PAT ABOLD SWEEPS THE WEEKEND IN ISMA COMPETITION BY TAKING JENNERSTOWN 50
By Carol D. Haynes
Photos by Jim Feeney
Jennerstown, PA – Saturday night’s race at Jennerstown was about tires as much as racing. Once again tire wear on a new compound ISMA was testing, played a key role in the outcome. The race began with drivers treating their tires carefully as Canadian Mark Sammut was building up quite a lead out front from his outside pole spot. Sammut took off and hid with as much as an eight-second advantage until an attempt to pass two laps cars running side by side put Sammut into the fourth turn wall fourteen laps shy of victory. A red flag was called – not for Sammut but for tires as a number of competitors were either in the pits or on the track with canvas showing. It was deemed that cars could change a tire and go to the rear of the field or take a chance at running the rest of the way. Pat Abold was among those to stayed with his setup, while Rick Wentworth, who would have taken over the lead, had to change. Abold, on the green, powered away to his second straight victory in two days. His tires did not fail him. His car did not fail him.
Said Abold in victory lane, “It’s always great to win at Jennerstown. This is an awesome facility. It’s one of the fastest tracks we run on. It’s a real thrill to drive here and win here, especially in front of all these fans. Everyone was having tire problems tonight. Ours were slightly blistered. We collectively made the decision to go with the tires. I actually hurt the tires more in the first 20 laps with the full fuel load than we did at the end. We decided to stick with the tire and it never slipped a wheel on me. It was just awesome. Thanks to my crew for providing me this car. No team in the pits works harder.”
He wasn’t worried about the tire situation in remaining laps. “In those last laps you just go for it. The car will tell you what you have to do. It will give you some warning. So I just went and never got the warning. It was a blast. It was a lot of fun to be able to drive a car like this. This track has a lot of grip and that’s what hurts the tires. You get on the throttle sooner than normal and you get more heat in the tires. But, if the car is set up right it’s awesome to drive.”
Second place finisher Mike Ordway also chose not to change any tires, but his problem was not tire wear at all. . “My tires were fine. I didn’t have any trouble with them. They didn’t blister at all. Some guys had problems and some didn’t. The car was better before the red flag so the flag hurt us. I heard Chris a couple times in those last laps but I just wanted to concentrate and not make any mistakes. There was no sense in losing second. “
And, Chris Perley too, stayed with what he started on in the tire department. “The tires were getting worn down but we figured we’d roll the dice and not change anything. We were sitting in a pretty good spot and didn’t want to come up from the back in 14 laps. It was kind of like last night. We were coming. Pat had a really good car and so did Mike. It was fun racing with them. We just needed maybe 62 laps. It was a good race. We’ll take a third at Jennerstown. This place is a blast. The wheels are on it. We can roll it in and go home and work on it for next week.”
Mark Sammut outraced Scott Martel for the lead at the green and it looked as if the London, Ontario drive might just pick up his career first at Jennerstown. Mark was slowly but surely building up a healthy lead as he pulled away from Martel, Wentworth, Nokie Fornoro, Russ Wood, Mike Lichty and others.
The focal point of the race was behind Sammut as Wentworth and Martel held up the pack of hotshoes. When Scott dropped by the wayside, it was up to the 10 to hold off Wood, Abold, Ordway, Fornoro, McKnight and Perley who were all preparing to move forward.
By the midway mark of the race, Sammut had put several cars down laps as he continued his charge out front. The story now became one of tires and cars dropping out. Randy Ritskes pitted. Martel pitted, Greg Furlong pitted. The 6 of Mike Badessa and the 66 of Matt Seavey pulled in simultaneously on lap 32 while Mile Lichty pulled in soon thereafter.
The 36th lap proved the end for Sammut as well when he tried the outside of Eric Shirey and Bobby Haynes Jr. to lap them coming into turn four. Mark was pushed to the wall, riding it down into turn one. It was here, while waiting for the flatbed for Sammut’s 78, that a call came to drop a red and check the remaining cars’ tires. It was for safety more than anything else and each team was apprised of the situation with the tires and that a change would result in a trip to the rear. Dave McKnight and Lou Cicconi had already pulled in for a new shoe and on the track Shirey, McKennedy, Wentworth and Wood made the changes. Six others did not. Their gamble paid off in most cases.
In the remaining fourteen laps, Abold, Ordway, Perley, Fornoro, and Joe Petro ran up front and stayed up front. At the checkered, Abold had his second win of the season in hand while Ordway and Perley took top three honors. A good run for Fornoro put him in fourth and an especially good run for Petro gave him fifth.
Nokie was more than pleased with fourth. “We’ve made quite a bit of changes on the car. Danny and I are working a whole lot better than we have in the past. We’re understanding each other. I’m happy with fourth. We didn’t want to change tires. Our tire was blistered but I didn’t think I could get back up. I’m elated with fourth especially after last night.”
Joe Petro was probably the happiest of the bunch with his second good run of the season in a new car. “ It felt really good to finish fifth. I came from so far back. I think this is probably the most positions I’ve advanced. I started 19th and finished 5th. The car was perfect. The tires were perfect. We could have run another 50 laps on them. “
Rounding out the top ten were Wood, Wentworth, Cicconi, McKennedy, and Grunda.
ISMA heads to Seekonk Speedway for their next outing on June 25.
SUMMARY - ISMA Lucas Oil-Helping Hands of America Series
Event #3 – Jennerstown Speedway - 6/18/05
Heat 1: Mark Sammut, Nokie Fornoro, Lou Cicconi, Jon McKennedy, Greg Furlong, Mike Badessa and Justin Belfiore (bad crash on lap 2)
Heat 2: Rick Wentworth, Chris Perley, Dave McKnight, Pat Abold, Randy Ritskes, Matt Seavey, Joe Grunda
Heat 3: Russ Wood, Mike Lichty, Scott Martel, Mike Ordway, Eric Shirey, Bobby Haynes Jr., Joe Petro, Alex Hoag
FEATURE (50): 1. Pat Abold (26), 2. Mike Ordway (61), 3. Chris Perley (11), 4. Nokie Fornoro (32),5. Joe Petro (33), 6. Russ Wood (29), 7. Rick Wentworth (10), 8. Lou Cicconi (75),9. Jon McKennedy (79), 10. Joe Grunda (1), 11. Eric Shirey (V2), 12. Mike Lichty (84),13. Dave McKnight (94), 14. Mark Sammut (78), 15. Bobby Haynes Jr. (44), 16. Matt Seavey (66),17. Mike Badessa (6), 18. Greg Furlong (72), 19. Scott Martel (97), 20. Randy Ritskes (88),21. Alex Hoag (16), 22. Justin Belfiore (dns)