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September 21, 2018

THE “BUCK” WAS STOPPED HERE!


By – Gary M. Spaid
Photos – Bev&Ken Dippel Photos

WILLIAMSON, NY … Buck Catalano was finally defeated in the NASCAR Sunoco Modified division, as Chris Finocchario came home the feature winner last Friday at Spencer Speedway. Up to then, Catalano had won four NASCAR Sunoco Modified features in four starts at the speedway this year.

“I just have to thank my entire crew,” related Finocchario in victory lane. “My father is a big part of this win. We don’t always listen to him, but he is usually right.”

Sunoco Modified winner Chris Finocchario with Jerry Cook & John White

In the Street Stocks it was Willie Strusz taking his second feature win of the year. Strusz, who recently graduated from college in Detroit, Michigan, is also employed in that city. When time offers, he makes the five hour trek back to Spencer Speedway to race. The Street Stock main was a double point event.

Ryan Brown led all but the first lap to win his first ever Auto Value Scorpion main event. In the Super Sixes the feature win went to 14 year old Brian Hallett. It was Kids’ Bicycle Racing Night, but instead of racing bicycles, Hallett decided to drive a race cars in 2010. “I have only raced a car five times,” stated Hallett. When asked if he ever raced any other type of vehicle, he answered a simple, “No”.

The Mid-State Vintage cars were on hand for a special appearance. Rob Casti, from Mahopac, NY, took the overall feature win driving his Modified 1938 Dodge Sedan. Casti car was classified as a “Modified.” Rob Whipple, from Pennellville, was the first “Sportsman” across the finish line and Shirley Morton captured the “Limited Sportsman” top honors.

The 35-lap Sunoco Modified main saw thirteen cars take the green. Ryan Beeman was able to out drag Jake Boerman to take the early race lead. Buck Catalano was flying through the field when the yellow flew on lap five for a spin in the fourth turn by Matt Lees. On the restart, Chris Finocchario, starting second, took the lead over Beeman. With just two laps in front, the yellow flew on Finocchario, lap 8, when Andy Lewis lost the handle and looped inside of the fourth turn.

The restart saw Catalano grab second and take off after Finocchario. These two broke free from the rest of the field. In third and fourth were Beeman and Kevin Timmerman, with Toad Bradshaw a distant fifth.

As the laps were clicked off everyone was wondering when Catalano would make his move. With just five laps remaining Catalano drew up tight on Finocchario’s rear bumper, but could not make a pass. At the checkers it was Finocchario taking his first feature win of the year, breaking Catalano’s strangle hold on the top spot. Beeman, Timmerman and Bradshaw rounded out the top five finishers.

Kris Hillegeer took the early lead in the 20-lap Street Stock main event. In a race that would run green-to-checkers, Hillegeer was chased down by Willie Strusz. Once on Hillegeer, Strusz ducked low down the back stretch, on lap 11, to complete his pass for the lead. Strusz held on for his second win of the year. Hillegeer, Mitchell Wright, Roger Worden and Amy Catalano rounded out the top five.

“This is a real home based effort,” related Strusz. He then proceeded to name off his entire crew. “I also want to thank the fans for turning out tonight, it makes the long trip here worth while.”

Brian Hallett started on the pole in the Super Six feature and never gave up the lead position for the entire 20-laps. He ended up some fifteen car lengths ahead of second place finisher Skip Powers in a race that went green-to-checkers. The race almost saw a yellow on lap three when Peter Cowell slapped the fourth turn wall, breaking the rear suspension in his car. He was able to limp his car down the front stretch and into the pits to avoid the yellow.

Powers finished second just ahead of Chris Andolino. Patti Davenport and Van Grant, in a new car, rounded out the top five finishers.

When asked if the run was “easy”, Hallett responded it was and that it was his first win ever in anything. He then related the fact that in his fifth outing ever in any kind of race car, he had won.

The Auto Value Scorpions saw the outside pole-sitter, Zach Willis, take the lead only to be chased down and passed on lap two by Ryan Brown. Brown then proceeded to pull away to a commanding lead. Otis Bradshaw started to close the gap on the leader, but ran out of laps.

Ryan Brown poses in victory lane after winning the Auto Value Scorpion feature

Only one yellow flew during the event, coming at the end of the first lap. Victor Cordova side high in the second turn and made contact with the pit exit wall.

Brown took the win, making for second first time winner on the night, joining Brian Hallett in that honor. Otis Bradshaw finished second followed by  Kevin Bertolone, Bro Bradshaw and Michael Bradshaw.

“These cars are getting faster each week,” stated Brown in victory lane. “We mounted a set of last year’s tires on this car tonight and seemed to make the difference.”

The Mid-States 2010 “Vintage Mods Gone Wild” Tour saw Rob Casti take the 15-lap feature win. Casti was in a tight race with Paul Applebee until the final turn on the final lap when Applebee slide high and spun in the fourth turn. Applebee had to then let the remainder of the field pass by and recorded a fourth place finish.

Shirley Morden, who won the Limited Sportsman division, related to the fans about Vintage racing over the winter in Florida.

“We race on both asphalt and dirt in Florida were there are some 40 cars that compete,” she added.

SPENCER LEDGER: 1982 NASCAR Modified Track Champion, Jerry Cook, was on hand last Friday. Cook was making the rounds of former race tracks he raced at, stopping on Thursday at Utica-Rome Speedway…The kids’ bicycle races took place last week. Three age groups participated. In the “Under 5 year old” class, Tyler Catalano came home the winner. Glen Bull and Mercedes Lewis rounded out the top three finishers. In the “Six to Eight year old” class, it was Tyler Warner taking the win. Patsy Catalano finished second followed by Katie Willis. The “9 year old and up” division saw Tim Brower take the win followed by Dakota Miller and Michael Armstrong…Erich Stritzel made his return in the Sunoco Modifieds to record a seventh place finish.

This Friday, July 2nd, Spencer Speedway will be closed to the stock cars. But a special two-day ( Saturday and Sunday) NHRA-sanctioned drag racing program will highlight the “Independence Day Weekend” at Spencer Speedway.

NASCAR Stock Car racing returns to Spencer on Friday, July 9th when a special Twin-25-lap program for the Sunoco Modified takes on the fast oval. Backing the modifieds up will be a complete program of Street Stocks, Super Sixes and Auto Value Scorpion races. Heat races begin at 7:30 p.m. sharp.

Spencer Speedway is located just fifteen minutes east of Rochester, NY, along Route 104 in the Town of Williamson. Spencer Speedway is the local “NASCAR Place to Race” for upstate New York. Points earned each week at Spencer are counted into the national NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship.

WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN NIGHT SUMMARY

AUTO VALUE SCORPIONS

HEAT 1: Z. Willis, O. Bradshaw, K. Bertolone, A. Knoepfler, B. Dennie, D. Bradshaw.

HEAT 2: B. Bradshaw, M. Bradshaw, R. Peets, R. Brown, J. Clark, V. Cordova.

FEATURE (15-laps): RYAN BROWN, Otis Bradshaw, Kevin Bertolone, Bro Bradshaw, Michael Bradshaw, Alison Knoepfler, Zach Willis, Russell Peets, Dale Lazzaro, Joe Clark, Beth Dennie, Dave Bradshaw, Andrea LaManna, Victor Cordova. (Lap Leaders: Zach Willis-1 lap, Ryan Brown-14 laps)

MID-STATE VINTAGE CARS

HEAT 1: G. Wood, S. Morden, R. Whipple, D. Larmon.

HEAT 2: R. Casti, P. Applebee, J. Applebee, F. Blanchard

FEATURE (15-laps): ROB CASTI (Mod), ROB WHIPPLE (Sportsman), Gordie Wood, Paul Applebee, SHIRLEY MORDEN (Limited Sportsman), Don Larmon, DNS-Frank Blanchard, John Applebee.

SUPER SIXES

HEAT 1: C. Andolino, P. Cowell, R. Hillegeer, V, Grant, A. VanHall.

HEAT 2: B. Hallett, S. Powers, J. Bailey, P. Davenport, T. Faro.

FEATURE (20-laps): BRIAN HALLETT, Skip Powers, Chris Andolino, Patti Davenport, Van Grant, Ryan Hillegeer, Joe Bailey, Adam VanHall, William Hinch, Tim Faro, Peter Cowell. (Lap leaders: Brian Hallett- 20 laps)

STREET STOCKS

HEAT: K. Hillegeer, W. Strusz, M. Wright, R. Worden, A. Catalano.

FEATURE (20-laps): WILLIE STRUSZ, Kris Hillegeer, Mitchell Wright, Roger Worden, Amy Catalano, Russell Scott-DNS (Lap leaders: Kris Hillegeer-11 laps, Willie Strusz-9 laps)

NASCAR SUNOCO MODIFIEDS

HEAT 1: C. Finocchario, B. Catalano, R. Beeman, J. Steffenhagen Jr., A. Catalano.

HEAT 2: K. Timmerman, M. Lees, J. Boerman, E. Hawkins, T. Bradshaw.

FEATURE (35-laps): CHRIS FINOCCHARIO, Buck Catalano, Ryan Beeman, Kevin Timmerman, Toad Bradshaw, Eddie Hawkins, Erich Stritzel, Jim Steffenhagen Jr., Matt Lees, Amy Catalano, Jake Boerman, Andy Lewis, Mark Cline. (Lap leaders: Ryan Beeman-5 laps, Chris Finocchario-30 laps)

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