By LEON ANDRUS
AFTON, NY – The Modified division saw Brandon Walters grab his first Modified feature of his career. In other action it was a night of mixed first-time winners and a night where youth is showing their strength throughout the finishing order. Blaine Klinger became the second teenager in as many weeks to garner his first career feature win in the Crate 602 Sportsman division. Seasoned veteran Jim ‘Rocky’ Rothwell went to the Mirabito Energy Products victory lane at this speedway for the very first time in his storied career in the Open Sportsman division. Doug Polhamus Street Stock, and Tyler Stoddard IMCA Modified became first time winners on the season. Ralph Cuozzo in the combined Four Cylinder Truck and Car division became the first repeat winner of the season.
In the ZMK Modified division Tim Mayne (8m) Ted’s Body Shop Sponsored and Kurt Decker (89) aboard his Hank Decker and Sons machine brought the starting field to the drop of the green from head starter Scott Stevens. Decker charged to the front and tried to open up a little on all the others in hot pursuit of the top spot. After five laps were recorded it was Decker followed by Brandon Waters, JR Hurlburt, Brett Tonkin, and Shaun Walker. Brandon Walters in his Big Top Ice Cream (22) started putting heavy pressure on Decker lap after lap. On lap 11 a caution flew for debris on the track and the top five remained the same as it was on lap five. Another caution flew on lap 12 this time for the leader Decker breaking ending his great run. Now the running order is Walters, Hurlburt, Walker, Ken Titus and Tonkin rounding out the top five. Walters held off all challenges from that point to collect his very first Modified feature. Walters said it was good to get the monkey, no gorilla off his back to garner that first career win in this division. I’ve had many in the Sportsman and a few on fan appreciation night also. The night at the track was fan appreciation night for the Modified and IMCA division so that made it extra special.
In the Chambers & O’Hara Open Sportsman division the (x1) of Donnie Hart Jr Hart Logging and the (4) of Jim Rockwell aboard his Ted’s Body Shop machine occupied the front row at the drop of the green. Hart took off to lead and was trying to stretch it out when a caution came out on lap 4 as Dan Burman (57), Olin Renwick (5r) and Danielle Smith (7up) all came together. The top five at this point was Hart, Rockwell, Dennis Clapperton, Dave Rosa, and Chris Jordan. Tyler Hart broke on the restart causing the yellow to come right back out and the restart remains the same. At lap 10 the caution comes out for Pete Nowicki (11x) breaking on the backstretch. Running order know is the same for top three but Jordan is now fourth and Rosa fifth. On lap 16 Bill Deckleman (90) tags Rosa and sends him around and track officials send Deckleman to the rear also. While that was being sorted out the leader Hart came to a stop at the top of turn one. Reported from the track that the gears came out as the cover came of the quick change. At this point Rothwell took over the top spot and when on to his first ever win at Afton. Clapperton crossed in second followed by Jordan, Jim Gould and Danielle Smith. Rothwell who has never won at this track but has won at many in his career was happy to notch this one finally off the list.
Rinker Insurance Agency Crate 602 Sportsman division saw last week winner (24) Ryan Macartney Old Town Barns and Blain Klinger (9K) Klinger Powersports two young guns start on the front row. Thirteen-year-old Macartney looking to repeat jumps out to the early lead but caution comes out after one lap complete as Jamie Cortazar stops on top of turn four. Tow truck takes the him back to the pits and unfortunately Cortazar couldn’t return. The front row on the restart stays the same and Macartney goes back out front and just before the go across the line for lap six Macartney breaks ending his bid for two-in-a-row. Lap five running order now for the top five is Klinger, Gary Smith (7up), (91) Bobby Flood, Kinser Hill (60x) and Steve Andersen (73A). Caution comes out again on lap six for debris with Flood now second and Smith third. At this point Klinger started running a very strong race and was holding off the constant pressure from Flood another of the young guns at the track. They would battle like that until the final caution waved on lap fifteen for Steve Andersen. At this time Kinser Hill went to the pits ending his night, the top five at this point is now Klinger, Flood, Smith, (56k) Kamdin Maby, and rookie (96) Dustin Harris. The final five laps went without incident and Klinger drove to victory lane for career win number one. Followed closely by Flood, Harris who came on strong for third with Allan Hodge (5H) powering to fourth and Smith. Klinger talked about how much it is a team effort and how hard the work in the shop to get to this point.
On the start of the Pit Stop Auto Street Stock division the front row was a family affair as Father Steve Doug’s Speed Shop (98p) and Son (KP1) Doug Polhamus Kaboom Fireworks occupied the top two spots. Doug Polhamus jumped to the lead when the green flag flew with last week’s winner Butch Green (57) charging from his sixth starting spot to take over second as the top two go across the line to complete the first lap. Lap two a caution flies bringing the action to a halt and when they restart Green overtakes Polhamus for the top spot followed closely by Jake Fowlston (66) Steve Polhamus and Dave Cronk (01). Around lap six or seven a problem seems to be creeping in of the Green machine as it looks like a brake is hanging up on the car. At lap ten the running order is now Doug Polhamus followed by Jake Fowlston with Green, Steve Polhamus and Bob Crandall cracking the top five. Polhamus was able to go on to capture win number one of the season as only one more caution came out on lap 14 for Jason Burgher (57j) spinning. Dave Cronk came on strong in the late going to get to second followed by Fowlston, Green and Crandall in the top five. Polhamus was glad to reach victory lane and was happy how well the track was coming along and said he owes it all to his crew, sponsors and most of all Dad as he makes it all happen.
In the Trophy Guy IMCA Modified division being the only division with a handicap start Eric Stumpf (7s) and the 93G) J.T. Roe started front row. A wild start as the division went four-wide between one and two with Leonard Miller (X) leading lap one from his seventh starting spot. On lap 4 Mike Stoddard heads to the pits with mechanical issues and folks continue to jockey for positions with Gary Roberts leading (U2) Son Matt Roberts (613) and Tyler Stoddard (23) mixing it up for the top spots. Lap 9 sees J.T.Roe spin and the caution comes out. Top five know is Roberts, Stoddard, Matt Roberts, Miller, and cracking top five the (15) of Beau Ballard. Lap 10 sees Stoddard pass Gary Roberts for the lead and the rest of the top six cars battling hard for position. Lap 17 cautions for Gary Roberts going around and collects Ballard. With three laps remaining the top five now is Stoddard, Matt Roberts, Miller, Jim Cummings (7) and Stumpf. Stoddard leads the final three with the top four staying the same and Ballard battling back to crack the top five. Tyler Stoddard says it always feels good to stand in this spot and appreciates the car the Dad gives him to run.
In the final feature the combined Four Cylinder Truck and Car division saw Ralph Cuozzo (00) R.C. Sales and Service cruise to another feature win and the only repeat winner on the night. Steve Condiloro (86) and Dylan Nichols (01) brought the start to the green with Nichols grabbing the top spot and Doug O’Hara and Cuozzo in hot pursuit. Caution on lap 3 for the spin of Pete Christiansen (33) sets the line-up now as Nichols, Cuozzo O’Hara, Condiloro and Jeff Young (17). O’Hara tried pressuring Cuozzo but to no avail as the two ran to the checkers in that order, followed by Nichols, Young and Christiansen. Cuozzo always says thanks to his crew in the shop for keeping this piece in top condition and says all I have to do is get in and drive.
Afton Afterthoughts: In the Modified division Shaun Walker (57) was subbing for Paul Jensen who is nursing sore ribs, and was bidding for the lead at the checkers. Rob Loucks (33) again had a good run finishing sixth in the Open Sportsman subbing for owner Skip Pickwick as he is having back issues. In the same division it was good to see Jim Gould (28) have a nice run after his return this season for a fourth-place finish. Danielle Smith finishing fifth in her first start at the track was a great run. Smith runs as a Rookie at nearby Thunder Mountain Speedway and took to the track very nicely. Another Rookie runner at Thunder is Leah Decker (189) made her first start at the track and brought it home in a nice eleventh-place finish. Finally, in this division making his first start after around twenty years he figures was Pete Nowicki (11x). Mechanical issues on lap ten made him not complete the race. In the Crate division Mike Williams subbing for his wife Lisa in the (10) brought it home 12th for a good run. Mike does his racing with two wheels racing flat track motorcycles. (121) Jamie Cortazar returning to racing after three years away has had a tough two weeks on his return. Last week, he broke a yoke in hot laps ending his night and this week lap one of the feature he got towed off. This week the Four Cylinder Truck/Car division will run in the Erik Wagner Memorial.
The track was in great shape after the crew had a couple dry days in a row to get the hole in three taken care of. If you have not made it out yet this year make sure you do for some Fun Fast Furious Action on the 4/10-mile oval.