For Immediate Release

Article and photos courtesy of Billy McKinney and Christie Hrdlicka

Barberton Speedway: with the many twists and turns that have been presented in 2020, one thing has been normal. Short track Saturday night at Barberton Speedway. With the Ohio Gold Cup being put into place between the tracks of Midvale Speedway and Barberton Speedway to help Late Model and Modified drivers travel and race at both tracks, expectations were high for not only solid car counts, but racing packed to the brim with action. With Bandoleros and Legends off for the week, four regular weekly divisions were pitside with an extra special Compact division on hand consisting of Midvale Speedway Compacts making the trip after the delay to their home track’s 2020 season. Long features were on deck and extra prize money was in the purse for the drivers. Overall, the night was shaping up to be a good night of fun side by side racing. If you were a racer, you hoped you ate your Wheaties, and if you were a fan, you hoped you could time trips to the concession stands perfectly between races in order to soak in all the racing.

On hand first was the Street Stock division and Jeff Kuykendall took home the win over a fast charging Dennis Wood. Points leader Gerald Altizer and Midvale Speedway regular John Tantarelli headed up the front row with eight more hungry Street Stocks behind them. When Ed Tenney dropped the green flag, Tantarelli got the jump around Altizer high off of turn two and began leading. Brandon Donley followed suit in 2nd place with Kuykendall and others thrashing it out for third. Going into turn one on lap three, Donley and Kuykendall came together and stacked up. Kuykendall snuck by high, but Kylee Wood could not avoid making contact with her teammate. She slammed into him and got rear ended by Tim Westerfield, who was in a one-off start in his #4. With a threat of fire, the race stopped while officials and staff pulled the cars apart carefully. Donley was done, but Wood and Westerfield were able to continue with heads-up repairs from their respective crews. The race resumed after a fifteen-minute delay with Tantarelli still up front. He would lead much of the race, but when a yellow flew for a spinning Altizer off of turn four, the dynamic of the race changed. On the restart, Tantarelli and Kuykendall threw caution to the wind and began to slug it out for the lead. Kuykendall would take the lead after several ‘hold-your-breath’ laps and would check out shortly after. While he checked out, Dennis Wood had worked from the back to the front and was quietly stalking Kuykendall. With Wood in tow, Kuykendall had to race hard enough to stay out front of the multi-time champion, but not so on the edge that the car became upset. The perfect balance worked as the laps ticked away and Kuykendall took home the win with Wood a couple car lengths back.

The dust had settled, and the sun was set when the Modifieds took to the track and Rick Elkins beat out the best of the best to take his first win at Barberton in recent memory. Starting on pole alongside Sandusky winner Sam Bigham, the green flew for 20 screaming, pounding, earth-shaking Modifieds. Elkins got advantage on Bigham and began to attempt to set into a comfortable pace. Sadly, many early spins due to mechanical handling issues by drivers kept the field close through the first part of the race. As a result, Elkins got plenty of practice at restarting the race as the leader and had some of the best to his right. Bigham, Norm Taylor, last week’s winner Todd Ripley, and others ran alongside the blue #51 of Elkins on many restarts. Just before halfway, a restart between Elkins and Ripley saw Ripley actually take the lead from Elkins. Just as it seemed as the race was potentially to set into a routine, a spin by a couple drivers in the rear once again stacked the field up. On the restart, Ripley and Elkins got into the gas together, but then the #00 of Ripley shot into the infield with some sort of mechanical issue, ending his race after leading. Elkins was once again out front, and this time Bryce Allensworth was to his outside. The duo ran hard side by side for several laps, but disaster for Allensworth struck when he and Elkins got together. Allensworth chased his car high up the track, but he pounded the wall resulting in a blown tire and broken suspension component. With Allensworth out, Bob Sibila moved to 2nd alongside Elkins. The resulting restart saw Sibila slide back a position to third as Elkins led and John White worked to 2nd. White began to track the #51 of Elkins but ran out of laps as the 40-lap race had finally ended after a record number of cautions and three red flags for fluid cleanups. Elkins took home the win and showed that he has perhaps one of the area’s top Modifieds.

It was getting late and no time was better than now to see the Late Models roll on track and witness Doug Sommers beat out the best after 50 grueling laps of excitement. With 13 entries (12 started due to Dave Martin surrendering his starting position due to mechanical troubles), it was time to go for gold in the Ohio Gold Cup! Larry Baker and Sommers started up front with Mike Mazzagatti and Gary Whipkey in row two. The green flew and Sommers squeaked past Baker for the lead high off of turn two. The race started off clean and green until lap ten when a spin brought the 12 cars back together. On the restart, Sommers got the jump on Baker. Baker worked the high side hard but would eventually fall to the likes of Mazzagatti, Jesse Adams, Roger Smith, and more. This meant that Sommers ran out front with Mazzagatti, Adams, and Smith in tow for the next fifteen laps. Near halfway, another yellow flew for a spin by Larry Baker set up a halfway distance restart. On the restart, Sommers jumped past Mazzagatti but pushed tight in turn three. He gathered up the car after getting it woed up but Mazzagatti and others stacked up behind the #3. Mazzagatti would spin off of the front of Whipkey. Further back, two other cars weren’t as lucky as Austin Thiel and George Riddle both got heavy damage to their nose pieces which pierced their radiators. A restart followed the red flag for cleanups and Sommers and Mazzagatti brought the slightly smaller field to speed. A couple quick yellows flew for spins out back before the race finally got up to speed. On one such restart, Mazzagatti’s left-front tire made contact with Sommers’ right rear tire and knocked Mazzagatti’s toe in. His car began to get loose and he would get into the wall off of turn two. He slid across the track right into the path of Jeff Taylor, ending their nights. Sommers would once again resume the race as the leader, and he would survive many late restarts, and swipes at the lead by Smith, Adams, Whipkey, and Gene Molnar to take the win. Molnar snuck past Smith on the final restart to get second in a feel-good finish as Sommers had finally made his first race back since shoulder surgery and Molnar had showed that his small team could race with some of the best.

Sadly the night had ended as the track had hit the city of Norton-issued curfew. With fear of a hefty fine and other legal issues, track owner Greg Prunty made the decision that the night would end. He met with the Midvale Compact drivers and gave them all a refund plus tow money as many are expected to travel as a unit across many tracks in Ohio. As for the weekly drivers, they will get free admission into next weekend’s Midseason Championship race provided that they bring back the transponders. The features may be moved, but there were still some smiles as Chris Kennedy, Sierra Stewart, and Midvale Compact driver Jamie Leslie took home heat wins in hotly contested races. The makeup race for weekly drivers will have an added purse and be run before next week’s ‘s regular racing program. Further announcements regarding race length, start times, and other potential changes to agenda will be made here on the Barberton Speedway Facebook page.

FINISHING ORDERS: (*Denotes heat/dash win)

Street Stocks:

1- Jeff Kuykendall

2- Dennis Wood

3- Preston Walker

4- John Tantarelli*

5- Kylee Wood

6- Gerald Altizer

7- Frank Boychi

8- Tim Westerfield

9- Ron Miller

10- Brandon Donley

Modifieds:

1- Rick Elkins

2-John White*

3- Bob Sibila

4- Bob Page

5- Brian Whetnall

6- Michael Stone

7- Doug Mate

8- Sam Bigham

9- Bryce Allensworth

10- Steve Jones

11- Todd Ripley

12- Norm Taylor

13- Mike Walsh

14- Tyler Nuckles

15- Nathan McCauley*

16- Brad Lemmerman

17- Nick Grubbs

18- Shawn Lewis

19- Chad Lemmerman

20- Zack Leasure

21- Kurt Hennings (DNS)

Late Models:

1- Doug Sommers

2- Gene Molnar

3- Roger Smith*

4- Larry Baker

5- Gary Whipkey

6- Jesse Adams

7- Mike Mazzagatti

8- Jeff Taylor

9- Chris Grubbs

10- George Riddle

11- Jeff Walker

12- Austin Thiel

13- Dave Martin (DNS)

Compact Heat Winners: Christopher Kennedy, Sierra Stewart, Jamie Leslie