BETHEL, NY – BMS Modified driver Blair Culhane has had what some might call a “dream start” to his 2016 season – with some help from the luck of the draw and some dominant on-track performances, he scored his third win in as many weeks at the quarter-mile asphalt oval this past Saturday.
Culhane took off from the pole and led every lap of the caution-free race, but the race wasn’t without its challenges for Culhane. BMS Modified rookie Joe DeGracia – who had challenged Culhane for the lead in the heat race – started on the outside pole, but was quickly overtaken by former division champion Skip LaPolt. LaPolt was at Culhane’s back bumper for much of the race as another former division champion, John Cote, held on to the third spot. Culhane kept his cool and was able to protect his position as the laps clicked off, and was first to the checkered flag. LaPolt had to be content with second, and Cote crossed the line third.
Rick Mill, in his first full season on the asphalt at Bethel, has been a force to reckon with in the 358/Sportsman class, as he, too, picked up his third win on Saturday night. Kyle Redner, who finished third in points in 2015 after missing the final event due to prior commitments, gave Mill a run for his money in the heat race, winning the race and garnering the pole starting spot for the feature. Mill held Redner down tight on the initial start, and was able to take the advantage – and the lead. Redner chased Mill for much of the caution-free event, without the opportunity of a restart to put him back alongside of Mill. With just three laps remaining in the race, Mike Dutka wrestled the second spot from Redner, but the laps ran out before Dutka could challenge for the lead. Mill drove on to the win over Dutka and Redner.
Richie Coy went home with his second win of the 2016 season when the dust settled on the Legends feature. Drew Bottge and 2015 LegendStock winner Teddy Hidgdon made up the front row for the start, with Coy in third. With the help of the “choose cone” and several early-race cautions, Coy found himself in the second spot by lap four. Bottge and Coy put on a exciting battle for the top spot, with Coy taking the lead on lap seven only for Bottge to reclaim it on lap nine. Hodgdon was never out of the mix, either, as he held off the advances of Joseph Graf, Joe Graf, and David French during a long green-flag stretch. With three laps remaining in the event, Coy once again powered past Bottge, this time for good. Hodgdon slipped past Bottge one lap later and chased Coy to the checkers. Coy notched the win, followed by Hodgdon and Bottge.
The action has been non-stop in the Bandolero class so far this season, as the division saw its third different winner in as many weeks when Teddy Bowen grabbed the checkers this past Saturday. Bowen took off from the pole as a result of his heat race win, but he was never able to distance himself from the two previous weeks’ winners, Sean Verwys and Tyler Dachenhausen. Verwys occupied the second spot for the first two laps before Dachenhausen was able to nose out front enough to be scored in second. The duo battled it out for the spot behind Bowen lap after lap, putting on an exciting side-by-side show. With three laps to go, Verwys got out in front of Dachenhausen, but Bowen had built up enough of a lead that Verwys didn’t have time to make a bid for the lead. Bowen took down the win over Verwys and Dachenhausen.
Isabella Macchia, after taking a week off last week, parked her car in Victory Lane for the second time this season in the Beginner Bandolero class. Macchia started on the pole, alongside Katie Verwys. Macchia got out to the lead at the drop of the green while last week’s winner, Teddy Cranmer, came to second on the initial lap. Cranmer immediately began to pressure for the lead, but Macchia held her ground. The race reached 14 of the 15 scheduled laps, and Cranmer hit the wall at the exit of turn four, drawing the red flag and ending the race. Cranmer exited the car uninjured, and Macchia collected the win over Verwys and Anthony Bello.
After missing Opening Night due to illness, defending Pro Stock champion Kenny Atkins knew he would be fighting an uphill battle in the point standings all season. So far, he has made a valiant effort, as he picked up his second win in as many attempts this past Saturday. After winning his heat race, Atkins lined up on the pole for the feature and took full advantage of the rare chance to start up front. Atkins led every lap of the event, which went green-to-checkered with no cautions. Jim Helt, who started on the outside pole, settled into second quickly and worked on distancing himself from 2015 Rookie of the Year Mac Crawson, who was third. Just past the halfway point of the event, Kevin Skelly – who was making his first career start in the Pro Stock class subbing for Ed Butler – took over the third position. He reeled Helt in and worked on him for the runner-up position, but his march to the front was ended when the checkered flag waved with Atkins in the lead. Helt crossed the line second by a slim margin over Skelly.
Defending 4 Cylinder Advanced champion Mike Travis has very little to complain about so far this season, as he has gone unbeaten in the first three races, picking up his third win. Travis started the race from the pole, with Tim Curry to his outside. Before a lap was complete, Travis had put his car solidly out front, and 2014 4 Cylinder Novice champion Brian Bauernfeind had come to second. Cody Houghtaling made his way to third, and he kept himself in the hunt until he pulled off of the track following a caution with four laps remaining, putting Curry back in the third spot. The top three ran in tight quarters over the final laps, but Travis was first to the line, followed by Bauernfeind and Curry.
For the second time in three weeks, John Houghtaling took home the trophy at the conclusion of the 4 Cylinder Novice race. Houghtaling took off from the outside pole, and had to follow pole sitter Kayla Curry over the first two laps before putting his car out front. Curry held on to the second spot for the majority of the race, until Gene Helms – the previous week’s winner – got by for the spot with four laps to go. Curry turned up the heat, however, and reclaimed the spot on the white flag lap. Houghtaling was first to the line, followed by Curry and Helms.
This coming Saturday, May 14th, the gates at Bethel will swing open for Champions’ Night, when the intermission period will feature a formal presentation of champions’ jackets to the 2015 track champions on hand. The racing schedule is jam-packed, and includes the BMS Modified, 358/Sportsman, Legends, Bandolero, Pro Stock, Street Stock, and 4 Cylinder Advanced and Novice classes. Gates open at 2:30 pm, with hot laps at 4:30 pm, and racing action set to go green at 6 pm. Grandstand admission for the 2016 season is just $8, with children five and under admitted free of charge. More information, including a complete 2016 schedule, can be obtained online at www.bethelmotorspeedway.com, or by calling (845) 319-7908, Tuesday through Friday from 9 am until 6 pm.
If you’ve ever wanted to get out on the track, Sunday, May 15th, is your opportunity, courtesy of the High Point Cruisers car club. The track will be set up with a slalom-style course, and is open to both street cars and race cars. All cars must pass a basic safety inspection, and drivers are required to have a DOT approved helmet 2005 or newer and closed toe shoes. Gates open at 12 noon on Sunday, and registration is open until 1:15 pm, with cars taking to the track beginning at 2 pm. More information on the auto-x can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
BMS MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Blair Culhane (Brookfield, CT), 2. Skip LaPolt, 3. John Cote, 4. Joe DeGracia, 5. Robbie Konikowski.
358/SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Rick Mill (New Windsor, NY), Mike Dutka, 3. Kyle Redner, 4. Dan Dulin, 5. Eric Moon.
LEGENDS FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Richie Coy (M, Haskell, NJ), 2. Teddy Hodgdon (SP), 3. Drew Bottge (SP), 4. Joseph Graf (P), 5. Eugene Drew (P), 6. Vinny Delaney (P), 7. Ed Cheslak (SP), 8. David French (P), 9. Lars McElravy (YL), 10. Joe Graf (M), 11. Jerry Macchia (YL), 12. Mike Policastro (SP), 13. Stephen Hershey (P), 14. Matt Forsythe (SP), 15. Gillian Kirkpatrick (SP).
BADNOLERO FEATURE FINISH (15 laps): 1. Teddy Bowen (O, Rome, PA), 2. Sean Verwys (O), 3. Tyler Dachenhausen (O), 4. Mike Roth (B), 5. Ryan Macartney (B), 6. Conner Piasecki (O), 7. Joey Aungst (B), 8. Jeff Darrah (O), 9. Jade McElravy (O).
BEGINNER BANDOLERO FEATURE FINISH (14 laps): 1. Isabella Macchia (B, Pwling, NY), 2. Katie Verwys (B), 3. Anthony Bello (B), 4. Nick Archiere (B), 5. Teddy Cranmer (B).
PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Kenny Atkins (Grahamsville, NY), 2. Jim Helt, 3. Kevin Skelly, 4. Mac Crawson, 5. Vinny Stanton Jr., 6. Kyle Welsch.
STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Amber VanOrden (Hawley, PA), 2. Kyle Welsch, 3. Gary VanOrden, 4. Tweeter Pallom, 5. Walt Henry, 6. Steve Smalley, 7. Joe Smith, 8. Arthur McArthur, 9. Patty Falkena, 10. Jessica Ricci, 11. Bryan Chirico, 12. Jay Smalley.
4 CYLINDER ADVANCED FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Mike Travis (Hurleyville, NY), 2. Brian Bauernfeind, 3. Tim Curry, 4. Gary Miller, 5. Robert Clarke, 6. Cody Houghtaling, 7. Wayne Atkins, 8. Eddy Lindstadt, 9. David Donovan. DQ – Jerry Kingeter. DNS – George VanAken.
4 CYLINDER NOVICE FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. John Houghtaling (Monticello, NY), 2. Kayla Curry, 3. Gene Helms, 4. James Shields, 5. Jessey Torrens, 6. Richard Smith, 7. Vinny DeGraw, 8. Felicia Reichenbaugh, 9. Nicole Nelson, 10. Nick Curry, 11. Adair DuBois, 12. Marisol Torrens. DNS – Dan Houghtaling, Dan VanAken, Keith Unger.