By CRAIG REVELLE
AKWESASNE -- A great night of racing in all 4 divisions took place this past Friday at Mohawk International Raceway as Dig Safely of New York was on hand. Both the fans and night sponsor were treated to some of the closest finishes of the 2014 season.
In the 358 Modifieds Matt Woodruff showed his muscle in the early going by racing out to the early lead. Woodruff recently switched his efforts from asphalt to dirt in 2014 and did not look out of place as he held command of the field in the opening four laps. Brian McDonald has been winless at MIR for a long time and was able to get the lead away on lap five over Woodruff and Carey Terrance. With the race going caution free during most of the event, Terrance's car kept getting faster as he took second from Woodruff and quickly closed in on the race leader as the top two closed in on lapped traffic.
Behind the lead battle, Chris Raabe was also on the move after starting deep in the field. At the halfway point he closed in on Matt Woodruff for third and would take the spot away with Ryan Arbuthnot completing the top five. Up front, Terrance put all kinds of pressure on McDonald for the lead but the man they call "Slim" was up to the task as he held onto the top spot, despite racing through heavy lapped traffic.
On lap 21 the first and only yellow came out for Zack Aubertine as he slowed with problems in turn three. Under the same yellow, Raabe broke the left side of his shock tower but would remain in the third spot for the next restart. When the green came out McDonald got a great start as he pulled away from Terrance, but behind the top two.
Billy Dunn made a big move to go from sixth to third, with Ryan Arbuthnot moving to fourth and Matt Woodruff rounding out the top five. Over the final three laps, Terrance tried inside and outside but could not pull off the pass as Brian McDonald ended his long winless streak at Mohawk with his first win of the year. Terrance took his sixth top five finish of the year with a second place run. Billy Dunn, Ryan Arbuthnot and Matt Woodruff claimed his best finish on dirt coming home fifth.
The Sportsman division provided the closest and best finish of the night as former Mod Lite champion Bryan Green took control for the first three laps of the event over Brianna Ladouceur, Mike Stacey, Joel Hargrave and Greg Ezard. Green had one of the fastest cars on the speedway as Ladouceur tried to keep pace.
On lap six, the first yellow flew for Ezard, who was clipped by Adam Rozon while running sixth. Ezard would slow with a left front flat tire but would return to action. On the restart Green continued to lead over Ladouceur and Mike Stacey as the top three once again broke away from the rest of the field. Green would hold the lead for the next four laps until the yellow flew for Mike Maresca, Adam Rozon and Wyatt Mullin as they tangled off turn four. All drivers were able to pull away.
On the restart, Ladouceur took over the top spot over Green, Corey Wheeler, Dylan Evoy and Mike Stacey. Ladouceur started to drive away but both Evoy and Wheeler were on the move and were able to get past Green just past the halfway point but had almost a straight away to make up on leader Ladouceur.
On lap 13, the yellow flew again as Adam Rozon's tough night continued as he spun to the infield. When the green flew, Ladouceur was able to fend off both Evoy and Wheeler and pull out to a comfortable lead but lapped traffic would soon come into play.
With seven laps to go, Wheeler made a strong move for the lead but Ladouceur used lapped traffic to her advantage and held Wheeler at bay while Dylan Evoy tried to keep pace in the third position, Bryan Green held onto fourth and Mike Stacey continued his solid run in fifth. With one lap to go, Wheeler drew alongside of Ladouceur in turns one and two and raced side-by-side into turn three.
As the top two approached lapped traffic Wheeler held a half car-length lead. Ladouceur fought back coming to the checkered flag, but would end up 0.091 seconds short of her first career win as Corey Wheeler notched his fifth win of the year and a flat left front tire, in a nail-biter of a finish over Ladoucer, Dylan Evoy, Bryan Green and Mike Stacey.
The TUSA Mod Lite Series saw 20 cars take to the speedway and Jeff May had his way with the field at the start of the event with Dan Desnoyers, Jim Bogett, Harley Brown and Dan Reif completing the top 5 early on. May was the fastest car on the race track as he drove out to a commanding lead in the opening laps. Rookie Dan Desnoyers had an impressive showing as he raced hard all night with TUSA regular Jim Bogett for the second spot but Bogett was able to get the advantage at the halfway point.
On lap 14, the only yellow flew for Alexandre Pepin who spun on the front stretch. On the restart May drove out to a comfortable lead over Bogett while Dan Desnoyers had his hands full with veteran Paul Klager. After a great battle for third, Klager would get the spot but he could not catch Jeff May as he went on to score a dominant win in the TUSA Series event. Bogett held on for second over Paul Klager. Dan Desnoyers and Harley Brown had another impressive run coming home fifth at the checkered flag.
The Bandit division had a caution-free 12-lap event and it was a side-by-side battle between Matt Zira and the winner of the last two races, Randy Whiting. Zira held off numerous challenges though the entire feature while behind them Brockville Speedway regular Corbin Millar was on the charge as he rounded out the top three.
On the final lap, Whiting looked to have an edge but Zira rallied back on the bottom in turn one. As the top two headed down the back stretch, Whiting gave it all he had on the high side but could not get the run he wanted as Matt Zira grabbed his fourth win of the year over Whiting. Miller's first run at Mohawk in 2014 resulted in a third place finish while Scott Banker and Corey Castell rounded out the top five.
Racing action will resume on August. 15 with the Mohawk Racing Parts 40-lap Pro Stock Series race along with full shows in all classes and a kids tire race. The green flag drops at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 2 results:
Brian McDonald, Carey Terrance, Billy Dunn, Ryan Arbuthnot, Matt Woodruff, Chris Raabe, Tom Conklin, Danny O'Brien, Joel Doiron, Gage Morin, Roy Delormier, Dexter Stacey, Charlie Rice, David Papineau, Delbert Legrow, Craig Collier, Zack Aubertine, Lance Willix, Patrick Dupree, Jordan McCreadie, Bill Mullin, Casey Swamp, (DNS) John Mulder
Corey Wheeler, Brianna Ladouceur, Dylan Evoy, Bryan Green, Robert Delormier, Brent Kelsey, Mike Stacey, Mike Arquiett, Tyler Meeks, Wyatt Mullin, Louie Jackson Jr., Zach Arquiett, Mike Maresca, Joel Hargrave, Bruce Makinson, Brad Winters, Thomas Cook, Sid Harmer Jr., Scott Mere, Greg Ezard, Doug Buzzell, Ryan Helm, Eli Gilbert, Moise Page, John Greene II, Adam Rozon, Ricky Thompson, Billy Cook. Did not qualify: Jasmine David, John Greene III, Greg Snyder, Styles Arquiett
TUSA Mod Lite Series:
Jeff May, Jim Bogett, Paul Klager, Dan Desnoyers, Harley Brown, Mathieu Robinson, Dan Reif, Kevin Foster, Jessie Hudson, Nick Mallette, Stephane Bernier, Tim Reif, Pascal Laferniere, Rejean Lemieux, Brad Reif, Alexandre Pepin, David Brown, Karine Thibault, Martin Flaurent, Cameron Reif
Matt Zira, Randy Whiting, Corbin Millar, Scott Banker, Corey Castell, Shane Ray, Darryl Mainville, Alex Willett