WOODHULL, NY – For the sixth consecutive year, Billy Van Pelt has claimed the Lyle Sherwood Memorial Modified Event held annually in name of the most recent Woodhull Raceway Hall of Fame inductee, Lyle Sherwood who lost his life to an apparent heart attack at this very track some 14 years ago.
The evening began with three qualifying heats where the top four would go into the feature line up redraw. Van Pelt, who was in heat race number two struggled mightily just to make it into a redraw spot but was able to finish fourth as the event was won by Donnie Lawson. The other two qualifying heat races were picked up by Josh Keesey and Joe Dgien.
However, Van Pelt’s luck would change during the redraw as he pulled the pole position for the 40 lap feature as he along with Brady Fultz would bring the 22 car feature to the opening green flag. As the field exited turn four to complete lap one a number of cars all found themselves sideways with last week’s feature winner, Cory Costa getting turned and taking a hard hit to the front end of his Costa’s Auto Body machine. After being hooked into the repair area of the pits his crew worked frantically to get his machine back onto the speedway, however the damage was to severe thus ending his hopes of claiming his first Sherwood Memorial trophy.
On the restart another caution immediately flew for the Chris Ostrowsky machine that slowed at the top of the banking. The field then was put under a single file restart and from there Van Pelt opened up a commanding lead over the rest of the field as an intense battle shaped up between Fultz, Russ Morseman, Joe Dgien and invader, Danny Creeden as they all duked it out for second thru fifth positions.
A lap nineteen yellow flag for the Sheldon Gardner machine again slowed the pace and on the restart Van Pelt again opened up a sizeable advantage as Russ Morseman had assumed the runner up spot. A number of lap cars were placed in with the lead pack making it interesting for Morseman, Dgien, Fultz and Creeden as they tried to negotiate traffic and track down Van Pelt who by lap 29 had opened up a full straight away lead.
The fourth and final caution flag of the event came on lap 30 for the stopped machine of Bob Silvernail. As the field formed up for the final restart, Brady Fultz had worked his way back into the runner up spot and was glued to the rear bumper of Van Pelt and for the remaining ten lap shoot out. Fultz tired every trick in the book to try and wrestle the lead away from Van Pelt but came up just a car length short at the double checkered flags and for the second consecutive week had to settle for a disappointing runner up finish driving the Herbie Wright owned number 88. Dillon Groover, who took the opening green flag in the fifteenth starting spot was silent throughout the first three quarters of the 40 lap feature, but during the last ten lap run went to the very top of the banking, better known as the Lyle Sherwood Lane and started moving to the front in a hurry. Passing cars at will Groover moved into the third spot with just a few laps to go and set sail for the lead duo of Van Pelt and Fultz, however time ran out and Groover had to settle for a well-deserved third place finish in his Patrick Hoope’s Trucking machine as he was chased across the line by Danny Creeden who advanced two positions from his sixth starting spot. Like Groover, second generation pilot, Donnie Lawson also started mid pack and put on a steady drive coming from ninth to round the top five finishers.
In victory lane, a gracious Billy Van Pelt once again took the opportunity to acknowledge the Sherwood Family and their representatives who were in attendance. Van Pelt also went onto recall the earlier years in his career when he and Sherwood, better known as The Wild Child would stage fierce battles, but an extremely close friendship and how much of an honor it was for him to win sixth consecutive Lyle Sherwood Memorial. In addition, BVP thanked his car owners; Karen and Kevin Chilson, owners of Instant Heat Wood Pellets and Two Rivers Timber Company for giving him a fast hot rod which is needed to compete and win at the Modified level. Two Rivers Timber along with Griffith Energy Products were on board as the two nightly event sponsors.
With his victory, Va nPelt is also becomes a guaranteed starter in the Brett Deyo Short Track Super Series, “Super Nationals” event to be staged at Afton Speedway on October 12.
With the joy of victory came the bitter agony of defeat for Dundee, NY native, Brady Fultz who in a post-race interview was openly livid about the lap cars being put in the lead pack on the lap nineteen restart.
“They haven’t done it all year long. Lap cars always go to the rear at this place and now with the biggest race of the year and with no advanced warning they put like 5 lap cars right in with the lead pack. It was bull and it cost us any momentum we had for a mid-race run at Van Pelt. We were set up with a hard tire to make it the distance and everything was playing out perfect, but trying to race with lap cars on a restart really hurt our chances. The last ten laps when it was just me and Van Pelt we showed we had a car capable of winning. Yes I’m ticked, but it has been a good last couple weeks for Herbie and the crew and I can’t thank him enough for giving me the opportunity to drive his equipment.”
The Creeden camp also echoed the Fultz sediment of having to deal with a tight pack of lap cars on the lap nineteen restart costing him any realistic chance of moving to the front, however he was pleased with his fourth place run only competing at Woodhull on special occasions.
Up next at Woodhull, racing will lay dormant for two weeks as the season ending Full Fender Finale will be staged on Saturday, September 28 featuring the 100 lap Steve Kent Memorial for the Street Stock Division.
Woodhull Tid Bit.
In perhaps what may be the worst kept secret of the year and although no formal announcement has been officially made it appears as though the decade long ownership of the Woodhull Raceway by Ted and Brandi White of Harrison Valley, Pa has come to an end. The Jasper, NY husband and wife team of Terry and Niki Brewer are the apparent new track owners and will take control of the facility beginning in 2020.
More information on the pending sale of the Historic Steuben County speed plant will be made public as they become available.
Lyle Sherwood Memorial 40 lap Modified Feature event: 1) Billy VanPelt, 2) Brady Fultz, 3) Dillon Groover, 4) Danny Creeden, 5) Donnie Lawson, 6) Russell Morseman, 7) Dayton Brewer, 8) Mike Bills, 9) Josh Keesey, 10) Brian Doolittle, 11) Ron Cartwright Jr., 12) Josh Nobriga, 13) Tyler Siri, 14) Stacy Jackson, 15) Patrick Hoopes, 16) Joe Dgien, 17) Chris Ostrowsky, 18) Bob Silvernail, 19) Kevin Chilson, 20) Frank Dunning, 21) Sheldon Gardner, 22) Cory Costa.
Lap Leader. Billy Van Pelt, 1-40
Qualifying heats. Josh Keesey, Donnie Lawson, Joe Dgien