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Racing Around: Area racers compete at Syracuse

October 15, 2009
By JAMES A. ELLIS, The Leader-Herald

After being unable to attend Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds for the past couple of years, it was great to be back at the premier racing event.

While some of the luster surrounding the event has faded, the central focus remains - racing.

Rain forced the cancellation of the Friday race card that featured the triple 20 qualifying events for the big block modifieds and the twin 20s for the 358 modifieds.

However, that led to a packed race program Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, the weather broke long enough for big block time trials and there were a couple of surprises. Tim Fuller won the pole, no surprise there, but Dale Planck taking the outside pole and the fourth qualifier Randy Sherlock was a surprise.

Ronnie Johnson, the lone Fonda Speedway regular to time trial for the Rite Aid 200, was 32nd fastest with a lap of 31.385 (114.704 mph). Due to Friday's rain, that is where he would start in Sunday's main event. Johnson drove a steady race to place eighth in the main event.

Glen Ridge Motorsports Park champion Jeff Brownell time trialed 27th (31.240/115.237 mph) but had trouble in the main event, retiring after 53 laps to finish 39th.

The biggest complaint from all the drivers last weekend was about the track conditions. Two big ruts on the front stretch and more dust than usual at a dirt track made driving conditions difficult, especially from mid-pack back on restarts.

The ruts, reportedly a result of the state fair tractor pulls, were factors in several broken suspension parts and flat tires.

The most significant flat tire was suffered by Jimmy Phelps while leading the 200 with seven laps remaining. Matt Sheppard, who was fast all weekend, was in position to take over the lead and become the first driver to win all three of the open wheel features (sportsman, 358 and big block) on the mile.

The support divisions provided plenty of excitement for local race fans.

Chuck Dumblewski, Nick Stone and Kenny Martin all earned top 10 finishes in the pro stock main event.

Dumblewski, who won the pro stock futures event, started fifth and placed second in the main event.

Not bad for his first time on the mile.

Stone placed sixth and Martin, who made the feature through the last chance qualifier, placed ninth.

One of the happiest people in the pits after the race had to be car builder Chris Fane as all three drove HRD chassis.

Justin Boehler and Jeremiah Munson turned in strong runs in Thursday's sportsman futures races.

Munson had a top-five finish Thursday, but had his run cut short in Saturday's sportsman feature.

Two multi-car, opening lap pileups claimed the majority of the 35-car field.

The second one, which was started by drivers on the front row bumping each other en route to taking the green, ended Munson's weekend as he was caught up in the wreck and was bounced around as cars piled in, totaling the No. 351. Munson was taken to the hospital and released after a check up.

John McAuliffe placed second in the sportsman feature but failed post-race tech for having the wrong spacer under the carburetor.

Guess the bottom line is - Syracuse it is what it is.



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