PORT ROYAL, PA (October 17, 2020): Mat Williamson picked the perfect time to score his first win in the Short Track Super Series for Modifieds. The driver, who earned the nickname “Money” after scoring some big victories in the rival DIRTcar Super Series, carried $53,000 out of Port Royal Speedway. His share of the bounty would go back to St. Catharines, ONT, where he and his fiance are planning to build a home.
COVID travel restrictions kept Williamson on the northern side of the Canadian border for most of the 2020 racing season. While he did get to race several times (successfully), the purses were much smaller, and he never got into a rhythm like he could do when he was able to cross the border at will. Williamson, who said that he was “tired of eating Ramen noodles,” came into the United States for a few weeks, starting with OctoberFAST (the Super DIRTweek substitute) and concluding with the Eastern States 200. “It sucks that we cannot celebrate with family and friends after a win like this,” Williamson said. He and his two traveling companions planned to party hearty and then start to prepare the car for the upcoming Eastern States race. He plans to serve out his quarantine deer hunting upon his return to Canada.
Second place finisher, Stewart Friesen, who is also Canadian by birth, did not face such restrictions, as he is now a permanent resident of Sprakers, NY.
Both drivers overcame some mechanical difficulties to get to the front of the highest paying race of the 2020 Modified season. Friesen’s problems came during Friday night’s qualifications. He blew the engine in his primary car, which was powered by a 430 cubic inch open small block. He switched to a back-up car that was equipped with a 360 cubic inch small block, and used a provisional to start 39th in the talent-laden field. While the car was down on power, series rules allowed it to race at a light 2300 pounds, and Friesen was able to get the most out of the machine. Williamson’s difficulty came during the open red at the halfway mark of the big race. The team decided to change front shocks to improve forward bite. They broke a critical part in the process and they had to scramble to find a replacement in the infield hot pit area, as crossing the track to retrieve one from the hauler was not allowed. They found the piece in Anthony Perrego’s toolbox. Perrego was leading at the break and would go on to finish fourth in the final tally.
The first ten starters were lined up by the luck of the draw. Alex Yankowski started on the pole and Danny Bouc was next to the rapid teen. Aussie Peter Britten and Mike Gular were in row two. Erick Rudolph and Matt Sheppard, a pre-race favorite, were in row three. Max McLaughlin and Mike Maresca were in row four, with Maresca driving a borrowed car after suffering a terminal engine failure at the checkers in his Friday heat race. Williamson lined up next to Billy Pauch, Jr. in row five. Perrego and Mike Mahaney were in row six.
Yankowski blasted out to the lead over Bouc and Britten while Maresca and Rudolph were fighting for position. Just as the leaders crossed for lap one, veteran Billy Van Pelt brought out the first caution of the double century contest.
Yankowski held the advantage through lap 16, when Williamson surged to the front. Although Sheppard and Bouc would also pass Yankowski, the youthful driver held his own reamining in or just outside the top five for most of the first half of the race.
Meanwhile, Friesen was methodically passing cars using the highest groove possible. He was able to roll up beside cars and pass them off the corner before they even realized that he was out there. He reached 13th by lap 20 and was positioned to assault the top ten when drama unfolded.
Billy Pauch, Jr., who was biding his time riding just outside the top ten, had his throttle stick going down the long back chute. Although he tried desperately to shut the car down, he was unable to do so, and he collided massively with the turn three fence. He punched a hole in that as the car burst into flames and then tumbled to a stop yards away. The car lost its roof and the top of the cage was exposed to oncoming traffic, but all others were able to avoid contact with Pauch. Pauch climbed from the demolished car unscathed. It took track crews over an hour and fifteen minutes to make repairs to the fence.
After that break, Williamson continued to lead, but the car was not performing up to its full potential. Perrego, who would become Williamson’s savior a short time later, rode the rim to the front on lap 86. Soon thereafter, a caution came out, and Friesen surrendered P4 to pit for tires and fuel. This enabled him to play out a strategy that would give him track position over Perrego, Williamson, Sheppard, and others.
Perrego led to the halfway mark, with Williamson, Sheppard, McLaughlin, Britten, Ryan Godown, Yankowski, Alan Johnson, Ryan Susice, and Billy Dunn making up the top ten.
Dramatic interlude number two began with drivers declaring their intentions with regard to the mandatory pit stop. Drivers that elected to stay on the track could get fuel only. Drivers entering the hot pits could make any adjustments they wanted, including changing tires. Perrego stayed on the track, while almost all others came into the pits. After his crew looked over the tires, Perrego chose to enter the pits, losing only a minute or two of worktime. The racers who stayed out got the preferred starting positions, while those that went into the hot pits lined up behind them according to running order. So, Fiesen and his cohorts got track position with tires only 14 laps old, while Perrego, Williamson, et al. were ninth on back, albeit with fresh tires.
“We had a plan going into the race, but we threw it out the window,” Williamson said. Because the car was hot handling properly, his team switched the front shocks and almost took the car out of the race. Perrego’s team came through for them in the pinch, though, and Williamson was able to rejoin the field for the second half. “We made the right calls,” Williamson said with a sigh of relief.
It only took Friesen six laps to take the lead. He began to stretch his advantage while Perrego, McLaughlin, Sheppard, and Williamson began their march to the front. Perrego reached second on lap 128, with Andy Bachetti sitting in third. He, like Friesen, opted for the earlier pit stop to gain track position. Then came McLaughlin, Sheppard, and WiIlliamson.
With Friesen and Perrego racing the high groove, Williamson moved forward by running about a car width off the inside fence. He reached third by lap 150. Sheppard was also moving forward, but he suddenly stopped on the track with 168 completed. He pitted for a pair of fresh rear tires. “I’m sure that the fresh tires helped,” he noted. “We had a tire going down so I pitted and put two new ones on.” Indeed, in the remaining laps, Sheppard had one of the fastest cars on the track, but he did not have enough time to catch Williamson and Friesen.
Friesen continued to lead Perrego, but they had another racer to contend with as the laps wound down. Williamson took second on lap 175 and the issues became whether and when he would make a move on Friesen.
It only took eleven more circuits for the fans to know. Williamson drove by the leader on lap 186. While Williamson did open up a several car length advantage, Friesen continued to flog the cushion in an effort to chase him down. Aided by a yellow on lap 194, Friesen did get his shot at the leader. However, Williamson held his line and rode home with the lucrative win.
“I tried to beat the heck out of it,” Friesen explained. “I was starting to come back before the last yellow. I may have been able to come back if we had some traffic. I think my tore cooled off and it didn’t come back after that last caution.”
At the finish, it was Willaimson over Friesen, Sheppard, Perrego, and Larry Wight. McLaughlin, Godown, Bachetti, Yankowski, and Billy Decker rounded out the top ten. Decker’s machine bore the battle scars of an early race skirmish, but it continued to function satisfactorily.
Just over half of the field completed all 200 laps.
Port Royal and STSS officials announced that the Modifieds would return in 2021, with a Spring race contemplated. No announcement was made whether the big Fall classic would be on the docket. That decision may await further developments as STSS boss Brett Deyo also promoted Fonda Speedway where the 2019 edition of the 200 was held. COVID limitations in the Empire State forced him to move the race to Port Royal.
Port Royal Speedway will hold its final race of the season on October 24. It will be the Ninth Annual Keystone RaceSaver Challenge for 305 Sprints. Limited Late Models and Mini Stocks will also be on the card. General admission will be a mere $5, as the speedway celebrates a fan appreciation day. Racing will start at 3 p.m.
Sye Lynch Partnering With Baughman Motorsports
APOLLO, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Sprint Car driver Sye Lynch is partnering with Baughman Motorsports for the 2021 racing season.
Lynch, the third generation 410 Sprint Car driver, and his team plan to enter around 80-events as part of this partnership with Josh Baughman and Baughman Motorsports. Longtime Lynch partner Mosites Motorsports joins new marketing partners Fischer Body Shop of Missouri and Hollywood Blasting and Coating of Odessa, Texas as part of the arrangement.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Lynch. “To have Fischer Body Shop and Baughman Motorsports join our efforts at Sye Lynch Racing is pretty special. We’ve been working on these plans for over four months. I’m not sure how we were able to keep it a secret this long, but it’s out there now. I’m ready to get started.”
Lynch’s schedule is still being finalized but highlights include some of sprint car racing’s premier showcases like the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway (July 15 & July 17) and the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville Raceway (August 11-14).
“We are still working out the logistics side of things,” said Lynch. “I hope to have a complete plan of attack released in the coming weeks. I just want to thank all of my partners for their dedication and support. Our goal is to go out every night and put on a show. I’m confident we have what it takes to do that.”
Baughman is stepping back from full-time competition in 2021 but plans to run 10-15 events in 2021.
“We are excited about this new venture with Sye Lynch,” said Baughman. “He’s a talented kid with the hunger to win and we’re proud to be affiliated. I think it’s safe to say that we are all anxious to get the year underway.”
Schatz Scores Jean Lynch Classic Win at East Bay
GIBSONTON, FL (February 2, 2021): Donny Schatz scored an impressive win over the Madsen brothers, Ian and Kerry, in the second running of the Jean Lynch Classic for the All Star Circuit of Champions at East Bay Raceway Park. The All Stars’ visit to the ‘Clay by the Bay’ was cut to one night due to heavy rain that hit the track Sunday and continued into Monday. The speedway looked more like the fish farm that Jimmy Mingo and others converted into a racy oval over four decades ago. A substantial pond remained inside turn one on Tuesday but, fortunately, no Sprint Cars made a detour into that area.
“It’s been a long time since I was at East Bay,” Schatz said. He estimated that his last appearance at the track was in the early ’90s. “It’s really neat, tricky; it has some slick spots, some shiny spots.” Nonetheless, Schatz had no difficulty mastering the unfamiliar surface.
Ian Madsen and Cory Eliason paced the field for the 30 lap feature event named for the lady who was a former co-owner of the series and track manager at East Bay. Schatz lined up third, with Justin Peck beside him. Tony Stewart and Anthony Macri were in the third row, and Steve Buckwalter and Tyler Courtney in the fourth. The final dash participants, Kyle Reinhardt and Tim Shaffer, made up row five. Then came Jamie Myers and Gio Scelzi.
Eliason assumed command on the opening lap and he began to distance himself from Schatz, Ian Madsen, Peck, and Macri. However, just five laps into the race, Eliason collided with a slower car driven by Chris Windom. Eliason got a flat right front tire, but there was no other apparent damage to his car, so he was able to resume the race at the rear of the field.
Peck, who had slipped by Schatz on the last completed lap, took off at the drop of the green. Schatz raced along in second, followed by Ian Madsen, Courtney, Shaffer, and Macri. The man on the move, though, was Kerry Madsen, who was up to seventh from 17th on the starting grid.
A caution bunched things up at lap eleven. While the front runners did not change, Kerry Madsen made some aggressive moves to enter the top five.
With fourteen laps in the books, Schatz was hounding Peck for the lead. He got a strong run off of turn two, but Peck moved up a lane to block his advance. Schatz deftly turned under Peck halfway down the back stretch and he was the new leader entering turn three. Peck no longer had the steam to race with the leaders and he slowly started to drift back in the running order after that.
The final caution was displayed on lap 17. Schatz continued to lead over Ian Madsen when racing resumed, but now the battle was for third. Courtney and Kerry Madsen were the contestants, with Shaffer looking for an opening. Madsen wrestled the spot away from Cortney in a few laps, and he set out after his brother.
The sibling rivalry intensified as the pair of Aussies picked their way through lapped traffic. “I didn’t know it was him,” Ian said of the driver pressing him for second. “I knew that he started pretty far back.” For his part, Kerry Madsen had to wonder how things would have played out differently if he had started closer to the front. “It was a great run, I had a great car and could go anywhere I wanted.”
Schatz maintained his lead to the finish. Ian held off his older brother for second. Courtney was fourth and Scelzi benefitted from a miscue by Shaffer on the final lap to gain the fifth spot. Shaffer, Peck, Stewart, Brent Marks, and Hunter Schuerenberg completed the top ten.
Kerry Madsen was the hard charger, advancing 14 positions.
Ian Madsen was the fastest qualifier of the night, turning in a lap of 12.680 seconds. Buckwalter, Courtney, Shaffer, and Schatz scored heat wins. The dashes belonged to Ian Madsen and Eliason. Terry McCarl captured the B Main.
Western PA Sprint Speedweek Adds Another Sponsor
SHIPPENVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Western PA Sprint Speedweek is adding another partner to the growing list of companies stepping up to support the five-race series this June.
J.S. Bova Excavating LLC has signed on to be a presenting sponsor of this summer’s upcoming five-race speedweek, scheduled to run from Wednesday, June 2nd through Sunday, June 6th.
J.S. Bova is a family-owned excavating company and general contractor known for its outstanding service, extensive expertise, steadfast reliability, and commitment to safety. J.S. Bova proudly serves the Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania area out of their central Struthers, Ohio location.
“We’re excited to get behind the revival of Western PA Speedweek” said owner Joe Bova. “We believe the area sprint car competition and racetracks are underrated and on the upswing, and we want to be associated with the excitement that this event brings.”
Joe and Sherri Bova founded their business in 2013 and worked together to build their organization from the ground up. In less than a decade they have expanded their portfolio to offer a wide range of services and have earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Western PA Sprint Speedweek returns from a 20-year hiatus June 2nd-6th. Western Pennsylvania’s ‘410 Sprint Cars’ will compete for five straight nights with each show featuring a strong $3,000-to-win, $250-to-start purse.
Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants Western PA Sprint Speedweek presented by J.S. Bova Excavating Schedule: