Jimmy Zacharias Wins Chemung’s 51-Lap Sunoco Modified Race Honoring Ed McGuire
By RAY HODGE
It was a night of ‘thanks for the memories’ in honor of Ed McGuire, a racing fixture as a racer and car owner for many years in the twin tiers of PA and NY. Nearly 40 businesses and individuals donated money to boost the purse for the top six finishers in a special 51-lap Sunoco Modified race. When it was over it was Jimmy Zacharias who shook Ed’s hand in victory lane following his win. Other winners included Jim Lamoreaux (Super Stocks), Jacob Gustafson (4 Cylinders), Kevin Youngs (INEX Legends), and Dominick Wood (Bowen Racecars Bandoleros). They celebrated in front of the Speedrome’s biggest crowd so far this year, as fans continue to adjust to the return to Saturday night racing at the ‘Drome.
In recent weeks, Jimmy Zacharias had rated his car’s performance as low as 70%, from victory lane. On Saturday night he had it at 110% following his dominating win of the 51-lap Sunoco Modified feature, run in honor of Ed McGuire. The boosted purse and big trophy were overshadowed by his emotional comments about Ed and his dedication of the win to his late grandfather, uncle and close friend he recently lost within 36 hours.
Zacharias won his heat and started the feature in eighth. It took him 10 laps to get to, and pass, Gene Sharpsteen. But once he did his #71 disappeared and built up a sizeable lead.
Behind him, Sharpsteen and Charlie Sharpsteen battled for 2nd while Connor Sellars and Zack Knowlden charged toward that battle. Sellars got around Charlie and ran nose-to-tail with Gene for 25 laps. The caution flag came out when Sellars and Gene Sharpsteen spun with 37 laps complete. Gone was the leader’s huge lead, and gone were two from the top five who restarted at the rear.
Knowlden moved up to second and restarted alongside Zacharias with 14 laps to go. Zack Curren, making his first 2017 appearance, was up to fourth and he restarted alongside Jesse Kent in the second row. Curren didn’t forget anything and moved up to third as Andy Lewis entered the picture and fought Paul John for fourth for several laps.
Up front, Zacharias again drove away as the leader, but the gap separating him from Knowlden was the same as the one separating Knowlden and Curren. When it was over Zacharias had his fourth 2017 win over Knowlden, Curren, Johnson and Lewis.
This win brought out emotions in Zacharias. “This one is dedicated to my mom’s dad and my uncle. They and a friend all passed away in a 36-hour period and it was tough on all of us,” he said. He also thanked Ed McGuire for all he’s meant to so many racers over the years. McGuire shook his hand and then thanked Chemung and all the sponsors for putting on the event. “I love you all and can’t tell you what this means to me,” he said. Judging by the crowd size and applause he received, the night also meant a lot to many others.
“Old guys can still get the job done,” the crew of former track champion Jim Lamoreaux said as they helped him get out of his winning Super Stock. Lamoreaux picked up his second win, but first since May 27th in the 25-lap feature. RJ Zacharias and Nick Robinson got things started by winning their respective heats. Handicapping put John Lane and Lamoreaux on row one for the start. Lane capitalized on that and led the way before losing the lead to Lamoreaux on the fourth lap. Tim Gullo made it an all-37 battle when his M37 was right with Lamoreaux’s 37X. Terry Potrzebowski closed the gap and made it a three-car breakaway. The first caution came out when Robinson spun off turn two. Lamoreaux held off Potrzebowski, who was up to second, leaving Gullo and Zacharias in a tussle for third. Just after Lamoreaux took the white flag, Robinson spun in turn four to set up a green/white/checkered finish. This was Potrzebowski’s final shot at the top spot. Lamoreaux was perfect over those final two laps and scored his second win of the year after two disappointing recent finishes. “I can’t be happier to win on a night when Ed McGuire is honored. I still have a rear in the shop we bought from him years ago,” Lamoreaux said from victory lane. He left with a $200 bonus and special trophy made possible by the many sponsors of the evening. Potrzebowski’s motor failed a post-race compression test and he was disqualified. That brought Zacharias up to second, Mike Nichols third, Frank Chapman fourth, and Gullo fifth.
Yellow fever plagued the 20-lap 4 Cylinder feature as the caution came out five times with just four laps completed. Sarah Gooch was the early leader before yielding to Jacob Gustafson, who had had some minor mechanical issues the past few weeks. Point leader Zack Bennett was on the move and up to second early on. He and Gustafson have pretty much ruled the division this year and remain close in points. Triston Kline, who had two weeks to repair his heavily damaged race car, was also stout and engaged in a great battle with Ben Perry for third. The sixth, and final, caution came out when Greg Moldt slowed with a flat right front. Again, Gustafson got the better of Bennett on the restart while Perry, who had overtaken Kline for third, took off. Perry was flying fast in this one, and he passed Bennett and began to reel in Gustafson. Time was not on his side but was for Gustafson, who sailed to his third overall win this year. “We’ve had some issues but we worked hard and I had a car that got me here tonight,” he told the crowd. Perry’s second place finish was his best this year, and he finished ahead of Bennett (RWD winner), Moldt and Kline.
“That was the hardest I had to work all year,” point leader Kevin Youngs said from victory lane following his fifth INEX Legends win this season. Kyle Youngs and Daniel Carter won the heats while handicapping placed Carter and Teddy Bowen in row one for the 20-lap feature. Bowen led the opening laps but Pat Judson got around him on lap three. Kyle Youngs, with nowhere to go, tagged the turn one foam and sustained race-ending damage. Judson led when racing resumed but Kevin Youngs was right with him. Kevin took over on lap eight, leaving Judson in a battle with Bowen for second. When something broke on Mike Alcaro’s car it drove him into Bowen and brought out the second caution. With Youngs and Judson lined up beside each other again for this and a final restart, many were left wondering if anyone else would win this year at Chemung. Fans of Connecticut racer Noah Komer knew if anyone could it as him. He got around Judson for second but ran out of time to lodge a serious effort for the lead. Kevin Youngs held on and won, this time in a hot battle with Komer, Judson, Keith Youngs and Teddy Bowen. “The car was really fast, they put up a good fight, and I’m worn out,” Youngs said from victory lane.
Dominick Wood celebrated his career-first win in the Bowen Racecars Bandolero division after holding off and then passing point leader Garrett Zacharias for the win in the 10-lap feature. It was a sweep for Wood, who had earlier won his heat race. Fellow heat winner Brian Rygielski led the opening lap before an inside pass by Wood on the second lap. The race was slowed a lap later for a three-car spin. Wood prevailed on the restart and over the next seven laps the race featured two battles – for the lead with Wood and G. Zacharias, and for third with Brian and Evan Rygielski. Zacharias made a last lap pass in turn one but Wood powered around the outside and scored the win. Zacharias was second, followed by B. Rygielski, E. Rygielski and Seth Zacharias. The race result is unofficial pending conversation with INEX.
This Saturday night (July 22nd), the Sunoco Modifieds will run in a pair of 20-lap features. The Super Stocks, 4 Cylinders, INEX Legends and Bowen Racecars Bandoleros will also be in action, beginning at 6 PM. Pits open at 4 PM, grandstand gates open and practice gets underway at 5. Admission is $13 for adults, $11 for seniors 65+, $5 for kids 6-12, and free for kids 5 and under.
· Jimmy Zacharias, Jim Lamoreaux and Jacob Gustafson won the “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” bonus for free wings at Buffalo Wild Wings in Horseheads, NY.
· During intermission track announcer Carol Houssock read a letter penned by Ed McGuire, who shared memories of his racing career and brought laughter on occasion from the crowd.
· Kerilyn Curtis, a 50/50 seller and recent high school graduate, spent her final Saturday night at the Speedrome this year, as she and her twin brother left for basic training in the Navy Reserves the next morning.
· The largest crowd of the year resulted in the largest 50/50 payout this season.
· Melissa Dekay won a pair of passes to Sunday’s Summer Slam event at Five Mile Point Speedway.
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Sunoco Modifieds (51 Laps): JIMMY ZACHARIAS, Zack Knowlden, Zack Curren, Paul Johnson, Andy Lewis, Charlie Sharpsteen, Connor Sellars, Jesse Kent, Gene Sharpsteen, Nick Morich, Gary Coon, Corey Mosher, Chris Clemens, Damon Frutchey, TJ Zacharias, TJ Potrzebowski, Don Mosher
Heats: J. Zacharias, Kent, C. Sharpsteen
Hard Luck Award: Potrzebowski
Sherwood Racing new wheel: Sellars (7th place finisher)
Super Stocks (25 Laps): JIM LAMOREAUX, RJ Zacharias, Mike Nichols, Frank Chapman, Tim Gullo, Jason Duke, Nick Robinson, Jordan Mathews, Jim House, JP Harbst, Chad Lane, John Lane, (DQ: Terry Potrzebowski, compression, finished 2nd)
Heats: Zacharias, Robinson
4 Cylinders (20 Laps): JACOB GUSTAFSON, Ben Perry, Zack Bennett (RWD), Greg Moldt, Triston Kline, Tyler Harbst, Kevin May, Jason Peck, Ricky Lane, Sr., Allen Stephenson, Sarah Gooch, Paul Platt, Alexander Browne
Heats: Kline, Bennett
INEX Legends (20 Laps): KEVIN YOUNGS, Noah Komer, Pat Judson, Keith Youngs, Teddy Bowen, Chuck Lohmeyer, Gary Ham, Daniel Carter, Timothy Bowen, Derrick Debbis, Alex Bowen, Patti Pruitt, Charlie Lohmeyer, Mike Alcaro, Kyle Youngs
Heats: Kyle Youngs, Carter
Bowen Racecars Bandoleros (10 Laps – UNOFFICIAL UNTIL CONTACT WITH INEX): DOMINICK WOOD, Garrett Zacharias (Outlaw), Brian Rygielski, Evan Rygielski, Seth Zacharias, Josh Duke, Griffin Montfort-Balfour, Jeffrey Noe
Heats: Wood, B. Rygielski