May 11, 2014

By Tom Cummings


Tioga Center, NY  - On a beautiful early spring Sunday, "Lightning," Tony Hanbury that is, had to fend off a strong challenge from Paul Johnson to collect the Sportsman Modified win in the season opener at Shangri-La II Motorspeedway. 2013 Four Cylinder Stock champion, Gene Purvis collected the season opening day win for the second year in a row. Glenn Lippolis survived several lead changes in the Pudgies Pizza Street Stocks, driving a car that most thought was totally destroyed just one year ago, and claimed victory.

The traditional season lid lifter has been held on Mothers Day the past four seasons and was treated to a refreshing early spring day with loads of sunshine. Alan Blackwell, from Waynton, Oklahoma is back at Shangri-La II for the second year in a row. Blackwell works hard on the multiple natural gas projects in the region, and likes to play harder. He took the lead on the drop of the green flag by chief starter Ray Robbins. Blackwell used the inside lane to remain out front of Purvis for the first six laps, until Purvis was able to capitalize on a small handling problem for Blackwell. The Blackwell number 3 pushed up off of the bottom lane just enough coming out of turn four for Purvis to sneak by. Purvis held off Blackwell by a carlength at the checkers. Pole sitter, John Maynard fell to third at the end of lap one, and finished third. For Gene Purvis, it was career win number eleven at the track.

Paul Johnson has come a long way in gaining experience in the Sportsman ranks at Shangri-La II. Johnson led the Sportsman field to the green flag, flanked to his outside by Tony Hanbury. The first of two cautions came on lap one as rookie Nick Morich spun his new ride coming off turn four. Morich acquired the former Tom Shiner car. As the field was coming to the green flag, T.J. Zacharias spun in turn four. Both cars were able to continue. Johnson and Hanbury ran wheel to wheel for a lap until Hanbury grabbed the front spot coming off of turn two.

The pair continued and pulled away from the remainder of the field, who were locked in quite a battle of their own. Johnson tried to get by Hanbury on the inside and outside, but Hanbury was up to the challenges each and every time. Zacharias recovered from his early race spin to give chase to the leaders, but he had his hands full with Morich. Morich got by Zacharias, but could only get to within six carlengths of the leaders. At the checkers, Hanbury held off Johnson by one car length to claim the win. Johnson, who recorded four runner-up finished in 2013, held on for second. Morich had a very respectable first Sportsman run at the track finished third. Zacharias rounded out the top four. Matt and Chris Clemens ran fifth and sixth respectively. Randy Brokaw was a DNS for the feature. The Brooktondale, NY driver qualified a car from the Zacharias racing stable in the heat race, but T.J. Zacharias broke during the heat race driving the gold number 71, and replaced Brokaw in the second car for the feature.

The Pudgies Pizza Street Stocks do not lack for action. R.J. Zacharias broke during hotlaps, leaving a four car field. What was lacking in numbers was more than made up by the close racing which went on. The field was led to the green by Gary Noe, who had Bill Frisbee, Jr to his outside. Glenn Lippolis used his inside lane third starting spot to weave past Frisbee and Noe to take the lead after lap two. Jason Duke, Sr. worked the inside lane to get past Frisbee in turn two on lap six. Lap nine found Duke in the second position after passing Noe coming out of turn four. The Duke car started showing smoke coming off of the right rear of the car on lap ten, and was the first caution of the event when his right rear tire let go on lap eleven. He returned as the green flag came out on the lap eleven restart, but problems continued for Duke and he would retire from the event. The restart also had Noe slip past Lippolis for the lead. Lippolis took the lead back from Noe on lap fifteen, but the pair would become the next caution as the two got together in turn two with Noe sending Lippolis spinning to the infield. Lippolis started outside of Frisbee on the lap sixteen restart, and they both spun in turn three going for the same piece of real estate. At the checkers, Lippolis held on for his second career feature win at Shangri-La II. Noe would finish second, Frisbee, Jr was third and Duke, Sr. was fourth.

CONCRETE NUGGETS: Several announcements were made by track management at the season opening drivers meeting. First – Former racer and current Pit Steward, Jerry Sinsabaugh has been promoted to co - Track and Event Director. Sinsabaugh will work along with Amy Culver to make the changes necessary for the speedway to attract fans, drivers and sponsors and to steer the track in a more positive direction. Sinsabaugh will be the “go-to” person on race day, and also the primary “go-to” person for on-track specific discussions, issues and ideas for better and innovative competition. Second – The speedway has announced that their website, which has been down more than it was up this past offseason has been corrected. The track has changed their webhosts, and the site has been moved over to a new server. Third – The track management has announced that all regular Saturday Night programs will have a grandstand admission price of just six dollars. “With the six dollar admission, the fans will still be able to take in racing action at Shangri-La II as well as Skyview Drags. With the change in admission pricing, the wristband discount will not continue” says track and event co-directors Sinsabaugh and Culver. The six dollar admission is for ages above sixteen. Age sixteen and under are still free. Fourth - The speedway is currently in discussion with several groups and sponsors for added activities. There is a distinct possibility that the July 5th date will reappear on the schedule as a sponsor is heavily considering special activities for that date. There has also been discussion with the Big 10 Super Stock series to have them added to the schedule. Fifth – The track has hired Keisha Sinsabaugh as the Chief Scorer and Handicapper. Sixth – The Four Cylinder Stock drivers will make a minimum of $30.00 per event and as much as $ 150.00 if they win the feature. Seventh – Shangri-La II will pay drivers in cash at the end of each race night during the 2014 season.

Racing will continue at Shangri-La II Motorspeedway this Sunday May 18th for the first of three Race of Champions Pavement Modified Series events takes to the half mile high banks. The Pudgies Pizza Street Stocks and the Four Cylinder Stocks will also be in action. Pit Gates open at 11:00 am, Grandstand Gate opens and Practice begins at 1:00 pm with racing beginning at 3:00 pm. There will be open practice on Saturday May 17th . All gates open at 11:00 am and cars will be on track from 12:00 noon until 6:00 pm. Grandstand admission for practice is the donation of a non-perishable Pet Food item. The donations will be taken to the Tioga County Humane Society. There is always plenty of free camping at Shangri-La II Motorspeedway.

Pudgie’s Pizza Street Stock Finish (20 Laps): Glenn Lippolis, Gary Noe, Bill Frisbee, Jr, Jason Duke, Sr, DNS: R.J. Zacharias   Heat Winner: Jason Duke, Sr.

Sportsman Finish (20 Laps): Tony Hanbury, Paul Johnson, Nick Morich, T.J. Zacharias, Chris Clemens, Matt Clemens   DNS: Randy Brokaw  Heat Winner: Tony Hanbury

Four Cylinder Stock Finish (8 Laps): Gene Purvis, Alan Blackwell, John Maynard   Heat Winner: Gene Purvis