Catalano Establishes Himself as the Man to Beat in Holland-Spencer Series

By – Chris Porter
Photos – Bev&Ken Dippel Photos

Buck Catalano picked up right where he’d left off just one week ago at Spencer Speedway on Friday night, posing for more pictures in victory lane. After following up last Friday night’s victory in Williamson, Catalano took the checkered flag in Holland Speedway’s 40-lapper on Saturday. Six days later, the Ontario driver pocketed his third win in as many races in the 2010 10-race Holland-Spencer Sportsman Modified Series at Spencer Speedway

Buck Catalano (6) holds off Ryan Beeman (16) on an early race restart at Spencer

Also, just like a week ago, Catalano took the lead away from Fulton’s Ryan Beeman. However, unlike last Friday, it wasn’t nearly as challenging. Having started in the second row, Catalano took advantage of an early race, double-filed restart to power his way around the outside of Beeman’s No. 16. Though his challengers would have many opportunities throughout the race, Catalano’s No. 6 never wavered, pulling away at every drop of the green.

Winning in 2010 is just as exciting for the modified veteran as it was decades ago. Catalano says it’s the reason he’s still racing today.

*Listen toBuck Catalano

For the second week in a row, Beeman grabbed the early lead at the drop of the green from the 19-car Sunoco Modified field on Insinger Racing Fuels night. Jeff Hamman, Catalano, Jim Steffenhagan and Kevin Timmerman rounded out the top five after the field’s maiden trip around in the 35-lap main event.

As soon as Hamman took a look on Beeman’s high side, Catalano was under him to fill the gap. Having bounced Hamman back to third, Catalano wasted no time in going after the lead. However, a spin by Dick Kluth’s No. 27 in the fourth turn slowed the action.

As soon as the green flag dropped on the ensuing restart, Catalano was flying high around Beeman for the lead. Another yellow gave Beeman a chance to reclaim it, but bettering Catalano from the outside proved fruitless for pilot of the No. 16.

By the 12th lap, Catalano held a 10-car length lead over Beeman. In turn, Beeman had a dozen lengths on tight-running Hamman and Timmerman. Matt Leese and his No. 05 had their hands full holding on to fifth, fighting off charges by Eddie Hawkins, Chis Finocchario and Steffenhagan.

The caution flag reared its ugly head again on the 14th lap of the race. Jeff Ruddy had spun his No. 9 down  the backstretch.

On the restart, Timmerman bested Hamman for third and Beeman for second. Stuck on the outside, Beeman began to fall back quickly, loosing third to Hamman, and fourth to Hawkins before pancaking the backstretch wall coming out of turn No. 2. Beeman was able to keep moving, but eventually limped his damaged No. 16 machine into its pit.

At the halfway mark, Catalano led Timmerman by 10 lengths. Hamman and Hawkins tussled for third a ways behind Timmerman’s No. 17. Further back, Lees and Steffenhagan continued to do battle for fifth.

Catalano had stretched his lead to nearly a full straightaway with 10 to go. With just five trips remaining Timmerman had seemed to be reeling in the leader as Catalano was beginning to close in on very heavy lapped traffic.

However, any chance of Timmerman catching the Catalano’s No. 6 in the thick of that pack vanished when Andy Lewis slipped his No. 65 SST racer up into the tire barriers in between turns one and two.

The field would be bunched one last time as Catalano led them back to racing. As he danced away uncontested, Timmerman suddenly found himself having to fight to hold on to the runner-up position. From the restart,  Hamman pressed Timmerman’s No. 17 down low for two laps until finding success on lap No. 32.

Timmerman slipped to third, but was able to keep Hawkins and Steffenhagan at bay for the final few laps.

The win went to Catalano, while Hamman’s No. 99 crossed the checkered stripe in second.

*Listen toJeff Hamman

Timmerman pocketed his second top-five finish in as many weeks at Spencer, bringing his No. 17 home in third.

*Listen toKevin Timmerman

Hawkins took fourth.

*Listen toEddie Hawkins

Steffenhagan drove his No. 13 to a fine fifth-place finish.

*Listen toJim Steffenhagan

Race No. 4 in the series takes place at Holland on Saturday, June 12.

Sunoco Modified Feature 35:
1. Buck Catalano (6), 2. Jeff Hamman (99), 3. Kevin Timmerman (17), 4. Eddie Hawkins (33), 5. Jim Steffenhagan (13), 6. Matt Lees (05), 7. Charlie Finocchario (8), 8. Toad Bradshaw (00), 9. Amy Catalano (54), 10. Fred Taylor (44), 11. Jeff Ruddy (9), 12. Dick Kluth (27), 13. Bobby Lippa, Jr. (15), 14. Jake Boerman (67), 15. Andy Lews (65), 16. Daryl Lewis, Jr. (10), 17. Ryan Beeman (16), 18. Chris Finocchario (8F), 19. Tom Wiest (7D)

Hamman, Beeman and Buck Catalano won the three modified heats.

Otis Bradshaw took the checkered flag in the 15-lap Auto Value 4-Cylinder Scorpion feature. Otis navigated lapped traffic well enough to hold on and beat out his younger brother (last week’s feature winner), Bo Bradshaw.

Patti Davenport scored her first career win in the Hosier Tire Super 6-Cylinder main event. Davenport nosed under Peter Cowell’s No. 7 to move into second on the fourth lap. She then battled side-by-side with race leader Ryan Hillegeer for four laps on the outside before wrestling the top spot away. She cruised for the second half of the race, earning the win.

In the Street Stock class, Willie Strusz made a late-race pass on Roger Warden for the win.