FULTON, NY – September 29, 2012 (By Dave Medler) – In front of a huge crowd Saturday at the Fulton Speedway the Outlaw 200 was full of great side by side racing, controversy and at the end of 200 laps there was a first time winner.
Pat Ward, out of Genoa, NY, one of the most popular drivers at the Fulton Speedway and other tracks he competes at took home the exciting and popular win. Ward took the lead on lap 148 after a huge controversy erupted in the stands and the pits when Stewart Friesen pulled a slide job on leader Jimmy Phelps that saw Phelps get over the cushion. Depending on your point of view, some say it was just a racing move while others said it was uncalled for. Phelps retaliated on Friesen a couple of times under yellow and then was shown the black flag ending his night.
Once in the lead, Ward held off all challengers as he outran 2010 winner Brett Hearn by 0.809 of a second at the checkers.
Billy Decker and Steve Paine brought the hungry 42-car starting field down to the green with Decker grabbing the early advantage to start the Sunoco Fulton Ethanol Facility Outlaw 200 presented by SUNY Canton.
After a couple early caution periods the race settled into a rhythm with a great battle up front between Decker, Jimmy Phelps and Danny Johnson. Behind the top-three no matter where you looked throughout the 42-car field there were battles all over for position.
After a 4 lap caution period, Jimmy Phelps got a great restart as he blasted by Decker to be scored the new leader on lap 18.
With 25 laps showing on the scoring tower, Phelps built up a ten-car length advantage over Decker as he started to catch the back of the field. Just behind the top-two Johnson, Pat Ward and Stewart Friesen fought for top-five spots.
By lap 40, Phelps and Johnson were in a torrid battle for the lead as they were putting on a show racing in and out of traffic. Decker, Ward, Friesen and Brett Hearn fought for position as they tried to keep the leaders in sight.
A caution on lap 44 would give everyone a breather as there was racing going on around the entire Fulton Speedway surface.
When the green came back out, Phelps would maintain the lead for one lap before Danny Johnson, using the top, would drive by Phelps to be shown the leader on lap 49.
The most serious incident of the night would occur just past the halfway mark of the first 100 laps when cars got out of shape on the front straight sending Mark Kislowski into a roll over. Kislowski was okay after exiting his car.
On lap 60 Johnson, Phelps, Decker and Ward were in a tight fight at the front of the field as they were using the top, middle and bottom of the track looking for an advantage. Ronnie Johnson was in striking distance of the top-four showing in fifth.
The yellow would fly on lap 65 giving the drivers a chance to regroup for the push towards the 100 lap break. On the restart Phelps got a great jump as he drove back into the lead on lap 68.
With 25 laps to go in the first half, Phelps held onto a slim two-car advantage over Johnson as Ward started closing in on the top-two. Friesen and Ronnie Johnson waged their own battle for fourth and fifth.
On lap 80 Phelps switched lanes as he went high in three and four and low in turns one and two trying to find speed to stay ahead of Danny Johnson. With Johnson still putting pressure on Phelps, disaster struck Johnson as he suddenly slowed and stopped in turn one. Johnson was able to fire his car and head to the pits but his great run was now over.
Over the last 20 laps of the first segment Phelps and Ward didn’t race like they were just trying to get to the pits to make adjustments as they ran like they were going for the win. Friesen, Alan Johnson who started 22nd, Decker, Chad Brachmann who started 31st,Brett Hearn, Kevin Bates, Rich Scagliotta and Ronnie Johnson would be the top-ten to start the second 100 laps of the race.
After accepting the Halfway Leader Award, a full car graphics from Dan Pilat and Pilat Graphic Designs ($750 Value) Jimmy Phelps related that his car was so good he told his crew not to change a thing except for tires.
When the green came back out Phelps bolted out to a half a straightaway lead over Ward and the rest of the field. Just like the first segment the tight battles weren’t just up front, but all through the pack keeping everyone entertained.
With 120 laps showing on the scoring tower, Phelps was setting a quick pace out front with Ward only a couple car lengths behind. Hearn, Decker and Friesen rounded out the top-five at that point.
The whole complexion of the race would change on a caution on lap 145. After the field circled the track for the incident they lined up for the restart and the green came back out in turn three. Friesen who was running third saw an opening and pulled a slide job that saw the leader Phelps moved over the cushion in turn four to lose the lead.
The crowd erupted with cheers and boos. Depending on your point of view, the slide job was either a clean move or a dirty move. Phelps, under yellow, showed his displeasure with Friesen more than once and was warned by officials to back off. When Phelps didn’t, he was shown the black flag and sent to the pits.
When calm was restored and the green came back out Ward took full advantage and drove off to a half a straightaway lead over Friesen by lap 160. Hearn, Rich Scagliotta and Ronnie Johnson raced for top-five positions and were still capable of winning the race.
As the laps starting clicking off and cars positioned themselves for a shot at the win or a strong finish Friesen was still running second on lap 174. Suddenly he slowed bringing out the yellow, ending his run at the $20,000 payday.
With 10 laps to go Ward was on rails as he ran quick on the bottom in one and two and high in three and four as he could almost see victory in a race he has come close to winning so many times in the past. Ronnie Johnson, Hearn, Sheppard who came from the back of the field after an early race incident and Ryan Phelps chased Ward.
A yellow would fly on lap 194, the last thing Ward wanted to see, as Ronnie Johnson who only visits Fulton once a year for the Outlaw 200 saw his race end with mechanical problems.
After track crews got Johnson to the pits it would set up a green, white, checkers dash to the finish. When the green came back out Ward was not to be denied the win at his own home track as he outran 2010 first time winner Brett Hearn to the checkers. Matt Sheppard, Rich Scagliotta and Ryan Phelps rounded out the top-five. Billy Decker, Peter Britten, Chuck Bower, Chad Phelps and Chad Homan completed the top-ten.
The usually calm Pat Ward did a celebration roof dance on his Gypsum Express/ Stadium International Trucks/ LJL Kevlar Racing Engines/ No.42P/Bicknell and threw fist pumps to his crew, friends and fans after finally bagging the Outlaw 200 in one of the most popular wins seen in the history of the race.
“We had a good car. I don’t know what happened with Jimmy (Phelps) and Stewart (Friesen) Jimmy was really good. We would get on long runs and the fuel load burned off we had something for them. I have been top-five, top-three in this thing so many times. Been coming here forever, I am happy,” said Ward after he was able to make his way through well-wishers and congratulatory hugs and handshakes in a full victory lane.
Ward was asked when he knew he had a car that could win the race? “Right at the end of the (first) 100 we could run right with Jimmy (Phelps) it was a heck of a duel. I think Stewart (Friesen) got a little antsy on that restart, slid up in front of Jimmy and opened the door. I thought once I got into the lead, as good as this car was, they were going to have a heck of a time getting back by me.”
“We have been so close, this has been my favorite race forever. This Gypsum Express car was dynamite all night. We were a little slow after a fuel load was put in, we got going good after that. I could go another 200 laps that’s how good this car was.”
John and Laura Wight, Harvey Fink, Cory Reed and the entire Fulton Speedway staff would like to thank all the sponsors, competitors and fans who made the 27th Annual Sunoco Fulton Ethanol Facility Outlaw 200 Weekend a huge success. Plans are already underway to make 28 even bigger and better.
( SUNOCO FULTON ETHANOL FACILITY OUTLAW 200 PRESENTED BY SUNY CANTON) – PAT WARD, Brett Hearn, Matt Sheppard, Rich Scagliotta, Ryan Phelps, Billy Decker, Peter Britten, Chuck Bower, Chad Phelps, Chad Homan, Jeff Crambo, Chad Brachmann, Ronnie Johnson, Stewart Friesen, Mitch Gibbs, Brad Alger, Matt Hulsizer, Jimmy Phelps, Doug Manmiller, Jim Mahaney, Kevin Bates, Alan Johnson, Justin Haers, Robbie Bellinger, Todd Burley, Jason Potter, Mike Mahaney, Brian Murphy, Danny Johnson, Tom Sears Jr., Larry Wight, Chris Hile, Jimmy Davis, Matt Fink, Tim Fuller, Mark Kislowski, Steve Paine, Alan Barker, Jason Rood, Dale Planck, Mike Bowman, Gary Tomkins.
(Lap Leaders) Billy Decker 1-16/Jimmy Phelps 17-48/ Danny Johnson 49-67/ Jimmy Phelps 68-147/ Pat Ward 148-201.
79 Drivers / 8 heats/4 consi’s set the 42 car starting field.
Halfway Leader Award – Complete Car Graphics From Pilat Graphic Design $750 Value- Jimmy Phelps
Hard Charger Award – One Drum Of Sunoco Race Fuel From MNR Racing Fuel – Jeff Crambo
Anonymous Fulton Fan $250 for first Fulton Speedway Modified Regular Not To Qualify – Dan Vauter
Utica Rome Speedway $1,000 bonus for track regular winning the race – Pat Ward
(CIRCLE OF CHAMPIONS CLASH 15 LAPS) – BRETT HEARN, Stewart Friesen, Jimmy Phelps, Dale Planck, Mitch Gibbs, Matt Sheppard, Billy Decker, Jason Potter, Vern Harris.