Clapperton Takes $1,500 Thunder Mtn Prize
CENTER LISLE, N.Y. – Mike Clapperton picked the right night to visit Thunder Mountain Speedway Victory Lane.
Clapperton, of Sidney, N.Y., overcame his early season misfortune to collect a much-needed $1,500 payday in Saturday night’s big-block/small-block Modified ‘Spring Championship’ at the three-eighths-mile clay oval. The veteran driver won for the first time in 2014 in thrilling fashion, holding back the advances of a hard-charging Mike Mahaney.
Mahaney, looking for his second straight Thunder Mountain win, and Ryan Jordan flashed under the stripe side-by-side on Clapperton’s rear bumper in a finish that brought the season’s largest Saturday night crowd to its feet.
“This was the right night to hit it with the ‘Spring Championship’ extra money on the line,” Clapperton said after exiting his self-owned No. M16 Bicknell. “We’ve had a good car all year: we’ve just been the victim of those chain-reaction deals. It’s all part of racing, but we haven’t had much luck at all.”
Clapperton started the 30-lap main event from third position. Early on, outside-pole starter Billy Spoonhower set the pace. However, Clapperton gradually reeled him in. On lap eight, Clapperton ducked to the bottom to slip into the top spot.
“It looked like Billy had a good car early,” Clapperton said. “He got away from me a little there, but either he was backing up or I was getting better and I caught him.”
As Clapperton led, the battle for second intensified involving Steve Cummings, rookie Jordan and a quick-running Mahaney.
Sixth-starter Jordan pressed his No. R21 HigFab mount into the runner-up spot on lap 18. Mahaney followed into third a lap later.
Following a 27th lap caution, Mahaney completed a go-for-broke pass for second. One final yellow, on lap 28, put Mahaney’s Olum’s-sponsored No. 21 on the rear bumper of Clapperton.
Mahaney throttled up to Clapperton on the penultimate lap, but shoved the nose of his car, bringing Jordan into the fray. Clapperton raced across the line as the winner, with Mahaney, of King Ferry, N.Y., edging Dryden, N.Y.’s Jordan at the wire for second. Jordan, a Sportsman graduate, finished a Modified-best third.
“It’s good to be back here,” Clapperton said of Thunder Mountain. “Karl has done a great job with the place and it’s only going to get better. I missed running up here the last couple years.”
Nick Rochinski of Dickson City, Pa., recovered for fourth after dropping out of the top-five early and point leader Brent Wilcox of Binghamton, N.Y., finished fifth after starting ninth.