Three Lead Changes and Wild Finish Highlight Race
Derry, ME – February 4, 2014… Punxsutawney Phil may be able to predict the weather, but nobody could have predicted the outcome of the 10th Annual Groundhog Day Derby at Derry Raceway Park for the Supermodified Ultimate Pavement Racing Series (SUPRS). After an incredible battle throughout the race among the entire field, Ray Sand, Jr. was able to wrestle the lead away from Rob Warren with just five laps left to hold on for the win.
Bob Gangwer crossed the line in second place but was penalized one position for rough driving and dropped to third with Steve Callahan moving all the way up to second from last starting position.
“I don’t like to win this way,” began Sand in his post race interview. “Everybody is so tough to pass and you try to get right up on the rear nerf bar of somebody, and it just makes it so difficult to race a guy.” He went on to say, “Rob did a great job, and I had to apologize for getting into him I felt like i was hitting him every single lap, so I’d like to hear his input on that, I just don’t like winning this way”
With the win, Sand, Jr. moves to within just one victory of tying John Davidson for first place on the SUPRS All-Time Gold Crest Division Feature Win list.
After a controversial last lap battle with Bob Gangwer, Steve Callahan was put back to second place and said, “I didn’t change anything from practice or the last couple years as far as setup because it’s one of those tracks that once you figure it out, it’s a fun place to race.”
Callahan was the fastest driver throughout practice but since Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and six more weeks of winter were predicted on Groundhog Day, time trials were wiped from the slate and random feature line up was put in place. This was anything but good for Callahan as he continues to seek his first win of the season. “Like Ray said, it’s a hard place and just my luck I had to start in the last row and while it’s 50 laps, the race goes by pretty quickly here,” said the CPR Motorsports driver. For his efforts, Callahan was awarded the SUPRSCharger for advancing the most positions from his starting spot and said, “I knew that I had to get to the front the best I could, this place is a workout.” While Callahan was beat up by Gangwer at the end of the race, he was also on the giving side of the contact when he got into Gary Waldron around lap 17. “I need to apologize to Gary,” said Callahan. “We had a great racing going, and he got under me out of two and i tried to cross him over then hit the curb and got into him.”
“I deserve what I got,” explained third place finisher Bob Gangwer about his one position penalty. “I went into the corner pretty deep and so did Steve, I got into him and we banged on each other out of the turn but I got past him. I should have let him back by but it was the last lap and decided to take my chances, but it was a bonehead move.” The penalty aside Gangwer was happy with his night at Derry. “As far as the rest of the race, it was very intense from the drop of the green flag because each corner of this place is so different and the random start really mixed it up. I had fun racing with the Michigan Hill Gang and watching Ray, Rob and Steve go at it for the win.”
Carl Becker and Dave Brigandi set the pace to the green flag for the random start. Becker quickly pulled into the lead as Brigandi struggled to figure out the “Trick Track” Before the first lap was complete, Frank Keene after starting inside row two, and having already made his way past Brigandi, picked up a big push off of turn four. The Scranton, PA racer made contact with the wall, with Brigandi following him right in. Incredibly, Rob Warren and Kevin Timmins were able to thread the needle and make it through the careening cars of Keene and Brigandi.
After hounding Becker and briefly taking the lead on lap 7, only to relinquish it back to Becker, Warren finally did away Becker on lap 11 and Sand, Jr. followed suit on lap 12. Warren encountered lapped traffic on lap 21, allowing Sand, Jr. to draw to the rear nerf bar of the First to Finish Docks and Hoists roadster.
Becker would have his hands full the rest of the race and at various times swapped spots with Steve Callahan, Gary Waldron and Bob Gangwer all while running in the top five. Eventually Callahan, Waldron and Gangwer would stage their own slugfest after passing Becker and from lap 16 to 18 ran two and three abreast in the torrid fight for third place.
Callahan used the traffic the leaders encountered to his advantage and made it a three way battle up front. The laps flew by quickly and on lap 43 Sand, Jr. made his move for the lead with Callahan right on his tail. Warren held on for a brief moment but then fell to victim to “The Sandman” and his wiley ways on lap 44 relinquishing the lead for good, then two laps later dropped two more spots behind Callahan and Gangwer. Warren held on for fourth at the finish over Gary Waldron in fifth.
Sand, Jr. encountered heavy lapped traffic with just one lap to go and that set up the battle between Callahan and Gangwer as they pulled up close. Gangwer dove low in turn turn four as the three came down for the white flag. Contact was made and even though roughed up, Callahan fought his way through the corner and raced Gangwer down the front stretch but couldn’t hang on as they entered turn one.
Sand, Jr. played the lapped traffic well and kept it from playing into Gangwer’s bid for the last corner pass for the win to take his first Groundhog Day Derby victory.
The SUPRS racers now head west to Mesa Marin Speedway for the 10th Annual Billy Vukovich III Classic. The winner of this race will become a guaranteed starter for the SUPRS Season Summit 125.
Fans of supermodified racing and online sim racers alike are encouraged to learn more about the Supermodified Ultimate Pavement Racing Series by visiting www.SUPRS.net, “Liking” SUPRS on Facebook, Circling SUPRS on Google+, Following @SUPRSOnline on Twitter, and Viewing SUPRS videos on YouTube.
10th Annual Groundhog Day Derby
Derry Raceway Park
Feature Finish-50 Laps
- 18 Ray Sand, Jr.; Rochester, NY; SandmanRacing.com * !
- 55-Steve Callahan; Cayuhoga Falls, OH; AT&T, Ice Oil ^
- 25-Bob Gangwer; Goshen, IN; WingSideUp.com, Ricky’s Sideline Shots
- 35-Rob Warren; Pulaski, NY; First to Finish Docks & Hoists, Phillips Family Farm* **
- 10-Gary Waldron; Wyoming, MI; Ada Automotive, Michigan Hill Gang
- 42-Carl Becker; Lansing, MI; Wholesale Diamond Exchange, Michigan Hill Gang *
- 77-Kevin Timmins; Baldwinsville, NY; BreezeGraphics.com -1Lap
- 83-Frank Keene; Scranton, PA; GM Parts, Coca-Cola -1 Lap
- 52-Dave Brigandi; Syracuse, NY; Pizza Hut, Terry -2 Laps
Time of Race: 10:50.1
- * Denotes Lap Led
- ** Denotes Most Laps Led
- ! Denotes Fastest Lap of Race
- ^ Denotes SUPRSCharger