Clapperton grabs first career win, Hodge and Crandall pull out wins on the night
AFTON, NY – After a four week hiatus due to three weeks of rainouts and a week off for the Afton Fair, The Afton Motorsports Park returned to action on Friday night with Alex Tonkin out-dueling his brother, Brett to win the Mid Season Championship feature for the Modifieds.
Dennis Clapperton captured his first career feature win by winning the Open Sportsman feature with Allan Hodge winning the Crate Sportsman feature. Recent Afton High School graduate Damon Decker continued his great season as he captured the Street Stock Mid Season Championship, and Bob Crandall won the Four Cylinder Truck feature.
Eddie Newell and Matt Roberts brought the Modified field to green to start their Mid Season Championship 30 lap feature, and with three caution flag periods taking place before a lap was scored, track officials called for a single file start.
On the restart Newell would lead Roberts, Steve Babicek, Alex Tonkin, and Brett Tonkin. Roberts jumped to the extreme top groove to grab the lead exiting turn four to complete lap two.
Babicek moved into second on lap three and the backslide of Newell continued as Alex Tonkin dropped him to fourth on lap four – Brett Tonkin passed Newell for fourth on lap five.
The early big move took place on lap seven as Andy Bachetti moved from 12th to sixth with a four wide pass on the back-straight among the highlights.
As soon as Bachetti made this outstanding move, smoke started to puff from the engine.
Alex Tonkin was leading the Tonkin Family charge to the front with his brother Brett right on his back bumper. The Tonkins’ moved into second and third on lap eight with Alex now breaking away from Brett as he set sail after leader Roberts.
Meanwhile Bachetti, Babicek, Kurt Decker, and JR Hurlburt were racing for positions four through eighth with Bachetti taking fourth on lap ten followed by Babicek, Decker, and Hurlburt.
Up front, Roberts, who was looking for his first career Modified win, lost the lead to Alex Tonkin who was glued to the bottom of the track on lap 15. The great run of Roberts ended one lap later as he rolled to a stop in turn two to bring out the yellow.
On the restart the Tonkins’ pulled away from Bachetti who started to see power loss from the oil smoke puffing from the engine. Following a lap 17 restart the power was even less in the Bachetti car as he was passed for third by Decker.
Bachetti kept driving hard and re-passed Decker for third on lap 19 as he brought Babicek along with him as he moved into fourth.
Finally the motor in the Bachetti car gave up, as he stopped to bring out the yellow on lap 20 ending his night.
On the restart with ten laps to go Alex Tonkin pulled out to a comfortable lead over his brother Brett. Meanwhile, Decker hopped up to the extreme high side to grab third back from Babicek on lap 21.
Alex Tonkin in for his second career Modified feature win over his brother Brett, Decker, Babicek, and Ken Titus rounded out the top five.
Qualifying heats were won by Bachetti, Alex Tonkin, and Nick Nye.
• The 20 lap Open Sportsman feature was the last feature on the racing program and due to the earlier rain the fog started to roll in as the feature went to green.
Polesitter Don Hart, Jr. jumped out to the lead over Craig Pope, Dennis Clapperton, Craig Pritchard, and Dave Rosa. Butch Klinger was making his presence felt as he moved into fifth on lap three.
Following a lap four restart Clapperton moved into second behind Hart with Pope, Rosa, and now Aaron Shelton moving past Klinger into fifth.
Clapperton moved into the lead with an inside turn four pass coming down to complete lap seven – at the same time Klinger moved back into fifth. Once in front, Clapperton opened up a big lead as he was going to take control of the feature.
With Clapperton nearly a full straightaway ahead all eyes were focused on Klinger, who moved to the extreme outside groove as he started to move quickly to the front.
Klinger took fourth from Rosa on lap 11, third from Pope on the next lap, and second from Hart with five laps to go.
The huge lead of Clapperton was erased as the caution lights came on for the stopped car of Skip Pickwick with two laps to go. During the yellow Klinger tried to rattle Clapperton as he pulled up alongside him, to try and intimidate him.
The Klinger intimidation didn’t work one bit as when the green lights came back on Clapperton shot quickly out to a five car length lead.
At the checkered flag, Clapperton was in for his first career feature win over Klinger, Pope, a hard charging Travis Smith, as well as Hart.
Qualifying heat races were won by Hart, Clapperton, and Pope.
• Craig Monroe and Duane Knapp brought the 20 lap Crate Sportsman field to green. Knapp would jump out to the lead over Monroe, Tim French II, Tyler Ward, and Allan Hodge.
Knapp looking for his first career feature win opened up a big lead with Ward moving into second on lap four and Hodge who moved into third on lap five.
The big mover during the first five laps was 15th place starter Cody Clark. Clark, the current track point leader moved into fifth by lap five, but it wasn’t without controversy. On lap one Clark ran over the front end of Colby Hendrickson to gain a position and track officials deemed that Clarks’ action was driving too aggressive and a one spot penalty would be given to Clark at the next caution period.
Knapp continued to lead but his big advantage was getting smaller each passing lap as the trio of Ward, Hodge, and Clark were closing in. As the lead pack entered lap traffic, on lap 10, Knapp continued to lead – however, Ward got trapped behind a lap car and it cost him second with Clark going from fourth to second.
Ward got blocked by the same lap car again on the next lap and it cost him third to Hodge.
Clark, having clearly the fastest car in the field, motored under Knapp to gain the lead on lap 13. With the drivers not knowing about the upcoming one spot penalty to Clark for rough driving. Hodge made a key pass as he got past Knapp for second on lap 14.
With five laps to go the yellow came out for Monroe who slid into the mini pond of water on the inside of the home-straight...