Speedway to hold special program in honor of Michaels

VERNON — The modified series features have gone down to the wire each week at Utica-Rome Speedway with late race victory passes, considering the talent-filled field.

On Sunday, the field will again feature some of the region’s top drivers as the speedway holds a special "J.J. Michaels Remembered" event, paying $5,031.31 to the winner of the 50-lap feature.

Michaels was considered as one of the most popular local drivers at Utica-Rome during his career for both fans and drivers alike. During his career, he amassed a total of 49 wins, 21 at Utica-Rome, at a total of four different tracks.

For years, Michaels was a staple on the Outlaw Circuit, consisting of the Brewerton, Fulton, and Utica-Rome speedways, with his yellow No. 31 car frequently finishing among the leaders.

He died in 2005 after a brief illness.

Matt Sheppard and Mike Mahaney are currently tied at the top of the modified point standings with defending track champion Stewart Friesen just four points back with Billy Decker just six markers back. In fifth is opening night winner Robby Bellinger followed by last week’s winner Jimmy Davis with Ryan Phelps, Ronnie Johnson, Alan Johnson, and Kenny Tremont rounding out the top-10 spots.

A full card of sportsman, pro stocks, and pure stocks is also scheduled for the special Mother’s Day event with racing kicking off at 6 p.m. Gates will open at 3:30.