Chris Perley Takes ISMA Victory with Last Lap Pass at Lancaster
By Dave Sully (for ISMA)
Photos by Jim Feeney
(Lancaster, NY) Chris Perley from Rowley, Massachusetts executed a perfect pick on a lapped car on the final lap to get by leader Greg Furlong from Hannibal, New York, and capture the 50 lap International Super Modified Association Feature at Lancaster Motorsports Park on Saturday, August 2nd. Perley, described by Furlong as the best super modified driver there is right now, worked his way to the front from his twelfth place starting position to challenge for the lead on a lap 35 restart and then dogged Furlong who had taken over the lead one lap earlier. The two put on a great battle before the decisive pass at the end gave Perley, who is currently second in points, his second win of the season.
“It’s great to race beside somebody who is going to stay there and respect you. Greg is a great guy and I have a really great time racing against him,” said Perley, “The crew did an awesome job. We came with the same setup as last year. I’d like to thank owner Vic Miller and crew chief Scotty LeClair and all the guys and me. I did everything tonight. Really, I’d like to thank Ed Shea, Perley’s Marina, R&R Motors, New England Motor Racing, Barrett Transportation, Hardy Transportation and Jack Cook Enterprises.”
Ken Bell from Pennellville, NY, jumped into the early lead from the outside pole in the Soule Racing No. 32 with Mark Sammut from London, Ontario, claiming second from his third place starting spot in the self owned No. 78. An early caution slowed proceedings as the No. 97 of Jamie Timmons spun on the backstretch and collected the No. 88 of Johnny Payne. On the restart Randy Ritskes, a former winner of this event, began hounding Bell for the lead, but another caution on lap 7 when Timmons spun again put the charge on hold.
When the race restarted Ritskes again pressured Bell as other cars were on the move. Pat Abold in the Paul Dunigan No. 26 moved into third while Furlong claimed fourth and Perley fifth a lap later. Ritskes continued his relentless pursuit of Bell until lap 11 when he slipped into the lead at the line, with
Abold, Furlong, and Perley continuing to move up. Those four cars broke away from the field and were battling for position when the red flag flew on lap 20 for a hard crash into the backstretch wall by the No. 28 of Eric Lewis from Solvay, NY, after contact with the No. 10 of Rick Wentworth of Haverhill,
Massachusetts. Lewis was unhurt, but not so the No. 28, which had to be cradled off the racing surface.
When the race resumed. Ritskes led Furlong who had claimed second from Abold on lap 18. Furlong immediately applied intense pressure on Ritskes while Abold got by Perley for third on lap 23. Furlong chased Ritskes through lapped traffic as Ritskes desperately tried to keep the No. 72 of Furlong behind him. A caution on lap 31, for a spin in turn four by the No. 8 of Justin Belfiore, gave Ritskes a chance to relax, but not for long. Furlong jumped on him again when the race resumed while Perley reclaimed third from Abold and immediately joined the race for the lead.
Furlong finally grabbed the top spot at the line on lap 34 with Perley taking second one lap later to set up the final epic battle. Perley closed in on Furlong trying to set him up for an outside move on lap 40 but Furlong held on. Then the two entered lapped traffic and things got really tense as they threaded their way through. Once they cleared the first group of lapped cars Furlong would move out to a two to three car advantage, but Perley who was stronger in the corners would close right in again, making for a great crowd pleasing battle.
Finally, as the white flag flew, the two came upon a lap car once again in turn two, and Perley was able to get outside Furlong, pin him behind the slower machine, and sweep by on the outside to claim the lead and the win. Furlong finished second, while point leader and four time winner this season, Russ Wood, from Pelham, New Hampshire finished third. Abold and Dave McKnight from Brampton, Ontario, rounded out the top five.
Perley explained the fateful pass, "I didn't know if we'd have enough at the end. That lap car came up. We were a little better on the outside. It's one of those deals where you've got to pick a lane and one of them is going to get it. We were the lucky one out this time." Perley, the defending champion
of this race, continued, "The crew did an awesome job. We came here last year and won. I didn't know if we really had the car tonight, but it came on at the end. We hung in there. It's great." Of the time earlier in the race when he lost third to Abold, he added, "Sometimes you have to pass people more than once. I didn't want to see it two or three times because Pat Abold's a real good racer and it's harder and harder to get by him as the day goes on. What happened was Ritskes was trying to get by a lapped car and he had touched the wall and made Furlong check up just a little bit. I checked up too hard, got sideways. I thought I was in the fence, but luckily we saved it, and we were able to come home with it."
Furlong described what happened to him, saying, "We had a great car. I think I could have held Perley off if not for the lapped traffic. He pinned me behind him, and Perley ran a better race. He had a good car. If we had a clean track we would have beaten him. (With lapped traffic) you win some and you
lose some. I've won them that way, and I've lost them that way. I'll take it."
Point leader Wood, who started eleventh, picked his way forward all night and was there to watch the battle for the lead ahead of him. He noted, "There was a lot of action up ahead. My car was a little tighter than we wanted it. It was coming around at the end, but we had nothing for them. Those guys were flying. They had a good race. There was a lot of action in front of me for the last twenty laps. I could see it all. I was waiting for the big wreck, but it never came. It's not bad. I'll take the third."
NOTES: There were twenty-two cars on hand for the event before a nice crowd on a night when bad weather was all over the Northeast, but spared Lancaster……The first one out of the race was Brad Lichty whose car expired on lap six, leaving him to watch his son Mike, drive the No. 74 car in his first ever ISMA start to a respectable 13th place finish…..By virtue of his win, Perley will make up a few points on Wood, who finished a quiet third…….About the D-shaped Lancaster race track, Perley noted, "It's a tough place to get around. It is a lot of fun. It's a fast place. At least there are two grooves out there. You just got to find them. Tonight we did."
Next up for the ISMA Lucas Oil Super Series is Lee USA (NH) Speedway Aug 15th and Oxford Plains (ME) Speedway Aug 16th.
Summary ISMA Lucas Oil Super Series Event #8
Heat 1: Ken Bell, Randy Ritskes, Greg Furlong, Eric Lewis, Jen Chesbro, Brad Lichty, Tate Gerken
Heat 2: Rick Wentworth, Chris Perley, Jim Shirey, Pat Abold, Joe Petro, Justin Belfiore, Mike Lichty, Jamie Letcher (dns)
Heat 3: Mark Sammut, Russ Wood, Jamie Timmons, Dave McKnight, Johnny Payne, Dan Dadswell, Sean Sauer
ISMA finish: (50 laps) 1. Chris Perley (11), 2. Greg Furlong (72), 3. Russ Wood (29), 4. Pat Abold (26), 5. Dave McKnight (94), 6. Randy Ritskes (9), 7. Johnny Payne (88), 8. Mark Sammut (78), 9. Jim Shirey (16), 10. Rick Wentworth (10), 11. Joe Petro (99), 12. Justin Belfiore (8),13. Mike Lichty (74), 14. Jennifer Chesbro (33), 15. Dan Dadswell (4), 16. Jamie Letcher (58), 17. Jamie Timmons (97),18. Ken Bell (32), 19. Eric Lewis (28), 20. Tate Gerken (30), 21. Sean Sauer (12), 22. Brad Lichty (84)