Story By: DAVE BUCHANAN / LANCASTER SPEEDWAY – LANCASTER, NY – Lancaster National Speedway almost beat Mother Nature on Saturday night, but came up just four laps short of being able to finish its second X-Press Signs Stock Car Series show of the 2018 season. Thunderstorms rolled in on lap 14 of the VP Racing Fuels Sportsman feature and forced the remainder of the race to be postponed until Thursday, June 7.
The Advance Auto Parts Street Stocks and Roaming Buffalo 4-Cylinders were able to get their main events run before the rain arrived. Rich Sharpe of Lancaster picked up his second straight Advance Auto Parts Street Stock feature win. Dan Dressel of Clarence, N.Y. captured his first win of the season in the Roaming Buffalo 4-Cylinders.
The VP Racing Fuels Sportsman made their 2018 season debut on Saturday night with a stacked field of 20 cars, featuring stars from the Race of Champions Modified Series and Lancaster’s top weekly Sportsman competitors. Tommy Catalano, Mike Leaty and Matt Druar picked up the heat race wins to set the lineup for the 35-lap main event.
Matt Druar and Scott Wylie led the field to the opening green flag. Wylie eventually took the lead after a couple of false starts to the event. Defending track champion Shawn Nye moved into the second position on lap 3, and he and Wylie pulled away from the field during the opening stages.
The first stage of Nye’s title defense ran into problems on lap 10 when he stopped on the race track with mechanical issues. This moved Tommy Catalano into second place followed by Mike Leaty and Patrick Emerling.
The race resumed with Wylie and Catalano battling for the lead, and the action spilled over on lap 14 when the pair tangled in turn four. Wylie spun out and Catalano was sent to the rear of the field for contact. The rain hit during the caution period, and officials were unable to resume the event. The final 21 laps will be completed on Thursday, June 7.
In the Advance Auto Parts Street Stock feature, Max Northem and Ken Maltby battled for the lead from the drop of the green flag. Northem eventually wrestled the lead away from Maltby to take control of the race until the caution flag flew on lap 8 for incident involving Nik Welshans and Mike Dalfonso, Jr.
Defending Street Stock champ Rich Sharpe was third when the race restarted, and he did not waste any time in moving to the front. He passed Maltby on lap 11 and then drove around the outside of Northem to take the lead with 10 laps to go.
Northem looked to be able to hang with Sharpe in the closing laps, but could not make a serious bid to regain the lead. Sharpe cruised to his second-straight win to open the 2018 season. Northem finished second followed by Maltby, Andy Cryan and Tim Welshans.
For the second week in a row the Roaming Buffalo 4-Cylinder feature ended with some late race drama to decide the winner. Scott Fritz and Charles Palmer lined up on the front row at the start of the event. Fritz led the first lap before giving way to Palmer.
Palmer took over on the race’s second lap and dominated the event until the first and only caution period happened on lap 19 when Dave Brunka lost a wheel. This erased a straightaway-sized lead he held over second place Dan Dressel.
The race restarted with six laps to go. Dressel took lead from Palmer on lap 21, but Palmer was determined to get his first career win. The pair rubbed fenders down the frontstretch as Palmer regained the top spot on lap 22. Dressel, however took advantage of Palmer pushing high out of turn 4 on the following lap to recapture first place.
Dressel held on the final two laps to score his first win of 2018. Palmer was forced to settle for second, but looked strong in his best ever finish. Fritz, Joe Brunka and Andy Danielwicz rounded out the top five.
Lancaster’s X-Press Signs Stock Car Series will be off next Saturday for the Memorial Day weekend. The next Stock Car event is Saturday, June 2 when the ISMA Supermodifieds return for Double Wing Night. The fastest short track cars in America headline a program that will include the winged Can-Am TQ Midgets, Street Stocks and 4-Cylinders.
Track officials announced a special make up show for Thursday, June 7 at 7 p.m. That event will start with the conclusion of Saturday’s rain-shortened VP Racing Fuels Sportsman feature plus a full show for the Sportsman, Street Stocks and 4-Cylinders. The Ladies Race that was also rained out on Saturday will also be run on June 7.
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS STREET STOCKS
Heat Winners: Rich Sharpe, Ken Maltby
Feature: RICH SHARPE, Max Northem, Ken Maltby, Andy Cryan, Tim Welshans, Mark Hoch, Dave Vona, Tommy Wentland, Mike Dalfonso, Jr., Jeff Szafraneic, Chris Powers, Nik Welshans
ROAMING BUFFALO 4-CYLINDERS
Heat Winners: Chris Pennell, Scott Fritz
Feature: DAN DRESSEL, Charles Palmer. Scott Fritz, Joe Brunka, Andy Danielwicz, Kayla Joseph, Mark Annis, Jr., Daver Milbrand, Jr., Dave Evans, Dave Brunka, Chris Pennell
VP RACING FUELS SPORTSMAN
Heat Winners: Tommy Catalano, Mike Leaty, Matt Druar
Feature: Rained out at 14 laps. To be completed June 7.