Prior to Saturday night’s 75-lap DART Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour Rusty Smith of Oxford, N.Y., made a dramatic drive from the rear of the field to pass T.J. Potrzebowski with just a couple of laps remaining to capture the 75-lap go at the Dunn Raceway Park speed plant near the city of Buffalo. It was Smith’s second with the RoC Tour. His first came at Wyoming County a couple of seasons ago. The fashion in which Smith was able to accomplish the victory was incredible. Smith put on a fresh right rear tire and drove past some of the best competition the series has to offer to score the victory including Jan and Mike Leaty, Chuck Hossfeld and ultimately Potrezbowski in the closing laps to stand in victory lane.
“The track was good tonight and we just made the right decision on when to pit and the car was great,” offered Smith from victory lane. “We’ve been running stronger and this just shows that we’ve been doing our homework to compete with the guys on this Tour. Tonight feels great and we’ll take it.”
Cool, windy and cloudy conditions greeted the 25 teams in attendance, which provided tough conditions for the fans in attendance, but with little to no rain in the forecast the event forged on. Mike Leaty drew the pole flanked by Potrzebowski. Potrzebowski turned out to be the dominant car in the event leading the majority of the way.
Several cars pitted just prior to lap 25 for there one tire and began to try and race their way back into contention while Potrzebowski was on cruise control at the front of the field.
A major incident occurred on lap 33 when Ricky Kluth was forced into a three wide situation exiting turn two as some chaos began collecting Erick Rudolph, Tom McGrath, Billy Putney, Darryl Lewis, Jr., Dave Wollaber and Mark Tychonewicz. The accident was wild looking and ended the night for Rudolph, McGrath and Hehr.
Once racing resumed, things to settle down a bit, with Earl Paules making his way into contention in second and Chuck Hossfeld working his way up to third. Hossfeld was able to move into second once Paules headed pitside and begin his bid for the top spot. Potrzebowski was able to keep Hossfeld at bay for much of the second half of the race.
Smith’s drive to the front began as he entered the top-five just past the lap 40 mark, but it really wasn’t until there was about 10-to-go that Smith truly flexed his muscle. A late caution only delayed the inevitable as with just three to go Smith pounced and never looked back.
“We were able to take it easy tonight and sometimes that works out for you,” stated Smith following the event, who started 17th. “We didn’t have a good draw and we just rode around and that ended up being to our advantage tonight.”
Smith continued on his limited experience at the Lancaster oval. “I don’t have a lot of experience here. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve been here and I’ve only probably raced here six or seven times. I know it isn’t much, but this is a new car with a much better engine in it and it showed tonight. The tracks that we typically run, you really don’t need this kind of horsepower, but we knew if we were going to follow the series that we would so we committed to making that investment and the results were definitely there tonight. We should have had a similar result at Spencer but we just didn’t have the strategy right and it bit us.”
“We feel like we have some momentum going,” smiled Smith. “We ran well at Spencer, finished tenth, which should have been better and then we backed that up with a third at Wyoming. We’re pretty excited and can’t wait to get to the next race.”
Hossfeld finished second, with Jan Leaty third and Potrzebowski fourth. Mike Leaty rounded out the top-five finishers. Both Leaty’s won heat races with Jimmy Zacharias being awarded the third heat race victory when Potrzebowski was penalized for jumping two positions at the start.
The next event for the DART Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour is the first championship event at the Chemung Speedrome on Sunday, August 2nd with a 150 lap event.
HOSSFELD LOOKS STRONG ON HOME TURF
Chuck ‘The Hotshoe’ Hossfeld ran strong at Lancaster. Strong enough to look like he was going to run away with the victory at times, but in the end he had to settle for second.
"We missed by just a little tonight, but it’s been a marathon for us,” Hossfeld began. “We ran last Sunday at Spencer in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour show and finished third, which I’m very proud of. Seekonk on Wednesday and we didn’t get the results we necessarily wanted, but then we’re right back here tonight. That’s a challenge for a team that doesn’t have anyone full-time and I have to thank all of my guys for their dedication. The results really showed how much effort they are willing to put in. I’m very proud and happy for them. Sure, I wish we could have gotten them a win, but we’ll take it.”
Hossfeld has had some changes within his team.
“Kenny Troyer joined us as the crew chief a few weeks back and that’s working out great,” smiled Hossfeld. “He knows the cars and we seem to communicate well and it’s been good. We’re just going to keep moving forward with our program from here.”
Hossfeld’s intention is to run a schedule that works around his work and personal schedule.
“We have some tough stretches scheduled,” offered Hossfeld. “This was one of them and we didn’t miss a beat. We’ll take next weekend off and regroup and then we’ll go from there.”
LEATY FAMILY HAS GOOD NIGHT AT DTRP
Father and son – Jan and Mike Leaty ran together for much of the event at Lancaster.
Jan looked like he was up to his old tricks and was going to make it back to victory lane using tire management and a solid pit strategy, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“First, hats off to Rusty and all of his guys, they are a great bunch,” offered Leaty. “Our game plan was pretty close, but we got beat out by a couple of guys (Rusty and Chuck). Rusty was tough at the end of the race and we just didn’t have as much as him. The good news is that both cars are straight and are going in the trailer.”
Mike Leaty was a little more disappointed.
“I should be happy with a top-five, but I’m not, because I feel like I took a car capable of winning and finished fifth with it,” the younger Leaty related. “In the end, I could have got by TJ, but there was no point in wrecking for fourth, so we’ll take fifth. I just wanted a little better result tonight, but things are going good, so we can’t complain too much.”
HEY NOW! YOU’RE AN ALL STAR!!!
At the driver’s meeting Andrew Harpell announced the formation of an All-Star 30-lap shootout event as a part of the Race of Champions weekend. The event will take place on Saturday before the 200. It will be a 30-lap event. Here are the details from the official Race of Champions release:
BINGHAMTON, NY…The excitement is building for the 59th running of the Sunoco Race of Champions Weekend at Oswego Speedway September 11th, 12th and 13th. A new format will include the first running of the T.J. Toyota/Waite Toyota Modified All-Star 30 lap special on Saturday of the weekend.
The T.J. Toyota/Waite Toyota Modified All-Star 30 lap special will pit sixteen of the northeast’s top Modified chauffeurs in a wheel to wheel battle that could determine the top five starting spot in Sunday’s Sunoco Race of Champions Modified 200. The drivers in the All-Star Event will be comprised of all the RoC Dart Asphalt Modified Tour feature winners in 2009 along with RoC Qualifier winners at different facilities in the northeast.
Jimmy Blewett won the first Modified All-Star Event qualifier back on Saturday, May 9th at the Wall Stadium Speedway. An impressive list of drivers has already been assembled to this point with a number of Modified All-Star Qualifiers still remaining. Joining Blewett with Modified All-Star spots are: Ted Christopher, Chuck Hossfeld, Earl Paules, Mike Leaty, Matt Hirschman, Chris Pasteryak, Rusty Smith and Defending Sunoco Race of Champions 200 winner Tony Hirschman.
The 30 lap Modified All-Star event will see the winner earning $2,000 along with the opportunity draw a pill that could determine the Sunday Modified 200 starting grid. Three pills will be available to the top five finishers of the All-Star event. The top five drivers will be guaranteed in the Sunoco Race of Champions Modified 200, should the top five drivers decide as a group to draw one of the three pills they could start either – 1st through 5th, 6th through 10th or 11th -15th on Sunday. Should they opt not to draw a pill they would then be a part of the standard qualifying procedure on Sunday. If the top five drivers draw a pill they are locked in those starting spots that are drawn.
The entire Modified All-Star field will receive at least $200 to take the green and a free Hoosier Racing Tire for their participation. The winner will earn $2,000 with second place paying $1,000 in the 30 lapper.
After the Saturday racing program fans and drivers are invited to take part in a Saturday night pit party that will include live music and live racing on a big screen television for those in attendance.
OTHER QUICK NOTES FROM DTRP
- Noticeably absent was Pete Brittain. Brittain has competed in each event so far this season.
- Ricky Kluth took a hard shot in the feature. It was good to see him okay following the crash, but some serious repair was required for his 2Qwik machine.
- 25 cars towed to Dunn Tire Raceway Park in Lancaster where the series champion will be crowned in September at the annual season ending US Open.
RACE REPORT RACE OF CHAMPIONS DART ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR RACE #4 DUNN TIRE RACEWAY PARK, LANCASTER, N.Y.:
1. Rusty Smith
2. Chuck Hossfeld
3. Jan Leaty
4. T.J. Potrzebowski
5. Mike Leaty
6. Eric Beers
7. Earl Paules
8. Daren Scherer
9. Matt Hirschman
10. Jimmy Zacharias
11. John Markovic
12. Jim Storace
13. Mark Tichoniewicz
14. Jeff Hamman
15. Daryl Lewis, Jr.
16. Rick Kluth
17. Billy Putney
18. Sege Fidanza
19. Doug Reaume
20. Karl Hehr
21. Erick Rudolph
22. Tom McGrath
23. Dave Wollaber
24. Bill Hebing
25. Ricky Knapp
Top 10 in DART Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour Point Standings;
1. Matt Hirschman* 206
2. Rusty Smith* 195
3. Mike Leaty* 192
4. Eric Beers 180
5. Earl Paules 170
6. Jan Leaty 166
7. Daren Scherer 164
8. T.J. Potrzebowski 147
9. Bill Putney 131
10. Jim Storace 127
Next RoC Tour Event; Chemung Speedrome – Sunday, August 2nd – 150 laps – Championship Event.