Canandaigua, NY – May 26, 2012 – Auto racing has always been a numbers game. Saturday on Corvettes By Turner-American Equipment Nite at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, figures continued to flourish as the five feature winners combined to reach victory lane 15 times in 2012.
Led by Parts Plus Street Stock chauffeur Russ Marsden, who increased his track-high win total to five through seven shows, Matt Sheppard (Original Pizza Logs Modified) and Marc Minutolo (Pure Stock) registered their third victories while Paul Guererri (Safety Awareness Solutions Sportsman Modified) and Billy Brown (New Legends Sportsman) returned to the winner’s circle for the second time as racing at the Ontario County Fairgrounds in the month of May came to a close.
The Memorial Day Weekend holiday program included Family Autograph Nite with hundreds of fans taking advantage of the special occasion by venturing trackside during intermission for a unique meet-and-greet with their favorite racers.
Sheppard provided the grandstand throng with another unforgettable performance as the Waterloo driver forced the fifth and final lead change on lap 21 before out-distancing runner-up Billy Dunn for the decisive victory.
“Billy ran a heckuva race, its really fun racing with him,” remarked Sheppard, as he continued on course for a second straight Big-Block points championship at the ‘Land of Legends’ layout. “We ran side-by-side, lap after lap and never touched once. Seemed like the car just kept getting better and better the longer the night went on.”
And it was certainly a lengthy affair as the 45-minute Modified marathon was slowed by seven cautions and a rare red flag. Yet Sheppard crept closer to the front before each delay, advancing from 16th starting position in the potent JB Motorsports no. 9s F.X. Caprara Car Co.-Xtreme Lubricants/Bicknell entry to take his first lead from Dunn on lap 15.
Dave Rauscher bolted from fourth to first on the opening circuit before the red lights flashed for a mid-pack mix-up. With his mother Jane flying in earlier from down under, Australian Peter Britten got turned around exiting turn four and slammed the front wall in the wild chain of events. With no place to go, Danny Johnson plowed in, although he was able to return after a pit stop while Britten was done for the night without a single lap complete.
Rauscher maintained the point until a lap 10 restart shook up the order, with Chad Homan taking over the lead until Dunn charged past the next time around. A turn one/two tangle involving Rich Scagliotta, Justin Wright and Daryl Hilkert incurred another yellow flag, putting ‘Super Matt’ into the Top-5 with just a dozen laps scored.
The scariest moment of the night unfolded when front-runner Vince Vitale failed to fire on a second lap 13 restart, sending almost the entire field scrambling behind him in the turn four melee. Sheppard was unscathed although Dave Allen was less fortunate as his mount sat sideways at the start of the frontstretch.
Sheppard wasted little time back under green flag conditions, moving under Dunn to become the fourth different leader after 15 laps. Dunn returned the favor two laps later yet couldn’t hold off ‘Super Matt’ who nosed ahead for good on lap 21 en route to opening up a commanding 2/3-straightaway margin at the checkers. Alan Johnson, Steve Paine and Gary Tomkins rounded out the front-five.
“We just keep coming back with the same (set-up), its been working for us here the last 3-4 years,” noted Sheppard, on the heels of his 25th career Big-Block victory at Canandaigua to keep him 7th on the all-time win list. “We’ve had a good car here for quite awhile, just stick with it and try to make it a little better every time back.”
“We talked about maybe over-thinking things earlier in the year. Just went back to basics and we got back to victory lane again. Just try to keep things simple,” added Sheppard, after increasing his division points lead ahead of new runner-up and last week’s winner Jimmy Phelps.
A new Troyer chassis for Guererri has proven to be a simple fix for the veteran open-wheel campaigner from Geneva after Canandaigua’s career Sportsman win leader notched his 29th triumph at the hallowed half-miler.
While leading nearly flag-to-flag in the final show of April to score his initial win, the ‘G-Man’ needed almost the entire distance to get the job done against weekly rival Steve Gray in the 25-lap Safety Awareness Solutions finale run one month later.
“This (win) goes out to the Proctors, they’ve got an illness in the family to overcome,” stated Guererri, who dedicated the latest triumph to his sponsor Proctor Roofing in a fitting holiday tribute. “Everybody here knows I’m not used to running the top but this car has been absolutely awesome all year. This new Troyer car is unbelievable.”
Gray muscled by outside pole-sitter Jimmy Maier on lap seven after the lead pair had built up a healthy lead ahead of Joe Cook Jr. and eighth-place starting Guererri. The mount of Frank ‘Bubba’ Burnell Jr. suddenly came to stop in turn four, resulting in the first yellow flag on lap 13 and erasing the gap between the frontrunners.
With plenty of three-wide racing visible throughout the pack, Gray and Guererri grabbed the most attention as they battled bumper-to-bumper from lap 15 on. Mirroring nearly every move of the leader, Guererri swept by with a surge of speed exiting turn four to complete lap 22 and held on for a narrow four car-length victory at the line.
“I saw Steve running the bottom and knew the only way around him was to try the outside,” figured Guererri, as he described the winning move made aboard his no. 7 Pizza Logs-Al Raymond Collision special. “So I just kept going deeper and deeper and deeper. (Car) was sticking and I got alongside him once and knew the next lap I’d be able to get him as long as I just didn’t hop the cushion.”
Guererri stayed glued in the high groove to make the winning move, with Gray posting his best finish of the young season ahead of the son/father tandem of Justin and Todd Henderson, and Maier. Justin had relinquished third to Todd on lap 24 before ducking underneath and edging his father by a yard at the line.
The entire CMP staff and fellow racers at his Saturday night home extend a sincere ‘get well’ wish to popular Big-Block Modified pilot Gil Tegg Jr., who was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident last Monday. Tegg, who steers the Gil Tegg Mobil Mart no. 22 All-Star Pizza-Mayfield’s Pub/Troyer entry, underwent 7-1/2 hours of surgery after sustaining 4 broken vertebrae, 3 broken ribs and a compound fracture in his right arm during the early morning crash. Please send all notes of encouragement to Gil at 1440 Blossom Road, Rochester NY 14610, as he already harbors hopes of returning to the fairgrounds for competition next season.
The third full month of short-track action at Canandaigua Motorsports Park opens on on Saturday, June 2 when Victor Mobile Home Parks presents a full five-star show of Original Pizza Logs Big-Block Modified, Safety Awareness Solutions Sportsman, Parts Plus Street Stock, Pure Stock and New Legends Sportsman plus a return of the Castner Performance 305 Sprints on Military Appreciation Nite. Pit gates unlock at 4pm, grandstands open at 5pm and the first qualifying heat goes green at 7pm.
A complete schedule is posted on www.CanandaiguaMotorsportsPark.com along with updated point standings, driver rosters, photo gallery and the latest breaking news. Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org to join the e-mail list, or register with http://www.twitter.com/Canandaigua_MSP to keep up-to-date on-line and through text messages on cell phones via Twitter.
For more information, please contact Jeremie Corcoran via cell 315-374-2839 or e-mail email@example.com. Contact CMP Marketing Director Joe Bailey (585-500-8852, firstname.lastname@example.org) during the week to discuss marketing opportunities still available at the track in 2012.
Canandaigua Motorsports Park is located at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, east of the city on Town Line Road (County Road 10), with easy access off either Exit 43 (Manchester, Route 21 South) or Exit 44 (Farmington, Route 332 South) of the New York State Thruway, just ½-hour southeast of Rochester.
Event Summary – May 26, 2012
Corvettes By Turner-American Equipment Nite
Original Pizza Logs Big-Block Modified
*Feature (35 laps): 1. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 2. 49-Billy Dunn, 3. 10j-Alan Johnson, 4. 7x-Steve Paine, 5. 84-Gary Tomkins, 6. 99j-Jimmy Phelps, 7. 3-Justin Haers, 8. 91-Chad Homan, 9. 8r-Rob Bellinger, 10. 8-Rich Scagliotta, 11. 48too-Dave Rauscher, 12. 19w-Justin Wright, 13. 10-Tim Currier, 14. 3m-Henry Maier, 15. 88-Dave Allen, 16. 38m-Ryan Susice, 17. 56-Vince Vitale, 18. 27j-Danny Johnson, 19. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 20. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 21. 57b-Colton Chappius, 22. 4-Daryl Hilkert, 23. 5*-Tyler Siri, 24. 21a-Peter Britten, 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr.(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Britten, Sheppard, Currier, Vitale, Allen, Rauscher, Scagliotta, Wright, Susice.
#2: Haers, Phelps, Paine, Homan, Podsiadlo, Hilkert, Maier, Payne.
#3: Tomkins, Dunn, A.Johnson, Bellinger, D.Johnson, Dinkins, Siri, Chappius.
Safety Awareness Solutions Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 7-Paul Guererri, 2. 29g-Steve Gray, 3. 21-Justin Henderson, 4. 18h-Todd Henderson, 5. 3m-Jimmy Maier, 6. 12g-Matt Guererri, 7. 31-Kane Bristol, 8. 66-Dan Wiesner, 9. 22-Greg Cool, 10. 67g-Eric Giguere, 11. 25g-Nick Guererri, 12. 76-Rob Bussey, 13. 20x-Kevin Ridley, 14. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 15. 4-Greg Martin, 16. m1-David Marcuccilli, 17. 48b-Stu Sheppard, 18. 8-Joe Cook Jr., 19. 02-Loren Lincoln, 20. 1j-John Wilber, 21. 16k-Kaitlin Pashina, 22. 57b-Frank Burnell Jr., 23. 5-Tom Keyes, 24. 17j-Josh Livingston.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Sheppard, Gray, Marcuccilli, P.Guererri, Burnell, Lincoln, Wilber, Livingston.
#2: Cool, Bristol, Giguere, Ridley, Lloyd, Cook, Pashina, Keyes.
#3: J.Henderson, T.Henderson, M.Guererri, Martin, Maier, N.Guererri, Wiesner, Bussey.