Bob Close Out-Duels Ron Davies In SLM Thriller At Little Valley
by Dave Sully
(Little Valley, NY) Veteran Bob Close, from Eldred
PA, who semi-retired a couple of years ago, is back big time. He scored
his second Super Late Model victory of the season at Little Valley
Speedway on Sunday, May 26th, before a large crowd, on a night that his
company, Close Racing Supply, sponsored the event. Following a win at
McKean County Raceway earlier in the season, Close drove an inspired
race this night, in a race which came down to a battle through lap
traffic with former WOO Rookie of the Year and acknowledged master of
Little Valley, Ron Davies.
Starting seventh on the grid, Close blasted to the front, taking the
lead following a lap two restart, getting a great jump from third to
vault past leader Bump Hedman and Mike Knight in the process. Meanwhile,
Davies, who started eleventh, was up on the wheel early as well,
grabbing third after a lap 5 restart, caused when brother Dutch lost an
The top three of Close, Knight and Davies separated themselves from the
field and commenced to battle each other for the top spot. Davies got by
Knight on lap nine, and then flew past Close a lap later, immediately
opening a good lead. Close and Knight didn’t go quietly, as they battled
each other for the right to chase Davies. Close cleared Knight on lap 12
and set sail for Davies, who entered lap traffic on lap 14. He caught
the 71D of Davies on lap 20 and then slipped by on lap 21.
Davies returned the favor on lap 22, before Close once again seized the
advantage. From there, Davies tried desperately to regain the lead, but
Close was able to hold him off to score the hard-earned victory. Davies
settled for second, followed by Knight, defending track champion Jason
Dupont, and veteran Dick Barton to complete the top five.
A very pleased Close exulted, “If you can beat Ron Davies here, you’ve
done something. This thing got up off the corner a ton. All I had to do
was not screw it up going in and slide up too fast, but man, but if I
could keep it square coming off the corner, it just drove like crazy.”
As to whether he could have caught Davies without the lap traffic, he
added, “I think I could have. I really screwed up when he got by me. I
didn’t get off the corner good, and I was just being patient. He was
running high and would hit the bumps and get a little sideways, and I’d
gain a little each lap. I just tried to stay smooth. The lap cars did
help. There’s no doubt about it. It would have been a good race.”
The Crate Late Model Feature went to Justin Tatlow, from Franklinville,
who came from eighth to vie for the top spot with Doug Ricotta, who had
driven to the lead on a lap six restart.. Tatlow worked his way to the
runner-up spot following a lap nine caution and then proceeded to hound
Ricotta relentlessly for several laps, finally squeezing in front on the
inside in turn two on lap 16. From there, he was able to drive away over
the final four laps.
Ricotta finished second, followed by Adam Sixt, Wayne Robertson, and
Brad Mesler to round out the top five. On the struggle with Ricotta,
Tatlow observed, “He was opening up the bottom in the middle of the
corner, hitting the berm. I was just waiting for it. I just had to be in
the right position so I could strike when he opened it up.”
The BRP CanAm Series Feature went to John Waters, from Whitesville, who
came from twelfth, using a fast race car and some early cautions, which
kept things tight. By lap six he was lying fourth behind leader Glenn
Writenour, who had paced the field from the start. A caution on lap 12
put him on Whritenour’s bumper for the restart, from where he got
underneath and then finally eased into the lead coming out of turn four.
He was able to hold off Writenour on a final restart on lap 14 of the
race, which was shortened to 15 laps from the scheduled 20, following
some extensive early delays for cautions and a flip.
Jermey Wonderling made a brilliant charge from 25th to finish third,
while his father Mike and Bob Close completed the top five. On the pass
for the lead, Waters observed, “On that restart, I knew there was a good
chance. I really didn’t want him getting his momentum if he got going. I
saw him leaving the bottom open a little bit, so I knew I had to hug
right up on his quarter panel, and make my move in the first corner and
luckily it got in there and the car stuck. I think we lost our front
brakes, so it was a little difficult getting going, and I couldn’t go in
as hard as I wanted to, but it definitely worked out for me tonight.”
The E-Mod Feature turned into a two car battle between Steve Dixon, from
Smethport, PA, and Ron Davies, doing double duty this night. Dixon took
the lead from the outside pole and opened up a sizable advantage, only
to see Davies, who had just completed the hotly contested Super Late
Model event, chase him down after starting seventh, actually reaching
Dixon’s bumper on lap six. However, a bobble on lap seven cost Davies
valuable territory and Dixon was able to pull away after that.
Davies finished second, followed by John Woodward, Ed Carley, and Vic
Vena. Dixon observed, “I saw that Ron was in second when it came up on
the board, and a crew member signaled that he was getting close. I was
kind of taking it easy. I heard Ron coming up behind me. I knew he’d be
on the bottom, so I went to the high side and pulled away from him. It
seemed like the top was a little better tonight.”
Finally, the Street Stock Feature went to Adam Ashcroft, from Sardinia,
who prevailed in an intense battle with Don Wolfer, swapping the lead
three times before finally taking the lead for good on lap 10. Wolfer
lost second late in the race to Brad Ullman. Ashcroft declared, “Don’s
car was working good on the top. I tried up there. It wasn’t as good. I
went back to the bottom and finally got some drive. Somebody lost a
radiator hose, and I saw him hit it. He had to let off going into the
corner and that’s when I snuck by him.”
NOTES: Ninety cars were on hand for the Little Valley opener, on a cool
crisp evening, including 16 Super Late Models and 27 BRP CanAm Series
cars……….Barry Payne, from Troupsburg, went flying on lap six of the BRP
Feature, with the car ending up on its roof. Payne was uninjured ion the
scary looking crash…………. Little Valley’s next show is on Friday, June
7th at 7:00PM, when the Super Lates, BRP CanAm Series, E-Mods, and
Street Stocks will appear, sponsored by Emerling Resale and Gowanda
Super Late Models: (30 laps) 1. Bob Close, 2. Ron Davies, 3. Mike
Knight, 4. Jason Dupont, 5. Dick Barton, 6. Greg Oakes, 7. Bump Hedman,
8. Brent Rhebergen, 9. Jeff Hoffman, 10. John Volpe, 11. Terry Porter,
12. John Lacki, 13. Boom Briggs, 14. Jon Rohacevich, 15. Jim Mason, and
16. Dutch Davies. Heat winners were Dutch Davies and Hedman.
Crate Late Models: (20 laps) 1. Justin Tatlow, 2. Doug Ricotta,
3. Adam Sixt, 4. Wayne Robertson, 5. Brad Mesler, 6. Bryce Davis, 7.
Dustin Waters, 8. Chad Silliman, 9. Paul Grigsby, 10. Cody Mason, 11.
Dave Norton, 12. Garrett Stephen, 13. Bill Mesler, 14. Doug Gavette, 15.
Derek Frank, 16. Zack Carley, 17. Brian Knowles, and 18. Ward Schell.
Heat winners were Ricotta, Carley, and Robertson.
BRP Late Models: (15 laps) 1. John Waters, 2. Glenn Whritenour,
3. Jeremy Wonderling, 4. Mike Wonderling, 5. Bob Close, 6. Mikey
Wonderling, 7. Brady Wonderling, 8. Bruce Miller, 9. Jason Knowles, 10.
Brian Knowles, 11. Cecil LaBarron, 12. Steve LaBarron, 13. Jon Rivers
14. Jay McConnell, 15. Ray Bliss, 16. Jimmy Johnson 17. Kevin Olinger,
18. Bob Babbitt, 19. Neil Patterson, 20. Wally Wade, 21. DJ Krug, 22.
Quinn Sutherland, 23. Jared Hill, 24. Brad LaBarron, 25. Barry Payne,
26. Ron Wilkins, and 27. Jim Johnson. Heat winners were John Waters,
Whritenour, and Brian Knowles.
E-Mods: (20 laps) 1. Steve Dixon, 2. Ron Davies, 3. John
Woodward, 4. Ed Carley, 5. Vic Vena, 6. Kyle Bedell, 7. Ken Zimmer, 8.
TJ Downs, 9. Jeff Johnson, 10. Justin Carlson, 11. Carl McKinney, 12.
Brian Fardink, 13. Carl Ballinger, 14. Josh John, 15. Dan Sasso, 16. Tim
Peterson, 17. Nathan Hill, and 18. Dan Davies. DNS: Jeff Johnson (Car
27). Heat winners were Bedell, Ron Davies, and Dixon.
Street Stocks: (15 laps) 1. Adam Ashcroft, 2. Brad Ullman, 3. Don
Wolfer, 4. Andy Michael, 5. Rob Stromecki, 6. Levi Watson, 7. Butch
Talbot, 8. Joe Chamberlain, 9. Andrew Eastman, 10. Dan Scharf, and 11.
Josh Wilcox. DNS: Darryl Greene. Heat winners were Michael and Ashcroft.