(GENEVA, N.Y.) — The Sportsman Modifieds had not visited Paradise Speedway in twenty-one years. But on Saturday night, the Super Gen Products Grit Racing Series visited and it was a hometown driver that took all the spoils at night’s end.
Eric Giguere, more than anyone, was looking forward to the return of Dirt Modified-style vehicles at Paradise. This was a home game for his family-owned No. 67g. It was only the third time that Giguere had sat behind the wheel in 2017, and the team sure made it count.
Carl Warren and AJ Lloyd led the field to Tyler Groescup’s green flag for thirty long laps around the tight quarter-mile at Paradise. Warren didn’t get the greatest start off the drop of the green and Lloyd took off and tried to be the rabbit, setting a nice pace out front.
Giguere, who started third, quickly moved up to the second spot and settled in behind Lloyd. Canadian racer Adam Leslie ran in the third spot, while Addison, NY pilot and former Grit Series champion Casey Pavlick quickly moved from his eighth starting spot to fourth.
The first twelve laps of the race went caution-free, which few in attendance thought would happen as this is one of the tightest race courses that any of these drivers would compete on all season. Particularly turn two, which narrows down from a fairly sweeping corner in turns one and two.
The pace really picked up as Giguere saw Lloyd starting to catch lapped traffic and Pavlick had sliced high and low to make it a three-car battle for the lead. Gigurere took the lead on lap eleven and would be the first to approach lapped traffic.
Pavlick worked the top shelf to slide into the third position and looked to make a bid for second as Lloyd came up to put the Kirk Reynolds No. 08 one lap down. Lloyd worked the low lane and Pavlick the high side.
Unfortunately for Lloyd, this is where his great run up front would come to an end. Pavlick was carrying a lot of momentum on the high side, while Lloyd had cleared the Reynolds machine and was working his way back up into the preferred racing groove. Lloyd’s right rear and Pavlick’s left front tire met just prior to turning into the third turn and Lloyd’s car spun hard to the right and up the steep earth embankment that serves as the backstretch wall.
Pavlick suffered right front suspension damage in the altercation, but the accordion effect of the driver behind the wreck collected pre-race favorite Dave Marcuccilli and Stacey Jackson. Jackson ended up resting on top of the front end of the Marcuccilli machine, ending Marcuccilli’s night with heavy front end damage.
Giguere led the field back to the green flag and pulled out to a three to four car-length lead over Pavlick. Pavlick’s right front tire was tipped in toward the chassis due to his crash damage, but it surely didn’t impede his progress in battle Giguere for the lead. These two would do battle with each other for the race win, as Pavlick closed the gap to nothing at the white flag.
Giguere had caught the last car on the lead lap and was having fits trying to get by on the tricky quarter-mile. With the white flag in the air and Pavlick making a run to the outside, Giguere had to make a move or lose the lead. Giguere looked low, but made contact with the lapped car as that car moved low to make room for a fast-charging Pavlick. This brought out the yellow flag with one lap remaining.
With Grit Racing Series rules going to the last completed lap, Giguere would lead the field back to green with Pavlick second for a final one-lap dash. Giguere took the bottom lane on the double-file restart and would show the fast way around to claim the victory in the event dubbed ‘Trouble in Paradise.’ Pavlick finished second, Leslie third, Tommy Collins fourth and Jeff Davoli was the hard charger who started last and gained eleven positions to finish in the top five.
Post-race, Giguere was elated to be the driver to win this special event.
“Unbelievable, to have this class back here after twenty-one years and for me to be the first one to win,” said Giguere.
“There is a lot of history with these cars here, so many big names like Pesarek, Paine, Guererri. I’ve been here a few times to test on Wednesday nights but this is the first time I’ve even raced here.”
Giguere commented on the close-quarters racing the full grandstands were treated to.
“With these short tracks that’s what you get a lot of times. There’s going to be some bumping, there’s going to be some banging but that’s grass-roots racing. I was a little disappointed with only seventeen cars because I wanted to see more come out and support this track. Once a dirt track closes, it is really hard to open them back up.”
It was an intense battle with Pavlick for the lead and Giguere spoke in length about the sense of urgency to get around the lapped car.
“Pavlick’s right front wheel was bent right over and next thing I knew he was right there. I’ll be honest, I got into the lapped car and kind of spun him around there. I wasn’t trying to spin him, but it was the last lap and you needed to go and I tried to just move him a little bit.”
Pavlick wanted to win, but was happy to finish second with a broken race car.
“We used a Five Mile Point/Penn Can set up tonight and I could put the car anywhere I wanted to,” noted Pavlick.
“We had the lead coming out of two, but the lapped car got around and brought the caution out. (Without that) I think we would have had it. On the restart I went real cautious with it into turn one. The ride height was off because of that, but once the tires warmed up it was great.”
Tommy Collins noted post-race that he was thrilled to come home fourth, and more so being able to roll the car into the trailer in one piece. Jeff Davoli, however, was thrilled with a top five effort after starting in the sixteenth position.
“Some of it was patience,” said Davoli.
“I figured there would be a couple wrecks. But the guys preparing the car in the pits nailed it tonight. I was watching the race in front of me and I was excited. This was great here tonight.”
PARADISE NOTES: Eric Williams made up the seventeenth car in the pit area on Saturday night, but unfortunately lost the engine during hot laps ending his night. Jim Spano brought home his No. 1jvs in the seventh spot in his illustrious return to Paradise. Adam Leslie was the long tow of the night, driving about three hours from Canada to compete and finish on the podium. RCO attempted to interview Leslie, but they had already loaded up and started the long tow back to the country to our North. Marcuccilli got the tough luck award, but noted afterwards that the damage was isolated to several bolt-on parts. The crew was hard at work making repairs as other teams made their way out to head home.
Grit Series @ Paradise Speedway, 17 cars (30 Laps): ERIC GIGUERE 67g, Casey Pavlick 18p, Adam Leslie 15, Tommy Collins 713, Jeff Davoli c21 (+11), Nick Nye 6NN, Jim Spano 1jvs, Garrett Rushlow 24, Todd Hayward 33, Stacey Jackson 22j, Brett Baldwin 327, AJ Lloyd 1F, Doug Smith 01, Carl Warren 49, Dave Marcuccilli M1, Kirk Reynolds 08 DNS: Eric Williams 21x
Listen in and enjoy audio clips from a historic night at Paradise Speedway:
“Trouble in Paradise” race winner Eric Giguere
Second place finisher Casey Pavlick
Fourth place finisher Tommy Collins
Fifth place finisher and hard charger Jeff Davoli
Heat 1 Winner Dave Marcuccilli
Heat 2 Winner AJ Lloyd
Heat 3 Winner Adam Leslie
Stacey Jackson during the redraw
Doug Smith during the redraw
Casey Pavlick during the redraw
About the Writer
Steven Ovens is the Northeast Dirt Correspondent for Race Chaser Online and the creator and host of the Turn 5 Live dirt track racing radio show, airing at 7:30 p.m. Eastern every Tuesday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Ovens has spent his lifetime in the sport of dirt track racing, growing up in the garages of the Kerrick and Ovens families. He spent 11 years behind the wheel between go-karts and 4 Cylinder Mini Stocks which brings a unique perspective to his dirt track editorials.
The 31-year-old has a career in the growing health care business world, and is also entering his second season as the full-time announcer and media director for Woodhull Raceway in Woodhull, N.Y.
In addition, Ovens was formerly the announcer and media director for Outlaw Speedway (formerly Black Rock Speedway) in Dundee, N.Y., serving in that capacity in both 2015 and 2016.
Email Steve at: [email protected]
Follow on Twitter: @StevenOvens
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