AFTON – The old saying is that racers are one big family and are willing to help each other out when someone is in need.
That is certainly what happened on Friday night at the Afton Motorsports Park in the Modified division. During hot laps, Alan Barker broke a rocker arm in the engine and bent two push rods. Barker went through the pit area looking for parts. Helping him the parts and the proper tools to to fix the parts were fellow Modified racers Nick Nye, Rusty Smith, and Brett Tonkin.
Barker’s 15 second laps to win the 30 lap Modified feature with ease as the non stop feature took only 7:53 seconds to complete as he was turning Andy Bachetti, Nick Nye, Steve Babicek and Charlie Hendrickson, Jr. completed the top five.
The IMCA Modifieds made their first appearance of the year in an Empire State Series race of 20 laps and it was all James Cornell, Jr. who took the popular win. Richard Michael, Jr., Jake Maynard, Tyler Stoddard, and Beau Ballard completed the top five.
The Open Sportsman 20 lap feature featured a photo finish as Dave Rosa got the win over Travis Smith by less than a half a car length, Aaron Shelton, Claude Hutchings, Jr., and Butch Klinger rounded out the top five.
The 20 lap Crate Sportsman feature was the Cody Clark show once again as he easily outdistanced the field for the win. Tim French II, Tyler Ward, Harold Humphrey, and Matt Cole completed the top five.
Another barn burner of a finish took place in the 20 lap Street Stock feature. Dustin Harris squeezed his way past Doug Polhamus in the waning laps to capture the win, Shane Wolf, Jr., Damon Decker, and Dave Cronk completed the top five.
Steve Babicek in his big block car and Charlie Hendrickson, Jr. brought the Modified 30 lap feature to green with Babicek grabbing the lead over Alan Barker, Hendrickson, Nick Nye, and ninth place starting Andy Bachetti.
• Hendrickson was the first driver to find outstanding bite in the upper grooves of the Afton Motorsports Park surface as he moved into second on lap two and took the lead from Babicek on lap four.
Barker seeing how quick Hendrickson was in that groove moved into the same exact groove and found immediate success as he took second on lap five and quickly closed in on Hendrickson and grabbed the lead on lap six.
Once in front Barker opened up a full straightaway lead within three laps as he was leaving no doubt who had the fastest car on this night.
Behind leader Barker the racing was intense as Hendrickson, Babicek, Nye, and Bachetti were all racing for second through fifth. At times this foursome were racing two by two, three wide, and on a couple of occasions four wide.
At the halfway point Barker was in heavy lap traffic but that was not slowing him down as he was slicing through the slower cars like a hot knife going through butter.
The foursome of drivers racing for second had to navigate through the same exact lap traffic that Barker went through, leading to some hairy moves being made and a constant changing of positions. Nye moved from fourth to second on lap 15 with Babicek, Bachetti, and Hendrickson in tow.
Bachetti started to mount a charge as he got past a stubborn Babicek on lap 17 and then hooked up with Nye for a crowd pleasing side by side race for second. Bachetti after many laps of trying finally got past Nye for second on lap 26, but he ran out of time to challenge Barker.
At the checkers Barker on the back bumper of the sixth place car for the win by five seconds over Bachetti, Nye, Babicek, and Hendrickson.
Qualifying heat races were won by Nye, Barker and Babicek.
• Skip Pickwick and Don Hart, Jr. brought the 20 lap Open Sportsman feature to green with Hart grabbing the lead over Pickwick, Dan Burman, Craig Pritchard, and Aaron Shelton.
Hart, using the fast extreme outside groove, opened up a big lead while Craig Pope moved into fourth on lap two.
After the completion of lap three, two yellow flag periods took place that would effect the outcome of the race. The first yellow was for Hart; who saw his bad racing luck continue as he rolled to a stop on the inside of turn three. On the restart the right rear tire of Burman went flat, causing him to spin out and bring out a yellow. He pitted and returned to the track.
On take two of the lap four restart, Shelton rocketed from third to the lead and was followed by Pickwick, Dave Rosa, Travis Smith, and Brandon Kuhn.
Rosa, who almost won the feature his last time out three weeks ago, showed some strong motor as he moved into second on lap five and immediately challenged for the lead. Shelton was holding his line and kept Rosa at bay for the lead until the caution flew on lap seven for Kuhn’s flat tire.
On the double file restart Rosa looked as if he was shot out of a cannon; he bolted into the lead over Shelton, Smith, Claude Hutchings, Jr. and Butch Klinger. Rosa opened up a big lead while Shelton and Smith raced hard for second.
With five laps to go Rosa, had nearly a full straightaway lead with Smith finally getting past the stubborn Shelton for second. The distance between first and second shrunk considerably over the next two laps as Rosa was fighting a loosening condition in his car and he slowed his pace to avoid spinning out. This allowed Smith, who was now in groove to close in very quickly.
Keeping in mind the loss Rosa took three weeks ago because he made one mistake and got passed for the lead, fans were thinking could this be happening again? With the white flag waving the lead was down to a car length and Smith pulled even with Rosa going down the backstretch and into turn three. Rosa drifted up just a hair to protect his line as the duo exited turn four, Smith executed a perfect cross over move. At the line Rosa in for the win by a foot and a half over Smith, Shelton, Hutchings, and Klinger.
Qualifying races earlier in the program were won by Shelton and Hart.
• Tim French II and Duane Knapp led the 20 lap Crate Sportsman feature to green with French getting the lead over Tyler Ward, Harold Humphrey, Knapp, and 11th place starting Cody Clark.
French looking for his first career win opened up a big lead while Ward, Humphrey, Clark, Knapp, and Matt Cole raced for positions two through six. Cole got past Knapp for fifth on lap three and settled into that spot as he watched the trio in front of him go three wide for second.
At the halfway mark French was still holding a big lead over Ward. Meanwhile Clark was able to sneak under Humphrey for third and set his sights on second, Cole was in fifth.
The first yellow of the race came out on lap 14 for the spun car of Matt Brewer in turn four and this tightened up the field.
On the restart French who had been glued to the bottom of the race track all racelong slid up just a hair. That was all Clark needed as he motored under French to grab the lead and never looked back over the remaining six laps of the feature.
Clark in for the win over French, Ward, Humphrey, and Cole.
Heat races were won by French, Humphrey,and Ward.
Dan Roe and Dave Cronk led the 20 lap Street Stock feature to green with Cronk moving into the lead over Doug Polhamus, Matt Bowman, Dustin Harris, and Shane Wolf, Jr. Damon Decker moved into fifth on lap five just before the yellow came out for the stopped car of Emmett Smith in turn one.
On the double file restart Polhamus moved into the lead over Cronk, Harris, Wolf, and Decker. Veteran race observers knew that with this top five a really good feature was about to unfold and they didn’t disappoint one bit.
After many laps of trying Harris was finally able to take second from Cronk on lap 12 and with the yellow lights coming on it bunched the field up.
On the restart Polhamus kept the lead but Harris was all over his back bumper, meanwhile Wolf got around Cronk for third with Decker still in fifth.
On a lap 15 restart Decker was able to get past Cronk for fourth and set after Wolf to race for third.
Polhamus made one mistake the entire race and it happened entering turn three coming around for the white flag. He slid up the track just enough that Harris was right there and pounced on the opening.
Contact was made between the two as Polhamus tried to chop down on Harris to protect his lead, but Harris was already underneath Polhamus completely and exited turn four with the lead.
Harris in for the win over a disappointed Polhamus, Wolf, Decker, and Cronk rounded out the top five.
Heat races were captured by Harris and Bowman.
• The 20 lap IMCA Modified Empire State Series feature saw the top ten starters re - draw for the feature. Gary Roberts and Jake Maynard brought the field to green with Roberts getting the lead over James Cornell, Maynard, Richard Michael, Jr., and Will Ward.
Maynard used a slick move in turns three and four to grab the lead on lap two and at the same time Ken Buck moved into fifth.
On a lap five double file restart Cornell who knows the track at Afton like the back of his hand took the lead with Michael moving into second and Tyler Stoddard moving into fifth.
Another double file restart took place on lap eight and once again Cornell showing his mastery of the Afton track opened up an even bigger lead over Michael, Maynard, Stoddard, and Roberts.
Cornell running like the track like it was shaped like a diamond in his Chuck Akulis tribute car kept everyone at bay as he lead the remainder of the race with ease for the very popular win. Michael, Maynard, Stoddard, and Beau Ballard completed the top five.
Heat races were won by Cornell and Mike Stoddard earlier in the racing program.
NEW ERA NOTES; after a three week hiatus due to weather and the Delaware County Fair the racers and racing fans were greeted with a fall type of evening. Patriot Masonary sponsored the racing action with the Joey Coulter Kids Club / C.A.R.S holding a Chinese Auction to help raise funds for the fine things they do with terminally ill children.
Between the Chinese Auction and the Tri County Microd Club drivers who had their cars on display in the midway area, which saw them take up a collection during intermission a total of $1,000.50 was raised. 14-year-old Blaine Klinger made his Crate Sportsman debut on the night, after racing Slingshots for two years and looked right at home as he came from last to third in his heat race.
Track management announced that the September 16, race that was on the original schedule has been cancelled and will not be made up due to Thunder Mountain adding a points race to that evening.
Once again a very well run program presented by track management with racing starting at 7:01 p.m. and ending at 9:51 p.m., Friday night and that included an eleven minute intermission.
Next Friday, Sept. 1, is Season Championship Night sponsored by ZMK Construction / Wagner Lumber of Nineveh with championship points on the line to determine the 2017 Track Champions.
Going into the show Andy Bachetti leads the ZMK Construction Modified points by 47 over Mitch Gibbs and by 54 over Alan Barker.
In the Scorpion Security Products Open Sportsman Claude Hutchings, Jr. leads the points by 29 over Butch Klinger, by 66 over Travis Smith, by 67 over Dennis Clapperton, and by 68 over Aaron Shelton. In the Ted’s Body Shop Crate Sportsman Cody Clark leads the points by 35 over Harold Humphrey, by 80 over Allan Hodge, and by 93 over Matt Brewer.
In the Auto Plus Street Stocks Damon Decker leads the points by 30 over Doug Polhamus, by 61 over Dustin Harris, and by 81 over Matt Bowman. In the Chambers & O’ Hara Four Cylinder Truck division who ran a point show at Skyline this past Friday night and no results were received by press time.
Going into that show Ralph Cuozzo was leading the points by 51 over Bob Crandall, when official results from Skyline are received the points will be updated on the website. Gates open at 4pm, hot laps are at 6:15 p.m., and the first heat goes green at 7 p.m. sharp.
Adult Admission is $12 with Senior Citizens age 62 and up admitted for $10, youth aged 9 to 14 are admitted for $5 and all children under 8 years of age are free with a paid adult admission.
For more information on the Afton Motorsports Park please log on to the World Wide Web at www.aftonmotorsportspark.com.