||MIDSEASON ACTION IS INTENSE AT BETHEL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
BETHEL, NY – This past Saturday night, the drivers at Bethel Motor Speedway kicked off the second half of the 2012 season in front of the largest crowd of the season to date. The fans were treated to some spectacular racing as drivers chased both points and checkered flags and a full night of action kept them on the edges of their seats.
The Sportsman points chase has been a seesaw battle between Rich Coons and Jerry Curry, with the pair swapping the top spot several times already this year. Another swap occurred this past weekend, as mechanical woes forced Curry to run another competitor’s car for the feature event, which Coons won. The win – Coons’ eighth feature win of the year – resulted in his catapulting from a seven-point deficit to a six-point lead over Curry in the standings.
Curry was slated to start on the pole for the feature, but wound up having to start at the rear of the field after borrowing a car from fellow competitor Roy Crespo when he had mechanical issues with his own car. This resulted in Coons starting from the pole. Coons started alongside asphalt rookie Dion Naples, and he took full advantage of the rare front row starting spot by putting his car out in front at the drop of the green. Naples held on to the second spot until the race hit the halfway point and the leaders began negotiating lapped traffic. McCloskey then made his way past Naples and attempted to chase down Coons. With no cautions to slow the event, McCloskey ran out of time and crossed the line behind Coons. Naples finished third. Curry finished seventh, forcing him to surrender the points lead.
With the tight points battle, fans can expect the competition between Coons and Curry to continue, as Curry’s perseverance is sure to keep the veteran driver in the hunt. Naples, whose Sportsman experience prior to the 2012 season comes on dirt, sits third in the standings.
It has been said that the first win is the hardest to get, and that they come easier after that. Alliance Shippers Legends Pro/Masters driver Raven Schrantz scored her first Legends win at Bethel just a week earlier, and she backed it up with a second win this past weekend. It was far from an easy win, though. Schrantz squeaked out the win by less than five hundreths of a second over Stephen Hershey in a close race that left fans holding their breath to see who the winner was.
Schrantz is always a contender to win, and her presence has been even more formidable over the past few weeks in the absence of seven-time feature winner Alessandro Vitelli. Hershey, on the other hand, had not competed at all in the 2012 season prior to this past weekend’s event, and he sent notice to the field that he had not missed a beat in getting back behind the wheel.
Hershey started on the outside pole, with Schrantz directly behind him in fourth. After a first-lap incident that involved several cars at the front of the field, the restart saw Hershey on the pole with Schrantz to his outside. Hershey was able to get the advantage, but Schrantz was not about to let him walk away with the win easily. On lap seven, she was able to edge out front, forcing Hershey to turn up the heat just to stay with her. Hershey made every attempt to wrestle the lead back, but Schrantz was able to hold Hershey off enough to win the race by a matter of inches. Hershey had to be content with second. Current points leader Joe Graf came back from pitting after an early-race incident to cross the line third.
With his third place finish, Graf was able to hold on to the points lead, gaining four more points over second-place points contender Bill Johnston. Johnston will head into the next event 30 points behind Graf. Schrantz – presently third in the standings – has been working on closing the gap between herself and Graf, and she will head into the next event 18 points behind Johnston.
Teenager David Schilling had yet another stellar night, topping the field in the Alliance Shippers Legends Young Lion/Semi Pro event for the eighth time in 2012. Schilling had to come from the sixth starting spot to capture the win following an invert.
Eugene Drew and Robert Silver started on the front row, with Silver getting the early lead. An incident on lap one involved several cars, including Drew, and resulted in Silver being pitted against Schilling on his outside for the restart. Silver nosed out front when the green flag waved, but his time out front was short-lived, as Schilling took over the top spot on lap four. Once out front, Schilling never looked back as the field jockeyed for position behind him. Silver sat solidly in second as the third spot swapped hands between Casey Robicheau, Michael Blaskey, and current points leader Matt Evans. For both Robicheau and Blaskey, it was the first appearance at Bethel in more than a year, but both proved to be tough competition. No one was able to unseat Schilling, though, and he went on to collect the win over Silver. Blaskey was credited with third in the final rundown.
Evans heads into the next event with a 38-point cushion over Schilling. Silver, presently third in the standings, sits just 12 points behind Schilling.
With LegendStock 2012 – an INEX Asphalt Nationals qualifier – just two weeks away, fans can expect the competition in both Legends races to heat up this coming week as drivers take advantage of their last chance to get seat time at Bethel prior to the prestigious $5,000 purse event.
The Quality Bus Service Bandolero division, which also has a qualifier as part of the August 4th LegendStock 2012 event, had a large enough field this past Saturday to prompt the speedway management to run two separate features. When all was said and done, David French collected his second consecutive win while North Carolina’s Troy Demarmels recorded his first feature win at Bethel.
French, who recently won the “Firecracker Madness” weekend title, started on the pole in his feature, alongside Rudy Roth IV. From the drop of the green, French made it apparent that he did not intend to surrender the position to anyone, as he immediately nosed his car out front. Roth sat second, but soon had pressure from 2009 division champion Joseph Graf Jr., who was able to take the spot on lap six. Further back in the field, 2010 champion Mikey Policastro was working his way towards the front. Policastro and Cody Demarmels swapped the spot in the closing laps of the event, and Policastro wound up crossing the line third, behind French and Graf Jr.
The second Bandolero feature – which went green to checkered with no cautions – saw Troy Demarmels start on the pole and lead every lap on his way to the win. Bandit driver Christian Eckes started on the outside pole and used the seat time he has accumulated to his advantage, as he was able to hold off the advances of defending division champion Max Evans. Evans took the third spot from Nick Morich on lap three, but was unable to march any closer to the front. Demarmels – the son of former Bethel Pro Stock champion Tommy Demarmels – was first to the line when the checkered flag flew, followed by Eckes and Evans.
Evans will head into the next event as the points leader, with a 30-point advantage over Roth. The battle for second has really heated up, with Roth just four points ahead of French going into the next event.
Sam’s Towing Pro Stock driver Charlie Howe Jr. may only be running a limited schedule in 2012, but this past weekend he continued to prove that he can be counted on to be a contender any time he is in the field.
Howe started the feature from the third position, behind pole sitter Gene Morton. Morton got his car out in front of Jim Helt as soon as the race got underway, and Howe worked his way past Helt for the second spot on lap two. With Morton in his sights, Howe turned up the heat and grabbed the top spot prior to the halfway point of the event. Howe put his car out front on lap seven and just one lap later 2011 Rookie of the Year Larry O’Donnell came to second. Current points leader Mark Sylvester challenged O’Donnell for second, but O’Donnell held the spot until defending division champion Ed Butler – who started the event last in his first Pro Stock start since moving into a Sportsman car for the 2012 season – got by with five laps to go. Sylvester and O’Donnell swapped the third spot in the closing laps of the race, with Sylvester taking the spot on the final lap.
Heading into the next week’s event, Sylvester leads O’Donnell in the points by just 12 points. Helt is 21 markers behind O’Donnell in third.
Bobby VanBlarcom further padded his points lead in the Shakelton’s Auto & Truck Centers Street Stock division as he notched his tenth win of the 2012 season this past Saturday against some tough competition.
VanBlarcom started from the fifth position, while Jonathan McGibbon started on the front row with Kyle Welsch. Welsch got to the early lead, but VanBlarcom was quickly dicing his way through the field. Kevin Skelly came to second on lap two but brought the caution out one lap later as he spun. After the restart, VanBlarcom took the lead from Welsch as Skelly marched back to the front. With five laps to go, Skelly took over the second spot and tried to reel VanBlarcom back in. The laps clicked off and Skelly was unable to get within striking distance of VanBlarcom, who crossed the line ahead of Skelly and Welsch.
VanBlarcom, the defending division champion, will take a 39-point lead into the next event. Gary VanOrden Jr. – the 2010 Rookie of the Year and last year’s runner-up in the standings – had mechanical issues that forced him to pull off the track just five laps into the race, and as a result, 2011 Rookie of the Year Amber VanOrden was able to slip past her brother to take over the second spot in the standings. VanOrden Jr. will head into the next event a mere two points back from A. VanOrden.
Two veteran drivers in the Active Towing & Recovery BMS Modified division – Steve Galgano and Wayne Kirkpatrick – thrilled fans with a no-points, 10-lap shootout race. The pair started side-by-side, with Kirkpatrick on the inside and Galgano on the outside. Kirkpatrick was scored as the leader on the first lap, but Galgano flexed his muscles and took the lead just one lap later. Kirkpatrick chased Galgano and looked both high and low, even coming up alongside of the leader several times, but Galgano held his line and managed to beat Kirkpatrick to the line.
The BMS Modified division now has a two-week hiatus, and will return to action on August 11th. Heading into the next event, 2010 division champion John Cote will have a 77-point lead over Wilton Nickerson. Kirkpatrick sits 12 points behind Nickerson.
Defending 4 Cylinder Advanced champion Ivan Guerra had a bit of a slow start to his season, picking up his first win of the year in June. Since that time, Guerra has grabbed the “Firecracker Madness” weekend title and three feature event wins, the latest of which came this past Saturday.
Tim Curry and Patty Falkena made up the front row for the start of the race, and Guerra took off from the seventh starting spot. Curry took the lead at the outset, while an incident on the initial lap collected several cars ahead of Guerra, bringing him closer to the front of the field. Guerra still had plenty of ground to cover to get out front, but he had worked his way to second by lap four. He immediately went to work on Curry, and Guerra was out front two laps later. Prior to the halfway point, Joe Morris came to second, with Walt Henry in tow. The top three remained unchanged over the second half of the race, with no cautions to slow the action. Guerra was first to cross the line, followed by Morris and Henry.
With the win, Guerra took over the second spot in the point standings, and he will head into the next event 15 points behind Henry. Kody Welsh – the 2011 4 Cylinder Novice champion – suffered mechanical woes early in the day and was forced to borrow another competitor’s car for the feature, finishing ninth. The finish pushed him back to third in the standings, and he will go into the next event 16 points behind Guerra.
Following the 4 Cylinder Novice race, there was a shake-up in the points as well, as Josh Mendez took over the top spot on the basis of his ninth place finish when Vincent Lovric was credited with a 15th place finish. Joe Smith collected his fifth win of the year, obligating him to compete in the 4 Cylinder Advanced class in 2013.
Kayla Curry and Brittany Curry were on the front row for the start, with K. Curry getting out front. Smith started the event ninth. On lap four, Heather Fennell grabbed the lead, with Jeremiah Madison coming to second one lap later. Smith carefully picked his way to the front, taking second from Madison prior to the halfway point of the event. One lap later, Smith took the lead and Brian Bauernfeind came to second. In the closing laps, Fennell and Madison swapped the third spot, with Fennel taking it over with two laps to go.
Mendez will head into the next event five points ahead of Lovric. Fennell sits third in the standings, 22 points out of the lead.
This coming Saturday, July 28th, Bethel Motor Speedway will welcome the World Formula Modified Tour to the jam-packed schedule. They will be joined by the Sportsman, Legends, Bandolero, Pro Stock, Street Stock, and 4 Cylinder classes. The grandstand gate opens at 1 pm for early pit registration, and pit gates open at 2:30 pm. Hot laps take to the track at 5 pm, and the one-of-a-kind racing excitement Bethel is known for goes green at 7 pm. Grandstand admission is just $6 for all 2012 events.
The following Saturday, August 4th, Bethel will host LegendStock 2012, an INEX Legends Asphalt Nationals qualifier that features a $5,000 purse and $2,000 worth of three-foot tall guitar-shaped trophies. The event is also a Bandolero Nationals qualifier. Joining them on the schedule will be the Sportsman and Pro Stock classes. More information and an online entry form are available at www.legendstockshootout.com .
More information about Bethel Motor Speedway, including a complete 2012 schedule, can be obtained online at www.bethelmotorspeedway.com , or by calling (845) 319-7908.
SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Rich Coons, 2. Greg McCloskey, 3. Dion Naples, 4. Bob Morris, 5. Mike Houghtaling, 6. Jim Halpin, 7. Jerry Curry, 8. Lem Atkins. DNS – Roy Crespo.
LEGENDS PRO/MASTERS FEATURE FINISH (15 laps): 1. Raven Schrantz (P), 2. Stephen Hershey (P), 3. Joe Graf (M), 4. Jim Hoffman (P), 5. Bill Johston (M), 6. Jim Donelli (M), 7. Fred Graf (M), 8. Bobby Rafferty (P), 9. Barry Schrantz (P), 10. Jeffrey Lefcourt (M).
LEGENDS YOUNG LION/SEMI PRO FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. David Schilling (YL), 2. Robert Silver (YL), 3. Mike Blaskey (SP), 4. Casey Robicheau (SP), 5. Russell Sniffen (SP), 6. Matt Evans (YL), 7. Eugene Drew (SP), 8. Dylan Hoffman (YL), 9. Joe DeGracia (SP), 10. Matthew Gaughan (YL).
BANDOLERO FEATURE #1 FINISH (15 laps); 1. David French (O), 2. Joseph Graf Jr. (O), 3. Mikey Policastro (O), 4. Neil Rutt III (O), 5. Joshua Zieres (O), 7. Cody Demarmels (O), 8. Jared Palmer (O).
BANDOLERO FEATURE #2 FINISH (15 laps): 1. Troy Demarmels (O), 2. Christian Eckes (O), 3. Max Evans (B), 4. Nick Morich (O), 5. Taylor Hurban (O), 6. Kaci Stackhouse (O), 7. Matt Forsythe (B), 8. Courtney Lefcourt (O). DNS – Christina Policastro (O).
PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Charlie Howe Jr., 2. Ed Butler, 3. Mark Sylvester, 4. Larry O’Donnell, 5. Jim Helt, 6. Bobby Policastro, 7. Joel Murns Jr., 8. Gene Morton. DNS – Kenny Atkins, Gene Palmer.
STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH (15 laps): 1. Bobby VanBlarcom, 2. Kevin Skelly, 3. Kyle Welsch, 4. Amber VanOrden, 5. Jonathan McGibbon, 6. Steven Steffens, 7. Vinny Stanton, 8. John Brush, 9. Gary VanOrden Jr.
BMS MODIFIED SHOOTOUT (10 laps): 1. Steve Galgano, 2. Wayne Kirkpatrick. DNS – John Cote.
4 CYLINDER ADVANCED FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Ivan Guerra, 2. Joe Morris, 3. Walt Henry, 4. Shawn Barschow, 5. George Zeininger, 6. Tim Curry, 7. Patty Falkena, 8. Enio Lovric, 9. Kody Welsh, 10. Eddy Lindstadt, 11. Joe Wilson, 12. Shawn Maloney, 13. Mike Travis, 14. Brent Shaddock, 15. Ray Fennell.
4 CYLINDER NOVICE FEATURE FINISH (15 laps): 1. Joe Amith, 2. Brian Bauernfeind, 3. Heather Fennell, 4. Jeremiah Madison, 5. Scott Quick, 6. Kayla Curry, 7. Tasha Curry, 8. Tanner Fennell, 9. Josh Mendez, 10. Matt McKerrell, 11. Tisha Curry, 12. Dustin Cosgrove, 13. Mike Bryant, 14. Johnny Bankich, 15. Vincent Lovric, 16. Brittany Curry.