Fall Brawl Kicks Off At Shangri-La
TIOGA CENTER, N.Y. – Day One of Shangri-La II Motor Speedway’s annual Fall Brawl went off without a hitch under clear skies, unlike the rainy Saturday one year ago.
Trophies went home with Tony Hanbury (Sportsman Modified), Jake Wylie (Big 10 Super Stock), Dave Russell (Late Model), and Scott Shafer (4 Cylinder). Mike Ramos left with the inaugural Big 10 Championship in a closely contested battle with Lee Sharpsteen for that honor.
Tony Hanbury drove what he described as the best handling car he’d ever driven at Shangri-la 2. The car is owned by Dan Kurzejewski, is set up by Zane Zeiner, is powered by a Morgantini engine, and is wrenched by Tommy Gush. That proved to be an insurmountable combination Saturday night in the 60-lap Sportsman Modified feature.
Jimmy Zacharias, Hanbury and John Wilber got things rolling by winning their respective heat races. Luck of the draw put Zacharias on the pole for the feature and Tom Shiner alongside for the start of the 60-lap race. The opening lap, good for Jimmy Z, was race-ending for his brother TJ Zacharias, however. He bobbled coming off turn 2, tried to correct it, but both he and Tommy Rought slid up into the outside wall and both were done.
When the green came back out Tyler Rypkema quickly got around Shiner and ran with Zacharias. Hanbury and John Wilber, who had started 8th, were on the move and running third and fourth. Both Rypkema and Hanbury made their biggest moves on lap 12, when Rypkema took over the lead and Hanbury then passed Zacharias for second. Rypkema and Hanbury then pulled away. Hanbury then moved up the track and overpowered Rypkema on the back stretch of lap 23 for the lead.
Dayton Cote’s contact with the turn 2 wall brought out the 2nd caution with 28 laps completed. During the caution Wilber and Jody Buckley pitted for service. When the race resumed it wasn’t for long, as Jerry Dineen’s No. 11 dropped flaming oil over a good portion of the track at the halfway point (lap 30). For the restart it was Hanbury and Zacharias on the front row. Jimmy Z got to the inside of Hanbury and reclaimed the lead. Hanbury had to wait 12 laps before he passed Zacharias and then pulled away.
Over the final 20 laps most eyes were on Wilber, whose pit stop gave the #4 some magic. He weaved his way toward the front, passed Zacharias, and cut Hanbury’s advantage to 2 seconds when the checkered flag flew. Hanbury got the win, followed to the line by Wilber, Zacharias, T Rypkema and Lee Sharpsteen.
“I can’t say enough about this car,” Hanbury said from victory lane. “All these guys gave me the best handling car I’ve ever had here.” He said he made an error on a restart but regrouped and did what he had to do. “Running with Jimmy was great, he raced me clean, and this is a good end to a not-so-good year for us.” Zacharias was one of the first drivers to congratulate him in victory lane.
The touring Big 10 Super Stock series ended their inaugural season at the Fall Brawl with a healthy 30-car field attempting to qualify. By night’s end they had a new face in victory lane (Jake Wylie) and their first champion (Mike Ramos).
The 3 heat races went to Wylie, Bill Frisbie, Jr. and Tim Gullo, while Lee Sharpsteen took the consi. Three cars failed to qualify, and 1 failed to start the 35-lap feature.
The first of six cautions came out on the opening lap when Jason Duke, Sr. spun in turn 3. Pole-sitter Mike Nichols, who was leading at the time, spun on the third lap after some help from Tim Gullo. Since both would restart at the rear, both opted to pit. That gave the lead to Charlie Sharpsteen, who held it until Gary Noe got around him on the 6th lap.
The next two cautions were for Robert Fink, whose smoking car eventually dropped fluid on the track. After the clean-up Noe and Jeff Goodwin brought the field back to the green. Their battle was just as intense as the one behind them for third, involving Jake Wylie and Steve Shultz. With 27 laps complete Shultz spun on the front stretch and backed into the pit wall, ending what had been an impressive run.
Noe was strong on the restart, leaving Goodwin, Lee Sharpsteen and Wylie together. That all changed while working lap 30. Noe and Goodwin bumped, Noe spun into the outside wall off turn 2, and a small engine fire erupted. While under the red Noe ran to Goodwin’s car and smashed his windshield with his helmet. That action resulted in his disqualification on an otherwise nearly flawless day at the track.
The final six laps boiled down to a battle between Wylie and Sharpsteen, with Nichols back up to 3rd. He got around Sharpsteen but could go no further. Wylie took the checkered, followed by Nichols, Sharpsteen, Billy Coyle and Mike Ramos.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. I was faster than the 1 and the 05 and they kept banging off each other,” Wylie told the crowd. “Everything was perfect today.”
So, too, for Mike Ramos – his fifth place finish sealed the deal and earned him the 2013 Big 10 Super Stock Series championship.
Track officials shortened the Late Model feature to 30 laps for the 7 cars competing. Former track champion Travis Fisher won the heat race and drew pole position. The first attempt at starting the race wasn’t a good one and the cars lined up for a re-do. That one worked and Fisher left Scott Nurmi and Bob Weber side-by-side for 2nd. The first caution came with 5 laps complete when Joe Berretta went hard into the turn 1 foam, ending his race shortly after it began. The restart led to more of same – Fisher leading, and the great battle for 2nd between Nurmi and Weber. Weber got to the inside on the 8th lap, took over 2nd, and was closing on Fisher.
The pivotal race moment came while working the 12th lap: Fisher and Nurmi side-by-side, contact, and then both spun in turn 4. Ron Nurmi’s car, coming upon the scene, then blew its engine. Several cars pulled into the pits, leaving just three to run the remaining laps. When the green flew again, for the final time, it was the 93 of Dave Russell out in front of S Nurmi and Fisher. On the 15th lap Fisher found an opening inside Nurmi and took over 2nd. By lap 30 Russell had nearly a full straightaway lead and scored the big win. Fisher finished second, with Nurmi third.
Scott Shafer had the field of 4 Cylinder cars covered as the slick No. 67 won both his heat race and the 20-lap feature with a couple impressive moves in going for the top spot. Waynton, Oklahoma’s Alan Blackwell and the track’s 2013 champion, Gene Purvis, started on the front row and Purvis took the lead, which he only held for two laps.
Shafer tucked his car to the inside in turn 3 and had the lead on lap 3. Once in front he increased the gap between himself and Purvis, but behind them a great battle ensued for 3rd. Heat winner Devon Bailey had the spot but Nick Morich wanted it. The only caution came out when Morich went up in smoke, ending that duel. Over the final laps Shafer again led Purvis and that’s where they’d finish. Bailey came home 3rd, followed by Blackwell and B Morich.