TOLEDO - Wayland, MI driver Terry Senneker made a great save on lap 173, then took the lead for the first time with just 4 laps to go when race leader Steve Needles engine let go, paving the way to the win for Terry at the 24th running of the Great Lakes Helicopter Glass City 200 Late Model race Saturday night at Toledo Speedway. Meloney Lojko and her son, Brandon, representing Great Lakes Helicopter, presented the 5 foot trophy to Terry in the Sun Drop Winner's Circle.
Perhaps the strongest field in several years assembled for the event, with 33 cars on the grounds. A total of 32 cars started the 200 lap grind, the longest race of the season for the outlaw-bodied Late Models. Mike Luberda withdrew from the race after having engine trouble during Friday's practice session. Track record holder JR Roahrig lowered his mark in the PASSTIME time trials, clicking off a lap of 14:628 to set a new 1 lap record and picking up the $500 bonus. JR pulled the 10 chip for the inversion, putting North Carolina driver Brad Rogers and Johnny Belott on the front row.
Belott grabbed the lead on the start and stayed there for 13 laps. Harold Fair Jr., working his way from the 5th starting spot, took control of the race on lap 14. Second-quick Johnny VanDoorn began his move to the front, as did Roahrig in the early stages. The first of 3 yellows in the first half of the race came out on lap 27 when Nick Grodi stalled in turn 2. On the re-start, Grodi had rejoined the field, only to have the engine let go and dump oil on the track, bringing out the red flag. On the double-file restart, VanDoorn charged by Fair Jr. to take the lead, with Roahrig in tow. Mike Root retired from the race on lap 41. JR took over the top spot on lap 43 until Johnny used lapped traffic to gain back the number 1 position on lap 54. Needles and Senneker, perhaps laying back just a bit, stayed within striking distance and in the top 6 in the first 50 laps. Needles began to move up on the lead duo and zipped under Roahrig and then VanDoorn to grab the lead on lap 59. The long stretch of green flag from lap 28 to lap 92 let Needles stretch his lead once he got out front, but at the lap 92 mark the yellow appeared when Charlie Schultz spun down the back-chute and into the infield. At this point, the torrid pace left just 8 cars on the lead lap as Needles led the field to the lap 101 break, with 21 of the 32 starters still on the track.
During the break, Senneker had the right front rotor practically fall off his machine. His crew feverishly went to work and Terry was able to join the field. The top 10 at the break were Needles, Roahrig, VanDoorn, Senneker, Fair Jr., Dakota Carlson, Scott Hantz, Rogers, Belott and Jack Varney Jr.
19 cars answered the call as the race resumed, with Brent Jack and Scott Mulkern from Fairmouth, Maine still in the pits, done for the night. Needles led the pack to the green, but just 1 lap into the final 99 circuits, Brad Rogers had a tire go down and smacked the turn 3 wall hard, ending his fine run. Senneker began to move up but Needles was on a rail and stretched his lead. Dakota Carlson was also in the mix, but Terry slipped by Dakota on lap 118 to move into 3rd spot. The yellow came out on lap 119 when Roahrig, in the middle of lapped traffic, slid up the track and tagged the turn 3 wall, sustaining heavy right front damage and bringing his quest for his first Glass City 200 win to an end.
Needles and VanDoorn pulled away from the field on the restart, but Senneker was steadily erasing the lead. The yellow came back out on lap 139 when Belott got into the back of Fair Jr. The incident also collected Jack Varney Jr. and Steve Sauve just avoided the incident coming out of turn 4. All 4 cars were able to return to the race. Belott accepted responsibility for the incident. With a "Lucky Dog" award in place, giving the first car a lap down back a lap, Hantz and Sauve now became players. Hantz got his award just before the lap 101 break, and Sauve picked up his Lucky Dog during the lap 119 incident. Needles engine began to provide a strange sound at this point, but the #14 was still on the fly and sailing away.
At lap 141, Sauve, a 3-time winner of the 200, moved into 4th spot, but Hantz was there and grabbed that spot from Steve 4 laps later. The next long stretch of green went from lap 139 to lap 182. But the save of the night, and, as it works out, the save for the win, came on lap 173. With Needles motoring away, Van
Doorn got out of shape just a bit entering turn 1 in lapped traffic. Senneker was bearing down on Johnny and had to check up, sending him up the track. The #37 got sideways, twitched several times, the rear end almost came around, but Terry held on and never touched the wall as the race stayed green! Despite Needles engine losing a cylinder, Steve had built up a straight-away lead on VanDoorn. The final yellow appeared on lap 182 as John Beach spun coming out of turn 4. This bunched the field one last time and gave VanDoorn, Senneker, Hantz, Carlson and Sauve a shot at leader Needles. With puffs of smoke coming out of his exhaust, Steve powered away again on the double-file restart, amazing the large crowd, knowing full well something was amiss with the #14.
Senneker slid under VanDoorn on lap 186 for second, and Terry began reeling in the ailing car of Needles, his friend and former teammate. Terry made up big chunks of real estate as the race wound down, and finally, on lap 196, Steve's engine let go in a cloud of smoke and sparks. Senneker wheeled by to take the lead and the victory, his first-ever Glass City 200 title. VanDoorn, with a tire going soft, took second, Hantz turned in a great comeback from early race issues to take third, Carlson was steady all night and came home fourth, while the veteran Sauve was impressive with a fifth place run. The top 5 were all on the lead lap. Belott was sixth and Fair Jr. seventh, both 1 lap down. Needles was credited for 8th, Joe Hawes was ninth and John Beach recorded a 10th place finish. Mike Young, Terry Bogusz, Steve Cronenwett Jr., Varney Jr., Randy Day, Dennis Rederstorf, Roahrig, Schultz, Rogers and Jack completed the top 20. Marcus Malcuit, Mulkern, Craig Everage, Root, Paul Pelletier, Grodi, Chris Benson, Brad Turner, Barry Hartwell, Dennis Strickland, Ron Allen and George Rangel rounded out the final finish for the 32 cars.
Senneker collected $6440 in cash for his win, including the $400 Francis Engineering bonus and the $500 Woodville Auto Finance bonus. Terry also picked up a pair of round-trip airline tickets from Allegiant Travel and a $250 Penske Shocks product certificate.
Needles collected the $200 Francis Engineering half-way bonus and John Beach pocketed the $250 Burge Wrecking Most Improved Position check. Steve Cronenwett Jr. added $50 to his winnings for being the last car running on the track at the finish from Royce Cornett Racing. Allstar Performance will award $100 product certificates to the 6th and 10th place finishers, Belott and Beach, while Lane Automotive will send $100 certificates to the 5th and 12 place finishers Sauve and Bogusz. Joe Hawes won the Moran Chevrolet Draw for 4 tires. Dick Barker of Moran made the presentation. Schultz, Everage, Hartwell, Sauve, Malcuit and Strickland will each receive $50 product/labor certificates from DTS Drive Train Specialists.
2012 track champ Ron Allen grabbed the lead on lap 5 from Norm Lewallen and zipped away to the win in the 40 lap Sportsman invitational race. Kyle DeLisle grabbed second from Mike Young in the late stages to take second, Young was third, Kevin Stahl Sr. fourth and Kent McCloskey fifth, followed by Lewallen, Kenny McKay Jr., Kevin Stahl Jr., Rich Frantz, David Frantz, Clyde McKee, Jim Froling, Dan Grigsby, Howard Kelley Jr., Andy Harding, Chris Fitzpatrick, Craig Osenbaugh and Rich Abel. Froling set fast time at 17:030.
Archie Padgett Jr. held back the charge of Dennis Whisman and Robbie Loving to win the 30 lap Woodville Auto Finance/First Choice Auto Finance "X" Car invitational on the ¼ mile oval. Fourth was Corey Duane and fifth went to Matt Ringger. Craig Lange, Rick McColl, Eric Fitzpatrick, Jimmy Little, Chris Kamlay, Ian Jezylo, Matt Bunting, Nick Bradley, Christian Fleck, Dan Doyle, Stephanie Bradley and Dave Rupp were next in line in the final finish.
Sponsors for the Glass City 200 weekend included Great Lakes Helicopter, Francis Engineering, Allegiant Travel, Port City Racecars, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, R & M Recycling, First Care Ambulance, Penske Shocks, DTS Drive Train Specialists, Allstar Performance, Lane Automotive, PASSTIME, Moran Chevrolet, Burge Wrecking, Woodville Auto Finance and First Choice Auto Finance.
The 200 wraps up the 2012 Toledo race schedule. The 2013 schedule will be released around the holiday season. Stay up to date with Toledo Speedway by logging onto www.toledospeedway.com.