Lawson Scores At Black Rock
DUNDEE, N.Y. — Donnie Lawson was the dominator of the sportsman division at Black Rock Speedway for many years, but even he conceded that the improvement in the competition level in the last couple seasons has made his trips to Victory Lane tougher to come by.
On Friday though, he found a way to get back there and did it in thrilling style.
Lawson, a three-time track champion, held off defending champion Brady Fultz in a wild drag race to the finish that saw the No. 11 win by two feet in the first of two 20-lap features on “Double Sportsman Night” at Black Rock Speedway.
Lawson started on the pole and had a healthy lead when the race had its only caution flag wave on lap eight. After the restart though, Brady Fultz was on a mission, driving down to the bottom of the track. Fultz took second place on lap 14 and then quickly chopped down the gap between himself and Lawson. Fultz showed the nose on lap 15 but was unable to complete the pass, which woke Lawson up.
“I was kind of cruising there for a while,” admitted Lawson afterwards. “We had a softer tire on and the car was starting to go away. I should have known better than to take it easy because I saw (Fultz) on the (score) board.”
Once Lawson was aware of his competition, he moved his line down to the bottom, forcing Fultz to run the top side. Fultz was able to stay side-by-side with the leader, but as the duo were coming to the checkered flag, a lapped car was slower in the middle of the front stretch, forcing them to split him and sprint to the finish. The result would be Lawson winning by only a few feet, with Fultz second and Chris Fisher third. Nicole Hoag and Loren Lincoln rounded out the top five.
In the second 20-lap feature, the top 18 finishers of the first event were inverted, which made things wild in the opening laps. On lap 2, a pileup on the front stretch resulted in the No. 30 of Gary Hotelling flipping over on to his roof. He would be alright.
Scott Waters led until lap nine, but Ray Bliss, who turned more laps on the 4/10-mile oval than any other competitor on Friday, found something in the middle groove of turn three and four that allowed his No. 12 to be a touch better than the letter, and helped him drive in to the lead on lap coming to halfway. Bliss would not look back from there, scoring his first win at BRS since August of 2011.
Bliss would have a comfortable advantage to the finish, while opening night winner Chris Daugherty worked hard to come home in second. Brady Fultz got the better of Donnie Lawson this time around, crossing in third. Rounding out the top five was Ron Carwright Jr.
Jason Knowles had to be disappointed when his brother Brian beat him by a foot at the line in the heat race, but it would be the lowest point of his night as he looked flawless in the late model feature, allowing him to drive to his first win at BRS since July of 2011.
Knowles moved in to the lead on lap three of the feature, just as defending track champion John Waters and heat race winner Brady Wondelring came together, resulting in damage for each of their rides that would force them out early. Knowles’ biggest challengers the rest of the way would be the lapped cars that made the path to Victory Lane a little more arduous for the driver of the No. 4.
Bruce Miller, who won on opening night, moved into second quickly but was not able to close the gap between him and the leader fast enough to repeat. Behind Miller would be a wild battle for third place, with Jared Hill outlasting Brian Knowles. Ray Bliss rounded out the top five.
It was perhaps coincidental that Jake “The Snake” Karlnoski was snake-bit by a run of bad luck on opening night, but his fortunes turned around on Friday as he scored the second street stock feature of the season.
Karlnoski led all 20 laps to equal his win total of 2012. The driver of the 55x had to endure a tenuous moment on a lap 4 restart when he and Jeremy Potzrebowski came together heading in to turn one on the races first restart, resulting in a spin by Potzrebowski. On all ensuing restarts, Karlnoski was solid, especially on the races final one on lap 9 when he stretched his distance to a full straight away as he felt no comfort or security in his advantage. Dylan Cecce was the nearest competitor in second, as he held off Rich Sharpsteen II, who completed the podium positions.
Jake’s father, Rich, was unable to join his son in Victory Lane, as he was already strapped in to his IMCA Modified, which was up next for their feature, a race where once again the 55x received the double-checkered flags. Karlnoski took the lead from J.J. Courcy on lap 14 and never looked back as he built a healthy lead and then survived a final-lap restart to score the win. Courcy would hold for second while defending champion Mike Smith was third.
J.J. Kreidler was the only driver that won on opening night to that repeated on Friday Night, as he took the lead in the 4-cylinder feature on lap 9 and walked away to a comfortable victory. Rick Horton was a significant distance back in second, but had a healthy lead over Scott Bradley, who ran third for much of the race and finished in that spot. Craig Mahrt won the FWD 4-cylinder feature.
In their only appearance of the season, the Midstate Vintage Stock Car Club took the spectators on a trip down memory lane, with Larry Doolittle leading the charge, dominating in a familiar No. 7 in his only race in the class all year. Newcomer Barney Waldron was the top sportsman competitor in his first appearance in the division while Kavin Winton, who made the long tow up, was the top limited sportsman.
At the beginning of the night, Brandon Mathews rebounded from his opening night disappointment in a big way by leading wire-to-wire to score the win in the bandit division. Mathews was challenged by Allison Teed who was side-by-side for the lead coming to the white flag, but Mathews put his No. 33 to the bottom and was able to hold her off for the victory. Joey Rodbourn was third.