CHEMUNG — There’s a lot to be excited about in 2019 at Chemung Speedrome. A new promoter, a fresh start and a new opportunity for drivers to step up and assert themselves as title contenders have greeted fans at “The Drome.”
In return, “The Drome” has been treated to a full parking lot in consecutive weeks as fans continue to pour into the famous three-eighths-mile paved facility.
In the two opening points races in 2019 at Chemung, it would be a massive understatement to say that youth has been served. With multi-time track champion Jimmy Zacharias moved on to dirt racing on his weekends, several drivers look to take the torch for Chemung Modified supremacy.
Zack Knowlden from Horseheads not only was a double winner Friday night when he won the 40-lap feature and took over the point lead in the headline Sunoco Modified division — it was his second win at Chemung and first since 2017.
Knowlden started on the outside of the front row and powered his way around Gene Sharpsteen to lead the first two laps. Sharpsteen had a narrow edge on lap three but then Knowlden took over again. Just prior to the halfway point Tim Gullo got around Sharpsteen and began to chase down Knowlden.
The only caution came out with 20 down and 20 to go. The restart had Knowlden and Gullo in row one and the Sharpsteens in row two. Over the final dozen laps, it was all Knowlden, whose advantage only grew while Charlie Sharpsteen and Gullo resumed their tussle for second. When lap 40 clicked off, Knowlden was the victor. He was followed to the line by Gullo, C. Sharpsteen, Curren and G. Sharpsteen.
“The car was fast all night, and I have my father and crew to thank for that,” Knowlden told the crowd, many of whom had gathered in front of him in victory lane. “I knew I had the car to beat and I just had to hold my line and I was able to do that thanks to them.”
Super Stock ace Mike Nichols had to get around heat race winner Jim House to take over first place in their feature race. That happened on lap five, and from then on, he cruised around the track in the caution-free 25-lap race.
Week one winner Nick Robinson took over second at the halfway point and then set his sights on Nichols, who by then had a comfortable advantage. Robinson closed the gap a bunch but the caution he needed never came. House, RJ Zacharias and Frank Chapman rounding out the top five.
When car owner, Nick Robinson, put Joey Bevacqua in one of his two 4 Cylinder race cars this year, he saw the potential the 14-year old possessed. Since pre-season practice days, he’s been turning heads, and on Friday night turned in his career-first feature win as a division rookie.
Over the course of the race, Bevacqua and Monica Green fought hard, working lap traffic in the closing laps, but she was unable to get around him. DJ Shaw was third followed to the stripe by Mark Taylor and Jason Peck.
Coming out of retirement was a good decision for Brockton, New York’s Anthony Riforgiato, who swept the action in the INEX Legend division. Three cautions slowed the action but not the leader. Riforgiato was solid and able to hold off Daniel Carter.
Josh Duke flaunted his Outlaw skills in the 10-lap Bandolero feature, leading every lap and picking up the overall win. Duke kept newcomer Kaden Rogers at bay on the restart and left him in a lively battle with Jeffrey Noe for second. Duke and Rogers celebrated in victory lane for their wins in the Outlaw and Bandit divisions.
Tyler Rypkema Bags Mod Win May 24
Tyler Rypkema made a fairly last minute call two weeks ago to bring his Sport Mod to Chemung Speedrome to “play” on a rare off weekend for his team. Their play date with the three-eighths mile Chemung Speedrome led to pay dirt with Rypkema taking home his first Chemung checkered flag during the weekly racing opener.
Local hero Zack Curren drew the pole position and was thought to be the favorite to take the lead into turn one once Allen Mathews dropped the green flag. But it was Rypkema who ripped the top lane off turn two to grab the early lead. Whether it was momentum or a great educated guess on gear selection- Rypkema would take the lead and never look back.
Zack Knowlden would finish in position number two, with Zack Curren, Charlie Sharpsteen and Gene Sharpsteen completing the top five.
“We had a really good Modified car here last week, so we decided to bring the B Mod here to have some fun,” said Rypkema as he was interviewed by Chris Zacharias in Midstate Basement Authorities Victory Lane.
Defending New York Super Stock Series champion Nick Robinson made it two races in a row with a checkered flag as he crossed the line first in the 25-lap Super Stock feature.
Robinson’s fiancé Monica drew him the pole starting position for the green flag, and he would keep the field at bay for all 25 laps.
It was an all Team Robinson night too, as Monica Green dominated the Four Cylinder feature in her Mortimer sponsored, Five Acres Tavern No. 5. Green had nearly a half-track advantage at one point before a caution flag for Ricky Lane and Tyler Harbst making contact and spinning in turn one bunched the field back up.
Bevaqua gave it a great run in the hunt for his teammate Green, but it would be the Queen of the Four Cylinders who captured the checkered flag to start off her 2019 championship pursuit. Bevaqua got as far as a car length away in the closing laps but settled for second, with DJ Shaw, Harbst and Lane filling out the top five.
Speaking of dominating performances, Gary Ham put a shellacking on the INEX Legends field, leading all 20 laps enroute to his opening night victory.
The young shoe Jeffery Noe in his No. 1 would take the lead on lap one and lead the entire distance to start his points campaign with a victory. Aidan Gardner made memories with his crew as he would claim the Bandit division victory for his first checkered flag of 2019. His victory lane interview with Chris Zacharias was one for the ages — who doesn’t love a first time winner?