Apr 6, 2008 12:58 PM EDT
Larry Wight and Nate Peckham Net $5,000 In Black Rock Lid-Lifter
1st Sportsman Win For Teenager Wight Claimed In Black Rock Series Stop
DUNDEE NY, Larry Wight chased the entire 2007 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series and came away with an eight-place finish in the final tour standings to secure Motorsports Safety Systems Rookie of the Year accolades.
Expected to move full-time into the DIRTcar Modified ranks, Wight made his first ---and possibly final--- career DIRTcar Sportsman triumph a memorable one as he collected a cool $5,000 in the 2008 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series ‘Pepsi 50’ opener Saturday at Black Rock Speedway.
Fifty-six open-wheel entries signed into the pits at ‘The Rock’ requiring six preliminary heats and three consolation round qualifiers to set the 31-car starting field. The top-two finishers in each qualifier re-drew with heat two winner Wight sharing the front row with pole-sitter Mark D’Ilario, a runner-up in race one.
D’Ilario and Wight swapped the top spot until home track favorite Todd Henderson charged high around D’Ilario to forge what appeared to be the final lead change on a lap 18 restart. Defending Super DIRT Week winner Sammy Reakes IV worked his way into third by lap 20 and the order remained intact until lap 49. Not much stayed the same after that.
With starter Scott Hixson ready to display the white flag to signal just one lap to go, D’Ilario suddenly nipped the uke tire low between turns one and two and sheared off the left front wheel to incur the seventh and final caution period. Reakes was left little room to maneuver and careened into D’Ilario’s Bicknell mount that had slid sideways exiting turn two.
While the field realigned under yellow, the right rear tire went completely flat on Henderson’s mount and he reluctantly limped into the pits following a rare black flag, settling for the inaugural ‘Holley Hard Luck Award’ in the aftermath. Steering the potent no. 99 Gypsum Express-Stadium International/Bicknell entry, the talented 15 year-old from Phoenix, New York unexpectedly returned to the point and ‘Wight Lightning’ staved off a last lap effort by Small-Block standout Billy VanPelt to capture the elusive victory, easily the biggest of his budding career.
VanPelt's No. v28 failed post-race inspection for an illegal carburator part, forefitting all points and monies earned.
Eric Giguere snuck past Jeremy Pitcher to grab third on the final circuit while former Big-Block pilot Scott Prentice filled out the front-five. Canadian campaigners Greg Panunte (6th), Boyd MacTavish (9th) and Mark Dixon (10th) helped complete the top-10 with Ray Bliss (7th) and reigning Black Rock Sportsman points king Brady Fultz (8th) salvaging payoff positions in between.
Nate Peckham Dominates Street Stock Showdown
In the final street stock race at Black Rock in 2007, Nate Peckham thought he should have won the $2,000 top prize; but six months later, patience was truly a virtue as he scored the largest win of his career.
Nathan Peckham, of Seneca Falls, outlasted a fierce field and survived a number of unique circumstances to capture the second leg of the season-opening “Pepsi Twin 50’s” at the Black Rock Speedway.
“This is one of the biggest careers I’ve ever had,” said the modest veteran of the street stock division. “It’s definitely the biggest payday.”
After winning the fourth heat race, Peckham started the 50-lap feature in third, taking the lead for the first time on lap 10 from Chris Fisher. Stuck on the bottom of the 4/10-mile, the 2005 BRS Street Stock Track Champion saw his lead disappear on a lap 18 caution for a cut tire on Mike Schultz’s No. 16. On the ensuing restart he would lose the lead to Jeff Bridge.
While Bridge seemed to have the strongest car, his luck ran out on lap 24 when the car suddenly slowed, forcing him to the pits for the remainder of the event. Peckham would then take back the top spot, taking the cross flags a lap later, and the double checkered’s 26 laps later.
“We weren’t that great this afternoon,” Peckham noted on a day when he pulled into the pits well after the first hot lap session. “We had to fix some things before the heats but I guess it worked out.”
While Peckham lead a majority of the event, he had a host of competitors who were at times just as strong as the No. 90. After Dave Mannise paced the first three circuits, BRS regular Chris Fisher jumped out in front for seven laps.
Rich Sharpsteen was also strong, but fell a lap down early in the race after cutting a right side tire. Sharpsteen would pressure Peckham for the final 20 laps, attempting to get back on the lead lap, but Peckham made sure to keep him in the rearview mirror so that Sharpsteen would never get a crack at him for the win.
Even in the final set of corners, the two cars not on the same laps sure didn’t act like it as Sharpsteen was within inches of the No. 90.
After a roof dance in Victory Lane, Peckham noted that while he will still pilot his street stock on a number of occasions in 2008, this season will also include a new venture, as he will be a rookie in the Sportsman Division at tracks around the area.
While Peckham was out in front for much of the event, those behind him were ever changing, as competitors fell victim to various ailments throughout the 20-mile season opener. When the final flag dropped, only the top five cars were on the track, with only seven still in competition.
Dave Pope, of Taberg, NY, started on the pole but slipped back to around fourth place for much of the race. As the laps winded down though, the No. 27 started the climb back forward, come home with a runner-up finish.
Bobby Boynton from Brooktondale started 23rd but did not stay there for long, as he methodically moved his No. 3L through the pack, placing in third. Rounding out the top-five were Rob Parker and Mike Wilbur Jr.
Thirty-six cars were on hand for this record-paying event. Heat races were captured by Sharpsteen, Mannise, Deryl Krebs and Peckham. Consolations wins went to Dave Bellis and Dan Matthews.
Racing actions continues next week at Black Rock Speedway with a jam-packed, excitement-filled racing card of sprints, modifieds, and much more, starting at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 12.
Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Race #1 – Black Rock Speedway, April 5, 2008 ‘Pepsi 50’ Event Summary
FIN STR CAR# DRIVER
1 2 99 Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY
2 15 v28 Billy VanPelt/Westfield,PA
3 4 67g Eric Giguere/Waterloo,NY
4 14 14 Jeremy Pitcher/Fulton,NY
5 3 17b Scott Prentice/Hastings,NY
6 6 99p Greg Panunte/Port Colborne,ONT
7 24 12z Ray Bliss/Warsaw,NY
8 17 70 Brady Fultz/Dundee,NY
9 11 00 Boyd MacTavish/St.Catharines,ONT
10 10 140 Mark Dixon/Durham,ONT
11 16 6 Mat Williamson/St.Catharines,ONT
12 19 52 James Friesen/St.Catharines,ONT
13 5 19w Justin Wright/Piffard,NY
14 22 2x Rob Knapp/St.Catharines,ONT
15 25 10 Tim Currier/Auburn,NY
16 26 12 Chad Chevalier/Port Colborne,ONT
17 8 18h Todd Henderson/Canandaigua,NY
18 9 17k Sammy Reakes IV/Palermo,NY
19 1 08 Mark D'Ilario/Smithville,ONT
20 21 4 Daryl Hilkert/Potter,NY
21 28 2 Loren Lincoln/South Bristol,NY
22 23 11x Donnie Lawson/Woodhull,NY
23 7 66 Dan Wiesner/Geneva,NY
24 27 58 Steve Gray/Rushville,NY
25 12 71 Mike Bowman/St.Catharines,ONT
26 30 m93 Mike Entwistle/Locke,NY
27 18 0 Jipp Ortiz/Ransomville,NY
28 20 85 John Pietrowicz/Phoenix,NY
29 31 777 Tyler McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT
30 13 14s Brian Swarthout/Beaver Dams,NY
31 29 410 Chris Hile/Syracuse,NY