Woolley Scores Popular Victory at Wall by Jim Blacroch
RoC Mod Race By the Shore is a Close One
Ken Woolley, Jr., of Howell, N.J., time trialed fourth, drew the pole in the redraw and led every lap en-route to his first DART Race of Champions Tour victory and his 17th career victory at Wall Township Speedway. It was only Woolley’s second race of the season aboard the Aliceann McGann United Crane Rentals Raceworks Chevrolet.
There was a strong field of close cars at Wall. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Victory lane was an emotional scene for Woolley as were his remarks on the Public Address system.
“This win tonight is pretty big for all of us,” offered Woolley. “Especially Aliceann. She has put a lot of faith in me and here we are. Our keys to winning tonight were obviously time trialing in the top six and then the redraw, that really helped us out.”
Woolley continued reflecting on the clean racing throughout the event. “Matt (Hirschman) ran me very clean. I was trying to regulate my corner speed a little and not burn up my tires. I’ve been down that road at Wall many times and it wasn’t going to happen during that race. I’m just happy for all of the guys, Aliceann and all of our sponsors that we won tonight. This win is pretty big for everyone.”
Hirschman finished second after starting fifth and chased Woolley for the final 55 circuits but was unable to complete the pass.
“Another strong second for us,” grinned Hirschman. “We’ve got a good car, so we’ll be in victory lane. I know that much, but Kenny drove a great race tonight and deserved to win. He did what he had to do. We’ll take second and go on from here.”
Tony Ferrante, Jr., making a rare Race of Champions appearance aboard his Father’s familiar blue 31 finished third after time trialing second behind Hirschman. In the early stages of the event Ferrante chased Woolley but in the end the car went away and Ferrante had to settle for third.
“It was definitely better then the Tour race they ran here at the beginning of the season,” explained Ferrante. “The racing was a lot cleaner and people were patient. We had a decent car, but in the end we just got a little too loose and Matt (Hirschman) got by. Everything is in one piece and we had fun tonight, so we’ll take it.”
Rowan Pennick, who is currently making a run at the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour showed his talents as he finished fourth with Tommy Farrell, III, coming home fifth.
Matt Hirschman set the fast time during time trials, while Lee Sherwood and Mike Bohn won the heat races.
Ken Woolley, Jr., is the kind of racer that you always hope to have around. He possesses all of the traits that make him a good racer, a good teammate and a just a good guy to talk with.
A couple of seasons ago, Woolley announced his retirement, which in more recent years has become a semi-retirement situation. Woolley has run sporadically for Dick Barney and Aliceann McGann during that period - primarily in a couple of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events and in the annual Turkey Derby at Wall. He also took one ride in the Don Barker mount a couple of seasons ago.
“Yeah, I guess I can take it or leave it,” laughed Woolley. “I miss the people. I really enjoy the people, on the Tour, at Wall, wherever the people are what you miss. The grind of maintaining the car and all of the things that go with that are the things you don’t miss.
Woolley continued. “Driving for Aliceann is really great, she is a terrific person and she has earned this win tonight, it’s really for her. It’s big for me, but she has put a lot into racing here in New Jersey and her family has been doing this for an incredible amount of time. So this win is pretty special for her.”
Woolley has driven for some of the most popular teams in the history asphalt modified racing in New Jersey including Patrick Deponte, Dick Barney and now the Aliceann McGann team.
“Alice’s guys have been bugging me ever since I first announced my retirement that if I were to come back, I should come back with them,” explained Woolley. “And I did, but honestly, I was supposed to run this race for Dick (Barney) but he’s gotten off to such a rough start this year, they are out of cars right now and Alice’s car was ready, so here we are.”
He continued to reflect on his career and his future plans a bit before turning back to the night’s victory and what it actually meant to him.
“You know, if Dick called and said lets go, I would go with him anywhere. He’s been that good to me over the years. Aliceann has been great to me and we’ll run again. In fact we are going to run the Wall Modified next week here. It’s the Larsen Brothers Memorial and I knew those guys very well and a lot of the guys that I work with have been asking me to run that race, so we will be here next week and do the best that we can. I’m really looking forward to that one.
“As far what tonight meant to me. It’s pretty cool. It’s been a while, I think the last time I won was four years ago here. You do start to wonder. I know in my mind I could still win races. Afterwards tonight, I’ll tell you I can feel that I’m older then Matt, I can tell you that much. It’s tough on you when you are not doing this week in and week out, but man, it does feel good. You never think it’s going to be your last one, because you are always looking ahead, but I’m certainly going to enjoy tonight. This was pretty cool.”
Woolley also had some thoughts on the Race of Champions Tour.
“I thought they did a real good job tonight. Things went smoothly. I kind of had a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth from a few years ago up at Oswego, but I saw what they did here tonight. I know there wasn’t a ton of cars, but everyone respected one another and it was good racing. Wall is so tight and fast it’s hard on equipment, but tonight was a good deal for everyone, I’m just happy we could come out on top.”
Seemingly, Woolley is a crowd pleaser to, because the crowd that was on hand was very enthusiastic about his victory and gave him a warm welcome when he emerged from behind the wheel of the beautifully prepared RaceWorks mount in victory lane.
All-in-all for Woolley and the Aliceann McGann team it was a worthwhile trip to the Jersey shore oval this past Saturday night.
Back at it again…
Tony Ferrante, Jr., of Franklin Square, N.Y., recorded a third place finish in Saturday night’s ‘Brawl at Wall’. After running second for the first portion of the race, he slipped to third, but was able to hang on for a podium finish.
“We had a good car and just a got a little loose,” explained Ferrante. “Matt (Hirschman) slipped by us and here we are. It was fun though.”
Ferrante, who has run a limited schedule for the past couple of seasons, is seemingly enjoying racing much more wore a smile on his face before and after the event Saturday night.
“At some point, you have to slow down a little and enjoy life,” explained Ferrante. “And that’s what we’re doing. We race when we can. We’ll probably go to Thompson for the 300 weekend, maybe Riverhead. I don’t know, but it won’t be anything too crazy. Tonight, was pretty cool. As always, you wish you could win, but third is really good. Hats off to Kenny, he did a great job.”
Ferrante talked a little about his Father as well.
“My Father is doing good,” smiled Ferrante. “He walks with a little limp, but he’s good. He’s the reason we get to do this and I really enjoy spending time with him. We’ve got a great relationship and I really enjoy that. That’s why I think we’re enjoying the racing so much now. We’ll just have to see where we end up next.”
Woolley's win was apopular one. He was congratulated by Matt Hirschman (Top) and Jimmy Blewett (Bottom) after the event. (Jamie Williams Photos)
Matt Hirschman came up just a bit short in his #60 at the finish line. (Jamie Williams Photos)
“We had the top radiator hose come off,” explained Beers. “The guys fixed it, but it overheated after that. We had a fast car. Once I got to third early I was just riding and waiting to go after those guys a little later. It didn’t work out that way.”
Beers recorded the fastest lap of the race within the first 10-laps of the event.
Words to live by…
DART Race of Champions proprietor Andrew Harpell had some noteworthy items to share with the teams at the driver’s meeting and the news was positive and influential.
“Things in this industry go in trends,” offered Harpell. “Right now our car count has been a little down, but the racing has been great. The crowds have been good and there will be a series next year, no question. DART has come on board, originally they wanted to be a part of our dirt program, but we told them about our asphalt program and they jumped in as well, so things have been very positive.”
Harpell continued. “We have a great bunch of guys that race this series and it will continue that way. We’re going to go forward and try to do the right things. I really wanted to address these issues with everyone before the rumors started flying around because the car count was down.”
Some folks are critical of Harpell because of his diversified involvement in short track racing around the area. He owns Five Mile Point Speedway, a quarter-mile dirt track just South of Binghamton, N.Y., and also runs the DART RoC dirt series in addition to the asphalt program.
“The asphalt program is one of my passions,” explained Harpell, who began the what is currently the DART Race of Champions asphalt Modified Tour as the Empire State Series over 15 years ago. During it’s onset the series was featured at times on the now defunct Empire Sports Network, which focused it’s programming on Western and Central New York sporting events.
“I’m doing what I enjoy doing right now and that’s the positive for me. I’m very passionate about good short track racing and that is what we will continue to strive to present. I really believe things are going in the right direction and we’ll just continue to build on the foundation that we have created over the years.”
Harpell has had control of the series sits it’s infancy and will continue to asphalt modified teams with a place to race, a good demographic to race in front of and of course one of the most prestigious events in all of short track racing, the annual Race of Champions, which Harpell purchased from Joe Gerber, that takes place each September at the Oswego Speedway. All of this is good news for asphalt modified teams, promoters and fans.
Wall’s crowd, Lancaster Attendees:
Kudos to Jim Morton and the staff as Wall Township Speedway put together and outstanding crowd for Saturday night’s event. Plenty of people came out to watch some exciting racing proving the Jersey Shore oval is the place to be on Saturday nights.
With Lancaster up next it provides a direct conflict against the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour which runs Saturday afternoon at New Hampshire International Speedway. The conflict will force driver’s Eric Beers and Matt Hirschman to make a choice and attend the events at NHIS. Unfortunately, there won’t be enough time for them to make it back to the events at Lancaster. Lancaster is a North Region race.
The DART Race of Champions heads Northwest next weekend with a Northern Region event at Lancaster Motorsports Park and a 75-lap jaunt. Unfortunately, the I will miss the event due to attending the events at New Hampshire International Speedway, but I will assemble a report based on the news that I receive and can track down from the teams that attend the event. For more information you can tryout www.lancasterracing.com for start times, directions and other information.
RACE REPORT RACE OF CHAMPIONS DART ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR
CENTRAL REGION RACE #3 WALL TOWNSHIP SPEEDWAY
1.) Kenny Woolley, Jr.
2.) Matt Hirschman
3.) Tony Ferrante, Jr.
4.) Rowan Pennick
5.) Tommy Farrell, III
6.) Michael Bohn
7.) Lee Sherwood
8.) Rick Kluth
9.) Phil Slater
10.) John Markovic
11.) Pete Brittain
12.) Andy Szapacs
13.) Danny Bohn
14.) Eric Beers
15.) Daren Scherer
16.) Zane Zeiner
17.) Steven Whitt
18.) Steven Reed
19.) Matt Clemens
LAP LEADERS; Woolley ( 1 – 100 )
DART MACHINERY AWARD SET OF HEADS $1,100 VALUE; Sherwood
GATER RACING NEWS DRIVER BONUS DRAW $500; Zeiner
HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD CHARGER AWARD; Slater ( 18th to 9th )
HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD LUCK AWARD; Zeiner ( 3rd to 16th )
NEXT RoC DART ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR EVENT; Saturday June 30th – Lancaster Motorsports Park – North Region Race # 2
Hirschman strong again…
Matt Hirschman has probably had the strongest car in the last two DART Race of Champions events, but he has been relegated to second place finishes in both events.
“We were close again tonight,” related Hirschman with a shrug. “A little better draw or a break or two and we could have won, but Kenny did a good job. I drove it as hard I could without crashing but I couldn’t get around him. You can’t complain about it. Things are going well and we’ll just keep trying to get back into victory lane.”
No Happy Beers on this night…
The last central race winner Eric Beers struggled a bit at Wall. A radiator hose that came unclamped sent Beers spinning into the turn three guardrail early in the race and he was never able to recover although he finished all of the laps.