The Wild 100 at Utica-Rome Speedway lived up to the name in full Sunday night.
The Wild Animal Park, a primary sponsor on Jeff Taylor’s Sportsman ride at Utica-Rome, helped present a 30-car, 100-lap marquee event for the Sportsman division. There were no cautions.
Matt Janczuk, who started fourth, held the lead from lap 2 through lap 97. That’s when Kyle Inman forged a theatrical pass to log his first-ever win at Utica-Rome. Inman had been battling with Alan Fink for second for most of the final 60 laps.
At one point, the duo was more than 11 seconds behind Janczuk. However, Janczuk caught slower traffic, and Inman set sail. He was able to pound the car into the first and third turns on an extreme outside line, moving past slower traffic while Janczuk worked on the bottom. Inman closed within fractions of a second on lap 95, and forged the winning lead change working lap 98.
He then pulled over 2 seconds ahead through the final two circuits, meaning he made a net gain of 14 seconds on the track under green conditions.
Janczuk held on for second ahead of Fink.
The Sportsman division’s weekly point series will wrap up this Sunday.
In addition to the 100-lap special event for the Sportsman division, the Kotary family presented the third annual Gene Kotary Memorial event for the Pro Stocks, paying $1,300 to the winner of a 30-lap main. With a number of invaders in town, Rob Yetman scored the win.
Nick Stone and Josh Coonradt came into the night tied atop the track point standings, and with the card paying show-up points only, will remain tied going into the final week of racing for the division.
The 358-Modifieds concluded their points season. Erick Rudolph won his sixth feature of the year, in dramatic fashion, to wrap up the division crown. Rudolph was aggressive in chasing Glenn Forward, and ended up suffering a flat tire after contact in the second turn. He returned to the track in last place with 16 laps to go, then proceeded to carve up the field.
A few fortunate caution periods late kept the front-runners grouped, and Rudolph moved to third before knocking off Billy Dunn and then Rocky Warner to prevail.
Rudolph was 25 points ahead of Dunn entering the night; at one point, he was deep enough in the field where he could have lost the title.
Warner held on for second ahead of Dunn.
Mike Grover won his second straight Novice Sportsman race at the end of the night.
In other weekly action:
Matt Sheppard scored feature win No. 8 of the campaign, locking up the Modified division championship in the process.
Nick Guererri won his second feature of the year in the Sportsman ranks, with Paul Guererri and Kevin Root filling the podium positions.
Adam Depuy collected his ninth Street Stock victory. Rick Crego and Jimmy Grant followed in the top three.
Brandyn Griffin captured the first of two 305 Sprint mains ahead of Darryl Ruggles and Jess Pruchnik. Dan Bennett prevailed in the second, besting Alysha Bay and Ruggles.
Meanwhile, Gary and Donna Spaid were honored as the final Wall of Fame inductees for 2019.
Tim Sears Jr. and Billy Whittaker put on a show in the Modified feature. The duo ran in ultra-close proximity through the second half of the 35-lapper, with Whittaker forging the winning pass with three circuits remaining to win by less than three-tenths of a second.
Whittaker almost didn’t race: He damaged a radiator early, and a rescue “Hail Mary” by Scott Jeffrey’s Performance Plus staff produced a replacement, which the Whittaker crew installed before the feature.
Casey Williams and Brandon Carvey won Sportsman features. Kevan Cook (Late Models) and Rich Christman (Novice Sportsman) also nabbed feature victories, while Kearra Backus ruled in the First Lady of Fulton Ladies Sportsman dash.
Kyle Coffey scored a popular win in a relatively caution-free main event for the Modifieds. Matt Sheppard started deep in the field, but rallied to second ahead of Steve Paine and Alan Johnson. Jim LaRock won his heat earlier in the night and ranked fifth overall.
The American Racer Tire Sportsman offered plenty of slowdowns and caution periods. Brett Buono registered his first win of the season in the division’s feature, topping Tommy Collins Jr. and Billy Paine. Fourth-place runner Chris Fisher was involved in an early wreck that sent points leader Jimmy Zacharias to the pits on a tow truck.
The DIRTcar Hoosier Sportsman feature embraced a first-time winner as well, with Brandon Butler holding off Andrew Smith and Steve Gray.
Jared Spaulding earned his first win of 2019 in the IMCA ranks. Rodney Morgan settled for second ahead of Brad Smith. Brandon Smith won the makeup IMCA main ahead of Morgan and Brad Smith.
Dylan Cecce won his eighth Street Stock feature of the year, and fourth in the last seven starts. Cecce executed a last-lap pass of Quinn Sutherland through the fourth turn to win the main. Pairing the win with Glen Whritenour’s rough night, Cecce enjoys a solid edge going into the final night of points racing this Friday. CJ Guererri was third.
Ray Hyer prevailed over Adam Austin in the makeup 4-Cylinder feature. The finish was spectacular, as Hyer’s engine blew up at the checkers. Scott Lehman Jr. was third. In the regularly scheduled feature, pole-sitter Jeremy Bunn became the night’s sixth first-time winner. Austin and Lehman Jr. repeated their earlier finishes.
Justin Eldredge went to victory lane in the Hobby Stock main. Eldredge became the seventh different winner in the class. Bruce Kinner and Marc Minutolo joined him on the podium.
There are two more makeup features this Friday, and seven double-points features on tap to settle the track titles.
Chris Hile scored a win in the Modified ranks, becoming the second driver this season to register a repeat effort at the oval. Hile took second and chased down Tom Sears Jr. for the next 10 circuits before a caution period bunched the order with eight laps to go. Hile went back to the high line, passing Sears to take the lead on lap 30. Billy Decker was third.
Rich Townsend and Kevin Root won Sportsman division features; Mike Mullen and Casey Sykes took the Mod Lite mains; and Chris Bonoffski and Ray Bechler captured 4-Cylinder races. Chuck Powelczyk scored the 2019 4-Cylinder track championship.
Matt Sheppard has a 110-point lead on Erick Rudolph with a three-race weekend coming up.
Paulie Colagiovanni collected the checkers at Autodrome Granby in Quebec over Jason Barney and Bryan Cloutier.
Colagiovanni leads the overall ESS title chase, and a four-event weekend lies ahead. The series will visit Brewerton Speedway Friday night for two features; the first will be the regularly scheduled event and the latter will be the one that was lost to rain after heats were completed Aug. 16. The 360cc sprint cars head to Fulton Speedway Saturday before visiting Utica-Rome Speedway Sunday and Weedsport Speedway Monday.
Paradise hosting GRIT Sportsman
Admission is $13 for adults. Children younger than 10 years get in free.