FOR IMMEADIATE RELEASE
BARBERTOM SPEEDWAY: The time had come. After a full season of racing with moments that will make the history book for sure, the regular season had come to its final race. On hand was a plethora of storylines. Drivers leading the points had to race well enough to receive their points championships. Drivers not in the points had one last shot to end 2019 in a great way by winning. And others were moving up to a new division the following season meaning they just wanted one more good run before moving to their new endeavors. This meant that winning, literally, was everything tonight. And tonight, six lucky drivers would hoist a winners trophy. Also, six championship points trophies would be given out to the six points champions.
First up on the night was the Bandolero feature, won by Madison Lengyel. The green flag flew for Steve Mitch and Ryan Likens with Mitch getting the jump at the initial start. Mitch would lead many of the opening laps until the first caution flew for a spin by Likens. On the restart, Madison Lengyel would pass Mitch and bring Racin’ Mason Surgener and Ryan Gardner with her. The top three were under a blanket until another yellow flew for a two car incident in turn two. Under the caution, drama started as Surgener’s seemingly bulletproof #42 began sputtering as if it lost a cylinder. On the restart, Surgener was unable to keep up with Lengyel and eventually pulled off, ending his bid at a perfect season. Lengyel had Gardner pulled by over half a lap and looked to have the race in the bag. Just as chief starter, Ed Tenney displayed the ‘Five Lap’ sign for drivers, the final yellow flew for a spin and Lengyel had to hold off Killian McMann (who had just passed Gardner for second) for the final few laps. On the restart, McMann looked to have a good car but could not match the handling of Lengyel’s #51 machine. Lengyel would take home the win, which was her first. She is also the last original driver from the Bandolero division as she started in 2015 at Barberton’s first cavalcade. Racin’ Mason would hold on well enough to win the points championship by 59 points over Lengyel.
The Street Stocks were next on the night’s agenda and Cyler Bertram took home his first championship after winning the event. His gap was 100 points over Gary Hoopingarner upon season’s end. When the green flag flew, Jeff Mundell and Jim Raines III brought the field to speed. Mundell would shoot to the front and lead the first five laps as Raines would fall back to second, and eventually third as Bertram would pass him. Bertram would eventually pass Mundell, who was pulling double duty in Late Models and Street Stocks, and begin leading. The race was mostly incident free except for a caution near halfway between Raines and Jeff Kuykendall. The to made contact and Raines’ front suspension appeared to fail. His car would go on a ride through the infield and come to a rest off of turn two, ending his night. The restart afterwards would allow Kuykendall a shot at passing Bertram, but he couldn’t get drive off of turn two on the restart. Bertram would rocket out front and led Kuykendall and company for the remainder of the race and take home the win. With that win comes his first ever championship. His closest points competition, Gary Hoopingarner would officially retire following the end of this race, ending a 34 year career. He would congratulate Bertram and received much praise from his competition.
Up next was the Late Model feature. Jeff Taylor won his first feature in three years, and his first season championship race in his 29 years of trying. Doug Sommers won the championship over Roger Smith with a 136 point lead. When the green flag flew, Dave Kalb Jr. and Jeff Taylor brought the field to speed. Taylor got a good run high and made the pass on Kalb on the first lap and pulled off to what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. While Taylor led, Doug Sommers and Gary Whipkey worked through the large field and eventually found themselves in second and third, respectively. The duo worked to cut into Taylor’s lead and caught a break when a caution flew for a spin near the middle of the field. On the restart, Taylor timed it perfectly and was able to get enough of a jump on Sommers to take the line away from him in the first corner. What followed next was the perfect end to the 2019 Late Model season. Sommers kept jumping high on Taylor and trying to get the pass made, but he could not. As a result, the two ran side by side for many laps and the roar of the cars was equaled and at times exceeded by the cheers of fans. Never touching, the two veterans thrilled with their display of racing. At the end, Taylor was able to hold off Sommers and bring home the win. He jumped out of the car, screaming in excitement. He hugged and thanked everyone in victory lane and partied with his crew in the pits.
Up next was the Legends feature and the ultimate feel-good story of the night came as Anthony Price took home the race win and championship. When the green flag flew, Dan Shively and Anthony Price brought the field to speed. Shively led the first lap but fell behind as Price passed him. The incident-free race was known for much of the action going on near third place as second in points Austin Tapia, Chris Breads, and Chuck Witt all battled under a blanket. With second place Shively in his own zip code, and Price in another zip code of his own, the trio for third satisfied the race’s action criteria as all three drivers all took shots at passing one another. One driver, Chris Breads even split from the battle from third upon winning it and was able to rally to second as Shively began to fall back. Up front, Price had owned the race and took home the win in the quickest race of the night. While he pulled into victory lane, his father, Rick pulled next to him. After he did some celebratory doughnuts, Rick hugged his son in victory lane and posed for a picture. Afterwards, in the pits, the entire family, several crews, and drivers from all divisions all went and congratulated Price on his first ever championship which was 35 points over Austin Tapia and Chris Breads.
The Modifieds were up and Dave Dobbins pulled off the race win and championship points win. When the green flag flew, Dan Winger and Christian Bailey helped bring the field to speed and Bailey would lead many of the first laps. He would eventually be passed by Shawn Lewis for the lead and Lewis looked to have the race in control. Just as it looked like Lewis was on command, a yellow for Bailey’s car coming to a stop on track brought the field into contention with Lewis. On the restart, Norm Taylor, who had worked up to second, passed Lewis for the lead. Taylor checked out from the field and had a large lead over Dave Dobbins, who worked to second on the exchange following the restart. Dobbins tracked Taylor down but a yellow stopped Dobbins from making the pass. On the restart, the duo ran hard and side by side but contact between the two sent Dobbins spinning. Taylor had to go to the back for the event and Dobbins was moved up to first. Dobbins would lead the final few laps of the feature and bring home the win. He celebrated in the pits with his family and notched his sixth win of the season. His points spread was 126 over John White.
Last but not least was the Compact feature, won by Dennis Garrett. Tim Farrar won the championship over Doug Sommers by 136 (ironically, the same spread Sommers had over Smith in the Late Model points battle). When the green flag flew, Sierra Stewart and Chad Greenland brought the field to speed. Before the first lap was over, Chris Kennedy worked from third to first to lead the opening circuit up until the first caution three laps in. On the restart, Dennis Garrett worked past Kennedy and took the lead. While he led, fellow Neons in the likes of Tim Farrar, Doug and Sheldon Sommers, and a plethora of Cavaliers containing Scott Kitchen, Dustin Wyckoff and Michael Scott followed Garrett. The large ‘superspeedway’ pack of cars zigged and zagged as they tried to pass one another and work forward at the same time. Garrett worked to keep the six cars behind him as he tried to milk every tenth he could out of his aging Neon. With only five laps to go, the second and final yellow of the race and season flew for a spin in turn three. When the race restarted, Tim Farrar tried hard to pass Garrett but he was unable to precipitate a run on the high side. Doug Sommers worked to second with three laps to go but he could not pass Garrett. Coming to the checkers, Dennis Garrett took the win. Farrar would win the championship and celebrated by helping a fellow competitor off of the track after they had encountered mechanical issues upon crossing the line.
FINISHING ORDER: (*Heat/Dash winners) (+Championship Winners)
8-Jim Raines III
Photos and article by Billy McKinney and Christie Hrdlicka