Potrzebowski Jr. carrying on family tradition

Ajay Potrzebowski Jr. celebrates his first career Crate Sportsman victory at The Hill Speedway Friday night.

MONROETON — If you search the history books at nearly every racetrack within 100 miles of Sayre, you’re almost guaranteed to find the name Potrzebowski in the winner’s column. This family of racers that took the green flag in 1970, with Terry at the wheel, has made winning a way of life.

They’ve also not taken their foot off the proverbial gas in the past 50 years.

Terry would soon see the family tradition carried on by TJ Potrzebowski in 1989 and ten years later with Ajay Potrzebowski. Both TJ and Ajay made winning their mission — one they accomplished often with both also bringing home track championships to hang on the mantle.

Ajay would later have children, Kayley and Ajay Jr. who would spend their childhood weekends chasing fast cars and watch their grandpa, uncle and dad win races, set records and re-write history. They too would carry on the family tradition- winning races in go-karts and entry level Four Cylinder youth divisions. Ajay and Kayley both claimed wins at Woodhull Raceway in 2016.

Ajay Jr. went on to win six races and a track championship in his Petro Powered No. 72 Ford Mustang at Woodhull. But a big step up came in 2017, when the driver known in the family and to friends as “Lil A” made the jump to Crate Sportsman Modifieds.

This big a jump meant several things to this team; a steep learning curve and an even steeper level of competition in a division where the rules keep as level a playing field as any in dirt racing. When you win at any track in the Crate Sportsman class you have really accomplished a feat that says more about you as a driver than it does about how superior your equipment may be.

The Hill Speedway — enter stage right

Potrzebowski drove his way to victory Friday night at The Hill Speedway in nearby Monroeton scoring his first victory in two years since moving into the Crate Sportsman division. 2018 saw Potrzebowski Jr. score a rookie sportsman division win at Skyline Raceway Park in Virgil, N.Y. However, a rookie sportsman win doesn’t hold a candle to a victory against the veterans of the Crate Sportsman class.

What made this win so impressive was how Potrzebowski did it and who he was able to beat. Potrzebowski first dispatched stout Woodhull competitor Dayton Brewer before patiently stalking 2018 track champion Ray Smith for eight laps and eventually taking the lead with only five laps remaining in the season opener.

“It was definitely a relief,” said Potrzebowski Jr. when The Morning Times spoke to him this week. “All the hard work finally paid off for the team.”

Prior to Mother Nature finally letting The Hill Speedway get their season started on Friday, the No. 72 team had spent their season traveling to different tracks. Although the same car can compete at many different tracks in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Canada, some tracks race on different tire manufacturers (Hoosier or American Racer) — something Potrzebowski says helped them improve as a team.

“Traveling around definitely has given us more information about our new car and different set ups to try based on what tires we are racing,” noted the Horseheads resident.

Eddie Sites (IMCA-Style Modifieds), Earl Zimmer (Street Stocks), Alan Blackwell (RWD 4 Cylinder) and Matt McKernan (FWD 4 Cylinder) all collected opening night wins at The Hill.

This Friday night at The Hill is Thomas W. Dunn Night with 20-lap feature races for all five divisions. There will be boys’ and girls’ bicycle giveaways as well with the first green flag waving at 7 p.m.

Oil spill at Chemung postpones Sunoco Modified feature

A beautiful night for racing turned out to be a busy night for the track safety crew. Several wrecks and a show-ending oil dump forced management to postpone the 40-lap Sunoco Modified feature until this Friday.

Bill Chandler had the cap on his oil pan come loose as he exited the pits and emptied oil all around the track, in multiple lanes, as the field was warming up their tires. Officials put out the red flag, Chandler coasted to the pits, and a massive cleanup ensued.

When the yellow came out, the field tried to work in and blow off the speedy dry laid down by safety officials. Despite everyone’s combined efforts, most of the drivers gave a thumbs-down to the track’s condition. With safety first, officials chose to postpone the race until this Friday

In the 25-lap Super Stock feature, Nick Robinson pulled away and sailed to his third win in four races run so far this year. “I was nervous on those opening laps, but I just had to pick a line and hope for the best. I had to work both lines, but when Frank (Chapman) slid up, I got the inside lane and that was what I needed,” Robinson said.

Greg Moldt was an early retiree from last week’s 4 Cylinder feature. The Elmira, NY driver rebounded Friday night and won both his heat and the 20-lap feature. Moldt would have to survive many restarts alongside 2019 feature winner Monica Green, but Moldt was up to the challenge.

“I first want to thank Ray and Ellen Hodge and the whole team they assembled for giving us a place to race. I also thank Wilber Auto Sales for their sponsorship and those who help me with the car,” Moldt said following his win.

Kyle Youngs had a stout car in the INEX Legends division, earning a sweep of his heat and the 20-lap feature. Youngs took the lead on the seventh lap and would never look back to take the win.

The 8-lap Carpenters Karts Bandolero feature went caution-free. Josh Duke picked up his third win of the year in the Outlaw division. Heat winner Jeffrey Noe stayed with him early on while Chase Sinsabaugh raced to a solid third place finish overall.

Sinsabaugh’s third place finish earned him a trophy in the Bandit class.

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