Ron Davies Makes Stunning Charge To Beat Mike Knight At Little Valley
by Dave Sully
LITTLE VALLEY, NY- Veteran Ron Davies, affectionately known as “The
Rimrider, “ made use of some rarified air for him, the bottom, to
complete an amazing run, which saw him catch runaway leader Mike Knight
with two laps to go to win the caution free 30 lap Super Late Model
Feature at Little Valley Speedway on Thursday, July 4th. It was the
first win at Little Valley this season for the popular driver from
Warren, PA, who was nipped by Bob Close in the opener on Memorial Day
weekend, and probably his most unlikely.
Knight, from Ripley, NY, took the lead at the start from Vic Coffey, who
started on the point, and immediately put some distance between himself
and the rest of the field, actually entering lap traffic by the seventh
circuit. Davies claimed second on lap 11, getting by Coffey, and then
set out after Knight, who was flying around the big half mile and seemed
invincible, having established close to a straightaway lead.
Then the scenario changed, as Knight became mired behind Brent Rhebergen
and Davies changed his line to the bottom, dicing with a treacherous
bump in turn one that required steel nerves to negotiate. By lap 25,
Davies was making huge progress, drawing to within 10 car lengths by lap
25, as Knight finally cleared Rhebergen.
Roaring down the front chute three laps later, with the lead now down to
about five car lengths, Davies made a heroic dive to the bottom once
again, while Knight slipped high, allowing Davies to emerge with the
lead. Knight tried to come back, but with momentum on his side, Davies
went on for the crowd-pleasing win and a first place check of $3,000.
Knight settled for second, followed by Coffey, Dutch Davies, who made a
gutsy run from twelfth, and Boom Briggs to complete the top five. Davies
observed, “The track was a little rough. I just had to abuse the car to
get in there (the bottom). It looked like the lap car slowed him
(Knight) up a little bit. I knew it was the only chance I had. Once I
cleared him, I knew we were going to be okay.”
He added, “The high side was still the fastest way around. It kept
getting higher and higher, and coming off four you were running really
close to that fence. The bottom was fast, but it was so rough I was
afraid of destroying something on the car. I knew I couldn’t run thirty
laps there, so when I got the chance I passed Vic (Coffey) on the
bottom, and I knew it was the only chance I had of passing Mike. I never
thought I’d catch him from half a lap behind.”
The 20 lap Crate Late Model race was the Bill Law Memorial, dedicated to
one of the pioneers of the division, with long time Late Model driver
Chad Ruhlman, from Bemus Point, taking the honors in the inaugural
running of the event. Starting sixth in the field, Ruhlman charged to
the lead on a lap one restart, after he moved up two spots on the
opening lap, making a daring sojourn to the bottom in the notorious turn
From there, he established leads that were erased by cautions on laps 11
and 15. He made solid restarts, however, and ended up driving away at
the end, with Bryce Davis keeping him honest. Jason Genco finished
third, followed by previous race winner Justin Tatlow, who made a
spirited run from twelfth, and polesitter Derek Frank, to round out the
On the winning pass, Ruhlman, who like Davies, prefers the outside,
allowed, “It was the first couple of cars I’ve ever passed on the bottom
here. I know Adam Sixt is really good here. He’s a very clean racer. He
hit that bump down there (in turn one), and I just had to make a move
for it.” In a touching move, Ruhlman presented his winning trophy to
Bill Law’s grandson in Victory Lane.
The BRP Can Am Series 20 lapper produced a controversial finish, as
Jeremy Wonderling, from Scio, made a highly unpopular move for the lead
on a lap 18 restart, which saw leader John Waters sent spinning into the
back stretch wall. Wonderling, who started sixth had led big early,
after taking the top spot from Waters on lap 5, only to lose the top
spot to Waters on a lap 15 restart.
Wonderling kept the pressure on, and when the caution flew on lap 18, he
lined up behind Waters for the restart. When the green flag dropped,
Wonderling made a dive to the bottom, got beside Waters and then there
was heavy contact, resulting in Waters hitting the outside wall before
careening into the infield.
Wonderling went on to the win over his brother, Mikey, Ray Bliss, Jim
Johnson, and Neal Patterson, as the race stayed green. Emerging from his
car in Victory Lane, he was greeted by a chorus of boos from the crowd,
voicing their displeasure over the aggressive nature of the pivotal
move. Previously, Waters had tried to get at him as he went over the
The winner was decidedly unrepentant, declaring, “Me and Johnny are good
friends. The lap before me on the restart he snuck up underneath me. I
knew he was down there, and I come out on the wall. He ran ride across
my nosepiece. I said, ‘Johnny, really, why would you do that.’ So, a
restart’s a restart. He did it to me. I’m going to do it to him. It
might have been a little bit worse on my part. Hey, that’s how it
The caution free 20 lap E-Mod Feature had its own drama, as Smethport’s
Steve Dixon made it two in a row in unusual fashion. After bolting to
the lead early and opening a huge lead, he made an unscheduled tour of
the infield on lap 14, allowing Ron Davies, still sweating from his late
model win, to take the lead.
Dixon stayed on the gas, righted the ship, held on to second and took
after Davies, who was looking for a sweep of his two races. With Davies
in lap traffic, Dixon was able to catch up, and on lap 19 retook the top
spot and went on for the victory. Davies ended up second, trailed by
Kirk Bradley, Brent Rhebergen, and Joel Watson.
Dixon took the blame for the miscue that almost cost him the race,
explaining, “I got a little too comfortable. The track was rough. I hit
the wrong spot and missed my mark, kind of lost concentration for a
second and missed it. I felt like a drag car pedaling it through the
infield in the grass. I was just bombing it as much as I could. I knew I
could run him back down if we had enough laps, and we did. I just
shouldn’t make that kind of mistake.”
Finally, young Brad Ullman, from Allegany, survived a tenacious battle
with many time winner Andy Michael to win the caution-free15 lap Street
Stock Feature, his first ever Little Valley win. Michael was all over
Ullman for most of the race, drawing alongside at times, but the
youngster never wavered. Michael finished a close second, with Adam
Ashcroft making it a three way battle at the end.
Asked, how he held off the steely veteran, the shy driver said, “I just
held my line.” That about summed it up.
NOTES: Despite a dire weather forecast, which never materialized, a good
crowd was on hand for the event………… 92 cars graced the pits, including
16 Super Late Models…………..After a near perfect track for the previous
event, the nuance of dirt track racing reared its ugly head in the form
of the aforementioned bump that developed in the middle of turn one,
which required extra attention from the drivers. The track crew
re-groomed it twice during the evening, but it remained a factor most of
the night……. The Speedway is right back in action next Friday, July 12th
at 7:00 for the Mid Summer Special, sponsored by Randy’s Collision. The
night will feature the Super Late Models, the E-Mods, Street Stocks, and
the prestigious Brock Young Memorial for the BRP Can Am Series.
Super Late Models: (30 laps) 1. Ron Davies, 2. Mike Knight, 3.
Vic Coffey, 4. Dutch Davies, 5. Boom Briggs, 6. Jason Dupont, 7. David
Scott, 8. Brent Rhebergen, 9. Greg Oakes, 10. Matt Urban, 11. Terry
Porter, 12. Bob Close, 13. Chris Hackett, 14. Dick Barton, 15. Pete
Alspaugh, and 16. Michael Oakes. Heat winners were Ron Davies and
Crate Late Models: (20 laps) 1. Chad Ruhlman, 2. Bryce Davis, 3.
Jason Genco, 4. Justin Tatlow, 5. Derek Frank, 6. Damian Bidwell, 7.
Doug Ricotta, 8. Brian Knowles, 9. Dave Norton Jr., 10. Bill Mesler, 11.
John Haggerty, 12. Garrett Mott, 13. Chad Silleman, 14. Matt Harvey, 15.
Garrett Steven, 16. Doug Gavotte. 17. Ward Schell, 18. Dustin Waters,
19. Adam Sixt, 20. Ike Fanton, 21. Bob Kish. DNS: Zack Carley and Ed
Carley. Heat winners were Schell, Davis, and Knowles.
BRP Can Am Series: (20 laps) – 1. Jeremy Wonderling, 2. Mikey
Wonderling, 3. Ray Bliss, 4. Jim Johnson, 5. Neal Patterson, 6. Bruce
Miller, 7. Steve LeBarron, 8. Jared Hill, 9. Quinn Sutherland, 10. Bob
Close, 11. Beamer Guzzardi, 12. Barry Payne, 13. Jason Knowles, 14. Bob
Babbitt, 15. John Waters, 16. John Zimmerman, 17. Brady Wonderling, 18.
Jay McConnell, 19. Brian Knowles, 20. Jimmy Johnson, 21. Jon Rivers, 22.
DJ Krug, and 23. Mike Wonderling. DNS: Ron Wilkins. Heat winners were
Jeremy Wonderling, Mike Wonderling, and Waters.
E-Mods: (20 laps) 1. Steve Dixon, 2. Ron Davies, 3. Kirk Bradley,
4. Brent Rhebergen, 5. Joel Watson, 6. John Woodward, 7. Nathan Hill, 8.
Kyle Bedell, 9. Scott Pangrazio, 10. Al Brewer, 11. Vic Vena, 12. Justin
Carlson, 13. Dan Sasso, 14. Chad Carlson, 15. Brian Fardink, 16. Carl
Bollinger, 17. Jeff Johnson, 18. Steve Samuelson, and 19. Brian Douglas.
DNS: TJ Downs. Heat winners were Bradley, Rhebergen, and Dixon.
Street Stocks: (15 laps) – 1. Brad Ullman, 2. Andy Michael, 3.
Adam Ashcroft, 4. Levi Watson, 5. Don Wolfer, 6. Ted Mascho, 7. Joe
Chamberlain, 8. Butch Talbot, 9. Rob Stromecki, 10. James Thompson, and
11. Andrew Eastman. Heat winners were Ashcroft and Ullman.