Defebo's Late Pass, Hanbury's Dual Win Highlight Shangri-La II Opener; Clonch and Nurmi also Score Victories

lm_17_br_37_jl_4702On a hot day of hot competition, Shangri-La II Motor Speedway opened its second year of operation under the ASA Member Track banner Saturday afternoon with Brian Defebo scoring a dramatic victory in the 50-lap Modified feature and Tony Hanbury taking down his second major Sportsman Modified victory in 24 hours. Rick "Cricket" Clonch celebrated his return to full-time racing by sweeping the Street Stock field, while Scott Nurmi was credited with the ASA Late Model honors after apparent winner Tommy Cloce was disqualified at post-race inspection for violating the track gear ratio rule.

Defebo started fifth in the Modified field whch saw 2009 track champion John Markovic take the lead from the pole. A slower car in the outside lane allowed third starting Dean Rypkema and Defebo to move into the top three. Several early cautions slowed the action, eliminating rookies John Ramsey and Scott Conover.

The restart from Conover's accident at lap 14 proved to be the last slowdown of the contest. Defebo rushed past Rypkema at the green flag and began to hound leader Markovic, mostly using the outside groove. Just when it seemed all his rim riding was a bluff to set up an inside pass, Defebo mounted his final attack at the five-to-go sign. On lap 47 he thrust to the high side of Markovic in turn 2, rode side-by-side down the back straight, and cleared Markovic with an outside power move as they swung off turn 4. In the remaining four laps Defebo stretched his , lead to nearly a full second,

Markovic barely held off a charging Rick Zacharias for second, while Daren Scherer and Rusty Smith were a distant fourth and fifth. Jimmy Zacharias, Jim Storace, Andy Walko, Larry Fisher, and Rypkema completed the top ten. Defebo, Storace, and Smith were heat race winners.

Read more: Defebo's Late Pass, Hanbury's Dual Win Highlight Shangri-La II Opener; Clonch and Nurmi also Score Victories

 

mods3Much of the excitement surrounding Shangri-La II Motor Speedway's opening in 2009 came from the return of famous names to weekly racing in Tioga County; names like Zacharias, Lamoreaux, Canestrari, Potrzebowski, Chapman, and Buchek. Some were the original stars and some were from the next generation, but all were welcomed by the fans old and new to the ASA Member Track.

Sometimes lost in the wave of nostalgia was the fact that a new group of competitors also made the Concrete Castle their racing home, and their numbers grew as the season progressed. Some, like inaugural Modified track champion John Markovic of Bethlehem, Pa., had raced occasionally at the original Shangri-La, but others had no background in the Southern Tier. They were drawn to the new facility by curiosity, they liked what they saw, and they stayed to race. Among them were Rome, N.Y. Modified racer Jim Storace, who had centered his racing career in New Hampshire, and Buffalo-area ASA Late Model standout Scott Nurmi. A New Jersey contingent including Pete Brittain, Bill Weichert, Pete Gulick, and Andy Walko made the haul from the Garden State for special events.

When the 2010 season kicks off this Saturday, May 1 with the Concrete Duals, another high-profile team will join the Shangri-La II ranks when Buzz Chew Racing pulls their No. 98 through the pit gate. The "Chew Crew" were stalwarts of the NASCAR Busch North Series for many years with driver Bryon Chew reaching victory lane at Holland International Speedway in 2006 and qualifying for the All-Star Showdown at Irwindale, California five straight times.

Read more: "Chew Crew" Joins Shangri-La II Modified Field for Concrete Duals, May 1st

 

asa2Under sunny skies, Shangri-La II Motor Speedway held its long-awaited pre-season open practice days on Friday and Saturday, April 23-24, before the weather man clamped down again and washed out Sunday's activity. Competitors in all four weekly racing divisions at the ASA Member Track were out in force preparing for next week's season opener, the Concrete Duals on Saturday, May 1, featuring dual 25-lap main events for the Modifieds, twin 20's for the ASA Late Models and the Sportsman Modifieds, and a pair 15-lap races for the Street Stocks. Racing starts at 2:15 p.m.

Among the teams doing their homework on Saturday was the crew of the No. 13 Sportsman Modified built and owned by Ray Hedger and driven by Russ Brown. The Hedger-Brown combination won multiple track championships at the Oswego Speedway but for 2010 they plan to concentrate on Shangri-La II.

Updating the team's chassis setup notes after making a handful of appearances at the Concrete Castle in the inaugural season of 2009, Brown said "the track is about a second slower than it was last September now that it doesn't have as much rubber on it, but we expected that." He noted the rubber should be laid down in a hurry with the number of racing laps that will be run on opening day.

Read more: Practice Days Over, Stage Set for Shangri-La II's Concrete Duals, May 1st

   

roc_modsThe ROC'n Concrete Rumble on Sunday, May 16 at Shangri-La II Motor Speedway attracted an intense level of interest from the moment it was announced as the first visit of New York State's premier paved track modified tour, the Race of Champions Series, to the half-mile concrete oval. Now the event has gained even greater stature as the opening race of the Race of Champions season following last weekend's rainout at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, where nearly 50 tour-type modifieds jammed the pits for a combined show with New England's Modified Racing Series.

The Race of Champions event will follow an all-racing, no time trials format, highlighted by a 75 lap feature with only green flag laps scored. A full ASA Member Track program for the ASA Late Models, Sportsman Modifieds, and Street Stocks will be on the agenda as well.

Read more: Shangri-La II Becomes Number One On Race Of Champions Modified Tour

 

Shangri-La II Motor Speedway, an ASA Member Track, has announced that veteran race official Gary Folk Jr. has joined the race day staff at the Concrete Castle in the role of assistant starter, working with chief starter Glenn O'Loughlin. They will be in control of the race when the green flag flies on the season-opening Concrete Duals, Saturday, May 1.

Folk Jr. has served at many speedways in New York and Pennsylvania and is currently the chief starter on Friday nights at the Penn-Can Speedway near his Great Bend, Pa. home. He was the last chief starter at the original Shangri-La Speedway when it was known as Tioga Motorsports Park, and his father, Gary Folk Sr., was the colorful starter at Shangri-La in the 1980's.

"We're delighted to have Gary Folk Jr. on board. It's good to have another connection to the tradition of the original track, but it's far more important to add one more skilled and respected member to the first-class official team we have assembled," noted track manager Amy Stilson. "The racers know Gary and he knows them, so there won't be a major learning curve on either side," she added.

Joining O'Loughlin and Folk as trackside officials are corner flaggers Mike Epler, Scott Brind, Charlie Brown, and Duane Manzer. The two men who interact the most with competitors, pit steward Jerry Sinsabaugh and chief technical inspector Matt Jilson, return to their roles for 2010 as do announcers Tom Cummings and Al Robinson, chief scorer Maggie Waibel, and handicapper Jason Waibel.

The Concrete Duals on May 1 offer twin features for all four of Shangri-La II's weekly racing divisions, providing an opportunity for drivers to get a jump start on the season's point race. A sweep of the Modified, ASA Late Model, Sportsman Modified, or Street Stock features will be the equivalent of winning a double point race on opening day.

   

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