Chemung, NY – “Wow” was the word heard most often as fans left Chemung Speedrome Saturday night. They had just witnessed five great feature events. The weather was perfect and the crowd was revved up for action. Action they got, watching winners Tony Hanbury (RoC Modifieds), Gene Sharpsteen (Sunoco Modifieds), Charlie Sharpsteen (Super Stocks), Alexandria Smith (INEX Legends), and Damon Frutchey (INEX Bandoleros).
The 100-lap Race of Champions Modified Tour race had a bit of everything and was viewed by many as one of, if not the, best RoC races ever contested at Chemung. Tony Hanbury won the race but the first 98 laps were full of drama and action leading up to the exciting finish.
Jimmy Zacharias may not have won but he garnered the most attention. Early in the day he blew his motor and returned home for his back-up car. Heat wins went to Chuck Hossfeld, Patrick Emerling and TJ Potrzebowski. The top 4 in each of those heats then drew for the first dozen starting spots. Andy Jankowiak drew the pole while Zacharias drew outside pole. Hanbury and Chuck Hossfeld made up row 6.
Trouble came early. When the field took the green flag eight cars spun in turn one, forcing a second attempt. That one worked, especially for Jankowiak. He led for three laps and then Zacharias took over on the fourth lap. The field ran a stretch of 43 laps caution-free with Mike Leaty, Hanbury and Matt Hirschman following the lead duo.
During a lap 58 caution officials stopped Zacharias to check out a possible leak. They sent him to the pits for a repair, which his crew performed quickly. Zacharias restarted at the rear while the lead was handed over to Hanbury. He, Hirschman, Hossfeld, Mike Leaty and Roger Coss made up the first three rows. Over the next six laps Zacharias powered his way through the field, up to seventh and then to fifth. Two more cautions brought the leaders together for single file restarts but Hossfeld took the lead from Hanbury. He didn’t hold it very long. Zacharias was relentless, passed Hanbury and reclaimed the lead on lap 92.
Things got even more exciting when lap 98 went up on the scoreboard. Paul Hartwig spun, setting up a green/white/checkered finish with Zacharias, Hossfeld and Hanbury as the top three. Hossfeld got into Zacharias, whose spin brought out the caution and sent both to the rear for the restart. Once again Hanbury inherited the lead and just had to survive the final two laps. He got the big win over Hirschman, Coss, Emerling and Leaty. “I didn’t have the fastest car but it came in, mid-race,” he said from victory lane. “The last 20 laps I was holding on with the tires.” Hanbury opted not to pit for a new right rear tire while several others did.
Hirschman was happy, describing a fifth place car that came away with a second place finish. Regarding the final couple laps he said “I was looking at it all from the wrong place. I would rather be looking in the mirror laughing.”
Coss, making his first Chemung appearance, turned in a solid performance. “With the finish we had I won’t be so nervous when we come back for the 200,” he said, referring to the 65th running of the Race of Champions to be held at Chemung in October.
Zacharias salvaged a ninth place finish, certainly not indicative of his hard-charging performance in an exciting race.
Veteran racer Gene Sharpsteen came into the Sunoco Modified portion of the program hoping to turn around a pair of bad weeks at the track. A sweep of his heat and the 40-lap feature likely took care of that.
From the drop of the green Sharpsteen led the way, leaving behind a battle of the brothers Zacharias. Just past the halfway point Jimmy Zacharias took second from his brother TJ and had his sights set on Sharpsteen. The fifth, and final, caution came out with 13 laps remaining. Again Sharpsteen beat J. Zacharias to turn one and held his line. While he typically runs a higher line coming off turn four, Sharpsteen started coming off the corner using the inside line. That forced Zacharias up top and, while he was right there through the corners, he couldn’t overtake the powerful #7.
Behind them Jerry Hildebrand, making his second appearance this year, and John Wilber were working the traffic and closing in on the leaders. Sharpsteen stayed in the lower groove over the final five laps and picked up the popular win, becoming the fourth different driver to win in the 2015 season. Zacharias was second, followed by Hildebrand, Wilber and Nick Morich.
Elated as he exited the car he told the crowd about his race-winning strategy. “I knew I couldn’t slip up. I had to stay on the inside and force him to the outside.” Sharpsteen also gave special thanks to his crew for their hard work over the past two very difficult weeks. Rookie Cody Jackson won the other heat race, his first checkered flag in the division.
In Super Stock action point leader Terry Potrzebowski and Mike Nichols claimed the two heat races and started beside each other for the 25-lap feature. Dusty Snell led the first two laps before losing the lead to Mike Nichols. A trio of cautions slowed the race and brought Joe Snell and Potrzebowski to within striking distance but Nichols was on his game for each restart.
Just short of the halfway point Nichols slowed when his car broke, the caution came out, and the lead transferred to Charlie Sharpsteen. Tim Gullo lined up beside him for the restart and Sharpsteen’s #34 again prevailed. As the laps clicked off Potrzebowski remained in third with Rich Talada fourth. When the field got the 5 to go indication Gullo slowed when his car broke. That set up a five lap dash for the win.
Sharpsteen and Potrzebowski made up row one, Talada and Nick Robinson row two. Sharpsteen was on a mission on this night and when he took the checkered flag it represented mission accomplished. He credited many, beyond his own crew. “I had brake problems earlier and got help from other teams racing here,” he said. “It’s great to be with these guys.” Potrzebowski was second, with Talada third, Robinson fourth and Ron Underwood fifth.
Alexandria Smith demonstrated her ability and fearlessness in the INEX Legend division. Pat Judson started third and used power off turn two to lead the pack at the start/finish line. He held that spot until Smith waited for the right moment to strike. She did, on the fourth lap, and began to pull away from the field.
The only caution came out when Beth Scherer did a perfect 360 coming off turn two. Smith went back to work when the green flag came back out. Over the final laps a foursome stayed locked together for positions two through five. Smith held on and earned her fourth win, this time over Daren Scherer, Lohmeyer, Judson and Alex Bowen. Scherer and Judson won the two heat races to set the field.
A week prior Anthony Riforgiato appeared to be on his way to victory lane after leading the lion’s share of the 20-lap feature. Early on he held off Chuck Lohmeyer while Matt Evans and Alexandria Smith closed in on him. A late caution set up a 3-lap dash to the finish. Evans took the lead from Riforgiato then Smith took the lead from him. She led the final two laps and picked up the win over Evans, Daren Scherer, Riforgiato and Lohmeyer. Kevin Wilkins and Kevin Youngs won their respective heats.
The Bandolero division ran a 10-lap feature that took two attempts to get going. On the original start Jade McElravy and Dominick Wood spun in turns one and two. The second try worked, especially for Garrett Zacharias. He led the way with Damon Frutchey and Teddy Bowen right behind him battling for second. When Zacharias drifted high in the corners, both Frutchey and Bowen got by and put him back to third. Frutchey held on over the final two laps to pick up his first win of the year. Bowen held on for second, followed by Zacharias, Lars McElravy and Timothy Bowen.
Racing continues this Friday night with a full schedule of Sunoco Modifieds, Super Stocks, 4 Cylinders, INEX Legends and Bandoleros. Pits open at 4, grandstand opens and practice begins at 6, and racing gets underway at 7:15 PM. Admission: adults $12; seniors 65 and older $10; kids 6-12 $5; kids 5 and under free. Fans are reminded that their adult or senior ticket stub from August 8th is good for $2 off their admission this week. For additional information call the track office at 607-529-9998, ‘like’ us on Facebook, or check the track’s websitewww.chemungspeedrome.net.
‘Winner Winner Chicken Dinner’ gift certificates for a dozen wings at Buffalo Wild Wings in Horseheads, NY were earned by Gene Sharpsteen and Charlie Sharpsteen.
Fans can text IRTOOLSCHE to 313131 for a chance to win prizes from Ingersoll Rand, the official tools of NASCAR. The Speedrome is also eligible for prizes when fans text IRTOOLSCHE.
It was an emotional night due to the death of Rod Spalding, whose namesake Foundation is on hand at Chemung raising money every race night. Silent auction and raffle proceeds totaled $1,200 to help sustain the organization.
Chemung Speedrome and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series: Asphalt Racing At Its Finest!
-Chemung Speedrome Press Release. Photo credit: MoJo Photos
Race of Champions Modifieds (100 Laps) TONY HANBURY, Matt Hirschman, Roger Coss, Patrick Emerling, Mike Leaty, Chuck Hossfeld, Brian DeFebo, Andy Jankowiak, Jimmy Zacharias, Rick Kluth, Jim Storace, Paul Hartwig, John Wilber, Nick Pecko, Chris Ridsdale, Donnie Hartzell, TJ Potrzebowski, Daren Scherer, Tyler Rypkema, Brandon Oltra, Terry Potrzebowski, Bryan Sherwood, Tommy Cloce (DNS)
Heats: Hossfeld, Emerling, TJ Potrzebowski
Sunoco Modifieds (40 Laps) GENE SHARPSTEEN, Jimmy Zacharias, Jerry Hildebrand, John Wilber, Nick Morich, Connor Sellars, TJ Zacharias, Sam Warren, Paul Hartwig, Corey Mosher, Chris Clemens, Bob Wilson, Jr., Cody Jackson, Jody Buckley, Andy Jankowiak, Jake Snell, Randy Davenport, Tommy Rought, Dave Jackson (DNS), Terry Zacharias (DNS)
Heats: Jackson, Sharpsteen
Super Stocks (25 Laps) CHARLIE SHARPSTEEN, Terry Potrzebowski, Rich Talada, Nick Robinson, Ron Underwood, Randy Davenport, Dusty Snell, Tim Gullo, Mike Nichols, Jake Snell, Joe Snell
Heats: Potrzebowski, Nichols
INEX Legends (20 Laps) ALEXANDRIA SMITH, Daren Scherer, Chuck Lohmeyer, Pat Judson, Alex Bowen, Max Evans, Beth Scherer, Raven Schrantz, Jimmer Ulrich, Kurt Knapp, Cliff Rought, Wayne Walker, Robert Ulrich, Matt Evans, Donnie Diebert
Heats: D. Scherer, Judson
INEX Legends, 20 Laps 7/31/15) ALEXANDRIA SMITH, Matt Evans, Daren Scherer, Anthony Riforgiato, Chuck Lohmeyer, Kevin Wilkins, Kevin Youngs, Alex Bowen, Gary Ham, Beth Scherer, Jimmer Ulrich, Cliff Rought, Kurt Knapp, Max Evans, Wayne Walker, Scott Reagan, Ryan Stermer, Robert Ulrich, Pat Judson, Charlie Lohmeyer (DNS)
Heats: Wilkins, Youngs
Bandoleros (10 Laps) DAMON FRUTCHEY, Teddy Bowen, Garrett Zacharias, Lars McElravy, Timothy Bowen, Joey Bevacqua, Joey Bernatavitz, Dominick Wood, Jade McElravy