CHRIS PERLEY TAKES ISMA 75 AT MANSFIELD ON SUNDAY AFTER RAIN STOPS SATURDAY NIGHT'S RACING
By Carol D. Haynes
Photos by Jim Feeney
Mansfield, OH – It took two days to get in the ISMA 75 lapper at Mansfield Motorsports Park as torrential downpours stopped the Saturday night racing after the qualifying heats were in. It gave the 25 drivers on hand an extra day to try and figure out how to stop Chris Perley's domination of the division. Two drivers came very close to succeeding, but fell short of their goal. Canadian Mike Lichty had a strong lead going with 17 laps remaining until a hub broke on the PATCO 84. It was the third such breakage this season for that team. Then Dave Shullick Jr. retook the top spot only to have the rear mount break on the 61 car just 3 laps shy of what would have been an all out drag race with Perley. This left the Rowley Rocket alone out front at the checkers. Even he wished the ending had been different.
"I think Lichty had it in the bag. He just drove away from us and I couldn't do anything. And, then Shullick and I had a great battle. I had a lot of fun with him, but it's kind of anticlimactic now that he broke with three to go. We were duking it out and having a ball. I wish we could have put on that ending because I think we would have been side by side coming across the finish line! We just persevered today. I don't think we had a winning car. We just outlasted everyone I guess.
"Dave (Shullick) looked solid. I could gain on him a little in three and four, coming off of two he just pulled me. We were see-sawing back and forth. On that last restart I was going to make a bonsai move on the outside. I don't know if it would have happened but all of a sudden he broke. I think he might have broken the half shaft again. It's too bad, I would have liked to have had that finish for you fans. It would have been a lot of fun.
The win gave Chris his fourth this season and his fifth at Mansfield in the nine ISMA events held to date. "This track is really a blast. There's enough room out there to play. You see everybody using different lines. I think that makes the racing exciting because you don't know where anybody's going to go. I have such an awesome crew, awesome motors and some great sponsors backing me up. We just keep on coming out and having fun!"
Second place runner Mark Sammut had his own battle going with "Chargin'' Charlie Schultz at the end. Said the Canadian driver at the podium, "There were definitely a few cars that were faster than we were. But, we managed to stay out of trouble and the car was running good. We just plodded along and ended up second. We'll take that any day in this class. I was worried about Charlie late in the race. We got in lap traffic and he got by me at one point. I was fortunate that the yellow came out and I got back in front of him. I knew he was there. I was lucky to stay in front. He ran great and we were happy to stay in front of him. We definitely appreciate the fans for coming back today to watch after last night's bad weather, If it weren't for Currie Steel, Wells Foundry and Mobile Striping and Sweeping we wouldn't be here. I have to thank those guys!"
Schultz, in turn, had himself a great run despite an early race setback. "I was working my way up at the beginning of the race and got to the outside of the 97 and Chris got to the inside. I didn't get there as soon as Chris and the 97 moved up and I was about a foot off the concrete wall. I was chasing it all over the place and four guys went by. I said man, it's going to be a long race! We had a pretty good car the whole run. The tires were pretty good. Actually the longer the race went, the better we got. Restarts helped a lot. The last one with three to go, I got around Mark but was called back. I have to thank the team for putting together an awesome race car week in and week out."
Dave Shullick Jr. and Sammut held the front row after qualifying and it was the silver 61 out front at the green. Shullick took off with Sammut in tow while the race sorted out. On lap 6 a quick yellow pulled the field together when Dave Mumaw spun.
Back underway the racing resumed at a furious pace with Shullick out front and a long line of contenders vying for position behind. Another yellow slowed the pace on lap 13 when the 44 of Bobby Haynes Jr. slowed and stopped on the track.
Shullick took off again only to slow again on lap 17 when the 64 of Jim Paller bobbled his 64 and recovered to head for the back of the field.
By lap 20, Shullick was several car lengths ahead of 3 Canadians – Sammut, Lichty and McKnight with Perley right behind in fifth. Moving up was Schultz as he challenged sixth place runner Moe Lilje while Jeff Holbrook, Randy Burch, Russ Wood, Tim Ice and Vern Romanoski pursued.
On lap 28 the action came to a halt when Holbrook's right front tire went down suddenly and he needed to be hooked. Brandon Bellinger and Robbie Summers used the yellow for a pit stop or two. Holbrook's team got him back in action but at a price. The 35 arrived a little late on the track and ended up right in front of the leaders. This set up a battle between Mike Lichty, who had moved into second and leader Shullick as both tried to battle around Holbrook.
Shullick held his ground while Lichty moved backwards a bit with Perley now in third ahead of Sammut, McKnight, Schultz and Russ Wood. The traffic was becoming thick and Lichty used it wisely, moving by Shullick on lap 43 for the lead. It was Lichty now repelling Shullick's advances and Holbrook provided a block to Perley, Sammut, Schultz, McKnight and Wood.
Lichty was able to hold off Shullick as the lead duo sliced through traffic. Perley also used traffic to pull up on Shullick's tail while Lichty broke into clean air and was moving away. On lap 58, the 84 met its demise once again as his tire came off in between three and four, bouncing into turn one before stopping.
After the 84 was flatbedded off the track and refueling was allowed in the interim, the Shoe II and Perley show began in earnest. The intensity of the battle mounted as each lap ticked away. On lap 72 Perley pulled to the outside of the 61 and the pair almost touched. Perley took the lead but suddenly the yellow flew as the 5 of Vern Romanoski brushed the wall and collected Jon Henes and Tim Ice in the mishap. Vern and Henes required hooks. Ice restarted at the tail.
Shullick was still the leader as the green dropped and Perley was about to mount a charge around again. The 11 charged past the 61 passed the finish line but suddenly a part flew off the 61 and Dave took the car down low and into the outer pit road. The North Ridgeville driver once again could not complete his mission and Perley, once again, was left to take the win without a strong challenge. Mark Sammut dueled Schultz to the finish while Russ Wood and Dave McKnight finished up the top five. The latter two were not all that excited with their performances but were happy to finish where they did.
Wood, who is just getting back into the racing fray, but already sits second in ISMA points, said, "We finished fourth, I had nothing for Chris. We were overheating and I was a little tight. We did what we could. I'll take the fourth and go on to Lee with the car in one piece."
Said fifth place runner McKnight, "It was an okay run. We definitely didn't' have the car to win today. Hey, we'll salvage this top five and go on to Lee. I was hoping Mike could have pulled it off. But what are you going to do? It's going to be a busy week."
Randy Burch, Mike Ordway Jr., Bobby Bond, Moe Lilje and Brandon Bellinger rounded out the top ten.
Heat 1: Dave Shullick Jr., Randy Burch, Jeff Holbrook, Vern Romanoski, Charlie Schultz, Dave Trytek, Bobby Bond, Justin Belfiore, Rob Stasick
Heat 2: Chris Perley, Russ Wood, Moe Lilje, Mike Lichty, Jon Henes, Brandon Bellinger, Larry Lehnert, Dave Mumaw
Heat 3: Dave McKnight, Mark Sammut, Tim Ice, Robbie Summers, Mike Ordway Jr., Jack Smith, Jim Paller, Bobby Haynes Jr.
Note: Rich Reid replaces Lehnert on Sunday in 92
ISMA 75 at MansfieldMotorsportPark on August 10th:
1. Chris Perley (11), 2. Mark Sammut (78), 3. Charlie Schultz (7), 4. Russ Wood (29), 5. Dave McKnight Jr. (94), 6. Randy Burch (3), 7. Mike Ordway Jr. (41), 8. Bobby Bond (25), 9. Moe Lilje (19), 10. Brandon Bellinger (02), 11. Tim Ice (77), 12. Jeff Holbrook (35), 13. Dave Shullick Jr. (61), 14. Vern Romanoski (5), 15. Jon Henes (36), 16. Rich Reid (92), 17. Mike Lichty (84), 18. Dave Trytek (70), 19. Justin Belfiore (88), 20. Rob Stasick (22), 21. Robbie Summers (97), 22. Jim Paller (64), 23. Bobby Haynes, Jr (44), 24. Jack Smith (09), 25. Dave Mumaw (14)