he was blasting the topside cushion with wreckless abandon to close the gap.
A daring outside move in Turn 4 on a “Cowboy Up” racetrack to use Franek’s words saw the lead, the win and the track title go in the direction of the New Jersey 360 winged pilot.
Zimbardi could only watch from second, Preston third, Keith Granholm getting some valuable laps in fourth and Darryl Ruggles completing the Top 5 in his Land of Legends championship-winning 305 Sprint Car.
“We’ve been on the struggle bus here lately and this definitely makes up for it,” said Franek.
“It was really unfortunate for Paulie, he’s been so fast as of late. But you can’t think about the points you just have to go out and win the race.”
That he did.
The Sunrise Insulation American Racer Tire Sportsman feature was dominated wire-to-wire by first-time winner Ben Feldman. Feldman has had a bit of an up and down season figuring out his No. 24 machine.
On this Championship Night though, Feldman was lights out awesome. Not even eventual track champion Alex Payne seemed to have anything for Feldman who had the advantage of consistent corners lap after lap. Payne tried ripping the top to close the gap but Feldman was just too consistent in the money corner- Turns 3 and 4.
Stacy Jackson utilized the Tim Guild backup car to nail down his best run in awhile for third place. Chris Fisher had a shot at the title on this night but could only watch Payne from two spots back in fourth at the race’s completion. Veteran Loren Lincoln had a comeback effort of his own to fill out the Top 5.
Adam Hilton found some magic piloting his ROAR Logistics 1R in the Speed Connection Hoosier Tire Sportsman division. Hilton quickly raced to the lead from his eighth starting spot and pulled out to a large advantage. “The Iceman” Steve Gray showed speed and ran up front in his No. 29G like fans recall seeing him do five or so years ago. Though Gray was good, he wasn’t quite on par with what Hilton had on this night as he would have to settle for second place.
Bryan Rhoads was also quick in his Swarthout Recycling No. 4R, guiding it to a third place finish. The story of the night though was Ajay Potrzebowski Jr. racing toward his second Outlaw Speedway track championship and first in the Sportsman division.
Potrzebowski needed just a solid night outside the Top 5 to clinch the track title. He do that and more by cruising safely to a fourth place finish. A huge weight lifted off their shoulders as they came to the track prepared with two race-ready cars “just in case.”
Glenn Whritenour completed a season of domination in the Stan’s No Tubes Street Stocks with a win on Championship Night- an impressive eleventh win of 2021. Whritenour left Gene Sharpsteen and Jared Hill to battle for second place in this feature but also second place in points for the year. Sharpsteen edged out Hill to the line to finish second place in both.
Whritenour was already crowned track champion after his effort on September 3rd, leaving him now poised for the Fall Nationals in September and Empire 100 in October.
Similarly, Marc Minutolo had already locked up the NAPA Auto Parts Hobby Stocks track title the previous week. But in Mr. Smooth fashion, the driver of the Big Mike’s Auto Repair, Real Estate by Jenn No. 25b came to Outlaw Speedway chasing another trophy and victory.
Minutolo beat out Brian Lloyd by 4.3 seconds for points victory number eight and his ninth win in total at Outlaw this season.
Scott Lehman Sr. needed only a seventh place finish to lock up the Winner’s Circle Deli 4-Cylinder track championship. He did much than that by finishing second to Jayson Smart on Championship Night. Smart was super quick on this night and looks ready for a run at some Fall specials at the “Fast Four-Tenths-Mile” in Dundee.
Lehman Sr. who has raced off and on for years, came back in 2015 as a “backup car” to teammate Derrick Puryear. But as time went on, Lehman Sr. became much more than that and now can add “Track Champion” to his list of descriptors. Kenneth Evans, who dominated this division early with six wins, could only painfully watch from third place as Lehman Sr. drove away with the 2021 title.
Next on the schedule for Outlaw Speedway is the Outlaw Fall Nationals presented by Pepsi on Friday September 24th and Saturday September 25th.
DOUBLE POINTS CHAMPIONSHIP NIGHT @ OUTLAW SPEEDWAY OFFICIAL RESULTS- Friday September 10th, 2021:
FRIENDLY DODGE, CHRYSLER, JEEP, RAM MODIFIEDS 30-Lap A-Main (19 cars): BRADY FULTZ (1), Danny Johnson, Jim LaRock, Bobby Varin, Steve Paine, Adam Hilton, Jeff Daugherty, Brian Swarthout, Will Shields, Phil Vigneri III, Billy Paine, Derrick Podsiadlo, Tyler Siri, Kyle Coffey, Ron Cartwright Jr., Eldon Payne Jr., Ed Lawrence, DNS: Cory Costa, Eric Grice
2021 Track Champion: Steve Paine +3 points
LANES YAMAHA 360 SPRINT CARS 25-Lap A-Main (16 cars): DAVIE FRANEK (1), Jared Zimbardi, Jonathan Preston, Keith Granholm, Darryl Ruggles, Alysha Bay, Kyle Pierce, Ray Preston, Kyle Drum, Nick Fratto, Dan Craun, Tyler Emmons, Brian Preston, Paulie Colagiovanni, DNS: Jordan Hutton, Tyler Graves
2021 Track Champion: Davie Franek +8 Points
SUNRISE INSULATION AMERICAN RACER SPORTSMAN 25-Lap A-Main (17 cars): BEN FELDMAN (1), Alex Payne, Stacy Jackson, Chris Fisher, Loren Lincoln, Brian Fish, Tommy Paine, Brandon Butler, Gregg Crooker, Allison Teed, Kaiden Dgien, Doug Kline, Justice Mayo, Reese Hackett, Karl Comfort, Dale Welty, DNS: Ajay Potrzebowski Sr.
2021 Track Champion: Alex Payne
SPEED CONNECTION HOOSIER SPORTSMAN 25-Lap A-Main (13 cars): ADAM HILTON (3), Steve Gray, Bryan Rhoads, Ajay Potrzebowski Jr., Brandon Butler, Alex Payne, Brent Ayers, Jimmy Grant, Blake Parsons, Tim Guild, Timmy Borden Jr., Tony Velez, AJ Lloyd
2021 Track Champion: Ajay Potrzebowski Jr.
STAN’S NO TUBES STREET STOCKS 20-Lap A-Main (9 cars): GLENN WHRITENOUR (11), Gene Sharpsteen, Jared Hill, Roland Duell, Artie Teed, Tim Grady, Zach Teed, Tony Cameron, Ron Metcalf
2021 Track Champion: Glenn Whritenour
NAPA AUTO PARTS HOBBY STOCKS 20-Lap A-Main (9 cars): MARC MINUTOLO (9), Brian Lloyd, Glen Vancise, Casey Wagner, Bruce Kinner, Rich Greene, Willy Easling, Don Slover, Brian Austin
2021 Track Champion: Marc Minutolo
WINNER’S CIRCLE DELI 4-CYLINDERS 20-Lap A-Main (16 cars): JAYSON SMART (2), Scott Lehman Sr., Kenneth Evans III, Brian “Corky” Grant, Cody Morehouse, Brian Avery, Scott Lehman Jr., David Kinner, Derrick Puryear, Michael Golotty, Rich Sharpsteen, Alex Dykes, Stan Mathews, Rick Margeson, Steve Perkins Sr., Derrick Evans
2021 Track Champion: Scott Lehman Sr.