Danny O’Brien cruises to first Memorial Cup win at Mohawk International Raceway
AKWESASNE – After several weeks of frustration caused by Mother Nature, Mohawk International Raceway was finally given clear skies and warm temperatures making a perfect race night Friday for the first time this season.
In the 24th running of the Memorial Cup, part of the Frenchie's "Chevy Runs Deep" 358 Modified Series, Billy Dunn and Jordan McCreadie led the field from the green and Dunn charged into the top spot.Dunn, the two-time and defending track champion, had built up nearly a full straightaway lead over McCreadie, Tom Conklin, Joel Doiron and Danny O'Brien, and Dunn soon had made his way into lapped traffic and was looking for another dominant win. But on lap 6 Dunn would come to a stop on the back stretch bringing out the yellow.
This left Jordan McCreadie with the lead on the next restart as he took the top spot away over Conklin, Doiron, O'Brien and Brian McDonald. McCreadie had a fast car and he began to build up almost a full straightaway lead as Danny O'Brien made his way to second by lap 14 with Conklin, Doiron and McDonald right behind.
On lap 16 the yellow flew for Jason Fetterly as he slapped the turn four wall. On the restart O'Brien used the outside of the speedway to take over the top spot from McCreadie as Conklin continued in third.
O'Brien was clearly the class of the field as he used the bottom side of the speedway to build up a huge lead on the rest of the field as behind him Jordan McCreadie and Brian McDonald were having a great battle for second, a battle they would continue to have until the yellow flew for the final time on lap 40.
On the final restart O'Brien jumped out to another big lead and would hold it the rest of the way for his first ever Memorial Cup victory. McCreadie would hold McDonald at bay for second with Tom Conklin fourth and Chris Raabe was able to slip by Joel Doiron for fifth
In Sportsman action defending track champion Corey Wheeler set the pace early on as he took the lead from the pole at the start of the 25-lap event with Dylan Evoy, Mike Maresca, Brent Kelsey and Louie Jackson Jr. completing the top five in the early going.
Wheeler was fast in the opening laps while behind him Maresca was able to get by Evoy for second as the leaders began to enter lapped traffic by lap 10.
Wheeler had a stout car but Dylan Evoy got back around Maresca into second and after a nice move in traffic Evoy was the new race leader over Wheeler, Maresca, Kelsey and Robert Delormier. On lap 14 the first yellow flag came out as Jasmine David spun in turn two. On the restart Evoy continued to lead. Mike Maresca had problems with his race car as a shower of sparks came from the right rear but was still able to run in the top three. On lap 19 Wyatt Mullin would slow on the backstretch bringing out the yellow. Maresca was able to duck into the pits but would end his fantastic run for a top-five finish. On the restart Evoy he held on to the top spot and would pull away in the final seven laps to score the big opening night win with Wheeler coming home second, followed by Robert Delormier, Brent Kelsey and Ryan Stabler.
The Bandit class had a double header on this opening night and the first feature went right down to the wire. Randy Whiting had a fast car at the end of 2013 and was fast on this night as he held the top spot during the final half of the 10 lap feature. Corey Castell was on his tail as they raced hard on the final lap. Coming into turn three Castell was able to get the run he was looking for. As they charged off turn four Castell was able to steal the win away with Whiting taking second, early race leader Darryl Mitchell was third followed by Nolan Swamp and Tim Tupia.
In the Bandits nightcap, an red flag flew after Nolan Swamp took a hard tumble down the back straightaway. Swamp climbed from his car uninjured and walked back to the pits under his own power. Randy Whiting was involved in a close finish again in this event as both he and Matt Zira were involved in a battle for the top spot through the entire 10 lap distance. Whiting made several attempts to take the lead away but Matt Zira stayed steady and strong to claim his first win at Mohawk in the Bandit class. Whiting settled for second again with Corey Castell, Darryl Mitchell and Tim Tupia rounding out the top five.
The Mod Lite class also had a double feature. The first 12-lap affair saw a battle between 2011 track champion Mathieu Robinson and Harley Brown who was in search of his first career Mod Lite victory. Brown was able to draw alongside of Robinson several times but was unable to complete the pass as Robinson grabbed the win in the first race by two car lengths over Brown, Scott Waldrif, Dan Desnoyers and Jesse Hudson.
In the final Mod Lite feature Scott Waldrif was looking to grab another win on opening day as he won the opener a year ago in Mod Lite. Waldrif took the lead from early pace setter Dan Reif and begin to pull away. Dan Desnoyers who ran in Pro Stock last season was on the charge as he reeled in Waldrif and would have a great battle for the lead in the closing laps. Waldrif was not to be denied as the new proud father of a baby boy took his car to victory lane for the first time in 2014. Desnoyers settled for second with Robinson, Dan Reif and Jesse Hudson completing the top five.
Next week the 358 Modifieds will have the night off but the Empire Super Sprints will be set to make their only appearance of 2014 along with a full show for Sportsman, Mod Lite and Bandit. Racing begins at 7:30 pm.
Mohawk International Raceway is in Akwesasne, N.Y., midway between the Seaway International Bridge to Cornwall and the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino. From Route 37, turn south onto Frogtown Road. Racing is held on Friday nights at 7:30 pm from May through September, featuring the Frenchie's Chevrolet DIRTcar 358 Modifieds, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, Mod Lites and the Bandit division.
There is more info at www.MohawkInternationalRaceway.com and 518-358-9017.
The MIR office is at the track, which is owned and operated by Mohawk International Raceway, LLC.
COREY CASTELL, Randy Whiting, Darryl Mitchell, Nolan Swamp, Tim Tupia, Darryl Mainville, Matt Zira, Scott Banker
Mod Lite 5/23
MATHIEU ROBINSON, Harley Brown, Scott Waldrif, Dan Desnoyers, Jesse Hudson, Kevin Foster, Brad Reif, David Brown, Tim Reif, Dan Reif, Nick Mallette, Henry Lamica
Frenchie's "Chevy Runs Deep" 358 Modified Series Memorial Cup
DANNY O'BRIEN, Jordan McCreadie, Brian McDonald, Tom Conklin, Chris Raabe, Joel Doiron, Lance Willix, Ryan Arbuthnot, Matt Woodruff, John Mulder, Travis Stacey, Carey Terrance, Charlie Rice, Delbert Legrow, David Papineau, Gage Morin, Jason Fetterly, Billy Dunn
DYLAN EVOY, Corey Wheeler, Robert Delormier, Brent Kelsey, Ryan Stabler, Darryl Nutting, Mike Arquiett, Justin Lalancette, Thomas Cook, Zach Arquiett, Adam Rozon, Wyatt Mullin, Ricky Thompson, Brianna Ladouceur, Billy Cook, Brad Winters, Louie Jackson Jr., Mike Stacey, Joel Hargrave, Andrew Fish, Neal Provost, Scott Mere, Scott McGill, Jasmine David, Delbert Legrow, Ryan Helm, Mike Maresca, Bryan Green
SCOTT WALDRIF, Dan Desnoyers, Mathieu Robinson, Dan Reif, Jesse Hudson, Harley Brown, Brad Reif, David Brown, Tim Reif, Kevin Foster, Henry Lamica, Nick Mallette
MATT ZIRA, Randy Whiting, Corey Castell, Darryl Mitchell, Tim Tupia, Darryl Mainville, Scott Banker, Nolan Swamp