VERNON, N.Y. - When Steve Paine woke up Saturday morning he was unsure whether or not he was going to make the two hour trip to Utica-Rome Speedway for the 20th Annual New Yorker 200.
At the end of the night he was sure glad he did after he captured the 200 lap event and the $10,000 top prize that goes with it.
“This feels real good,” said Paine with a large smile on his face in Victory Lane. “We almost didn’t come. We were working hard yesterday when we found out that we weren’t going to (Autodrome) Granby last night. Things weren’t going to good and I told the guys we shouldn’t even come. I’m glad I did. I hope it was as much fun to watch as it was to drive.”
Paine, of Waterloo, N.Y., was one of the few drivers that could roll the bottom of the speedway. With his Finger Lakes Machine powered Troyer, Paine patiently worked the low line waiting for it to be the faster groove on the speedway. In the end it got him to the front and eventually the victory.
“The thing (car) was so tight all night,” commented Paine about his car. “When they tilled it up and packed it again it was tighter yet. When the track was heavy my car was dead slow. I had to keep running the bottom until it slicked over and that is what got me to the front.”
Paine started in seventh with his familiar No. 7x. At start of the feature Pained faded back falling outside the top ten by the tenth lap. As the track began to get slicker from top to bottom Paine began his assault.
By lap 50 Paine was back inside the top five and continuing his march forward. At the halfway break, Paine was already in the top three.
At the start of the second 100, Paine again fell backwards waiting for the lap times of everyone else to slow down. That eventually occurred and Paine got the lead on lap 162 when problems arose for Pat Ward.
Paine held off the challenges of Brett Hearn with less than 15 laps remaining to score his first career win at the Vernon, N.Y. half-mile oval.
Hearn, of Sussex, N.J. survived a tough day which included a switch to a backup Teo to finish the event in second. Bobby Varin, the 2008 winner, also had a tough day which included flat tires and bent parts to finish the race third.=0 D
Ronnie Johnson, of Duanesburg, N.Y., brought his Teo to the line in fourth while 2009 Modified track champion, Pat Ward, rebounded from a late race issue to come the checkered flag in fifth.
NOT SO SUPER START: Former speedway champion, Matt Sheppard, took the lead away from pole-sitter Willy Decker at the drop of the green flag. Sheppard led the first six laps of the race before his No. 9s slowed with mechanical problems.
COLLECTING LAP MONEY: Jimmy Phelps, of Baldwinsville, N.Y., inherited the lead thanks to Sheppard’s misfortune. Phelps and Ward battled at the front of the field with Phelps able to hold off all of his challenges to keep the lead. By leading nearly 63 laps of the race, Phelps collected over $1,000 in lap money.
ANOTHER LEAD CHANGE: Phelps showed the way until lap 71 when Ward utilized a slide job in turns three and four. His move put his No. 42p out in front for the first time in the event. Meanwhile Phelps’ family owned ride brought the caution on lap 78 when his rear-end gears went south.
ALMOST HALFWAY: With less than 20 laps left to the halfway point Ward paced the field but it was Paine making headway. Paine moved into second on lap 76 and closed in on Ward. On lap 83 as they raced in traffic, Paine and Ward were alongside one another. Ward made some moves in the lapped cars allowing him to get away from Paine.
WE ARE HALFWAY: The race came to a pause at the 100 lap mark with Ward leading, Varin in second and Paine sitting in third. Johnson and Hearn completed the top five.
HAMMERS DOWN AGAIN: Ward brought the field to the restart with Varin next to him on the front row. When the green was displayed, Ward took off and ran away from the field with Varin falling in-line behind him.
FALLING BACK: Varin tried to keep pace with Ward in his Dover Brake No. 00 while Paine was forced to wait for the pace of the race to slow down. As a result, Paine faded all the way back to seventh position with 125 laps shown complete.
“We were slow when the track had bite in it,” said Paine. “I was slow after a caution and once it got slicked over I was good to go. I thought that first green flag run was going to go forever and if I did I don’t think I would have had a chance.”
BLOWING UP: Former New Yorker winner, Stewart Friesen, saw his chances of winning for a second time go up in smoke while running in the fourth position on the speedway on lap 130. This moved Paine back into the top five.
TIRE GOES FLAT: Ward’s tough luck in the speedway’s longer races continued as he had a left rear tire go down on lap 161. The bad break for Ward was a good omen for Paine as he assumed the top spot.
“I was closing him (Ward) a little bit like I did in the first half,” said Paine. “I didn’t know if he had a tire going down or if he was slipping. My car was getting better the whole time. There were a lot of left rear flats out there tonight and I was lucky that I got mine in the heat.”
A FINAL CHALLENGE: With 15 laps remaining and a big payday on the line. Paine began feeling pressure from Hearn. Hearn got alongside on lap 189 and nearly took the lead away as he and Paine came together.
“Until we (Hearn) made contact I didn't see him out there,” stated Paine. “Under that last caution my guys told me I had a little room. I started running the middle to the top and I had to keep moving up to keep this thing going. I had to stay on the bottom to keep my tires early but in the last ten laps I had to move up there and ruin them.”
SURPRISE WINNER: Paine lane change was the right move for him as in the final ten laps he pulled away from Hearn to secure his largest win in recent memory.
A LONG BUT GOOD DAY: Hearn was forced to qualify via the consolation event after problems sidelined his primary car in his heat race. Even though he went to the backup car he was able to make his way into the show and move from the 22nd starting position to finish in second. He wanted the win but was happy the day ended on a good note.
“Our primary car broke a rocker arm,” stated Hearn. “We had to get this one out and put the sail panels on. This car is similar to the other one but it is a little bit different. It performed really well. At times I thought I was in trouble and other times I thought we were pretty good.”
HE HAD A SHOT: With ten laps remaining Hearn had an opportunity to take the lead. He got a run to the outside of Paine on the back straightaway and nearly took the lead. There was a little bit of contact and Hearn couldn’t muster enough in the final laps to challenge him again as Paine moved up the speedway taking his line away.
“That’s what a good race car driver does,” commented Hearn about Paine changing lanes. “He knows how to play the game. I think I surprised him a little bit when I got to him and he was able to move around a little bit when he had to. He (Paine) changed his line and picked it up. I came at him in the last couple of laps but I came a little bit short.”
A ROUGH DAY ENDS: Varin ended the night finishing in third. The five-time feature winner at the speedway survived a very difficult day. In hot laps contact with Tim Votra did damage to the front and rear of his Bicknell. Then he got a flat tire while leading his heat race.
He broke a pan hard bar in the first 100 laps and then a flat tire sent him to the pits on lap 126 while he was running second. He overcame all of that to finish in third.
“I got to thank this car owner (Dave Cruickshank) he’s the best,” said Varin. “My guys up there did a heck of a job tonight. We got in a jingle in hot laps and then we got a right front flat in the heat race and then got a flat in the feature. To come back up through is a testament to how this team is. I threw everything I could at Brett (Hearn) there at the end to get by but he pulled away.”
QUALIFYING NOTES: Six heat races were held with Phelps, Paul Jensen, Johnson, Jeff Trombley, Willy Decker, and Ward securing wins. Three consolation events were run with Varin, Mitch Gibbs and Elmo Reckner winning them. The 20-lap B-Main qualifier was won by Ted Lamb who elected to take $1,200 rather than a spot in the 200 lap feature.
SPECIAL AWARDS: The Dart Machinery Top Crew Chief Award (Certificate for SBC Intake Manifold) went to Donnie Paine (Steve Paine) and John Bakuzonis (Bobby Varin). The Dart Machinery Hard Luck Award (Certificate for SBC Iron Eagle Cylinder Platinum Heads) was given to Phelps and Friesen. The Dart Machinery Best Appearing Car Award (Certificate for Steel Valve Covers) went to Johnson and Jim Davis. The Gates-Cole Associates $1,000 Award went to Dave Rauscher. The Kinney's Kar Kare/VP Racing Fuels 55 gallon fuel drum bonus went to speedway regular John Ramsey.
DART MACHINERY/GATES-COLE ASSOCIATES/SAVON NEW YORKER 200 QUICK RESULTS
NEW YORKER 200 FEATURE FINISH (200 LAPS)- STEVE PAINE, Brett Hearn, Bobby Varin, Ronnie Johnson, Pat Ward, Paul Jensen, Mitch Gibbs, Danny Varin, Elmo Reckner, Todd Burley, Mike Ricci, Dave Rauscher, Jim Davis, Willy Decker, Stewart Friesen, Jamie Christian, Michael Storms, Jeff Trombley, Jimmy Phelps, Frank Cozze, Matt DeLorenzo, John Ramsey, Paul Kinney, AJ Romano, Brian Weaver, and Matt Sheppard.
Paine’s Decision Pays off as he Wins $10,000 in
Utica-Rome Speedway New Yorker 200
Rt 5 Vernon, NY
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