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With Packed House and Busy Schedule, Bethel Beats Mother Nature

Monday August 13, 2012


So far this season at Bethel Motor Speedway, the storyline in the Sportsman division has been the seesaw point battle between veteran drivers Rich Coons and Jerry Curry. Coons, a dirt racer who made the switch to asphalt in 2010, has gone toe-to-toe with Bethel standout Jerry Curry, who has competed and won in numerous other divisions over the years. Both have had their shining moments, and both have had their share of disappointments. For Coons, this past Saturday night held a little of both, as he won the holdover event from August 4th and then blew a motor, keeping him from even taking the green flag in the night’s regular event.

The night’s first feature took to the track with Curry on the pole and Coons directly behind him in third. At the drop of the green, Coons followed Curry to get past outside pole sitter Dion Naples. The race quickly turned into a clinic up front, as the two veterans tested one another turn after turn, lap after lap. Behind the pair, an intense battle also raged between rookie Bob Morris and Eric Moon for the third spot. Morris – who got behind the wheel of a Sportsman car this year after only competing in go-karts in the past – held off the advances of Moon until lap 14, but he continued to fight for the spot as the laps clicked off. With just three laps to go, Coons took the top spot from Curry. When the checkered flag waved, Coons crossed the line ahead of Curry and Moon. It was Coons’ ninth feature event win of the year, and effectively put the driver nine markers ahead of Curry in the points chase.

From there, however, Coons’ night went rapidly downhill. In the heat race, Coons’ motor blew, sidelining him for the night, and giving Curry a wide-open door to walk through to recapture the points lead that he lost just last month.

Morris and Dion Naples started the night’s regular event from the front row, while Curry sat third for the start behind Morris. As soon as the green flag was in the air, Curry took command of the race, and he put his car out front on the initial lap. As Curry paced the field, Morris was engaged in a fight for second with John Aumick. Curry was a man on a mission, leading every lap of the event on his way to the win, while Morris was able to keep Aumick behind him and collect second place honors. For Curry, it was his second win of the 2012 season and catapulted him into the points lead by 36 points over Coons, who was forced to watch the event from the sidelines. Morris’ runner-up finish was his best so far, and Aumick – who splits his time between dirt and the asphalt at Bethel – crossed the line third.

In the Alliance Shippers Legends division, 2010 track champion Mike Alcaro took down his second win of the year in the combined-division race that awarded INEX national points only. Alcaro started last in his heat race and powered his way to the win, but the invert resulted in a fifth-place starting spot for the driver. Semi Pro competitors Eugene Drew and Joe DeGracia started on the front row, and Drew was able to hold the top spot for two laps before current Pro/Masters point leader Joe Graf took the spot. Graf’s time out front was short-lived, as Alcaro powered his way past just one lap later. Just prior to the halfway point, the caution flew and Alcaro was put back three spots for an earlier infraction, and Young Lions/Semi Pro point leader Matt Evans inherited the lead. Evans led DeGracia and Graf for several laps as Alcaro marched back to the front. Alcaro took second from DeGracia with five laps to go, and then began to reel in Evans. On the final lap, Alcaro made his move, and he crossed the line ahead of Evans and DeGracia.

The Quality Bus Service Bandoleros took to the track and excited fans with several lead changes that ended with Rudy Roth IV in Victory Lane for the fourth time in 2012. Like Alcaro, Roth won his heat race but started the feature from the fifth starting spot following the invert. David French, who started on the outside pole, took the lead from pole sitter Nick Morich on the initial lap and was running strong at the front of the field until an incident on lap five involving himself, Joseph Graf Jr., Christian Eckes, and Matt Forsythe resulted in Roth inheriting the top spot. On the restart, Roth had to contend with defending division champion Max Evans, who grabbed the lead one lap later. The two dueled it out at the front of the field, swapping the lead two more times. On the final lap, however, Roth sensed that time was running out and he made the final pass for the lead. Roth beat Evans and 2010 division champion Mikey Policastro to the line. By grabbing the win, Roth made a step towards closing the points gap between himself and point leader Evans, but Evans will still head into the next event with a 36-point lead over Roth. Graf Jr. heads into the next event third in points, 26 points behind Roth.

What could have been a rough night for Sam’s Towing Pro Stock driver Kenny Atkins turned to gold, as the driver came from the last place starting spot to take down his second consecutive win and third for the season. Atkins – the division’s 2010 Rookie of the Year – is now tied with 2011 Rookie of the Year Larry O’Donnell for the greatest number of wins in the class so far this year. Joel Murns Jr. and Jim Helt started on the front row, and Helt quickly put his car out front, as O’Donnell worked his way into second by lap three. O’Donnell was able to briefly wrestle the lead from Helt prior to the halfway point of the event, but Helt grabbed it back one lap later and O’Donnell was shuffled back to third as Atkins took over second. Atkins wasted little time sitting in the runner-up spot, and he passed Helt for the lead just after the race had hit halfway. With three laps to go, Charlie Howe Jr. made his way to second, but time ran out before he could make a pass, and Atkins notched the win over Howe Jr. and Helt. Following a week off, the Pro Stocks will return to action on August 25th, with Mark Sylvester taking the points lead into the race. O’Donnell closed the gap by four points with his run this past weekend, and will head into the race 14 points behind Sylvester. Helt sits third, 16 points behind O’Donnell.

In the Shakelton’s Auto & Truck Centers Street Stock division, defending champion Bobby VanBlarcom’s win streak was halted at seven when Kevin Skelly captured the win. It was a long road to the win for Skelly, who recorded a DNF in the heat race after he and VanBlarcom got hooked in the infield. Skelly started the feature event from last, but led just under half of the race on his way to victory. Jonathan McGibbon and Kyle Welsch made up the front row for the start, and McGibbon put his car out front. Welsch held the second spot, keeping 2010 Rookie of the Year Gary VanOrden Jr. at bay lap after lap. Just after the race hit halfway, Skelly worked his way past VanOrden Jr. for third, and he catapulted himself out front just one lap later by passing both Welsch and McGibbon. VanOrden Jr. then powered his way past the pair to take second, and VanBlarcom wasn’t far behind, as he grabbed third. With three laps to go, VanBlarcom wrestled the runner-up spot fro VanOrden Jr., but he ran out of time to make a pass for the lead. Skelly notched his first Bethel win of 2012, followed by VanBlarcom and VanOrden Jr. Heading into the next event, VanBlarcom continues to hold the points lead, with a 41-point margin over VanOrden Jr. Amber VanOrden, who was the 2011 Rookie of the Year, sits third in points, just ten points out of second.

In a field where any driver seems to be capable of a win on any given night, Wayne Kirkpatrick scored his third Active Towing & Recovery BMS Modified victory of the year this past Saturday, after it appeared that mechanical issues might derail his night. Kirkpatrick experienced issues during practice, and opted to start scratch on the field for the feature in case the problem persisted. Wilton Nickerson and John Cote – who each have three feature wins this year – started on the front row, and Cote nosed out front at the drop of the green. Nickerson, however, took command of the top spot just one lap in and the pair then began to battle for the position. With five laps to go in the race, Kirkpatrick grabbed second from Cote, but then the caution was displayed when Nickerson hit the frontstretch wall. This put Kirkpatrick in the lead, with the previous week’s winner Steve Galgano in tow. In the closing laps, Kirkpatrick was unstoppable, and he beat Galgano to the line. Cote – who had pitted under the earlier caution – was only able to make his way back to third before the end of the race. Cote holds a commanding lead in the points chase heading into the next event, while the point battle appears to be for the second spot, with Nickerson a mere six points ahead of Kirkpatrick.

The 4 Cylinder Advanced features had one of the more unexpected finishes of the night, as it appeared that Ray Fennell had his third feature win of the season wrapped up until the final laps of the event. Fennell started on the pole, alongside 2010 4 Cylinder Senior champion Eddy Lindstadt. Fennell got out to the lead at the drop of the green, and Tim Curry came to second. By lap five, however, 2011 4 Cylinder Junior champion Kody Welsh had come from his sixth place starting spot to third. Welsh – who suffered a blown motor the last time he was in competition – then began to work on Curry for second, and Welsh took the spot just past the halfway point of the race. Fennell was able to hold off the challenges of Welsh until there were just two laps to go, and Welsh edged past Fennell for the lead. Welsh drove on to the win – his fifth of the year – ahead of Fennell. Defending division champion Ivan Guerra was credited with third in the final rundown. Heading into the next event, Guerra trails Walt Henry in the point standings by 13 points. Welsh sits third, 13 points behind Guerra.

The finish of the 4 Cylinder Novice race caused a shakeup in the point standings, just as it had done the last time the division raced. Last month, Josh Mendez grabbed the point lead away from Vincent Lovric, but the tables were turned this past weekend as Lovric won the race and reclaimed the lead. Brittany Curry started on the pole, and got out to the early lead before being passed by Tasha Curry four laps into the event. Just three laps later, however, Lovric made his way to the top spot from his eighth place starting position. At the halfway point, Heather Fennell took over the second spot and looked to mount a challenge to Lovric. With four laps to go, Brian Bauernfeind took second from Fenell, but time ran out as Lovric beat Bauernfeind and Fennell to the line. Lovric takes the point lead into the next event, with a 15-point cushion over Mendez. Just seven points behind Mendez, Fennell holds third in the standings.

The ATQMRA Midgets made their second and final scheduled appearance of the season, and Ryan Tidman stretched his record at Bethel to two-for-two when he captured the win. AJ Fuge and John Gambuti made up the front rown for the start, and Gambuti shot out to the lead when the green flag flew. Matt Roselli came to second briefly, but was passed by Tidman three laps in. Tidman immediately set his sights on Gambuti. Gambuti was able to hold Tidman off until lap eight, when Tidman slid past and took the lead. Over the second half of the race, the biggest battle was for the third spot, between Roselli and Alison Cumens. Cumens took the spot with five laps to go. When the checkered flag waved, Tidman had notched the win over Gambuti and Cumens.

This coming Saturday, August 18, Bethel Motor Speedway will once again host a jam-packed night of exciting short track racing and affordable family fun. On the schedule are the Sportsman, Legends, Bandolero, Street Stock, BMS Modified, and 4 Cylinder classes. The Pro Stock division will return to action in time for Nostalgia Night, August 25th. Grandstand gates open at 1 pm for spectators and early pit registration, and pit gates open at 2:30 pm. Hot laps take to the track at 5 pm, and the one-of-a-kind racing action Bethel is known for goes green at 7 pm. Grandstand admission is just $6. More information – including a complete 2012 schedule – can be obtained at www.bethelmotorspeedway.com, or by calling (845) 319-7908.

SPORTSMAN 8/4 HOLDOVER FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Rich Coons, 2. Jerry Curry, 3. Eric Moon, 4. Bob Morris, 5. Dion Naples, 6. Roy Crespo.

SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Jerry Curry, 2. Bob Morris, 3. John Aumick, 4. Ed Butler, 5. Eric Moon, 6. Roy Crespo, 7. Dion Naples. DNS – Rich Coons.

LEGENDS FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Mike Alcaro (P), 2. Matt Evans (YL), 3. Joe DeGracia (SP), 4. Joe Graf (M), 5. Matt Gaughan (YL), 6. Joe Fresco (SP), 7. Nick Robinson (P), 8. Eugene Drew (SP), 9. Rich Wheeler (P), 10. Jim Donelli (M), 11. Fred Graf (M), 12. Jeffrey Lefcourt (M).

BANDOLERO FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Rudy Roth IV (O), 2. Max Evans (B), 3. Mikey Policastro (O), 4. Joseph Graf Jr. (O), 5. Christian Eckes (B), 6. Taylor Hurban (O), 7. Christina Policastro (O), 8. Kaci Stackhouse (O), 9. David French (O), 10. Nick Morich (O), 11. Matt Forsythe (B), 12. Neil Rutt III (O), 13. Courtney Lefcourt (O).

PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Kenny Atkins, 2. Charlie Howe Jr., 3. Jim Helt, 4. Larry O’Donnell, 5. Mark Sylvester, 6. Glenn Aumick, 7. Gene Morton, 8. Wayne Kmieczak, 9. Joel Murns Jr., 10. Arthur McArthur, 11. David Demorest. DNS – Jerry Tunney Jr.

STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Kevin Skelly, 2. Bobby VanBlarcom, 3. Gary VanOrden Jr., 4. Steven Steffens, 5. Jonathan McGibbon, 6. Kyle Welsch, 7. Amber McGibbon, 8. Trevor Horne.

BMS MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (15 laps): 1. Wayne Kirkpatrick, 2. Steve Galgano, 3. John Cote, 4. Wilton Nickerson.

4 CYLINDER ADVANCED FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Kody Welsh, 2. Ray Fennell, 3. Ivan Guerra, 4. Tim Curry, 5. Walt Henry, 6. Shawn Barschow, 7. Eddy Lindstadt, 8. Patty Falkena, 9. George Zeininger, 10. Don Kuhn, 11. George VanAken.

4 CYLINDER NOVICE FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Vincent Lovric, 2. Brian Bauernfeind, 3. Heather Fennell, 4. Tanner Fennell, 5. Brittany Curry, 6. Mike Bryant, 7. Matt McKerrell, 8. Dustin Cosgrove, 9. Josh Mendez, 10. Tisha Curry, 11. Daniel VanAken, 12. Kayla Curry, 13. Tasha Curry, 14. Jordan Papacharalambous, 15. Jeremiah Madison, 16. Scott Quick, 17. Devon Grimm.

ATQMRA MIDGET FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Ryan Tidman, 2. John Gambuti, 3. Alison Cumens, 4. Matt Roselli, 5. AJ Fuge. DNS – Buddy Sload.

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This report was provided by an outside PR source and posted by Mike Neff.


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