35 Raceway Park in Frankfort held it’s 2017 Pepsi Mid-Season Championship on Saturday evening. The night began with the driver’s meeting and hot laps. The Pepsi Mid-Season Championship featured Mini-Sprints, Mod Lites, 4 Cylinder Stock, V-8 Modified, Sport Modified, Crazy Compact, and Hobby Stock classes.
The mini sprint class was the first group of drivers to take the track for a heat race that saw 9K Kyle Kruger of Frankfort, Ohio placing first, next was the driver of the K22 car driven by Joe Boyle of Caldwell, Ohio, and third place went to Josh Clifton in the 27 car out of Blanchester.
The four cylinder stock class was next with two heats; the first heat of the class saw the father and son duo of JR Lemaster and Tanner Lemaster out of Washington Court House, Ohio in the 4 and 4T cars respectively. The younger Lemaster was able squeeze out the win, JR Lemaster came in second, and the driver of car number 319 Charles Dozier placed third. The second heat for the four cylinder stock class saw Steve Duty driving the 3 car out of Springfield, Ohio win the heat, followed by Mark Clifford of Williamsport, Ohio in the 44 car took second, and Bill Young of Springfield, Ohio took third in the heat.
The V-8 Modified class brought the noise as the next class to race with two heats featuring a total of eight drivers. The first heat saw Keith Bills of Hurricane, West Virginia take home first place in the 36K car, Hubey Humphrey in the 4 car out of Columbus, Ohio was second, and Ron McMannis in the 1M car out of Carrol, Ohio took third. The second heat for the V-8 modified class saw Terry Humphrey of Grove City, Ohio take first in the 1 car, Danny Moore in the 29 car hailing from Orient, Ohio placed second, and the 96 car driven by Josh Thomas out of Vanceburg, Kentucky was third.
The crazy compact class got underway next with three heats with six drivers in each heat. Mitchell Hardesty of Chillicothe, Ohio driving the 24 car took first place in the first heat of the night. The second heat belonged to Kyle Stephenson out of Ashville, Ohio in the 23 car. The third and final heat for the crazy compact class saw David Hall in the 39 car out of Springfield, Ohio take home the checkered.
The next heat races of the night were the sport modified class featuring six drivers. Greg Blackburn driving the 34 car out of Grove City, Ohio won first place, Brandon Furniss in the 32 car out of Orient, Ohio was second, and Eric Kinney took third place in the 33 car out of Grove City, Ohio.
The next to last heat races of the evening featured the mod lite class with two heats. The 4 car driven by Joey Dingus out of Galloway, Ohio took the checkered, Kevin Rittenhouse in the 75 car hailing from Jeffersonville, Ohio was second, and the 90 car driven by Jarrod Cassley from Breman, Ohio placed third. The second heat saw Trevor Daniels of Washington Court House, Ohio take first place in the 24 car, second was claimed by Tommy Bigham in the 007 car out of Amanda, Ohio, and Donald Dinklocker in the 3D car out of Columbus, Ohio was third.
The final heat races of the night featured the hobby stock class and they ran two heats. The first heat saw car 88 driven by Tim Howard out of Lucasville, Ohio take the checkered flag, the 08 car driven by Robert Binder out of Chillicothe, Ohio was second, and the 85 car out of Oak Hill, Ohio driven by AJ Conn took third. The second heat of the class saw the 201 car driven by Brandon Allen from Jackson, Ohio took first place, the 7B car driven by Brandon Harris of Wellston, Ohio took second, and the 33 car driven by Chris Comer of Wellston, Ohio placed third.
The mini sprint feature race was a tour de force for the number 27 car as driver Josh Clifton took the lead in the first lap and never looked back. Clifton even found separation after a late caution to win by more than three car lengths. Mike Badgley of Frewsburg, New York came in second in the number 22 car followed closely by Jared Starr and the number 45 car in third.
After the race Clifton, a usual at the track, took the time to thank his father, “I really have to thank my dad, Wayne, he is the car owner after I totaled my car.” Clifton also stressed that his whole operation is a family ordeal by saying, “This is mainly just family; me and my kids and my dad. They love it.” The victory marks the third time this year that Clifton has claimed victory at the quarter mile bull ring.
The mod lite feature was a tight race throughout as all 11 drivers put on a good show for the fans in attendance. Cautions were flying in every direction as the drivers bumped and rubbed their way through 20 laps. By the end of the race nearly half of the starting field found themselves in the pits. Trevor Daniels and the number 24 car found their way to the front of the and took the win. Joey Dingus and the 4 car came in a close second and Dylan Rittenhouse in the number 25 car was third.
Following the hard-fought victory Daniels shared his view on what it takes to win in dirt track racing when he said, “It takes patience, it takes the car handling, and it takes the right driver. You have to have that good combination in order to win.” Daniels also took the time to thank his family saying, “I want to thank my mom and my dad. Also I am very thankful to my dad and my uncle working on the car end of end and always trying to figure stuff out.”
The four-cylinder stock feature was the largest of the night with 13 drivers in the starting grid. Charles Dozier and the 319 car started on the outside of row two and quickly made his way to the front. The racing for the second and third spots was hot and heavy as the 44, 4, and 4T cars driven by Mark Clifford, JR Lemaster, and Tanner Lemaster respectively battled for the two spots. Dozier was able to hold off a late charge from the second-place finisher Clifford in the 44 to take the checkered flag, while JR Lemaster took third place in the 4 car.
Dozier, a regular at the quarter mile bull ring, was happy to take home the win. He credited his family with helping him get the car ready every week saying, “My old man, my father-in-law, and my wife all pitch in and they all really support me 100 percent.” Dozier also complimented 35 Raceway Park and the family atmosphere that it provides when he said, “I love this track, it’s a good family run track and they always take care of you.”
The V-8 modified drivers were the next class to hit the track for a feature race. Keith Bills in car number 36K started on the pole and once the green flag waved he left the competition in the dust. Bills led throughout the race and was never really challenged for the win. Terry Humphrey in the 1 car came in second followed closely by the third-place driver Josh Thomas in the 96 car.
Bills was very complementary of the track after the race saying, “You don’t tear up tires here. Tony keeps the track perfect. Almost every week it is really soft and easy on tires. The competition is nice; not as much beating and banging as most tracks.” Bills also shared that on race nights that his wife is his one-person pit crew and helps him get everything ready throughout the week as well.
The most contentious feature of the night was the sport modified race as the 32 and 34 cars driven by Brandon Furniss and Greg Blackburn respectively renewed a season long rivalry. The race saw three cautions before a single lap could be completed. Furniss and Blackburn got stuck together coming out of turn two when the 34 car came up the track and became lodged against the front quarter panel of the 32 car. Despite the rough first lap the race went the full 20 laps as Furniss took the checkered flag followed closely by Blackburn in second and Eric Kinney in the 33 car placed third. During post-race inspections it was discovered that the early altercation between Furniss and Blackburn had damaged the 32 car, breaking a chassis bar on the front drivers side and damaging a header on the engine.
Furniss reflected on the struggles he has had this season after moving up a class when he said, “We just jumped up a class and have been fighting the car all year. This is the best it has run and handled. It still has a little hack in the motor, next week we are going to put a little more fuel to it and see if we can do even better next week.”
The crazy compact feature saw the 44 car driven by Les Stephenson take home the checkered flag in what was a tight race from start to finish. Les Stephenson was followed by Kyle Stephenson taking second in the 23 car and David Hall in the number 39 car came in third.
The hobby stock class were the last group of drivers to take the track on Saturday and they put on a show for the fans in their 20 lap race. Brandon Allen in the 201 car was impressive as he maneuvered through the field for the victory. The other top finishers were on his tail with less than three car lengths difference between the first-place finisher and the third-place car. Robert Binder in the 01 car was second and Chris Comer in the 33 car came in third.
All racers that competed in the feature races were awarded double points on the night and winners of the feature races were presented with beautiful trophies to commemorate their Mid-Season Championship victories.
35 Raceway Park is scheduled to hold their next set of races on Saturday July 15. Also part of the entertainment at the next event will feature children’s bike races; there will be three age groups. The winner in each age group will win a brand-new bicycle.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.