Rich Vleck, DUNDEE, NY (October 21, 2011)- Gary Roberts held the lead for all 25 green flag laps of the IMCA Modified World Products Empire Series event, but it was what happened under a caution period that put his win at Black Rock in peril.
Roberts, of Afton, NY, nearly saw his race, in which he had led the first 22 laps, come to an abrupt end when a lapped car spun in front of his U2.
“My heart sank when randy lost it in front of my, I thought I lost it there,” stated Roberts in Victory Lane after scoring his first tour win of the year.
Roberts redrew the outside pole for the feature, but would battle hard with polesitter Jerry Lobdell Jr. to get out in front. Lobdell would break while in second on lap seven, which would hand the spot over to J.J. Courcy, who made contact with Roberts on lap 10.
Chris Fleming was on the move, taking third on lap 14 after local favorite Rich Karlnoski spun out of the position. Fleming would try on numerous occasions to drive underneath Roberts for the lead, but was unsuccessful each time.
With three laps remaining, Daniel Burman spun in front of Gary Roberts and drawing contact. Roberts would stay in the throttle, however, and since the incident occurred after the caution flag had already been displayed, Roberts was given the lead back.
The ensuing restart would be the final of the event and while Roberts held a comfortable advantage, Courcy got back underneath Fleming for second and began to reapply pressure on Roberts. He would send the No. 27 deep into the final set of corners, but would have to settle for second, which he stated afterwards was, “…like a win for us”.
Fleming would cross in third for the third time this season at BRS while Kevan Ciook would was fourth. Eddie Sites, who leads the Empire Series points, would round out the top-five to minimize the damage to his advantage.
The other feature on the night with Klein Steel Retail Enduro, which saw Ronnie Hill charge from the tail to the lead in 16 laps and then fight off developing motor issues over the second half of the event to win the final tune up before he attempts to defend his title in the Big One Enduro.
Dave Boylan fought off Joe Boylan through the early stages of the event, but lapped traffic allowed Hill to get by and then hang on from there.
The driver on the move late in the race was Phil DeFiglio, who moved by Boylan on the final circuit and pulled within a car length in the final set of corners, but would have to settle for second. Dave Boylan rounded out the podium positions.
Also part of the night were a handful of practice sessions for other classes, which amassed over 30 cars. For more information, visit www.BlackRockSpeedway.com.
World Products Empire Series IMCA Modified Feature (25 Laps)- GARY ROBERTS, J.J. Courcy, Chris Fleming, Kevan Cook, Eddie Sites, Mike Wilmot, Ray McClure, KC Cole, Mark Griffin, Mike VanDyke, Phil Yaw, Joe Cole, Ryan Scott, Josh VanTassell, Pete Neff, Tyler Stoddard, Brandon Carver, Bernie Baker, Don Newell, Jason Sullivan, Mike Smith, Matt Roberts, Daniel Burman, Rich Karlnoski, Jerry Lobdell Jr., Gary Smith, Robbie Compton.
Lap Leader- G. Roberts 1-25.
Heat Winners- Scott, Karlnoski, Courcy.
Klein Steel Retail Enduro Top Five (30 Laps)- RONNIE HILL, Phil DeFiglio, David Boylan, Kurt Benjamin, Robert Wagner.
Lap Leaders- Grant 1-2, D. Boylan 3-15, Hill 16-30.