Rt 5 Vernon, NY
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VERNON, NY (November 10)-This past Saturday, Utica-Rome Speedway celebrated the end of another successful season with the Annual Awards banquet at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort.  Over 400 patrons were in attendance as over $70,000 in point fund, tire money, and door prizes were awarded as well as special awards being handed out to some deserving individuals.

Stewart Friesen collected his fifth overall Utica-Rome Speedway Modified championship, which was worth $10,000.  Friesen started the season slow but a four race win streak in the midseason vaulted him to the point lead and the championship.  By the seasonís end, Friesen collected a total of five wins.  Pat Ward, winner of three feature races, was second in the standings and collected $7,000 for his efforts.  In his first complete season at Utica-Rome, Mike Mahaney went winless but used consistent top five and top ten finishes to come home third in the final point rundown in which he earned $4,500.  Veteran Modified driver Alan Johnson, also winless on the season, came home in the top five in the standings with a fourth place finish that netted him $3,000.  Rounding out the top five in standings was popular second generation driver Ronnie Johnson, who earned $2,500 for his efforts.  Young Larry Wight earned his first and only Utica-Rome Modified win in his first full season en route to his sixth place finish in the point standings, worth $1,700.  Another newcomer this season was Ryan Phelps, who was seventh at seasonís end and collecting $1,500.  Jimmy Davis returned to weekly competition and was rewarded with a $1,400 check after posting two wins and an eight place finish in the standings.  Despite not making every event, Matt Sheppard was able to come home in the ninth spot, worth $1,300, after garnering two wins and numerous top five finishes.  Todd Burley persevered through a season that saw him suffer through multiple engine issues, but he pushed on and still won twice and grabbing the final paying position in the standings.  Burley took home a $1,200 check for his efforts.

For the second consecutive year, Matt Janczuk was crowned the Utica-Rome Speedway Sportsman champion during the banquet.  Janczuk won eight point races on the season including the final three to put the finishing touches on his championship season.  Janczukís main competitor throughout the season was second place point man Jeremy Vunk.  Vunk would be in competition for the title for most of the season until the final month but would have to settle for second with three wins at the seasonís end.  AJ Filbeck, with one win, would come in third in the final rundown with Claude Hutchings, Jr. and two time winner Steve Way in fifth.  Rounding out the top ten was Chris Mackey, one time winner Heath Carney, Craig Pope, Jack Miller, and Mike Stiles. 

In the Pro Stocks, Tom Denton collected his sixth career title in 2012 at the Utica-Rome Speedway and winning six features along the way.  Making a strong run for the title in the final six races was newcomer Pete Stefanski who took four wins in those final six but would still have to settle for second in the final point tally.  Two time winner Glenn Forward would come in third in points followed by another two time winner in Shawn Frost.  Chris Carr rounded out the top five followed by Bill Knapp, Bret Belden, Jeff Pastorella, Ed Ostrander, and Mark Effner.

Four time Pure Stock winner outran teammate Ricky Breed, who also had four victories, to grab his third Utica-Rome Speedway Pure Stock championship.  Following Hawker and Breed was one time victor Chris Cunningham, two time winner Bill Mason, and Rob Thieme.  Rounding out the top five was Frank Hyatt, two time victor Tim Janczuk, Andy Szewczyk, Bryan Owens, and Chris Watkins.

Special awards of appreciation were handed out to several track workers, the first to two truck operator and anthem singer Shannon Terrier.  Terrier kicked off the racing action every week with her rousing version of the national anthem and she kicked off the evening awards ceremony with the anthem before being presented the award.  Track Employee of the Year award went out to Bob Weatherbee who puts in countless hours every week doing everything from helping with track prep to picking up trash around the speedway after race nights. 

Sportsman competitor Heath Carney was awarded with a trophy for his many excursions off the speedway in turn three, with the trophy made from part of tree that was victimized during one of his off track trips.

Newcomer of the Year Awards went to Mike Mahaney in the Modifieds, Mike Stiles in the Sportsman, Pete Stefanski in the Pro Stocks, and Chris Watkins in the Pure Stocks.

An Outstanding Performance award was also given out to a competitor in each division with Modified driver receiving it in the Modifieds while Jeremy Vunk in the Sportsman, Pete Stefanski in the Pro Stocks, and Ricky Breed in Pure Stocks picked up their awards in their respective divisions.

A Most Improved Driver award was next up and Heath Carney was the recipient in the Sportsman while Glenn Forward collected it in the Pro Stocks.  Andy Szewcyck took home the award in the Pure Stocks. 

Collecting the Determination awards in their respective divisions was Todd Burley in the Modifieds, Bobby Heintz in the Sportsman, Jim Normoyle in the Pro Stocks, and Jim Thomas in the Pure Stocks.

Race Director John Tiff took to the stage after the awards presentation and quickly reviewed the 2012 season and then put to rest any rumors concerning the upcoming 2013 season.  He stated that the track was still owned by Gene Cole and plans were for a full 2013 season with the four weekly divisions in competition weekly, starting on April 21.  Also, he mentioned that the popular Night of Legends will return in late August with a twin 50 lap Modified event, each paying $5,000 to win.  Asphalt and NASCAR Champion Jerry Cook and Dirt Modified legend Dave Lape will be honored on that evening.  Also, the New Yorker 200 Weekend will be moved ahead a week with the New Yorker being run on Labor Day. 

Director of Operations Barb Clark finished off the night festivities with a speech thanking all the track employees for their hard work and determination in helping make Utica-Rome Speedway the success that it is.  Her speech concluded with each employee being recognized one by one and then a group photo taken of the staff.

With the 2012 season officially concluded, you can keep up to date in the off season news by logging on to www.uticaromespeedway.com.  The speedway office can be contacted by calling (315)829-4557.