Broadslidin’ Blog: Stories Aplenty As Woodhull Raceway Closes In On 2015 Opener

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PENN YAN, NY — Blog and Photo By Race Chaser Online New York Dirt Track Correspondent Steven Ovens —

A couple weeks ago we took a good look at the story lines that exist heading into the 2015 season at the Black Rock Speedway.  Now let’s take a close look at all of the stories that we will be following closely over at Woodhull, NY’s Woodhull Raceway nicknamed “New York’s Toughest Bullring”.


370 Modifieds

Starting out with Modified division, the big question is who is going to have anything to stop Billy “The Kid” Van Pelt from grabbing Woodhull track championship number 17?  If anyone was going to steal one, most would have thought 2014 would have been the perfect opportunity.  Van Pelt was without a ride right up to January/February when Grant Hilfiger stepped up in a big way to put the Southern Tier Modified legend in a quality ride.  Now with this team having a championship under their belt and reloading in a big way for 2015, you just have to wonder what if anything is going to stop them?

“The guys that we race against are very tough week in and week out,” said Van Pelt after nailing down championship #16 at the 2014 banquet.

“This is pretty emotional and pretty special.  Yes, this is number 16 this year but it was different this year.  I just like to get in the car and be competitive.  We don’t have to win I just want to be there in the running and competitive.”

Of course the modified division has a host of great competitors that are going to have a lot to say about the 2015 championship.  Crate Sportsman champion Russell Morseman moves up to the Modifieds along with Rookie of the Year contender and nephew of Van Pelt in Dillon Groover.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again- Groover is the future of the Woodhull Raceway and I’m predicting 2 wins in his rookie season.  Add also to the Modified division Sportsman standout Cory Costa who won everything there was to win at the end of 2014.

Woodhull mainstays Donnie Lawson, Mike Bills, Frank Dunning and Josh Nobriga will also play a major role as far as wins go this season.  But one team to keep your eye on is the Herrington Motorsports #1 and driver Ajay Potrzebowski.  We talked to Ajay on Turn 5 Live a few months ago and that team was just beaming with confidence as they set out to tackle the full season at Woodhull and possibly some Short Track Super Series races.

Speaking of Short Track Super Series, don’t forget about the huge show in August named “Hustling the Highbanks 51” which will pay a whopping $5,100 to the winner.  This is by far the biggest Modified show at Wodhull in ages and it will be interesting to see just how many STSS competitors venture out to Woodhull prior to that big show to test and tune.


Crate Sportsman Modifieds

2015 will be a year where the Sportsman Modified torch is passed to a new champion.  We’re still waiting to see if past champion Chris Daugherty makes the full-time switch to the Modifieds, and if he does that will open the door for AJ Costley, Josh Sawyer and Brett Buono.

AJ Costley picked up 3 wins in 2014 enroute to a third place finish in the final point standings.  Costley/Sawyer/Buono will be a great battle to watch this season.  Throw in strong weekly competitor John Hargrave and you have a potent field of Sportsman even with the loss of Daugherty, Morseman, Costa and Groover who move up to the Mods.  We do know that 2015 will see a new and likely a first time track champion in the division with Morseman also moving up to the Modifieds.


360 Late Models

This will be a critical year for the 360 Late Models at Woodhull.  We already know that multi-time track champion Glenn Whritenour has plans to return to the street stock division and perennial powerhouse John Waters is off to focus on his Crate Late Model (quite successfully too by the way).  With the two major title contenders gone the question remains, ‘Who is left?’

Certainly Carl Hughes, Steve Lebarron and Mick Seeley will return with wins and a championship on the brain but don’t overlook Bruce Miller in the 80 car either.  Miller is likely your favorite to win the title if he indeed runs a full season.  Hughes has also finished 2nd and 3rd the last two seasons in points so that could be a fun battle to watch.

I give Ted and Brandi White all the credit in the world for sticking with the 360’s for 2015 but I do wonder if 2015 will be a curtain call season for the 360’s with the Crate Late Models practically taking over Late Model racing in New York State and Canada.  One thing that will definitely hurt the 360 Late Models is the loss of the Bicknell Racing Products Can Am Late Model Series which will cease to operate in 2015.


Street Stocks

So far the division having made the most noise in the offseason has been the Joe Wilcox Performance Automatics Street Stock division.  The purse is getting a swift kick in the pants, seeing the winner take home $400 for a weekly show and all drivers taking home at least $50 to take the green flag.  Ted White took a stand in 2015 and is giving the Street Stocks what they’ve been asking for.  The question is, will they return the support they are being given and turn out a field larger than 8-10 cars on a weekly basis?  If they pull a field of 20 cars, the purse jumps up to $500 to win.

2014 Champion Brett Marlatt will be back in his Nitro Chassis 99, while Mini Stock track champion Jason Gleason will compete in his rookie year in the street stocks this season.  They will be joined by Whritenour, Teddy Morseman, Jeredd Dennis and many more in what is thought to be the most competitive Street Stock class since 2007 that saw multiple winners and fantastic racing all season long.

I think this division will see it’s revival take place this season with the increased purse and the rule changes that will allow more cars to race at Woodhull without making major chassis and suspension changes.  We already know Dylan Cecce in the Potter Chassis house car will be a regular on the highbanks.  2013 and 2014 Black Rock Speedway champion Jeremy Potrzebowski also plans to make Woodhull Raceway his home in 2015.  A Woodhull championship is something T1 Nation would love to scratch off the To Do List this year.


Mini Stocks

Great news for the Mini Stocks in 2015- Daugherty Auto Sales has come onboard as the division sponsor for the season.  This division will also see a passing of the torch as a dominant Jason Gleason moves up to the Street Stocks after taking home the 2014 track championship.  The question here is- who will step up and stake their claim for Mini Stock supremacy?

Ricky Amidon of Canisteo, NY has nearly as many Top 5’s as anyone at Woodhull Raceway but has yet to grace victory lane with his presence.  I think that changes this year as Amidon breaks through for career win #1 and will be a serious contender for the championship.  Another competitor not to turn a blind eye to is that of Derrick Puryear who took his first career Mini Stock win in 2014.


Front Wheel Drives

Doesn’t matter what track you go to, I love the Front Wheel Drive division.  These guys may not have Modified or Street Stock money invested but they make up for it in heart.  2014 track champion Adam DelGrosso in the Mcwhorter’s Maple Syrup #11 looks to defend his title this season and will do so in a brand new piece.  Matter of fact, the Rick Hendrick team of Woodhull Front Wheel Drives will all see brand new Hondas for 2015.  Wasn’t a week that went by in this offseason that I didn’t see a new Honda headed to the Birdsall compound on Social Media.

The power team of DelGrosso, Adam Austin, Billy Joe Birdsall and Joseph Birdsall look to sweep the entire season at Woohull in 2015.  Can they be stopped?  I’m sure Matt Prescott and Cody Baker will have something to say about that.  Both picked up feature wins in 2014 and Prescott came up one spot short in the finals points, trailing DelGrosso by 60 points.


Woodhull Warriors/Bandits

I am excited to see this 4-Cylinder youth division (12-16 year old drivers) return to Woodhull in 2015.  This division has been highly successful at other local tracks including Woodhull in the past.  Some of the most successful drivers on the dirt and asphalt locally got their start in either Woodhull or Black Rock Speedway’s Warrior/Bandit division.  I hope that there is enough interest to keep the division going because it is something that made our area quite unique for a long time- where 12-16 year olds get to step into a full sized stock car before they even have their driver’s license.


As you can see, there will be plenty to talk about at Woodhull in 2015.  Woodhull’s season unofficially kicks off March 21st and 22nd at the Arnot Mall in Big Flats, NY with their annual car show.  For one weekend a year, stock cars fill the shopping mall along with a great crowd of race fans.  Turn 5 Live will be on-location at the Arnot Mall show recording a 2-hour program on Saturday March 21st at Center Court by the Woodhull Raceway booth.

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