AFTER A SLOW START TO SEASON, UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY AND LUCAS OIL EMPIRE SUPER SPRINTS LOOK TO GET SEASON ROLLING THIS SUNDAY
VERNON, NY- The month of May has not been kind to Utica-Rome Speedway so far as three events have been rained out and a fourth rain shortened as the features were beginning. With some cooperation from Mother Nature this Sunday, May 29, that trend will change when Safelite Auto Glass and the Broedel Energy Group presents a huge Memorial Day Weekend special. The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints will be making their first visit of the 2016 season, joining a full slate of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing featuring the Gates-Cole Insurance Modifieds, SUNY Canton 602 Sportsman, Broedel Energy Open Sportsman, and G&I Homes of Vernon Pro Stocks.
Like Utica-Rome Speedway, the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints have struggled to get their season going as well due to the weather, only completing two full point events. Steve Poirier, defending ESS champion, finds himself in familiar territory as he is the current point leader although it is still early. Poirier opened the tour with a win at Fulton Speedway followed by a third place finish last week at Outlaw Speedway. Mark Smith was the winner of that event. Jason Barney is the current second place point getter followed by Bryan Howland, Parker Evans, Tommy Wickham, Paul Kinney, Jonathan Preston, Chad Miller, Mark Smith, and Matt Tanner. A large contingent of drivers is expected as drivers will be looking for some track time prior to the $10,000 to win Cole Cup on July 31. Chuck Hebing is the defending winner of this event with Stewart Friesen the winner of the two other ESS events completed at the Vernon oval in 2015.
After almost a month layoff, the Gates-Cole Insurance Modifieds are ready to get back to action this Sunday with Matt Sheppard leading the way. Early season rankings show Sheppard with a slight edge over Larry Wight, Tim Fuller, Pat Ward, Danny Varin, Matt Hulsizer, Marc Johnson, Vic Coffey, Mike Mahaney, and Ryan Phelps. The recently released NASCAR Whelen All-American Series New York State standings show Sheppard at the top of the standings with Wight (2nd), Tim Fuller (4th), and Pat Ward (7th) all showing in the top 10. Other Utica-Rome Speedway competitors in the top 20 State points are Varin (11th), Hulsizer (12th), Chris Hile (14th), Marc Johnson (15th), Coffey (16th), and Ronnie Johnson (17th).
Much like last year, Matt Janczuk is being a model of consistency to contend for the title in the SUNY Canton 602 Sportsman as he is the current point leader on the strength of his two top five finishes. Opening night winner and defending champion Rocky Warner sits in second over JaMike Sowle, Glenn Forward, Chris Mackey, John Christian, recent winner Jason Rood, David Schilling, Corey Barker, Rocco Leone, Kyle Kiehn, and Rocco Leone.
The Broedel Energy Open Sportsman have been extremely competitive thus far in 2016 and it shows in the early season standings as Jeremy Vunk and Heath Carney are tied atop the rankings, just ahead of defending champion Steve Way, most recent victor Claude Hutchings Jr., Jim Rothwell, Tom Tophoven, Jack Miller, Lucas Heintz, Mark Effner, Randy Shantel, and Craig Pope.
Luke Horning, the opening night winner in the G&I Homes of Vernon Pro Stocks, is looking to score his first ever Utica-Rome Speedway championship as he is shown the early point leader. With the entire summer ahead, Horning will have to hold off a very competitive field of drivers including Nick Stone, Pete Stefanski, Mike Welch, Gus Hollner, Bill Knapp, Chris Carr, Jim Normoyle, Travis Welch, Frank Hyatt, and many more. Normoyle was the winner of the other event completed almost a month ago.
Gates for this action packed night of short track racing open at 3 p.m. with racing scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Kids 16 and under are admitted free to the grandstands.
Utica-Rome Speedway is located on Route 5, just east of the Village of Vernon and just minutes from the New York State Thruway. Complete information on the “Action Track of the East” can be found at www.uticaromespeedway.com or by calling the speedway office at (315) 829-4557. Utica-Rome Speedway can also be found on Facebook or on Twitter at @UR_Speedway.