By CAREY FOX Times Sports Editor By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE — Fans of Lincoln Park Speedway had to wait a week as the gates closed over the May 7 weekend as promoter Joe Spiker and his crew spent a two-week period working on the track surface and some drainage issues along the front stretch.
However, on Saturday night, the curtains opened on a brand new, lightning fast racing surface that had the crowd and drivers buzzing all night.
Despite a near constant light mist falling, the Putnamville oval provided some of the best racing in recent memory as Jon Siscoe battled past Blake Fitzpatrick for a thrilling sprint win and Jeff Bland covered the field for the UMP Modified victory over Paul Bumgardner.
The UMP Super stock feature had just begun when the steady drizzle picked up and forced the postponement of the final two features until May 21.
Shane Hollingsworth and Siscoe made up the front row for the sprint car A-main with Braylon Fitzpatrick and Danny Holtsclaw in row two.
As the opening green waved, it quickly became apparent that the feature was going to be intense as both Hollingsworth and Holtsclaw pulled a wheel stand off turn two on the opening lap charging for the point. Siscoe grabbed the early lead sticking the right rear tire firmly on the cushion and rocketing to a five-car length lead after lap two.
Dave Darland went to the bottom of the track after starting fifth ahead of Blake Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick served notice he was going to be a big factor in this race as he picked off Darland and then Hollingsworth in one lap, diving through the middle of turns one and two to pass Darland on top and then slipping under Hollingsworth with a textbook slider into turn three.
Meanwhile, Siscoe had pulled out to nearly a three-quarter straightaway lead as the leaders mixed it up for second position. Fitzpatrick and Holtsclaw locked up in a fight for the second spot with Darland holding down fourth.
Behind him, a five-car chase had developed with Hollingsworth, Jesse Cramer, Jerry Coons Jr., Brett Burdette and Braylon Fitzpatrick were putting on a wheel-to-wheel battle for the fifth spot.
Up front, Siscoe was on a rail, leaving nothing but a rooster tail of tacky dirt behind him as he rocketed along the cushion. Fitzpatrick closed a bit at a time as he was locked into the bottom and making up ground as the two approached lapped traffic.
Siscoe surgically diced his way through the first few lapped cars as Fitzpatrick went to the top, several car lengths behind him. A few spots back, Holtsclaw, Burdette and Coons Jr. were wowing the crowd, swapping slide jobs for a top-five spot, running three-wide.
Casey Shuman battled his way into the discussion ahead of Cramer and Seth Parker as the laps began to tick down.
A caution slowed the action past the mid-point as Holtsclaw came to a stop following a spin off turn two that re-set the field.
Fitzpatrick had renewed life as the caution brought Siscoe back within striking distance and set up a great show. Siscoe kept throwing the Fox Construction, Dalex Fabrication, Economy Janitorial Service No. 7 sprinter higher and harder off the cushion in turn two as Fitzpatrick got a run alongside him through the middle.
However, Fitzpatrick got a big run off turn three and showed his nose under Siscoe exiting turn four. Siscoe held the lead, blasting down the front stretch, but got a little too deep into turn one, smacking the cushion with the right rear tire and nearly getting upside down. However, he kept his sprinter on all four wheels with an amazing save, staying in second-place.
That was key as a caution came out before another full lap was scored.
The result was that Siscoe went back to the lead as Fitzpatrick’s good fortune was foiled after Mark Perry III and Keith Bloom spun in turn three.
On the re-start, Siscoe didn’t let his good luck run out as he held off a side-by-side challenge from Fitzpatrick for several laps before opening up a bit of a gap over the final few circuits.
Darland came home with the third-place finish as Burdette made the move to fourth ahead of Hollingsworth. Coons Jr. and Shuman provided a photo finish for sixth as Coons was scored ahead of Shuman for sixth. Braylon Fitzpatrick secured eighth ahead of Cramer and Kent Christian, who won the ‘B’ main.
In the UMP Modified feature, Bland started outside of Carlos Bumgardner with Josh Boller and Andy Bishop making up row two ahead of Brian Hayden and Randy Lines.
As the green flag dropped, Bland was able to break out to a small lead five laps into the main event. Behind him, Bumgardner stayed in second, running the bottom of the smooth oval. Bishop and Boller were door-to-door for third place ahead of Hayden, Lines and Paul Bumgardner.
A couple of early cautions slowed the field, but kept Bland close to the competition despite his prowess on the top of the track. His Auto Credit, Serv Pro, Bland’s Wrecker Service No. 38 was hooked up top-side and on the re-start he stayed out front.
Bland pulled out to a solid lead as the battle for second developed behind him with Carlos Bumgardner and Bishop were fighting it out. Hayden moved up to fight Bumgardner for third and dove under Boller to challenge for the second spot.
Paul Bumgardner stuck with it and moved into the conversation over the final half of the race.
As Bland stayed out front, a familiar fight for the second spot developed as Hayden and Paul Bumgardner locked horns for position. Bumgardner would eventually win that battle as the checkered flag flew.
Bland claimed the victory ahead of Bumgardner, Hayden, Boller and Bishop in the top-five. Rob Fuqua moved to sixth ahead of Wes McClara, Carlos Bumgardner, Schuyler Nahre and Lines.
This Saturday will be National Armed Forces Day as the National Guard will have their climbing wall and display set up as the sprint cars, UMP Modifieds, UMP Super Stocks and bombers will be in action. The rained out super stock and bomber features will also be run along with the regular show.
Lincoln Park Speedway Sprint car feature 1. Jon Siscoe, 2. Blake Fitzpatrick, 3. Dave Darland, 4. Brett Burdette, 5. Shane Hollingsworth, 6. Jerry Coons Jr., 7. Casey Shuman, 8. Braylon Fitzpatrick, 9. Jesse Cramer, 10. Kent Christian, 11. Keith Bloom Jr., 12. Mark Perry III, 13. Chase Briscoe, 14. Shawn Krockenberger, 15. Mike Hagemeir, 16. Danny Holtsclaw, 17. Chris Babcock, 18. Seth Parker, 19. Joe Ligouri, 20. Lance Grimes UMP Modified feature 1. Jeff Bland, 2. Paul Bumgardner, 3. Brian Hayden, 4. Josh Boller, 5. Andy Bishop, 6. Rob Fuqua, 7. Wes McClara, 8. Carlos Bumgardner, 9. Schuyler Nahre, 10. Randy Lines, 11. Craig Conyer, 12. Chris Brewer, 13. Brent Gregory, 14.Justin Gregory, 15. Larry Lambert, 16. Bill Bradley, 17. David Henderson, 18. CJ Bryan, 19. Gabe Menser, 20. Travis Shoulders