Marcuccilli benefits from Friesen’s trouble to win Sportsman Classic

Date: 7/6/2015 4:32:16 PM

Marcuccilli benefits from Friesen’s trouble to win Sportsman Classic

Weedsport, N.Y. – July 5, 2015 – For much of the event, Sunday’s Sportsman Classic at Weedsport Speedway appeared as if it would end much like last year’s inaugural race.

            After jumping out to the lead at the one-third mark of the 75-lap feature, James Michael Friesen looked headed to a repeat his victory last year with another win on the way at the two-thirds mark.

            But, the leader slapped the wall in turn 3 on lap 50 and allowed Dave Marcuccilli to close in from a near-straightaway advantage. Marcuccilli grabbed the top spot on lap 53 as Friesen found himself in the wall again and out of contention.

            From there, Marcuccilli survived a pair of restarts after a couple of wrecks and held off the rest of the field to etch his name in history as the second winner of Weedsport’s Sportsman Classic.

“It’s a big race, one we felt like we should have one last year,” Marcuccilli, who finished third in last year’s inaugural event, said from victory hill. “The car was phenomenal. We didn’t hardly touch anything on it all night long.”

After setting fast time and winning his heat race, Marcuccilli picked the third starting spot in the redraw behind the front row of Adam Hilton and Connor Cleveland. He moved into second behind Cleveland before a lap 3 caution and then drove away with the lead on the lap 6 restart.

While Friesen moved into second just before a lap 9 caution, Marcuccilli continued leading. On the third restart of the night on lap 19, Friesen caught the leader and passed him on lap 22. Marcuccilli briefly took the lead back on lap 23, but Friesen regained it on lap 24 and pulled away.

Friesen opened up a nearly full straightaway lead as he battled lapped traffic when he ended up in the wall and headed to the pits. Marcuccilli found Rocky Warner beside him for the lap 57 restart, but Warner spun around and collected a few cars in a crash when the green flag waved.

That meant Marcuccilli dealt with Steve Gray, but Gray lost the second spot to Ronnie Davis III. He took it back when Davis stopped to avoid a turned-around car and lost ground as a result. With the final restart on lap 67, Marcuccilli had Gray next to him again but easily cruised to the win.

Gray finished 2.863 seconds behind Marcuccilli, while Hilton settled for third.

For Marcuccilli, the victory is his second at Weedsport this season after he won the 25-lap sportsman feature as part of the Northeast Shootout May 3.

“I love coming here,” he said. “I’ve got to thank Al Heinke and the whole crew for what they did to this place. I’d love racing here every week if I could.”

Gray won the crate sportsman portion of the Finger Lakes 40 June 23 and said he was still pleased with his performance in the Sportsman Classic.

“Not as pleased as I would be if I won the race, of course,” he said on victory hill. “Dave had a good car. We didn’t have anything for him. It was a good race.”

After a win and a runner-up finish at Weedsport this year, Gray said he has plenty of information about how to get around the three-eighths mile clay oval.

“My notebook’s probably 4-inches thick,” he said. “I’ve got some things in my mind, but I can’t tell you.”

Tyler Walker took the lead of the 20-lap NY6A 600cc Micro Sprint feature on lap 12 when the leader drove to the pits and never looked back from there. He held off challengers from two other drivers to pick up the win.

The Weedsport win capped a three-race weekend of the series’ NY Speedweeks. Walker said he “definitely had the car to finish first or second” Friday at Brewerton Speedway but wound up 11th and then drove from 22nd to third Saturday at Paradise Speedway in Geneva before finally scoring a victory.

“It feels good to be here at Weedsport. We’ve come here so many times,” Walker said after winning from the 11th starting spot. “This place is phenomenal. … I’m glad to be in victory lane.”

In the 20-lap TUSA Mod Lite Series feature, Joe Isabell moved into the top spot after passing both front row starts on the initial green flag, but it was Jeff Isabell Jr. who grabbed the top spot on lap 15 and held on for the win.

Isabell Jr. said the only changes he and his crew made all night were grinding the tires and adjusting the wedge.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been here,” he said. “I’m happy he didn’t break or anything and I had to actually earn that one.”

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