BUSTI, N.Y. – Max Blair celebrated Mother’s Day weekend in style, Saturday at Stateline Speedway, winning an ultra-competitive Overhead Door Super Late Model feature in front of an Opening Night packed house at the Busti one-third mile dirt oval.
Greg Johnson was victorious in the Sugar Grove Beverage Outlaw E-Mod event, Max Blair added a win in the Ed Shults Auto Group RUSH Crate Late Model feature and Dennis Lunger was the season’s first feature winner in the Rusted Nutz RUSH Pro-Mod series. David Shagla Jr. went to Victory Lane in the Wellington Log Homes Street Stocks series while Dan Nocero Jr. and Jim Kibbe were winners in a pair of Super Sportsmen features and Andy
Proper was a double-feature winner in the Bailey’s Towing and Recovery Super Challenger class.
After a two-week winning streak, Mother Nature was finally defeated this weekend with 2017′s first points paying features playing out on the track. With Mother’s Day just a day away, Super Late Model drivers each had a “special lady” choose a carnation to reveal their drivers starting spot in the night’s feature event. The entire field was included in the re-draw process.
Several of the sports heavy hitters found themselves buried deep in the field with Max Blair starting 10th, Robbie Blair 20th, David Scott 21st and Damian Bidwell 23rd. While Chad Valone found himself starting on pole, it was Doug Eck who started the race shot out of a cannon, moving from seventh on the grid to the lead by the exit of turn two.
Eck enjoyed an early lead, but behind him, some of the sports very best were making steady progress toward the front. Max Blair passed eight cars, moving into second-place on lap 7 and David Scott entered the top 10 a lap later. At the races’ halfway mark, it was Eck leading Max Blair, Valone, John Lobb, Bump Hedman, Matt Urban, Scott, Ward Schell, Dutch Davies and Robbie Blair.
Scott continued his charge, gaining the third position with 10 laps to go – the same lap that Blair finally worked his way past Eck for the top spot. With 5 laps remaining and with Scott and Eck now battling for second, the car of Rick Tripoli spun right in front of the duo. Scott was able to squeak by, but Eck stalled on the track and was forced to fall to the rear of the field, setting up a five-lap showdown between Blair and Scott.
Scott got to Blair’s inside in turn two of the 23rd lap, but couldn’t complete the pass and Blair wouldn’t allow another charge, holding on for the win in the 25-lap event. Scott was second, Lobb third, Robbie Blair gained 16 spots during the race to finish fourth and Hedman rounded out the top five. Robbie Blair, Max Blair and John Volpe were heat race winners.
In other action, it was Kirk Bradley and Michael McGee leading the 16-car field to the green in the Outlaw E-Mod feature. However, before either front row driver could grab control of the race, it was second-row starter Greg Johnson jumping out to an early lead. David Scott started his #68 machine in the third row and also advanced nicely early, cruising into second place by the completion of lap 2.
Just past the midway mark of the event, Johnson began dealing with lap traffic, allowing Scott to cut into the lead. However, Johnson was able to thwart off the challenge and win the series’ season opener. Joel Watson had arguably the best drive of the night despite his finishing spot not showing it. Watson was spun out on the opening lap, dropping all the way to 16th before rallying back as high as fourth. However, a mechanical issue with just three laps to go forced him to the pits prior to the races’ conclusion.
Behind Johnson and Scott were Bradley in third, Troy Johnson in fourth and McGee in fifth. Watson, Scott and Johnson all won their respective heat races.
Ryan Scott and Max Blair made up the front row for the RUSH Crate Late feature. A strong outside move on lap one gave Blair an early lead, but just one lap later it was Centerville’s Darrell Bossard charging past the #111 and into the top spot. After a yellow, Blair got another crack at Bossard and on lap five, Blair went back to the top spot where he would remain for the remainder of the race.
Behind Blair and Bossard, Dennis Lunger continued a strong night by rallying up several positions to finish third. Bruce Hordusky Jr. wound up fourth with Scott Gurdak fifth. Lunger and Blair each won heat races as did the #29 machine of Jason Genco.
Steve Dixon was the early leader in the Pro-Mod feature event, surviving some early race carnage that collected the vehicles of Dennis Hagg Jr., Matt Harvey and Zach Johnson. Early on, Dixon held off challenges for the lead from both Dennis Asel and Chad Silleman, but his toughest competition was still to come.
After a lap 4 restart, Lunger advanced to the back bumper of Dixon’s #33 and soon took over the top spot. Lunger would go on to survive a bevy of mid and late-race cautions, winning the season opener ahead of a hard-charging Chad Carlson in second, Dixon in third, Ryan Scott in fourth and Jason Covey in fifth. Lunger and Ryan Scott were the heat race winners.
David Shagla Jr. was the expected favorite, but it was Brandon Groters showing the way early in the night’s Street Stock competition. Shagla quickly worked his way around Scott Dellahoy for second, but Groters was maintaining his lead until a lap 8 caution slowed the field. A lap after the restart, Groters got loose in turn
four and Shagla took advantage and jumped to the lead.
Shagla’s road to victory wasnt an easy one. A caution with one to go set-up a three-car battle between himself, Groters and Gary Fisher and Shagla emerged victorious in a finish that saw all three cars finish under a virtual blanket. Groters was credited with second ahead of Fisher, Bobby McMillen and John Boardman. Shagla, Groters and Bill Applebee were all victorious in heat races.
Both the Sportsmen and Super Challengers series ran a pair of features Saturday, including last season’s rained out features from the Stateline Shootout. In the make-up event, Dan Nocero Jr. took on and passed all comers, including pole sitter Tommy Kosinski on his way to a Stateline Shootout victory. Nocero Jr., the 2016 Sportsmen division champion, held off a late charge from Tommy Kosinski to win by a half a car length. Shane Horner, Matt Kosinski and Steve Longo completed the top five.
In the points-paying opener for 2017, the race came down to a battle between last year’s top two finishers in the class. 2016 runner-up Jim Kibbe was able to gain a small measure of revenge, holding off Nocero Jr. for the win in the 2017 opener. Nocero Jr. was the winner in the class’ lone heat race event.
Andy Proper was the class of the Super Challengers field in 2016 and showed he will again be tough to beat in the new season. First, Proper “officially” closed out 2016 by coming from the rear to win the Stateline Shootout make-up feature. John Zeleznick was the race’s early leader with Gary Troyer going by for the top spot on lap 3. However, four laps after Troyer went to the front, Proper rushed on by and never looked back holding off Troyer, Zeleznick, Mike Riche Jr. and Greg Rockwell for the triumph.
The second race of the Challengers night ended like the first. However, despite starting on the pole, Proper had to work even harder for the win. The #17 driver pulled away early despite an early challenge from Greg Marsh, but it was Zeleznick going by Proper on a lap three restart for the lead.
Zeleznick began to pull away until a caution bunched up the field. After the restart, Zeleznick’s #72 suffered an apparent mechanical failure, handing the lead back to Proper for the duration of the race. Proper would earn his second win of the night with Pete Volpe, Chris Horton, Tommy LaBarbara and Kyle Babcock completing the top five. Zeleznick, Volpe and Proper were the heat winners.
The 2017 campaign continues next Saturday night with the annual Bill Law Memorial Cancer Awareness Night, featuring the track’s first-ever RUSH Crate Late Model tour event.