By Clayton Johns
VERNON, NY (April 24, 2016) – John Waters (No.11 Troop Creek Heating) used a perfect slidejob pass at the exit of turn four to take the lead from Lee Gill (No.125 Gillee’s NAPA Auto Parts) on lap 14. Waters led the final 16 laps and survived a restart with two to go to claim the victory in the Go Nuclear Late Model Series Prelude to the Gnome Cup season opener at Utica-Rome Speedway.
Waters claimed the checkers over a hard charging Bryce Davis (No.94 Griswolds ETR Services) to claim the $1000 winners paycheque.
“It definitely takes the monkey off your back real quick to come here with the stout competition that runs here and to be able to stand on top at the end is a huge boost for the team,” Waters send following the victory.
“He was good on the bottom and the top. I could get around the bottom okay, but I was much better on the topside,” explained Davis following the event. “He was a little more versatile tonight then we were and just a touch better.”
Polesitter Jason Knowles (No.4 Clark Oil Company) wasted little time taking advantage of his track position and jumped to a full straightaway lead by his fifth turn of the half-mile oval. Gill, the defending series champion, began his march to the front from the fifth starting position and overtook both Laslow Holleyfeld (No.4z Pit Stop Convenience) and Sam Pennachio (No.311 Duguay Haulage).
The race was slowed for the first time on lap six when Brandon Ford (No.18) spun sideways on the frontstretch after contact with Kyle Sopaz (No.12 Lots and Lines). The field managed to avoid contact with Ford as Aaron Jacobs (No.16 Performance Signs) spun to avoid contact.
The ensuing restart saw Davis jump to the front to challenge Knowles for the point. Davis completed the pass using the top lane exiting turn two, but Norm Mayhew (No.60 Mayhew Graphics) spun at the top of turn two before lap eight could be completed.
Gill made his move on the lap eight restart to take over the point position as Knowles slipped to fifth on the restart. Davis and Waters took over the second and third positions respectively.
The caution came again on lap 10 and left Gill to fend off a hungry field behind him. Two laps later, Waters ducked beneath Gill in a side-by-side battle for the lead. Waters carried a fury of momentum down the backstretch on lap 14 and pulled a perfect slidejob in turn four to claim the lead.
“I saw he was married to the top and I could roll the bottom real good,” Waters said of the winning pass. “When I knew I had the opening and I was right on him going in to three, I just let it go all the way up and I was just hoping I would clear him.”
As Waters began to grow a lead at the halfway point, Gill was mired in a battle with Davis while Phil Potts (No.29 Vanderlaan Building Products) and Pennachio battled inside the top-five.
The race slowed again on lap 17 when Knowles fell off the pace and took his No.4 to the pit area. On the following restart, Pennachio drove past Gill to the third position while Waters maintained a healthy lead over Davis. The return to full speed was short, however, with another brief caution for a single-car spin on lap 19.
The restart ignited a handful of side-by-side battles at the front of the field. Brandon Mowat (No.46 Target Fabrication) battled 2104 champion Charlie Sandercock (No.57 Bellevue Fabricating) for the sixth position. Meanwhile, Potts and Pennachio battled in the same fashion for fourth.
Gill and Davis continued to race door-to-door over the next five laps until a caution for a stopped Bret Belden (No.81 Enchanted Forest Water Safari) on lap 24. The two drivers struggled to separate from one another in their battle for second, but stayed within five car lengths of the leader Waters. Pennachio rejoined the battle for the runner-up spot as Gill lost momentum. Davis took over second and set his sights on Waters on lap 28 just as the final caution flew for a turned Brandon Ford.
The green-white-checker finish did not disappoint. Waters jumped out to a three car-length lead as Pennachio slid to the bottom of Davis for second. Pennachio held the spot down the backstretch on the final lap, but Davis carried the momentum better off turn four to claim the runner-up spot behind Davis.
“The cautions killed my tires. It just cooled them down too much. I couldn’t get the bite coming out of four and Bryce just edged me out at the end,” Pennachio said of the final corner pass. “I can’t complain. It was a heckuva run. That’s going to put the whole team in a good mood.”
Gill and Sandercock completed the top-five.
Greg Belyea lost a left-rear tire on lap two of the first qualifying heat, ending his race. No other cars were involved.
Heat two involved an excellent battle between Bryce Davis and John Waters. Davis used the cushion to pass Waters for the lead on lap seven.
Heat three saw just one caution. Phil Potts used a mid-race pass in the top lane to move past Jason Knowles and claim the heat race win.
At intermission, track workers knocked down a small cushion that formed at the exit of turns two and four.
“That cushion would have helped us a ton. The car was very good in the heat race on the cushion,” Davis said following the race. “I think if that would have stayed a little bit we would have been better.”
Complete Results – April 24, 2016 – Go Nuclear! Late Model Series
Prelude To The Gnome Cup at Utica-Rome Speedway
1 Alan Fink (Central Square, NY)
4 Jason Knowles (Addison, NY)
4z Laslow Holleyfeld (Fulton, NY)
7 Brian Knowles (Corning, NY)
8 Brian Down (Trenton, ON)
10 Chris Fleming (Auburn, NY)
11 John Waters (Whitesville, NY)
12 Kyle Sopaz (Trenton, ON)
16 Aaron Jacobs (Frankford, NY)
18 Brandon Ford (Cato, NY)
18E Bill Eisele (Watertown, NY)
25 Greg Belyea (Stirling, ON)
29 Phil Potts (Brighton, ON)
46 Brandon Mowat (Brighton, ON)
57 Charlie Sandercock (Trenton, ON)
60 Norm Mayhew (Lakeport, ON)
81 Bret Belden (West Edmeston, NY)
91 Chad Homan (Macedon, NY)
94 Bryce Davis (Hornell, NY)
125 Lee Gill (Lafargeville, NY)
160 Johnny Hill (Hastings, NY)
311 Sam Pennachio (Niagara Falls, ON)
A-Main (30 Laps – Starting Position in Parentheses): 1. 11 John Waters (8), 2. 94 Bryce Davis (7), 3. 311 Sam Pennachio (3), 4. 125 Lee Gill (5), 5. 57 Charlie Sandercock (9), 6. 29 Phil Potts (6), 7. 46m Brandon Mowat (13), 8. 25 Greg Belyea (19), 9. 10 Chris Fleming (16), 10. 4z Laslow Holleyfeld (2), 11. 7 Brian Knowles (12), 12. 4 Jason Knowles (1), 13. 91 Chad Homan (11), 14. 18 Brandon Ford (10), 15. 16 Aaron Jacobs (21), 16. 60 Norm Mayhew (18), 17. 18e Bill Eisele (4), 18. 8 Brian Down (20), 19. 81 Bret Belden (15), 20. 160 Johnny Hill (14), 21. 1 Alan Fink (22), 22. 12 Kyle Sopaz (17). Time: 31:12.356.
Scott Jeffrey’s Performance Hard Charger: Greg Belyea (+11).
Heat 1 (8 Laps – Top 3 Redraw): 1. 125 Lee Gill, 2. 57 Charlie Sandercock, 3. 4z Laslow Holleyfeld, 4. 18 Brandon Ford, 5. 46m Brandon Mowat, 6. 10 Chris Fleming, 7. 25 Greg Belyea (DNF), 8. 1 Alan Fink (DNF). Time: 7:20.085.
Heat 2 (8 Laps – Top 3 Redraw): 1. 94 Bryce Davis, 2. 11 John Waters, 3. 311 Sam Pennachio, 4. 91 Chad Homan, 5. 160 Johnny Hill, 6. 12 Kyle Sopaz, 7. 8 Brian Down. Time: 5:15.178.
Heat 3 (8 Laps – Top 3 Redraw): 1. 29 Phil Potts, 2. 4 Jason Knowles, 3. 18e Bill Eisele, 4. 7 Brian Knowles, 5. 81 Bret Belden, 6. 60 Norm Mayhew, 7. 16 Aaron Jacobs. Time: 4:25.390.
Time Trial Group 1: 1. 125 Lee Gill 20.256 seconds, 2. 25 Greg Belyea 20.280, 3. 46m Brandon Mowat 20.376, 4. 57 Charlie Sandercock 20.616, 5. 18 Brandon Ford 20.741, 6. 4 Laslow Holleyfeld 21.138, 7. 1 Alan Fink 21.833, 8. 10 Chris Fleming No Time.
Time Trial Group 2: 1. 94 Bryce Davis 19.985 seconds, 2. 11 John Waters 20.292, 3. 91 Chad Homan 20.957, 4. 160 Johnny Hill 21.071, 5. 311 Sam Pennachio 21.081, 6. 12 Kyle Sopaz 21.347, 7. 8 Brian Down 22.289.
Time Trial Group 3: 1. 4 Jason Knowles seconds, 2. 29 Phil Potts 20.735, 3. 7 Brian Knowles 21.143, 4. 81 Bret Belden 21.226, 5. 16 Aaron Jacobs 21.386, 6. 18e Bill Eisele 21.458, 7. 60 Norm Mayhew 21.860.
The Go Nuclear! Late Model Series is supported by several dedicated corporate sponsors including Excel Tower Service, Gillee’s Heavy Truck Parts, Adam Nayler Plumbing, Dibbits Excavating, Humber Nurseries, Tenace Diversifeid, Tenacious Soung, C. Smith Machine, Deerhaven Farm and Garden, Victory Motorcycles, Valley Automation and Control, Laguna, Beyea Headers, and Scott Jeffrey’s Performance.
Follow the Go Nuclear! Late Model Series online all season long at www.gonuclearlatemodelseries.com. Get up-to-the-minute series news by ‘Liking’ the Go Nuclear! Late Model Series Facebook page at facebook.com/gonuclearlatemodelseries and by following @GoNuclearSeries on Twitter.
Media Contact: Clayton Johns Media