By Billy McKinney:
BARBERTON SPEEDWAY: After months of painstaking work, knuckle-busting wrenching, and fine tuning their machines, the drivers of Barberton Speedway answered the call for week one of 2019. Two preceding practice sessions the week leading up and plenty of hotlap sessions allowed drivers to work any cobwebs out of their machines and work back into turning blazing laps. What followed next was a season opener to remember!
Tim Farrar took home the compact race, but it was no easy win for the ageless driver of the #59. Before the race could get started, a massive wreck on the front stretch took out several fast drivers and almost took the likes of Farrar and Sheldon Sommers out. While they were unscathed by missing the melee, others, like Dustin Wyckoff, Billy Miller, and others were not as lucky. After the cleanup, the green once again flew and Sheldon Sommers weaved his way three wide past the #10 of Rocky Nails and #1 of Brandon Donley. While Sommers began logging laps in the top position, Farrar quietly worked his way through the field and found himself in 2nd place. He set chase on Sommers and the two weaved their way through lap traffic impressing fans and crews alike. A yellow with less than five laps to go for a spin in turn three allowed Farrar to start alongside Sommers. When the field restarted, Farrar kept honest with Sommers. Coming to the white flag, Sommers slipped in turn three just a little allowing Farrar to get the inside line on him off of turn four. They took the white flag side by side, but it was Farrar besting last year’s champion.
Norm Taylor brought home a statement win in the modified division. When the green flag flew, the field followed Taylor to green and they got to racing hard! Before the end of lap one, Dave Dobbins found himself in 2nd place and had his sights set on the Taylor Painting #32. The two battled it out for the early portions of the race, but two suddenly became four as Burden Racing drivers Eric Waddell and John White joined in the battle. The four drivers stayed under a blanket until a spin in turn three bunched them up even more. When the green flag flew again, Taylor and Dobbins ran side by side for a couple laps with Dobbins getting a slight advantage on Taylor. Taylor fought back on the inside and grabbed the lead for good off of turn two. When the Ed Tenney checkered flag flew, Norm Taylor found himself atop of the star-studded modified field.
Greg Barnard took his Jr. Carte throwback #21 to the Summit Racing victory lane after another classic Street Stock race! When the green flag flew for the field, Chase Hughes took the field to green and began leading laps. Behind him was Tim Schmitt Jr. and the two multi-generation Mailbu drivers began battling it out. Behind them was Cyler Bertram’s Monte Carlo. Bertram worked past the duo after several laps and checked out on the field. Working to half a lap lead, Bertram was the man to beat. Just past halfway, a blown engine from Hughes brought the field close to Bertram. On the ensuing restart, Bertram found himself battling with Barnard for the lead. Sadly, for Bertram, the race would take a disastrous turn after he blew a tire. While he changed the tire, Barnard took the lead and battled with Tim Schmitt Jr. for the win. When the checkers flew, Barnard took the win over Schmitt, Gary Hoopingarner and Bertram who rebounded to fourth.
Doug Sommers thrilled fans with another grand display of driving as he bested some of the Late Model’s best. When the green flag flew, Aaron Prater took the field down and the racing got intense! Prater battled with Gary Whipkey and Sommers for the opening laps until Sommers got a run on Prater and took the lead. Prater fell back to 2nd place and Whipkey sat in 3rd. Whipkey squeaked past Prater and began working on Sommers. A yellow for Prater’s spinning car off of turn two brought Whipkey to Sommers on the front row for the race’s final restart. Sommers timed it just right and was able to work ahead of Whipkey going into the first turn. Whipkey didn’t let Sommers get too far away and stayed less than a foot behind. When the two came off of turn four for the checkered flag, Sommers took the win over Whipkey by a slim margin.