Larry Wight Makes A Rare Appearance At Utica-Rome Speedway, Ends Matt Sheppard’s Six Win Streak

VERNON, NY- When Larry Wight pulled into Utica-Rome Speedway this past Sunday, August 27, he had no plans on racing.  He came in to fill in as crew chief for teammate Pat Ward, but after borrowing a fire suit and Ward’s backup car, Wight found himself in victory lane on Excell Motorsports night.  Wight’s win ended Matt Sheppard’s six race win streak at the Vernon oval.  13-year-old Charlie Tibbitts took home his first-ever Broedel Energy Sportsman checkered flag while AJ Walters continued the youth movement by winner the DIRTcar Pro Stock main event.  Travis Billington scored the Rookie Sportsman win in his first visit to the speedway.
A skirmish at the drop of the green flag in the Gates-Cole Auto Insurance Modifieds saw point leader Matt Sheppard, Tim Fuller, Bobby Varin, and Brandon Walters head pit-side with damage with only Varin and Sheppard able to return to action.  On the second attempt to start the 30-lap main event, Mike Maresca roared out to the front to lead the opening 11 circuits. Danny Varin and Larry Wight made some early moves to get into the second and third respectively, with Wight getting by Varin for second on lap nine.
Wight closed in on Maresca on lap 11, and a circuit later Wight slipped by Maresca to complete his charge to the front.  On lap 15, Varin was able to go around the outside of Maresca to grab second and he went off after Wight.  On lap 20, Varin went to the outside of Wight and nosed ahead of Wight as the pair raced off turn two.  With lapped traffic in the bottom lane, Wight drove into turn three hard, slipping ahead of Varin to regain the lead and go around the slower cars.  After discovering the faster top lane, Wight sped away from Varin to lead the rest of the way to take his second win of the season. Varin held on to second over Maresca, Pat Ward, and Sheppard.  Bobby Varin, Marc Johnson, Mike Mahaney, Randy Shantel, and Steve Way.
Jeff Taylor jumped out to the lead at the drop of the green of the Broedel Energy Sportsman 20-lap, leading the first eight laps with AJ Miller all over him for the position.  On lap nine, Miller was able to go around the outside of Taylor to gain the lead.  Miller’s turn out front lasted just three laps, as Charlie Tibbitts used the extreme bottom line of the speedway to drive by Miller.  Tibbitts survived several late race cautions to score his first-ever Broedel Energy Sportsman victory.  Matt Janczuk slipped by Miller on the final lap to cross the line in the runner-up spot. Miller, Chris Mackey, and AJ Filbeck rounded out the top five.
In the DIRTcar Pro Stocks, Bill Knapp grabbed the early advantage from his outside front row starting, leading Aaron Page and Jim Normoyle in the early stages of the 20-lap main event.  As the field completed lap five, using the extreme outside lane, took over the lead from Knapp as he was looking for his second win of the season.  Normoyle’s turn out front was short-lived however, as he jumped over the banking in turn two on the fifth circuit, handing the lead over to eighth place starter AJ Walters.  Walters would dominate the remainder of the event to land his first-ever Utica-Rome Speedway win.  Point leader Mike Welch crossed the line in second followed by Knapp, Shane Henderson, and Frank Hyatt.
The nightcap Rookie Sportsman 15-lap feature saw Chris Bonoffski lead the first two laps, with newcomer Travis Billington taking over the top spot on lap three.  Bonoffski kept pace with Billington until the end of the event, but Billington remained mistake free until the checkered flag, taking the win.  Bonoffski held on to second over Tyler Corcoran, Tyler Rogers, and Dwight Nichols.
Next Sunday, September 3, the track champions in the Gates-Cole Auto Insurance Modifieds, Broedel Energy Sportsman, and Pro Stocks will be crowned in the final night of points.  The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints will also be in action as well as the final night in 2017 for the Rookie Sportsman.  Gates will open at 3:30 p.m. with racing set to begin at 6 p.m.  For more information, please log on to or call the speedway office at (315) 829-4557.
GATES-COLE AUTO INSURANCE MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)-LARRY WIGHT, Danny Varin, Mike Maresca, Pat Ward, Matt Sheppard, Bobby Varin, Marc Johnson, Mike Mahaney, Randy Shantel, Steve Way, Darwin Greene, Claude Hutchings Jr., Joel Thomas, Jack Miller, Bandon Walters, and Tim Fuller.
BROEDEL ENERGY SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)-CHARLIE TIBBITTS, Matt Janczuk, AJ Miller, Chris Mackey, AJ Filbeck, Kyle Inman, Kyle Kiehn, Mark Effner, Dave Moyer, Tye-Scott Rood, Andrew Buff, Nathan Peckham, Tim Schneider Jr., Brent Joy, Brad Alger, Dorian Wahdan, Devin Willis, Lucas Heintz, Aaron Jacobs, Jeremy Nestved, Jeff Taylor, Dylan Zacharias, George Dyer, and Daryl Nutting,
PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)-AJ WALTERS, Mike Welch, Bill Knapp, Shane Henderson, Frank Hyatt, Nick Arnold, Kenny Gates, Jim Normoyle, Jerry Streeter, Aaron Page, Mike Kazlauskas, Ernie Staelens, Malcum Warner, and Randy Cosselman.
NOVICE SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (15 LAPS)- TRAVIS BILLINGTON, Chris Bonoffski, Tyler Corcoran, Tyler Rogers, Dwight Nichols, Kelly Smith, Ace Wahdan, Alexis Jacobs, Mike Haman, Brad Williams, and Cory White.