by Bill McKinney
BARBERTON SPEEDWAY: With what many fans and drivers were calling the second off-season with three consecutive rainouts, Mother Nature decided to celebrate Mothers’ Day in her own way. As the sun bathed Barberton Speedway through the afternoon, drivers and crews got to work making sure any last minute adjustments were done and that they could take advantage of the opportunity to win on Mothers’ Day. With a near packed house, the night was one to remember.
Mason Surgener took home his first Barberton Speedway win in the first Bandolero scheduled race of 2019. With several veteran drivers moving divisions, the door was open for anyone to capitalize and bring home a win and the field knew it. When the green flag flew, Cameron Curto assumed sole possession of the lead over Mason Surgener and Madison Lengyel. The trio duked it out over the course of the first five laps until Surgener got a run off of turn four. Surgener and Curto drag raced down the front stretch and continued their battle for first into turn one. Curto gave it a great effort on the high line but Surgener, again, got a bite off of the bottom and took the lead away. While it looked like Surgener was going to take the win by a landslide, yellows plagued the halfway point of the race keeping the field close to Surgener. On the race’s final restart, Surgener and Lengyel (who had moved to second) began duking it out. Trying different lines, braking zones, and ways to attack the corners, the duo thrilled fans as they tried to outwit one another and weave through lap traffic. In the end, it was Michigan’s Surgener taking home the first win of the season, and his first win at Barberton Speedway.
The Legends were also on hand for their first showing of the 2019 season and they continued right on with the thrilling level of racing that fans were treated to through the whole afternoon as they witnessed Dan Shively take home his first Barberton win. When the green flag finally flew (as an early set of yellows delayed the start by several minutes), Shively worked his way to the lead. Behind him was a duo of tough competitors in Cale Grimes and Anthony Borkoski. The two highly decorated drivers began reeling in the #27 of Shively by inches at a time. When Ed Tenney displayed the halfway flags, the trio was under a blanket and duking it out for the season’s first checkered flag. Grimes tried high and low to get around Shively, desperately wanting to pass him. On one such attempt, Borkoski in third got under Grimes and passed him for second on the track. As Borkoski set his sights on Shively, Grimes battled back from third. Once again, the trio was under a blanket for a second time with the running order slightly different. With two laps to go, Shively began to pull away from the others and was able to bring home a statement win on Mothers’ Day. He dedicated the win to his wife and infant child who were there cheering him on
The Modifieds were on deck for their second showing, and Dave Dobbins made a statement by bringing home the checkers over fierce competition. When the green flag fell, Dobbins used the high line to pass veteran Shawn Lewis and assume the lead. While Dobbins began gapping the field, Bob Sibila assumed second with race one winner, Norm Taylor, in tow in the third spot. Sibila and Taylor battled for second in such a way that it was thrilling for fans, but they weren’t giving up time to Dobbins. In fact, they were catching the #53 of Dobbins. Much like the feature before them, the three drivers got very close to one another around halfway. Sibila and Dobbins duked it out for the lead while Norm Taylor sat in third waiting for one, or both, to slip up. As the race began to enter its final moments, Taylor knew nothing was going to give and he began his charge to the front. Getting close to Sibila, he, once again, began battling but slid into him in turn three. The duo slipped up giving Dobbins a couple precious car lengths. Dobbins assumed the white flag and checkers with about three car lengths between him and Sibila/Taylor in 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
As fans caught their breath from the last feature, the Late Models were on hand. Doug Sommers added to his win collection showing 2019 might be a statement year. When the green flag flew, it was veteran drivers Larry Baker and Dino Campolito on the front row. The two battled hard the moment the green flag flew but they made contact coming off of turn four. The two hit the front stretch wall in a shower of sparks and twisted sheet metal, ending their nights. Lucky for them, the damage is mostly cosmetic. While they went pitside to check on their equipment, Jeff Taylor snuck around Roger Smith to take the lead with Doug Sommers in third. Sommers worked around Smith and set his sights on the Taylor #39. The duo began working hard to gain an advantage. Trying different lines, breaking zones, and throttle areas off of the turns, it was a tale of two veteran racers using every trick in their books to outwit one another. Going into turn one, the two became one as they made slight contact sending Taylor around in turn one. Taylor went to the back and Sommers took the lead. From there on out, Sommers kept a command over the rest of the field. When the white flag flew, Sommers had a four car length lead over the Burden Racing #10 of Doug Mate and Sommers was able to take home his second win of the season.
As the Late Models pulled off the Street Stocks came to play, and Greg Barnard took home his second in in as many starts. When the green flag flew, Cyler Bertram used the high line to pass fellow second-generation driver, Chase Hughes. Bertram took the lead and appeared to have the bad luck monkey off of his back. Behind him, three and four wide racing was going on as drivers were swapping positions faster than they were able to turn laps. Greg Barnard made it to second and began stalking the #55 of Bertram. Coming off of turn four just before halfway, Bertram slid loose and the two went sliding into the infield. Bertram was charged with the yellow and Barnard assumed the lead with a damaged car. The green flew and Barnard gapped the field by several car lengths while the hornets’ nest-like battle for second continued. Somehow, Bertram took his hot rod from eighth to second in just four circuits and set his sights on Barnard. A yellow set up a dash to the finish between Barnard and Bertram. When the race resumed, Barnard was able to hold the lead as Bertram fell back with brake issues. Barnard took the win and Bertram was able to hold on to second.
The Compact race was one of the night’s best races and Weatherman Randy Cecil took the win as rain began to fall. The 16-car field took the green flag and began to display their racing capabilities. Brandon Donley and Scott Kitchen had the front row and worked to fend off the Cavalier of Noah Patterson and Neons of Tim Farrar, Randy Cecil, and Doug Sommers as the quarter all took shots at one another for the front. Kitchen got the lead over Donley and the quartet and began logging laps in the lead. A slip up in turn two allowed Cecil, who had made it through the epic battle unscathed, to take the lead down the back stretch. A yellow came out just after the pass was made which allowed the field to catch up to the two. When the green flew for Cecil and Sommers, who had made it to 2nd, the fans knew this race was far from over. Cecil held the low line while Sommers used the high line (one he liked in Late Models) to battle side by side for ten straight laps! Cecil got a slight advantage as the raindrops began to fall as he was able to navigate the slick track a little better than Sommers as he used past experience on dirt and rain-soaked asphalt to get the job done. When the checkers flew for the Compacts, Cecil took home his first win of the season. Oddly enough Cecil did this exact same thing in 2011 winning a rainy, slick, race over Troy Timms and Debbie Thomas.
14-Ryan Likens (DNS)
14-Doug Mate (DNS)
99-John Sanquist jr.
100-Jim Raines III
50-Dennis Dellinger (DNS)
68-Jerry Ward III
87-James Eagon (DNS)