By Bill McKinney
Finally Mother Nature decided to let the drivers race, and they delivered with some of the hottest racing of the young year. With large fields, side by side racing, and a tremendous rally from the racing community to help the Wise family following their tragedy, Barberton Speedway was the place to be!
On hand first was the Bandolero division. Ryan Bille took his first Barberton win in just his 20th career start. When the green fell on a record feature crowd of drivers, it was veteran Madison Lengyel leading early. Her lead was short lived as Mason Surgener powered his Michigan-based ride to the front. Surgener led a good portion of the feature while a swarm of three and four wide racing went on behind him. Surviving multiple caution periods, Surgener could not hold back Bille who had worked his way through the field. Bille began leading while Surgener began loosing power. This opened the door for 2017 champion Chris Breads to move into 2nd. When the final yellow flew late in the event, Breads made sure to give it all he could against Bille on the restart. Bille powered his silver #23 away from Breads’ #01 and took home his first Barberton win in front of a packed crowd.
Up next was the Modifieds headlined by a dominant performance by ‘Stormin’ Norm Taylor. When the green flag flew for a large field, Taylor quickly took the lead on the outside and never let it go. Though he never let go of the lead, he had quite the competition as many drivers challenged the #32. A plethora of challengers lurked behind Taylor. During the race’s only yellow for debris, the mod squad joined Taylor for the restart and the fireworks began. Matt Marlowe worked Taylor’s high side while Dave Dobbins worked his bumper. After several laps Taylor got bite off of turn two and pulled ahead of the duo. Dobbins followed close behind but could never get around Taylor. Norm took home the win over Dobbins.
The momentum of the night continued with the legends. Mike Mzzagatti took home a nail-biter of a win in front of another large feature field. When the green flag fell, Mazzagatti took the lead and was joined by Tristan Borkoski. Borkoski worked Mike hard but, after getting loose in turn three, relinquished 2nd place to 2017 champion Cale Grimes. Grimes worked on the Mazzagatti #14 lap after lap giving the fans quite a show. Grimes worked high and low on Mazzagatti in each and every turn. Eventually the nail-biting race ended and Mazzagatti took home the win.
The moral of the story for the Street Stock feature was that it’s never over until it’s over! Dennis Wood took home the win. When the green flag flew, it was Mark Kramer leading the field of 12 to the green. Mark’s ‘Mean Green 70 Machine’ showed it’s strength as it did not want to relinquish the lead. The likes of Rick Pereces, Roger Arbogast, John Ambrose (subbing for Richard Price) and eventual winner Dennis Wood all worked on the lead car of Kramer. Kramer led and won all of those challenges through halfway until a yellow for a spin gave Wood the outside. When the green flew, Wood worked hard to get around Kramer and eventually took the lead late in the event. While Kramer began developing handling woes nd fell bck, Wood looked to have the win with a handful of laps to go. After a late race yellow, 2016 and 2017 champion Jim Raines Jr. found himself starting alongside Wood. Behind the duo was Cyler Bertram and John Ambrose. When the green flew, the quartet battled hard, wheel-to-wheel, bumper-to-bumper in every turn. Eventually Wood gained the advantage with just two laps to go and took home the thrilling win over Bertram.
A great field of late models were on hand and Doug Sommers took home a classic win. When the green flew, Jeff Walker led them to green. Roger Smith and Doug Sommers worked the high line to be right there with Walker. Doug worked the high side on Smith and eventually passed Walker on the high line off of turn two, even hitting the wall while making the pass. He stretched his lead out on the field but the field began battling back. Roger Smith passed Walker and began reeling in the #3 of Sommers. Smith put on a classic late model battle with Sommers and were joined by Tony Urdiales. The trio thrilled the crowd and battled hard the entire feature until a yellow flew with a lap to go. The field was re-racked and set up for a dramatic one lap shootout. When the green and white flew, Sommers pulled on Smith and Urdiales. Urdiales made a move on Smith to take 2nd and tried to get Sommers but ran out of laps. Sommers took the win over Urdiales and Smith.
The Compacts were racing for the Wise family and provided plenty of action. Alyson Smith took the early lead and let her #12 Chevy fly. Pulling away from the three wide field, the race was hers to win. Unfortunately a yellow flew and on the restart, the #12 lost power and was forced to pull off. Scott Kitchen in a new ride inherited the lead and took the field to green after Smith’s woes. Kitchen survived many cautions until he got passed by Tim Likens on a mid race restart. Likens had to do the same as Kitchen as yellows plagued the feature. On one restart, he was joined by teammate Brian Tredway, and Kylie Wood. When the green flew, Tredway took the lead but got hit in turn one, sending him spinning and ending his night. When the feature restarted, it finally entered a long green run. Likens ran away from Wood and Bre Garrett and was scored as the winner. After a technical inspection, it was found his car did not comply with the rules, and he was told to give up his win. He did and it was rookie Kylie Wood winning in just her second ever start! Bre Garrett finished 2nd after winning Paineville a week before making it a great week for Barberton’s female drivers.