BETHEL, NY – This past Saturday at Bethel Motor Speedway was emotional, memorable, and one for
the track’s storybook. The night was dedicated to Gary O’Donnell, a long time competitor and supporter of the track who sadly passed away just six days prior. Family and friends flooded the speedway to mourn and tribute the night in the racer’s honor.
The night was sponsored by the Bubblegum Rally Car Club who put their sport cars on display both in the midway and on the track for an exhibition during intermission. The night was highlighted in the Interstate Batteries Pro Stock feature as Larry O’Donnell was able to end his winless drought of several years by scoring a highly emotional victory over defending champion Ed Butler. O’Donnell and Butler ran a side by side battle from the race’s halfway point to the very end. Earlier in the season, these two drivers put on a similar clinic of door to door racing with Butler squeezing out a victory by half a car length. On this night, O’Donnell proved too strong and despite several late race challenges for the lead by Butler they all came up short to get the lead.
Despite the several late race restarts, O’Donnell was flawless on each one and as the crowd cheered, he brought home the Tri-Counties Automotive/KFM Trucking #5 freight train to a very special dual checkered flags for his first win of the season over a very close running Ed Butler and Mike Policastro. An emotionally charged victory lane found O’Donnell dedicating the win to his late brother Gary along with thanking all his family, friends, and fans for coming out and giving all their support.
While the night was dedicated to a long time successful racer at the speedway, the Extreme Kleaner Sportsman feature found another track legend, Jerry Curry returning to victory lane ending his winless drought as well. Curry was able to outgun polesitter Dan Dulin on the initial lap and jumped out to the lead. Ed Dachenhausen quickly jumped into second and challenged Curry throughout the race. The race ran with no cautions with Dachenhausen trying to get by Curry several times high and low but despite the pressure, Curry proved he had the winning combination. At the checkers, Curry took home his first feature win of the season by half a car length over Dachenhausen. Former champ, Kyle Redner took home third after a long fought battle with a returning Bill Papula.
Nascar Whelen Tour Modified driver Joe DeGracia had an off night from the series and returned to his old hometrack for the evening. It proved to be a wise choice for him as he was able to capitalize from his front row starting position to lead every lap in the Interstate Battery Modified feature to claim his first victory of the season in his Kona Ice #23. While DeGracia was leading, others saw Skip LaPolt thundering through the field
and in second position after a late race tangle in turn 3 which collected second and third place running Mike Dutka and Tyler Dachenhausen. On the restart, LaPolt put on a strong bid to overtake the leader DeGracia for the last few circuits but had to contently settle for second position by about half a car length. Lapolt’s father in law, Steve Conkling also took home third spot at the finish creating a family affair at the podium.
Legends feature action found Mike Policastro coming from his fourth starting position to overtake a strong running Chris Gall on lap seven to pick up his second feature win of the season and extend his point lead. Gall finished a strong second over ARCA driver Joe Graf Jr, who was coming off a strong fifth place finish at Michigan International Speedway one day earlier.
The Shakelton Auto Parts Street Stock feature saw veteran driver Joel Murns Jr. jumping out to the early lead over rookie Corey Stanton. Murns, who is related to the O’Donnell family, continued to lead the race until the halfway point despite having a heavy heart. Murns then got his hands full with Walt Henry who was putting on an outside charge. Murns ran him hard, running door to door for several laps until Henry got the pass completed. As Henry began to pull away, Murns found a returning Kyle Welsch challenging him for second. Welsch pulled ahead of Murns on lap 15 and set his sights on the leader Henry. Welsch, who was a long time friend of O’Donnell was on a mission to pick up this special win on this night and began closing in on the leader. On the white flag lap, the yellow waved for a spinning Dan Houghtaling in turn 2 setting up a one lap dash to the checkers. On the restart, Henry was able to shut the door on Welsch and retain his lead by one car length at the finish line picking up his second win of the season with his JBM Truck Repair #171 over Welsch and Murns.
The four cylinder pure stock class found yet another first time winner by feature’s end. Richard Smith who burned the midnight oil to get his car ready for the night’s action proved to be fruitful as he picked up his first career feature win at the speedway.
However, it was no easy task on the track either as he swapped the lead back and forth with his uncle, Dan Curry for the first half off the race. After halfway, Curry began to fade and Smith was able to pull away to pick up the win over John Houghtaling and a returning Brent Shaddock. Smith is now the fifth different winner in as many races for the ultra competitive class this season.
Mike Roth continued his dominance in the Bandolero class as he picked up his fifth
feature win of the season over Katie Verwys and Brian Rygielski.
The Beginner Bando feature found leader Colton Geary getting tangled up with a lap car
resulting in a turn 4 crash. When racing resumed Monica Deckelman and Ty Smith
battled for the lead. At the finish line, Smith picked up his second win of the season over
Deckelman and Leland Oefelein.
Sportsman Feature : 1. Jerry Curry, Neversink, NY 2. Ed Dachenhausen 3. Kyle
Redner 4. Bill Papula 5. Rick Mill 6. Dan Dulin 7. Paul Martin 8. Rich Coons
Modified Feature: 1. Joe DeGracia, Lyndhurst, NJ 2. Skip LaPolt 3. Steve Conklin 4.
John Cote 5. Wayne Kirkpatrick 6. Scott Quick 7. Mike Dutka 8. Tyler Dachenhausen 9.
Jim Fugel 10. Stephen Kammer
Legends Feature: 1. Mike Policastro, Cortland Manor, NY 2. Chris Gall 3. Joe Graf Jr.
4. Sean Verwys 5. Kenny Hopkins 6. Conner Piasecki
Pro Stock Feature: 1. Larry O’Donnell, Monticello, NY 2. Ed Butler 3. Mike Policastro 4.
Kyle Welsch 5. Porter Crawson 6. Gary Gamble DNS. Mac Crawson
Street Stock Feature : 1. Walt Henry, Walden, NY 2. Kyle Welsch 3. Joel Murns 4.
Eddie Jones Jr. 5. Bill Deak Sr. 6. Patty Falkena 7. Bill Deak Jr. 8. Ernie Millen 9. Frank
Maiori 10. Corey Stanton 11. Dan Houghtaling
Four Cylinder Feature: 1. Richard Smith, Neversink, NY 2. John Houghtaling 3. Brent
Shaddock 4. Cody Houghtaling 5. Cliff Levinson DQ. Dan Curry DNS. Tom Cavagnino
Bandolero Feature: 1. Mike Roth, North Branch, NY 2. Katie Verwys 3. Brian Rygielski
4. Nick Archiere 5. Justin Aungst 6. Joey Lamontagne 7. Joey Aungst
Beginner Bandos: 1. Ty Smith, Eldred, NY 2. Monica Deckelman 3. Leland Oefelein 4.
Jordan Smith 5. Colton Geary 6. Kaden Rogers