PERLEY TAKES THIRD CONSECUTIVE ISMA HY-MILER NATIONALS
By Carol D. Haynes
Photos by Jim Feeney
Sandusky, OH – When the supermodifieds lined up for the running of the 31st annual Hy-Miler Nationals on Saturday night at Sandusky Speedway, the 26-car field included a plethora of talent. There were six past champions gridded, including five-time winner Dave Shullick Sr. Throw in a former Indy 500 competitor the NASCAR Craftsman truck points leader Johnny Benson Jr. and lot of potential first-time winners and you had one heck of a race on tap. But when the checkered flag dropped 100 laps later it was the current magic man of supers, Chris Perley, laying stake to his third consecutive Hy-Miler win. Only Bentley Warren and Russ Wood have been able to accomplish such a feat since the race's inception in 1978.
Perley, who did not finish Friday's 40-lapper after being involved in an accident, gave credit to his team. "My crew is great. We bent the car up last night but my crew got it back for me. That's what I count on. That's why the car goes so good because these guys don't miss anything. Three Hy-Milers in a row. It was a crazy race. It started off pretty rough. I thought it might shake down slower than it did. But people were moving quick and I think it was Mike Lichty who made me go. He looked a lot stronger and I wanted to keep in touch with him. Then all of a sudden he was there and then he wasn't. Lap traffic was very difficult without the passing flag that ISMA no longer uses. Luckily we made it through but I wasn't really pressured. I could take my time coming up through.
"I'd like to thank R&R Motors, Shea Concrete, my mom and dad and family, Perley's Marina, New England Motor Racing Supply, Barrett Transportation, Hardy Transportation, Jack Cook Enterprises, and KidsFirstUSA.com This is great. It's awesome to win here. Thanks so much for coming out and watching this deal."
Charlie Schultz, winner of Friday night's show, was only down one notch when the race ended Saturday for his second podium finish.
"I am thrilled to be here. I can't thank everybody who helped me get here. It's been a blast. I thought I could race with Perley there for a while but man he just turned up the wick and took off. The next thing I knew we were into lap traffic and he was out of sight. I just tried to work the traffic as well as I could. I didn't have as good a car toward the end of the race as I did at the beginning and I didn't have a thing for Chris. But another podium finish is great. Thanks to Dave and Lori May, Hempel International Transport, DEI, Cintas, Burke's Home Center, Frank May Garage, Bell Helmets, Fisher Performance and all the guys who help me each and every week. And thanks to the fans… it's not a race without the fans."
Mike Lichty ran perhaps the most exciting race of the night. After driving by leader Dave Shullick Jr. on lap 28, Lichty appeared to be on his way to that elusive first ISMA and first Hy-Miler win. A jingle with a lap car on lap 42 sent the 84 back to the rear and for the next 58 laps he drove in, out and around cars to get back into the top three much to the fan's delight.
"Second last night and third tonight. Last night we just got out-driven. We missed the setup a hair in that one. Tonight I'm satisfied. We definitely had a really good car. I think we had the car to beat. When I took over the lead there I thought it was mine tonight. It was just one of those deals with lap traffic – a car shoved up on the racetrack and three wide doesn't work there. We came back up through and the car was great on the outside. The car is where we want it to be, the crew, Duane Kells and everybody worked really hard on it. To come from the back and finish third makes me happy. It was a good weekend. Thanks to my father with PATCO Transportation, my mother and everybody in the family. Also to Stage Door Transportation, and Paul and Glen Forrest who give me awesome motors. Their motors really shine at this place."
Before the start of the event, the supermodified drivers passed their helmets throughout the stands for contributions to Terry Gibson's family. Gene Lee Gibson, carrying the 00 wing of his brother brought the field around in a tribute lap before retaking his race position. Honorary flagman was another Gibson, Larry, who waved the green over the Hy-Miler field.
Dave Shullick Jr. took command from his pole position alongside Johnny Benson Jr. who fell in right behind the 61.
Things were just beginning to sort out when yellow fell for Jon Henes who looked to be spinning but recovered as fast as the flag fell. He rejoined the field at the end. Bobby Haynes Jr. caused another quick flag as his 44 stopped just shy of the pit access on the restart.
Shullick Jr. was able to put some distance on his challengers Benson, Dave Trytek, Dave McKnight and his dad, Dave Shullick Sr. as the race resumed its rapid pace.
Just behind the lead five were Timmy Jedrzejek, Mike Lichty, Perley, Charlie Schultz, Tim Ice, Moe Lilje and Russ Wood working on each other in order to move forward.
On lap 25 a yellow fell for a spin by Dave Trytek. Dave Shullick Sr. had nowhere to go and drove over the nose of the 70. Trytek was hooked and Dave Shullick Sr. continued on with a broken nose wing.
On the restart of this yellow, Kyle Edwards, driving the Reed Salvage 71, went over the first turn bank. He was taken to the pits.
The field bunched behind Shullick Jr. with Benson Jr. now being pressured by his two teammates Mike Lichty and Dave McKnight. Perley was fifth ahead of Shullick Sr.
Lichty was on the move and by lap 28 he was by the 61 in turn one. One lap later an inadvertent yellow flew when Dave McKnight bounced off the inner rail in turn one but, as veteran observers will attest to seeing on more than one occasion, he recovered nicely and was able to keep going. He did not lose his spot.
Back in action, Perley soon moved by Shullick Jr. for second, relegating Benson to fourth ahead of McKnight, Schultz, Shullick Sr., Timmy J and Russ Wood.
By lap forty, things got hotter as Lichty and Perley moved in on the tail of the field, which was still pretty healthy front to back.
On lap 42, Lichty met his demise as he tried the outside of Howard Page's 18 and Perley went low as the crowd gasped. As aforementioned by Lichty, there wasn't room for three in the turn and Lichty paid the price with a yellow and a trip over the bank. He was able to restart and begin his march to the front.
Perley was now the leader trailed by Shullick Jr., Benson, McKnight and Schultz. But on lap 46 the 61 of Shoe II slowed suddenly. Something broken in the rear end was an early diagnosis. A red was called here as the allotted caution laps had been run and a quick refueling transpired.
As the race now approached the halfway mark, Perley had command but Schultz and Benson were able to maintain sight of the 11, but when the "wick" turned up, the Rowley Rocket was gone, leaving the pack behind. And what a pack. Schultz, Benson, McKnight, Jedrzejek, Wood, Shullick Sr., Ice, Gosek and lo and behold, Mike Lichty.
On lap 59, Shullick Sr. joined his son in the pits when the wing finally gave way. The 30-plus year veteran said later, "The nose wing was dragging after we hit Dave Trytek. It kind of broke it off and it was hanging there. Jack Murphy and Steve Stout checked it during the red. They weren't sure it would hold but we continued. Then it turned and stuck straight up in the air. I just didn't want it to fly off and hit me or somebody else. I knew it was time to leave."
As race progressed Perley was gingerly moving through traffic as the battle continued a distance behind. Schultz moved into second with Benson, McKnight, Wood, Jedrzejek, Gosek and Lichty all doing what they do best – race hard.
With 15 to go, Perley was in his own time zone while Schultz still had Benson right behind as McKnight, Lichty, Wood and Timmy J continued in the top seven spots.
Ten laps remained as Perley was snaking up behind the 8 of Jedrzejek who soon felt the wrath of Perley, going down a lap near race end. Ahead the Patco team of Lichty, Benson and McKnight trailed Schultz as Russ Wood held onto his lead lap status by a narrow margin.
Things were still changing as the race neared the end. McKnight suddenly pitted out of fourth while Wood moved up past Jedrzejek pushing Gosek and Benson just out of the top five.
Perley was crossing the line for lap 100 as the rest of the cars were still swapping spots ahead of him but really behind. It was Perley, Schultz, Lichty Wood and Jedrzejek completing the tough top five.
The last man to win three straight Hy-Milers (1995-97), Russ Wood was happy with fourth. "Our car was loose from the start and it never got better. We just kept picking away and salvaged a fourth. Those guys were really fast up front. The track changed drastically from the day before. There was no outside groove between one and two it seemed so everybody stayed down low. It was a whole different race from Friday night. We'll take the fourth, throw the car in the trailer and go to Mansfield."
Timmy J was likewise content with fifth in one of the most competitive long distance races seen, "It was a long hard night. The pace was awful fast from the start to the end. We didn't have a bad balance but we had a fifth place car and that's where we came in. Hats off to these guys on my team. They did a tremendous job working all weekend on all the problems we had. Then we battled a tight car early through qualifying and the heat races. They seemed to get it going it going pretty well for me in the feature. We'll take the fifth and load it up and come back another day."
Joe Gosek, Johnny Benson Jr., Tim Ice, Vern Romanoski and Jon Henes completed the top ten.
Time Trials (top 12 inverted into the heats): Fast time Chris Perley, 14.715
Heat 1: Moe Lilje, Russ Wood, Dave McKnight Jr., Dave Shullick Sr., Jeffrey Abold, Kyle Edwards, Bobby Haynes Jr., Bobby Bond, Bobby Dawson
Heat 2: Dave Trytek, Johnny Benson Jr., Dave Shullick Jr., Tim Ice, Jon Henes, Joe Gosek, Mark Sammut, Howie Page
Heat 3: Charlie Schultz, Chris Perley, Timmy Jedrzejek, Mike Lichty, Jeff Holbrook, Vern Romanoski, Dave Mumaw, Gene Lee Gibson, Robbie Summers
31st annual Hy-Miller 100:
1. Chris Perley (11), 2. Charlie Schultz (7), 3. Mike Lichty (84), 4. Russ Wood (29), 5. Timmy Jedrzejek (8), 6. Joe Gosek (0), 7. Johnny Benson Jr. (74), 8. Tim Ice (77), 9. Vern Romanoski (5), 10. Jon Henes (36), 11. Mark Sammut (78), 12. Bobby Dawson (28), 13. Dave McKnight Jr. (94), 14. Bobby Bond (25), 15. Howie Page (18), 16. Jeff Holbrook (35), 17. Rob Summers (97), 18. Dave Shullick Sr. (49), 19. Dave Shullick Jr. (61), 20. Jeff Abold (05), 21. Moe Lilje (19), 22. Kyle Edwards (71), 23. Dave Trytek (70), 24. Gene Lee Gibson (00), 25. Bobby Haynes Jr. (44), 26. Dave Mumaw (14).