AUDIO/RECAP: ‘The Flying Squirrel’ Wins GRIT Racing Series Crate Classic 100

Steven Ovens Asphalt Modifieds, Audio, Dirt Modifieds, Dirt Track Racing, Featured, Northeast, Sprints & Midgets 0 Comments

DUNDEE, NY — Story, Photo and Audio by Race Chaser Online New York Correspondent Steven Ovens —

Friday night saw night 1 of Dutch Hoag National Open Weekend commence with 105 cars strong filling the pit area between 4 divisions of cars.  The GRIT Racing Series Sportsman Modifieds pulled in a whopping 48 cars, the IMCA Modified Empire Series pulled in 26 cars while he 4-Cylinders and Mod Lites brought 20 and 11 cars into the pits for competition.  Both races for the GRIT Series and IMCA Empire Series had major points implications on the line and both races did not disappoint the Yates County Speedway crowd.

Rich Karlnoski from right out of downtown Dundee, NY drew chip #1 in the redraw and would lead the field to Steve Kellogg’s green flag.  Karlnoski would take the early advantage and would never look back on the rest of the field as he would dominate the race to pick up the Empire Series win.  Chris Fleming and Gary Smith would have a spirited battle late in the race for 2nd place with Fleming ultimately taking the runner up spot.

After Victory Lane ceremonies Karlnoski was elated with his team’s run, “I’m so happy about that.  These last few weeks we haven’t raced, so I put the car up on the lift and found a lot of little things that weren’t quite right with the car.”

Karlnoski had a spirited battle with Jared Spalding late in the season for the 2014 IMCA Modified championship.  A championship that Karlnoski won by having a fast car each and every week.  Still though, the driver affectionately known as ‘Dick in the Dirt’ found ways to make his 55x better for Dutch Hoag National Open Weekend.

“I changed a spring rate here and a little spring rate here and it worked out.  I made a change on the Left Rear that I’ve been wanting to do for 2 years and was always afraid to do.  I finally did it and it all worked out.”

Fleming would come home 2nd, Smith held on for 3rd while local competitor Scott Sebring had one of his best showings of the season to come home 4th after starting 9th.  Winner in 2014 at Yates County Speedway, Eddie Sites rounded out the Top 5 in the IMCA Empire Series event.

The GRIT Racing Series Crate Sportsman Modifieds were in town for GRIT’s only stop of their 2014 season at the 4/10 mile Dundee, NY oval.  Points leader and Sportsman Modified standout ‘The Flying Squirrel’ Rocky Warner came away victorious after 100 grueling laps around Yates County Speedway.  The GRIT Series ran the Crate Classic 100 that saw 25 cars including several buy-in drivers take the green flag.  The first 25 and last 25 laps would be run under the green flag while yellow laps between 26 and 75 would count toward the total for 100.

However, the race would run from laps 1 to 52 under the green flag.  There was a mixup on the very first lap involving 6 different cars including Rocky Warner, Dave Marcuccilli, Loren Lincoln and Nick Guererri.  Once the green flag came back out Connor Cleveland looked to run away and hide as he put good distance on the rest of the Top 5 early on.

The great equalizer on Friday night, though, was slower traffic.  Cleveland started hitting slower traffic at the tail end of the field at lap 7 which allowed Casey Pavlick, Brady Fultz, Stacey Jackson and Chris Fisher to close in.  16th place starter ‘The Iceman’ Steve Gray needed only 10 laps to work his way from 16th to the Top 5.  Gray was utilizing the top side of the speedway as most drivers were choosing to hug the bottom side of the speedway.

Lap 24 began a crazy cycle of events right around the area of the leaders as slower cars at the tail end of the field were racing 2 and 3-wide to try and stay on the lead lap.  That allowed the first 4 cars to bunch up behind slower traffic and have their own 4-car battle for the lead.  On lap 27, the foursome went 4-wide for a brief moment and then thinned out to 3-wide going into Turn #1.  Brady Fultz would use a power move to rocket from 3rd to 1st and take over the lead of the race and the pace of the race as well.

Lap 38 would see Steve Gray use Boyd McTavish’s car as a pick and get around Fultz to take the lead.  Fultz would stay in close tow in 2nd as the leaders again approached slower traffic that were racing hard to stay on the lead lap.  Pavlick in the C&S Services 18p found the top side of the speedway to his liking and he looked to run down the Top 2 in a bid for the top spot.

The long green flag run would come to an end on Lap 52 as it appeared Ivan Joslin had a terminal failure on his ride in the engine compartment.  Gray led Fultz, Pavlick, Fisher and AJ Lloyd at the Lap 52 yellow flag- just past the halfway mark in the event.  As the drivers in the Top 5 battled, so too did Rocky Warner.  Warner, who was caught up in the Lap 1 wreck, worked his magic to move up through the field.  A feat Warner said was pretty tough based on his tire choice.

“I was mad we got in a wreck because I purposely put hard tires on thinking I would need to save my tires for the end of the race to battle for the win.  That almost didn’t work out for us,” said Warner in Victory Lane.

Gray and Fultz would swap the lead again on the restart with Fultz taking the lead on lap 59 and Gray coming back with a crossover move to regain the lead on lap 61.  By lap 67 Warner had moved up to the 4th position and continued his charge toward the front.

Lap 73 saw the wheels come off the wagon for the great run that Fultz had going for him.  Doug Smith was trying to stay on the lead lap when his 01 car got crossed up in Turn 4 and spun out.  Fultz and Pavlick had to take evasive action, however Pavlick made it past the accident while Fultz slammed into the Smith 01 car.  Fultz’ night would end on Lap 75 as the field continued to click off laps until the lap board froze at lap 75.

The next restart would start the battle with Pavlick and Warner who ran 2nd and 3rd with both drivers trading the spot back and forth with Warner finally making the pass off a Lap 83 restart.  The final caution flag of the night came out on lap 92 for the Bliss machine who had lost a Right Front tire.  The man on the move was recent Crate Sportsman winner Cory Costa who had finally cracked the Top 5.

On the restart, Gray was able to hold off Warner but Turn 4 was where Warner could just light up his tires and make up a ton of ground on Gray.  Warner would take the lead on Lap 93 and cruise away to the $2,000 payday with Gray coming home 2nd, Pavlick 3rd, Cory Costa 4th and Josh Keesey rounding out the Top 5.

“I was hoping to just not go a lap down after the first lap jingle.  That long run helped us pick our way through the field and gain position.  Once we were in the Top 10 and I could see the leaders, it just gave me something to drive for” said Warner after taking the win in the Crate Classic 100.

Steve Gray was disappointed with 2nd but loved racing for 100 laps with his Sportsman car.

“Car was really good, we made a ton of changes throughout the night.  I think I just abused my tires too much early on in the race and didn’t have anything left to fight with.”

Casey Pavlick had the biggest smile on his face after the 100 as he started on the pole and ran well all night, coming up short in 3rd place at the finish.

“The car was there the whole race and I just paced myself.  I guess I should have pushed just a little bit harder to finish 2nd and not 3rd.  I just went up there (to the top) to see how it would work in lap traffic and it worked great.”

Crate Classic 100 Top 3

Warner’s engine was pulled by the GRIT Racing Series officials in post race tech and will be sent to the DYNO shop for further testing.  This tech inspection measure was planned to be done earlier in the night and Warner’s crew were more than willing to have their engine sent away for further review after picking up the big win.

The 4-Cylinder feature added a bit of drama into the evening’s action at the checkered flag of their feature.  The car driven by Wendell Washington took the lead on lap 16 and led to the end of the 20 lap feature.  However, after taking the win, Washington was disqualified for having wider racing tires bolted onto his machine to race with.  The rules laid out prior to the event by Yates County Speedway promoter Dan Harpell clearly stated that wide racing tires would not be allowed for the 4-Cylinder portion of Dutch Hoag National Open Weekend.

This would give the win to 2014 Raceway 5 track champion Brad Shepard who took the win over Rich Sanders who drove down from Canada to race at YCS, Jayson Smart 3rd, Damian Long 4th and Brian Grant the Top 5.

The Mod Lites were also on hand and Joe Isabell took the win over Doug Williams, Jim Bogett, Sterling Miller and Jeff Isabell rounding out the Top 5.  Joe Isabell had a very fast race car and was the class of the field for the Mod Lite competitors.  This of course is Night 1 of a 2 Night show with the Mod Lite division at Yates County as they will return for Night 2 on Saturday afternoon starting at 3PM.



GRIT SERIES SPORTSMAN: Rocky Warner, Steve Gray, Casey Pavlick, Cory Costa, Josh Keesey, Dave Marcuccilli, Jacob Dgien, Chris Fisher, Aj Lloyd, Ricky Newton, Kane Bristol, Connor Cleveland, Nick Guererri, Loren Lincoln, Boyd Mactavish, Shea Montgomery, Doug Smith, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Josh Butler, Ray Bliss, Darryl Ruggles, Brady Fultz, Justin Wright, Stacy Jackson, Ivan Joslin, James Henry, Eric Bell, Fran Hilton

IMCA EMPIRE STATE SERIES: Rich Karlnoski, Chris Flemming, Gary Smtih, Scott Sebring, Eddie Sites, Kurt Decker, Matt Cole, James Cornell, Bob Maynard, Keith Lamphere, Gary Roberts, Ray McClure, Tom Eiklor, Dan Burman, KC Coel, Harry Ely, Mike Stoddard, Ken Buck, Brad Sites, Jared Spalding, Tony Harris, Pat Jones, DNS: Brandon Smith, Tyler Stoddard, Todd Stone, Brad Smith

4 CYLINDER FEATURE: Brad Shepard, Rich Sanders, Jayson Smart, Damian Long, Brian Grant, James Kreidler, Jay McConnell, Craig Mahrt, Rich Post, Brett Ayers, David Whetham, Erica Bell, Jacob McConnell, Dan Smart, Chris Percy, Desiree Force, Rich Wagner, Chris Mashewske, Jeremy Trank, Wendell Washington, Donnie Clemons

MOD LITES: Joe Isabell, Doug Williams, Jim Bogett, Sterling Miller, Jeff Isabell, Derek Wagner, Allen Fink, John Behron, Sam Usborne, Dave Brown, Justin Williams


Hear now our Audio from Victory Lane and the pit area at Yates County Speedway:

IMCA Empire Series Modifieds:

Winner- Rich Karlnoski


2nd Place Chris Fleming


3rd Place Gary Smith


4th Place Scott Sebring



GRIT Sportsman Racing Series:

Winner- Rocky Warner


2nd Place Steve Gray


3rd Place Casey Pavlick



4-Cylinder Winner- Brad Shepard

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