DUNDEE, NY — Story, Photos and Audio by Race Chaser Online New York Correspondent Steven Ovens — Friday night’s Inaugural Seneca Lake Shootout sponsored by Suburban Propane and Blue Heron Construction came with much anticipation. This was an event that promoter Dan Harpell challenged the Yates County Speedway race fans to support as the fans have called for the return of the Dirt Modifieds to the speedway all season long.
37 of the best Modified names from Central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier converged on the 4/10 mile Dundee, NY oval in search of the $4,000 top prize. 24 Street Stocks, 18 4-Cylinders and 17 305 Sprint Cars also were in attendance. A great turnout was also seen in the grandstand and pit area as it appeared the fans accepted Harpell’s challenge and came out to support the mighty modifieds.
One team that everyone had their eye on going into the event was the Heinke-Baldwin Racing team of Jimmy Phelps and Matt Sheppard. The two had just completed a sweep of the top 2 positions at the recent Super DIRTcar Series event at the Mohawk International Raceway with Sheppard picking up the win. On this night, however, it would be Phelps who would reign supreme.
Alan Johnson and Justin Wright would lead the field to the green flag after scheduled pole sitter Ron Cartwright Jr could not make the call due to an engine issue. Johnson would take the early lead but a hometown hero at Yates County Speedway would emerge as an early front runner in Dundee’s Brady Fultz. Fultz moved up to 2nd on lap 4 and looked for more as he began to run down one of the winningest drivers in all of dirt modified history.
The first caution would slow the field on lap 9 and Byron Worthing would slow on the speedway and have to take his car to the pits for service. Johnson led Fultz, Chad Phelps, ‘The Hurricane’ Steve Paine and Sheppard at that point in the Top 5. On the restart, Fultz went after Johnson and took the lead on lap 10 in Turn 2 which had the Yates County crowd on their feet. There was no doubt that party wouldn’t have ended until this morning had Fultz been able to hold off Dirt’s best on home turf.
Yellow flags on laps 10, 12 and 14 would slow the field with Fultz leading Johnson, Sheppard, Paine and now Jimmy Phelps moving up to 5th from his 11th starting position. On the lap 14 restart ‘AJ Slideways’ wasted no time, making quick work of the Fultz #70 to retake the lead with a power move to the outside on lap 15. Another car on the move and making his way through the field was former track champion at the speedway Billy Van Pelt who won the first consi and had to start 20th. By lap 22 Van Pelt had marched all the way to 7th place.
Van Pelt would move up to 6th before a lap 26 caution would fly to slow and bunch the field back up. Another caution on Lap 31 for Bob Henry’s blown Right Rear American Racer would slow the field just after Jimmy Phelps had overtaken Paine for the 4th position. The restart would see the Top 3 cars using the bottom line and see Phelps start to find something that worked for his 98h Troyer up on the cushion. Phelps would make a daring pass on his teammate Sheppard to take over 3rd and one lap later overtake Fultz for 2nd.
Sheppard also switched lanes and would take over 3rd from Fultz as the hometown hero would start to slide backwards through the Top 5. Lap 36 saw Van Pelt finally crack the Top 10 as his Grant Hilfger Instant Heat Wood Pellets #78 was working strong on the top side of the speedway. As they field came down to click off lap 39, Phelps finally made his way around the outside of Johnson to take the lead. A caution would fall just a lap later and set up a 10 lap dash to the finish.
On the lap 40 restart, Sheppard would use the cushion to blast by Johnson and set his sights on his HBR teammate of Phelps for the lead. Van Pelt moved into 4th on lap 42 but that would be as far as the 2014 Woodhull Raceway Modified track champion would advance. The final caution flag of the night would come out on lap 46 to set up a final four lap dash for the Seneca Lake Shootout victory.
Phelps would pull away on the restart and keep Sheppard at an arm’s reach the rest of the way home. Jimmy Phelps would score the $4,000 Inaugural Seneca Lake Shootout win over Sheppard, Alan Johnson, Billy Van Pelt and July’s winner Vic Coffey rounding out the Top 5. Brady Fultz, Steve Paine, Derrick Podsiadlo, Tyler Siri and Chad Phelps would fill out the Top 10. Jimmy Phelps would score the guaranteed starting spot for the Southern Tier 100 to be held later this fall at Five Mile Point Speedway.
Hear now from the Top 5 finishers in the Seneca Lake Shootout:
Seneca Lake Shootout Winner- Jimmy Phelps
2nd Place Finisher- Matt Sheppard
3rd Place Finisher- Alan Johnson
4th Place Finisher and the Hard Charger of the race- Billy Van Pelt
Darryl Ruggles would score the $500 victory in the 305 Sprint Car division as a stout field of 17 305’s filled the pit area for the Seneca Lake Shootout. Ruggles has been strong all season long in his 48jr and he showed everyone why he was crowned the 2014 305 Sprint track champion.
Todd Henderson had a fierce battle with Will Glover late in the race with Henderson taking 2nd, Glover 3rd, Nick Cooper in the Great Clips ride 4th and Doug Crews rounding out the Top 5. The rest of the Top 10 in the 305’s were Steve Glover, Tim Smith, Lance Dusett, John Preston and Alysha Ruggles.
Now hear from 305 Sprint Car Winner- Darryl Ruggles
24 strong Street Stocks rolled into the speedway Friday night knowing this was one final tune-up for October’s Empire 100 as well as paying $600 to the winner. Dylan Cecce, who had not driven the full season at Yates County, found himself in the lead as the remaining laps clicked off in the 25-lap affair. Cecce was running the Dylan Potter #14 Potter chassis ride for this event and will be in that ride in October for the 100.
Cecce was strong out front but a fierce battle was taking place between 2014 track champion Jeremy Potrzebowski and Gene Balmer in the Chuck Winslow-owned #38. Balmer would end up looping his red 38 car in Turn 4 and fall through the Top 10 positions. Potrzebowski started making progress on the Cecce 14 car when Cecce started to have a right rear tire go down. Cecce would somehow hold on to that car to finish 3rd but would hand the lead over to Potrzebowski for the final 2 circuits.
2014 track champion Jeremy Potrzebowski would score the win, Nate Daggett in the 3D came home 2nd, Cecce 3rd, Jared Hill 4th and Rich Sharpsteen in the ‘Flyin’ X’ finally got his luck turned around to come home with a Top 5. The rest of the Top 10 was Dave Matwiejow, Josh Pangrazio, CJ Guererri, Bob Buono and Carl Cleveland.
Potrzebowski would lock himself into the Empire 100 with the victory, Daggett would score a guaranteed starting position in the season ending Race of Champions Street Stock event at the Five Mile Point Speedway later this fall. After clarification with promoter Dan Harpell, the Top 5 points finishers in the street stock division in 2014 (Chuck Winslow, Nate Daggett, Jake Karlnoski and Rich Sharpsteen) will have the option to buy their way into the Empire 100 if they do not qualify. They will not be guaranteed starters for the 100 as this is a Race of Champions Street Stock event.
Street Stock Winner Jeremy Potrzebowski in Victory Lane
The best finish of the night went to the 4-Cylinder Stock division as 2014 track champion Scott Bradley and JJ Kreidler III would find themselves locked into a great battle for the lead with 3 laps to go. Bradley was abusing his #23 on the cushion while Kreidler was following Bradley down the straights and flying in down low trying to pull off the race winning slide job. Kreidler would do so unsuccessfully for 2 laps before the white flag came out.
Going into Turns 3 and 4, Kreidler ‘sold the farm’ and dove into Turn 3 harder than he had driven all night long. As they hit the apex of the corner, Kreidler creeped higher and higher until he had enough space to clear Bradley and force the track champion to lift coming off Turn 4. Kreidler would go on to score the $400 victory over Bradley, Jayson Smart, Donnie Clemons and rookie competitor David Whethim the Top 5. Sixth through tenth was Erica Bell, Craig Mahrt, Chad Ayers, Desiree Force and Chris Percy. Kreidler will now be a guaranteed starter for the 4-Cylinder portion of Dutch Hoag National Open weekend.
4-Cylinder Stock winner JJ Kreidler in Victory Lane
More Audio Interviews from the Seneca Lake Shootout:
After the heat races:
YATES COUNTY SPEEDWAY RESULTS 9-19-14
MODIFIEDS: Jimmy Phelps, Matt Sheppard, Alan Johnson, Billy Vanpelt, Vic Coffey, Brady Fultz, Steve Paine, Derrick Podsiadlo, Tyler Siri, Chad Phelps, Bob Henry, Dylan Dewert, Shaun Walker, Joe Dgien, Fran Hilton, Mike Jackson, Frank Dunning, Ken Titus, Mike Ward, Justin Wright, Chris Ostrowsky, Donnie Lawson, Ryan Susie, Byron Worthing.
STREET STOCKS: Jeremy Potrzebowski, Nathan Daggett, Dylan Ceece, Jared Hill, Rich Sharpsteen, Dave Matwiejow, Josh Pangrazio, CJ Guererri, Bob Buono, Carl Cleveland, Bill Miller, Dan Hofmann, Ray Smith, Gene Balmer, Harold Fenton, Jake Karlnoski, Matt Smith, John Burritt, Jeremy Trank, Bruce Kinner, Brett Buono, Ralph Champion, Ted Morseman, Zach Teed.
305 SPRINT CARS: Darryl Ruggles, Todd Henderson, Will Glover, Nick Cooper, Doug Crews, Steve Glover, Tim Smith, Lance Dusett, John Preston, Alysha Ruggles, Dan Bennett, Casey Williams, Lee Sanders, Gordy Button, Chris Preston, David Ferguson, Dan Kehn.
4 CYLINDERS: James Kreidler, Scott Bradley, Jayson Smart, Donnie Clemons, David Whethim, Erica Bell, Craig Mahrt, Chad Ayers, Desiree Force, Chris Percy, Brian Grant, Casey Wagner, Rich Wagner, Stan Mathews, Pat Toupin, Sandy Hand, Dave Mills. DNS: Zach Teed.