For Immediate Release

Pictures provided by Christie Hrdlicka, article by Bill McKinney

BARBERTON SPEEDWAY: Week two of the 2020 season provided many lessons and memorable moments. Whether it was last lap passes, three wide racing in all divisions, late race charges, or even the birth of a new racing fan, week two lived up to the hype that week one had established and fans and drivers were excited to see what this week had in store for them. Would drivers make up lost points from week one or add to their point totals regarding the championship? Would we begin to see who the class leaders are? How would the oppressive heat affect racing? Many questions were asked, and by 9:53 P.M. when the final checkered flag fell, they were answered.

If the Bandolero feature was eleven laps long instead of twelve, fans would be reading that Ryan Gardner won his second race in as many starts in 2020. But that wasn’t the case as with less than 40 feet from the start/finish line on the final lap, Gardner’s ill-sounding motor let go and Steve Mitch took the win and snapped nearly a four year long winless drought. But let us get into the meat of the feature first. When the green flag flew for the kids of the Bandolero division, Gardner had the pole and began to pull away from Mitch and Killian McMann. As the laps logged past, all three cars were on rails and running fast laps with Gardner pulling away to an impressive lead. But trouble was brewing. With five laps to go, Gardner’s #88 began to spit and sputter from the motor. Then a lap later, the motor sounded sour. With nearly a 3/4th of a track lead, Gardner held on with his ill-sounding motor, making up time through the corners, but losing time on the straitaways. Gardner and crew could simply hope that the young driver had enough of a lead and enough motor to simply limp to the finish. Coming to the white flag, Steve Mitch in 2nd was roughly 1/4th of a track away, cutting deep into Gardner’s lead. Down the back stretch, he was 1/8th of a track behind. Off of turn four and Gardner’s car couldn’t handle it. As it limped haphazardly down the front stretch, Mitch made his move to the outside. With 40 feet left to the finish line, Mitch made the race-winning pass. The thrill of his drought-snapping victory was one for the record books.

Aaron Mulrooney was the only driver from week one to capitalize on week two and win again. When the green flag flew for the nice sized Legends field, Chuck Witt led sophomore driver Chris Breads. Witt, a journeyman and family racer led the first five circuits of the night’s second feature until getting passed by second-generation driver Derik Gacom. Gacom, dawning the colors of Cole Trickle from ‘Days of Thunder’ would lead while the field behind him swapped positions like a driver switches hats. While the field settled their affairs, Gacom mustered up a several car length lead over Mulrooney and Austin Tapia. The trio ran nose-to-tail for another lap, but as flagman Ed Tenney displayed the crossed flags signifying halfway, Mulrooney made his move into turn one. As he shot low on Gacom, Tapia followed suit shuffling Gacom to third as Mulrooney and Tapia both were able to pass Gacom. Just like last week, Tapia’s #17 stayed right in Mulrooney’s tiretracks and looked for any opening, any hesitation, any mistake, from the young driver of the #2. But Mulrooney flexed and with four laps to go, he began to pull away. When the checkers waved in the night’s second feature, Mulrooney had taken home the win with Tapia several car lengths back. He thanked all the fans for coming out to the track and bowed for them.

On hand next was the Street Stocks, and 2019 champion Cyler Bertram took home the event win. When the green flag flew for the seven-car field, Jeff Mundell, in the 1968 ‘Bud’ Crum throwback #91 led the evening’s heat race winner Justin Alexander to green. Mundell, a veteran for 34 years, was looking for his first Barberton win since 1992 and looked very sporty. He would lead the evening’s first five laps, but Alexander showed why he had won the heat as he passed Mundell on lap six. Just as Alexander took the lead, trouble for the second week in a row for Ron Miller spelled the night’s first caution. Miller was done, as was Mundell who had lost power steering. Alexander would bring the field back to speed and would continue his quest for a win. But near halfway, Alexander would run into issues. As teammate Paul Price pulled off the lap before with a broken suspension component, Alexander would suffer a similar fate and pull off track, ending his night. This would hand the lead to 2019 champion Cyler Bertram. Bertram would lead what was left of the field, consisting of rookies Anthony Price and Gerald Altizer III from there on out. Altizer would pass Price for second on track but could only watch as Bertram amassed a large lead. At the line, Bertram took the win over Altizer with Price in third. The race of attrition only saw three of seven cars finish as three of the four DNF’s were due to mechanical failures.

The next division on hand was the Modifieds and Lucas Ripley won the night’s large purse in a race of perseverance and strategy. When the green flag flew, John White led and began to dominate the evening’s early stage of the race. Mick Macko, making his first start of 2020, followed in a semi-distant second place and the elder Ripley, Todd, followed suit in third. This would be the running order for the first fifteen laps of the race. But with a yellow falling on lap sixteen of the thirty lap event, the field cooled their tires and began to strategize. One such driver was Bob Sibila, who had been ill-handling since the race went green. He went pitside to adjust on the car and restarted last. On the restart, White would get passed by Todd Ripley on the high side and begin to fall back as his #17 modified began to get loose. Todd was followed by Lucas Ripley, Mick Macko, and Bob Sibila, who had worked from dead last up to fourth in the span of a couple laps as he made expert-level two and three wide passes to put himself in the running for the night’s prize. Just as he made the pass on Macko for third, he and Macko would come together sending Sibila around. Macko was given the penalty for rough driving and told to restart last with Sibila allowed to keep his third place position. When the race restarted with five laps to go, Lucas Ripley pulled away from Todd Ripley and Bob Sibila. Sibila would pass Todd and become the meat in the ‘Ripley sandwich’. But all of that hard racing was too much for the Bullit #82 and Sibila could not wrangle enough moxy out of the car. He would watch as the #0 of Lucas Ripley ran off with the win and the prize money. The margin of victory was three car lengths.

Former track owner Mike Mazzagatti took home the late model feature win and ‘owned’ much of the evening’s feature. When the green flag flew, ‘Mazz’ and 2010 champion Jeff Taylor led the growing field to green. Mazzagatti would lead the first lap as Taylor, and 2011 champion Jesse Adams battled for second on track. Adams quickly passed Taylor and set his sights on the Holub #87. Adams sized Mazzagatti up and began to work the high side of Mazzagatti. For several laps, the duo ran side by side. Their battle allowed five time MERS champion Gary Whipkey to close in on them. As ‘Mazz’ and Adams battled, Whipkey poked his nose out, making it three wide several times and making for some exciting racing. After a couple laps of this intense trio’s battling, the high side for Adams began to fall off as the heat had given the track’s high line less traction than the low line. Adams would fall back to third as Whipkey worked past for second. Whipkey would continue to work over Mazzagatti and the duo kept the already cheering fans on the edge of their seats. Adams would watch in a close third, hoping to capitalize if anything went awry for the leaders. Whipkey gave it everything he could, but he could not simply get the power down off of the corners. Mazzagatti would take home the night’s win in a clean green-to-checkers race with no yellows, the third of the night (behind Bandoleros and Legends).

Finally, the main event. Compacts were on hand and the event would be taken by Sheldon Sommers. When the green flag flew, the nice sized field ran toward destiny. Receiving praise from management for their good and clean racing, the compacts were made the night’s final feature yet again, giving fans one final treat before leaving for the night. Chad Greenland, racing with plenty of momentum in 2020, led Cheston Collmar and Christopher Kennedy. Collmar would prove a worthy opponent against Greenland for a couple early laps until the car began pushing. This opened the door for Kennedy. Kennedy kept in second for many laps while the field worked three and four wide behind them. The night’s only melee occurred when Mike Scott, rookie Kenny Betts, and Jesse Knox (filling in for an ailing Alyson Smith) went three wide. They came together in turn three and went sliding, collecting Cheston Collmar in the process. Collmar’s night was done. Greenland up front led Kennedy and company to green. After a couple restarts to make sure both drivers fired off at the same time, the race resumed, and action picked up. Sheldon Sommers worked from fourth place on the restart to third, then to second, and the former track champion set his sights on Greenland. He would pass Greenland with seven laps to go and set sail. Last week’s race winner Cody Collmar and Mike Scott followed suit in second and third with Kennedy holding strong in fourth. Sommers’ Neon proved too strong for the GM’s and he would take home the win by a large margin.

The night was an exciting one both on and off track and we all at Barberton Speedway want to congratulate the winners for their wins and wish all dads a happy fathers’ day! We also want to congratulate driver Billy Miller Jr. and his fiancée Stephanie Marshall on the birth of their new baby boy. Miller was set to run the night, but half an hour before the heat races, Marshall went into labor and the couple went to the hospital to welcome their bundle of joy into the world. Billy’s brother Brian ran in relief of Billy. Congratulations to the whole family and we wish them the best.

 

RESULTS: *denotes heat/dash winner.

Bandoleros:

1- Steve Mitch

2- Ryan Gardner*

3- Killian McMann

 

Legends:

1- Aaron Mulrooney*

2- Austin Tapia

3- Derik Gacom

4- Chris Breads

5- Chuck Witt

6- Brett Bauman

 

Street Stocks:

1- Cyler Bertram

2- Gerald Altizer III

3- Anthony Price

4- Justin Alexander*

5- Paul Price

6- Jeff Mundell

7- Ron Miller

 

Modifieds:

1- Lucas Ripley

2- Bob Sibila

3- Todd Ripley

4- Shawn Lewis

5- Mick Macko

6- Sam Bigham

7- John White*

8- Aaron Prater

9- Mike Walsh

10- Doug Mate

11- Roger Miller

 

Late Models:

1- Mike Mazzagatti

2- Gary Whipkey

3- Jesse Adams

4- Roger Smith

5-Jeff Taylor

6-Larry Baker

7- Jeff Walker

 

Compacts:

1- Sheldon Sommers

2- Mike Scott

3- Cody Collmar

4- Chris Kennedy

5- Kenny Betts

6- Chad Greenland

7- Dennis Garrett*

8- Brian Miller (sub for Billy)

9- Dustin Wyckoff

10- Don Howe

11- Leeza Brown*

12- Jesse Knox (sub for Alyson)

13- Brandon Ditto

14- Sierra Stewart

15- Bill Miller Sr.

16- JD Greathouse

17- Cheston Collmar

18- Crash Dallas