By John Clifford
I started the year racing last Saturday where I ended last year — at Fulton Speedway. It was wet, cold and muddy but there was finally dirt racing at the famous high banks on Route 57.
There was a healthy car count with 30 358-modified, 60 sportsman, and about a dozen each of late models and novice sportsman.
The racing was fantastic. With all the moisture our area has endured — as the track wore throughout the night the grip remained in the track. Cars took advantage of the lightning fast conditions. In fact it was Larry “Lightning” Wight in the immaculate No. 99L modified who won the first modified feature in 2019.
The 602 crate sportsman continue to impress me. The village of Hamilton police sergeant Matt Janczuk, driver of the No. 33x Bicknell chassis sportsman, made an appearance at the track and won the first of three sportsman feature races. I suggested to Janczuk maybe he should think about coming back each Saturday and running for points. That was met with a resounding “no I can’t do that.”
Too bad — Janczuk has a fast hot rod and was apparently testing out some shocks. From where I was standing in the infield the shocks worked good as he was able to hold off a hard charging Alan Fink.
The other two sportsman feature races were won by Jack Meeks and Joel Hall. There are a couple of other drivers I would like to talk a little about from these features — one is Amy Holland who finished in third to Meeks and Willy Decker Jr. who finished in fourth to Hall.
Holland from Mexico wheeled her new Teo chassis around the 3/8-mile high banks using the low line, finding bite and blasting through turns one and two. Again from where I was standing, a lot of fun to watch. Holland and Rome’s Chris Mackey had a great race as they duked it out for second place. I think Holland is going to have a great year. The balance of her car looked to be spot on last Saturday and she had serious smoke under the hood.
Decker Jr. from Vernon was a factor driving up to compete for the lead on several circuits only to have a little bad luck down the back stretch, having to check up so he didn’t smash his car into the wall. But it was plain as day the second generation driver is going to get his share in 2019. His drive was really the most impressive to me of anyone all night. Decker Jr. showed a lot of patience and respect for his equipment.
On Sunday I talked with Decker Jr. as we signed in at Utica-Rome Speedway and I congratulated him and he had a very satisfied grin from his first outing, he knows he’s got a car that will go forward.
The Late Model race was won by Christopher Fleming. Fleming frankly didn’t have a good 2018 campaign by his standards. The Auburn driver might have been frustrated but never showed it and just kept working at it patiently. He started off the new racing season by leaping into the lead on about the fifth lap and never looking back.
Race fans, racing season is here. Do your mom a favor this weekend and take her to one of the great dirt tracks in our area.
See you at the races.