2012 CMP News & Announcements
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Canandaigua, NY – July 21, 2012 – It was deja-vu all over again Saturday at Canandaigua Motorsports Park with all-time Original Pizza Logs Big-Block Modified winner Alan Johnson the only driver not extending a streak in the action-packed card.
Corvettes By Turner Nite continued the winning ways for a handful of racers as Russ Marsden (Parts Plus Street Stock) and David Ferguson (Castner Performance 305 Sprint) scored their fourth successive wins while Marc Minutolo (Pure Stock) captured a third consecutive checkered flag. Paul Guererri (Safety Awareness Solutions Sportsman Modified) and Tyler Meeks (New Legends Sportsman) each made it two straight on the fast Ontario Co. Fairgrounds half-miler.
Second-generation superstar Johnson from Middlesex took his first trip to victory lane one month earlier although his 116th career Big-Block triumph at the track he helped anoint as the 'Land of Legends' was staged in far more thrilling fashion.
“It was pretty tight there at the end, not enough room there for 3-wide racing but we did anyway and it was a lot of fun,” down-played Johnson, after overtaking Gary Tomkins with just two to go en route to a stirring three car-length victory in the headline 35-lapper. A more convincing straightaway margin after taking the lead at the midway mark provided a less dramatic result on June 23. “The low side was pretty well burned up and the high line was too at the end, so the car just rolled around the center nice when it counted.”
The entire frontstretch was open prior to feature time as the final program of the month was highlighted by Family Autograph Nite. Hundreds of fans took advantage of the popular pre-race program by moving trackside during intermission for a special meet-and-greet with their favorite racers in all classes.
At the end of the night Johnson was a clear favorite as the 54 year-old veteran came out on top after a late three-wide battle with Vince Vitale and Tomkins that earned him the $1,500 first-place prize. Tomkins settled for second ahead of Vitale and points leader Matt Sheppard, who nipped Danny Johnson at the stripe.
“The car has been really good in the slippery stuff. The slower the track gets, the better the car has been. If there aren't any farmers in the crowd, let's pray for no rain,” remarked Johnson, alluding to the drier and slicker track conditions that have showcased his talents since first cracking Canandaigua's winner circle in 1975.
Big-Block rookie Justin Wright out-dragged front-row partner Tim Currier to grab the early advantage before sixth-place starter Vitale charged past in a bold move on lap nine. Vitale opened up a commanding lead until the first yellow flag flew on the 22nd circuit to tighten the hungry pack.
Daryl Hilkert sputtered down the front chute with sparks showing under his mount and a sudden slow-down in turn one afforded Peter Britten nowhere to go. Britten plowed into the back of Hilkert's car and an on-rushing Rob Bellinger rammed Britten even harder to bring the night to an abrupt halt for all three.
Tomkins bolted from fourth to second on the ensuing restart before Currier dropped off the pace to incur the second and final caution period just two laps later. With 10 laps to go, Vitale was shadowed by Tomkins with Johnson, Billy Dunn and 18th starting Danny Johnson and in hot pursuit.
A wild three-wide maneuver pushed the crowd to the edge on lap 31 with seventh starting Johnson sandwiched by Tomkins riding the high line and Vitale clinging low. Tomkins emerged the new leader on lap 32 ahead of Johnson with Vitale quickly shuffled to third in the scramble. Sensing his second triumph of the season, 'A.J. Slideways' swept around high in turns three and four the next circuit and one mile later the black no. 10J Commercial Roofing and Sheetmetal/Bicknell entry pulled into victory lane to a thunderous round of applause.
“We've been getting better slow but sure. Have to thank Kenny Saya (owner), he keeps these cars going,” added Johnson, who last won two in a row at Canandaigua in 1996 and gets the chance to become the first back-to-back Big-Block winner this season when CMP re-opens on Sat., Aug. 4 following the fair. “I can't really remember the last time I won two straight anywhere, can't think back that far anymore.”
Guererri only has to go back one week to recall his last trip to the winner's circle in wine country. His division-best fifth 25-lap Sportsman victory gives him 32 during a stellar career competing weekly at the Routes 5&20 oval.
“Couldn't imagine at the beginning of the season having this good of a year,” beamed Guererri, who remained third on the track standings despite engine woes sidelining him for one event. “Just can't say enough about this car. Have to thank all my sponsors and crew, without them I wouldn't be here … and especially my wife, who puts up with this whole thing all year.”
Starting 17th on the 25-car grid, Guererri wasted little time pointing his potent no. 7 Proctor Roofing-Al Raymond Collision-Pizza Logs/Troyer machine toward the front. Todd Henderson overtook early leader Tom Keyes on the second circuit and after three quick cautions, Guererri already found himself riding fourth.
The Geneva pilot wrestled away third from Rob Bussey on lap eight, disposed of Matt Guererri two laps later and grabbed the top spot from Henderson on lap 11 in the final exchange. While Guererri ran unchallenged the remainder of the way, Steve Gray and Bussey swapped the runner-up position three more times during the final 10 lap shootout.
Nearly a full straightaway separated Guererri from Gray at the checkers, with Bussey, Justin Henderson and Dave Marccuccilli completing the Top-5. Points leader Dan Wiesner (8th) rallied to the front on two occasions after unscheduled pit stops, registering his 15th Top-10 finish of the season in 16 events.
“I don't really know how it happened. I looked up at the (score) board and it was six laps in, saw I was fourth and said 'Wow, I think I've got a shot here,'” divulged Guererri, a two-time points champion at Canandaigua. “Saw Todd was up there and he was pretty fast, everything else fell into place after that.”
“My brother and I talked again before the feature and made a few changes with the shocks, its a whole new shock package this week. Had made a few more changes after the heat that we didn't really like. Everything just hooked right up once the feature got underway …. don't know what more to say,” Guererri added.
Aside from thanking his car owner, crew members and all the sponsors that continue to support his racing effort, Marsden is also running out of words to describe one of his best seasons ever in full-fender Street Stock competition.
“Its pretty unbelievable, really,” figured Marsden from Mexico, while flanking his familiar white no. 28 Flack’s Hi-Rise Concrete Restoration-Coatings Plus/Chevrolet Impala in the winner's circle for the 10th time in 2012. “These kinds of seasons don't happen very often. We just keep working hard and doing everything right it seems.”
Pole-sitter and reigning points king Mike Welch traded the lead twice with Nate Peckham at the drop of the green flag before sixth-place starter Marsden moved ahead for good on lap five. Welch tried to keep pace the final 10 circuits before falling eight car-lengths shy at the line. Peckham, Adam DePuy and Steve Pesarek rounded out the final Top-5.
“Nothing comes easy in racing, you've still got to work and put the time in the shop,” Marsden stated. “This is a Monday through Friday game. You also have to have lady luck on your side. Its 50/50, lady luck and what your team can put on the table. Everything has to be in place to have a chance.”
The only place that matters to Minutolo is first on the podium and the Newark driver has now found success seven times during his 2012 Pure Stock campaign.
“This is why we're here, getting to victory lane any way we can,” noted Minutolo, after matching Guererri with his 32nd triumph at the fairgrounds. “Its great with all the fans coming out for autographs and pictures and being able to cap it off with another win. Just doesn't get much better than this.”
It was hard to imagine a more breath-taking opening lap after eighth-place starter Eric Chapman escaped with an early advantage following a four-wide dash to kick off the 12-lap finale that boasted a season-high 16 entries. Derek Excell proved just as quick, charging from 12th to first after five laps.
Yet in his customary late-race form, 10th starting Minutolo mirrored the leader's every move before ducking under Excell exiting turn four to forge the final change up front on lap seven aboard his no. 25B Butch's Body Shop-Big Mike's Auto Chevrolet Camaro. Excell had second-place locked up until sliding high into the turn two cement wall on the last lap, gift-wrapping Top-3 finishes for Chapman and points leader Vance Vanderwall while Roger Bush placed fifth on the final scoresheet.
For the second straight week, Meeks led the entire distance to claim first-place honors in the 12-lap Legends Sportsman race. Runner-up Gus Hurlburt hung on for runner-up laurels in just his second appearance of the season while Jeff Davoli, Andrew Jacobson and Anthony Kimble headed a strong turn-out of 12 pilots.
“After I got around everybody on the start I just tried to hold my line and stay there until the end,” said Meeks, after out-distancing Hurlburt by a full straightaway steering his no. 17T Allside Painting-Flack's Hi-Rise Concrete Restoration-Meeks Trucking/Bicknell machine. “Good set-up and having a good handling car have been the keys. All the help from my sponsors make it a whole lot easier getting here.”
Ferguson has been getting plenty of help from set-up man Mark Tychonowicz and the result has been five wins in seven Castner Performance 305 Sprint Car A-Mains.
“Got a little worried tonight getting caught up there with the no. 2 car going into (turn) one, didn't think we were going to walk out of that one,” admitted Ferguson, also a four-time qualifying heat race winner in the division's first-year experiment at CMP. “They're making it harder and harder to get these wins every week, but man, she was flying tonight.”
“Love running the top, that's the way to take it around here. Have to thank Mark again. The car was tight early on and he made it so we could get it back into victory lane,” Ferguson added.
With an 11pm curfew closing in, the Sprint car A-Main was shortened to 12 laps just like the Legends feature run after it. Lap one leader Jake Muench couldn't make it two as he performed an unforced double 360-degree spin in the second corner to force out a quick yellow.
Steve Doell Jr. inherited the point yet following the second caution for a slowing Scott Wagner ride in turn four he was sent to the rear by officials for not heeding the yellow cloth and reducing his speed. Ferguson moved to the front and out-dueled Phil Peworchik (#2 car) on the lap three restart and the Rochester chauffeur won going away by 2.5-seconds in his orange no. 45 Speedy's Cleaners-AT&T-KCC Carpentry/TripleX winged machine. Peworchik posted his best finish of the season in second followed by Muench, Nick Cooper and Doell.
The oval track at Canandaigua Motorsports Park will be idle next Saturday before F.X. Caprara and Parts Plus present another full card of auto racing on August 4. Headlined by the Big-Block Modifieds and joined by Safety Awareness Solutions Sportsman, Parts Plus Street Stock, Pure Stock and New Legends Sportsman classes, the Castner Performance 305 Sprints return and so do Kids Power Wheel Races. Pit gates unlock at 4pm, grandstands open at 5pm and the first qualifying heat goes green at 7pm.
The 169th Ontario County Fair moves to the forefront on July 28, with a demolition derby slated for Saturday at 7pm followed by fireworks over the midway. Fair activity gets underway Tue., July 24 with the first demo derby at 7pm, continues with a Garden Tractor Pull on Wednesday, an Antique Tractor Pull on Thursday, WNY Pro Farm Truck & Tractor Pull on Friday, and an afternoon Horse Pull joining the Saturday show.