by Jay Pees
September 1, 2014
79 & Counting
Damon's father, Dean, drove a Challenger racer painted with Damon's number 711 and close family friend Bill Best, re-numbered his Street Stock in honor of the young football player who lost his life in an on-field accident involving a helmet-to-helmet collision.
Also remembered was early Stateline legend Floyd Fanale, who passed last week. Fanale raced from the late 1950s through 1987, winning 10 feature races in his career. Fanale was honored with a four- wide pace lap led by a car using the roof of his last racer.
Mark Thompson and Eric Paulus started the Street Stock feature from the front row with Paulus leading Thompson through lap eight when Thompson and Dennis Asel hooked together in turn one with both cars spinning, bringing out the first caution of the event. In the resulting scramble, Bill Reeves pounded the turn one wall, causing enough damage to eliminate him from the event. At that time Brandon Groters, points leader, was second with his nearest challenger, Jason Covey in third. Groters held a twenty-eight point lead coming into the event and added one point to his advantage during heat race action.
After green Covey took over the lead and went on to his third win of the season but Groters, with his third-place finish, won the points title by nine points. The roof on Covey's car was the roof on the final racer that Floyd Fanale drove, complete with the 97 and Floyd's name still there. Paulus wound up second with Groters third, Gary Fisher fourth and Ron Boardman fifth.
With the Stateline Speedway Super Late Models in a four-wide formation, the recently deceased Floyd Fanale, a 10-time feature winner in a career that lasted the better part of four decades, was honored, paced by Street Stock feature winner Jason Covey, who had the roof of Fanale's last Late Model mounted on his winning racer. The start had heat winners Jake Finnerty and Max Blair on the front row.
Blair immediately rocketed into the lead with Doug Eck coming to second on lap two. Steve Kania looped his mount in turn four at the end of lap two, bringing caution to the event. On the restart, Blair swung wide in turn two, slapping the wall, then turning around in traffic and getting hit hard by Rich Gardner. Ryan Scott, John Lacki, and Bump Hedman were also involved. Blair drove his car to the pit with Scott and Hedman able to drive away, but Gardner required attention and was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
On the restart Eck spun sideways, stacking up the field behind him and sending Finnerty to the pit for repair. Since Eck never stopped, he was not charged with the caution and, with John Volpe to his right, led the field back to green. Volpe charged into the lead with Eck falling back through the field. By the end of four laps, Dick Barton was second with points leader Rob Blair third. There were nine laps in when the most recent feature winner, Randy Lobb, spun in turn four, again slowing the field. Sixth- starting Barton grabbed the lead at the drop of the restart green with fifth-starting Rob Blair right behind. At halfway the leaders were side by side with Barton maintaining a slight lead at the stripe.
With 10 laps to go Barton had extended his lead to two car-lengths. With four laps remaining Brent Rhebergen slowed suddenly in turn four, again slowing the race and completely eliminating Barton's two car-length lead. For the final four laps, Barton again showed the way, driving to his 79th feature win at Stateline, tying local legend "Busti" Bobby Schnars for the all-time feature win mark. In Victory Lane, Barton thanked his crew for the years of hard work to get this far, especially John Lamb, who had worked on Barton's cars right from the start of his career.
With his second-place finish, Rob Blair took the 2014 track championship over third finishing Matt Urban with a 172-point advantage. Jason DuPont wound up fourth after starting 16th. Eighth-starting Greg Oakes was fifth at the finish.
Mike Kinney and John Boardman led the E-Mod field to the green flag with Kinney leading lap one and yellow flying when Rob Middleton spun in turn two. At the end of three laps Joel Watson was second with Justin Carlson third. Merle Delcamp was the reason for caution No. 2 when he spun at lap eight just as Watson was getting alongside Kinney for the lead. With the two leaders side by side for the restart, Watson blasted into the lead as soon as he saw green with Carlson challenging Kinney for second. After another yellow at lap 12, Watson was again leading after green with Kinney and Carlson battling for second. After another caution, Rhebergen the points leader, came to third and was alongside Kinney when caution again flew with three laps remaining. Watson went on to the win with Rhebergen taking the points title with his runner-up finish. Kinney settled for third with Steve Dixon fourth and reigning champion John Woodward fifth.
Kyle Zimmerman and Darrell Bossard started up front in the Crate Late Model feature and led from the drop of the green with young Wyatt Scott third. Points-leader Scott Gurdak ran fourth in the early going with Dave Lyon fifth. With two laps to go, Lyon came by the points leader for fourth. The final rundown was Zimmerman, Bossard, Scott, Lyon, and Gurdak, who claimed the title of champion.
Defending champion Ryan Scott started the Limited Late Model feature from the pole, but it was Tyler Green leading the way after one lap. Green led until lap five when he slid high in turn one, falling back behind both Scott and Kelly Frederes, the contenders for the points title with leader Ottaway not being able to compete due to engine issues. Coming into the feature Scott had a 12-point margin over Frederes. Scott went on to the win and the championship with Frederes second in both categories. Green wound up third on the race with Dustin Eckman fourth and John Cline Jr fifth. The race ran green to checkers with no caution periods.
Rain started and stopped during the Victory Lane celebration for the Limited Late Models and the track was quickly brought back to racing shape with points leader Ted Kosinski and defending champion Jim Kibbe leading the way. Kosinski jumped out to a big lead that disappeared when Brent Crandall came to a halt in the front straight. At five laps compete, Al White looped it in turn three for caution number two. Former champion Dan Nocero came to second after the lap-five restart with Mike Kosinski coming to third a lap later, then to second. At eight laps in, Kibbe got back by Nocero. With five laps to go, Kendall Kosinski stalled, bringing the caution again over the field. At the white flag, Mike Kosinski pulled next to his brother, but Ted managed to pull out the win, and the championship, by 19 points. Kibbe made a gallant effort to get by both brothers heading into the final pair of turns, but spun out in turn four, leaving Dan Nocero third, Tim Nocero fourth and Don McGuire fifth.
Dan Bittinger led the Challenger feature until the halfway mark and then was supplanted for the lead by Skip Jackson who the led until the white flag when Bittinger again got to the lead, going on to the win. Jimmy Diabo, a former champion, got by Jackson to capture the runner-up spot at the flag. Amazingly, it was the first time Bittinger, the 2013 Lake Erie Speedway champion, had raced on dirt. Thomas Cupp and Justin Boardman filled out the top five.