By – Rhonda Costa
Photo – Rhonda Costa
WEST VALLEY CITY, UTAH — At Rocky Mountain Raceways Saturday, the Supermodified Racing Association performed in front of its biggest crowd with about 6,000 screaming race fans cheering on the fastest racecars ever to perform at the three-eights mile banked oval. And the drivers didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t disappoint their enthusiasm for exciting racing.
After winning at The Bullring Thursday, the S&S Motorsports team made few changes to the No. 98 racecar. They were happy with the results of set up, handling and their driverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s performance. It was close to
Troy Regier set the pace in the No. 98 for the dayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s activities by setting fast time in qualifying with a 12.848, just 1/100th off his track record. The field of 15 cars tied the seriesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ largest car count, and included DNA RacingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s teammates Amy and Eric Silsby of Minden, NV.
Regier lined up at the back — eighth position — of the first heat, which also included Amy Silsby in the third spot and Eric Silsby in the fifth. The 8-lap heat ran uneventful, with Sierra Jackson of Idaho in her No. 25 sprinter taking the win with Regier finishing second and Jim Birges third. Rounding out the heat were: Jeff Russell, Kenny White, Larry Lapoint of Steamboat Springs, Colo., Amy Silsby and Eric Silsby.
AJ Russell of Clovis, Calif. won the second heat with Bryan Warf of Meridian, Idaho taking second and Kirk Wartman of Boise in third. Rounding out the second heat was Justin Belfiore, Nick Haygood of Denver, Pat Whittet and Jim Waters of Salt Lake City in a sprinter.
The field for the main event was inverted by 12 after drivers voted to invert accordingÃ‚Â to Ã¢â‚¬Å“chance,Ã¢â‚¬Â with Regier pulling a number from a bag, the number being 12, rather than a full invert of the 15 cars. Regier started in the 12th position for the 15-car field.
Eric Silsby got the advantage over Kirk Wartman on the start of the race for the lead, but it was AJ Russell moving into the lead on lap 3. As cars were battling for position mid-pack, Justin Belfiore of Ipswitch, Mass. and Pat Whittet got together on the front stretch, with Whittet hitting the wall that caused major front-end damage to his car. A front tire was last seen rolling through turns 1 and 2 finally coming to rest on the grass of the infield on the back stretch.
Jackson spun to avoid hitting Whittet, with Waters diving low to the infield. At the restart, AJ Russell was leading the field with Wartman in second and Eric Silsby in third.
Russell was setting a pretty quick pace among the supermodifieds, but faster cars were quickly approaching. Jim Birges, Eric Silsby and Regier each were on their own mission to be the leader. After Birges passed Silsby for third and Wartman for the second spot, he pulled even with AJ Russell. Russell, who was on the high line, and Birges, on the low line, ran side by side for position for eight laps, neither driving giving an inch for advantage. Regier, in the meantime, was now in third directly behind Russell and Birges.
On lap 31, Regier drove the car hard down the backstretch out of turn 2, diving low under Birges to attempt and inside pass. Incredibly, Regier held his line and drove out of 4 with the second-place spot over Birges and put his eyes on Russell for the lead.
Regier used the low line again to gain advantage over AJ Russell, who was using the mid-high groove during the race. On lap 37, Regier drove underneath AJ in turn 3-4 and came out with the lead, which he would hold until the checkered flag with a 3-second lead over Russell in second, with Bryan Warf finishing third.
Rounding out the field were: Birges, Jeff Russell, Wartman, Larry Lapoint of Steamboat Springs, Colo., Kenny White, Belfiore, Jackson, Amy Silsby, Nick Haygood of Denver, Eric Silsby, Waters and Whittet.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That was a little bit of work,Ã¢â‚¬Â Regier said of his win. Ã¢â‚¬Å“There were some fast cars in front of me. But I kept duking it out and driving hard. It was harder to pass Jim (Birges) than AJ, because Jim was running the same line I was. AJ left the low side open and I got him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to thank my crew for giving me a perfect car tonight, it ran great. And the fans for coming out to see us.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Steve Shaw, co-owner of the No. 98, based in Carson City, said the only changes made to the racecar between Las Vegas and Rocky Mountain Raceways was top wing position and brake pads.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The car was great at these two tracks,Ã¢â‚¬Â Shaw said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always had a good starting point to work with on this car at Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re happy with the results and think weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got that great baseline to work with. Now if we can just do the same with Madera, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be even happier.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Amy Silsby made contact with Belfiore during the main event, causing her to hit the wall and pull of early. Silsby also had issues during the main after contact with Belfiore and pulled off early.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really disappointing,Ã¢â‚¬Â Amy said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The car was running good and I would have finished with a top-5.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Noticeably disappointed by the finish, Birges said it was preparation that may have doomed him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Putting time into getting four race cars here and at Las Vegas took time away from my car,Ã¢â‚¬Â Birges said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was running good, then someoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s air sock got on my left front tire and I had to slow up and try to shake it off. I was lucky it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get bound up in there. But I wanted to win. And I was blowing oil again. Just disappointing.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Richard Russell said they found a bad shock before racing at Rocky Mountain Raceways.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was just sitting there thinking letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s change that shock,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“And sure enough, it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t compress. It was bad. Just think if we had found that before Las Vegas.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The SMRA next races July 18 at Madera Speedway in Madera, Calif. For information, visit www.smrasupermods.com.