For Immediate Release
BARBERTON SPEEDWAY: Labor Day weekend was upon Barberton Speedway. Traditionally known as the unofficial end of Summer, it can be seen as a less than desirable weekend to circle on one’s calendar. That was not the case at Barberton Speedway. With large payouts in the four main divisions, the return of the dwarf car class, momentum of close nail-biting finishes in the Bandolero division, points battles on the line, and more and more big name drivers returning to competition at Barberton Speedway, it was almost easy to forget that tonight saw 50 laps of competition in the Street Stocks, Modifieds, and Late Models and 40 laps of competition in the Compacts. Plenty of storylines and huge names made tonight a big night and one to end Summer with a bang!
Ryan Bille took home the Bandolero main event by less than a foot over Chris Breads. The finish came just a week after the two duked it out in a photo finish that saw two-time defending champion Breads best the young hot shot of Bille. When the Ed Tenney green flag waved for the field of seven, it was Madison Lengyel and Breads leading the field down. The two veterans of the division had raced every race since the Bandolero inception in 2015 at Barberton and their experience showed. Breads worked Lengyel into turn one and took the lead. He set his sights on owning the event while competition behind him tried everything to reel him in.
Two such drivers were Michigan’s Mason Surgener and Pennsylvania’s Bille. The two were trying to reel Breads in while battling against one another. At halfway, Bille and Surgener made contact which sent both up the track and arrested their momentum for a little giving Breads even more breathing room. Breads looked to have his second consecutive event won. That was, until a spin with two laps to go set up a dramatic finish. On the restart, Breads got the jump and looked to have some distance between Bille and Surgener until a spin coming to the white in the back set up, yet again, another restart. This time, Bille saw Breads moves and kept with him. On the final lap, Bille pulled the crossover move on Breads coming off of turn four, just as he tried last week, but this time, he came up successful. He powered ahead of Breads and took the win in a photo finish by less than a foot over Breads.
The night was heating up and the traveling Dwarf Car division had made their third and final regular season stop at Barberton. Though they had only eight cars answer the call, they still made a nail biting race. When the green flag fell, polesitter Chris Grubbs brought his #14 to the front and looked untouchable. He set into a rhythm and looked to have the event wrapped up before halfway. He ran laps fast enough to keep the competition on the defensive but ran conservatively enough that he had something left had a challenge arisen. Such a challenge did arise as Jim Good had worked his way from dead last to second place and had begun to reel Grubb’s #14 in. Good used his karting and previous Detroit Iron stock car experience to reel Grubbs in while saving enough car in the event he had to make a hard pass on him. The two ran the final five laps duking it out trying to gain an advantage on one another and kept fans on the edge of their seats. When the white flag fell, Good tried one more move but lost momentum and settled for second behind Grubbs.
Sheldon Sommers was in his third year of competition and looking to expand his points lead and try to win his second points championship of is young career. When the green flag fell for the compact field of 18, Scott Kitchen and Chuck Scott led the field to green. They battled side by side and kept the field behind them side by side. Resembling more of a high-speed pace lap for the first ten circuits, the racing was close, intense, and some of the best of the night. A slip-up by Kitchen allowed Sommers to move into second place and set up the pass on Scott. Sommers passed Chuck Scott just a lap later and set up a race in which he owned. Leading by over half of a lap, Sheldon looked great as he stole the thunder from his father, Doug. Doug sat back in second place and could not seem to reel his son in. When the checkered flag fell, Sheldon’s lead was a little smaller due to lap traffic, but his win was one of pure supremacy and statement.
The Street Stock race was won by Jeff Kuykendall. Now in his third year of competition, Kuykendall showed the signs of a veteran as he commanded the 50-lap event! When the green dropped for the event it was another driver with a similar rise as Kuykendall, 2010 Street Stock and 2016 Modified champion Aaron Prater who led the field to green. He led the first lap until a smear of yellows kept the field close. While positions changed as competitors had to change blown tires and close restarts shuffled the field, Cyler Bertram found himself in second place. He raced Prater hard and took the lead. He lost it as fast as he gained it to Jeff Dunfee. Dunfee led from that pass for several laps until getting passed by Kuykendall on a restart. Kuykendall commanded the event from there. While he led, he watched positions change behind him including Dennis Wood passing Dunfee. Wood tried to reel in Kuykendall but ran out of laps. Jeff Kuykendall won the event with a commanding win over the field of 19. On the cool down lap, Kuykendall did a polish victory lap and made sure to congratulate Jeff Dunfee on his stellar top five run in the Rick Pereces owned #2 car as the two met going down the backstretch.
In terms of hard racing where anyone can win from any position, the Modifieds were the poster-child for that! Big name drivers filling out the 19-car field meant anyone could take this race! Bob Sibila took home the big money race a year to the day after taking home the 2017 labor day classic. When the green flag fell, Sibila squeaked ahead of Lucas Ripely to lead the opening circuit. Little did fans know, Sibila would lead the following 49 circuits. Though fans thought it seemed like a Saturday drive for Sibila, a rash of early cautions kept Ripely and company close to Sibila’s rear bumper and made the veteran less than comfortable. Once the rce settled into rhythm, another Ripely joined the duo. Todd Ripely sat in third and followed son, Lucas and leader Sibila. The trio dazzled fans as they worked one another over and weaved and bobbed their way through lap traffic. A mid race yellow bunched the field up and allowed Bryce Allensworth the chance to make it a four car battle. Upon the drop of the green, Sibila turned on the afterburners and began to pull away from his competition. He led from there on and won the race.
Gary Whipkey needed another zip code to keep track of his scoring as he was untouchable in the late model main event. When the green fell, Doug Mate took the early lead over Dave Martin and set into a rhythm of his own while the field of fifteen jockeyed behind him. A yellow for John Ambrose spinning brought the field back in touch with Mate. When the green flag allowed racing to resume, Gary Whipkey powered past Mate and made the drive look easy. He pulled away by half of a lap while Ambrose battled from fifteenth to second position on track and tried to set his sights on the very small #59. They ran 1-2 for quite a while until roughly ten laps to go when Dino Campolito blew a tire and slowed which drew a yellow. On the ensuing restart, Ambrose spun the tires which allowed Whipkey to jump ahead and away. Ambrose snuck in front of third place Tony Urdiales and held him off for the remainder of the race while Whipkey controlled the field. He took the win and collected a huge paycheck!
Article by Billy McKinney, Pictures by Billy and Christie Hrdlicka