Gibson’s Gamble Pays Off with MSA Win at Lorain County

By: Chris Meyers

South Amherst, Ohio – When Rich Reid was stuck working this weekend, Joe Gillingham needed a substitute driver. He put a phone call into long-time supermodified driver Gene Lee Gibson and asked if he would drive for him at Lorain County Speedway. Gibson replied with a yes and isn’t regretting it one bit. Gibson and the Gillingham team struggled earlier in the day searching for a setup. He finished sixth in the heat race, and with a twelve-car inversion, started on the pole for the thirty lap feature. After the heat race, the Gillingham team made a lot of drastic changes on the car, and they paid off as Gene Lee Gibson returned to victory lane in a supermodified for the first time since the early 90’s in the Stickney #99.

Gibson and Jimmy Paller paced the nineteen car PPG Vibrance Collection Super Series field to the start with Gibson wasting no time immediately taking the lead. Charlie Schultz and Timmy Jedrzejek were the two to watch out for as they started in the 6th row, but the place to be was upfront at the start. Paller, Jack Smith, Denny Fisher, and Jon Henes settled in behind Gibson as the race shook out in the first few laps.

The first yellow flag would fall on lap ten for Joe Armbruster, who spun his #73 machine in turn two.  He would rejoin the field at the tail, as Gibson led Paller, Smith, Denny Fisher, and Henes to the restart. As the green flew, Smith was able to power his #09 machine by Paller.  Two laps later, Denny Fisher followed suit, getting around Paller for the third spot. Tim Ice would work his way into the top five on lap fourteen with a pass over Henes.

The yellow flew again at the race‘s half-way point for debris in turn two. The top five at this point was Gibson, Smith, Denny Fisher, Paller, and Ice. On the restart, Tim Ice and Matt Palmer were both called for jumps. The caution flew for the third and final time on lap nineteen, as Bobby Dawson’s Reed Salvage machine slowed drastically out of turn four. A broken rod in the motor ended his night. At this point, Palmer and Ice were both penalized two spots for their prior jumps. This meant the new top five was Gibson, Smith, Fisher, Paller, and Schultz. Schultz was able to get around Paller for fourth on lap twenty-two. Timmy J’s was able to pick off Ice for the sixth spot on lap twenty-five and passed Paller at the start-finish line as the checkered flag flew.

Gene Lee talked about the gambles the team took before the feature event. He explained, “Rich had to work so Joe (Gillingham) gave me a call the first of the week and we put the deal together. I would drive his car and I’d put someone else in mine. Starting on the pole for the feature was a big advantage. Actually after finishing sixth in my heat race, I thought I’d miss the inversion. When I was told we were on the pole for the feature, I was shocked because I thought we missed it and would have to start in the back. We made a bunch of changes after the heat race and they were all for the better. The car was pushing real bad in the heat race. We made four big changes for the feature that helped the car a lot.”

Second place finisher Jack Smith was pleased with his run tonight. The Sandusky, Ohio pilot stated, “we are pretty happy with the way we ran tonight. I was just too loose. We could have gone another twenty laps and I still wouldn’t have caught Gene. In this situation, I’m happy with second. I’d like to thank my sponsors Ryan’s Trucking, TNT Fab, Butler Glass, Spray Solutions, Speed Meets Art, and everyone that helps me out on the crew.”

Third place finisher Denny Fisher was also happy with his top three run in the Todd Tetzlaff owned machine. The Amherst, Ohio hotshoe stated, “It was a tough race. We started fifth and held our own out there. We stayed out of trouble and got real loose at the end. I’m real happy with where we finished tonight.”

Earlier in the day, Tim Jedrzejek was the top qualifier, as Charlie Schultz and Jack Smith picked up heat race wins. The PPG Vibrance Collection Super Series returns to racing action on Friday August 7th, 2009 at the half-mile high banks of Toledo Speedway, located on Benore Road in Toledo, Ohio.

Top Qualifier: Timmy Jedrzejek (12.442), Charlie Schultz (12.451)

Heat One Results: Charlie Schultz, Jon Henes, Bobby Dawson, Jimmy Paller, Tim Ice, Gene Lee Gibson, Kyle Reed, Mike Haury, Matt Palmer, Brandon Fisher

Heat Two Results: Jack Smith, Denny Fisher, Trent Stephens, Joe Armbruster, Timmy Jedrzejek, Randy Burch, Tigh Shaffer, Robbie Evans, Mark Miller

Feature (30 laps 12 car inversion) Gibson, Smith, D. Fisher, Schultz, Jedrzejek, Paller, Ice, Henes, Stephens, Burch, B. Fisher, Armbruster, Palmer, Haury, Reed, Evans, Dawson, Miller, Shaffer

MSA Points: Jedrzejek (279), Schultz (272), Ice (266), Burch (254), Stephens (253), Dawson (252), Smith (247)

Lap Leaders: Gibson (1-30)