VERNON, NY – There is no denying that Matt Janczuk, from Sherrill, NY, was a favorite going into tonight’s DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series: Central Region kickoff at Utica-Rome Speedway. Janczuk has been a master on the Vernon, NY half-mile oval with the 2019 track champion to his credit.
The 32-car field was jammed with the premier DIRTcar Sportsman Modified drivers of the Northeast, all vying to make history as the winner of the first Series race of the 2020 season. Janczuk redrew the 8th starting position looking uphill at Kyle Inman, defending Series champion Kevin Root, Zach Sobotka, Chris Mackey, and more.
The 30-lap Feature was nearly non-stop with just a single caution slowing the action.
Janczuk used speed, multiple lines, and a little luck to work his way by the best in the business. The defending track champion reeled in leader Kyle Inman in the closing stages and on the final lap and in the final corner, Janczuk muscled his no. 33x machine ahead of Inman at the line.
Janczuk is on a serious hot streak. Look out Kyle Larson.
“We’ve won four in a row with tonight,” said Janczcuk. “Things have just been really good thanks to this Bicknell, DIG, and Fastline Performance.”
From the drop of the green flag, the racing was top to bottom on the half-mile autodrome.
“We were pretty good in 3 and 4 at the top and the bottom was good if you hit it in 1 and 2. I was going in on the top of 1 and 2 and going across the track for the bottom to get off,” noted Janczuk. “It was kind of the old “Stewie Friesen move” they call it. I made it work. I don’t know how but we did.”
Janczuk now has a guaranteed starting position in the World Short Track Championship Invitational Feature at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
After cleaning up the Sportsman race, Janczuk hopped in his DIRTcar 358 Modified and picked up a top 5 finish there as well in Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship competition.
A late-race triumph for one driver can only mean heartbreak for another. Kyle Inman led most of the 30-lap Feature but unfortunately, he crossed the line second on the lap the records books count.
On the fateful final lap, Inman tried to fend off Janczuk and both cars came out of turn 4 wheel-to-wheel, clean and green. Janczuk had momentum on the outside which propelled him down the long Utica-Rome front stretch ahead of the no. 20x for the win.
Inman worked his Turnbull Incorporated-sponsored Troyer hard all race but came up just short.
“It was tough. We were racing really hard there at the beginning. I had to run lines that I really shouldn’t have run,” said Inman. “ I worked the tires a little too much going through the middle. I probably used up a little too much car early on. I’ll take a second place.”
It wasn’t all fun and games on Father’s Day for Kyle Inman. If anyone deserves a perseverance award for the event, it’s him.
“I had some tough luck getting here. We had a flat on the trailer so we were stuck on the side of the thruway for a little while. We had to go 30 MPH for the last 30 miles just to get here so that wasn’t fun. But I started 10th in the Heat Race and got up to third for the redraw,” said Inman of his travails getting to the track.
3rd place finisher Chris Mackey showed a lot of speed and racecraft to capture his podium finish. He stayed in the top 5, dicing in and out of lapped traffic with the leaders for 30 laps. Mackey was quickest in his Timed Hot Laps group and finished second in his Heat Race.
“We made some changes after the last two races out and it seemed to help tonight but we are still lacking a little bit. We started losing ground in lapped traffic. I knew Inman was right there. I got him on the restart and kept the lead for a while,” said Mackey.
Mackey had a close call with defending Series champion Kevin Root. While racing side-by-side Mackey pinched him down to the implement tires and Root had to jump on the brakes to prevent an unwanted wheelie or broken race car. No harm. No foul.
“When you are out there racing against these guys you gotta keep your foot in it when you can. But we always try to race clean and hard so I feel bad about that,” Mackey noted.
Defending Central and overall Series champion Kevin Root finished 4th and young gun Zach Sobotka rounded out the top 5.
Thanks to Hoosier Racing Tire, 7th place runner Alan Fink was randomly chosen for one a free tire.
The next DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series: Central Region bout is scheduled for Saturday, June 27 at Land of Legends Raceway in Canandaigua, NY.
DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series: Central Region 30-lap Feature Results
1) MATT JANCZUK 2) Kyle Inman 3) Chris Mackey 4) Kevin Root 5) Zach Sobotka 6) Payton Talbot 7) Alan Fink 8) A.J. Miller 9) Will Shields 10) Willy Decker Jr. 11) Dalton Rombough 12) Mike Fowler 13) Addison Bowman 14) Dylan Zacharias 15) Brent Joy 16) Dave Moyer 17) Alex Payne 18) Tyler Corcoran 19) Mike Button 20) Charlie Tibbitts 21) Mark Yorker 22) A.J. Digsby 23) Rocco Leone 24) Bailey Groves 25) Kyle Rood 26) Mike Grover 27) Tim Falter 28) Mark Effner 29) Ernie Staelens 30) Ryan Dolbear 31) Matt Richardson 32) Ed Lukas
PHOTO: Joe Grabianowski