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STEWART FRIESEN AND MATT SHEPPARD CONTINUE BATTLE FOR UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY SUPREMACY, EACH CAPTURING WINS ON SUNDAY

VERNON, NY-Another picture perfect night graced the Utica-Rome Speedway this past Sunday, August 18, and the fans in attendance were treated another thrilling night of action.  Stewart Friesen and Matt Sheppard continued their battle for the point lead as they each both claimed a win in the schedule Twin 20 lap feature events.  Matt Janczuk again proved the man to be the man to beat in the Sportsman as he took the win while Tom Denton did the same by dominating the Pro Stocks.  Ron Hawker was the winner in the Pure Stocks with the whole night’s action sponsored by Bill Cole and Dick Waterman.

The first Modified feature’s front row composed of Brad Alger and Alan Johnson, with Alger jumping out to the early lead. Behind him, Mike Mahaney went to work on Bobby Varin and Mike Bowman as he took fourth spot on the second lap, and grabbed the third position on the following circuit.  Mahaney set his sights on Alger, but a caution for a slowing Jimmy Davis interrupted the action.

Alger brought the field back to the green, but Mahaney got a great restart and drove by the leader in turn one.  He instantly took advantage of the open track and created some distance between himself and the field.  Further back, Stewart Friesen, who tied the track record for most wins last Wednesday, was moving through the field from 14th starting position.  When the second yellow flag flew on lap nine for Adam Ellis, Friesen was running in third.  He took the runner up spot on the restart, but another caution for Brad Alger on lap 11 slowed the field once more.

Point leader Matt Sheppard, who began the race one spot behind Friesen, had also navigated through the field and into the top five by the time of the third caution.  As the field came to another restart, Mahaney and Friesen began a battle for the top spot while Sheppard grabbed third.  Mahaney used the middle line of the speedway as Friesen tried every line he could to make an attempt for a pass. The racing action would be stalled again, however, as another yellow flag waved on lap 15.

Friesen got another shot at taking the lead on the restart.  He followed Mahaney into the first two turns before taking a chance underneath in turn three.  He was able to make it stick and took the lead. One lap later, Sheppard also passed Mahaney.  With three laps remaining, Sheppard began to catch the leader. Friesen used the top of the speedway to try and pull away, but Sheppard was making the bottom grove work.  With the white flag waving, Sheppard pulled to the up to the back bumper of Friesen.  The two drivers went side by side down the backstretch, each going to opposite lanes of the track as they entered the final two turns.  They came to the checkered in similar fashion, with Friesen edging out Sheppard by half a car length.  Third belonged to Mahaney, with Todd Burley and Bobby Varin chasing.  Pat Ward, Alan Johnson, Ryan Phelps, Mike Bowman, and Willy Decker finished out the top 10.  In victory lane, Friesen drew six for the invert for the second feature.

The second Modified twin 20 came to the green with Ward and Varin showing the way. Ward became the leader after the first lap, with the field behind him battling for position. The driver to come out on top was Matt Sheppard, who started the race in fifth. He chased down the leader, and completed the pass on lap three using his preferred bottom lane. Ward unsuccessfully tried to fight back, but a yellow flag on lap five slowed the field and his efforts.

On the restart, the winner of the earlier race, Stewart Friesen took over second after starting in sixth. Friesen tried to catch Sheppard with little success, but another caution on lap 10 for Varin would give another chance. Friesen tried to take the lead on the restart, but Sheppard held him off until yet another caution came out on the 13th circuit. Friesen again made an attempt to steal the top spot. He switched lanes, instead trying the same lane as Sheppard, yet nothing seemed to work.

He chased him lap after lap, trying every single path he could to catch the leader, but Sheppard was too well set up on the bottom. The race seemed to be coming to end an end, but a caution on the final lap for the slowing machine of Jeff Leslie slowed the action. When the green flag came out for the last time, Friesen followed Sheppard into the first turn. The leader opened up a small lead down the back stretch, causing Friesen to throw everything he had into the final corners. He jumped to the outside, but once again Sheppard proved to be too good on the bottom. Sheppard took home the win, with Friesen following.  Burley came across the line in third, with Ward and Mahaney in fourth and fifth. Jimmy Davis, Ryan Phelps, Marc Johnson, Alan Johnson, and Alger filled the other five spots in the top ten.

With the victory in first race, Stewart Friesen became the leader for most Modified wins ever at the speedway with 43 career wins, breaking Dale Planck’s mark. The win also brought him even in points with Sheppard who had he finished second. The second race, however, returned Sheppard to the lead by four points. Each 20 lap feature carried a full purse, which means both Friesen and Sheppard each collected $3,200 total for 40 laps of work.

Robert Barker led the opening five circuits of the Sportsman 20 lap feature from his front row starting spot until eighth place starter Heath Carney was able charge by to take over the spot on lap six.  With Carney up front, the mover in the race was 14th place started Matt Janczuk.  By lap seven, Janczuk had cracked the top five and a lap later, he was into the top three.  On lap nine, Janczuk had gotten by early leader Barker for second and now was looking to chase down the leader Carney.  With a handful of laps to go, Janczuk had made several bids for the lead that were unsuccessful, but on lap 16, he jumped out to the outside line and made the winning pass.  A late race caution did not slow Janczuk as he ran off to the win with Jeremy Vunk making a late race move to grab second.  Carney, Claude Hutchings Jr., and Steve Way filled out the top five finishing spots.

Fourth place starter AJ Digsby jumped to the early lead in the Pro Stocks, with Ed Ostrander and Shawn Frost applying early pressure.  By lap six however, it was all Tom Denton as he completed his charge from the 10th spot to the lead and began to pull away.  At the halfway point on lap 10, with Denton continuing to stretch his advantage, 14th place started Pete Stefanski grabbed the second spot.  Stefanski, however, was unable to close the gap that Denton had opened up as Denton ran off to grab the win in the 20 lap event.  Stefanski came home in the second spot followed by Glenn Forward, Bret Belden, and Ed Ostrander.

In the 15 lap Pure Stock main event, Ron Hawker got by Rob Thieme on lap four to take over the lead after starting in eighth.  While Thieme and Russ Marsden battled for second, Hawker motored away to grab another Pure Stock win with Marsden, Thieme, Ricky Breed, and opening lap leader Frank Hyatt rounding out the top five.

Another midweek show this week will see the Race of Champions Modified Series visit the “Action Track of the East” this Wednesday August 21.  The Modifieds will compete in two 50 lap main events, each paying $5,000 to win each with the 602 Crate Sportsman in action also in a $1,000 to win, $100 to start event.  For more information, log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the speedway office at (315)829-4557.

BILL COLE AND DICK WATERMAN RACE SUMMARY

MODIFIED TWIN 20 #1 FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- STEWART FRIESEN, Matt Sheppard, Mike Mahaney, Todd Burley, Bobby Varin, Pat Ward, Alan Johnson, Ryan Phelps, Mike Bowman, Willy Decker, Brad Alger, Jeff Leslie, Marc Johnson, Dave Allen, Aaron Jacobs, Steve Cummings, Adam Ellis, Jimmy Davis, and Dave Moyer.

MODIFIED TWIN 20 #2 FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- MATT SHEPPARD, Stewart Friesen, Todd Burley, Pat Ward, Mike Mahaney, Jimmy Davis, Ryan Phelps, Marc Johnson, Alan Johnson, Brad Alger, Willy Decker, Dave Allen, Aaron Jacobs, Steve Cummings, Jeff Leslie, Adam Ellis, Bobby Varin, Mike Bowman, and Dave Moyer.

SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- MATT JANCZUK, Jeremy Vunk, Claude Hutchings Jr., Steve Way, Rocky Warner, Randy Shantel, A.J. Filbeck, Chad Ray, Stephen Denton, Chris Mackey, Tye-Scott Rood, Robert Baker, J.J. Courcy, Kyle Fink, Bobby Heintz, Craig Pope, Mike Walton, Josh Lloyd, Dan Keyes, and Jack Miller.

PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- TOM DENTON, Pete Stefanski, Glenn Forward, Bret Belden, Ed Ostrander, Shawn Frost, A.J. Digsby, Mark Effner, Bill Knapp, Jim Money, Corie Locke, Eric Vanderhoof, Joe Palmer, and Chris Carr.

PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH (15 LAPS)- RON HAWKER, Russ Marsden, Rob Thieme, Ricky Breed, Frank Hyatt, Bill Mason, Chris Cunningham, Keith Stevenson, Jim Thomas, Andy Szewczyk, Dan Hofmann, Bryan Owens, Scott Wheelock, Ernie Staelens, Chris Watkins, and Jim Hildbrand.