Rt 5 Vernon, NY
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UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY CONTINUES TO PREPARE FOR APRIL 21 SEASON OPENER
VERNON, NY- After a very winter like month of March, spring finally seems to be creeping into the Central New York region which means that season is about to begin, and that is the beginning of the 2013 racing season at the Utica-Rome Speedway. Activity is now in full swing at the famed Vernon oval as track workers prepare for the upcoming season which could prove to be another exciting year of action, which is scheduled to begin on Sunday, April 21. A full four division show of Modifieds, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stock is planned to kick off the 2013 season.
Several of the Utica-Rome Speedway Modified regulars have been traveling across the Northeast in recent weeks as they await the start of the opening of their weekly Sunday night home, and for some, that cant come soon enough. The Utica-Rome Speedway has been home to some of the best drivers in the business in recent years and that looks to be the case again this year as most of the drivers plan on returning in 2013. Five time Modified champion and title holder for the past three, Stewart Friesen, will be back to try to defend his title and again claim the $10,000 championship. Two time title winner Pat Ward again should be back for the weekly battles as he tries to add a third championship to his total while upstart second generation driver Mike Mahaney looks to collect his first title. Another second generation driver, Ronnie Johnson, is also hunting for his first ever U-R Modified title while Todd Burley should also be back looking to add to his lone championship total from 2001. Willy Decker, who has been a mainstay at U-R for most of his career, hopes to be in contention for the lucrative title as he looks to add to his two championships. Also, look for Larry Wight, Ryan Phelps, Matt Sheppard, Jason Rood, Casey Williams, Robbie Bellinger, and many more to be in the pit area when the pit gates swing open.
The question in the Sportsman ranks will be, who will step up to challenge two-time defending champion Matt Janczuk? Janczuk has dominated the division in recent years but this year he may have to battle harder to collect the title again this season. Jeremy Vunk was in contention for the title for most of last season but wasn't as consistent as Janczuk down the stretch. Vunk will look to build on that to grab his first title. Two younger drivers that have improved over the course of the past couple of season are AJ Filbeck and Claude Hutchings, Jr. and they are planning on being in title contention as well. Steve Way, Chris Mackey, Heath Carney, Craig Pope, Jack Miller, Mike Stiles, Bobby Heintz, Stephen Denton, and more are some of the returning regulars with Mark Weaver, Andrew Ferguson, and Kyle DeMetro are some of the newcomers for the upcoming season.
When discussing the Pro Stock division at Utica-Rome Speedway, two drivers are often the most discussed and that is veterans Tom Denton and Bret Belden. They have collected nine championships between them with Denton collecting his sixth title last season. Both will be back this season in search of adding to their totals but a new addition to the Pro Stock ranks last season, Pete Stefanski, will have other plans. The last part of the 2012 season was dominated by Stefanski as he fell just short of the title but he will look to continue that momentum this season to grab his first career U-R title. Other title hopefuls this season should include Glenn Forward, Shawn Frost, Chris Carr, Bill Knapp, Jeff Pastorella, Ed Ostrander, and Mark Effner.
Teammates at the track and friends off the track, Pure Stock drivers Ron Hawker and Ricky Breed are fierce competitors on the track. Defending champion Hawker had to fend off Breed all season long to collect his third title as Breed fell just short of snaring his first ever championship. Chris Cunningham, Bill Mason, Rob Thieme, Frank Hyatt, Tim Janczuk, Andy Szewczyk, Bryan Owens, Chris Watkins, and Jim Thomas are just some of the drivers from last year’s tough Pure Stock field.
Gates for the 52nd season opener will open at 3:30 p.m. with the exciting racing program getting underway at 6 p.m.
Drivers are reminded that tires are available at the speedway office by calling Barb Clark at (315)725-5709.
Utica-Rome Speedway is located on Route 5 just east of the village of Vernon, just minutes from the New York State Thruway. More information such as complete schedule information, rules, and much more is available at www.uticaromespeedway.com. The speedway office can be contacted by calling (315)829-4557.