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Racing Around: Drama plentiful at Ridge

September 6, 2012
By JAMES A. ELLIS ( , The Leader Herald

It would be difficult to find a more dramatic way to finish a season than last Saturday's finale at The Ridge.

Bobby Varin has six Fonda Speedway modified track championships under his belt but had not broken through for one at The Ridge.

He led the points until two weeks ago when bad luck took over when the Andy's Service No. 97 was sidelined early in the final two races.

Jeremy Wilder, who raced his way to three wins at The Ridge, was consistent enough to be within striking distance of Varin and took over the points lead and raced his way to his first modified track championship.

"This is kind of a capstone on our year," Wilder said after accepting the championship trophy. "We had a very good year with four wins [three at The Ridge, one at Fonda]. To come out on top at a track like this is great, even though we didn't have a lot of cars this year and sometimes it was not the stoutest field in the area. But to beat Bobby Varin I grew up watching him and I have a lot of respect for him. This means a lot to us. To have a year like we have had and to add a championship to it is huge. It is definitely a team effort. I have guys who come week in and week out and I couldn't ask for a better group of guys."

Wilder's trip to the championship Saturday night was not without a little scare.

"We knew Bobby had a good car and we finished third to him in the heat race," Wilder said. "I didn't realize he dropped out [of the feature] until we came in with a flat tire and went back out. That is when I knew he was out. After that, I was just out to get a good finish."

I have to wonder if promoter Mike Romano had a sense of deja vu watching the final laps of the sportsman feature.

A few years back, Romano and Dave Camara were tied for the Fonda Speedway track championship. Camara was running first and Romano second when the cars took the white flag in the feature.

Camara won the race, but Tim Dwyer made a last turn pass to knock Romano to third and out of the championship.

Chad Edwards and Rocky Warner came into the night separated by only a few points Saturday. Edwards' trip in the main event took several twists and turns as he was caught up in an early race accident, made repairs, returned to the race and was on his way to his first track championship when a caution with two laps remaining changed everything.

Edwards again was a victim of a wreck in front of him, only this time he was unable to make the necessary repairs to return to the race. This put Warner, who was second at the time, ahead by two points.

Chris Schaffer, who really came on strong late in the season at The Ridge, powered by Warner to take second on the restart, which dropped Warner to third and behind Edwards by two points.

Schaffer had second locked up in turn three, but got out of shape exiting turn four and Warner alertly dove to the bottom for the pass and snatched the track championship away from Edwards.

Wilder and Warner were joined by Dave Grace (rookie sportsman), Chuck Wainright Jr. (cruiser) and Rob VanAernam (street stock) as the track champions on the final night of racing at The Ridge under the promotership of Romano and Jake Spraker.

With the future of racing at The Ridge uncertain, Wilder said. "It would be a shame to see The Ridge close. Racing has come a long way here. I raced here when they first started with the cars and it was a little rough at times and tempers flared here and there but overall, especially this season and last season, look at the guys you had racing here. It is a shame to see the place close since it has come such a long ways. But I guess that is the way it works."

Kyle Busch coming to S.A.M.

NASCAR superstar Kyle Busch will meet the public at 5 p.m. on Sept. 20 in support of the museum's record setting exhibit, "Moonshine to Millionaires - NASCAR's History, Heroes and Technology."

The "Meet and Greet" event, the third in a series of four, will be held at the City Center in the interest of having more room for the large crowd indicated by brisk pre-event ticket sales. The admission ticket also can be used for a visit to the museum later.

Souvenirs from the museum gift shop suitable for obtaining Busch's autograph will be available at the event along with tickets for the M&M-sponsored NASCAR VIP Raffle, which will give two winners four tickets for the 2013 event of their choice along with $250 travel money, garage passes and a personal meet-and-greet session with Busch.

One ticket will be drawn at the museum's annual Lost Speedways program in November and the other in the spring of 2013.

Tickets for both the Busch event and the Oct. 18 program at the museum featuring car owner Richard Childress, are $15 and can be purchased online at the museum store, Raffle tickets can also be purchased online.



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