Tony Hanbury Back in Chemung's Victory Lane, Lee Sharpsteen Repeats as Modified Track Champion By Carol Houssock
Conditions were perfect on Championship Night, sponsored by Flynn Energy, at Chemung Speedrome. Fans in the stands got treated to some of the best racing all season long. On Friday, the battles (features) were won by Tony Hanbury (Buckleyís Automotive Modifieds), Mike Nichols (Blauvelt Funeral Home Super Stocks), Anthony Gullo (Marion Decker Agency Hobby Stocks), and Greg Moldt (4 Cylinders). The wars (the 2023 track championships) were won by Lee Sharpsteen (Modifieds), Nick Robinson (Super Stocks), Josh Parker (Hobby Stocks), and Joey Bevacqua (4 Cylinders). Devin Gullo, competing as a Bandit, won the overall championship in the Serendipity Ice Cream Bandoleros, while Joey Allowatt, second in total points, won the title among the Outlaws.
The 2023 Buckley's Automotive Modified season boiled down to a battle between defending champ Lee Sharpsteen and Jesse Kent. Their 44-point separation remained at 44 after each won his heat race. While Nick Morich led the opening laps, it was Kent and Sharpsteen who got around him and began to pull away. Tony Hanbury, in the Harbst-owned #04, was working the traffic and on the move toward the front. He caught and passed Morich and was behind Kent when the first caution came out 15 laps in. As the field exited turn four Kent tapped Sharpsteen and TJ Potrzebowski came along and went up on top of Kent's #26. With the leaders restarting at the back, the lead went to Hanbury, who left Morich in a battle with Gunnar Zeiner for second. Hanbury held on to the lead, which increased as the laps clicked off, and scored the win. "It definitely wasn't easy. I want to thank Dave, JP and Tyler Harbst for asking me to run the car. We've had troubles with our stuff up north, so itís great to be back in victory lane here at Chemung," he said while surrounded by family and friends. Zeiner finished second, with Morich, Sharpsteen and Kent all in the top five. His finish, ahead of Kent's, sealed the championship deal for Lee Sharpsteen.
Nick Robinson pretty much had his second consecutive championship in the Blauvelt Funeral Home Super Stocks by virtue of showing up. Charlie Sharpsteen was second, but behind 63 points and nearly impossible to earn and take the title from him. Neither won his heat, but it was still a big lead in the points. Frank Chapman, Jr. and Brian DeMark claimed the two heats. Chapman and Derrick Tarbox brought the stout field to the green and it was Chapman in control until lap six. That's when Jason Duke, Sr. got into him. Both spun and it put Robinson and Sharpsteen in the front row for the restart. Robinson pulled away, but it was the 72 of Mike Nichols that was moving rapidly toward the front from his 13th starting spot. When the second caution came out, Nichols was in second and restarted alongside Robinson. Nichols took over and the pair would have two more restarts following, the last of which left two laps to be run. Nichols stayed out in front to score his second win of the year. Robinson, DeMark, Chapman and Jason Duke, Jr. made up the top five behind Nichols. Robinsonís second place finish gave him the 2023 championship.
"I'm thankful to have a place to race," Anthony Gullo said while clutching the checkered flag following his 8th feature win in the Marion Decker Agency Hobby Stock division. He had to start the 20-lap feature from 9th position, but he wasted no time at all moving toward race leader Luke Nickels. Gullo's mastery of passing cars on the outside was on full display, but the car seems able to handle anything he sets out to conquer. Nickels and Gene Purvis battled for a handful of laps for second, a position Purvis took. Josh Parker was also on the move and in a tight battle with Purvis after passing Nickels. A pair of cautions set up restarts with Gullo and Parker in the front row. Gullo maintained the lead, but a third caution with three to go set up a final opportunity for Parker. He came up short in this battle, but not in the war. Gullo won, followed across the stripe by Parker, Purvis, Nickels, and Brandon Ameigh. For the third time in as many years, Josh Parker is the 2023 Hobby Stock track champion, the only one to ever do so since the division began.
Caution-free was the name of the game in 4 Cylinder action, and the same two names pretty much ruled the show. Heat winners Greg Moldt and Joey Bevacqua were the only leaders in the 20-lap race. Bevacqua led the first two, before being passed by Moldt. Early on, Kyle Mortimer stayed with Bevacqua, but he started to fall back. Matt Jenkins earlier had trouble in his heat, but the team made repairs and he got around a trio of cars to take over fourth. Moldt took the checkered flag and he, too, recorded his 8th feature win this season. Bevacqua was second, followed by Mortimer, Jenkins and Ricky Lane. Moldt and Bevacqua were the only feature winners in '23. Consistency and perfect attendance garnered Joey Bevacqua the track championship.
Although Chemung's regular season ended on Friday night, one race remains on the 2023 schedule. The track presents a Race of Champions Special, featuring the ROC Sportsman, ROC Super Stock and FOAR Score 4 Cylinder divisions on Saturday, September 9th. Pits open at 11 AM, grandstand at 12 Noon, practice at 1 PM and racing starts at 2 PM. More information will be posted, as the date nears, on the track's website: chemung-speedrome.com. Or, on Facebook go to Chemung Speedrome - Racing at the Drome. Ray Hodge, Promoter, is also available to answer questions at 607-483-3468.
* A member of the Soper family won $615 in the 50/50 drawing.
* A lap sponsorship program, all of which was in memory of people lost, resulted in over $4,600 being distributed to random drivers in each race, a hard charger in each race, and a halfway leader in each race. Special thanks to Ashley Sharpsteen, Tara Gullo, and Jerry Sinsabaugh for their coordination and leadership in this effort.
Flynn Energy Night Results:
Buckley's Automotive Modifieds (30 Laps): TONY HANBURY, Gunnar Zeiner, Nick Morich, Lee Sharpsteen, Jesse Kent, Charlie Sharpsteen, Jody Buckley, Rick Smith, Justin Teresak, Tyler Harbst, TJ Potrzebowski
Heats: L. Sharpsteen, Kent
2023 Track Champion: Lee Sharpsteen
Blauvelt Funeral Home Super Stocks (25 Laps): MIKE NICHOLS, Nick Robinson, Brian DeMark, Frank Chapman, Jr., Jason Duke, Jr., Charlie Sharpsteen, Terry Potrzebowski, Jason Duke, Sr., Frank Chapman III, Chad Lane, Tony Jilson, Mark Taylor, John Lane, Bradley Mister, Cameron Nichols, Derrick Tarbox, Abe Romanik
Heats: Chapman, Jr., DeMark
2023 Track Champion: Nick Robinson
Marion Decker Agency Hobby Stocks (20 Laps): ANTHONY GULLO, Josh Parker, Gene Purvis, Mike Nickels, Brandon Ameigh, Luke Nickels, Ray Dann, Cullen Sharpsteen, Doug DeKay, Mike Lattimer, Mike Bailey, Ethan Roberts, Ben Perry, Tom Shaffer, Bruce Kinner, Bubba Peters, Ajay Potrzebowski
Heats: M. Nickels, Purvis, Gullo
2023 Track Champion: Josh Parker
Four Cylinders (20 Laps): GREG MOLDT, Joey Bevacqua, Kyle Mortimer, Matt Jenkins, Ricky Lane, Jason Peck, Mike Ferris, Joey Allowatt, Ron Manwaring
Heats: Moldt, Bevacqua
2023 Track Champion: Joey Bevacqua
Serendipity Ice Cream Bandoleros
2023 Track Champion: Devin Gullo (Bandit and overall division champ)
2023 Track Champion: Joey Allowatt (Outlaw)