Varin Wins Second Consecutive New Yorker at Utica-Rome Speedway
By MIKE MALLETT
VERNON, NY - Bobby Varin struggled at Utica-Rome Speedway during the regular season but the Sharon Springs, N.Y., driver has been nothing but impressive in the special events held at the speedway. The driver of Dave Cruickshank’s famous double-zero won the Victoria event back in May and this past Saturday night he captured his third career win in the New Yorker.
“These guys are awesome,” said Varin. “My crew worked their tails off. My car was awesome today. I got the best car owner out there. Dave Cruickshank gives us a great car every week and he never gets upset even with my little tantrums and everything else. He’s a great guy and loves racing.”
Varin’s other wins in the prestigious event came back in 2008 and 2010. Varin’s dominance in the 100-lap affair paid him a hefty $10,000 for his efforts and earned him the final checkered flag of the 2011 season at the facility. Varin drove a JPM powered Bicknell to the win.
“For us to come out here and dominate like we did today is a testament to exactly what goes on behind the scenes with this team,” stated Varin. “We’ve struggled all year long. This really helps out. Winning this is a relief. We are not way off but we are off. I think we are getting there.”
Ryan Phelps started on the pole of the race and immediately jumped to the top spot. He held off early challenges from Jason Rood who had started on the outside of the front row and then Mike Mahaney who worked into the second spot by the fifth lap.
Eight laps into the race the first caution came out as Danny Varin, who started sixth, slowed and came to stop in the middle of turns one and two. This put Phelps and Mahaney on the front row for the restart. Phelps elected to go to the outside for the restart giving Mahaney the traditional poll spot which he took full advantage of.
Mahaney found some moisture on the bottom of the track and edged in front of Phelps at the green. He stayed alongside through turns one and two before finally completing the pass for the top spot as they raced to the line to complete lap nine.
Mahaney continued to work the bottom of the speedway while Phelps continued to run in the second position with Todd Burley also in the mix. Mahaney clicked off the laps at the front of the field with Phelps eventually reeling him back in and taking the lead back on lap 20.
Although Phelps held the lead, he couldn’t shake Mahaney. He stayed low and continued to challenge for the top position. The pair entered slower traffic with 23 laps complete and this changed the complexion of the event. Phelps and Mahaney now dove in out of lapped cars as they raced for the lead.
On lap 26 Mahaney’s impressive run came to an end. Mahaney attempted to get back by Phelps down the backstretch in traffic. Mahaney tucked low going into turn three with two lapped cars and Phelps to his outside. He made contact with the slower car causing something to break in the front end. He came around and stopped on the front straightaway ending his night.
The ensuing restart put Varin on the front row with Phelps. Phelps held the lead on lap 29 before Varin was able to wrestle it away from him running through the middle of turns one and two on lap 30. Once in front Varin raced away.
By lap 38, Varin began his battle with slower traffic that would last the rest of the event. As Varin worked traffic the 2011 Modified champion, Stewart Friesen move into the second spot. Friesen, a former New Yorker winner himself, used traffic to cut into Varin’s lead.
At the halfway point of the race, Varin paced the field with Friesen, Phelps, Burley and Ronnie Johnson completing the top five.
Varin continued to set a torrid pace. He worked multiple grooves to get through traffic. Each move put more cars between himself and Friesen who continued to run second. By lap 65 Varin was putting cars inside the top ten down laps and only one issue slowed his progress.
“We only had one issue in lapped traffic when we got hit really hard over in turn three,” said Varin. “I don’t know what he was thinking because he turned left. This car was dialed in tonight. I have to thank the guys at Bicknell and the guys at JPM engines for helping get this car where it needs to be.”
Ten laps later, Varin caught the sixth place running Matt Hulsizer. It took Varin a couple of laps but he was able to put him down a lap as well as the feature remained caution free. Friesen was still in pursuit but by this point he was nearly a full straightaway behind.
Over the course of the final 25 circuits, Varin lapped every car on the speedway except the top three. At the checkered flag Varin’s lead over Friesen was just over seven seconds.
Friesen capped off his 2011 season at the Utica-Rome Speedway with a strong second place finish. He had a strong Teo Pro car underneath him but he was unable to take advantage of slower traffic to get to Varin.
“We had a good race car but he (Varin) just kicked our butt,” joked Friesen. “It was a tough race. Hats off to those guys they got a great car with these sail panels and so do we. We will come back next year and try again. I thought we had a great race car tonight but Bobby just came up and blew our doors off.”
The Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., pilot had a spectacular season at the half-mile oval earning him his second consecutive title and a runner-up finish in the New Yorker event.
“It’s been a great season for us,” stated Friesen. “We race at a lot of different places and I’ll tell you what. Utica-Rome has the best fans and the best atmosphere and we love coming here on Sundays. Tom Cullen gives us a great race car to come here and do it. I look forward to being back here next year.”
Phelps, of Canandaigua, N.Y., raced a steady race and finished in third. He was the first non-track regular across the line with his No. 99.
“We stayed local this weekend and what this paid tonight made up for that,” said Phelps. “We are racing a little bit less and picking and choosing our shows. I’m really happy with our efforts tonight. I really like the speedway and I wish we could come here on Sundays but we only have so much equipment.”
Burley, of Spencerport, N.Y., finished in fourth while R. Johnson, the winner of Friday night’s event, completed the top five.
DART MACHINERY, GATES-COLE ASSOCIATE, AND DARYL’S HEAVY TRUCK REPAIR RACE SUMMARY
NEW YORKER 100 MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH-BOBBY VARIN, Stewart Friesen, Ryan Phelps, Todd Burley, Ronnie Johnson, Matt Hulsizer, Billy Trexler, Jr., Alan Johnson, Chad Brachmann, Mike Bowman, Ryan Odasz, Casey Williams, Willy Decker, Steve Paine, Alan Barker, Jason Rood, Mark Kislowski, Chris Hile, Pat Ward, Chad Phelps, Ted Lamb, Tim Fuller, Mike Mahaney, Jeff Hoetzler, and Danny Varin.
DNQ- Jim Davis, Steve Hulsizer, Brian Murphy, Elmo Reckner, Chris Busta, Chad Homan, Kevin Bates, Brad Alger, Chris Mackey, Alex Tonkin, Andy Bachetti, Jeremy Vunk, Kenny Tremont, Brad Godshalk, Mike Ward, Adam Roberts, Claude Hutchings, Jr., Dan Pompey, Derrick Podsiadlo, Matt DeLorenzo, Randy Chrysler, and Paul Kinney.
NEW YORKER 200 SEPT. 9 & 10,2011
Sept. 9th - RONNIE JOHNSON TAKES BIG THIUNDER WIN TO KICK OFF NEW YORKER 200 WEEKEND
AT UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY
VERNON, NY- Ronnie Johnson came into the final weekend of racing at Utica-Rome Speedway without a win in the 2011 season but on the opening night of the two day event, Johnson changed that. An upfront starting spot and some key passes of lapped traffic late in the race provided Johnson with a big $5,000 Thunder on the Thruway Series win on Turning Stone Casino, Clinton Auto Service, and Clinton Car Wash night to kick off the New Yorker 200 Weekend. Matt Janczuk continued his dominance of the Sportsman division by collecting the $1,000 payday while Glenn Forward took the Pro Stock Best of Four Series win. In the Pure Stocks, Phil Norman was the winner of the 20 lap main event.
Another driver’s bad luck turned into Ronnie Johnson’s good luck when Chad Phelps, who had drawn the pole position, had engine problems and started in the rear of the field which allowed Johnson to move up into the front row. When the green lights flickered on to begin the 50 lap Thunder on the Thruway Modified Series main event, Johnson used that bit of good fortune to gain the lead. Fifth place starter Tim Fuller was on the charge early as he quickly up to second as lap one was scored with seventh place starter on his heels in the third spot.
Fuller immediately began to apply pressure to the leader, and lap after lap, he would try and get by to grab the lead but Johnson was too strong. Ward was still running a close third looking to take advantage of any miscue that the leading duo may make.
Even with the fight for the lead going on up front, many in the stands were watching the charge to front that 15th place starter Mike Mahaney was making. Mahaney was into the top 10 by lap three and six laps later he was into the fifth spot with just Johnson, Fuller, Ward, and Alan Johnson in front of him. Two circuits later, Mahaney had gotten by Alan Johnson to grab the fourth spot.
With 13 complete, ninth place starter Stewart Friesen seemed to come alive after struggling to stay in the top ten early on as he started to move back up the leader board. After slipping by Alan Johnson to get the fifth spot, Friesen then went to work on Mahaney for the fourth spot and by lap 15 Friesen was into the fourth spot.
With Ronnie Johnson still setting the pace up front, Ward was chasing down Fuller for the runner-up spot and with 20 laps completed, he was able to get by Fuller for the position. Fuller’s slide then continued to slide back as Friesen was the next to slip by on lap 21 and Alan Johnson sneaking by a lap later. At the halfway point, it was still Ronnie Johnson at the point followed by Ward, Alan Johnson now up to third, Friesen in fourth, and Mahaney in fifth. Outside front row starter Chad Brachmann was in sixth with Bobby Varin, Jimmy Phelps, Paul Kinney, and Fuller rounding out the top 10.
During the middle portions of the race, there were several battles for position throughout the field including the one for fifth between Brachmann, Mahaney, and Varin. For several consecutive laps, the trio would come off turn four three wide for the spot Brachmann finally taking on lap 30 with Varin grabbing it a lap later.
With 15 laps to go, Friesen’s mount again seemed to come to life as moved past Alan Johnson for the third and began to wok over Ward for second. On lap 36, Friesen was up to the second spot and off chasing race long leader Ronnie Johnson. Lapped traffic began to play a role now as the leader Johnson was finding himself slowed up which allowed Friesen to close the gap and with five to go, Friesen was able to pull alongside the leader. Ronnie Johnson again seemed to find a little extra as he slowly pulled away again. At the checkered it was Ronnie Johnson grabbing his first win of the season at the Vernon oval followed by track champion Friesen, Alan Johnson, Varin, and Brachmann. Rounding out the top ten was Phelps, Ward, Todd Burley, Mahaney, and Steve Paine.
Track champion Matt Janczuk set the pace from his pole starting spot in the Sportsman 30 lap main event with third place starter AJ Filbeck quickly grabbing he second spot and chase off after Janczuk. Janczuk set a blistering pace in the early stages, leaving Filbeck in second to battle with Heath Carney and Jeremy Vunk. A couple of mid race cautions eliminated any advantage the leader had and on the restarts, Janczuk would again speed away in search of the $1,000 payday. With half the distance complete, the scoreboard show that it was Janczuk was leading over Filbeck, Carney, Vunk, and Steve Way. The top five would remain the same would portion of the feature until a lap27 caution would again slow the pace gather the field up to Janczuk’s bumper giving the field another shot to gain the lead and a chance for the win. The restart saw Filbeck jump to the cushion in an attempt to get Janczuk and as the duo raced to turns three and four with two to go, Filbeck pulled along the race long leader to challenge for the top spot. On the exit of turn four however, Janczuk slid up in front of Filbeck and slammed the door as he ran off to take the big $1,000 win. Filbeck would settle for second ahead of Way, Carney, and Vunk.
When the green flag dropped to begin the Best of Four Pro Stock Series 25 lap feature, Tom Denton drove from his outside pole starting spot to the lead and steadily began to pull away with pole sitter Bret Belden, Rocky Warner, Glenn Forward, and Shawn Frost in tow. With Denton at the point, the action behind him was heating as Forward was making his way towards the top spot. Gaining the third spot on lap three, Forward was then working over Warner for the runner-up spot. On lap 10, Forward was finally able get by Warner to grab the second position and began to work on Denton. Coming out of turn four to complete lap 13, Forward slipped up in front of the Denton to grab the lead and begin his pursuit of the win. Despite several cautions that would put Denton and Warner both up to leader’s bumper, Forward was still able to run off to the $700 payday with Denton, track champion Warner, Mark Effner, and AJ Digsby rounding out the top five.
Phil Norman rocketed to the lead from his outside front row starting spot with Ricky Breed and Dave Bruno in pursuit during the early portion of the 20 lap finale. On lap four, contact between third place Bruno and fourth place Frank Burnell sent Bruno and Burnell to the rear the field, putting track champion Ron Hawker into third. When green flag racing resumed, Norman was again fighting off the challenges of Breed with Chris Cunningham now in the mix has he slipped into the top three, while Bruno was charging the field to again get the third spot by lap 11. During the last half of the feature, Norman, Breed, and Bruno were three wide for the lead on several occasions with Hawker and Cunningham close behind but Norman was able to use lapped traffic to his advantage. Using the slower cars to block any advance by his pursuers, Norman was able hold until the checkered flag to score the big win with Breed, Bruno, Hawker, and Cunningham chasing.

Sept. 9th - TURNING STONE CASINO AND RESORT, CLINTON AUTO SERVICE, AND CLINTON CAR WASH RACE SUMMARY
THUNDER ON THE THRUWAY MODIFIED SERIES FEATURE FINISH (50 LAPS)- RONNIE JOHNSON, Stewart Friesen, Alan Johnson, Bobby Varin, Chad Brachmann, Jimmy Phelps, Pat Ward, Todd Burley, Mike Mahaney, Steve Paine, Bill Trexler, Jr., Casey Williams, Paul Kinney, Willy Decker, Ted Lamb, Elmo Reckner, Ryan Phelps, Alan Barker, Chris Hile, Chad Homan, Jason Rood, Tony Steiner, Derrick Podsiadlo, Tim Fuller, Jim Davis, and Chad Phelps.
SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- MATT JANCZUK, AJ Filbeck, Steve Way, Heath Carney, Jeremy Vunk, Rich Townsend, Brad Alger, Claude Hutchings, Jr., Jim Rothwell, Jack Miller, Tye Rood, Craig Pope, Randy Shantel, Bobby Heinz, Jeff Leslie, John DeForest, Tyler Siri, Rick Lamont, Brian Gleason, Brian Thomas, Todd Fey, John Juhl, and Joe Harrington.
BEST OF FOUR PRO STOCK SERIES FEATURE FINISH (25 LAPS)- GLENN FORWARD, Tom Denton, Rocky Warner, Mark Effner, AJ Digsby, Ed Ostrander, Louie Jackson, Chris Carr, Kenny Gates, Jim Grippen, Bret Belden, Bill Knapp, Joe Palmer, Dan Lashure, Jeff Pearsall, Ivan Joslin, Dave Moyer, and Shawn Frost.
PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- PHIL NORMAN, Rick Breed, Dave Bruno, Ron Hawker, Chris Cunningham, Frank Hyatt, Nate Peckham, Bill Mason, Bubba Brownell, Dave Pope, Stan Clark, Rob Thieme, Bryan Owens, Keith Keuer, Mike Kazlawskas, Chuck Jones, Keith Stevenson, Jim Thomas, and Scott Wheelock.
Rt 5 Vernon, NY
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