BACK ON TOP — Willy Decker of Westmoreland climbs out of his car in victory lane with the checkered flag in hand after winning the first of two 20-lap modified feature races on Sunday night at Utica-Rome Speedway. It was Decker’s first win at the speedway since 2011. (Sentinel photo by John Clifford)

Westmoreland’s Decker among winners at Utica-Rome Speedway

Published May 12, 2014 at 2:15pm

VERNON — Two former modified track champions returned to the winner’s circle following losing droughts as Willy Decker and Pat Ward scored victories in the twin 20-lap feature event at Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night.

In the first 20-lapper, Westmoreland native Decker jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it as he drove to the victory in what was his first win since 2011.

Mike Bowman took second, Tim Fuller finished third, Larry Wight came in fourth and Stewart Friesen trailed in fifth.

In the second 20-lapper, Mike Mahaney was in a battle with Ward that came down to the checkered flag.

Ward scored a narrow win, beating out Mahaney by .009 seconds for his first win since 2012. Matt Sheppard, Danny Varin, and Decker finished out the top five.

In the sportsman 20-lap feature, Jeremy Vunk raced to his first win of the season. Tom Denton was second and Chris Carr came in third.

The pure stock 15-lap feature saw pole sitter Chuck Cushman pace the field until defending track champion Ron Hawker caught him from his 10th place starting spot and passed him for the top position with five laps to go en route to the win.

Ricky Breed came in second and Cushman wound up in third.

Racing resumes next Sunday as the Go Nuclear Late Model Series join a regular show of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing with the modifieds, sportsman, pro stocks and pure stocks. Gates open at 3:30 p.m. with racing scheduled to start at 6.