by Carol Houssock” (Chemung, NY) It may have been a little chilly in the grandstand but those who bundled up were treated to some hot racing Friday night at Chemung Speedrome. With the season winding down, some of the division titles are up for grabs and will be decided at the season finale this Friday night (Saturday the 21st is a rain date).
Feature winners on Buckley’s Automotive and Buckley’s Discount Tire and Brake night included Zack Knowlden (Sunoco Modifieds), Mike Nichols (Super Stocks), Joey Bevacqua (4 Cylinders), Kyle Youngs (INEX Legends), Derrick Vogler (Bandolero Bandits.
A caution-free 40-lap Sunoco Modified feature can easily develop into a yawner. That was not the case Friday night as fans were treated to one fantastic feature and a battle between two determined, but respectful, racers. Charlie Sharpsteen, who has three 2019 feature wins to his credit, won his heat and started third in the feature. Fellow heat race winner Pat Judson led the opening lap from the pole until Sharpsteen got around him. Zack Knowlden and Zach Curren, with six feature wins between them, chased own Sharpsteen and ran nose-to-tail at the halfway point. With ten to go it was a two-man race, with Knowlden looking high then low for a pathway to the lead while Sharpsteen lived up to his reputation as being hard to pass. Hard yes, but not impossible as Knowlden mounted an outside move and cleared the #98 of Sharpsteen and the #4 led the leaderboard on lap 32. Over the final laps Knowlden proved he had the faster car and he pulled away for a very impressive win. Sharpsteen finished second, ahead of Curren, Bryan Sherwood and John Wilber.
“This is the best race I’ve ever run in a Modified,” Knowlden said from the Midstate Basement Authorities Victory Lane. “Charlie is so great to race but I had to be patient and when he went low, I went high and it worked.” Knowlden trailed Curren by just one point when they arrived at the track. Knowlden now has a slight point lead over Curren, and Friday night will result in a track championship for one of them. Mike Nichols has been on a tear, coming off a weekend when he won back-to-back extra-distance features and earned a nice payday for his efforts. Friday night he scored another sweep in the Super Stock division. Ajay Potrzebowski capitalized on his outside pole position start and led the way. The only caution came four laps in but when racing resumed the fans were treated to multiple lead changes between Potrzebowski and Nick Robinson. Lap five Ajay, lap six Nick, lap eight Ajay, lap nine Nick, lap 11 Ajay, lap 12 Nick. Nichols watched all this unfold, as he was right there in third for all of it until he got past both and took over the lead. Once in front he checked out and built a big lead over the final 10 laps of the 25-lap feature. Robinson, meanwhile, lost second to Garrett Zacharias and that’s how they would finish behind winner Nichols. Potrzebowski and Tim Gullo rounded out the top five. Nick Robinson takes a sizeable point lead over Nichols into the season finale.
Things couldn’t have gone better for rookie Joey Bevacqua on Friday night. He won his heat race, started on the pole for the 20-lap feature, and led almost every lap for a September sweep. The only caution in this one came just a lap into it when Cameron Nichols spun coming off turn four. Point leader Greg Moldt took second from Monica Green on the restart and he shadowed Bevacqua until passing for the lead at the halfway point. Three laps later Bevacqua reclaimed the lead and this time he held on to it. He got his second win of the year and first since the end of May. Moldt was second, followed by Green, Ricky Lane and Mark Taylor. DJ Shaw, who was the point leader coming into the program, had to forego racing the last two weeks due to high school football. While he won’t win the championship, he won the respect of many at the track.
An anonymous donor put up a $300 bounty on INEX Legends driver Kyle Youngs, who led the division with five feature wins coming in to their 20-lap feature. The bounty was $200 to anyone who could beat him, and $50 each to second and third if they also finished ahead of him. Heat winner Jody Buckley led the first half of the race with Youngs hot on his heels. The only lead change occurred when Youngs passed Buckley for the lead and started to pull away. Buckley then had Gary Ham running close in third. When this one was over it was Kyle Youngs who celebrated his sixth win as he clutched the $200 bounty. “This car has been so strong, the only thing I’ve changed has been the tires,” he said from victory lane. Buckley, Ham, Keith Youngs and Sean Verwys all finished in the top five.
Derrick Vogler started the 10-lap Bandolero feature last, brought out the only caution when he spun two laps in, and went on to claim the overall win. Chase Sinsabaugh led the first half of the race before losing the lead to Vogler. Sinsabaugh spun with three laps remaining, setting up a restart with 11-time feature winner Josh Duke alongside. Vogler was up to his challenge despite tremendous pressure from Duke on the final lap. He sailed across the finish line for his first overall win, giving bragging nights to the Bandit division. Duke, the Outlaw and heat winner, finished second. Jeffrey Noe was third with Sinsabaugh fourth.
Championship night is set for this Friday with a regular five-division show. The Super Stocks will run a Russ Tubbs Memorial 25-lap feature to honor the only driver who lost his life in competition at the Speedrome.
Admission is $13 for adults, $11 for seniors, $5 for kids 5 to 12 and free for kids under 5. Gates open at 5 with racing at 7. Saturday, September 21st is the rain date for this one, with the same times in effect. For information, log on to the track’s website: chemungspeedrome.net, ‘like’ us on Facebook: Chemung Speedrome – Racing at the Drome, or call Ray Hodge, Promoter, at 607-483-3468.
Of Note:Zack Knowlden, Mike Nichols and Joey Bevacqua won free wings from Buffalo Wild Wings in Horseheads in the ‘Winner Winner Chicken Dinner’ bonus.His 2nd place finish earned Charlie Sharpsteen $25 toward shock dynoing, donated by Eagle One Fabrication and Speed and Down Force Shocks. Each week a random finisher will win this new bonus.Jody Buckley’s grandsons served as honorary starters for two of the features, throwing the green flag to get the races going.Concession stand manager, John Zack, won the 50/50 and shared it with the ticket sellers.Ironically, both Zack Knowlden and Joey Bevacqua earned their first 2019 wins back on May 31st and their second wins Friday night.Buckley’s Automotive and Buckley’s Discount Tire & Brakes
Results: Sunoco Modifieds (40 Laps): ZACK KNOWLDEN, Charlie Sharpsteen, Zack Curren, Bryan Sherwood, John Wilber, Pat Judson, Gene Sharpsteen, Tim Gullo, Damon Frutchey, Steven Sherwood, Dave Bellis, Scott ReaganHeats: C. Sharpsteen, Judson Super Stocks (25 Laps): MIKE NICHOLS, Garrett Zacharias, Nick Robinson, Ajay Potrzebowski, Tim Gullo, Jesse Hurley, Frank Chapman, Brian DeMark, Dennis Beardslee, Ed Kelly (DNS)Heats: Nichols, Zacharias 4 Cylinders (20 Laps): JOEY BEVACQUA, Greg Moldt, Monica Green, Ricky Lane, Mark Taylor, Jason Peck, Alex Brown, Cameron NicholsHeat: Bevacqua INEX Legends(25 Laps): KYLE YOUNGS, Jody Buckley, Gary Ham, Keith Youngs, Sean Verwys, Raven SchrantzHeat: Buckley INEX Bandoleros (10 Laps): DERRICK VOGLER, Josh Duke (Outlaw winner), Jeffrey Noe, Chase SinsabaughHeat: Duke