On a sunny, warm, perfect day for auto racing, John Barber, Billy Coyle, A.J. Lane, and John Maynard record first wins of 2015 at Shangri-La Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon as the motorsports complex kicked off another season of oval track racing on the hill outside Tioga Center, NY.
John Barber made a two and a half hour trip to the facility worth it with the Sports Modified Victory Lane appearance. After a third place in his qualifying race put him in a great starting spot for the feature, Barber stayed solidly in the top five through the early laps. Jimmy Zacharias set the pace throughout much of the first half with Paul Johnson and T.J. Zacharias providing the action in the runner up spot. In just a few laps near the mid-point, the line up changed dramatically as T.J. developed a mechanical issue, Johnson was caught up in a spin, and Jimmy retired to the pits with an oil leak. Barber took command with “young guns” Conner Sellars and Nick Morich in tow, but T.J. Zacharias and Paul Johnson were on a mission, charging from the back of the pack to get back into the top three in the closing laps. T.J made a move to the inside exitting turn four on the final circuit, but came up a few feet short of the win. Johnson crossed the line a close third , with Sellars and Morich rounding out the top five.
Derrick Tarbox and Charlie Sharpsteen brought the field to the green flag in the Street Stock main event, and from then on the end result was in doubt for much of the race. R.J. Zacharias, Tony Jilson, Lee Sharpsteen, Robert Fink and Billy Coyle put on a driving clinic as they all challenged the front row starters for the lead. Coyle emerged at the front of the pack, and started to stretch out an advantage, but fender rubbing action with some nearly unbelievable driving was the order of the day in the group a few feet behind him. Charlie Sharpsteen was the victem of mechanical gremlins, Tarbox and Fink spun and returned, Jilson was caught up in two incidents and charged from the back of the pack both times and Lee Sharpsteen was sideways on numerous occasions. Caution periods put the field back to Coyle’s rear bumper but he held on for the popular win. R.J. Zacharias slipped back in the pack twice, but charged home for the runner up spot, With Jilson coming back to third, Lee Sharpsteen fourth and Tarbox fifth.
The skin on A.J. Lane’s race car may be borderline antique, but underneath the gleaming black hood of his Four Cylinder Ford Pinto there is a very strong heart. Lane quickly moved to the lead from his second row starting position and fought back numerous challenges from his competitors throughout the race. Alan Blackwell and Zach Knowlton tried every line they could find, but couldn’t quite get the best of the leader. Blackwell spun late in the event, dropping him from contention, and Knowlton had to settl for second at the checkered flag. John Maynard crossed the stripe third overall and first in the Front wheel Drive class, with Blackwell fighting his way back to fourth and Matt Mckernan finished fifth.
Next Saturday night, May 16, Shangri-La II Motor Speedway presents another action packed three division show, with everyone presenting their wristband from opening day getting a $2.00 gate admission discount. Gates open at 4:30 PM with the first race getting the green flag at 7:00 PM. For further information, check out Shangri-La II on the the Web or on Facebook
-Shangri La II Press Release. Photo Credit: Shangri-La II Facebook