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Conley wins electrifying 20th annual Topless 50

By Staff | May 7, 2014

Sonny Conley

An epic night at the ‘Bullring’ for the 20th annual Topless 50 would see a little bit of everything May 3. From new track records, first time winners, legendary side by side duals, and a daring outside charge for victory were all in front of a packed house that left the Tyler County Speedway faithful buzzing afterward. Local standout and New Martinsville native Sonny Conley would steal the show in picking up his second Topless 50 title in thrilling fashion over a very talented field. A stout 110-car field took part in the traditional Topless event with Robbie Scott, JE Stalder, Jim Ruckman, Chad Smith, Bill Tennant, and Brady Smith also picking up coveted ‘Bullring’ wins.

The Elite 8 Super Late Model tour would set the tone for their first ever show by witnessing the “Showstopper” Tim Dohm return to the ‘Bullring’ and blistering the quarter-mile racey oval in 12.12 seconds, lowering the previous track record held by Mike Benedum. Three heat races were run, setting the stage for the 20th annual Topless 50 with Chuck Harper, Zack Dohm, and Sonny Conley picking up heat race wins.

With the table set for a Tyler County Speedway classic, the fan favorite Topless 50 event would see five different leaders and side-by-side racing aplenty throughout the field. Chuck Harper would lead lap one while fourth starting Jared Hawkins would blast by on lap two and stretch out an early comfortable lead while fifth and seventh starting Paul Wilmoth and Keith Barbara would begin their assault on the front, picking off cars one at a time. Hawkins would see his lead diminish as the Fairmont, W.Va., racer would suffer a flat tire midway through the race and bring out the caution, setting up an epic chapter in the Topless 50 history.Double-file restarts being utilized by Elite 8 officials would set up a highly contested Wilmoth and Barbara battle as the field went back to green. With Barbara on the high side and Wilmoth uncharacteristically on the bottom, the lead duo would wage a side-by-side war for some dozen laps in breathtaking fashion as only the ‘Bullring’ can provide. Meanwhile behind the lead duo would also see row after row of side by side action as an intense battle raged for third and fourth between Sonny Conley and Zack Dohm. A late race caution was waved as Chuck Harper slammed the outside guardrail coming out of turn four, collecting Davey Johnson and Dusty Hamrick and bringing out the event’s last caution. Once again it would be Barbara and Wilmoth lining up for an eight-lap shootout. However, when the green flag dropped it was the familiar 1×1 of Sonny Conley who would blast around the top shelf of the speedway in daring fashion. He would first pass Wilmoth and then blow by Barbara coming off of turn two with four laps to go to lead the rest of the way. Conley would cross under the stripe, grabbing his second Topless 50 title to a rousing applause from the appreciative crowd. Following the New Martinsville racer was seventh starting Keith Barbara, Paul Wilmoth, Zack Dohm, and Devin Moran.

Robbie Scott aboard the Kenny’s Machine, Slavic Decals, Swift Springs, Integra Shocks, Rocket Chassis would claim his second Peoples Bank FASTRAK Late Model victory of the season by picking up the ‘Topless 25’. A stout field of 21 eager FASTRAK racers would hit the highbanks in search of Topless glory. But it would be the former Topless 50 winner and Shinnston racer holding off Shawn Jett, Tim Dohm, fast qualifier Derek Rogers, and Pennsylvania newcomer Damien Bidwell.

It was a very popular and well deserved win for veteran racer Jim Ruckman in the Modlite division. A long time competitor at Tyler County Speedway, Ruckman of Waverly, W.Va., would not find his first speedway win easy as he would have to hold off previous winners Jeff Fornash and Mitch Ward. Lap after lap Ruckman would hit his marks in near perfect fashion and drive to victory ahead of Fornash, Ward, Brandon Fluharty, and Ryan Baker.

Another first timer, JE Stalder of Martins Ferry, Ohio driving the 17JE, machine would park his ride in the Tyler County Speedway victory lane for his first feature win by blasting around the topside of the speedway. Hot on his tail would be Gerald Deitch, Bird Wilson, Del Cunningham and Tommy Powell.

Picking up his 4th win in a row at Tyler County Speedway in the Hotmod division was Chad Smith of Sardis, Ohio aboard the black and camo 10s. The night started out with Smith getting involved in a grinding crash on the frontstretch during the dash. The determined and defending track champion would roll off his 6th starting spot in the feature and pick off his competitors one by one in convincing fashion. Following Smith across the line were Darrin Glover, Lou Ennis, Kenny Isner, and Levi Flesher.

In the FWD 4 Cylinder division it was Bill Tennant garnering his second win in a row. Tennant would hold off a pesky Donnie Wamsley across the stripe as the duo was followed by Robert Frohnapfel, Jason Frazier, and Scott Critchfield.

Brady Reed would grab the win in the JJK Mineral MWRA Mini Wedge division besting Kylie Cross, Dalton Anderson, Steve Frazier, and Roo Roo Dotson rounded out the top five.

Hit the track next Saturday Night, May 10, for the annual Tammy Clegg Tribute Hotmod Invitational plus King of the Kounty Night #1 for the Late Models, Modifieds, 4 Cylinders and regular racing in all other classes. Gates open at 4 p.m., racing at 7 p.m., general admission is $10, pits $30, with children 10 and under free. For more information visit www.tylercountyspeedwayonline.com or call 304-771-6874.


J&R Excavating Super Late Models presented by Midcap Land & Timber, 20th Annual Topless 50 Results: Sonny Conley, Keith Barbara, Paul Wilmoth, Zack Dohm, Devin Moran, Mike Benedum, Butch McGill, Jared Miley, Dusty Hamrick, Bryan Casey, Davey Johnson, Chuck Harper, Derek Doll, Donnie Dotson, Jared Hawkins, Scott Irvin, Billy Brown DNS: Jacob Hawkins, Tim Dohm, Steve Weigle

Peoples Bank FASTRAK Late Models Topless 25 Results: Robbie Scott, Shawn Jett, Tim Dohm, Derek Rogers, Damien Bidwell, Daniel Hill, Kyle Thomas, Brandon McGrady, Bill Shaffer, Brandon Francis, Ryan Payne, Danny Thomas, Brian Baumberger, Todd Chicklo, Kenny Rucker, Travis Brown, Joel Prosser, Andy Brown, Chuck Kimball, Tyler Stutler, Jamie America

Hotmod Workin’ Man World Championship Qualifier #2 Results: Chad Smith, Darrin Glover, Lou Ennis, Kenny Isner, Levi Flesher, Curtis Watson, Steve Magyar, Brandon Weigle, Jim Dudley, Travis Thomas, Chris Thomas, Brad Dickson, CJ Dotson, Brian Clegg, Lindsey Smarr, Allen Moore, Cody Brightwell, Josh Gump, Stevi Magyar

Modlite Results: Jim Ruckman, Jeff Fornash, Mitch Ward, Brandon Fluharty, Ryan Baker, Ryan Saffell, Kelvin Kohan, Ron Parrish, Gabe Phillips, Tom Keplinger, Daniel Eddy, Joe Burkhead, Cody Anderson, Terry Williams, Cole Petrelle, Matt Ward

Two Brothers Motorsports Modified Results: JE Stalder, Gerald Deitch, Bird Wilson, Del Cunningham, Tommy Powell, Rex Frohnapfel, Kurt Burge, Kevin Miller, Brian Rush

4 Cylinder Results: Bill Tennant, Donnie Wamsley, Robert Frohnapfel, Jason Frazier, Scott Critchfield, Mike Frazier, Steve Frazier, Tyler Mosser

MWRA Mini Wedge Results: Brady Reed, Kylie Cross, Dalton Anderson, Steven Frazier, Roo Roo Dotson, Levi Jones, Mackenzie Perine, Gage Stalder, Garrett Jones, Harli Rush, Tyler Tennant, Dalton America, Tripp Perine, Phillip Bubeck, Eva Knight, Noah Bubeck.

Located in the scenic West Virginia hills, the Tyler County Speedway is located just four miles south of Middlebourne, on state Route 18 at the fairgrounds. Tyler County Speedway is considered by fans, drivers, and industry insiders to be one of the raciest tracks in the nation and has been dubbed the ‘Bullring’ with three- and four-wide racing action being the norm, not the exception.

Tyler County Speedway annually hosts some of the largest and most popular events in the Ohio Valley region. National and regional touring series such as the World of Outlaw Late Model Series, NDRL King of Dirt, Renegades of Dirt Modified Tour, FASTRAK Racing Series and much more appear frequently. In addition to the incredible special event lineup, the Tyler County Speedway Weekly Racing Series consists of the Super Late Models, FASTRAK Late Models, Open Wheel Modifieds, Hotmods, ModLites, FWD 4 Cylinders and MWRA Mini Wedges on Saturday Nights April thru September. For additional information regarding the 40th anniversary season at the Tyler County Speedway follow them online at www.tylercountyspeedwayonline.com, phone the track office at 304-771-6874 or 304-771-5661, or on raceday at 304-758-2660.