FOR IMMEADIATE RELEASE

Article and pictures provided by Billy McKinney and Christie Hrdlicka.

Barberton Speedway: The sun was beginning to set on the 2020 season. With just a handful of opportunities to capture the elusive checkered flag, drivers came into this week with that very issue in mind. A win could mean everything, and anything to anyone. To some, it would pad their points position. To others, it’s stock as they begin to search for sponsorship over the offseason. Some see it as bragging rights. Others see a win as testament to their crew’s hard work and determination. In a sense, a win is the ultimate medication to make this year worth anything.

The first race on hand this weekend was the Bandolero division and a surprise first time winner in Ryan Likens began the racing action off right. When the race started, Likens sped to the front and began to hold the lead with points leader Ryan Gardner close in tow. Gardner dove low on Likens and took the lead on lap three. Gardner would lead only lap three as Ayden Kitchen would pass him in turn one on the following lap. Kitchen appeared to have the win locked down as he had quite a fast car and owned the heat race. But just as the trophy was ready to go to the 2005 Rusty Wallace-themed #2 of Kitchen, his car spun off of turn number two. This sent Kitchen to the rear and gave the “Ryan and Ryan Show” the front two spots. With Ryan Gardner in first bringing Ryan Likens in second back to speed on the restart, Likens found speed up high and took the lead. With only four laps to go, Gardner tried everything in his bag of tricks to make the move but Likens was too strong up high. Gardner would try to stuff it down low and pull even with Likens, but Likens used the high side and RPM’s to get runs off of the high side. Coming to the checkers, Likens took home the win with Gardner and Kitchen close in tow. It was Likens’ first win and many teams and drivers celebrated with the division’s youngest driver.

The Legends were on hand and Aaron Mulrooney lined up win nine. When the green flag flew for the field of seven, Chris Breads shot out front to the lead. Breads was on rails this week after battling his car last week following a flip the week prior. With setup perfect, the #01 was nearly unbeatable. While Breads breathed in the clean air from the lead, Aaron Mulrooney was making moves in the back on his journey to the front. Mulrooney started shotgun on the field and was pulling off two and three wide moves on the bottom and top as he reached closer to the lead. By lap seven, Mulrooney was breathing down the neck of the back-to-back Bandolero champion. This set up a thrilling battle for the lead which saw Breads attempting to keep Mulrooney at bay. It appeared that Breads may have bested Mulrooney, but one slip up on the throttle off of turn four allowed Mulrooney to take the lead. He would lead the final several laps and take home his ninth win of the season.

While the small open-wheel cars pulled off of the track, the big open wheel cars pulled on to the track, and Bob Sibila took home the win. When the green flag flew, Mike Walsh led the first lap but got passed by Steveie Jones. Jones was on rails tonight and was using the middle groove to keep the RPM’s up on his flaming #79 modified. He led the next five laps while Doug Mate tried to make something happen on Jones. Just as Mate looked to have something lined up, he got passed by Sibila. Sibila began to size Jones up and made the pass in turn one a little before halfway. He would battle Jones down the backstretch and brake late into turn three to get the advantage. As Sibila hit the brakes, sparks flew, showing he was hard on them. But nevertheless, he had secured the lead and began to run conservative laps to allow his car to relax in the event of intense battle later in the race. This strategy was for the best as a couple laps later, the #0 of Lucas Ripley made his way to the front part of the field and began to challenge Sibila. The duo began to wage a gentleman’s war, but war nevertheless, as the two titans delivered strategic blows toward one another. Never making contact, the battle consisted more on wit and skill. With plenty between the two, the fans were treated to a spectacular Barberton battle. The laps ticked away and Sibila emerged the winner with less than a car length of room between he and Ripley. It was his first win since season opener.

Jeff Kuykendall took home win #4 on the season after some race-long battling and grinding with Preston Walker. When the green flag flew, points leader Gerald Altizer led the drivers to green and led the first couple of laps before getting passed by Kuykendall and Walker. Kuykendall held the lead and ran a conservative pace, similar to that of Sibila the race before, and did just enough to keep Walker at bay. Walker dug deep into his bag of tricks and made the #12 of Kuykendall sweat. Going into turn three with only a handful of laps to go, Walker dove low on Kuykendall and made the move for the lead. Kuykendall answered the maneuver the following lap in turn one. Diving low, he took the inside line and the duo ran side-by-side down the backstretch. Walker, believing he was clear, dove low into turn three, but Kuykendall was there. They made contact, and the #87 of Walker went spinning. Walker went to the rear, and Kuykendall retained the lead. He would hold off advances from the field to take home the win.

The monkey was off of Jesse Adams’ back and the #1 was back to being #1 in the late model division. The green flag saw Adams grab the lead from Larry Baker and the opening portion of the race was run incident-free with Adams out front. As the laps began to tick away into the history books, Adams saw a threat emerge in his mirror in Mike Mazzagatti. Mazzagatti had been fast all day and was looking to find a way around Adams. Using the bumper to gently remind Adams of his presence, Mazzagatti ran an aggressively clean charge on Adams, much to the delight of the fans. But as the las ticked away, the risks taken were higher and higher. Going into turn three, Adams left a little daylight. Mazzagatti went low, and the duo came together. Adams spun, Mazzagatti locked his brakes to avoid Adams, and third and fourth place drivers Roger Smith and Jeff Taylor locked their brakes to avoid the spinning duo. Mazzagatti served the penalty but retired from the event with damage. Adams would hold off Smith and Taylor to take home his first win of the season after many trials and tribulations.

Cash in the check for ‘Big Money’ Erik Johnson as he rallied to a win in the compacts! When the green flag flew for the 16-car field, last week’s winner Chris Kennedy took to the front. Showing speed in his Cavalier, Kennedy proved that last week’s win was no fluke as he held off challenges from many of the best, including Cody Collmar, Dustin Wyckoff, and others. While Kennedy led, fast qualifiers Sheldon Sommers and Johnson were weaving their way through the traffic. While Johnson had an easy go of the traffic, Sommers did not. Just before halfway, Sommers got hit by another driver, spun off of turn four, came down into traffic, and was t-boned by Chad Greenland. Both parties were okay, but both cars were in a state of disrepair. The red flag gave crews time to clean to racing surface and the field time to catch Kennedy. When the race resumed, Kennedy found himself battling veteran Dennis Garrett in his ‘Tigger’ themed #4. Kennedy held Garrett off, but could not hold off his next challenger in Erik Johnson. Johnson sped past Kennedy on the high side and took the lead. He would lead out the rest of the event and survive a couple restarts and win over ROTY candidate Kenny Betts. Johnson was rushed from victory lane via golf cart so he could strap into his Midwest Touring Compact while track photographer Billy McKinney took Johnson’s car off of the track (in a semi graceful manner).

The Midwest Touring Compact division was a traveling division of built front wheel drive cars consisting of domestic and foreign makes. Drivers from Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and other states made up the bulk of the field, but it was a local driver in Kyle Finlayson who took glory not once, but twice. With the Midwest Touring Compact division devoted to raising awareness for Down’s syndrome which affects the human body’s 21st chromosome, the entire distance of the race was split into two 21-lap segments making up an entire 42 lap feature. Finlayson took home the win in the first 21-lap segment of the race after battling hard with Jake Albright. Albright had the lead and win in sight, but Finlayson took the lead with less than five laps to go to win segment one. With many competitors dropping out of the first 21-lap race, instead of having a 42-lap long single feature which would see many competitors many laps down upon resumption of the event, the race officials decided to run the event with two 21-lap features instead, to allow everyone a shot at the win. Finlayson took home prize money for his win and joined the field for race two. He would once again take the lead from Albright and win the second race of the night.

FINISHING ORDER: (*Denotes heat/dash win)

Bandoleros:

1- Ryan Likens

2- Ayden Kitchen*

3- Ryan Gardner

4- Chloe Mazzagatti

Legends:

1- Aaron Mulrooney

2- Chris Breads

3- Austin Tapia*

4- Chuck Witt

5- Derik Gacom

6- Bill Lyden

7- Hogan Zegarelli

Modifieds:

1- Bob Sibila

2- Lucas Ripley

3- Todd Ripley

4- Doug Mate*

5- Stevie Jones*

6- Zack Miller

7- Shawn Lewis

8- Corey Beatty

9- Mike Walsh

10- Ron Ridenour

11- John White (DNS)

Street Stocks:

1- Jeff Kuykendall

2- Preston Walker*

3- Gerald Altizer

4- Rich Satola

5- Dominic Cicconetti

6- Ron Miller (DNS)

Late Models:

1- Jesse Adams*

2- Roger Smith

3- Jeff Taylor

4- Larry Baker

5- Dave Martin

6- Mike Mazzagatti

Compacts:

1- Erik Johnson

2- Kenny Betts

3- Dennis Garrett

4- Scott Kitchen

5- Sierra Stewart*

6- Jesse Knox*

7- Logan Collmar

8- Dustin Wyckoff

9- Chris Kennedy

10- Cody Collmar

11- Will Scott

12- Hunter Combs

13- Cheston Collmar

14- Donnie Howe

15- Sheldon Sommers

16- Chad Greenland

17- Mike Scott (DNS)

Midwest Touring Compacts: (Race 1 results in parentheses)

1- Kyle Finlayson (1)

2- Jake Albright (3)

3- Clayton Oliver (8)

4- Erik Johnson (4)

5- Justin Courtney (10)

6- Eugene Kopp (5)

7- Jacob Gustafson (6)

8- Tobiace Wheeler (2)

9- Derek Robinson (9)

10- Chris Harmon (11)

11- Bob Sibila (DNS Race #2, finished 7th in Race #1)