VERNON, NY- The GRIT 602 Sportsman series visited Utica-Rome Speedway this past Sunday to join a Gates-Cole Insurance and Wilbur Duck Chevrolet sponsored night of racing action. The win for the GRIT race was awarded to Todd Root after a penalty to Rocky Warner took him back a spot. Danny Varin took home the win after a dominant performance in the Gates-Cole Insurance Modified feature. The other two visitors to Victory Lane were Jeremy Vunk, after he passed Mark Effner late in the Broedel Energy Open Sportsman feature, and Pete Stefanski for his win G&I Homes of Vernon Pro Stock event.

Danny Varin and Billy Whittaker brought the Gates-Cole Insurance Modifieds to starter Matt Burdick’s green flag. Varin, using his pole starting spot, was able to take the lead on lap one. Using the top groove, Varin began to pull away from Whittaker and Rob Bellinger, who were battling for the runner up spot, but slowed when the caution came out on lap 6. On the restart, Varin began to build his lead once more. Bellinger won the battle for second, but Marc Johnson was on the move, pulling alongside the runner up. The two battled back and forth until another yellow on lap 11. The return of the green saw Johnson win his duel with Bellinger and set his sights on the leading Varin, who had put some distance between himself and the pack.

It was erased once more when caution returned to the track on lap 20. Johnson tried to take advantage of the restart, diving to the bottom on Varin, but the leader was too fast on the top side. Varin began to drive away from the field. A pair of cautions came out at the end of the race, but Varin was too strong and took the win. Johnson took second, with Alan Johnson coming in third. Bellinger and Ryan Phelps rounded out the top five. Matt Hulsizer, Vic Coffey, Mike Bowman, Billy Whittaker, and Alan Barker finished in the top ten.

The GRIT Sportsman feature came to the green with Brad Alger and David Schilling at the head of the field, with Alger taking the early lead by finding the cushion on the top side. Schilling stuck with him until a caution on lap 6 slowed the field. On the restart, Todd Root was able to secure the second place spot after diving below Schilling. With a third of the race completed, Root began to track down the leading Alger. On the 14th circuit, Root took his machine by Alger for the lead at the line, but Alger fought back by to retake the lead, holding on to it until another yellow came out on lap 17.

After a series of cautions, the race finally picked up the pace again with 10 laps remaining. Alger retained the lead, but he was starting to feel the heat from Rocky Warner, who had charged all the way from his starting spot in 17 to the front. Alger held onto the top groove, so Warner took his machine to the bottom to try and reel in the leader. On lap 26, Warner made his move on the west end of the speedway. Diving to the bottom, Warner tried to pull the slider on the leading Alger, but didn’t get enough room and forced Alger over the banking in turn 4. Warner was the first to cross the finish line 4 laps later, but was penalized one spot for his contact with Alger. The win instead went to Todd Root, who crossed the line second. Warner was given second, Alger took third, and Matt Janczuk took fourth after starting in 14th. Kyle Inman filled out the top five.

Jim Rothwell and Lucas Heintz were at the head of the field when the Broedel Energy Open Sportsman took the green flag to start their feature event. Rothwell led the first lap, taking off on Heintz. Mark Effner, who started in third, took second from Heintz and began the task of tracking down Rothwell. Using the space in the middle of the racing surface, Effner caught up to Rothwell and slipped by for the top spot on the eighth circuit, with Jeremy Vunk in tow. A series of yellows held up the racing action after the halfway point, with a green stretch not returning until the start of the 14th lap. Effner tried to pull away with the lead, but Vunk, using the bottom, starting to tighten the gap. The two battled side by side for a pair of laps, with Vunk getting the advantage and pulling away with laps remaining. Jack Miller followed Vunk’s lead and took second, with Effner in third. Steve Way and Randy Shantel trailed.

The G&I Homes of Vernon Pro Stocks came to the green for their feature event with Jerry Streeter and Frank Hyatt at the head of the field, but neither led the first lap. Those honors instead went to Luke Horning, who went from fifth to first in one circuit to take the lead. A caution slowed the race early on lap two, and on the restart, Pete Stefanski, who started tenth, drove by Horning to take the lead. Stefanski was followed closely by Chris Carr, who started one row back from the new leader. Carr started pulling up to the back bumper of Stefanksi, looking for any lane past the leader. Another caution on lap 10 gave Carr an opportunity to challenge for the top spot, but Stefanski held him off on the restart. Again Carr began to search for any line that would take him to the lead, and began to pull alongside Stefanski when the final yellow of the race came out with three to go. Stefanski would be able to fend off Carr’s advances and take the win. Carr settled for second, followed by Mike Welch, Horning, and Bill Knapp.

A huge show is coming up next week, July 3, when Lights Auto/NAPA & Clinton Tractor presents the return of the Super DIRTcar Modified Series plus the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints and Race of Champions 602 Sportsman Series and a huge fireworks display.  Gates will open at 3 p.m. with qualifying at 5:30 p.m.  For more information, please log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the speedway at (315)829-4557.


GATES-COLE INSURANCE MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- DANNY VARIN, Marc Johnson, Alan Johnson, Rob Bellinger, Ryan Phelps, Matt Hulsizer, Vic Coffey, Mike Bowman, Billy Whittaker, Alan Barker, Jim Nagle, Andrew Ferguson, Tim Mayne, Cory Pike, Pete Taylor, Scott Huber, Tim Murphy, Jim Walsh, and Kyle Coffey.

GRIT SPORSMAN SERIES FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- TODD ROOT, Rocky Warner, Brad Alger, Matt Janczuk, Kyle Inman, Corey Barker, Chris Mackey, Dave Marcuccilli, Tyler Meeks, Daryl Nutting, Brent Joy, David Schilling, Will Shields, Jason Rood, Tye-Scott Rood, Nick Krause, Rocco Leone, Charlie Tibbitts, Beth Bellinger, Casey Williams, Glenn Forward, Nick Guererri, Kyle Kiehn, A.J. Filbeck, Stephon Denton, and Dave Moyer.

BROEDEL ENERGY OPEN SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- JEREMY VUNK, Jack Miller, Mark Effner, Steve Way, Randy Shantel, Claude Hutchings Jr., Jim Rothwell, Tom Tophoven, Craig Pope, Todd Fey, Lucas Heintz, and Raymond Carey. DNS- Heath Carney.

G&I HOMES OF VERNON PRO STOCK SERIES FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)- PETE STEFANSKI, Chris Carr, Mike Welch, Luke Horning, Bill Knapp, Jim Normoyle, Frank Hyatt, Jerry Streeter, Ernie Staelens, Nick Stone, Andy LaShure, Gus Hollner, Aaron Page, Joe Palmer, and Chris Welch.