AKWASASNE - After several weeks of frustration by mother nature Mohawk International Raceway was finally given clear skies and warm temperatures making a perfect race night for the first time in 2014.
In the 24th running of the Memorial Cup, which was part of the Frenchie’s “Chevy Runs Deep” 358 Modified Series, Billy Dunn and Jordan McCreadie led the field to the green and Dunn charged into the top spot. The two-time and defending track champion was on a mission on this night as he built up nearly a full straight away lead with McCreadie, Tom Conklin, Joel Doiron and Danny O’Brien completing the top five. By lap 6, Dunn had made his way into lapped traffic and was looking for another dominant win. However on lap 6 Dunn would come to a stop on the back stretch bringing out the yellow. This left Jordan McCreadie with the lead on the next restart as he took the top spot away over Conklin, Doiron, O’Brien and Brian McDonald. McCreadie had a fast car and he began to build up almost a full straight away lead as Danny O’Brien made his way to second by lap 14 with Conklin, Doiron and McDonald rounding out the top five. On lap 16 the yellow flew for Jason Fetterly as he slapped the turn 4 wall. On the restart O’Brien used the outside of the speedway to take over the top spot from McCreadie as Conklin continued to run in third. O’Brien was clearly the class of the field as he used the bottom side of the speedway to build up a huge lead on the rest of the field as behind him Jordan McCreadie and Brian McDonald were having a great battle for second, a battle they would continue to have until the yellow flew for the final time on lap 40. On the final restart, O’Brien jumped out to another big lead and would hold it the rest of the way for his first ever Memorial Cup victory. McCreadie would hold McDonald at bay for second with Tom Conklin fourth and Chris Raabe was able to slip by Joel Doiron to round out the top five.
In Sportsman action, defending track champion Corey Wheeler set the pace early on as he took the lead from the pole at the start of the 25-lap event with Dylan Evoy, Mike Maresca, Brent Kelsey and Louie Jackson Jr. completing the top five in the early going. Wheeler was up to the task and was fast in the opening laps as behind him Maresca was able to get by Evoy for 2nd as the leaders began to enter lapped traffic by lap 10. Wheeler had a stout car but Dylan Evoy was on a mission as he got back around Maresca to pick up second and after a nice move in traffic Evoy was the new race leader over Wheeler, Maresca, Kelsey and Robert Delormier. On lap 14, the first yellow flag came out as Jasmine David spun in turn 2. On the restart Evoy continued to lead but Mike Maresca had problems with his race car as a shower of sparks came from the right rear but was still able to run in the top three. On lap 19, Wyatt Mullin would slow on the backstretch bringing out the yellow. Maresca was able to duck into the pits but would end his fantastic run for a top five finish. On the restart Evoy proved he means business in 2014 as he held on to the top spot and would pull away in the final seven laps to score the big opening night win with Wheeler coming home second. Robert Delormier, Brent Kelsey and Ryan Stabler rounded out the top five.
The Bandit class had a double header on this opening night and the first feature went right down to the wire. Randy Whiting had a fast car at the end of 2013 and was fast on this night as he held the top spot during the final half of the 10-lap feature. Corey Castell was on his tail as the two drivers raced hard on the final lap. coming into turn 3 Castell was able to get the run he was looking for as the top two charged off turn 4 and Castell was able to steal the win away with Whiting taking second, early race leader Darryl Mitchell was third followed by Nolan Swamp and Tim Tupia.
In the night cap for the Bandits it started off with a red flag for Nolan Swamp who took a hard tumble down the back straight away. Swamp climbed from his car uninjured and walked back to the pits under his own power. Randy Whiting was involved in a close finish again in this event as both he and Matt Zira were involved in a close battle for the top spot through the entire 10-lap distance. Whiting made several attempts to take the lead away but Matt Zira stayed steady and strong to claim his first win at Mohawk in the Bandit class. Whiting settled for second again with Corey Castell, Darryl Mitchell and Tim Tupia rounding out the top five.
The Mod Lite class also had double features on this night and the first 12-lap affair saw a battle between 2011 track champion Mathieu Robinson and Harley Brown, who was in search of his first career Mod Lite victory. Brown was able to draw along side of Robinson several times but was unable to complete the pass as Robinson grabbed the win in the first race by two-car lengths over Brown, Scott Waldrif, Dan Desnoyers and Jesse Hudson.
In the final Mod Lite feature Scott Waldrif was looking to grab another win on opening day as he won the opener a year ago in Mod Lite. Waldrif took the lead from early pace setter Dan Reif and begin to pull away. Dan Desnoyers who ran in Pro Stock last season was on the charge as he reeled in Waldrif and would have a great battle for the lead in the closing laps. Waldrif was not to be denied as the new proud father of a baby boy took his car to victory lane for the first time in 2014. Desnoyers settled for second with Robinson, Dan Reif and Jesse Hudson completing the top five.
This Friday night, the 358 Modifieds will have the night off but the Empire Super Sprints will be set to make their only appearance of 2014 along with a full show for Sportsman, Mod Lite and Bandit. Racing begins at 7:30 pm.
For more information, visit the track website at www.MohawkInternationalRaceway.com.