VERNON, NY-This past Tuesday, October 6, the Utica-Rome Speedway closed out it 2015 racing season with a special Tuesday Night Thunder that saw the Stampede Steakhouse Modifieds, 360 Sprints, and the Mod Lites tackle an ultra-fast surface.  When everything was settled, it was Stewart Friesen claiming another win in the 360 Sprints while Danny Varin held off a last lap charge from track champion Matt Sheppard to take home his first ever Utica-Rome Speedway victory.  Josh Sliter survived a race long duel with Joe Isabell to win the Mod Lite main event.  Friesen’s and Varin’s victories were worth $3,000 to win each while Sliter took home $1,000 for his efforts.  Clinton Tractor and Implement and A-Verdi Container Storage sponsored the night’s exciting action.

The start of the 360 Sprint A-Main was marred by multi car crash which started when front row starters Paul Habeck and Paul Kinney touched with Habeck flipping several times with the field taking evasive action behind him.  Unfortunately, not everyone was able to make it through unscathed as a total of eight cars were involved with Habeck, Jeff Cook, Dave Just, and Lee Sanders done for the evening.

With the field realigned for another attempt at an original start, Kinney won the drag race to turn one at the drop of the green to grab the early lead over Stewart Friesen, who had restarted on the outside front row.  Friesen immediately began to pressure Kinney for the top spot and as the pair entered each set of turns, Friesen was alongside Kinney lap after lap.  For the next seven laps, the battle for the lead raged on while third place starter Justin Barger chased the duo after passing Kevin Albert for the positon on lap two.

As the leaders were entering turns three and four to complete lap eight, Friesen threw a slide job at Kinney and was able to make it stick as he won the race out of turn four to lead the lap.  That lead was short lived however, as Kinney was able to return the favor to regain the lead on lap nine.  Friesen wasn’t going to go away though as he made another run at Kinney for the lead and was again the leader as the duo completed lap 10.  Kinney again tried to regain the point but Friesen was able to fend him off.  As the field took the halfway signal in the non-stop event, Friesen was setting the pace over Kinney, Barger, Albert, and Mike Mahaney.

After losing the lead for the second time, Kinney was able to keep pace with Friesen initially but as the laps clicked off, Friesen began to stretch his advantage as he began to lap some very stout cars.  Friesen held on to collect his third 360 Sprint win of the season at the Utica-Rome Speedway with Kinney in second while Barger, Mahaney, and Matt Tanner rounded out the top five.  Filling out the top ten spots was Danny Varin, last place starter Chuck Hebing, Jason Schultz, Albert, and Cory Sparks.

Danny Varin and Ryan Arbuthnot led the Stampede Steakhouse Modifieds to the green flag to start the 30 lap main event with Varin grabbing the initial lead.  Varin immediately began to pull away from the field with Arbuthnot immediately feeling the pressure from fourth place starter Ryan Phelps.  Phelps was able to wrestle the runner up spot away on lap three, which now put Arbuthnot in the middle of an intense four car battle for third with Vic Coffey, Pat Ward, Tom Kinsella, and Mike Mahaney.  While that battle raged on, 11th place starter Matt Sheppard was picking off spots on at a time but with the race continuing under green flag conditions, Sheppard knew he had to make a move if he wanted a shot at the win.

As the field was completing lap eight, Sheppard was in the seventh spot with the cars of Kinsella, Arbuthnot, and Coffey directly in front of him and in turns three and four, he made a bold move in lapped traffic to pass all three to cross the line now in the fourth position.  Varin now was comfortably out front with Phelps continuing his pursuit with Ward and Sheppard right in his tire tracks.  At the halfway point the leader board show Varin, Phelps, Ward, Sheppard, and Coffey in the top five spots.

On lap 22, Sheppard continued his charged to the front as he made an abrupt left turn exiting turn four to get underneath third place Ward and complete the pass by the time they got the flag stand.  He then went to work on Phelps for second and on lap 26, Sheppard took away the second spot.  At this time, Varin had what looked to be a comfortable margin between himself and Sheppard but was having a difficult time negotiating lapped traffic.  As the laps wound down, Sheppard was able to close the gap and as the pair raced out of turn four for the final time, Sheppard again made a sharp left to get underneath Varin but was unsuccessful as Varin was able to hold him off to grab the $3,000 payday and his first ever Utica-Rome Speedway Modified win.  Sheppard, Ward, Phelps and Coffey rounded out the top five while Mahaney, Marc Johnson, Arbuthnot, Ryan Susice, and Alan Barker completed the top ten.

Outside pole sitter Jeff Isabell Jr. led the opening lap of the 20 lap Mod Lite feature event but on lap two, fourth place starter Josh Sliter was able to slip by to grab the lead, bringing Mike Mullen and seventh place starter Joe Isabell with him.  Lap three saw Joe Isabell take away the runner up spot from Mullen and set off after Sliter.  Joe Isabell immediately began to pressure Sliter for the point but on each circuit, Sliter was able to hold him off.  The battle for the lead raged like this throughout the event until the final lap when Joe Isabell made one final bid for the lead exiting turn two and spun into the infield.  The field continued on to the checkered with Sliter taking the big win over Jeff Isabell Jr., Mullen, Rob Misener, Jesse Hudson, Shawn Sliter, Zach Babcock, Nick Graziano, Jeff Sykes, and Lowell Zehr.

The Utica-Rome Speedway staff and management would like to thank all the drivers, crews, fan, and sponsors for a great season and look forward to an exciting 2016 season.  For all the off season news, please log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the speedway office at (315)829-4557.  We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter at @UR_Speedway.


STAMPEDE STEAKHOUSE MODIFIEDS FEATURE FINISH (30 LAPS)-DANNY VARIN, Matt Sheppard, Pat Ward, Ryan Phelps, Vic Coffey, Mike Mahaney, Marc Johnson, Ryan Arbuthnot, Ryan Susice, Alan Barker, Tim Schneider Jr., Tom Kinsella, Shaun Pangman, Kyle Weiss, Jim Walsh, Aaron Jacobs, Matt Hulsizer, Randy Chrysler, and Bobby Varin. DNS- Mike Bowman and Larry Wight. 

360 SPRINT CARS A-MAIN FINISH (25 LAPS)-STEWART FRIESEN, Paul Kinney, Justin Barger, Mike Mahaney, Matt Turner, Danny Varin, Chuck Hebing, Jason Schultz, Kevin Albert, Cory Sparks, Mike Stelter, Dave Axton, Joe Trenca, Charlie Donk, Shawn Donath, Ryan Susice, Paul Habeck, Jeff Cook, Dave Just, Jason Barney, Lee Sanders, and Pete Richardson. DNS- Kelly Hebing. 

MOD LITE FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)-JOSH SLITER, Jeff Isabell Jr., Mike Mullen, Rob Misener, Jesse Hudson, Shawn Sliter, Zach Babcock, Nick Graziano, Jeff Sykes, Lowell Zehr, Jeremy Isabell, Sam Usborne, Joe Isabell, R.J. Pietz, Tim Cady, Keith Stevenson, and Jim Bogett.