Leaty Has Another Day That Ends in Spencer's Victory Late by Jim Blacroch
RoC Victory Close to Home Ends Hirschman's Win Streak at Four
Jan Leaty (#6) racing inside T.J. Potrzebowski. (Paul Cooper rPhotos - reprinted with permission from GATER Racing News)
Jan Leaty of Williamson, N.Y., is 'The Man' when it comes to racing at Spencer Speedway near Rochester, N.Y., and this past Friday he proved that once again as he captured the Dart Asphalt Race of Champions Modified Tour event with a dominating performance. Leaty pitted just past lap 30 for a fresh right rear tire and blasted his way back through the field, seemingly at will, to take home his first RoC victory of the season and second consecutive RoC win at Spencer. At the checkered he topped Billy Putney and his son, Mike for the victory.
“The Leaty family had a pretty good night tonight,” beamed Leaty in victory lane. “I kept checking to see where the boy (Mike) was, but I had to keep focus on my game as well. This is a pretty gratifying victory.”
Just a couple of weeks ago Leaty was involved in a wreck early on in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Spencer after he set time and had high hopes winning. In fact since winning the Sunoco Race of Champions last September Leaty has been trying to find his way back to victory lane and Friday night was just the medicine he needed.
“Tonight was the first time in a long time that we made it through a race without being involved in something,” related Leaty following the race. “We've needed a good finish tonight as we've been struggling, but I'm happy for Mike too as he needed a good finish more then we did.
Leaty's charge to the front was somewhat incredible as he gained six positions in one corner on the lap 32 restart going from 15th to 9th.
“I just went to the outside and everyone else was just afraid to be out there and trying to get to the bottom,” Leaty explained. “The car stuck and I just rolled through there that was a big turning point in the race for us because we gained a bunch of positions but we really didn't have to use the car up either to get those six spots.”
Buck Catalano led the early stages of the event, but a mid-race restart with Putney flanking him saw the Spencer veteran spin the tires and lose the lead briefly to Putney. Catalano briefly retook lead but Leaty swiftly moved to the outside of Catalano on lap 49, taking the top spot for good on lap 50.
“These races are challenging to win,” offered the winner. “You use as much of the car
as you need to when you need it and if you have a good car, you use up what you
have to. Tonight, we were very fortunate to get to the front early which afforded us the
opportunity to save some rubber until the end of the race just in case someone came
charging later in the race with fresh rubber.
Leaty continued. “The car drove better the harder I went. It just did weird things when
you drive it slow.”
For Leaty it was another victory at Spencer, which is his home track, just a few
minutes from his home and his business.
“It feels so good to win at your home track,” offered Leaty. “You don't need to be in the
hauler and on the road in the morning. I worked around the house today and that's pretty
cool. After working around the house and relax a little you leave and take your time
getting over here, it was just comfortable.”
PUTNEY RUNS TO SECOND WITHOUT PITTING
For Billy Putney of East Aurora, N.Y., it was a solid run as he never pitted, led a few laps and ultimately finished second to Leaty.
“The car was pretty good all night, especially for not pitting,” related Putney. “I'm pretty happy about how the car went without pitting, it lasted a long time. Anytime Jan beats you here, you can't be disappointed. We had to hold off Mike (Leaty) at the end and he pitted for a tire, so we're really happy with second. It's great to bring it home in one piece and in second.”
Putney continued. “We didn't intend to pit unless we started to go backward, so we stayed out, but we could have pitted late, but the guys said there might be a curfew issue, so that really dictated what we did. During practice we changed a lot on the car and the tuned the car more after the heat race and rolled the dice for the feature with more changes. We'll take it.”
Early in the race Putney was able to stay with Catalano as they set a blistering pace.
“Buck and I swapped the lead there and he got into the back of me, but I was trying to let him go back by,” smiled Putney. “It was just one of those deals, I changed my line and just didn't want to use the car up that early. I'm glad we didn't, because it definitely helped later on.”
Erick Rudolph (#45) leads Mike Leaty (#25) into turn one.
MIKE LEATY RALLIES THE TROOPS TO FINISH THIRD
To start the 2008 season, Mike Leaty signed the US Army as his primary sponsor, but lately the younger Leaty has been having a string of bad luck, perhaps Friday night's third place finish got the monkey off his back. Leaty utilized the same strategy as his Father by pitting for a fresh tire just after lap 30 and driving back to third.
“We've had some tough luck this year,” stated Leaty. “This was the first Race of Champions race that we've finished this year and I'm proud of the guys for the effort. We needed a good run and we got it. There was plenty of hard racing out there tonight so we had to work for it. I was thinking we could get to second to finish behind my Dad, we haven't done that before and I tried to get by Billy (Putney) but I wasn't going to wreck the car. We'll take third tonight and go from here.”
HIRSCHMAN HAS CHALLENGING NIGHT AT SPENCER
Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Penn., had won the last RoC event at Oswego Speedway. Heading into the race at Spencer Hirschman had won the last four major asphalt modified races including the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Spencer, Oswego and open-competition shows at Seekonk and All-Star Speedway in New Hampshire. At Spencer he finished fifth, which isn't too bad for anyone, but perhaps Hirschman.
In his post-race-interview, Hirschman had only this to say, “It was just one of those days, all day…”
ANDY JANKOWIAK WINS SST MODIFIED FEATURE
One of the coolest parts of Friday night's Spencer Speedway program was watching Tony Jankiowak's son Andy, win the SST Weekly Modified 35-lap go over Kevin Timmerman. It was Andy J's first victory in an open-wheel modified and it came 23 years to the day (thanks to Mark Southcott, WNY racing historian for posting this information) of his Father's first victory at Spencer. The crew chief for both victories was Tony's brother Jake and he was proud of his nephew's performance on Friday night.
CAR COUNTS AND OTHER NOTES
There were 26 teams that made the tow to the Rochester oval for the 100 lap event. Notably absent were Wilbur Hebing, and Patsy Catalano, who are currently out of rides as their owners have chose to pursue other interests. Eric Beers was sidelined for the night and not at the event with his Horwith Freightliners team trying to regroup for the remainder of the season.
DART RoC point leader Pete Brittain turned in an incredible performance to come from 24th to 4th at the checkered maintain his point lead.
The next DART Asphalt Race of Champions Modified Tour show is this Saturday as part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration at Lancaster (now Dunn Tire Raceway Park) Speedway. There has been a change in the starting time which is now 6:30pm.
The Race of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour is sponsored by; Dart Machinery, Gater Racing News, Hoosier Racing Tire, Sunoco Race Fuels, PBM Performance Products, Total Seal Piston Rings, Dura - Bond, Competition Engineering by Moroso, Dynatech, Xceldyne, Afco, CV Products, and LA Sleeve.
BOX SCORE - Spencer Speedway - DART Asphalt Race of Champions Modified Tour
At Spencer Speedway
Lap length: 0.5 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. Jan Leaty (8)
2. Billy Putney (3)
3. Mike Leaty (4)
4. Pete Brittain (24)
5. Matt Hirschman (14)
6. Jim Storace (5)
7. Daren Scherer (23)
8. Doug Reaume (22)
9. Terry Cheetham (19)
10. Rick Kluth (13)
11. Buck Catalano (1)
12. John Markovic (12)
13. Dave Wollaber (11)
14. T.J. Potrzebowski (7)
15. Karl Hehr (2)
16. Kris Hillegeer (25)
17. Erick Rudolph (9)
18. Tony Hanbury (6)
19. Rusty Smith (17)
20. Todd Smith (16)
21. Tim McMullen (20)
22. Mark Tychoniewicz (10)
23. Chris Ridsdale (26)
24. Jeff Polaski (18)
25. Tom Weist (15)
26. Matt Clemens (21)
LAP LEADERS; Catalano ( 1 - 40 ), Putney ( 41 - 43 ), Catalano ( 44 - 49 ), J. Leaty ( 50 - 100 ).
DART MACHINERY AWARD $1,200 SET OF HEADS; J. Leaty.
GATER RACING NEWS DRIVER BONUS DRAWING $500; Catalano.
HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD CHARGER AWARD; Brittain ( 20th to 4th ).
HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD LUCK AWARD; Hehr ( 2nd to 15th )
NEXT RoC EVENT; Saturday August 9th - Dunn Tire - 6:30 start - 50th Anniversary Show - 100 laps - $3,500 to win.
Jan Leaty's Spencer victory tradition, a big burnout against the frontstretch wall at the start/finish line.