Submitted by Fulton Speedway
FULTON, NYÂ (By Dave Medler/ Tom Skibinski) â€“ The impossible was pulled off Friday at the Fulton Speedway by the track prep crew. On Thursday night through Friday morning 3.45 inches of rain fell on the Fulton area, with nobody giving the speedway a chance to run night one of the 25th annual â€œOutlaw 200â€ weekend. What seemed like an insurmountable task was pulled off and racing went off as scheduled.
For the second time this season Dave Marcuccilli outlasted runner-up Tim Sears Jr. to take top honors in a Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series event.
However, one more lap and the order of finish may have been reversed on this occasion as Marcuccilli staved off a last lap dash by current tour points leader Sears to capture the headline â€˜SUNY Canton Outlaw 30 presented by 2011 Motorsports Expoâ€™ by a mere 0.103-sec. on Friday night at Fulton Speedway.
â€œI started up front and didnâ€™t know where anybody else was running,â€ said Marcuccilli, after picking up his second Series victory in flag-to-flag fashion, once again crossing the line ahead of Sears to match the All-Star Weekend outcome at Cayuga County Fair Speedway in July. The Cayuga, N.Y. driver had not cracked the winnerâ€™s circle since.
â€œAt the end I just kept seeing the 83 car (Sears) climbing up the leader board. I was a little worried about him, one more lap he mightâ€™ve gotten me. I got a little loose getting in (last lap) and he peeked underneath, but I was on the outside and just had the momentum,â€ noted Marcuccilli, following his first career Sportsman win at Fulton where Sears racked up a season-best five in 2010.
Defending race winner Ryan Susice also made a late-race charge to secure third at the stripe, finishing ahead of Sept. 18 Fulton winner Billy Clark Jr. and two-time reigning Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman points king Chris Raabe. Justin Wright, Jesse Cotriss, 2010 Fulton points champion Jeremy Pitcher, Jordan Bennett and Daryl Hilkert rounded out the Top-10 ahead of Number One Speed Equipment Hard Charger Brandon Sweet.
Sportsman Series action highlighted opening day activity in the 25th Annual Outlaw 200 Weekend at Fulton, with a stellar field of 57 drivers signing in for competition on the high-banked Oswego County oval. Inundated by more than three inches of rain the day before, track owner John Wight had the spacious 3/8-miler race ready in time for hot lap time trialing, five heat race qualifiers and three last chance consis to determine the final 31-car feature race starting grid.
Marcuccilli copped the fourth qualifying heat yet more importantly drew outside front row to join pole-sitter Colton Donath and begin the 30-lap finale. Veteran Marcuccilli had little trouble putting his blue Barbay & Son Construction no. M1 Crew Boyz Racing-Stormin/Bicknell mount ahead of the Sportsman rookie on the opening circuit, building a commanding lead as the initial laps clicked off.
With Clark and Wright in pursuit throughout the early stages, Marcuccilli was no match for his closest challengers, stretching out a half straightaway advantage before reaching traffic on lap 12. A pair of pink machines steered by Kaitlyn Kane and Christine Martin bottled up Marcuccilli momentarily, yet it was the mount of Donath sitting sideways in turn two that was more threatening as it forced out the lone caution flag of the race on lap 19.
â€œWouldâ€™ve been just as happy keeping in the lapped traffic,â€ Marcuccilli remarked afterwards. â€œEvery time I made a pass it felt like that was another car between me and all the other guys behind me.â€
With just a third of the race remaining, Marcuccilli once again built up a comfortable lead, although with 20 laps complete Raabe and Sears had moved in to challenge runner-up Clark while Wright hung on to a place in the Top-5.
Appearing to find his preferred line in the closing stages, Sears ducked under Raabe for third on lap 21 and nearly mirrored the move two laps later as he filled the inside line to overtake Clark for the runner-up spot on the back stretch. With all eyes on the lead duo, Susice stole third from Clark with two to go to give him the best seat in the house in the 10-minute main.
Sears shadowed Marcuccilli exiting turn four to take the white flag and with just one lap to go only a car-length separated the top two. That distance grew even shorter when Sears stuck his nose underneath entering the final corner, and at the starterâ€™s stand he pulled alongside to take the checkered flag just a fraction of a second behind.
â€œSeemed like there was a lot of two-wide racing going on in front of me tonight,â€ remarked Marcuccilli, who earned $1,200 for the narrow victory just four days shy of his 34th birthday. â€œI just kind of took my time and tried to be smart about it, didnâ€™t want to get taken out. A lot of cars were running side-by-side and bouncing off each other.â€
â€œThis is the first time weâ€™ve run here all year, and this is a race Iâ€™ve always wanted to win. Been coming here for about 10 years and except for a second (2008) we never really got close. I just want to thank my wife for letting me race and my brother (Mike) for helping out, being up here definitely feels better than coming home second any day,â€ Marcuccilli added.
Despite settling for second-place in the closest finish of the year in any touring division, Sears still extended his lead by five more points over Susice as he stayed on pace to claim the coveted Mr. DIRTcar crown with just three point events remaining.
â€œI might have been able to get (Marcuccilli) on that last lap, but I screwed up right behind him,â€ admitted Sears, 18, after recording his eighth straight Top-3 feature finish while opening the Series with his lone DNF (28th) at Black Rock Speedway in April. â€œFollowed him right into the corner and we both pushed up. We both got loose, then in (turns) 3 & 4 I got under him, just didnâ€™t have enough to get by.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think it really mattered where you started, if you were good you were going to get to the front tonight. We were good, just didnâ€™t really have as much for him late. Needed a caution at the end of the race to get him, you just donâ€™t get them sometimes,â€ added Sears, whoâ€™s father Tim Sr. holds the DIRTcar mark of 22 Sportsman wins scored at Fulton from 1999-2003; Tim Jr. now has nine wins which ranks him among the front-five all-time at the Route 57 speedplant.
Moving in on the leaders during the final five laps, Western New York tour traveler Susice crossed the line third to remain a solid second in the 2010 Mr. DIRTcar points chase that ends Oct. 16 at Brockville Ontario Speedway.
â€œTrack position was key tonight,â€ stated Susice, 20, who won last October starting in 12th. The Ransomville, N.Y. pilot began this yearâ€™s finale from 14th before dropping back early following an opening lap skirmish. â€œAnd we pretty much lost it right at the start.â€
â€œWe ended up getting into a jingle on the first lap, somebody got into me going into turn one. I was dead sideways and cars were going everywhere. I didnâ€™t know if I was into the 20s (position) but I was behind some of the consi cars. Fell back a ton and it took me awhile to move back up. The car was actually real fast, just needed a couple more laps. I know we didnâ€™t get the hard charger (award) because of where we started but I probably passed the most cars overall,â€ Susice figured.
In the NAPA Late Model â€œOutlaw 200â€ weekend Championship, Larry Wight dominated the event leading every lap on his way to the checkers. The only thing that slowed down Wight was cautions periods that dotted the feature. Jimmy Phelps who was driving a Late Model for the very first time chased Wight across the line. AJ Kingsley, Alan Fink and Sean Beardsley finished third through fifth.
After a post race inspection Wight was DQ’d handing the win to Phelps.
Dale Caswell proved once again why heâ€™s a force every time he straps into his IMCA Modified. Caswell took the lead from early pace setter Rob Keller on a lap 6 restart and from there never looked back in the 25 lap Empire State Series race presented by Top Stitch Embroidery.
A late yellow gave Chris Fleming a shot at Caswell for the win, but he came up just short settling for the runner-up spot. Mike Smith, Kevan Cook and Rob Keller finished third through fifth.
Almost 40 Modifieds took timed hot laps sessions that had more on the line than just shaking their cars down for Saturdays 25th annual â€œOutlaw 200â€ Friday night. The top three in each group moved onto one last session with the top-two grabbing guaranteed starting spots for the 200.
Dale Planck who won the seasonâ€™s opening 100 lap Big Block Modified series event at Fulton Speedway and the 2010 Big Block Modified Champion at the Track Jimmy Phelps secured the the guaranteed starting births.
(SUNY Canton Sportsman Super DIRT Series – 2011 Motorsports Expo 30 Laps) â€“ DAVE MARCUCCILLI, Tim Sears Jr., Ryan Susice, Billy Clark Jr., Chris Raabe, Justin Wright, Jesse Cotriss, Jeremy Pitcher, Jordan Bennett, Daryl Hilkert, Brandon Sweet, Don Spatrorico, Rob Humphreys, Beth Schneider, Mark Chiddy, Jamie Platt, Jim LaRock, Shane Pecore, John Juhl, Steve Gray, Earl Rudy, Colton Donath, Greg Kimball, Katelyn Kane, Mark Dixon, Christine Martin, Stewart Garrison, Matt Hulsizer, Tim Schneider, Josh VanBrocklin, Sammy Reakes IV.â€“ Number One Speed Equipment Hard Charger Award -Brandon Sweet.
(NAPA Late Model Championship 20 Laps) â€“ JIMMY PHELPS, AJ Kingsley, Alan Fink, Sean Beardsley, Dave Talbot, Gus Schmidt, Shane Tenace, Chuck Meyer, Adam Nayler, Rob Pratt, Mike Vaughn, Caley Weese, Dale Caswell, Gordy Button.DNS â€“ Joe August, Jim Southard. Number One Speed Equipment Hard Charger Awardâ€“ Sean Beardsley. DQ -Larry Wight.
(Top Stitch Embroidery Empire State IMCA Modified Series 25 Laps) – DALE CASWELL, Chris Fleming, Mike Smith, Kevan Cook, Rob Keller, Gary Roberts, Brandon Carvey, JJ Courcy, Lyle Smith, Brad Weaver, Rich Keller, Chris Thurston, Shawn Kirby, Matt Valderliden, Pete Neff, Matt Roberts, Tyler Stoddard, John Bell, Josh VanTassell, Scott Bennett, Jim Walsh, Ken Rogers, Jerry Lobdell, Ryan Scott. DNS â€“ Mike Jones, KC Cole, Mike Stoddard, Don Albert, Dale Jewett. Number One Speed Equipment Hard Charger Award â€“ Brandon Carvey.