RUSTY SMITH PUTS ON LATE CHARGE
TO WIN CHILLY DUNN TIRE RACEWAY PARK RoC 75
On a night that felt more like October than July, Rusty Smith survived a
wild race to capture the Race of Champions DART Asphalt Modified Tour 75 on
Saturday night at Dunn Tire Raceway Park . It was his first career win at
the Lancaster oval.
“It ended up being a good night for us,” smiled the jubilant winner
after the race. “We were just taking it easy today and sometimes when you do
that you get lucky and things turn out right. We drew an awful spot when we
got here and that gave us the idea to drive around a little bit to see how
things were going to play out. We were just biding our time. We had a pretty
good idea of when everybody would pit and we were going to pit when they
did, which obviously worked in our favor. On the restarts guy were
tip-toeing into the corners and I was just driving it in on the outside and
it was sticking out there. For some reason guys were running right on the
bottom on the restarts and then moving to the outside after about ten laps.
I just stuck with the groove we raced in every lap and that’s how we were
able to pick them off.
“I don’t have a lot of experience at this track. I’ve haven’t been
here in two years and probably only raced here seven times in all, without
much success. But this is a newer car with a big engine in it. We run mostly
small tracks where you don’t need a $40-50,000 engine. Last year we made the
decision to put a lot of money into a big engine and it paid off tonight.
“I think we have some momentum going for us now. If we had pitted
in the last race at Spencer I think we had a chance to win that race too but
we don’t run up there very often and we didn’t know the right strategy. We
had a big lead and thought if we just took it easy we would win but that
backfired on us.
“We’re coming up on a busy stretch of races in the next few weeks
and we’re on building up a hot streak. We came off a dominant tenth place
finish at Spencer then we finished third last week at Wyoming County , and
now we knocked them down here tonight. We’re pretty excited and can’t wait
to get to the next race.”
After the redraw for starting positions in the feature, second
generation racer and polesitter Mike Leaty of Williamson , New York grabbed
the early lead in a side-by-side battle with T.J. Potrzebowski. Eric Beers
settled into third ahead of Earl Paules and Jim Storace to round out the
top-five. A caution on lap 26 for a spin by Bill Hebing sent several cars to
the pits for tires. T.J. Potrzebowski took over the lead followed by Earl
Paules, Jim Storace and Matt Hirschman.
A major backstretch pileup involving Tom McGrath Erick Rudolph,
Dave Wollaber, Billy Putney and several others brought out the next caution
on lap 33. When the race resumed Potrzebowski continued to lead Paules and
Hossfeld with Jimmy Zacharias and Sege Fidanza moving into the lead group.
By the halfway point in the race were opening up a margin over the other
cars as the teams with fresher tires from their lap 26 pit stop moving
toward the front. Hossfeld was now second followed by Jan Leaty, Mike Leaty
A brief caution on the 43rd circuit saw the rest of the cars headed
to pit road for a fresh tire, with only Potrzebowski choosing to remain on
the track. His worn tires were slowing his pace and Hossfeld was making a
run at the lead. But Potrzebowski clung tight to the top spot. Behind the
two leaders, Jan was being pushed hard by his son for third with Smith
looking for an opening. The junior Leaty fell back a position on lap 55 as
Smith was on the move. Three laps later the father suffered the same fate as
his son and Smith took over third and focused on the leaders.
Hossfeld began to fall off the pace as Smith moved into the
runner-up position and began to close in on Potrzebowski. The leader had his
hands full until Rick Kluth slammed into the backstretch wall on the 69th
circuit. After a long cleanup the green was briefly waved but caution was
back out before a lap could be completed.
This was the final caution of the race. It took Smith just one more
lap to blast into the lead. His move to the inside opened a lane for
Hossfeld and Jan Leaty who took advantage, dropping the former leader to
fourth. Smith was the dominant figure over the remaining laps and took the
checkered flag first, then headed to Victory Lane . Hossfeld held onto
second ahead of Jan Leaty, Potrzebowski and Mike Leaty.
Hossfeld gave his team credit for his second place finish. ““The
way I see tonight’s race is that T.J. Potrzebowski was so fast. I tried to
run with him and it was just too fast and I probably ran my car too hard too
early and suffered the consequences. Otherwise I think my team was the class
of the field. I talked to Rusty Smith and he said he pitted when we did and
I think he was further back and not running his car hard. I figured we would
outlast him and we didn’t. But we ended up second. I think I have the best
team and my Hutter motor probably one of the best I’ve ever had. I just
think Rusty was too fast for us tonight.
“Kenny Troyer joined our team a few weeks ago as the crew chief and
he’s been doing a very good job. My car has been really on the mark. The
rest of the team has been working hard to keep up with our schedule. We ran
Sunday at Spencer in the NASCAR Tour race, then Wednesday at Seekonk in an
open race, and now back here with the RoC Tour tonight. That’s a lot of work
to keep up for guys will full-time jobs and I’m proud of all that. I feel
like I’ve got the most professional guys with me for guys that aren’t doing
this professionally. With them and the support we get from Jerry Gradl
Motors we’re as good as we can be.”
“That wasn’t a lot of fun out there tonight,” admitted the senior
Leaty. “It seemed like a marathon, really. There was a half-hour in the car
before we even got on the race track, and then the race turned out to be a
little bit if a battle for survival. My car was good and our strategy was
about right, but we got beat by a couple of guys (Rusty Smith and Chuck
Hossfeld) that were running well, too. Congratulations to Rusty and his team
for their win. They’re a great bunch of guys and they were on fire at the
end of the race. We couldn’t do anything with them. We might have been a
little better than Chuck at the end but he had the spot and wasn’t going to
give it up. My son Mike was up there behind me and sniffing me around a bit
and I thought he would stick right with me to the end, but I guess that T.J.
(Potrzebowski) cut in front of him so he lost one position to end up fifth.
All in all, third was a good night for us and a good night for the Leaty
family with a pair of top-five finishes. Best of all, both cars are in one
RoC 75-Lap Feature Finish: 1. Rusty Smith, 2. Chuck
Hossfeld, 3. Jan Leaty, 4. T.J. Potrzebowski, 5. Mike Leaty, 6. Eric Beers,
7. Earl Paules, 8. Daren Scherer, 9. Matt Hirschman, 10. Jimmy Zacharias,
11. John Markovic, 12. Jim Storace, 13. Mark Tichoniewicz, 14. Jeff Hamman,
15. Daryl Lewis, Jr., 16. Rick Kluth, 17. Billy Putney, 18. Sege Fidanza,
19. Doug Reaume, 20. Karl Hehr, 21. Erick Rudolph, 22. Tom McGrath, 23. Dave
Wollaber, 24. Bill Hebing, 25. Ricky Knapp
Street Stock 25-Lap Feature Finish: 1. Kevin Mendel, 2. Rick
Ortwein, 3. Kris Hamman, 4. Scott Mutka, 5. Joe Haley, 6. Mike Maggiore, 7.
Nate Straus, 8. Ed Nowak, 9. Joe Light, 10. Gary Denea, 11. Gary Bartella,
12. Chip Wood, 13. Debbie Jurek, 14. Mike Weston, 15. Jim Stein, 16. Dave
Frieder, 17. Matt Jurek, 18. Mike Nash
TQ Midgets 25-Lap Feature Finish: 1. Vinnie Christiano, Jr.
2. Jamie Collard, 3. Bobby Holmes, 4. Mark Schulz, 5. Paul Faleski, 6.
Justin Mapes, 7. Dave Wollaber, 8. Mel Rab, 9. Jonathan Reid, 10. Dan
Lawrence, 11. Dean McConnaughey, 12. Charlie DiRosa, 13. Driver 83, 14.
Junior Haywood, 15. Driver 4, 16. Driver 00, 17. Mike Blair, 18. Camden
Barber, 19. Driver 10
4-Cylinder Feature Finish: 1. Matt Druar, 2. Charles
Buchanan, 3. Cassie McGrath, 4. Dean Siminski, 5. Kevin Morreale, 6. Jayme
Thompson, 7. Driver 35, 8. Eric Greenleif, 9. Ken Hejna, 10. Derek Wagner,
11. Dan Roesch, 12. Tim Durfy
Source: Bruce Boucher / Race Of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour