By Bill McKinney
For Immediate Release
BARBERTON SPEEDWAY: Mother Nature, once again, smiled down upon the track and graced fans, drivers, staff, and crews with plenty of sun. The warm temperatures were met with hard racing on track in all four divisions and a spectacular firework show following the final race. With midseason championship over, the points race was beginning to shape up. As drivers geared up for the push toward season championship, they knew there was still a lot of racing to go and that putting their cars in contention for that final push meant plenty of work on and off of the track! The heat races were gripping and kept fans on the edge of their seats. Following an intermission that witnessed Barberton Speedway allow veterans to ride around the track in a special two-seat late model, the features were set!
The first division up was the Compact division won by Tim Farrar. Farrar had 104 points on his closest pursuer and that is expected to expand nicely with his performance. When the feature started, Brian Miller and Chris Kennedy led the field to green. Before the first lap was complete, Paul Mangum asserted his #69 to the lead followed by Chase Skeens and Alyson Smith. Smith was on a mission and worked through Skeens and Mangum quickly to assert her #12 to the lead by lap three. Smith was on rails and began to pull on the field. As she pulled away, Tim Farrar was making moved deeper in the pack and had worked into second place. Farrar and Smith began to battle a couple laps later and passed Smith on the back stretch. Farrar began to amass a large lead but a yellow for Mangum and Kennedy tightened the field up. On the restart, Smith held with Farrar for several laps but Farrar got a good bite off of turn four to take the lead for good. As he pulled away on the field, his closest pursuer was Sheldon Sommers, filling in for Doug. He mounted a late charge but ran out of laps giving Farrar his second win in a row!
The Street Stock division, won by Jeff Kuykendall, has perhaps the closest points battle and it’s expected to close up even more. With points leader Greg Barnard not making the call and second in points Cyler Bertram breaking before the feature started, this will tighten up the points as third place Gary Hoopingarner has an opportunity to take the points lead and his first Barberton championship. When the green flag fell, Tim Likens and Jim Raines III led the field down to green. Raines took the lead of the event for the first two laps until a yellow for Likens and Tim Schmitt spinning off of turn four brought the field tight to Raines. On the restart, Raines found himself in the clutches of Kuykendall and the two mounted a serious battle for the lead. Kuykendall eventually prevailed and began pulling on Jones. Behind them was a two-car battle of Tim Schmitt and Gary Hoopingarner. The two separate-but-important battles were cheered on by fans as no driver wanted to give an inch or give in to the other as they knew what was at stake. Eventually Kuykendall would pull away from Raines and Hoopingarner would fade to fourth as he developed a miss. Coming to the checkers, Kuykendall took a commanding victory!
The Late Models had one of their largest fields with Gary Whipkey taking another win! With Doug Sommers leading Roger Smith by only 56 points, this points race was still far from over. One slip up could spell trouble! When the green flag fell, it was John Ambrose and Dino Campolito battling hard in the beginning. Ambrose would take sole possession of the lead and looked to have a pretty good car. Sadly, he developed a miss caused by a broken plug wire and pulled pitside. This gave sole possession of the lead to points leader Doug Sommers. Sommers and Whipkey were running 1-2 at this point and battling hard barely giving an inch during the race or on restarts. Sommers took the lead but began to overheat and lose power. He would also pull pitside which relinquished the lead to Whipkey. Whipkey pulled away from his closest pursuers and would take a commanding victory! He was visited by teammate Jeff Taylor on the cooldown lap and congratulated on the win.
The final feature of the night was the Modified feature won by Doug Mate. With the points being pretty close between Dave Dobbins and Mate’s teammate John White, a mishap on either end would tighten up the points and amp the excitement up. When the green flag fell, Mate took command of the event from Andrew Wise. Mate began to pull on the field as drivers jockeyed for position behind him. Shawn Lewis moved into second with Bob Sibila making moves to position himself in third. Lewis and Sibila raced hard but kept in mind Mate’s advantage. Working together rather than racing one another meant they would eventually reel Mate in. Rather than applying the pressure on Lewis, Sibila followed behind. The plan worked as both Lewis and Sibila caught Mate and began battling for the lead. Unfortunately contact between Sibila and Lewis brought the yellow out. Around this time points leader Dave Dobbins pulled off from his fifth place position and retired from the race. On the restart, Mate found perhaps his closest pursuer as Norm Taylor had worked into second around Lewis. He applied plenty of pressure on Mate but the two made contact. Taylor had to serve the penalty and Mate retained the lead. Mate would go on to lead the final ten laps and take his first win in nearly a decade at Barberton in what was a banner night for the Burden Racing bunch as they placed three cars in the top five.
Photos and article provided by Bill McKinney and Christie Hrdlicka
FINISHING ORDER: (*Heat Winner)
2-Jim Raines III*