DELEVAN, NY – A new era began at Freedom Motorsports Park on Friday, May 19th, as the Outlaw Modifieds took center stage for the first time. The division, which allows virtually any type of Modified from Small Block to Big Block, produced some great racing among the 16 drivers on hand from across the region before a good crowd on a cool evening. Most of the Mods sported sail panels, which are also allowed under the new format. The field was buoyed by several drivers who normally race at Ransomville on Friday, but made the tow to Freedom when Ransomville canceled its program.
The 30 lap Modified Feature had a bit of a rough start when Ray Bliss broke on the opening lap, resulting in John Venuto spinning and collecting a hard luck Rick Hoctor in the process. Then, as outside polesitter Ron Cartwright paced the field a four car pileup on the restart involving Tony Pangrazio, Tom Holden, Tom Flannigan, and Patrick Emerling slowed proceedings once again. Fortunately, all four drivers were able to continue.
When the race resumed, a dandy two car battle developed between Cartwright and veteran Billy Van Pelt, which ended when Van Pelt, making a pass for the lead,on lap 12, made slight contact with the lap car of Tony Pangrazio who spun. Van Pelt was forced to retire when his car began smoking. The restart showed Cartwright, Adam Hilton, and Brad Rapp the principals.
Cartwright set a blistering pace, with Hilton, and Rapp nearby. The race came down to a duel between Cartwright and Rapp, who claimed second from Hilton on lap 23. From there, Rapp, from Meadville, PA, immediately pressured Cartwright on the outside before taking the top spot on lap 25. From there he opened a lead over the final five laps to claim the win. Cartwright settled for second, followed by Hilton, Emerling, with a nice recovery from his early mishap, and heat winner Randy Chrysler.
On the race, Rapp offered, “In the heat race it seemed like I was better on the bottom, so I tried it there the first few laps, but it really wasn’t working. Everyone else was running the top so I went up there and was biding my time and made my move when it counted. I waited until I had a clear shot.”
The 25 lap Sportsman Feature saw Ransomville regular James Friesen, from St Catharines, Ontario, take the lead, outgunning fellow Canadian Adam Leslie from the outside pole and dominating the event. The best race was a spirited battle between defending champion Brad Rouse and Dave Flannigan, also a Ransomville regular, for the runner-up spot. Rouse finally claimed the position on lap 19 but ran out of time trying to catch Friesen. Flannigan took third, followed by Adam Ashcroft, and Leslie, making it four Canadians in the top five.
Friesen noted, “This is the first time I’ve been here. It’s a nice track. It’s really racy. It’s smooth on the bottom, and it just took a few laps to get my rhythm going. I could hear someone behind me that made me a little anxious, but I figured I’d just plug the bottom and make him go around me.”
The 20 lap Street Stock Feature went to defending champion Al Brewer, from Belfast, who benefited from a mid race caution to tighten the field, took the lead from Dennis Cummings on lap 12 and drove away from there. Cummings finished a distant second. Brewer remarked, “I really thought we had a second place car tonight, but then I was watching the leader. He was leaving the whole outside groove and I figured ‘There’s a groove for me if I can stick it.’ It worked.”
Finally, defending champion Brad Shepard, from Leroy, driving his daughter’s car, cruised to an easy win in the Mini Stock Feature over Holden Heineman.
NOTES: On his opening night, track promoter Bob Reis, offered, “In my book, the whole thing was successful. We ended up with a really good crowd. The racing was really good in the Sportsman and the Modifieds. It was good in just about everything tonight. As for the surface, Howard Schram from Merrittville has been helping us get this put together so it stays together and I’m super happy with this track out of the box. It’s not rough. There are a couple of little ripples in it, but all in all it’s got good bite and it stayed soft.” On his new Modified class, he added, “You need a class like that to put people in the grandstand.” At first gasp, it seemed to have worked. Comments heard as people were leaving echoed those sentiments………………..Emerling, the defending ROC Champion on the pavement, with very little dirt experience, looked very comfortable, evidenced by his recovery from the early problem, which saw him get collected. He will be a regular at Freedom when his ROC schedule allows, which should be most Fridays.
Modifieds: (30 laps) – 1. Brad Rapp, 2. Ron Cartwright Jr., 3. Adam Hilton, 4. Patrick Emerling, 5. Randy Chrysler, 6. Tom Flannigan, 7. Tom Holden, 8. Cody McPherson, 9. Rick Richner, 10. Shayne Pierce, 11. Scott Wood, 12. Billy Van Pelt, 13. Tony Pangrazio, 14. Ray Bliss, 15. John Venuto, and 16. Rick Hoctor. Heat winners were Chrysler and Hilton.
Sportsman: (25 laps)- 1. James Friesen, 2. Brad Rouse, 3. Dave Flannigan, 4. Adam Ashcroft, 5. Adam Leslie, 6. Kyle Inman, 7. Austin Susice, 8. Dave DiPietro, 9. Brian Bellinger, 10. Ray Bliss, 11. Anthony Muscato, 12. Eric Ensell, 13. Cody Egner, 14. Tim Schram, 15. John Sekoll, 16. Ray Bliss Jr., and 17. Alan Bratek. Heat winners were Rouse and Leslie.
Street Stocks: (20 laps) – 1. Al Brewer, 2. Dennis Cummings, 3. Bill Demming, 4. Ted Mascho, 5. Jason Dobson, 6. Bruno Mowery, 7. Rob Stromecki, 8 .Jake Masco, 9. Steve Sklar, 10. Bill Taylor, 11, Dustin Goss, and 12. Dennis Hathaway. DNS: Joe Chamberlain. Heat winners were Dobson and Demming.
Mini Stocks: (15 laps) – 1. Brad Shepard, 2. Holden Heineman, 3. Matt Mowery, 4. Tom Childs, 5. Austin Woodring, 6. Matt Hornquist, 7. Tom Kulesza, and 8. Robin Coffey. DNS: Cole Susice. Heat winners were Shepard and Coffey.