Rt 5 Vernon, NY
Alan Barker and Robbie Bellinger led the 26 car Modified starting field down to starter Matt Burdick’s green flag with Bellinger gaining the early advantage with Mike Mahaney slipping into second from his third starting spot. Bellinger set a quick pace as he pulled away from the field with Mahaney settling into the second spot while the rest of the field was dicing for position.
On the move early was defending track champion Stewart Friesen as charged from his 13th starting spot and by the time the first yellow flag flew on lap eight, he had cracked the top five as he was in the fourth spot. The restart saw Mahaney wrestle the lead away and on lap 10 the leader board showed Mahaney followed by Bellinger, Billy Decker, Friesen, and 9th place starter Matt Sheppard.
A long green flag stretch dominated the mid portion of the 30 lap main event with Mahaney still at the point with Bellinger comfortably in tow. While they were out front, there was a lot of battling for positions behind them as Friesen and Sheppard were swapping the fourth spot lap after lap while Ronnie Johnson and Ryan Phelps were doing the same behind them. With 20 laps scored, it was Mahaney being chased Bellinger, Decker, Sheppard, and Friesen.
A lap 24 caution bunched the field up again with Mahaney able to keep the field at bay but a lap 27 caution would set the table for the dash to the finish. The final restart saw Bellinger out drag Mahaney into turn one for the lead but Mahaney wasn’t done yet. As the duo race into turn one with two to go, Mahaney was able to slide up in front of Bellinger for the lead temporarily as Bellinger returned the slide job in turns three and four. With the white flag waving, the pair raced into turn one with Mahaney trying to repeat his move from the previous lap but Bellinger was ready for it. Bellinger and Mahaney made contact with Bellinger able to hold on to the lead with Mahaney in close pursuit. Bellinger was able to fend off Mahaney’s last effort in the final turns and run off to the $2,000 payday. Mahaney settled for the runner-up position with Decker in third, Sheppard fourth, and Friesen in fifth. Ryan Phelps, Ronnie Johnson, Jimmy Phelps, Brett Hearn, and Pat Ward rounded out the top ten.
The Sportsman saw defending track champion Matt Janczuk run off to the early lead from his pole starting spot with fellow front row starter Jeff Leslie in pursuit. It wouldn’t be until lap 13 that Leslie was able to find a way around Janczuk to take the lead, but when he did, Leslie dominated the late portion of the event to score the opening night win. Jeremy Vunk would also slip by Janczuk to get second while Janczuk would have to settle for the third spot. Steve Way and AJ Filbeck rounded out the top five.
Mark Effner used his pole starting spot to his advantage in the opening laps of the Pro Stock 20 lap feature as he would show the quick way around for the first five circuits. Glenn Forward, who was chasing Effner for the first handful of laps, used a lap five restart to slip by Effner for the lead but his turn in front would be short lived. Seventh place starter Tom Denton was quickly in the mix and on lap seven, the trio of Forward, Effner, and Denton would go three wide for the top spot coming off turn two with Denton blasting to the lead. He would go unchallenged for the remaining of the event to score the win with Forward, Jim Normoyle, Bill Knapp, and Bret Belden filling out the top five spots.
Teammates Ron Hawker and Ricky Breed would swap the lead on several occasions in the 15 lap Pure Stock nightcap but defending champion Hawker would gain the lead for good on lap 13 to begin his title defense in fine style. Breed would cross the finish line in second followed by Bill Mason, Stan Clark, and Rob Thieme.
Next on the schedule at the “Action Track of the East” is a regular show of Modifieds, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks presented by Williams Tire & Auto and Al Cuomo on Sunday May 6. Gates will open at 3:30 p.m. with racing slated to begin at 6
YOUTH MOVEMENT IS BEING SERVED AT UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY AS ROBBIE BELLINGER HOLDS OFF MIKE MAHANEY TO TAKE THE OPENING NIGHT WIN
VERNON, NY- Despite unseasonably cold temperatures, race fans filled the spacious grandstands at the Utica-Rome Speedway and they were treated to some heated racing action on the track as a couple of young stars put a thrilling show in the later stages of the Modified main event. Robbie Bellinger survived a heated battle with Mike Mahaney to take his first ever Utica-Rome Speedway Modified victory while Jeff Leslie took home the trophy in the Sportsman. Tom Denton dominated the Pro Stocks with Ron Hawker victorious in the Pure Stocks.
51st SEASON OPENER RACE SUMMARY
MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH(30 LAPS)- ROBBY BELLINGER, Mike Mahaney, Billy Decker, Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen, Ryan Phelps, Ronnie Johnson, Jimmy Phelps, Brett Hearn, Pat Ward, Bobby Varin, Alan Johnson, Alan Barker, Chris Hile, Danny Varin, Jimmy Davis, Todd Burley, Willy Decker, Matt Hulsizer, Brad Alger, Steve Hulsizer, Dave Rauscher, Joe August Jr., Larry Wight, Paul Jensen, and Kenny Tremont. DNQ-Chad Phelps, Mike Bowman, Jason Rood, Steve Paine, Casey Williams, Tyler Siri, AJ Romano, Phil Burkhart Jr., JaMike Sowle, and Tommy Williams Jr.
SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH(20 LAPS)- JEFF LESLIE, Jeremy Vunk, Matt Janczuk, Steve Way, AJ Filbeck, Claude Hutchings Jr., Chris Mackey, Jack Miller, Randy Shantel, Tye Rood, Jim Nagle, Dave Emmons, Jim Rothwell, Craig Pope, Stephen Denton, Bobby Heinz, Aaron Jacobs, Dave Moyer, CJ Castelletti, Justin Lindsley, Craig Ritchie, Mike Stiles, and Joe Harrington. DNS-Heath Carney and Pat Jones.
PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH(20 LAPS)- TOM DENTON, Glenn Forward, Jim Normoyle, Bill Knapp, Bret Belden, Shawn Frost, Pete Stefanski, Chris Carr, Joe Palmer, Ed Ostrander, AJ Digsby, Dana Camenga, Eric Vanderhoof, Andy Lashure, Jeff Pastorella, Dan Lashure, Mark Effner, Corie Locke, Dave Arbes. DNS-Jim Money
PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH(15 LAPS)- RON HAWKER, Ricky Breed, Bill Mason, Stan Clark, Rob Thieme, Frank Hyatt, Chris Cunningham, Andy Szewczyk, Bryan Owens, Jim Thomas, Chris Watkins, Tim Janczuk, Brian Johnson, and Mike Kazlauskas.