By Billy McKinney

For Immediate Release

BARBERTON SPEEDWAY: After the first rain delay of 2020 coming just a week before, fans were treated to nice warm weather and a nicely packed pit area with many of this area’s best giving Barberton a shot as Barberton was stop two in a three day race program that encompassed Ohio. With Midvale running Friday, and Lorain running Sunday, drivers entered Barberton with much on their minds. Were their cars up to the task of racing flat out for three days at three different tracks? Could the momentum from Midvale for some propel them to the winners’ circle? Could they hit a stride at Barberton and have momentum for Lorain Sunday? Plenty to be asked, and plenty was to be answered. After just under four hours of flat out white-knuckle racing, a spectacular fireworks display, fans and drivers had a night to remember.

After heartbreak in week two of 2020 which saw an expired motor on the last lap cost him a win in the final 40 feet, Ryan Gardner got his shot at redemption in the Bandolero division with a dominating victory for the fans. When the green flag flew for polesitter Ayden Kitchen, in his first start of 2020, Gardner used the high line to quickly pass Kitchen. Gardner checked out on the field while Kitchen and Ryan Likens battled it out for second. While Kitchen and Likens watched as the 88 got smaller and smaller out of their front windshields with each passing lap, a weird thing began to happen to Gardner. As he led, his car began thudding and pushing up the track, signs that the brakes were malfunctioning. With less braking power, Gardner was forced to save his car for yet the second week in a row as he cautiously navigated the Barberton Speedway corners. While he conserved his pace, Kitchen and Likens used this as a chance to close the gap. Alas, there was too little time left in the race as the checkers fell with Gardner taking home the win even with an ailing car. He and his family said that they would double-check the brakes so that that problem does not happen again.

Last year, fans were treated to a near-perfect season by the likes of Racin’ Mason Surgener in the Bandoleros. This year, Aaron Mulrooney looks to better Surgener’s record, not in the Bandoleros, but in the Legends division. Mulrooney not only took home the heat, but also won the feature with a thrilling pass over Greg Rudzik with two circuits left in their race. When the green flag fell, however, it was Chuck Witt and Chris Breads that held the lead positions. Witt led the opening couple laps until Breads took over for a lap. Witt, on a career hot streak as of late, battled back and was able to lead one more lap until both Witt and Breads would be swallowed up by Derik Gacom. Gacom would lead several laps until Austin Tapia would take the point, bringing the number of leaders to four in just under eight laps. While Tapia led, the entire field stayed tight with Tapia, including Michigan’s Greg Rudzik. Rudzik would pass Tapia on lap ten and appear to be the fifth and final leader of the event. That was, until Aaron Mulrooney worked Tapia over for second and set his sights on Rudzik. Mulrooney slowly reeled Rudzik in and made the pass with two laps to go. Not looking back, Mulrooney was the sixth and final different driver to lead the action-packed race.

Many in the garage watched the Street Stocks with close and highly-observative eyes, and they saw plenty of good things to come out of the feature. Clean and close racing capped off with a Dennis Wood feature win was the icing for many. When the green flag flew for the field, Brandon Donley in his third ever Street Stock start, and Kylee Wood in her second full Street Stock season brought the field to speed. Donley would take off with the lead as Wood would settle into second with Preston Walker in third. Donley had the car to beat in the opening part of the race as he began to pull away from Wood and Walker. A couple laps after halfway, the handling on Wood’s second place machine broke and her car went spinning. After the yellow was rescinded, Donley and Walker brought the field back into racing-mode and Walker got the jump. Walker began to lead as Donley’s car began to push. Walker’s lead would not last long as Dennis Wood began to make moves forward. From fourth place on the restart, Wood passed his way through the field and set his sights on Walker. With just under ten laps to go, Wood made the pass of the race and took the lead from Walker. Wood would take off with the win and owned much of the second half of the feature. After two rough weeks for the Street Stocks that saw many mechanical failures and a couple accidents, the clean and competitive racing with every competitor running under finish was welcome by not only drivers and fans, but by track officials.

Fans caught their breath in between features, but quickly had to hold it as John White and 2016 division champion Aaron Prater thrilled fans in a modified race for the ages. When the green flag flew, White took the lead over last year’s teammate Doug Mate. White and Mate began checking out over their competition as they got their affairs in order. One such driver to benefit on those ‘affairs’ was Prater, who had worked from deep in the field to take third on track. Prater would catch and pass Mate, but in the process, lead the field right back into the fray. What was a two-car battle that should have been a three-car battle with Prater’s entrance became a nine-car battle as Prater was followed by an all-star cast of drivers. White led Prater who was simultaneously playing ‘catch the leader’ and ‘don’t lose second’ as Bob Sibila moved around Mate for third. White, Prater, Sibila, and Mate began to check out from the fifth-place driver Jason Drew. Prater tried desperately to pass White, even trying a gutsy move into turn one which saw him go sideways and save the car and position. Prater battled, but in the end, White had the car to do the job. He would collect his first win of 2020. While on track interviews can not happen due to COVID, White made sure to let me know that this win goes out to his father, who passed away 30 years ago this year.

Mike Mazzagatti took home his second win in as many starts in the Late Model division. While he owned last week’s feature, he had to work hard for this one as the stars came out to play! When the green flag dropped, George Riddle, fresh off his heat win, took the lead while Mazzagatti followed suit in second with points leaders Jesse Adams and Gary Whipkey following in third and fourth, respectively. The quartet rode around like this for many laps until, at the same time, the ‘go-button’ was pressed. Mazzagatti made a move high and took the lead from Riddle. As he did that, Adams tried to follow suit, but Riddle got on the brakes earlier than anticipated causing the two drivers to come together. After the yellow lifted, Mazzagatti led the field with Whipkey on his back bumper. Whipkey barely allowed Mazzagatti the opportunity to get a couple of inches away as he kept the pressure on his former track owner. With a lap to go, the yellow flew for two semi-related incidents for the slowing cars of Dave Martin and Jeff Taylor. This meant that the race would restart under a green-white-checkered rule. Mazzagatti took the field to green, Whipkey tried the high side of Mazzagatti, and John Sanquist Jr. tried Mazz’s bumper. The three came across the line under a blanket with Mazz taking the win in thrilling fashion with Sanquist and Whipkey almost dead even for second.

Brent Shreffler had never won at Barberton except for a few heat races, until this weekend. After starting last at Midvale the day before and finishing third, Shreffler rode the momentum to a win at Barberton. When the green flag flew, Hayden Nails from Painesville, and former Modified driver Justin Courtney brought the large field to speed. Nails led up until the first yellow for a small scuffle involving a couple cars, most notably Scott Kitchen. Nails’ lead would end there as Courtney took the top spot. Courtney commanded much of the event until Shreffler made a pass for second over Jeremy Salliger and then Courtney for the lead just before halfway. A quick yellow for a cleanup for a blown motor from Leeza Moore, and the race resumed, and it was flat out green racing until the end. What appeared to be a Sunday drive for the fastest qualifier was anything but as ‘Big Money’ Erik Johnson also passed his way up to second on track just behind Shreffler. Making his first start at Barberton since his 2019 cavalcade win, Johnson began working Shreffler over. Giving Shreffler little love taps in traffic, Johnson ran an honest race against Shreffler, whom he has some serious respect for. As the laps began to tick away, the duo kept up the thrills without any of the spills. Shreffler would take home the win just after 9:45 giving the track plenty of time to set off their fireworks to celebrate America’s independence.

 

RESULTS: (*denotes heat win)

Bandoleros:

1- Ryan Gardner*

2- Ayden Kitchen

3- Ryan Likens

 

Legends:

1- Aaron Mulrooney*

2- Greg Rudzik

3- Austin Tapia (disqualified for frame height infraction)

4- Ritchie Kuhn (disqualified for frame height infraction)

5- Derik Gacom

6- Chris Breads

7- Chuck Witt

8- Brett Bauman

 

Street Stocks:

1- Dennis Wood

2- Preston Walker

3- Kylee Wood

4- Gerald Altizer

5- Brandon Donley

6- Jeff Kuykendall*

7- Erik Ellis

 

Modifieds:

1- John White

2- Aaron Prater

3- Bob Sibila

4- Doug Mate*

5- Jason Drew

6- Steve Jones

7- Mike Walsh

8- Sam Bigham

9- Shawn Lewis

10- Norm Taylor (DNS)

 

Late Models:

1- Mike Mazzagatti

2- John Sanquist Jr.

3- Gary Whipkey

4- Roger Smith

5- George Riddle*

6- Jesse Adams

7- Jeff Walker

8- Larry Baker

9- Jeff Taylor

10- Dave Martin

 

Compacts:

1- Brent Shreffler*

2- Erik Johnson

3- Will Custer

4- Sheldon Sommers

5- Jeremy Salliger

6- Justin Cortney

7- Cody Collmar

8- Alyson Smith

9- Tim Farrar

10- Cheston Collmar*

11- Kenny Betts

12- Hayden Nails

13- Chris Kennedy

14- Dustin Wyckoff

15- Chad Greenland

16- Brandon Ditto

17- David Nestor

18- Brian Miller

19- Todd Daniels

20- Noah Patterson

21- Leeza Moore

22- Billy Miller

23- Scott Kitchen

24- Tabb Friend