CHEMUNG, NY – It was a night of nail-biting excitement as Chemung Speedrome closed out the season and recognized the 2019 track champions. The headline Sunoco Modified title chase came down to a single point – one position on the track – and it went in favor of five-time feature winner, Zack Curren. Nick Robinson earned another championship in the Super Stock division while Greg Moldt reversed last year’s late-season bad luck to earn his first title at the track. INEX champions include Gary Ham in the Legends, Josh Duke in the Carpenter’s Karts Bandoleros (Outlaw) and Chase Sinsabaugh (Bandit). Feature winners in the season finale included Charlie Sharpsteen (Sunoco Modifieds), Garrett Zacharias (Super Stocks), Greg Moldt (4 Cylinders), Kyle Youngs (INEX Legends), and both Chase Sinsabaugh (Bandit) and Josh Duke (Outlaw) in the Bandolero division.
Two young men named Zach and Zack from Horseheads, NY were separated by just 11 points going in to the final race to determine the 2019 champion. Zack Knowlden, with two feature wins, led Zack Curren, who had scored five wins in a row. Lined up fourth and fifth for the 40-lap feature, many eyes were on the pair. Other eyes were on the Sharpsteen cousins, Gene and Charlie, who ran one-two the entire distance. Knowlden had third from the get-go, with Curren passing Bryan Sherwood for fourth and the race was on. With 21 laps complete trouble took place as the field entered turn one. Knowlden and C. Sharpsteen made contact, with Knowlden then hitting the inside wall. As he attempted to pull off onto the infield grass just off turn two, Gary Noe dove in that same direction. They also had contact, which sent Noe hard into the backstretch wall. The contact was so hard it ripped his wheel off. While all drivers were ok, Knowlden knew it was about over for him, championship-wise, but not entirely. He still had a chance at winning the title if Curren finished the race in fourth or lower.
The race resumed, and C. Sharpsteen held the lead the next 13 laps until the third caution came out. Curren got into Sherwood, adding to the championship drama when he restarted at the rear. Over the remaining six laps Curren worked the traffic and passed third place runner John Wilber with two to go. That’s how it ended. Charlie Sharpsteen picked up his fourth win and Curren got the title by just one point. Gene Sharpsteen finished the race second, with Curren, Wilber and Sherwood in the top five. “I feel really bad for Zach, I gave him the line for two laps and it just wasn’t there the third time. I hate that it happened,” Sharpsteen said of Knowlden. He went on to thank his crew, family and sponsors. Curren, meanwhile, celebrated a championship but not the way he wanted it to happen. “I really wanted to race it out to the end with Zack and I feel bad his only DNF came in this last race. But I know Zack and I have many years of racing each other ahead of us.” Curren went on to thank everyone who helped him this year.
The night was special for a local racing family. The Super Stock division ran a Russ Tubbs Memorial 25-lap feature. Back in September of 1963 Tubbs lost his life during a race on the Chemung dirt. It had been years since he was remembered but that all changed Friday night. With several of his family members there in person, and via telephone from Virginia, fans learned a bit more about the man. Scott Lyon from the Laser Art Studio also designed and constructed a beautiful trophy reminiscent of those awarded to race winners back in the day, along with a photo taken of Tubbs that fateful night following his heat race win.
Folks looking for a memorable memorial race got one. Ironically, Super Stock heat winners on Friday night would be the big newsmakers following the feature race. Frank Chapman led early but lost the top spot to heat winner Garrett Zacharias on the fifth lap. He would pull away and build up a nice lead while Ajay Potrzebowski and Mike Nichols worked to chase down Chapman. Nick Robinson’s spin with 16 laps complete brought Nichols alongside Zacharias for the restart. Zacharias prevailed and Nichols was right behind him. The final caution set up a three-lap dash to the checkers. While Zacharias had the lead, Nichols mounted a challenge and had the top spot as the white flag was waving. Zacharias went to the high side, held his line, was way up against the front stretch wall, and beat the veteran driver to the finish line for his second win this year. “Wow, that was fun racing with Mike. He gives you room and races you clean, and that was an awesome way to win,” he said from victory lane. Nichols finished second, ahead of Robinson, Chapman and Tim Gullo. “I wanted that trophy the minute I saw it,” Zacharias added. Robinson’s third place finish sealed the deal for him to lock up the 2019 Super Stock championship after a bit of an up and down season.
Greg Moldt came into the final 4 Cylinder race atop the point standings. Last year he was also there, leading the points with two weeks remaining but a wreck took him out of contention and the title went elsewhere. Friday night all systems were ‘go’ and his was the only car parked in victory lane as the race winner and the 2019 track champion. Moldt started fourth and had the lead as lap one clicked off, with Monica Green second and Joey Bevacqua third. The only caution period came when Mark Taylor stopped at the exit of turn four. That set up a three-lap dash to the finish. Moldt was flawless and led the field over those final laps to score his fifth win of the year. Heat winners Green and Bevacqua finished second and third, followed to the line by Ricky Lane and Ryan Purvis. Moldt thanked his sponsors and crew for giving him a car fully capable of being competitive each race week.
For the second week in a row, an anonymous donor put up $500 at the start of the INEX Legends feature with $300 going to a driver who could beat Kyle Youngs and $50 each going to those finishing second through fifth. Youngs was going for his seventh win while Gary Ham had already locked up the 2019 title. Both got what they wanted. “Kyle may have won the battle with those wins, but I won the war,” Ham said during his championship interview. Jody Buckley led early in the 20-lap race and survived a tap from Youngs that spun the latter out. Buckley had Keith Youngs lined up beside him for the restart and Keith led the next lap. Buckley reclaimed the top spot on lap 13 but not for long. Keith got into him and others also spun, giving the lead to Kyle Youngs. He went on to capture the win and the $300 bonus. Ham, whose last win came just a day after his brother was killed in a traffic accident in Las Vegas, spoke of what the title meant to him and his entire family in a tough year. He also brought a little humor to it all. “I ran second to Kyle so much this year that I know every inch of his car.”
In the Carpenter’s Karts Bandolero division the win boiled down to a last-lap pass. Jeffrey Noe led the opening lap while Chase Sinsabaugh took second from heat winner Josh Duke. Sinsabaugh led the third lap, just before Derrick Vogler spun and put the 10-lap race under caution. Two additional cautions slowed the race but not the drivers going for the win. Duke took over the top spot and appeared headed to his 13th win in car #13, but Bandit racer Sinsabaugh had other plans. He got under Duke’s car in turn three on the final lap, held on through turn four, and won the drag race to the finish. Duke, an Outlaw, was second but the top in his class. Vogler was third with Noe fourth. Consistency resulted in track championships for Duke in the Outlaw class and Sinsabaugh in the Bandits.
The only remaining item of business is the 2019 banquet, and the date for that has yet to be determined. For information on that, or other track-related items, log on to the track’s website: chemungspeedrome.net, ‘like’ us on Facebook: Chemung Speedrome – Racing at the Drome, or call Ray Hodge, Promoter, at 607-483-3468.
Charlie Sharpsteen, Garrett Zacharias and Greg Moldt won free wings from Buffalo Wild Wings in Horseheads in the ‘Winner Winner Chicken Dinner’ bonus.
His 6th place finish earned Damon Frutchey $25 toward shock dynoing, donated by Eagle One Fabrication and Speed and Down Force Shocks.
In pre-race ceremonies the track observed a moment of silence for Mike Stefanik. He competed in two Modified Tour events at Chemung, finishing sixth in 2001 and third in 2008.
Track employees, along with drivers and crew members, gathered on the frontstretch prior to opening ceremonies to thank the fans and all of them for the part they played in a successful 2019. Race Director Jerry Sinsabaugh then presented a plaque of appreciation to Ray and Ellen Hodge for stepping up to lease the track this year. Fans signed a huge card of thanks, and an infield helmet drive last week resulted in a nice gift card for the Hodges.
A boy scout troop led the salute to the flag prior to the national anthem.
Sunoco Modifieds (40 Laps): Charlie Sharpsteen, Gene Sharpsteen, Zack Curren, John Wilber, Bryan Sherwood, Damon Frutchey, Steven Sherwood, Scott Reagan, Zack Knowlden, Gary Noe, Pat Judson
Heats: G. Sharpsteen, B. Sherwood
2019 Track Champion: Zack Curren
Super Stocks (25 Laps, Russ Tubbs Memorial): Garrett Zacharias, Mike Nichols, Nick Robinson, Frank Chapman, Tim Gullo, Ajay Potrzebowski, Jesse Hurley, Ed Kelly, Dennis Beardslee, Don Archibald (DNS)
Heats: Robinson, Zacharias
2019 Track Champion: Nick Robinson
4 Cylinders (20 Laps): Greg Moldt, Monica Green, Joey Bevacqua, Ricky Lane, Ryan Purvis, Alex Brown, Mark Taylor, Shannon Raezer, Jason Peck (DNS)
Heats: Green, Bevacqua
2019 Track Champion: Greg Moldt
INEX Legends (25 Laps): KYLE YOUNGS, Gary Ham, Sean Verwys, Charlie Lohmeyer, Jody Buckley, Keith Youngs, Chelsea Sellars, Chuck Lohmeyer
2019 Track Champion: Gary Ham
INEX Bandoleros (10 Laps): Chase Sinsabaugh (Bandit), Josh Duke (Outlaw), Derrick Vogler, Jeffrey Noe
2019 Track Champions: Josh Duke (Overall and Outlaw), Chase Sinsabaugh (Bandit)