MORRIS LEADS LIST OF WINNERS AT BETHEL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
BETHEL, NY – Defending Bethel Motor Speedway Sportsman champion Bob Morris’ near-perfect season continued this past Saturday, as he found himself in Victory Lane for the sixth time this season. On the other hand, Paul Knox’s season of hard luck continued. Knox started on the pole and led the first three laps before being overtaken by 2012 champion Jerry Curry. Morris followed Curry past Knox to take second. Curry and Morris then put on a duel that fans have seen many times before, with the two drivers challenging each other down every straightaway and through every turn. With 14 laps in the books, Morris was able to work his way inside Curry to take the lead. Just one lap later, Knox – who was running in the third spot – was forced to pull off the track with mechanical difficulties. The remainder of the race saw Curry chasing Morris to try to regain the lead, with Dan Dulin looking on from the third spot. Morris was first to cross the line, followed by Curry and Dulin.
The BMS Modified race kept fans on the edges of their seats, as the majority of the race was run with the cars in double-file formation, racing side-by-side all the way around the track. When all was said and done, defending division champion John Cote – who is only running a limited schedule this season – was in the winner’s circle for the second time in 2014 and the 103rd time in his career at Bethel. Frank James and 2013 Rookie of the Year Gary VanOrden Jr. started on the front row, and VanOrden Jr. immediately put his car out front. Wilton Nickerson came to second after James and Blair Culhane – who had been running third – got together and brought out the caution. Nickerson took over the top spot on lap five, but VanOrden never let up the pressure, as the two swapped the lead by a bumper several times. Just past the halfway point, VanOrden Jr. was able to put Nickerson behind him, but his fight was far from over, as Cote came to second just one lap later. The pair then wrestled for the lead, with Cote coming out on top with just five laps to go. Cote drove on to the win over VanOrden Jr. and George Rudinas Jr.
Bethel’s 2012 Legends Pro/Masters champion Joe Graf has run a limited schedule so far in 2014, but he proved on Saturday night that he hasn’t forgotten the fast way around the track as he picked up his first win of the year. Pro division drivers Stephen Hershey and Matt Evans took off from the front row, and Hershey grabbed the lead on the initial lap, with Graf taking second on lap two. Graf waited for his opportunity, and got past Hershey just prior to the halfway point. Two laps later, defending division champion Evans worked his way back into the second spot. Over the remainder of the race, the top three remained unchanged, and Graf claimed the win over Evans and Hershey.
Christian Eckes continued his hot streak in the Legends Young Lion/Semi Pro class, grabbing his seventh win of the year. Eckes – a rookie in the Legends division – started on the pole, with Brad Lowmaster to his outside. Eckes shot out front at the drop of the green, and 2013 Rookie of the Year Collin Hoeffner came to second. Over the next several laps, Hoeffner faced challenges from Joseph Graf, who finally took the second spot over on lap six. By lap seven, the leaders had to contend with lapped traffic, and the top three ran in close quarters as the laps continued to click off, but they continued to run in the same order. When the checkered flag fell, Eckes notched the win, followed by Graf and Hoeffner.
Also claiming their seventh win of the season was Bandolero driver David French. Alex McCollum started on the pole, alongside current points leader Nicholas Harnage. McCollum laid claim to the lead at the drop of the green, and French grabbed second on the initial lap. Harnage looked on from the third spot as McCollum and French battled for the lead, with French coming out on top just past the halfway point. While both McCollum and Harnage waited for an error on French’s part that would allow them to get by, French never offered up the opportunity. McCollum had to be content with second, and Harnage crossed the line third.
Bryan Chirico grabbed his third win of the season in the Beginner Bandolero class. Jessica Ricci started on the pole and grabbed the early lead, leaving Chirico to wait for a chance to get by. With just three laps remaining, Chirico was able to get inside of Ricci to take the lead and drive on to the win.
Following some very intense action in tight quarters among the top four cars, Pro Stock driver Kenny Atkins walked away with his third win of the season. Larry O’Donnell – the division’s 2012 Rookie of the Year – started on the pole and got out to the early lead, with Jim Helt making his way to second by lap two. Behind Helt, 2012 division champion Mark Sylvester and Atkins battled for the third spot, with Atkins taking the spot on lap six. Just two laps later, Atkins took over second, and he set his sights on O’Donnell. Sylvester grabbed third with 13 laps in the books. With five laps to go, Atkins nosed past O’Donnell for the lead. The top four remained nose-to-tail over the remainder of the event, with Atkins beating O’Donnell and Sylvester to the line.
At the conclusion of the caution-free Street Stock race, defending division champion Amber VanOrden found herself in Victory Lane for the eighth time this year. Arthur McArthur and Chris Chirico started on the front row, with Chirico taking the early lead. With just four laps in the books, VanOrden worked past Chirico for the lead, leaving him to battle for second with her father, multi-time division champion Gary VanOrden Sr. Following a three-lap battle, VanOrden Sr. emerged on top, and he began to chase A. VanOrden. The top three remained unchanged over the remainder of the race, and A. VanOrden notched the win over VanOrden Sr. and Chirico.
The points battle in the 4 Cylinder Advanced class has been tight all season long, and 2012 4 Cylinder Novice champion Kody Welsh emerged from Saturday night tied for the points lead after collecting his second win of the year. Eddy Lindstadt and Tim Curry started on the front row, and Lindstadt took the lead on the start. Welsh, who started in the seventh spot, had broken into the top three by lap six, and he took over second three laps later but he had 2012 4 Cylinder Advanced champion Walt Henry hot on his heels. On a restart with just seven laps remaining, Welsh was able to get the lead, and Henry followed to take second. Henry applied pressure to Welsh in the closing laps but was unable to make the pass, and Welsh grabbed the win over Henry and Dan Curry.
David Donovan took down his first career win in just his fifth start in the 4 Cylinder Novice class, but results of the race are still unofficial pending firther technical review. Donovan came from the third starting spot to grab the lead from Felicia Reichenbaugh just prior to the halfway point of the race. Current points leader Brian Bauernfeind came to second on lap 13, with Mike Bryant right on his bumper. Bauernfeind and Bryant challenged Donovan for the spot, but neither were able to advance their positions, and Donovan crossed the line first, followed by Bauernfeind and Bryant. Official results are expected by mid-week.
This coming Saturday, July 26th, Bethel Motor Speedway will once again become the busiest quarter-mile stretch of asphalt in the area, with a jam-packed schedule that includes the Sportsman, BMS Modified, Legends, Bandolero, Pro Stock, Street Stock, and 4 Cylinder Advanced classes all in action. Gates open at 2:30 pm, with hot laps at 4:30 pm, and racing set to go green at 6 pm. Grandstand admission is just $6. More information, including a complete 2014 schedule, can be obtained online at www.bethelmotorspeedway.com, or by calling (845) 319-7908.
SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Bob Morris (Wurtsboro, NY), 2. Jerry Curry, 3. Dan Dulin, 4. Paul Knox.
BMS MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. John Cote (Danbury, CT), 2. Gary VanOrden Jr., 3. George Rudinas Jr., 4. Wilton Nickerson, 5. Frank James, 6. Blair Culhane. DNS – Joe McCarthy, Chris Bottge.
LEGENDS PRO/MASTERS FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Joe Graf (Mahwah, NJ) (M), 2. Matt Evans (P), 3. Stephen Hershey (P), 4. Thomas Thompson (P), 5. Jeffrey Lefcourt (M), 6. Bill Johnston (M), 7. Mark Foster (P), 8. Richie Coy (M).
LEGENDS YOUNG LION/SEMI PRO FEATURE FINISH (20 laps): 1. Christian Eckes (Greenville, NY) (YL), 2. Joseph Graf (YL), 3. Collin Hoeffner (YL), 4. Courtney Lefcourt (SP), 5. Chris Hammett (SP), 6. John O’Sullivan (SP), 7. Joe DeGracia (SP), 8. Wayne Hajek (SP), 9. Drew Bottge (SP), 10. Eugene Drew (SP), 11. Brad Lowmaster (SP), 12. Matt Gaughan (SP), 13. Colin Haley (YL), 14. Max Evans (YL), 15. Jerry Sprague (SP).
BANDOLERO FEATURE FINISH (15 laps): 1. David French (Rome, PA) (O), 2. Alex McCollum (O), 3. Nicholas Harnage (O), 4. Lars McElravy (O), 5. Gillian Kirkpatrick (O), 6. Kaci Stackhouse (O).