Apr 6, 2009 08:04 AM EDT

Reakes Comes Out From Under ‘The Rock’ To Claim Sportsman Series Win

Sportsman Portion By Tom Skibinski, Remainder by Rich Vleck, Dundee, NY, (April 5, 2009)- Timing is everything. Just ask Sammy Reakes IV following his dramatic season-opening Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series victory Sunday evening at Black Rock Speedway.

Reakes took advantage of a caution period for trackside debris two-thirds of the way through the ‘Rock Launcher 75’ to change a soft tire, then charged back through the dwindling field to forge the final lead change on lap 60. The Palermo, New York pilot then held off Canadian charger Mark D’Ilario for a six car-length victory, with track favorite Billy VanPelt from Westfield, Pennsylvania, Picton, Ontario invader Adam Turner and hard luck hero Dan Wiesner from nearby Geneva rounding out the front-five.

“I could feel the tire going down the last 10 laps so that yellow was certainly a blessing tonight,” remarked Reakes, 21, after parking his no. 17K Whittaker's Trophy Auto Sales/Bicknell entry in victory lane for the second time on tour to collect the $2,000 top prize. His first win was registered during Super DIRT Week on the Syracuse Mile in 2007 when he led all 30 laps.

“When I came back out I thought about just cruising around to get a top-10 which would be alright for points. But that’s not really me, I didn’t want to settle for anything else. So I moved up to the top side right away. It was really smooth even though a lot of guys were still running low, and I was able to work my way back to the front in a hurry. I’m going for the (Mr. DIRTcar) Championship this year so this is a great way to start,” Reakes added.

Nearly 50 open-wheel entries signed into the pits at ‘The Rock’ requiring a handful of preliminary heats and three consolation round qualifiers to set the 31-car starting field. While a traditional pre-race re-draw put pole-sitter Kevin Ridley and Jipp Ortiz on the front row, Reakes filed into 16th after qualifying fourth in his heat. Despite posting the fastest time trial lap, heat winner D’Ilario began the main in third spot looking to sweep the card.

Ortiz jumped out to an early lead with Ridley keeping pace until the duo reached traffic after just seven trips around the widened 4/10-miler. Wiesner and Mark Chiddy made contact in turn one to incur the first of 10 yellows in the main, although only green flag laps were counting on this occasion. With 10 reading on the scoreboard, 9th-place starter VanPelt had maneuvered into fourth and it only took a half-dozen more laps to out-drag Ortiz down the front straight. Reakes was just as fast, moving into fifth-place by lap 15 to pose a serious threat.

A multitude of flat tires and mechanical failures kept the field in check each time VanPelt was able to extend his lead, the most significant was a broken right-rear hub on the John Pietrowicz mount that caused him to roll upside down out of turn three to create a rare red flag situation. No injuries were reported although the battered no. 85 Gypsum machine was dragged pitside to spend the night.

With Reakes tracking down VanPelt by lap 35, the stoppage on lap 49 gave him another shot on the restart, but this time it was Steve Gray storming into first using the high side. VanPelt remained dialed in low to regain the lead before the pivotal caution period for debris brought out the seventh yellow flag on lap 52.

Reakes replaced a soft right-rear Hoosier Tire and returned to the track 11th, the last car scored on the lead lap with 24 still to go. Gray wasn’t finished yet either, once again blasting out front on the ensuing restart while VanPelt compounded his fate by spinning all alone exiting turn four the next lap. Ridley looped his own ride for another slowdown on lap 55 and two laps later D’Ilario was in position to assume the point when Gray suddenly pulled to the infield.

Reakes was scored ninth prior to the lap 55 restart yet when all eyes focused on D’Ilario’s surprising move to the front, Reakes was on a rail riding the high line into the front-five with no one to get in his way. Reakes finally disposed of D’Ilario exiting turn four to complete lap 60, with 28th-place starter Wiesner following suit down the back chute just two laps later.

Chiddy slid high in turn one to bring out the final caution on lap 72, yet that only cleared the track ahead of Reakes for the final four-lap dash to the finish. Wiesner slipped high on the last restart and was drop-kicked from second to sixth before overtaking Ortiz for a top-five slot as the checkered flag finally dropped. VanPelt rallied from seventh to third over the final 10 laps while Turner grabbed fourth after starting 23rd through a consolation round qualifier.

The Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series returns to action in two more weeks when the top traveling teams venture to the north country for round two at Can-Am Motorsports Park on Friday, April 17. Bad news for the rest of the field as Reakes competed at Can-Am just three times all of last season and headed home with two feature wins and a runner-up tally.

Originally scheduled to go off on Saturday, April 4, unseasonably cold, wet and windy conditions forced officials to run the program Sunday and for the second straight year the Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series opener at Black Rock was held on April 5. A solid field of 49 cars arrived at the Yates County oval on Palm Sunday, with 31 of those drivers also attending last year’s tour lid-lifter that was won by talented teenager Larry Wight, eventual DIRTcar Northeast Rookie of the Year in both Big-Block and 358-Modified divisions…..On this occasion, Canadian upstart Mark D’Ilario was on hand for his final Sportsman tune-up before jumping full-time into the Small-Block ranks. A steady diet of weekly racing at Merrittville Speedway along with travels to Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Series events throughout the season will provide plenty of activity for the Smithville, Ontario chauffeur…..The Black Rock opener offered a glimpse of the new qualifying format implemented for the 2009 Sportsman Series at every stop except for Ransomville Speedway (no loop installed). Drivers drew for their heat assignments at the pit gate and group time trials followed, putting together those slated to line up later in the same heat. Five heats were outlined on Sunday with Ryan Susice, Kevin Ridley, Donnie Lawson, Mark D’Ilario and John Pietrowicz posting the best times in the five-lap sessions. D’Ilario was the fastest overall and re-drew to invert the top-two for each qualifier. The action was non-stop throughout as Jipp Ortiz advanced from third to first with two laps to go in heat one when leader Susice suffered a flat left-rear tire to claim the opener while Jeremy Pitcher slipped past Pietrowicz on the last circuit to capture round five…..Track proprietor Dean Hoag was looking forward to getting Black Rock’s 51st season-opener underway for the past month but Mother Nature was not as anxious as she continued to tease him all week long. Son of legendary Northeast Modified Hall of Famer Dutch Hoag, the former asphalt Modified and Supermodified driver made a timely decision to not only cancel the entire Friday portion of Rock Launcher ’09, he delayed the Saturday program one additional day. “We wanted to lay down the new clay last November but rain pushed our last show into that month and we didn’t get anything on the track until December,” revealed Hoag, who recently widened the turns to 75 feet ---approximately 15 feet at the bottom, 10 feet up top--- as well as the straightaways. “Everybody always slid to the top coming out of the turns, this year they should find some better bite running low. It never stopped misting until around 9 o’clock last night (Saturday), so it wasn’t a true account of how good this place can really be once we get a few more weeks to work on it”…..Reigning Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman points king Chris Raabe was relegated to using his guaranteed status to fall into 27th position on the 31-car feature race starting grid. Drawing 124 out of 125 last April, this time around the high school senior selected 55 yet was still unable to dial in the black #01 Scott Industrial Services-Kingston RV Centre-Tyroute Communications/TEO entry for owner Garry McColman. Despite finishing two laps down to the winner, Raabe secured 9th-place on the final scoresheet…..Tour regular Dan Wiesner had a new Troyer car finished on Saturday just in time to debut at The Rock. Just like Raabe, last year’s early-season Series points leader took advantage of an automatic starting berth to join the feature field in 28th before a never-say-die run to the front netted him a fifth-place finish.

Nate Peckham jumped to the lead early in the street stock feature, but hand it back over to Rich Sharpsteen on lap 4. By lap 6, he was back in the lead, never to let it go again.

The Seneca Falls driver lead the final 25 laps to pick up the $1,000 top prize, besting a field of 37 cars on the afternoon.

With an all-new body on his Industrial Services No. 90, Peckham found the line that best suited him and his car and appeared to be on a cruise control. With just seven laps remaining though, Sharpsteen was back on the charge.

Sharpsteen dove to the inside but could not complete the pass, at which point Peckham turned on the afterburners and drove away to a comfortable victory.

Behing Peckham and Sharpsteen were Dave Mannise, Chris Fisher and Mike Welch.

Greg Galligan made his rare apperance at Black Rock a prosperous one as he scored the victory in the Late Model feature.

Galligan captured the lead on lap 8 from Bob Buono and never slowed down, holding off a number of challengers to score the $1,000 top prize in a car that will not be his primary in 2009.

Larry Knowles and Steve Dixon seemed to have some of the strongest car, but they each suffered mechanical problems in the late stages and would not be able to finish. Bryce Davis was also running well, but slipped up on a late race restart and would spin out on the final lap, drawing a yellow and checkered finish.

Coming across the line behind Galligan was Steve Hartman Jr., who was disqualified for being light at the scales. That moved Rich Karlnoski to second, with Glenn Whritenhour, Nate Daggett and Chris Peacock completing the top-five.

Darryl Ruggles won the first feature of the night in the New York Modified Midget event, making the pass on Jim Lafler for the lead on lap 5 and hanging on the rest of the way to score the victory.

“I raced here a long time ago in modified and sportsman and I loved this place,” said Ruggles, who is now focusing in on his micro sprint after years of modified action.

Alex Mosher was the early leader until a chain sprocket let loose, relegating him to the pit area. Lafler looked to be in command but Ruggles had other ideas.

On the final lap Zach Morgan made a pass for second on Lafler, with Ron Gamble and Ken Wills completing the top-five.

Ray Speicher knew his motor was going sour in the closing laps, but was able to get it to the finish of the 4-cylinder feature to score the win.

Speicher stayed smooth on the top of the speedway to hold of Chad Ayers, who applied pressure running the very bottom of the track. Speicher nearly lost control of the No. 14 with two laps to go, but held on to win the first race of the year.

Behind Speicher and Ayers were Dave Matwicjow, Rich Sharpsteen II and Brad Rathbun.

Clayton Weaver had watched plenty of racing by the time his enduro event hit the track late in the night, and he knew the key was to hang in the top-five until late in the race when it was time to strike. The strategy paid off for him in a big way, as he scored the $1,000 top prize for the win, as well as earned the pole position for the $10,000-to-win event in November.

Weaver made a late race pass on Ronnie Hill with five laps left to go, the two engaged in an intense battle for the next three laps, with Weaver holding him off for the win. Behind them were Jamie Freeman, Gary Baker and Karl Werner.

Action returns to the standard Friday Night program in two weeks, on April 17, starting at 6:45 p.m. For more information, visit

April 5, 2009 ‘Rock Launcher 75’ Event Summary

Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Race #1


1 16 17k Sammy Reakes IV/Palermo,NY

2 3 08 Mark D'Ilario/Smithville,ONT

3 9 v28 Billy VanPelt/Westfield,PA

4 23 92 Adam Turner/Picton,ONT

5 28 66 Dan Wiesner/Geneva,NY

6 2 0 Jipp Ortiz/Ransomville,NY

7 12 99p Greg Panunte/Port Colborne,ONT

8 31 11jr. Justin Wright/Piffard,NY

9 27 01 Chris Raabe/Napanee,ONT

10 15 74 Matt Billings/Brockville,ONT

11 10 2 Loren Lincoln/South Bristol,NY

12 18 62 Rick Bellante/St.Catharines,ONT

13 24 54 Mark Chiddy/Boston,NY

14 11 777 Tyler McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT

15 25 24x Brandon Sweet/Watertown,NY

16 14 29g Steve Gray/Rushville,NY

17 1 20x Kevin Ridley/Geneva,NY

18 26 26h Luke Carleton/Port Colborne,ONT

19 7 2kh Chris Hile/Syracuse,NY

20 5 85 John Pietrowicz/Phoenix,NY

21 29 3 Fran Hilton/Waterloo,NY

22 19 67g Eric Giguere/Waterloo,NY

23 13 11 Donnie Lawson/Woodhull,NY

24 6 14 Jeremy Pitcher/Fulton,NY

25 22 2k Rob Knapp/St.Catharines,ONT

26 17 12z Ray Bliss/Warsaw,NY

27 21 4 Daryl Hilkert/Potter,NY

28 20 18h Todd Henderson/Canandaigua,NY

29 30 70 Brady Fultz/Dundee,NY

30 8 m1 David Marcuccilli/Cayuga,NY

31 4 17d Tom Juhl/Weedsport,NY


06-Brandon EaseyGrimsby,ONT

7-Cody McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT

10-Steve Savoie/D'Acton Vale,QUE

15-Shane Pecore/Cornwall,ONT

17-Marcus Dinkins/Watkins Glen,NY

20k-Brad Rouse/St.Catharines,ONT

24-Rick Willsey/Elmira Heights,NY

28-Alan Fink/Pennellville,NY

29-Tom Conklin/Gouverneur,NY

29ny-Greg Birosh/Horseheads,NY

k38-Ryan Susice/Ransomville,NY

38s-Luke Whitteker/Iroquois,ONT

54x-Stewart Garrison/Fulton,NY

77jr.-BJ Willard/St.Catharines,ONT

85h-Bob Humphreys/Elbridge,NY

111-Allan Wills/Ransomville,NY

140-Mark Dixon/Durham,ONT

244-Jeff Leslie/Fly Creek,NY

LAP LEADERS: Ortiz (1-14), VanPelt (15-49), Gray (50), VanPelt (51), Gray (52-56), D'Ilario (57-59), Reakes (60-75)

CAUTIONS: 10 (lap 9, lap 11, lap 12, lap 24, lap 28, lap 43, lap 52, lap 53, lap 55, lap 72); 1 RED FLAG (lap 49).





1 16.567 86.920 08 Mark D'Ilario/Smithville,ONT

2 16.716 86.145 m1 David Marcuccilli/Cayuga,NY

3 16.728 86.083 k-38 Ryan Susice/Ransomville,NY

4 16.770 85.868 v28 Billy VanPelt/Westfield,PA

5 16.781 85.811 0 Jipp Ortiz/Ransomville,NY

6 16.821 85.607 20x Kevin Ridley/Geneva,NY

7 16.857 85.424 2 Loren Lincoln/South Bristol,NY

8 16.921 85.101 99p Greg Panunte/Port Colborne,ONT

9 16.944 84.986 777 Tyler McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT

10 16.949 84.961 38s Luke Whitteker/Iroquois,ONT

11 16.968 84.866 85 John Pietrowicz/Phoenix,NY

12 17.001 84.701 11 Donnie Lawson/Woodhull,NY

13 17.007 84.671 85h Bob Humphreys/Elbridge,NY

14 17.009 84.661 18h Todd Henderson/Canandaigua,NY

15 17.015 84.631 29g Steve Gray/Rushville,NY

16 17.034 84.537 67g Eric Giguere/Waterloo,NY

17 17.048 84.467 17d Tom Juhl/Weedsport,NY

18 17.088 84.270 26h Luke Carleton/Port Colborne,ONT

19 17.098 84.220 2kh Chris Hile/Syracuse,NY

20 17.104 84.191 4 Daryl Hilkert/Potter,NY

21 17.144 83.994 17 Marcus Dinkins/Watkins Glen,NY

22 17.147 83.980 17k Sammy Reakes IV/Palermo,NY

23 17.150 83.965 11jr. Justin Wright/Piffard,NY

24 17.166 83.887 14 Jeremy Pitcher/Fulton,NY

25 17.198 83.731 24x Brandon Sweet/Watertown,NY

26 17.228 83.585 12z Ray Bliss/Warsaw,NY

27 17.229 83.580 92 Adam Turner/Picton,ONT

28 17.266 83.401 20k Brad Rouse/St.Catharines,ONT

29 17.269 83.386 74 Matt Billings/Brockville,ONT

30 17.273 83.367 3 Fran Hilton/Waterloo,NY

31 17.278 83.343 54 Mark Chiddy/Boston,NY

32 17.282 83.324 2k Rob Knapp/St.Catharines,ONT

33 17.297 83.251 62 Rick Bellante/St.Catharines,ONT

34 17.342 83.035 06 Brandon EaseyGrimsby,ONT

35 17.346 83.016 111 Allan Wills/Ransomville,NY

36 17.404 82.740 140 Mark Dixon/Durham,ONT

37 17.463 82.460 244 Jeff Leslie/Fly Creek,NY

38 17.566 81.977 77jr. BJ Willard/St.Catharines,ONT

39 17.619 81.730 7 Cody McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT

40 17.635 81.656 54x Stewart Garrison/Fulton,NY

41 17.687 81.416 66 Dan Wiesner/Geneva,NY

42 17.712 81.301 15 Shane Pecore/Cornwall,ONT

43 17.743 81.159 24 Rick Willsey/Elmira Heights,NY

44 17.783 80.976 29 Tom Conklin/Gouverneur,NY

45 17.785 80.967 28 Alan Fink/Pennellville,NY

46 17.852 80.663 10 Steve Savoie/D'Acton Vale,QUE

47 18.083 79.633 29ny Greg Birosh/Horseheads,NY

48 18.136 79.400 01 Chris Raabe/Napanee,ONT

49 -NT- ----- 70 Brady Fultz/Dundee,NY

Heat Races (8 laps, top 4 finishers transferred to feature, top 2 went to re-draw)

#1: Ortiz, VanPelt, T.McPherson, Reakes, Chiddy, Turner, Whitteker, Hilton, Susice, Willard.

#2: Ridley, Lincoln, Panunte, Bliss, Knapp, Pecore, Garrison, Wright, Willsey, Dinkins.

#3: Juhl, Hile, Lawson, Bellante, Carleton, Sweet, Raabe, Leslie, Dixon, Savoie.

#4: D’Ilario, Marcuccilli, Gray, Giguere, Hilkert, Fultz, Rouse, Wills, Birosh, Wiesner (DNS).

#5: Pitcher, Pietrowicz, Billings, Henderson, C.McPherson, Fink, Humphreys, Easey, Conklin.

Consolation Round (8 laps, top 2 finishers transferred to feature)

#1: Hilkert, Chiddy, Raabe, Conklin, Fink, Savoie, Pecore, Hilton, Willsey, Birosh (DNS).

#2: Knapp, Sweet, Easey, C.McPherson, Willard, Wiesner, Whitteker, Wills, Wright, Dixon (DNS).

#3: Turner, Carleton, Leslie, Susice, Rouse, Dinkins, Fultz, Humphreys, Garrison.

Guaranteed Starters: Raabe, Wiesner, Hilton, Fultz, Wright.

Street Stock Feature (30 Laps)- NATE PECKHAM, Rich Sharpsteen I, Dave Mannise, Chris Fisher, Mike Welch, J.R. Kent, George Parker, Nick Rizzo, Mike Schultz, Adam Depuy, Kevin Knapp, Dave Pope, Kevin Smith, Gene Sharpsteen, Rich Talada, Scott Smith, Josh Parker, Jason White, Jared Hill, Jeff Bridge, Dan Hoffman, Ajay Potzrebowski, Darryl Kerbs, Don Stevenson.

Did Not Qualify- Jason Dobson, Kevin Boynton, Dan Hoffman Jr., Dan Smart, Darl Ellis, Frank Krebs Jr., Jim McAfee, Frank Guererri Jr., Eugene Parker, Rich Bixby Jr., Larry Fenton Jr., Jeff Palmer, Carl Cleveland.

Lap Leaders- R. Sharpsteen 1-2, Peckham 3, Sharpsteen 4-5, Peckham 6-30.

Heat Winners- R. Sharpsteen, G. Sharpsteen, Peckham, Fisher.

Consolation Winner- Potzrebowski, Rizzo.

BRP CanAm Late Model Feature (25 Laps)- GREG GALLIGAN, Rich Karlnoski, Glenn Whritenhour, Nate Daggett, Chris Peacock, Bryce Davis, Quinn Sutherland, Larry Knowles, Brandon Smith, Steve Dixon, Bob Buono, Jon Lichy, Mikey Wonderling, John Watters, Dale Welty, Jeremy Wonderling, Brian Conley, Dave DuBois, Brian Knowles (DNS), Jon Rivers (DNS), Steve Hartman Jr. (DQ).

Lap Leaders- Buono 1-7, Galligan 8-25.

Heat Winners- B. Knowles, Galligan.

New York Modified Midgets Feature (15 Laps)- DARRYL RUGGLES, Zach Morgan, Jim Lafler, Ron Gamble, Ken Wills, Alysha Ruggles, Tyler Walker, Dan Miller, Tom Walker, Matt Farnham, Ethan Morgan, Spike Smith, Timex Morgan, Kirsten Dombroski, Alex Mosher, John Smith.

Lap Leaders- Mosher 1, Lafler 2-4, Ruggles 5-15.

Heat Winners- Lafler, D. Ruggles.

Xcel Chassis 600 Modifieds Feature (15 Laps)- ERIC WHITBY, Chris Stockham, Brad Szulewski, Bob Lucksenbaugh, Butch Getz, Brian Mady, Mike Pychinka, Joe Heintzelmen, Tyler Bartick, Aaron Bowes, Nick Mady, Joe Fanelli, Jamie Hess, John Lakatos, Josh Fox, Dave Baldwin Jr., Casey Ernst, Ken Moody Jr., Rent X, Paul Deruyter, Loren Ward, Dave Ogen, Geordan Farry, Ryan Suchon, Cody Coons, Tyler Haydt, George Loux

Lap Leaders- B. Mady 1, Whitby 2-9, Stockham 10-12, Whitby 13-15.

Heat Winners- B. Mady, Bartik, Whitby.

Four Cylinder Feature (20 Laps)- RAY SPEICHER, Chad Ayers, Dave Matwicjow, Rich Sharpsteen II, Brad Rathbun, David Ahouse, Archie Haner, Jason Gleason, Joe Cron, Brett Crawford, Dan Norton, Russ Wassner (DNS), Andrew Wolfe (DNS).

Lap Leaders- Speicher 1-20.

Heat Winners- Rathbun, Speicher.

Front-Wheel Drive Enduro (40 Laps)- CLAYTON WEAVER, Ronnie Hill, Jamie Freeman, Gary Baker, Karl Werner, Bill Werner, Bobby Weber, Joseph Birdsall, Mark Sincock, Curtis McCormick, Matt Prescott, Bill Price Jr., Joseph Birdsall, Cory Kolz, Kurt Baker, Cody Decker, Bruce Unger, John Hoover, Keith Keuer, Dan Wood, Buzzier Weber.

Lap Leaders- Sincock 1, Price 2-5, Freeman 6-7, Hill 8-13, Weber 14, Hill 15-34, Weaver 35, Hill 36, Weaver 37-40.

Friendly Dodge

Friendly Ford

Suburban Propane

Decker Insurance Agency

Area Auto Racing News