TJ Potrzebowski Lands Rocketship in Chemung's Sunoco Modified Victory Lane By Carol Houssock(Chemung, NY) The 2022 season opener proved worth the wait. Veteran racers demonstrated the value of experience, and a career-first race winner celebrated his victory in the track's newest and growing division. Northeast ATV sponsored the program and some unique trophies that went home with feature winners TJ Potrzebowski (Sunoco Modifieds), Tim Gullo (Insinger Performance Super Stocks), Luke Nickels (Marion Decker Agency Hobby Stocks), Nick Robinson (4 Cylinders), and Kalysta DeMark (INEX Bandoleros). All return to battle this Friday, May 20th.
The 35-lap Sunoco Modified feature got underway with Charlie Sharpsteen leading Gunnar Zeiner. The first of five cautions came out when Zeiner spun, brining Kevin Youngs up to the front row for the restart. TJ Potrzebowski made an incredible three-wide move when racing resumed and ended up leading the race. His nice lead went away just before the halfway point when Kevin spun off turn two. Lee Sharpsteen, who had been on the move, was then up to second and he restated beside Potrzebowski. TJ easily built up another nice lead while Sharpsteen and heat winner Keith Youngs ran together in a battle for second. The fifth caution ended the night for Kevin Youngs who pitted during the yellow for an oil leak. On the final restart Lee Sharpsteen gave it a valiant effort but TJ had the perfect set-up and he stayed out in front over the remaining laps. Potrzebowski got the win over L. Sharpsteen, Zeiner, Keith Youngs and C. Sharpsteen. "This is one of my favorite tracks," Potrzebowski said upon exiting his car. "This new car is a rocket ship and Ray Marshall has it all together." The memorable move to get him the lead came easy to him. "I was comfortable and confident that I could pull that off."
Winning a heat in the Insinger Performance Super Stock division did earn defending track champion, Garrett Zacharias, and Nick Robinson points. But the 12-car inversion had them starting their 25-lap feature from row six. Seth Zacharias and Brandon Mister started on row one but Jason Duke, Jr. went from third to lead lap one over Zacharias. With just one lap in the books, a four-car incident brought out the yellow. A lap later Frank Chapman hit the back stretch wall, sustaining race-ending damage. On the lap four restart Tim Gullo pulled off a beautiful move to put his car in the lead. Robinson and G. Zacharias were also moving forward. At the halfway point, the race was under caution for the eighth time. On every restart Gullo held off Robinson and stayed out front. With six to go G. Zacharias took over second and started to reel in Gullo. He ran out of time, and the win went to veteran racer Gullo. Zacharias finished second, just ahead of Robinson, DJ Shaw and Duke. "My clutch was starting to slip a bit, and with all those restarts I had a little luck tonight," Gullo said from victory lane.
The Marion Decker Agency Hobby Stock division continues to grow in both numbers and excitement. Two heats and an inversion set the field for their 20-lap feature, where Kalysta DeMark and Luke Nickels started on the front row. DeMark led the opening lap before being passed by Nickles. Just two cautions slowed the action but not Nickles. For most of this one he was pursued by defending track champion, Josh Parker, and Randy Mathews. Dan Mathews broke with three laps remaining, setting up a final charge. Nickels held on and scored his career-first race win, something the crowd appreciated. "That was lots of fun, hearing people cheer for me," he said. Regarding that final restart he said that Josh raced him clean like he always has. Randy Mathews was able to finish second, followed by Parker, Tyler Harbst and Mike Lattimer.
"I literally only had to pass one car even though I started eighth," stated 4 Cylinder race winner Nick Robinson. "I survived all the carnage." That carnage resulted from eight caution periods over the course of their 20-lap feature, some for incidents or spins and others due to motor issues. Three cautions in the first four laps slowed any race momentum and had already seen Dustin Pruyne and Zack Jaynes atop the leaderboard. By the fourth lap it was Robinson in the top spot with Pruyne in pursuit. At the halfway point Robinson and Jaynes had a nice lead, cut short by more caution periods. The final restart came with five laps remaining, and the two-way Robinson/Pruyne battle continued from the front row. Robinson prevailed and scored the win over Jaynes, Matt Jenkins, Jason Peck and Joey Bevacqua.
Kalysta DeMark swept the action by winning both the heat race and their caution-free 10-lap feature. The caution-free event began with Michael Bast leading the way. DeMark had the race lead by lap four and, once out in front, pulled away. She left behind a great battle for second between Bast and Chase Sinsabaugh. Last year's Bandit champion, Sinsabaugh, waited until the last minute to overtake Bast. Chemung celebrates both the overall winner and the highest finisher in the other age group, so both DeMark (Outlaw) and Sinsabaugh (Bandit) pulled into Ferrario Auto Victory Lane.
This Friday night Skyworks presents a full 5-division program of Sunoco Modifieds (35 Laps), Insinger Performance Super Stocks (25 Laps), Marion Decker Agency Hobby Stocks (20 Laps), 4 Cylinders (20 laps), and INEX Bandoleros (10 laps). Pit gates open at 4 PM, grandstand gate at 5, practice at 6 and racing at 7. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $5 for kids ages 6-12 and free for kids 5 and under.
For information, log on to the track's website: chemung-speedrome.com, 'like' us on Facebook: Chemung Speedrome – Racing at the Drome, or call Ray Hodge, Promoter, at 607-483-3468.
The night began with an emotional tribute to Marie Hodge, daughter of Promoter Ray Hodge, who passed away unexpectedly from an arterial dissection at the age of 39. She, along with others lost to the racing family over the off-season, were remembered with a moment of silence. Hodge thanked the track's staff for stepping up in his and Ellen's absence.
The 50/50 from Elmira pocketed $421, enough to fill up his two vehicles and not much else, he said.
Northeast ATV Night Results:
Sunoco Modifieds (35 Laps): TJ POTRZEBOWSKI, Lee Sharpsteen, Gunnar Zeiner, Keith Youngs, Charlie Sharpsteen, Paeyton Arthofer, Kevin Youngs, Danielle Sharpsteen
Heat: Keith Youngs
Insinger Performance Super Stocks (25 Laps): TIM GULLO, Garrett Zacharias, Nick Robinson, DJ Shaw, Jason Duke, Jr., Seth Zacharias, Jody Buckley, Frank Chapman, Jr., Jason Duke, Sr., Aaron Cornell, Bradley Mister, Cody Frantz, Mark Taylor, Joey Bevacqua, Chad Lane, Frank Chapman, Sr.
Heats: G. Zacharias, Robinson
4 Cylinders (20 Laps): NICK ROBINSON, Zack Jaynes, Matt Jenkins, Jason Peck, Joey Bevacqua, Peyton Shaw, Sterling Kepner, Dustin Pruyne, Gene Purvis, Greg Moldt, Ricky Lane
Heats: Robinson, Jaynes
Marion Decker Hobby Stocks (20 Laps): LUKE NICKELS, Randy Mathews, Josh Parker, Tyler Harbst, Mike Lattimer, Cullen Sharpsteen, Kalysta DeMark, Dan Mathews, Chuck Nichols, Fred Mathews, DQ: Tom Shaffer
Heat: D. Mathews
INEX Bandoleros (10 Laps): KALYSTA DEMARK, Chase Sinsabaugh (Bandit winner), Michael Bast, Devin Gullo, Dallas Harbst