Rt 5 Vernon, NY
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VERNON, NY-This past Wednesday, August 21, Utica-Rome Speedway once again held its annual Night of Legends and honored two racing legends, Jerry Cook and Dave Lape.  On track action included two 50 lap Race of Champions Modified Series events that paid $5,000 to win each with Stewart Friesen and Danny Johnson each taking a win.  In the companion 602 Sportsman event on Gates-Cole Associates and Fred Burrow Trucking, Dave Marcuccilli took the big $1,000 win.

The first Modified feature event on the Night of Legends began with Brett Hearn and Mike Mahaney on the front row and at the drop of the green flag, Mahaney took the lead.  The pack behind him battled back and forth, and when they came across the line, fourth place starter Rick Laubach had claimed the second spot.  Third row Stewart Friesen and Matt Sheppard moved their way up to third and forth, while pole sitter Hearn fell back to the sixth position. 

Mahaney had opened a massive lead as Friesen took over the runner up spot on lap three.  Friesen looked to be the faster car as he tried to chase down the leader, using the bottom groove.  A caution on lap 11 for a stopped Vic Coffey brought the field back together, placing Friesen on the bumper of Mahaney.  On the restart, Friesen passed Mahaney for the lead before another yellow came out on the following circuit.

Mahaney fought back on the outside when the green flag waved, not ready to give up the top spot so easily.  He battled Friesen for a couple of laps, regaining the lead on lap 14 and 15, before Friesen retook the lead and was finally able to pull away.  The two would drive away from the rest of the field, but Sheppard began to charge toward the front, catching Mahaney in lap traffic on the 29th circuit.  Friesen had some slower cars in front of him, which gave Sheppard a chance to try and catch his weekly rival.

Friesen, however, proved why he has won the last three track championships as he began to navigate the lapped traffic, finding a path faster than Sheppard could.  As the two came to the line with five laps remaining, Friesen had a good amount of cars between him and Sheppard.  Behind them, however, a battle was raging for the rest of the top five.  Larry Wight had driven his way through the pack, finding himself on the final podium position.  Mahaney still hung in there at fourth, but Ronnie Johnson closed in and on the final lap, Johnson completed the pass and took fourth away.  With Friesen taking the win and Sheppard following, Wight, Johnson, and Mahaney filled out the top five.  Jimmy Phelps, Tim McCreadie, Pat Ward, Willy Decker, and Mike Bowman rounded out the top ten.  In victory lane, Friesen drew for the invert for the second 50 lap event, which saw him draw and saw the top 12 finishers get inverted for the second race.

The second 50 lapper for the Modifieds had a front row composed of Danny Johnson and Rick Laubach and on the start; Laubach took the lead, out pacing Johnson.  Fifth place starter Pat Ward brought his machine up to third in the first lap.  Jimmy Phelps had started behind Ward and followed him to the top five.  Laubach began to set a fast pace, but the pole sitter began Johnson beginning to close in.

On lap 10, Johnson had caught back up to the rear of Laubach, challenging him for the lead.  Laubach was using the high side of the track, trying to gather any moisture that still lay up there.  Going into turn three, he slipped up just enough, allowing Johnson to dive down low and slide up in front.  Three laps later, Ward would do the same exact thing to take the second position, with Phelps not far behind.  With the field beginning to spread out, Johnson took advantage opened up a sizable lead.

Ward tried every lane the track had in an attempt to catch the leader with little success.  The slower traffic was very strung out, making the lapped cars a non factor for the leader.  Ward did have some issues as some cars battled in front of him, but when he cleared them he seemed to be the faster the car in the top five.  His night would come to an unfortunate end, however, as he broke heading into turns three and four on lap 38.  The caution brought the field back together, with a new challenger behind Johnson.

On the restart, the new second running driver Jimmy Phelps had to make his way around the slower car between him and the leader.  By that time, Johnson had already pulled away with a clear track in front of him. It seemed Johnson had the race in the bag, but a second yellow on the final lap stalled the race.  With the green and white flags coming out together, Phelps had one last shot at taking the lead.  Johnson got a great restart, while Phelps seemed to bobble a bit in the first turn.  He tried to drive it in deep into the final two corners, but it wasn’t enough as Johnson took the $5,000 check home, with Phelps having to settle for second.  Matt Sheppard took third, with Mike Mahaney and Tim McCreadie coming in the top five.  Stewart Friesen, Laubach, Ronnie Johnson, Tim Fuller, and Peter Britten in the second half of the top ten.

Connor Cleveland and Dave Marcuccilli brought the 24 car Sportsman starting field down to the green flag to begin their 30 lap event, with Marcuccilli gaining the advantage.  While Marcuccilli paced the field, the battle behind him was heating as Cleveland, Rocky Warner, Nick Guererri, and Matt Guererri were swapping positions seemingly every lap.  Warner moved up to second on lap four and looked to chase down the leader, and while that was going on, another driver was beginning to make his presence felt.  10th place starter Matt Janczuk was using his home track knowledge to his advantage as he cracked the top five at the conclusion of lap five.  Marcuccilli opened up a sizable margin during the long green flag session in the middle stages of the race, with Warner and Janczuk battling hard for the runner up spot.  As the field took the two to go sign from head starter Matt Burdick, Janczuk was finally able to clear Warner for second and looked to track down race long leader Marcuccilli.  Although he was able to close the gap, Janczuk was unable to catch the leader as Marcuccilli took the $1,000 win over Janczuk, Warner, Nick Guererri, and Cleveland.  Ronnie Davis III, Mike Walton, Matt Guererri, Chris Hulsizer, and Kory Wilder rounded out the top 10 spots.

Only two point shows are left at the Utica-Rome Speedway with one of them being this Sunday August 25 when Mirabito Fuel Group and Daryl’s Heavy Truck Repair present a regular show of Modifieds, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks.  For more information, log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the speedway office at (315)829-4557.


MODIFIED FEATURE #1 FINISH (50 LAPS)- STEWART FRIESEN, Matt Sheppard, Larry Wight, Ronnie Johnson, Mike Mahaney, Jimmy Phelps, Tim McCreadie, Pat Ward, Willy Decker, Mike Bowman, Rick Laubach, Danny Johnson, Todd Burley, Ryan Phelps, Bobby Varin, Tim Fuller, Alan Johnson, Peter Britten, Brett Hearn, Robby Bellinger, Dale Plank, Kevin Bates, Dave Moyer, Mel Schruffer, Billy Decker, Vic Coffey and, Jimmy Horton.

MODIFIED FEATURE #2 FINISH (50 LAPS)- DANNY JOHNSON, Jimmy Phelps, Matt Sheppard, Mike Mahaney, Tim McCreadie, Stewart Friesen, Rick Laubach, Ronnie Johnson, Tim Fuller, Peter Britten, Larry Wight, Todd Burley, Alan Johnson, Billy Decker, Bobby Varin, Mike Bowman, Robby Bellinger, Dave Moyer, Mel Schruffer, Pat Ward, Ryan Phelps, Dale Planck, Brett Hearn, Jimmy Davis, and Willy Decker. DNS- Kevin Bates, Vic Coffey, and Jimmy Horton.

602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- DAVE MARCUCILLI, Matt Janczuk, Rocky Warner, Nick Guererri, Connor Cleveland, Ronnie Davis III, Mike Walton, Matt Guererri, Chris Hulsizer, Kory Wilder, Jack Gentile, Rocco Leone, Daryl Nutting, Jack Speshock, Shea Montgomery, Chip Constantino, Ray Zemken, Fred Muhlburger, Taylor Lamb, Ivan Joslin, Laudy Hoyenga, Tony Finch II, Dave Emmons, and Brian Murphy.