TJ Potrzebowski Goes 3-for-3, in 3, at Chemung Opener by Carol Houssock

Chemung Speedrome Presented by Jim Bronson and Ferrario Auto Team of Sayre was finally able to open the gates for the season opener. This, after two rainouts, made the third try the charm. And, for the third year in a row, it was TJ Potrzebowski who parked his bright #72 in victory lane. It was still a bit of a gamble to go for it, with evening showers possible. But the gamble was on, and the track won. Other winners on Firehouse Subs night included Mike Nichols (Blauvelt Funeral Home Super Stocks), Brandon Ameigh (Marion Decker Agency Hobby Stocks), Nick Robinson (Gene's Automotive 4 Cylinders), and Leevi Sharpsteen (JRC Cleaning Bandoleros).

Luck of the draw put Evan Rygielski and TJ Potrzebowski on the front row for their 35-lap main event and the outside provided momentum for TJ to take over the top spot. He never surrendered from that point and stayed in the lead after five restarts. The first three cautions came in the first three laps, forcing Tony Hanbury, Charlie Sharpsteen and Chase Sinsabaugh to restart at the rear. Newcomer Dakota Anderson was responsible for the last two cautions, but in none of those were cars unable to return and compete. Early on Rygielski was right there with Potrzebowski and Lee Sharpsteen. For Lee, the defending track champion, the night went sour during the last caution. Fluid leaking from his car forced a pit stop. The crew tried to correct the problem, but he pulled off a lap after the race restarted. The final 25 laps went caution-free, with great moves by heat winners Nick Morich and Hanbury had them up to second and third and in a battle of their own. For Potrzebowski, he built up a nice lead until Hanbury got around Morich and started to close the gap. He got it down to a car length, but Potrzebowski stayed out front and took the win. "The car got a little loose, especially in turn four, but Tony ran me clean. Racing clean like that is a lot of fun," TJ said after his third opening night win in as many years. Hanbury, Morich, Rygielski and C. Sharpsteen made up the top five. Great repair work took former track champion Mike Nichols from a broken transmission to a car he described as a rocket ship. The Blauvelt Funeral Home Super Stock feature was tough one to watch, as the caution-plagued event slowed the action. The upside, however, was watching drivers restart and work their way back into contention. The 25-lap feature began with heat winners Jason Duke, Sr. and Tim Gullo making up row one. Gullo got the better of Duke, who got tapped by Nick Robinson, with both forced to the rear after that first caution. On the restart Frank Chapman, Jr. was responsible for a melee as they came off turn two, involving leader Gullo, Chapman III, Duke, and Abe Romanik. That gave the top spot to Cameron Nichols, with his father, Mike, alongside for the restart. From lap six on, this one was all Mike Nichols while Robinson and Gullo worked back toward the front. Gullo brought out the fourth caution with a flat, sending him to the rear once again. It was still far from over, with the final caution flag thrown when Sharpsteen got into C. Nichols on the restart. Gullo had already passed Robinson for second. Over the remaining laps Mike Nichols held on and got the win over Gullo, Robinson, Chapman, Jr., and Chapman III.

The track's newest and fastest growing division, the Marion Decker Agency Hobby Stocks, lived up to the hype in every way. Anthony Gullo, Gene Purvis and Kalysta DeMark won the three heats, while Brandon Ameigh and Dave Yehl lucked out and started from row one. The race took three tries to get going, after a solo and then a multi-car tangle, but once it did get going, they ran all 20 laps under green. Ameigh led the way, but he was challenged throughout by the father/son duo of Cullen and Gil Sharpsteen. Cullen did some great driving, staying with the leader while holding off his father. DeMark worked the traffic beautifully and moved up from her P10 starting spot, while Gullo took over fifth. At the finish, Brandon "Bam Bam" had his career-first win in the division after some wise strategy. "I deliberately didn't go out for practice tonight," he said while clutching the checkered flag. Cullen finished ahead of Gil, with Kalysta DeMark in fourth and Gullo in fifth.

Gene's Automotive came on board to sponsor the track's 4 Cylinder division. Defending track champion Joey Bevacqua earned the first win, in his heat, under that sponsorship with Greg Moldt winning heat two. Nick Robinson started from pole position, a spot he lost to Moldt for three laps near the end of the 20-lap feature. He and Moldt, who put on a great show in their heat, ran one-two the entire distance in this one, while Jason Peck was third until he lost the spot to the charging duo of Kyle Mortimer and Bevacqua. At the finish, Robinson had the win over Moldt, Mortimer, Bevacqua, and Peck. Since he's running the Super Stocks full-time, Robinson is limited to five races and will earn no points. But it's a division he loves. "It's a blast racing with Greg Moldt. I missed a gear and gave up the lead but got it back," he said. Robison also dedicated the race to Jeff Noe, who just rang the bell to complete treatments for cancer. The track's beginner Bandolero often brings back the next generation in racing families. Under the new sponsorship of JRC Cleaning, "next gens" included Max Morich and Leevi "Hammer" Sharpsteen. They, plus newcomer Kamden Wheeler ran heat, won by Sharpsteen. Veteran driver Dallas Harbst joined them for their 10-lap feature, arriving in his baseball uniform after a game. While race procedures will be carefully reviewed at this week's driver's meeting, fans did get to watch an event that is fun for kids. Sharpsteen took off and gapped Wheeler at the green. When he spun twice in turn four, she had the top spot for both restarts. Her time in front was short, as Sharpsteen again took over and scored the win over Harbst, Wheeler, and Morich.

This Friday, Sam's Bar & Grill presents the five-division regular program of Modifieds, Super Stocks, Hobby Stocks, 4 Cylinders and Bandoleros. Pits open at 4:30, grandstand at 5, practice starts at 6 and the first green flag flies at 7. Grandstand admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $5 for kids ages 5 to 12, and free for kids ages 5 and under. For information, log on to the trackís website:, "like" us on Facebook: Chemung Speedrome - Racing at the Drome, or call Ray Hodge, Promoter, at 607-483-3468.

Of Note:
Firehouse Subs, the race night sponsor, brought with them their SmokeEater Donuts food truck.

The track's 2024 apparel (hoodies, t-shirts and hats, along with bumper stickers) are available exclusively at the 07 Collectibles trailer on site.

A fan from Horseheads pocketed $466 from the 50/50.

Firehouse Subs Night Results:
Buckley's Automotive Modifieds (35 Laps): TJ POTRZEBOWSKI, Tony Hanbury, Nick Morich, Evan Rygielski, Charlie Sharpsteen, Jody Buckley, Justin Teresak, Chase Sinsabaugh, Dakota Anderson, Lee Sharpsteen, Jesse Kent, Tyler Harbst, Tom Shaffer
Heats: Morich, Hanbury

Blauvelt Funeral Home Super Stocks (25 Laps):
MIKE NICHOLS, Tim Gullo, Nick Robinson, Frank Chapman, Jr., Frank Chapman III, Cameron Nichols, Charlie Sharpsteen, Abe Romanik, Joe Lane, Chad Lane, Jason Duke, Sr., Bradley Mister
Heats: Duke, Gullo

Marion Decker Agency Hobby Stocks (20 Laps):
BRANDON AMEIGH, Cullen Sharpsteen, Gil Sharpsteen, Kalysta DeMark, Anthony Gullo, Gene Purvis, Doug DeKay, Sidnie Decker, Mark Taylor, Dave Decker, Luke Nickels, Larry Miller, Chuck Nickels, Mike Bailey, Devin Gullo, Mike Kitner, Ben Perry, Ethan Roberts, George Nichols, Dave Yehl, Randy Mathews
Heats: A. Gullo, Purvis, DeMark

Gene's Automotive 4 Cylinders (20 Laps):
NICK ROBINSON, Greg Moldt, Kyle Mortimer, Joey Bevacqua, Jason Peck, Matt Jenkins, Ricky Lane, Augustine Warren, Herb Green, Ryan Purvis, Dustin Pruyne (DNS)
Heats: Bevacqua, Moldt

JRC Cleaning Bandoleros (10 Laps):
LEEVI SHARPSTEEN, Dallas Harbst, Kamden Wheeler, Max Morich
Heat: Sharpsteen

Flynn Energy & Propane
Speedrome Promotions Group LLC
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