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Speedway celebrates 4th of July in style

By Staff | Jul 8, 2009

The opening night of the two-day July 3-4 celebration of speed and the nation’s birthday was a solid gold hit with fans of all ages, as ‘the Bullring’ hosted a near SRO crowd which marveled at the fireworks, were thrilled with Monster Truck action, motorcycle jumps and stunts, and got a taste of some great racing action.

The opening night of the ‘Wayside Furniture’ Mod-Lite Nationals saw an impressive 45 car field representing six area states vying for 22 starting positions. A single caution was the only stoppage in the 20 lap main event, and proved to be the race’s turning point.

Salisbury, MD’s Tim White had led from the drop of the green with Somerset, PA hot shoe Mike Hay mirroring his every move. The lap 8 restart saw White change his turn one entrance to a lower lane, providing Hay a open line in the high groove.

Hay took the bait, and the lead after racing wheel to wheel with White for that circuit.

White threw everything but the kitchen sink at Hay trying to retake the lead, all to no avail as Hay’s self designed and built ‘5 Star Racing Products/ Hay’s Auto Parts No.22’ was up to the challenge.

“This is my absolute favorite track,” Hay stated in his on track interview, It’s always prepared well, and really fun to race on. The folks down here don’t realize how good they have it to be able to race here every week.

“This win should go to my brother. He prepares the car, and made a set-up change before the feature that really helped bring the car to life,” he added.

The ‘Litman Excavating FASTRAK sanctioned Late Model’ main started as runaway and turned into a nail-biting finish. Third generation driver Daniel Hill was poised to scribe his name alongside his grandfather (Earl) and father (Bobby) in the Tyler County Speedway record book, as the Greenwood, W.Va. driver built a huge lead in the 20 lap main.

Leaving Sonny Conley and Joel Prosser to determine who would chase him to the checkered flag, Hill had a near straightaway lead when he caught the back of the field. In a side by side race for position themselves, the back markers inadvertently blocked Hill’s run, and allowed Conley, Prosser and 9th starting Kyle Thomas to reel the leader in with just two circuits remaining. The final two laps had fans on their feet, cheering themselves hoarse for their favorite driver as it was now anyone’s race.

Hill desperately looked for an opening, but fate wasn’t on his side this night. Conley went to the extreme high line entering turn 3, and the five-car gaggle bounced off each other like billiard balls when one of the lapped cars got sideways as they a charged to the checkered flag.

His choice of line proved to be the races winning move, as Conley streaked to the line first, having lead only the final 75 feet of the race. Prosser followed Conley’s lead, and was rewarded with a runner-up finish, as the disappointed Hill spun backward across the finish line in third, narrowly edging Thomas, with Derek Doll completing the top five.

Upon exiting his winning ‘MandH Trucking/Conley Enterprises No.1×1’ Conley said “We were all bottled up there at the end. I got into Daniel the lap before by accident and backed off so I didn’t spin him” “My only choice at the end was to go high if I wanted to win, and luckily it worked”. Conley’s win was his first of the season at ‘the Bullring’, and he and Hill took the prelims.

Newark, Ohio’s Luke Fairburn has made a weekly long tow to Tyler County to compete in the ‘Sigler Fabrication Hot Mod’ division. Always competitive but yet to have that elusive first win, Fairburn began his personal Independence Day celebration early with a dominating win in the Hot Mod main. The rim riding Fairburn left some tremendous battles for position in his rear view mirror, leading all 15 circuits to become the season’s fifth different feature winner in the track’s newest division.

Fairburn’s unsponsored No.66dd missed a white hot battle for second that saw Greg Conger continuously turn back the hard charging Josh Sigler, as the duo crossed the stripe together in that order just ahead of Kenny Isner and Rod Nething. Fairburn and Bob Long garnered heat race honors.

Middlebourne’s Danny Thomas tallied his second feature win in as many weeks, and third of the season in the ‘WXCR Classic Rock’ Pure Stock division main event.

Brad Thomas looked to have his fifth win of the season within his reach when mechanical woes caused his demise, handing Danny Thomas the lead at the races midway point. That break was all Danny T. needed, as his ‘Wable Ford – Mercury/ MandH Trucking sponsored No.7’ roared to a convincing win ahead of Jeff Fornash, Brian Shaffer, Mike Mason and Al Wagner, who rounded out the top 5. Brad and Danny Thomas were the heat race winners.

Pennsboro’s Anthony Lopez led flag to flag to score his first ever win in the ‘Custom Engraving and Award Junkyard Warrior’ feature. Eighth starting Josh Fulks methodically worked his way into contention but could never find an opening before the laps ran out. Jonathon Sheets, Ivan Wamsley and John Sinnett followed.

Steven West and Tony Cochran took the twin feature wins in the ‘Bridgeport Equipment and Tool’ MWRA Mini-Wedges.

Ma Nature threatened the July 4 Independence Day celebration at the Tyler County Speedway, but the BDS Promotional team didn’t flinch at the threats of rain, and fans were rewarded with the superior racing provided by the 166 competitors that represented seven states.

The 30 lap ‘Hillbilly Hustle’ feature for the ‘Midcap Land and Timber Late Model’ division saw Middlebourne’s Steve Weigle jet off the outside pole to lead Paul Wilmoth Jr. and Jarod Hawkins. Weigle was literally rim riding the extremely fast high banks, as Wilmoth nipping at his heels and showing the leader his nose nearly every circuit.

Butch McGill was moving from his 6th starting position, advancing to 4th ahead of Steve Wilmoth, Scott Peltz and Chris Carpenter in a no holds barred battle behind the lead trio.

Hawkins scooted beneath Wilmoth, grabbing second on lap 19, then set his sights on the flying Weigle. As positions shuffled behind them, the lead trio set a blistering pace, and a lap 22 caution for McGill allowed everyone to catch their breath.

Weigle dropped the hammer on the restart, looking as if he were poised to take his first feature win of the season. Riding on the razor thin edge, Weigle contacted the wall exiting turn 2, climbing the guardrail and riding the wall for 70′ before coming to rest on the track again. Weigle emerged unscathed from the wild accident, but his run was over.

Hawkins inheritance turned into a $2000 pay day as he turned back Wilmoth’s challenges the final 6 laps to take his division leading third feature win of the season in the ‘Hawkins Wrecker Service/ Melvin’s Automatic Transmissions No.37’.

“I don’t know if I had enough to pass Steve tonight. He was really strong in that high groove” said the happy winner as he was surrounded by his crew. “I gotta thank my brother Jacob. This is his car, and his engine that I’ve been running”, laughingly adding “He probably wants 50% of the winnings!”.

Wilmoth, suffering from severe back pain from ruptured discs, soldiered on for a hard earned second place finish, while Scott Peltz put in a workmanlike performance finishing third after dropping deep into the field early in the race. Steve Wilmoth and Bill Brown advanced through the field to round out the top 5. Peltz was the evenings fast qualifier as he turned a lap of 12.94, and Paul Wilmoth and Weigle garnered heat race wins.

The 6th annual ‘Dickson Classic’, memorializing the late Paul and Ellenora Dickson, has become one of area’s most prestigious races for the open wheel modifeds. A large and talented field of Tri-State Modified Association (TSMA) assembled for the 2009 version, and the thrilling finish will go down in ‘Bullring’ record books as one of the closest finishes in track history.

Sentimental favorite Mark Dickson wrestled the lead from fellow front row starter Tony Garber after a side by side circuit around the smooth high banks. Dickson threatened to make it a runaway, as he jetted around the track rim, growing his lead in the process.

Ken Riddle quickly moved from his fifth starting position, bypassing Garber for second on lap 3, and Jason Brookover followed suit by moving into third on lap 8. Riddle closed the gap as leader Dickson started lapping cars on the 15th circuit, but found himself frustrated as Dickson again disappeared as he quickly dispatched the back markers.

The races second and final caution on lap 18 set up a tremendous finish that those in attendance will long remember. Dickson led the field back to green, riding the rim with Riddle diving to the low groove. Both drivers had cast their die on their lane choice, and the result was an ongoing exchange of the lead position. Dickson was scored as the leader on lap 19, while Riddle past the stripe first on laps 20 and 21. The lead was changing multiple times ever lap, but Dickson forged back to the front on lap 22 as the pair of open wheel veterans kept the crowd on their feet. Riddle clawed back on the bottom as laps 23 and 24 were led by Dickson, who held an extremely small margin heading into the final turns.

Riddle threw his ‘Fastenal/Riddler Chassis No.1K’ into the final turn as he and Dickson both lit the afterburners in the run to the checkers. Screaming to the finish side by side, Riddle scored the win with a margin of victory no more than six inches at the scoring pylon.

“Oh man, what a race!” said the obviously pleased Riddle as he slid out of his car. “I honestly had no idea who won. I consider it a real honor to win this race, and Mark really made me work for this win. Dickson was introspective, congratulating Riddle on his win, and thanking the crowd for their support. After the last couple of weeks, a second place finish feels pretty good.

Lost in the lead battle was Darren Glover’s charge from fifth to third during the final five circuits.

“I bolted on a little harder tire figuring I would have to be racing hard under people to get to the front. It really fired there at the end,” said Glover afterwards.

Freddy Carpenter’s ‘Steel Block Mafia’ rolled into the ‘Bullring’ with their guns blazing in a wild 40 lap feature event. FASTRAK division point leader Gary Knollinger took an early lead, as his GM crate engine provided ample power to pace the 20 car field.

Behind Knollinger, a wild battle raged between Dusty Hamrick, Donnie Dotson, Buck Rine, Freddy and Tyler Carpenter. This would continue until a lap 10 caution for a Zack Dohm spin would slow the action. In a genuine show of sportsmanship, Freddy Carpenter stopped to inform track officials that he had inadvertently spun Dohm, taking blame for the incident and going to the tail in place of Dohm for the restart.

Knollinger continued his dominance through a pair of front stretch wrecks that regrouped the field, leading through the halfway mark as positions continued to change off his spoiler.

Dohm was on the move, dispatching Hamrick for second on lap 24, the sneaking past Knollinger in lapped traffic on the 30th circuit.

Hamrick ‘s persistence paid off as he finally found an opening to bypass Knollinger on lap 39, but it was too late to catch Dohm’s ‘Axis Custom Graphics/ Dohm Cycle Sales’ No.25, as the Cross Lanes, WV driver scored his second ‘Bullring’ win of the season. Hamrick and Knollinger followed, with 20th and final starting Joel Prosser completing a sterling drive to the front in 4th and 12th starting Duane Moreland rounding out the top 5. DJ Cline’s 13.77 second lap was quickest. Hamrick, Knollinger and Dotson garnered heat wins, with Kyle Thomas winning the B-main.

Mikey Hay scored bookend wins in the ‘Wayside Furniture Mod-Lite Nationals’ feature. After dominating the second half of Friday’s opening night win, Hay had to provide some last lap dramatics to score the Saturday night finale. Danville, Indiana’s Kenny Gross led from the outset of the 20 lap main, turning back, Allen Knepper, Levi Spinneweber and a host of other challengers before Hay moved into second on the 16th circuit. Hay ratcheted up the pressure as the laps wound down, finally moving past as the lead duo came to the white flag.

Gross threw caution to the wind in trying to retake the lead, but his “checkers or wreckers” move sent him hard into the backstretch guardrail, all but rolling the car, and spoiling a fine run. This allowed Spinneweber and Todd Canter to chase Hay across the finish line.

His wins on Friday and Saturday night also earned the Keystone State ace a $300 bonus from Codi Watson’s ‘Outlaw Vinyll Graphics.’

The ‘Sigler Fabrication Hot Mod’ main event was a dandy, as the lead pack swapped positions in a high speed game of ‘king of the hill’. Leader Travis Dickson fended off Kenny Isner, before Isner fell from contention with mechanical woes on lap 7.

At that point Josh Sigler took up the chase, before relinquishing second to Travis Thomas on the ninth circuit. Sigler roared back to second and gave it one final shot in an attempt to dislodge the high flying Dickson from the lead. Sigler’s ‘old college try’ wasn’t enough, and allowed Rod Nething and Thomas to scoot past on the final lap, as all had to settle for chasing Dickson’s ‘Realwood Custom Interiors/ Melvin’s Automatic Transmissions No.16’, as the third generation racer scored his class leading 4th feature win of the season.

Rod Nething’s second and the hard luck Thomas’s third place finish were the duos season best, as Sigler settled for 4th ahead of Mike Lauer. Isner and Dickson were the prelim winners.

A vacationing Brian Shaffer handed the key’s to the potent ‘Ellenboro Exxon/Perkins Supply No.44’ to Pennsboro’s Shawn Jett, who led all 15 circuits enroute to a win in the ‘WXCR 92.3 FM Classic Rock’ Pure Stock feature. Jett led Jeff Fornash, Brad Thomas, Danny Thomas and Cody Henthorn in the caution filled event. Fornash and Jett were the heat race winners.

Billy Bunnell held off fellow Clarksburg neighbors Ivan and Donnie Wamsley in a slam bang finish to the ‘Custom Engraving and Awards Junkyard Warrior’ feature. The trio were followed by Jonathon Sheets and Shayne Brown.

Anastasia Jones and Jordan Doty scored wins in the twin feature wins in the ‘Bridgeport Equipment and Tool’ MWRA Mini-Wedges.