This past Saturday was the final night of points albeit double, and there was a buzz in the atmosphere as five championships were tight and to be decided on Championship Night.
Rick Mill started off the season with the intentions of a title run in the potent Mike Sparta Trucking sponsored ride but mid season found Mill, plagued with a terminal engine failure thus having to restructure his goals. Mill decided to focus on winning races and not to worry about the points. This past Saturday, found Mill on a late season surge as he posted his fourth feature win of the season and second in a row. The initial lap of the feature found a melee of the front running cars in the backstretch and found a determined Jerry Curry making the right moves to jump out into the early lead from his fifth starting position. Bob Jashembowski jumped into second and made a bid to challenge for the lead but Curry proved to be too strong pass. Rick Mill was the driver on the move as he improved position each lap from his eighth starting position moving past Jashembowski for second just prior to halfway. Mill then closed in on the leader Curry and worked on an outside pass move for several laps before overpowering Curry to take the lead position. Mill was able to navigate lap traffic like a pro and brought the Alex’s Marine mount across the checkers first ahead of J. Curry who brought home another second place finish, and a ever quickening Ed Dachenhausen coming home third aboard a new ride. Jeff Richardson was able to beat Kyle Redner for the season and challenge series championships. Defending Champ Redner’s crusade came up a bit short in the final finish.
Modified racing proved to be very exciting on this night, as it was a battle of the in-laws between veteran speedway racers Steve Conklin, the father in law, and Skip LaPolt, the son in law. Both drivers powered off from their front row and continued a side by side battle lap after lap, as the race got past halfway it could be seen that Conklin’s tires were beginning to fade and LaPolt was able to complete the pass for the lead on Lap 14 and never looked back picking up his third feature win of the season. Meanwhile, modified top guns Blair Culhane and John Cote were racing for the championship. Cote had all to gain and nothing to lose while Culhane ran more conservative. Cote was able to pick up a few positions but not enough, even with a daring last lap pass on Conklin to finish second. Blair Culhane was able to be victorious with his first Championship at the track and was a strong driving ace all season long.
Legends feature racing found Connecticut rookie, Peter Bennett picking up his first career feature win along with picking up the track championship on the same night. It was a gratifying night for the driver as he dominated every lap of the feature win and was able to hold off the challenges of veteran driver Matt Maring who had to settle for second, ahead of a first time rookie, Mike Travis coming home with an impressive third at the checkers. Over the course of the season, Bennett proved to drive smart and not taking chances which allowed him to be very consistent with his finishes as he quickly gained experience and respect from his competitors in his first season at the track.
Pro Stocks proved to be a thriller, as class heavyweights Ed Butler and Kenny Atkins came into the night with very few points between the two for the championship title. The feature itself proved to be a race of two duels. Atkins knew he had to beat Butler in the feature, which created a more daring driving style on this night. On two different occasions at two different corners, Butler opened the door just a little, and Atkins pounced on the opportunity to make a pass. Both times however, found Butler quickly closing the door and resulting in contact negating both cars to the rear. Up front found a very determined Gene Morton leading the way with his Gary Ronk owned, ford powered Mercury Cougar. Also, this was no easy cruise for Morton as he had to tend with veteran driver Joe Barnes as he applied pressure throughout the race. Barnes was on Morton’s heels for the duration of the race waiting for an opening or slip up. Barnes tried him high, then tried him low, tried the crossover but couldn’t get the pass to stick as the ever excited Morton returned to victory lane for the first time in several years, just barely beating Barnes at the line. Butler was able to cross the checkers in third just ahead of Atkins to pick up his second track championship at the speedway after a long fought point battle with two time defending champ Atkins.
The fan favorite Street Stocks again proved why they are so liked at the speedway among the many race fans. The championship battle was tight between Amber VanOrden and Walt Henry as many eyes would be watching to see who would end up winning the title. Kyle Welsch capitalized on a great start as he picked up the lead on Lap 2 from his sixth starting position and easily began pulling away from the field. Meanwhile deep in the pack found Henry working thru the pack as a man on a mission, while A. VanOrden was driving a more conservative approach. At the halfway point second place running Larry O’Donnell got spun coming out of turn 4 as he was coming up on lap traffic which brought out the caution and resulted with third place running Bill Deak Jr. being sent to the rear as well for his involvement in the caution. When the race restarted, Welsch had to contend with six time winning rookie driver Brian Bauerfeind as he now moved into the second position and began to challenge the leader. Walt Henry worked his way into third position as he watched the leaders battle it out. Welsch has his hands full as he was really wheeling his car to fight off Bauerfeind’s quest for the lead. It all changed with two laps to go in the feature, when Welsch was given a bump by Bauerfeind off turn 4 resulting in a spin by Welsch. Bauerfeind was penalized to the rear of the field for rough riding and allowed third place running Walt Henry to inherit the lead. Henry restarted the race and cruised to his fourth victory of the season over Bill Deak Sr, and Amber VanOrden. A. VanOrden captured her third track championship as Walt Henry’s bid came up a bit short.
David Donovan picked up his first win of the season in the Four Cylinder Expert feature. The former novice champion led every lap to nail down the victory at the checkers. Jeff Degroat and Billy Porter each had season best finishes finishing second and third respectively. Mike Travis easily picked up the track championship this season and proved to be the top four cylinder expert.
Vinny Degraw proved to be a winning force in the Four Cylinder Novice feature. He quickly marched from his eighth starting position to take the lead from Cliff Levinson on lap 3. Degraw took off from the field but in the later stages of the race Eddie Jones Jr closed the gap and made an effort to take the lead. Degraw was able to fend off the strong challenges by Jones and took home the checkered for the third time this season. Jones Jr, and Levinson ended up secon and third in the final rundown.
Bandolero drivers, Mike Roth and Anthony Bello have been in a season long point battle all season, coming down to the final night of points. Bello knew going in that he had to outperform and beat Roth on this night. Bello started out strong, winning his heat race and starting from the pole for his feature. Bello jumped out to take the lead over Roth and looked to be fastest car on several race restarts. However, on lap 6 Roth made a power run going into turn three and muscled his way into the lead heading down the frontstretch. Roth then had Bello hot on his tail and was pressuring to get the lead back until Bello looped his car off turn two drawing the yellow. Roth then had to fight off a hard charging Garrett Zacharias in order to pick up his twelfth win of the season along with taking home his first track championship. Katie Verwys finished a strong third to end the season.
Joey Lamontagne out powered Kaden Rogers to pick up his first career win at the speedway in the beginner bandolero class.
Anthony Tarantino surprised the enduro field as he picked up his first career win at the speedway over street stock race Joe Smith, and four cylinder top gun Vinny Degraw.
Sportsman Feature: 1. Rick Mill (New Windsor, NY) 2. Jerry Curry 3. Ed Dachenhausen 4. Bob Jashembowski 5. Jeff Richardson 6. Kyle Redner 7. Dan Dulin 8. Matt Curry 9. Shawn Maloney 10. Chris Clemens 11. Harry Hindley
Modified Feature: 1. Skip LaPolt (Swan Lake, NY) 2. John Cote 3. Steve Conklin 4. Tyler Dachenhausen 5. Blair Culhane 6. Joe DeGracia 7. Steve Galgano 8. Chris Clemens 9. Jim Fugle
Legends Feature: 1. Peter Bennett (Cromwell, CT) 2. Matt Maring 3. Mike Travis 4. Trenton Goodrow 5. Sean Verwys 6. Gus Pappaeliou DNS. Clark McCollum
Pro Stock Feature : 1. Gene Morton (Woodbourne, NY) 2. Joe Barnes 3.Ed Butler 4. Kenny Atkins 5. Vinny Stanton Sr. 6. Ron Rion 7. Art McArthur
Street Stock Feature: 1. Walt Henry (Maybrook, NY) 2. Bill Deak Sr. 3. Amber VanOrden 4. Gary VanOrden Sr. 5. JB Morris 6. Patty Falkena 7. Bill Deak Jr. 8. Kyle Welsch 9. Brian Bauerfeind 10. Jessica Ricci 11. Corey Stanton 12. Larry O’Donnell 13. Frank Maiori 14. Gary Gamble
Four Cylinder Expert: 1. David Donovan (Parksville, NY) 2. Jeff Degroat 3. Billy Porter. 4. Tasha Curry 5. Cody Houghtaling 6. John Houghtaling 7. Steven Schmitz
Four Cylinder Novice: 1. Vinny Degraw (Monticello, NY) 2. Eddie Jones Jr. 3. Cliff Levinson 4. Dan Houghtaling 5. Tabitha Riordan 6. Nicole Nelson 7. Marcus Small 8. Jessey Torrens 9. Edwin King 10. George VanAken DNS.. Marisol Torrens DNS. Chris Hardenburgh
Bandolero Feature: 1. Mike Roth (North Branch, NY) 2. Garrett Zacharias 3. Katie Verwys 4. Anthony Bello 5. Brian Rygielski 6. Joey Aungst 7. Josh Duke 8. Evan Rygielski 9. Nick Archiere 10. Justin Aungst 11. Conner Piasecki
Beginner Bandos: 1. Joey Lamontagne (Bethel, CT) 2. Kaden Rogers
Enduro Dash: 1. Anthony Tarantino (Pleasant Valley, NY) 2. Joe Smith 3. Vinny Degraw 4. David Donovan 5. Steven Schmitz 6. Jeff Degroat 7. Nicole Nelson 8. Jessey Torrens 9. Edwin King 10. Eddie Jones Jr. 11. Chris Hardenburgh 12. Marisol Torrens