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WILLY DECKER AND PAT WARD FIND VICTORY LANE THIS PAST SUNDAY AT UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY

VERNON, NY- This past Sunday evening at the Utica-Rome Speedway, a couple of former Modified track champions ended win droughts as Willy Decker and Pat Ward scored victories in the twin 20 lap feature event.  Other winners on GatesCole.com Auto Insurance night included Jeremy Vunk in the Sportsman, Mark Effner in the Pro Stocks, and Ron Hawker in the Pure Stocks.

The first of two Modified features came to the green flag with Willy Decker and Mike Bowman leading the pack. Willy Decker jumped out to an early lead, using the high side of the track to his advantage. Bowman and the rest of the top five quickly fell into the same line. The field behind them began to shuffle, with the drivers who started in tenth and eleventh, Matt Sheppard and Stewart Friesen respectively, starting to work their way toward the front. By lap fifteen, Sheppard sat in sixth and Friesen followed two spots behind.

Caution came out on lap sixteen as a car slowed on the backstretch which brought the top three of Decker, Bowman and Tim Fuller back to the rest of the pack. With the restart, Bowman was looking to capitalize on his opportunity to take the lead away from the leader, but Decker quickly built his lead again.  Decker would receive the victory, with Bowman, Fuller, Larry Wight, and Stewart Friesen trailing. Sheppard, Danny Varin, Pat Ward, Mike Mahaney, and Ryan Phelps rounded out the top ten.  It was Decker’s first win since 2011.

The second Twin 20 lap Modified main event kicked off with Phelps and Mahaney starting on the front row. When the green flag dropped Mahaney would take the lead from the pole sitter, with Ward jumping up one spot from his third starting spot to become the runner up. A caution on lap four slowed the track down, allowing the field reset. Friesen, who started in sixth, used the restart to take the final podium position away from Phelps. He caught up to Ward using the bottom side of the racing surface and completed the pass for second as lap 10 was scored.

A flurry of cautions between laps eleven and fourteen kept the field together, and when the green flag finally dropped again, Mahaney began a battle with the defending track champion Friesen for the lead. Mahaney used the cushion on the top to hold off the challenger, who was pushing his machine to the bottom.  Friesen seemed to be closing in when he slowed entering turn three before going over the top of the banking due to a broken drive train. With the field coming together for a final time, Ward rode on the bumper of Mahaney as they received the green flag. Mahaney stuck to his line on the top while Ward tried the bottom.  On the final lap, Ward found some moisture on the bottom of turn two and went down the backstretch side by side with the leader. Mahaney once again used the top as Ward drove his car deep into turn three.  They came out of turn four next to each other, but Ward came to the checkered flags first, beating out Mahaney by .009 seconds for his first win since 2012. Sheppard, Varin, and Willy Decker finished out the top five. Wight, Peter Britten, Billy Decker, Fuller, and Matt Janczuk completed the top ten.

In the Sportsman 20 lap feature, Claude Hutchings Jr. launched from his sixth starting spot to lead the field across at the completion of lap one.  Hutchings would hold that spot until lap five when 13th place starter Jeremy Vunk made the pass to take the over the top spot.  Vunk would race to his first win of the season with AJ Filbeck, Hutchings, Jack Miller, and Heath Carney trailing.

Chris Cunningham held the initial lead in the Pro Stock main event from his pole starting spot when the field took the green flag and would hold that spot for the first circuit.  Outside pole sitter AJ Digsby would take over to lead the field for lap two, only to have sixth place starter Mark Effner slip by to pace the field on lap three.  Effner would stay out front for the remainder of the non-stop 20 lap affair, out racing Tom Denton, Chris Carr, Bret Belden, and Bill Knapp.

The Pure Stock 15 lap nightcap saw pole sitter Chuck Cushman show the fast way around for the first 9 laps until defending Ron Hawker caught him from his 10th place starting spot.  Hawker completed the pass for the lead and the win on lap 10 with Ricky Breed, Cushman, Rob Thieme, and Frank Hyatt rounding out the top five.

On Sunday May 18th, the Go Nuclear Late Model Series with join a regular show of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing with the Modifieds, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks all in action.  Gates open at 3:30 p.m. with racing scheduled to start at 6 p.m.  For more information, log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the speedway office at (315)829-4557.

GATESCOLE.COM AUTO INSURANCE RACE SUMMARY

NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES MODIFIED #1 FINISH (20 LAPS)-WILLY DECKER, Mike Bowman, Tim Fuller, Larry Wight, Stewart Friesen, Matt Sheppard, Danny Varin, Pat Ward, Mike Mahaney, Ryan Phelps, Matt Janczuk, Billy Decker, Peter Britten, Danny Johnson, Tim Mayne, Jason Rood, Aaron Jacobs, Phil Burkart Jr., Tye-Scott Rood, and CJ Castelletti.

NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES MODIFIED #2 FINISH (20 LAPS)-PAT WARD, Mike Mahaney, Matt Sheppard, Danny Varin, Willy Decker, Larry Wight, Pete Britten, Billy Decker, Tim Fuller, Matt Janczuk, Tim Mayne, Aaron Jacobs, Danny Johnson, Tye-Scott Rood, Phil Burkhart Jr., C.J. Castelletti, Stewart Friesen, Ryan Phelps, Jason Rood, and Mike Bowman.

NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES SPORTSMAN FINISH (20 LAPS)-JEREMY VUNK, A.J. Filbeck, Claude Hutchings Jr., Jack Miller, Heath Carney, Steve Way, Mike Walton, Andrew Ferguson, Craig Pope, Randy Shantel, Brandon Walters, Mike Stiles, Stephan Denton, Mike Richmond, Chris Hulsizer, Nick Krause, Kyle Kiehn, Rick LaMont, Chad Ray, Darren Keyser, Mark Weaver, John DeForest, and Lucas Heintz.

NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES PRO STOCK FINISH (20 LAPS)-MARK EFFNER, Tom Denton, Chris Carr, Bret Belden, Bills Knapp, A.J. Digsby, Ed Ostrander, Chris Cunningham, Corie Locke, Dana Camenga, and Glenn Forward.

NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES PURE STOCK FINISH (15 LAPS)-RON HAWKER, Ricky Breed, Chuck Cushman Jr., Rob Thieme, Frank Hyatt, Bill Mason, Tim Janczuk, Jim Thomas, Bryan Owens, Ernie Staelens, Chris Watkins, Jerry Streeter, Mike Harrison, Rusty Marsden, and Andy Szewczyk.