THREE STRAIGHT FOR PERLEY AT MANSFIELD IN ISMA COMPETITION
By Carol D. Haynes
Photos by Jim Feeney
Mansfield, OH – Last year Chris Perley said he loved the Mansfield Motorsports Speedway after his second straight win there in October. Saturday night he became truly enamored with the Ohio half-mile when he took home number three breaking a two-race bad luck string uncharacteristic of the Rowley, MA driver. The fact that he finished made him happy. The fact that he won made him ecstatic. The words of relief uttered in victory lane were simply, “I didn’t hit anything.”
It was Perley’s 29th ISMA career-victory moving him closer to third in the All-Time ISMA point list. But, that wasn’t on his mind Saturday night. It was about finishing – and in one piece.
“I mulled it over in my head,” Chris said thinking over Friday night’s Toledo fiasco. “Am I going to go out there and take more time with the lap cars and do something different? I realized I really can’t do anything different so I just ran a normal race. Everybody was pretty good out there tonight. Nobody on the team gave up. We worked on the car. It was perfect even after it was a basket case. It was just great. And we’re here again. I just wanted the race to get over. I’ve had kind of bad luck the last couple races and the faster I get the laps done, the faster I can get to the checkered flag. I didn’t know if anything was going to happen – if anything was going to fall off - If I was going to run over somebody. Anything can happen. The car was awesome. I thought I might have taken too much time last night. I thought maybe I better just get the job done and that’s what I did tonight. A top five - a top anything right now is great. Just finishing right now is great. This car likes this track and so does the driver. There is a lot of room out there to play and kind of miss things.”
The second place runner for the second straight night was Lou Cicconi who finished a distance behind the high-flying Perley. Said Lou as he stood for his podium finish photo, “Another good run. I particularly liked the beginning stages of the race when we were all racing wheel to wheel. I’m real proud of Chris. He’s had some bad luck. I think we did well. I think Nokie’s pretty consistent too.”
Friday night’s winner, Nokie Fornoro, put on a late race charge to finish third, stealing the spot from Bobby Santos near race end. “We’re very happy with a third,” said racing’s new Spiderman. “I asked Danny to make the nose better for me and to soften it up. I made a big mistake; I should have left it the way it was. I softened it too much. We’re learning. We’re trying to get up to that 11 car and be as fast as he is at the beginning. But, at the end of the race with a blistered right rear, we were coming – from fifth to third in a couple laps. I’m happy. We got a podium finish and a win with the best open cockpit racing in the world!”
Twenty-five winged supers hit the hot asphalt for the night’s racing finale at Mansfield with Scotty Martel grabbing off the early lead. Kyle Carpenter, who had to exit the Friday night event very early with a tire problem, came on strong to take the lead from Martel on lap 6.
Kyle “the smile” took off like a shot and was quickly out of sight of second place runner John Torrese. Filling in behind the Floridian were Cicconi, Perley, Santos and Mike Lichty as the laps ticked away.
But Kyle’s smile faded as quickly as his lead when, on lap 14, he tried a low move around two slower cars. The 5 of Romanoski came down as Rich Reid tried to pass, catching Carpenter. In Kyle’s words, “We were just racing around. Waiting to click off some laps. The car was great. I was trying not to eat up any tires. A couple of back markers were racing a little bit and I kind of got in the middle of some stuff. It’s something we can fix and we’ll fix it and head to Jennerstown and have some fun.” When the incident was over, Kyle, Vern Romanoski and Rich Reid were in the pits, with Reid’s new 55 receiving the worst damage.
The lead was inherited by John Torrese, but on the restart, Torrese suddenly pulled off the track making Chris Perley the new leader. Perley then wasted no time in strengthening his newly acquired position. But, he was also apprehensive. He’d been in the same spot the last two races and it didn’t turn out very well at all.
Heading past the midway mark, Perley was well in command with Lou Cicconi, Bob Santos, Mike Lichty, Ray Graham, Charlie Schultz and Dave Trytek spliced in between some of Perley’s hand me downs. Cicconi tried to move forward but kept encountering the cars Perley was lapping. With ten to go, Perley had placed five lap cars in between his 11 and the 75 of Cicconi. Santos tucked in behind Lou with the race back a distance for fourth between Lichty, Graham, Schultz, Fornoro, Trytek and Moe Lilje.
The caution that the leader did not want to see came on lap 47 when Lilje took a hard hit into the new safer barriers at Mansfield. During the cleanup, Mike Lichty took the 84 pitside with an overheating problem negating the young driver of a possible second top five in two nights.
On the restart, with four laps to go, the things shuffled quickly behind Perley. Cicconi maintained second but Fornoro put on a run and took over third leaving Santos in fourth. Charlie Schultz grabbed off fifth in the May Motorsports 7 while Trytek took over sixth. Graham was relegated back to seventh in the lightning fast spot swap.
At the checkered Perley was finally able to breath as he picked up yet another Mansfield win. The newcomers to the top five this night were Santos and Schultz
Santos coming off prestigious IRP and Concord wins in different open wheel cars, was content with fourth. “We had a good run. It was a little too loose at the end. It was fun. I just have to get a little better to keep up with Nokie and Lou and Perley and those guys. Kyle looked pretty fast tonight. It looked like lap traffic got him. I didn’t see it. He was too far ahead of me. It’s too bad for him. He’s a good driver and I don’t like to see that happen to him. “
Schultz, in his first ISMA top five commented, “We were pretty happy with the car. It was a little too good at the beginning. It just got loose as the race went on. Nokie got back by me, but I was able to still pick some cars off at the end. It’s good considering we crashed last night. The guys did a great job fixing the car. This is my first ISMA top five – so far.”
Trytek, the only remaining car of the Holbrook stable, was sixth, Graham seventh, Mark Sammut eighth, Justin Belfiore ninth and Dave Shullick Jr. tenth.
The ISMA-Wirtgen group has a couple weeks off before heading to Jennerstown on July 8.
SUMMARY - ISMA-WIRTGEN SUPER SERIES - EVENT #4
Mansfield Motorsports Speedway - June 17, 2006
Heat 1: Chris Perley, Bobby Santos, Mike Lichty, Bobby Haynes Jr., Larry Lehnert, Moe Lilje, Frank Neil, Eric Torrese, Vern Romanoski
Heat 2: Lou Cicconi, Bob Magner, John Torrese, Nokie Fornoro, Mark Sammut, Justin Belfiore, Dave Shullick Jr, Brandon Bellinger, Rich Reid
Heat 3: Scott Martel, Kyle Carpenter, Dave Trytek, Ray Graham Jr., Charlie Schultz, Bob Dawson, Jon Henes, Dave McKnight
Toledo ISMA-Wirtgen 50: 1. Chris Perley (11), 2. Lou Cicconi (75), 3. Nokie Fornoro (32), 4. Bobby Santos (97), 5. Charlie Schultz (7), 6. Dave Trytek (70), 7. Ray Graham Jr., (90), 8. Mark Sammut (78), 9. Justin Belfiore (8), 10. Dave Shullick Jr. (49), 11. Bob Dawson (28), 12. Bobby Haynes Jr. (44), 13. Larry Lehnert (92), 14. Scott Martel (88), 15. Vern Romanoski (5), 16. Jon Henes (36), 17. Brandon Bellinger (02), 18. Mike Lichty (84), 19. Moe Lilje (19), 20. Kyle Carpenter (9), 21. John Torrese (91), 22. Bob Magner (40), 23. Rich Reid (55), 24. Dave McKnight (94), 25. Eric Torrese (99).