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Racing Around: Plenty of action at the Ridge

June 14, 2012
By JAMES A. ELLIS ( , The Leader Herald

Sunday night, racing at The Ridge had a little bit of everything - the good, the bad and the ugly.

The race track itself was in good shape and there was some pretty good racing action.

The length of the show was bad, especially wrapping up well after 11 p.m. on a Sunday night. Some of it could not be helped because the issue with the lights, which plagued the speedway early last year, decided to rear its head again on a night when promoters Mike Romano and Jake Spraker least needed it.

Then there were the ugly on-track incidents that got out of control and left some fans wondering who was in charge.

On a night when The Ridge needed to hit a home run, they got, at most, a ground-rule double.

With that in mind, changes have already been made, including Romano returning to the race director position, replacing Mark Krosky.

"Unfortunately, there are times it puts me in a tough position with my customers, but there is a certain way I want the job done. Unfortunately, if any of my customers gets mad, they get mad," Romano said. "We have worked too hard to turn the place around and felt we took a step backward the last few weeks. Hopefully we will get back to running a good, crisp show."

Romano said that the on-track and off-track actions by some of the drivers also have been dealt with.

"The two cruiser drivers won't be back for the rest of the year. There were constant issues there this year. Hopefully the rest of the drivers will see that we are serious," he said. "There were some penalties handed out. One of the modified drivers is going to lose his handicapping and will be starting in the rear for the next couple of weeks. I have talked to both parties involved there and I think they both knew they were wrong and we have straightened that out. I pretty much told them we are going to clean up our acts and not put up with that nonsense. We have worked too hard to get where we are at and are not going to throw it all away because a couple of people don't want to follow the rules and one of the sportsman drivers has not been asked to come back."

The length of the show also has been addressed.

"The starts are going to be better and hopefully have less down time," Romano said. "I noticed there were just too many extra laps. Being that it is a Sunday night people want to get out of there. I don't want to rush things, but I also don't want to see any wasted time."

Romano and Spraker are also adjusting the starting time to help the fans enjoy a night of racing and still get home at a reasonable hour.

"That was our first time running an afternoon show and we kind of guessed on the time," Romano said. "I think we would have been alright except for the lights. We had over 100 cars in the pits and we didn't start the heat races until 6 p.m. We are moving it up this week, opening the pit gates at 2:30 p.m. warm-ups at 5 and racing at 5:30 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. That half hour, plus not having the Lightning Sprints, and moving the show along, we probably will start the modified feature right about dusk when the sun is behind the trees. We should have people out of there around 9 p.m."

The positive on the night was the racing surface itself. The new clay that was put down in the off season has finally blended together and the holes in turns one and two were not as evident.

"The track was wide and at the end of the night the modifieds were still running the high side between turns three and four. One and two were a little slick but there were still two grooves," Romano said. "It did get a little dusty because of the down time, but I think if we could have kept going it wouldn't have gotten that bad. I thought the track was a lot smoother. There were a couple of small holes but obviously we are going to get some nice weather this week for the track to dry. Pete [Demitraszek] was up there yesterday working on the track and I think you will see the track smoother and better this week."

The unsung hero of the night was Chris Miller who worked and successfully got the lights back on with a stand full of eyes watching him.

"We want to say thank you to everybody who supported us last week. It was a good turnout," Romano said. "I know this week there will be some new cars there like J.R. Heffner. I think in general people had a good time and it was good to see the place lively again."

The race program will feature the modifieds running a 35-lap feature for $3,000-to-win, while the sportsman division also will go 35-laps for $750. The cruisers, street stocks and rookie sportsman division also are scheduled to take to the track.

Delaney update

During Sunday's modified feature at The Ridge, Mayfield's Dustin Delaney made hard contact with the front stretch wall and was taken by ambulance to St. Mary's Hospital and later transported to Albany Medical Center for tests and observation.

Delaney was released from the hospital and was home Tuesday after CAT scan results for a head injury were negative but he was scheduled for an MRI for a leg injury. Although sore, he said he plans to get back in the car, possibly as soon as Friday night at Albany-Saratoga.

Meet and Greet moved

An early-evening rain shower Saturday made the race surface at Fonda Speedway fast and tacky, leading to some of the best overall racing in all divisions this season.

Unfortunately, wanting to get the entire racing program in, the scheduled on track meet-and-greet had to be postponed.

It will now be part of this week's race program at Fonda, setting up back-to-back fan-friendly events as kiddie rides are on the schedule for next Saturday night.

This Saturday is also New York State Stock Car Association Safety Awards Night at the Track of Champions with awards being handed out to the top finishing drivers in all classes who are members of NYSSCA.

Driver appearance

If you are in the Scotia area Friday night, stop into Jumpin' Jack's Drive-In.

Reigning Fonda Speedway 602 sportsman track champion Mark Mortensen will be on hand with his Jumpin' Jack's Drive-In sponsored car from 5 to 9 p.m.

Clash at the Can

Thursday night Danny Johnson picked up the victory in the 60-lap $10,000-to-win Clash at the Can for Race of Champions modifieds.

Ryan Godown, Jeff Strunk, Billy Pauch Sr. and Ryan Watt completed the top five.

Stewart Friesen placed ninth in the 31 car feature, while Bobby Varin was 11th, Darwin Greene 24th and Jimmy Davis was 25th.

You know it was a tough field when the 26 drivers who did not make the feature include Alan Johnson, Ronnie Johnson, Billy Decker, Tim McCreadie, Dale Planck, Mitch Gibbs and Jerry Higbie Jr.

Among the many contingency awards Danny Johnson won Thursday, one was kind of unique and creative, at least to me.

Johnson won the Beer City Beer Per Lap award amounting to 51 cans of beer and cooler. Brian Weaver won the other nine cans.



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