Franek and Blair Win Headliners at Little Valley
By DAVE SULLY
LITTLE VALLEY, NY- Davie Franek, from Wantage, NJ, made his first
Patriot Sprint Group trip to Little Valley Speedway a winning one, while
Max Blair, from Centerville, PA, continued his dominance in the Super
Late Models, as he cruised to his second win in two starts on Friday,
Franek's win came in wild fashion, as the leaders danced with lap
traffic, which led to a chaotic ending in a real crowd pleaser. The race
had an inauspicious start. Seconds after the green flag, which saw Scott
Kreutter beat polesitter Jared Zimbardi to the first turn, Dave Just
took a wild ride on the back stretch, enduring a scary looking flip.
After a brief delay, Just emerged from his car and walked unaided to the
ambulance to be checked out.
On the complete restart, Kreutter once again got the jump on local
favorite Zimbardi to take the lead, with Franek quickly jumping into
third after starting fifth. Kreutter opened a lead, while Zimbardi,
Franek,and Mark Smith, up from sixth battled for position. Two early
cautions, one on lap three for a spin by Steve Collins, and one on lap
six, when Joe Trenca's motor gave way, kept things close, while Kreutter
continued to set a blistering pace, opening close to a half straightaway
lead by lap ten.
Things changed when he entered lap traffic on the 12th circuit of the 25
lap race. With slower cars sometimes running side by side, Kretter's
advantage quickly dissolved and he was almost taken out on lap 16. On
lap 18, Zimbardi closed dramatically, as Kreutter swung wide in turn two
and brushed the wall. With lap cars all around them Zimbardi grabbed the
lead on lap 20, with Franek sneaking into second.
With one lap to go, Franek got a run on Zimbardi on the bottom to take
the lead and the win. Zimbardi settled for second, with Smith, Kreutter,
and Kyle Drum rounding out the top five. Franek wasn't really sure what
happened at the end, declaring, “It's all a blur to me to be honest with
you. There were so many lap cars in there, I wasn't sure if I was racing
normal cars or lap cars. I knew I wasn't that good on the top, so I had
to kind of roll the bottom. Basically, the last two laps I was going
where Jared wasn't. He kind of over drove it on the last lap, and it
worked out for us. I was getting a little worried during the middle of
the race. We ere kind of settling in. I said, 'I've got to wait for lap
traffic', and it came our way. I couldn't be happier ” The first place
check of $4,000 will make him even happier.”
For his part, Zimbardi revealed, “Kreutter was real good in clean air.
His motor really pulled off the starts there, and I couldn't stick the
middle. About looped it on the start. Got another chance, but he was
just too strong. I knew we had a shot when we got in lap traffic. We
caught him and ended up getting the lead. I lost brakes with two laps to
go. I went down to try to block Franek on the bottom, but with no
brakes, you need the brakes to slow the car down, so I pretty much
watched four grand go out the window. I think we could have had it if
that hadn't happened, but I'm glad it was a good show for the fans.”
The 25 lap Super Late Model Feature didn't have the same drama, as
Blair, who started third, swept past polesitter Jason Dupont to take the
lead and never looked back. He built nearly a straightaway lead before
the only caution flew on lap six, when Kirk Bradley rolled to a stop in
turn four. Dupont pressured him down low on the restart, but the high
line was working well, and he held his ground before driving away to win
by a wide margin.
The finish was a family affair, as his father Robbie, who started
fourth, finished in the runner-up spot. He was followed by Dupont, Bump
Hedman, and Dutch Davies to complete the top five. Blair observed,
“We've had a string of good luck here. We're trying to hit some stuff
and been running really well. The track was super tonight. I was
actually worried that the top was going to be a little too dominant.
That wasn't the case though. There was still enough brown on the bottom
getting off both ends. That was a lot of fun. It's really cool that my
dad ran second.”
Jeremy Wonderling, from Scio, made it two in a row at the facility,
winning the 20 lap Bill Law Memorial for the Crate Late Models, but
needed a lucky break to get it. Polesitter Damian Bidwell led from the
drop of the green,while Wonderling had to slog his way into contention
from sixth. He claimed second on lap ten and then began to reel in
Bidwell, who was cruising at the front, drawing within three car lengths
by lap 18. It appeared that Bidwell had enough to hold him off, but as
he entered turn two on the final lap, his car shot toward the wall,
allowing Wonderling to streak past on the bottom to take the lead and
the win. It was revealed later that he had run through water left when
the 91 of Brian Haggerty blew his radiator.
Bidwell righted the ship to finish second, followed by Bill Holmes, TJ
Downs, and Chad Silleman. Wonderling remarked, “I finally got to Damian.
Once in a while I'd catch him a little bit. Then I changed lanes and
started running the bottom in the corners and I was gaining on him. I
drove harder and harder and then I saw him slide the nose up the race
track and I was already committed to the bottom. It just worked out
pretty good for me on the last lap.”
Next to the Sprints, the best race of the night was the E-Mods, where
young Dan Davies, from Warren, PA, son of Little Valley SLM legend Ron,
ran down a dominating David Scott, ironically one his father's best
friends in racing, to win the 15 lap feature. Starting fourth, Davies
saw Scott drive away at the front while he battled into second on lap
three. From there he used the high line, made famous by his dad, to
close the gap, reaching Scott's back bumper and then drawing along side
before taking the lead on the final lap.
Scott, who has won often in the E-Mods this year, finished second,
followed by Al Brewer, Tim Peterson, and Kirk Bradley in the abbreviated
field. Davies opined, “This is crazy. I'm not quite sure why he gave me
the top like he did. The cushion's very treacherous. You hit it wrong
and you're hitting the fence, like I did once, but I gave it all I had
and it worked out. It stuck, and we didn't hit the fence again.”
The 360 Late Model 15 lap Feature went to many-time winner Bruce Miller,
from Wellsville, who took the lead from Tom Kemp on lap three and,
following a lap four caution, drove away over the remaining laps. A
spirited battle for second went to Kemp over previous race winner Dave
Dubois. Miller, who missed the setup in the previous race, explained,
“The first night out, I wasn't prepared for the track conditions. I was
trying some of my Woodhull setup and it didn't work here, so I went back
to my baseline Little Valley setup.”
Finally, Jimmy Kennerknecht, a former fixture and track champion at
Little Valley, wired the field from the pole to win the 15 lap Street
Stock Feature, holding off a challenge from Critter Hemphill in the
latter stages of the race and through two restarts. He reported, “I was
getting nervous. I saw him up there. He's a good guy to race with. We
raced each other clean.”
NOTES: The weathermen took their toll once again, as rain predicted all
week to hit the area on Friday never materialized, affecting the car
count and the crowd, just as it did for the ROC race at Lake Erie a few
weeks ago...................Little Valley is now on hiatus until
September 16th and 17th, when a two day show will end the season,
highlighted by the Super Late Model/358 Modified doubleheader on the
Patriot Sprints: (25 laps):- 1. Davie Franek 2. Jared Zimbardi,
3. Mark Smith, 4. Scott Kreutter, 5. Kyle Drum, 6. George Suprick, 7.
Steve Collins, 8. Paulie Colagiovanni, 9. Jimmy Stitzel, 10. Paul Habeck,
11. Dane Lorenc, 12. Tyler Graves, 13. Darryl Ruggles, 14. Josh Azzi,
15. Steve Glover, 16. Dan Bennett, 17. Joe Trenca, 18. Scott Just, and
19. Dave Just. DNS: Steve Hutchinson Jr. and Justin Barger. Heat winners
were Barger, Zimbardi, and Trenca. Dash winner was Suprick.
Super Late Models: (25 laps) – 1. Max Blair, 2. Robbie Blair, 3.
Jason Dupont, 4. Bump Hedman, 5. Dutch Davies, 6. Chad Valone, 7. Brent
Rhebergen, 8. John Lobb, 9. Ward Schell, 10. Nathan Hill, 11. Terry
Porter, 12. Mike Robinson, 13. Kirk Bradley, and 14. John Lacki. Heat
winners were Max Blair and Valone.
Crate Late Models: 20 laps) – 1. Jeremy Wonderling, 2. Damian
Bidwell, 3. Bill Holmes, 4. TJ Downs, 5. Chad Silleman, 6. Mike
Wonderling, 7. Andy Michael, 8. Paul Grigsby, 9. Jon Rivers, 10. Brad
Mesler, 11. John Haggerty, 12. Chad Showers, 13. Randy Ralyea, 14.
Garrett Mott, 15. Nick Snayczak, and 16. Brian Haggerty. Heat winners
were Bidwell and Jeremy Wonderling.
360 Late Models: (15 laps) - 1. Bruce Miller, 2. Tom Kemp, 3.
Dave Dubois, 4. Steve LeBarren, 5. John Zimmerman, 6. Brian Kotarski, 7.
DJ Krug, 8. Wally Wade, 9. Alan Wais, and Greg Hallett. Heat winners
were Miller and Dubois.
E-Mods: 1. Dan Davies, 2. David Scott, 3. Al Brewer, 4. Tim
Peterson, 5. Kirk Bradley, 6. Jeff Johnson, and 7. Brian Mohawk. DNS:
Street Stocks: (15 laps) – 1. Jimmy Kennerknecht, 2. Critter
Hemphill, 3. Butch Talbot, 4. Chris Cokeinhour, 5. Nick Mohawk, 6. Tom
McFall, 7. Butch Zimmerman, 8. Steve Sklar, 9. Bob Babbitt, 10. Ron
Richter, 11. Dustin Goss, 12. Ted Mascho, 13. Ed Coast, and 14. Dana
For more information, call the Speedway office at 716-938-9146.