Rt 5 Vernon, NY
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VERNON, NY-This past Sunday evening, the fans at Utica-Rome Speedway were again treated to a fantastic night of racing on Rasmussen Rents night that saw action packed feature events in all divisions. Ryan Phelps made a late race pass on race long leader Alan Johnson to score his first ever Utica-Rome Speedway Modified win while Steve Way took home the big Race of Champions Sportsman Series win. Shawn Frost was the winner of the nonstop Pro Stock event while Ricky Breed was the Pure Stock victor.
Pole sitter Chad Homan brought the 24 car strong field of Modifieds to Matt Burdick’s green flag and immediately found himself as the leader as he would set the pace for the first two of the 30 lap main event. The legendary and third place starter, Alan Johnson, wrestled the lead away to lead the third lap as he looked to give car owner Dave Allen his first Utica-Rome Speedway win. The place was slowed on lap four for an implement tire and the restart saw Johnson again out front with Homan still hanging tough in the second spot as Ryan Phelps, Dale Planck, and Pat Ward filled out the top five. The second and final caution flag of the event flew on lap seven as Mike Mahaney made hard contact with the wall in turn, which collected last week’s victor, Ronnie Johnson. Heavy damage ended the evening for Mahaney while Johnson was able to rejoin the field.
The restart saw Alan Johnson again setting the quick pace around the spacious half mile as the action was heating up behind him. Planck grabbed the second spot on lap nine, dropping Homan back into the clutches of Phelps and 11th place starter Larry Wight who was making an impressive charge to the front. Lap 11 saw Wight take the third spot away from Homan, who was now being hounded by Todd Burley. As the field took the crossed flags to signify the halfway point, it was Johnson pulling away followed by Planck, Wight, Phelps, and Ward. Homan was in the sixth spot over Stewart Friesen, Matt Fink, Matt Sheppard, and Jimmy Davis.
Johnson seemingly had the race under control as he had a large lead over the field with ten to go while the rest of the top positions were still in doubt, but as the laps wound down, Johnson margin began to shrink. Planck was the first to begin to challenge Johnson for the lead with five to go, while Phelps and Wight put on a great side by side battle for third with Phelps grabbing the spot. Phelps wasn’t done though as he joined in on the battle for the lead. Phelps and Planck crossed the line side by side for second the next two laps, with Johnson barely hanging on to the lead. As the trio came down to take the white flag, they crossed the stripe three wide with Phelps on the top, Johnson in the middle, and Planck on the bottom. Phelps would barely be scored the leader and would fend off Planck’s last lap bid to score the hard fought and crowd pleasing win with Planck just behind him. Friesen made a late race charge to grab the third spot over Johnson and Wight. Filling out the top ten was Ward, Sheppard, Burley, Davis, and Homan.

The Race of Champions Sportsman series event saw 29 cars take the green flag with third place starter AJ Filbeck grabbing the lead at the drop of the green. Filbeck’s mount began to show some signs of problems to come however, as it began to smoke and on lap eight, he retired from the event. Seventh place starter Jeremy Vunk, inherited the point and looked have another great run. With Vunk showing the quick way around, the remainder of the top five was continuously changing positions on every lap as pole sitter Steve Way, a rim riding Heath Carney, Matt Janczuk, and Alan Barker worked each other over for position. As the race closed in on the halfway point of the 30 lap affair, Way and Janczuk both started to reel in the leader Vunk and on lap 16, Way made the pass for the lead as he took over the top spot. Two more caution periods slowed the pace in the last half of the event but Way was up to the task as he took home the big $1,000 payday over Janczuk, Vunk, Claude Hutchings, Jr. and Chris Mackey. Barker, Jack Miller, Butch Green, Tye-Scott Rood, and Randy Shantel rounded out the top ten spots at the finish.
Pro Stock action saw Shawn Frost jump to the lead from his front row starting spot to pace the field early in the 20 lap main event. Frost easily pulled away from the competition as AJ Digsby, Pete Stefanski, and Mark Effner battled hard for the runner-up spot with Digsby holding down the spot for the first seven circuits. Stefanski slipped by Digsby for second as lap eight went into the books as he began his pursuit of the leader Frost, who was way out front at this point. Frost went unchallenged the rest of the way for his first win of the young season with Stefanski coming second while Digsby narrowly held off a charging Denton for third. Denton was scored fourth at the line with Bret Belden rounding out the top five.
The Pure Stock nightcap 15 lap main event saw Nathan Peckham lead the first three laps from his fourth starting spot, only to have eighth place starter Bill Mason charge by for the lead on lap four. Peckham didn’t go away easily as he fought side by side with Mason for several circuits, and as this was going on up front, Ricky Breed was steadily marching his way to the front. After starting seventh on the grid, Breed broke into the top three on lap eight and into second one lap later. The only caution of the feature came out on lap nine and that was all Breed needed as he took over the lead on the restart and raced off for the win. Mason settled for second ahead of Peckham, Ron Hawker, and Frank Hyatt.
Next Sunday, May 5, Williams Tire and Auto will present another exciting night of short track racing as they present a regular show of Modifieds, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks. Race time is set for 6 p.m. with gates opening at 3:30 p.m.