By – Chris Porter
Photo – Bev&Ken Dippel Photos
Buck Catalano staved off valiant challenges from division points leader Kevin Timmerman and two-time 2010 feature winner Chris Finocchario en route to pocketing his fifth Sunoco Modified win of the season at Spencer Speedway on Friday night. The 100-lap event was No. 9 on the 10-race Spencer-Holland Challenge Series schedule.
It may have been Catalanoâ€™s fifth feature win at the Williamson-based facility this season, but it didnâ€™t garner the amount excitement from the seasoned vet one would expect after accomplishing such a feat. Catalano was still very much focused on last weekâ€™s disqualification and wasnâ€™t seeing Friday nightâ€™s win as any kind of vindication and certainly not as a form of redemption.
Last Friday night, Catalano lost his third-place finish following a post-race inspection due to a carburetor infraction. Catalano and his team insisted that the carburetor was indeed legal and had not been modified. However, Spencer Speedwayâ€™s tech barn decision was backed up by NASCAR officials who, after reviewing the details of the infraction, sent a letter to the track agreeing with the speedwayâ€™s decision to disqualify Catalanoâ€™s No. 6 car.
Regardless of NASCARâ€™s agreement with the decision, Catalano insists thereâ€™s a deeper reasoning behind his DQ. Simply put, he sees it being a personal decision, not a technical one. He insists heâ€™s not returning to competition at Spencer Speedway until the final Spencer-Holland Series show on August 27. His final race results last week knocked him out of the points lead, but his win last night nearly gave him the lead back. Regardless, Catalano is poised to take himself out of contention.
Listen to – Buck Catalano
Amy Catalano and Kevin Miller led the 20-car field to the green to begin the 100-lap main. However, before the field could complete its maiden voyage around the flat half-mile oval, a mid-pack jingle sent a trio of cars spinning. The only modified exiting the track via the hook was Jeff Moorehouseâ€™s No. 25.
A complete restart saw Miller snag the lead away from Amy Catalano. Ryan Beeman, Finocchario and Timmerman completed the top five as the field finished lap No. 1.
Catalano took the lead back from Miller shortly after restart on lap No. 5. Beeman, Timmerman, Buck Catalano and Finocchario all bounced Miller out of the top five.
The race was slowed again on the ninth lap after Toad Bradshaw and Mark Cline tangled in turn No. 2.
The double-filed restart worked to Beemanâ€™s advantage as the field took the green again. The outside lane got going, as Beeman made the pass on Catalano for the lead. Buck Catalano followed Beemanâ€™s No. 16 past Timmerman to move into third. Half a lap later, Buck moved around Amy for second.
Again, the field was slowed for a tail-end spin. With 15 laps in the books, Beeman led Buck Catalano, Timmerman, Amy Catalano and Finocchario.
This time, the double-filed restart worked against Beeman, as Catalano sailed around his right side to take away the lead.
Before three laps could be written, a bone-jarring crash in turn No. 4 brought out the red flag. Millerâ€™s No. 45 and Jake Boermanâ€™s No. 67 came together as the two raced off of the fourth turn. After a bit of air time, both ended up against the outside, front-stretch wall. Daryl Lewis, Jr. slid into the melee, as well as Clineâ€™s No. 81 car. All drivers were OK.
After a few laps were run off under caution, Catalano led the field back to racing. The pilot of the No. 6 machine held his own, but Beeman watched Timmerman slip underneath his No. 16 to take away the runner-up spot. Catalano and Timmerman quickly began to put distance on the field.
Timmerman looked both high and low around the race leader, but Catalano refused to give the challenging No. 17 enough of a run on either side. The two raced close together through lapped traffic until a caution for debris slowed the action just shy of the halfway mark.
Again, Catalano was safe on the restart, but Beeman found himself in a fight with Finocchario for third place. The lead duo began to ease away while Finoccharioâ€™s No. 8 hounded the Beeman machine.
After a few quick cautions, Catalano would lead the field back to racing with 30 trips to go. Finoccharioâ€™s outside bid for third finally worked, as Beeman fell to fourth. The lead duo quickly became a lead trio as Finocchario hung with the top twosome as they raced away from the field.
Timmerman continued to look for ways around Catalano. With solid looks off of turns two and four, his No. 17 would fall short of the lead as they raced into turns three and one.
A 10-lap shoot-out was set up after Jeff Ruddy spun his No. 9 on the 90th lap. Finocchario took advantage of it, following Catalano down low as the field was given the green to get going. Timmerman was left up high as the No. 8 slipped under him and into second place.
With little time to spare, Finocchario began to press the race leader, but a final caution flag with five rounds to go slowed the action.
During the race, Finocchario had been able to use restarts to his advantage, jumping from fifth to second. However, Catalano held his line. Though the challenger was able to pull along side the race leader, he quickly filed back into line as Timmerman began to creep underneath him.
Catalano would cruise the final two laps to secure the win.
Finocchario claimed second.
Listen to – Chris Finocchario
Timmerman settled for third.
Listen to – Kevin Timmerman
Amy Catalano finished in fourth while last weekâ€™s feature winner, Beeman, rounded out the top five.
Listen to – Ryan Beeman
Sunoco Modified 100:
1. Buck Catalano (6), 2. Chris Finocchario (8), 3. Kevin Timmerman (17), 4. Amy Catalano (54), 5. Ryan Beeman (16), 6. Daryl Lewis, Jr. (10), 7. Toad Bradshaw (00), 8. Eddie Hawkins (33), 9. Terry Cheetham (11), 10. Matt Lees (05), 11. Mark Cline (81), 12. Tommy Wiest (35). 13. Scott Combs (80), 14. Kevin Miller (45), 15. Jerry Gradl, Jr. (2), 16. Bobby Lippa, Jr. (15), 17. Jeff Ruddy (9), 18. Fred Taylor (44), 19. Jake Boerman (67), 20. Jeff Moorehouse (25)
Modified heat wins went to Buck Catalano, Timmerman and Finocchario.
In other race action, Kevin Bertolone took home his second checkered flag of the 2010 season in the Auto Value Scorpion 4-Cylinder main event. Bertolone inherited the lead about half-way through, when race leader Otis Bradshaw was sent to the rear of the field for jumping a restart. That restart was the result of Bro Bradshaw being sent to the tail of the field for spinning out then race-leader, Alison Knoepfler. With Knoepflerâ€™s spin and both Bradshawâ€™s being penalized, Bertolone advanced from fourth to first. He held off rookie driver, Zach Willis for the win. Mike Bradshaw filled out the podium, finishing third.
Points leader, Kris Hillegeer, led every lap of the street stock feature. Hillegeer was never pressured once taking the lead away from Mitchell Wright at the start of the race. It was his third win this season. Roger Wordenâ€™s No. 32 stayed with Hillegeer all of the way, but couldnâ€™t muster a pass attempt. He finished second while Wright came across in third.
Van Grant earned his first feature win in the 15-lap Super Six main. Grant darted from the second row into the lead on the very first lap. Brian Hallett pressed Grant to the end, but settled for second. Division points leader, Skip Powers, rounded out the top three.