Jimmy Zacharias is no stranger to victory lane at New York’s Chemung Speedrome. He had already clinched the championship in the track’s Sunoco Modified division, but Sunday’s race win took on a more a significant meaning.
Zacharias started eighth after a heat race win earlier in the afternoon for the Shirley Zacharias Memorial 71, named as a tribute to his grandmother who passed away in early 2013. Up front, his brother TJ Zacharias fought for the lead and then gained sole possession a few laps later as he worked around the outside of pole starter Gene Sharpsteen.
Jimmy’s No. 71 would start to make passes toward the front, but by lap 20 had worked its way to second spot. After a caution involving cousin Dylan Zacharias, Jimmy found himself along the outside of TJ’s No. 71s on the next restart. It would take a few more yellow flags and attempts, but Jimmy found his way to the front for good on lap 26.
It appeared that the outside was the favorable line on this particular day as Jimmy chose that position on the last restart of the evening while previous week’s feature winner Zack Curren followed him to gain the second spot.
“It all depends on who you have inside of you,” Jimmy Zacharias told Speed51.com powered by JEGS regarding choosing the outside on the restarts. “You’ve got to know who you’re racing with and racing my brother there I knew he wouldn’t drive it off into one over his head and push me up to the marbles.”
Most of all, it was due to the handling of the car that Jimmy was able to pull off the pass.
“I felt more comfortable on the outside of him because the car was perfect,” said Jimmy Zacharias. “(TJ) was good, but I knew having more seat time here and more experience that I could get him. I just kept working it over for three or four restarts and finally the fourth one we got the drive up off the corner and got right by him.”
Curren tried to break up the Zacharias family party in an 18-car field that was full of some of the area’s finest Modified drivers, but he didn’t have quite enough.
“On the restart there I knew that I had to make some moves and try to get up right behind Jimmy in second, and I was able to do that so I kind of just rode behind him a little bit and tried to save some tires,” said Curren. “He had a good car and my car wasn’t as good as it could have been, but we had a good race anyways.”
TJ Zacharias led early with the car he won the track championship with over at nearby Shangri-La II Motor Speedway, but came up short on this night.
“The one restart coming off of four I just got loose and (Jimmy) got by me,” said TJ Zacharias. “Started getting looser from there on out. I was hoping I could at least finish second there when he got around me. He won this one and I won the memorial race we had at Shangri-La II so for us both to get a memorial race win this year it’s pretty good.”
Between Chemung and Shangri-La II each of the three memorial races to date have been won by a Zacharias family member. It was an emotional atmosphere in victory lane with generations and memories spanning from the patriarch of the racing family Jim Zacharias to Jimmy’s soon to be two-year-old son Liam celebrating in victory lane.
“It means the world. Every other win I’ve had this year doesn’t mean nothing. There’s only two wins in my career that amount to anything and the other is the first memorial race for my grandma that I won last year at Shangri-La. It’s all keeping it in the Zacharias family.”
– By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Correspondent – Twitter: @Aaron_Creed. Featured photo credit: MoJo Photos
Shirley Zacharias Memorial Official Results
1 8 71 Jimmy Zacharias
2 6 94 Zack Curren
3 3 71s TJ Zacharias
4 1 7 Gene Sharpsteen
5 12 57x Andy Jankowiak
6 5 20 Jody Buckley
7 15 73 Paul Hartwig
8 4 00 Connor Sellars
9 14 19 CJ Lacativa
10 7 9 Brandon Oltra
11 2 B17 Randy Brokaw
12 9 6jr Jim Bojonny
13 16 17jr Cameron Vargo
14 10 17 Cory Mosher
15 13 95 Dylan Zacharias
16 11 01 Larry Jaynes
17 17 C1 Cam Ayres
18 18 1x Chris Clemens