I-88 Speedway Race Report

by Steve Clapperton

I-88 Speedway recap for April 18, 2014

Opening Night

Opening Night Winners at I-88 Speedway 04/18/2014
Opening Night winners at I-88 Speedway

Images © SJS Photo
Click on image for larger version.
Chad Cook, Alan Barker, Gary Roberts, Doug Polhamus and Erik Wagner won their respective features before a packed house on opening night at I-88 Speedway.

Bob Hamm and Cook led the 23 car Greg Page Construction Modified starting field to Raymond Kennerup’s green flag with Hamm taking the early lead. The Windsor driver wouldn’t hold on the lead for long as Cook took over the top spot in turn four and was leading at the completion of the first lap.

The first caution of the event came on lap three when Otego’s J.R. Hurlburt slowed in turn one. When the race restarted, Cook was the leader with Brian Weaver second, Arnie Slade of Guilford third, Hamm fourth and Edmeston’s Paul Jensen fifth.

Tenth starting Mitch Gibbs passed Hamm for fourth on lap eight and one lap later the leaders began to encounter lapped traffic.

The caution flew on lap 9 when John Siedlecky of Windsor came to a stop in turn two. Cook, out of Deposit, continued to lead with Weaver running second, Slade third, Gibbs fourth and Hamm in fifth. On the ensuing restart Slade pulled next to Weaver to challenge for second place. Slade was unable to complete the pass before Marcus Dinkins of Watkins Glen spun out in turn one bringing out the caution.

Gibbs, of Norwich, passed Slade for third on the restart and at the halfway point held on to third while Cook had opened up a five car length advantage over Weaver who maintained second place. Gibbs continued to charge to the front from his tenth place starting spot and on lap 20 used the outside line coming off turn two getting a run on Weaver before coming out of turn four in second place.

Fly Creek’s Jeff Leslie came to a stop in turn four bringing out the final caution on lap 23. When the race restarted Cook continued his dominance in pulling away to an eight car length win over Gibbs, Binghamton’s Weaver, Slade and Brett Tonkin of Carbondale PA.

Brandon Walters of Unadilla took the lead at the start of the 20 lap Chambers and O’Hara Sportsmen feature from the outside front row starting position. Defending Sportsmen track champion Alan Barker moved into second place from his fourth starting position with Bill Spoonhower of Berkshire close behind in third.

Barker took the lead from Walters on lap three coming off turn four and two laps later Spoonhower made the same move into second. After the caution came out on lap five, Barker, of Norwich, chose the outside for the restart and continued to lead Spoonhower at the drop of the green. Spoonhower pressured Barker for the lead but was unable to take command of the race.

The caution came out on lap ten when Norwich’s Tyler Ward came to a stop in turn four with a broken front end. On the restart Barker continued to lead as Walters challenged Spoonhower for second but was unable to make the pass.

The final caution of the event came on lap 13 and Barker pulled away to a commanding half straightaway lead and cruised to the win. Spoonhower finished second with Kevin Coons of Walton crossing the line third. Walters finished fourth with Walton’s Butch Klinger rounding out the top five.

The Vernooy’s Automotive Excellence IMCA Modified 20 lap proved to be the race of the night as two racing veterans put on a classic race for the win. Defending track champion and winner of nine races in the 2013 season James Cornell took the lead from his outside front row starting position. While Cornell was in the lead, tenth starting Gary Roberts of Nineveh found an outside line and began to pick his way to the front. The first caution of the event came on lap three when Walton’s Tim Vandemark spun in turn four. When the race restarted, Cornell was leading with Cobleskill’s Bill Ward running second, Jared Spalding third, Roberts had moved into fourth and Binghamton’s Matt Cole was in fifth. Again taking to the outside line Roberts moved into second place by lap six when the caution came out as Brian Mills of Deposit came to a stop coming off turn four.

With Cornell choosing the outside for the double file restart, Roberts found the bottom to his liking as he was able to pull alongside the leader.

The final caution of the event came on lap 15 with Cornell leading and Roberts running second. Cornell continued to use the high line around the speedway but Roberts’ lower and shorter route was paying off coming off turn four. Cornell began to protect the bottom and as the two racers entered turn three on the last lap there was contact. Both drivers maintained control, but Roberts was able to cross the line a half car length ahead of the defending track champion and take the win. Afton’s Kurt Decker finished third with Jared Spalding of Troy PA fourth and Billy Ward fifth.

Randy Fox of Pleasant Mount PA took the early lead in the 20 lap Olum’s Street Stock feature and by lap 7 had opened a half straightaway lead over the field. With the leader in lapped traffic, Windsor’s Doug Polhamus went three wide with Brenton Miller and Steve Polhamus down the front stretch in moving from fourth to second.

Polhamus began to reel in the leader and by lap 12 had caught and passed the leader. Polhamus seemed to have the race under control until the right rear tire started to go flat on lap 18. Polhamus was able to hang on for the win with Fox second, Miller, of Athens PA third, Unadilla’s Dustin Harris fourth and Nineveh’s Matt Roberts fifth.

Brandon Clapperton led the first three laps of the 15 lap McDonald’s Empire Sport Truck feature before Erik Wagner slipped by. Sidney’s Clapperton regained the lead on a restart after a red flag period for Dustin Wilber’s tangle with the front stretch wall resulted in the Unadilla driver’s ride rolling over one time. Wilber was uninjured but was done for the night.

Clapperton led until lap eleven when Afton’s Chris Sherman charged to the point using the outside line. Clapperton’s night would end two laps later when pulled into the infield with battery issues.

Wagner, of Afton, passed Sherman with two laps to go and went on to take the win. Sherman finished second with Unadilla’s Ralph Cuozzo Jr. third, Bob Crandall of Unadilla fifth and Deposit’s Bill Cooper fifth.

Friday, April 18, 2014 -- Opening night -- Results

Greg Page Construction Modifieds (30 Laps):

Chad Cook, Mitch Gibbs, Brian Weaver, Arnie Slade, Paul Jensen, Brett Tonkin, Tim Currier, Bob Hamm, Nick Rochinski, Shaun Walker, Dana Wagner, Donnie Lawson, Russ Zimmerman, Rusty Smith, Nick Nye, Mike Mahaney, Rich Price, Jeff Leslie, J.R. Hurlburt, Darwin Greene, John Siedlecky, Marcus Dinkins, P.J. Goodwin DNS Tim Mayne, Tyler Siri, Mike Clapperton, Sam Allen

Chambers and O’Hara Sportsmen (20 Laps):

Alan Barker, Bill Spoonhower, Kevin Coons, Brandon Walters, Butch Klinger, Randy Green, Skip Pickwick, Corey Pike, Pat O’Hanlon, Gary Card Jr., Dwayne Jackson, Travis Smith, Jake Fowlston, Charlie Hendrickson Jr., Aaron Shelton, Tyler Ward

Vernooy’s Automotive Excellence IMCA Modifieds (20 Laps)

Gary Roberts, James Cornell, Kurt Decker, Jared Spalding, Bill Ward, Mike Stoddard, Tyler Stoddard, Matt Cole, Keith Lamphere, Brian Steigerwald, Tim Vandemark, Gary Smith, Will Ward, Bobby Collins, Rich Green, DNS Ken Winn, Beau Ballard

Olum’s Street Stocks (20 Laps):

Doug Polhamus, Randy Fox, Brenton Miller, Dustin Harris, Matt Roberts, Eric Boynton, Steve Polhamus, Tom Savercool, Jim Gould, Ralph Cuozzo Jr., Paul Harrington

McDonald's 4 cylinder Trucks (15 Laps):

Erik Wagner, Chris Sherman, Ralph Cuozzo Jr., Bob Crandall, Bill Cooper, Brandon Clapperton, Mike Springstead, Allan Hodge, Dustin Wilber, DNS Damon Decker, Todd Stanton DQ Rick Wagner (light)