By Mark Kane
For Capital Region Independent Media
Seems Mother Nature had a different idea than the race fans, teams and track officials had both Friday and Sunday as pop-up showers hit across the state. However, Saturday it was a whole different story with a beautiful warm and sunny day.
This week’s racing found Chasin’ Racin’ at the Fonda Speedway for a regular show along with the winged warriors of the ESS Sprints. Then on Tuesday it was off to the Ulster County Bull Ring, Accord Speedway, for the Short Track Super Series (STSS) “Battle of the Bull Ring” 10 paying $6,000-to-win 50-lap feature.
After losing their opener to rain this would be the first racing action on the newly configured 1/4-mile speedway. During the off-season, Accord promoter Gary Palmer dropped the banks and widened the racing surface, along with other improvements. What would the night bring as far as track conditions was unknown to everyone, especially with all the rain we had just the week before.
The tight little 1/4-mile Accord Speedway has never lacked for tight wheel-to-wheel racing action and has never lacked in talent. That is what kept the fans coming back every Friday night. This is a small track that is a must for any race fan.
Over the years the Ricci name has been synonymous with on-track racing at Accord Speedway, but there have been other families that have called Accord home including the Tylers, Higbies, Greens, Heotzlers and the Ferrier brothers also giving the track a small-town feeling.
The list of heavy hitters that have called Accord home and won features as well as championships in the past and present is talented and well respected in racing. With Danny Creeden looking for his third straight championship, Anthony Perrago, Danny Tyler and Jerry Higbie Jr., to name a few of the current weekly Modified field, will take the green each and every Friday night at Accord Speedway.
Weekly, Accord runs Modifieds, 602 Sportsman, Rookie Sportsman, Pure Stocks, 4Cyl. Slingshots and the new Vintage Modified that will run seven shows in 2023. On July 14 it will be a very special day for one local racing family as the Vintage feature will be the Rene Downes Memorial. Rene was a special person and known to always have a bike for the kids’ giveaways. Today Downs Racing continues with Garrett Poland behind the wheel of the New Day Motors ride as well as Butch Irwin, who has returned to the driver’s seat.
I have to commend Gary Palmer for all his hard work on Tuesday as well as the off-season. With the new configuration and surface it is going to take a while for it to settle down, but when it does it is going to be very racey for drivers and great for the fans.
It was in springtime track condition and all the armchair promoters need to understand that. I could understand if Gary had not worked his butt off all night to give the teams the best and safest racing surface he could, but he did.
Remember, this track had NO racing prior to Tuesday since being reconfigured. After working the surface any time he had a chance, the track continued to get better. Was it perfect? No, but by feature time it was in pretty nice condition after all the work they had put into the Speedway.
BATTLE OF THE BULL RING
The “Battle of the Bull Ring” was just that, a battle against track conditions as well as a very competitive STSS field of 49 Modifieds that made their way into the Accord Speedway. It took five heats and three consi’s to narrow the field down with Tyler Dipple, Matt Sheppard, Rusty Smith, Outlaw Speedway promoter Tyler Siri, and last year’s winner Mat Williamson picking up heat race wins as Marc Johnson, Cory Cormier and veteran the “Doctor” Danny Johnson picked up the consi wins.
It was Mat Williamson by luck of the draw and Rusty Smith bringing the field to green with Williamson getting the early lead as Smith quickly fell back. Matt Sheppard worked his way to second and started to challenge Williamson as the caution tightened up the field on lap six.
Once back to green Williamson and Sheppard ran nerf bar to nerf bar, with Williamson gaining the advantage on the bottom and going back to the front as Sheppard, Mike Mahaney, Tanner Van Doren and Tyler Dipple were holding down the top 5.
There was some tight racing action behind the leaders as Billy Pauch Jr. and Rusty Smith battled hard as Anthony Perrago, who started deep in the starting grid, was on the move. The caution was out for a tangle in turn two, bringing the field back to the leaders.
Back to green it was Williamson taking the bottom, but it was Sheppard who got the bite out of turn four and would be the new leader in turn 1 as Smith worked his way back into the top 5. Once out front, Sheppard was the class of the field as Williamson kept Sheppard’s 9S in his sights as the battle in the top 5 was heating up.
A series of yellows found Sheppard still out front with the fine run for young Van Doren coming to an end on lap 21. Back to green it would be Sheppard the halfway leader with Williamson, Pauch Jr., Rusty Smith having a solid run and Dipple back in the top 5. Out front Sheppard worked his way through lap traffic with perfection as Williamson started to lose ground to the leader and it was Perrago who was still on a charge, as was Danny, who had brought out an earlier yellow as they were both in the top 10 and looking for more.
The run for Tyler Dipple would come to an end as the field once again was knocking on Super Matt’s rear deck as the top 5 had Williamson still holding second, with Pauch Jr., Smith and Perrago now in the top 5, and don’t look now, but the Doctor is in the house in the sixth position. Once back to green it was Sheppard remaining out front as Williamson and Pauch Jr. battled for second. Williamson held the spot as Pauch Jr. found himself with a right front flat tire in the closing laps and losing positions after a great run.
At the checker flag it was Matt Sheppard pulling off the win, his first at Accord and 33rd STSS win and his second STSS North win in a row after picking up the Hard Clay Open at Orange County Fair Speedway earlier in the season. Following Sheppard to the line was Williamson, Perrago the $250 hard Charger award 21st to third, Rusty Smith held on for fourth with Billy Pauch Jr. hanging on for a top 5 and Danny Johnson working his way back to sixth.
In the 602 Sportsman it was Capital District runner Derrick McGrew Jr. picking up the win, his first on the STSS and the $1,500 paycheck.
On Saturday it was off to the Fonda Speedway for a full night of racing action under a full moon with their regular program along with the 360 ESS Sprints that always have the fans on the edge of their seat.
Is not the old saying, from hero to zero? How about from zero to hero for Rocky Warner and the Parks Racing Team? It was two weeks ago that Warner lost the power plant in the #1 Parks Company ride and things did not get much better from that point.
Bringing the Jason Simmons 98 in as a backup, things just continued to go south for the former champion. Then this week Rocky Warner was standing in Fonda Speedway’s Victory Square after being in the right place at the right time.
Bringing the Amsterdam Truck Center Modifieds to the line was Danny Varin, who was doing double duty also running his #01 Sprinter and young gun Alex Yankowski, who has been fast every time he makes his way to the Fonda pit area.
It was Danny Varin getting the early lead with Yankowski in tow as Varin was showing early speed. Behind the leaders, David Constantino and Josh Hohenforst battled as Matt DeLorenzo was working his way into the top 5 and continued his march to the front. Out front Yankowski found power and started to close the gap on the leader, side by side with Varin. Yankowski powered into turn one and became the new leader when his momentum was broken by a lap car, giving Varin back the lead down the back stretch.
As good as the battle was up front, behind the leaders DeLorenzo had worked around Hohenforst and was now working on Constantino for the third spot. As the two battled hard swapping the position, it was DeLorenzo getting the spot as Warner and Brian Gleason battled just outside the top 5.
Working their way to the halfway flags it was Varin, Yankowski, looking like a 20-year veteran at the track, Constantino and Warner now in the top 5.
On the move was rookie Cody Clark, who was on the high side and taking prisoners like a veteran, not a rookie, after starting deep in the field. Sitting behind Cody’s mom and sister made his drive that much more exciting. Up front the battle was heating up as Yankowski 84Y was on the rear deck of Varin’s 93 going into turn 1 and 2, with Yankowski pulling to Varin’s door using the bottom and powering down the back chute to become the mew leader.
Out front Yankowski had everything going his way until a multi-car tangle in turn 1 where cars kept sliding into the pile, including Yankowski and Varin. Varin was done as Yankowski would now have to come from the back.
Once back to green and it was Rocky Warner as the new leader with DeLorenzo putting on the pressure as the 34 of Constantino started to have a different sound from the motor that got worse until his fine ride went up in a cloud of smoke.
The top 5 found Gleason running third to the leaders, with Demetrios Drellos and Bobby Hackel IV rounding out the top 5, even with DeLorenzo throwing everything he could at Warner it was to no avail as Warner held on for the popular and emotional win with DeLorenzo, Gleason, Drellos, Hackel IV, with Cody Clark driving from 24th to sixth, as Yankowski was credited with seventh after his fine run.
It seems all of Warner’s bad luck went one pit stall to the right as it was Ronnie Johnson blowing a motor early, then being involved in the turn 1 tangle.
In other action it was Kenny Gates adding to his all-time win list, picking up his 87th Pro Stock win as Payton Talbot picked up win No. 2 of the early season in the 602 Sportsman, with Zach Welch the Limited Sportsman win as Shawn Donath picked up the ESS Sprint feature.
Well folks, the season is off to a great start, with more to come throughout the season. Please remember to support all the sponsors that help keep dirt racing alive.
Happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there. Chasin’ Racin’ wishes you all a great day.