Sandusky, OH – Mike Ordway has had no problem with the shorter distance ISMA races at Sandusky Speedway, but bad luck has seemed to plague his bid for the 100-lap Hy-Miler Nationals. Saturday night at that Ohio oval, Ordway ran ahead of bad luck – and Dave McKnight and Russ Wood, to claim the 75-lapper. Mike took the lead from a high-flying Jon Henes on lap 32, survived some reds and yellows an onslaught by McKnight and Wood for 43 more laps to take the June primer for the July Nationals. It was his first win on the ISMA Lucas Oil/Helping Hands America trail in 2004 and he was pleased to be in victory lane after the long event that saw seven slowdowns.
Said Abold after his first winged supermodified win since 2000 at Lee USA Speedway. “I thought we were going to get one sooner than this, but you know what, we had some great runs last year. We had a little bit of bad luck this year. But, the bad luck has forced us to turn around; to make some changes on the car that were necessary. I’m just psyched. It feels so good to win a race again. It’s been a while and it lets me know that I’m still competitive. It was a great battle there with Dave. He was leaking something the whole race, which was covering my shield and everything. When he blew the motor I said here we go and I thought I was going to spin in his oil. But, I never slipped a wheel. It was a W for Dunigan Racing and Pat Abold tonight. I’m really happy about it.”
The duel right behind Ordway between McKnight and Wood was set up on lap 46 when that duo finally broke by a still strong-running Henes. The race shook free of the early slowdowns and developed into a torrid battle for the top spot, with the 94 and 29 swapping spots along the way. Said second place runner Dave McKnight who had lost a motor the night before at Toledo while in the lead, “It’s good to get back to where we should be running. The guys did a good job tonight. The Lucas Oil Patco number 94 did a good job. Everybody worked hard today. We had to change the motor early. We had a good run last night at Toledo. We should have probably won the race. Instead we had to get here early today, but everybody stayed focused. To come out of here in second with a strong run says a lot on everybody’s part. I think that helps to get us back on track where we need to be. I would have had a better shot at Mike in traffic. Mike was good on the straight-aways and we were just a twitch off. He might have been off a little at the end, but we really needed to be in traffic to have a shot him. Russell was in the same boat. He was good. I made a mistake and he got by me. He made a mistake and I got him back. I think that’s how dominant all three cars were. I think it was anybody’s race, just a matter of who got the breaks. Mike got them tonight. Hats off to Mike and their team. They did a good job tonight.”
And Wood, who had suffered power steering problems at Toledo, was also happy with a podium finish. “This is better than last night. The car was a little too tight to be up there with Mike, but Dave and I were doing some good racing. It was fun to be back in the top three, or five or ten. I’ll just try to improve from here. This track has been good to me. I guess we have a good setup. I’ll just use this as a tune-up for Hy-Miler.”
Jon Henes and Joe Grunda led the 25-car field down to green but a miscue which saw Rick Wentworth head off turn three, slowed the race before one lap was complete. Wentworth was able to take up the rear as Grunda took up the front spot trailed by Ohioans Henes, Denny Fisher and Doug Saunier.
On lap 4 Fisher flew the flag when something in the rear broke on his 81.
Racing resumed with Grunda out front but Joe’s number 1 slowed rapidly on lap 10 and headed backward and finally into the pits. Henes was happy to take over first place but only got one lap in before yellow flew for the 8 of Justin Belfiore who was able to be pushed away. In the meantime top five finisher from Toledo, Timmy Jedrzejek, simultaneously slowed with a broken rotor to prevent green from flying again. He also pitted.
Back underway LaGrange, Ohio’s Henes was driving the race of his life as he moved away from Saunier, Ordway, McKnight, Bobby Santos, Lou Cicconi and Russ Wood. He soon put a lap car in between to add some insurance.
But a yellow red situation came on lap 26 when something broke on Rick Wentworth’s 10 and off he went in turn one. While under caution, the Soule Racing 32, which had been extensively repaired overnight from a bad Toledo crash, was reported to be on fire and the red was dropped.
When everything was back under control, leader Jon Henes was looking back at Ordway, McKnight, Wood, Santos, Cicconi and now Chris Perley. Henes tried to run away but yellow slowed his progress once again on lap 28 when Johnny Payne and Doug Saunier were involved in a mix up in turn two. Both were pushed off.
Henes’ time out front was getting short now. On this restart, Ordway moved the 61 close to the 36 and off turn two out back he made the pass for the lead on lap 32. Yet another yellow followed three laps later when John Payne tangled with Randy Burch. Mark Sammut, driving with a broken foot, pulled the 78 into the pits at this juncture.
On the restart, Mike Lichty’s 84 was deemed to have jumped the start a little early and he was sent to the tail of the field as Saunier and Sammut returned from the pits to join him.
Ordway powered away from the field on the green as Henes stayed in second holding up McKnight, Wood, Cicconi, Santos and Perley but the green only stayed on for eight laps as another yellow-red incident occurred.
On lap 44, Mike Lichty’s 84 slowed in front and a yellow was called as Lichty coasted into turn one. Again, the Fornoro-driven 32 was stopped at the start-finish line to be checked and again fire erupted from the car causing the red to fly. This time the 32 was asked to leave the track for safety.
It now became the Ordway, McKnight and Wood show as that trio pulled away from Henes, Cicconi, Perley, Santos and now Toledo winner Pat Abold who had started way back in the field.
The laps ticked rapidly by with Ordway not able to lose McKnight and Wood who were having their own battle. On lap 67, Wood grabbed second from McKnight but three laps later, McKnight reciprocated as Abold moved into a distant fourth in front of Cicconi and Perley.
The checkered fell on Ordway who carried McKnight and Wood in a tight line close behind. A couple lap cars came across before Abold, Cicconi and Perley in another tight line.
Pat Abold, who had taken over the point lead after Toledo was content with fourth. . “I’m actually pretty happy with fourth place. We started 20th and struggled getting qualified today. Then coming out of here with fourth and gaining a little bit in points. We stayed consistent like I hoped we would do. I would have liked to have started a little bit further. I think it would have helped out. All in all both cars are in one piece. We had a couple good finishes tonight and a win last night. It was a good weekend for the team.
Lou Cicconi, still looking for the best setup on his 75, said honestly, “I got fifth. The car is starting to work better, but it’s still not there yet.”
Rounding out the top ten after Perley, whose team also had a lot of repair from the night before, were Henes, Santos, Dave Shullick Jr and Randy Ritskes.
SANDUSKY SPEEDWAY ISMA LUCAS OIL/HELPING HANDS AMERICA 75 - 6/19/04
HEAT 1: Dave McKnight, Timmy Jedrzejek, Mike Ordway, Jon Henes, Mark Sammut, Dave Shullick Jr., Randy Burch, Billy Buyck
HEAT 2: Joe Grunda, Denny Fisher, Eric Shirey, Bobby Santos, Mike Lichty, Chris Perley, Pat Abold, Rick Wentworth, Justin Belfiore
HEAT 3: Doug Saunier, Russ Wood, Nokie Fornoro, Lou Cicconi, AJ Davis, Randy Ritskes, John Payne, Jen Chesbro
FEATURE: 1. Mike Ordway (61), 2. Dave McKnight (94), 3. Russ Wood (29), 4. Pat Abold (26), 5. Lou Cicconi (75), 6. Chris Perley (11), 7. Jon Henes (36), 8. Bobby Santos (9), 9. Dave Shullick Jr. (49), 10. Randy Ritskes (97), 11. Eric Shirey (V2), 12. Justin Belfiore (8), 13. Rick Wentworth (10), 14. Mark Sammut (78), 15. Jen Chesbro (33), 16. Billy Buyck (5), 17. Nokie Fornoro (32), 18. Mike Lichty (84), 19. John Payne (88), 20. Randy Burch (52), 21. Doug Saunier (91), 22. AJ Davis (19), 23. Joe Grunda (1), 24. Timmy Jedrzejek (7), 25. Denny Fisher (81).