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Spatorico Edges Panunte in Sportsman Series Shootout At Ransomville

Don Spatorico
Don Spatorico - Alex Bruce Photo

Ransomville, NYSeptember 11, 2009 – By Dave Sully, DIRTcar Racing Northeast Series Correspondent

Don Spatorico from Ransomville, N.Y. ran down a streaking Greg Panunte to win a caution-plagued 50-lap Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series event at Ransomville Speedway on Friday, September 11. Nine cautions and a red flag for a serious crash slowed the event, but didn’t deter the tight racing.

Recently crowned Ransomville champion Ryan Susice took the early lead from Cody McPherson with Spatorico moving quickly up to second. As Susice, who also captured the ’09 Canandaigua Speedway championship, opened a sizable lead, veteran Canadian driver Panunte moved up to challenge Spatorico for second.

Susice lost a big lead when the caution fell on lap 16, showing Susice, Panunte, and Spatorico in the top-three. After a second caution on the restart, Panunte took the lead on lap 18, steaming around Susice on the outside in turn two. As Panunte and Susice battled, the caution flew again on lap 19 for a turn one spin.

On the restart Spatorico got past Susice just before a spectacular flip by 4th-running Kevin Ridley brought out a rare red flag. Ridley went high in turn four and caught the end of the guard rail, launching him into the air where he flipped three times before ending up on his roof in the moat on the front stretch. The car was virtually destroyed while Ridley, though shaky, seemed to be okay otherwise.

After a lengthy delay to remove the wreckage, the lap 21 restart showed Panunte, Spatorico and Susice among the top-three, with Derek Smith, Jesse Cotriss, and recent Rolling Wheels Raceway Park winner Jipp Ortiz, the next three. Panunte held his ground, while Susice lost third to Derek Smith and fourth to Ortiz.

The caution flew again on lap 25 for a spin in turn four, setting up a restart with Panunte, Spatorico, Smith, Ortiz and Susice in the top-five. Panunte opened a lead after several laps, but then Spatorico began to make the bottom work and tracked him down. As he began to work Panunte on the bottom, the caution came out on lap 38 for a spin by the No. 38 of Susice, who had been fading due to a tire going down.

After another Susice spin on lap 42, Spatorico attacked again down low and this time he was able to ease past Panunte in turn two to claim the top spot. Three cautions over the final laps kept things close, with the last one on the final lap. A turn four banzai move by Panunte fell just short as Spatorico crossed the line with Panunte right on his bumper.

Cotriss came home third followed by Ransomville regular Smith, with one of his better runs of the season. Ortiz and Tyler McPherson finished in a ‘dead heat’ for fifth.

Spatorico, who used the low line most of the night, observed, “I could tell I was making progress on the bottom. A couple times I went high to see what was up there, what he had to run on, but for us the bottom was the best.” He changed his line to the middle after that, noting, “Once I got ahead of him I kind of slowed up in front of him in four. When I got ahead of him I could use a better line than I used to catch him. I thought it would slow him up a little bit, too.”

Panunte, who left the event the points leader, was satisfied with the night’s work, explaining, “It was okay, I didn’t need that caution on lap 47. Another lap or two, I think I could have had him again on the outside. It’s fun racing like that when you can run side by side. He’s been around for a while and so have I. The car’s in one piec, and I’m pretty sure I have the points lead too, so, all in all, it was a good night.”

Sportsman Series action continues over the weekend in a big tripleheader slated for the Niagara frontier, moving over the border into the Canadian province of Ontario at Merrittville Speedway for round two on Saturday then Humberstone Speedway on Sunday. Each 50-lap feature pays the winner $1,000.

Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Race #7 – Ransomville Speedway, Sept. 11, 2009 Event Summary
Fin. St. Driver(Hometown)
1. (6) Don Spatorico (Ransomville)
2. (4) Greg Panunte (Pt. Colborne, Ont)
3. (11) Jesse Cotriss (Akron)
4. (13) Derek Smith (Ransomville)
T5. (5) Jipp Ortiz (Ransomville)
T5. (10) Tyler McPherson (St. Catharines, Ont)
7. (16) Eric Giguere (Waterloo)
8. (22) BJ Willard (St. Catharines, Ont.)
9. (20) Mike Williams (Lewiston)
10. (1) Cody McPherson (St. Catharines, Ont.)
11 (14) Adam Turner (Picton, Ont.)
12. (19) Luke Carleton (St. Catharines, Ont.)
13. (25) Dan Weisner (Geneva)
14. (15) Justin Wright (Piffard)
15. (23) Brandon Sweet (Watertown)
16. (12) Sandy Pembleton Lewiston)
17. (2) Ryan Susice (Ransomville)
18. (21) Sammy Reakes (Palermo)
19. (17) Tony Purgarich (Ransomville)
20. 20(7) Chris Raabe (Napanee, Ont)
21. (8) Alan Wills (Ransomville)
22. (24) Mark Chiddy (Colden)
23. (28) Nate Reynolds (Newfane)
24. (18) Steve Miller (Olcott)
25. (26) Ricky Newton (Medina)
26. (29) Rich Farraway (St. Catharines, Ont.)
27. (30) Scott Just (Ransomville)
28. (27) Steve Schumacher (Lockport)
29. (3) Kevin Ridley
30. (9) Paul Gaboury (Welland, Ont.)
DNQ: Gordon Hermanson, Ed Cain, and Mark Dixon.

Heats
#1: Cody McPherson, Jipp Ortiz, Paul Gaboury, Derek Smith, Tony Purgarich, Brandon Sweet, Dan Weisner, Steve Schumacher, Gordon Hermanson.
#2: Ryan Susice, Don Spatorico, Tyler McPherson, Adam Turner, Steve Miller, BJ Willard, Mark Dixon, Scott Just
#3: Kevin Ridley, Chris Raabe, Jesse Cottriss, Justin Wright, Luke Carleton, Ed Cain, Sammy Reakes, Rich Farraway
#4: Greg Panunte, Alan Wills, Sandy Pembleton, Eric Giguere, Mike Williams, Mark Chiddy, Ricky Newton, Nate Reynolds
Consis
#1: Sammy Reakes, Brandon Sweet, Dan Weisner, Steve Schumacher, Rich Farraway, Gordon Hermanson
#2: B.J. Willard, Mark Chiddy, Ricky Newton, Nate Reynolds, Scott Just, Mark Dixon, Ed Cain.

UPCOMING EVENTS
Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series race chasers get little sleep before the next scheduled tour appearance comes up Saturday, September 12 at Merrittville Speedway. Three consecutive 50-lap features are capped off by the final stop in Ontario at Humberstone Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 13. Valuable points are on the line towards the overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship along with a guaranteed starting position for the Super DIRT Week main event in October.

2009 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Schedule
*All events subject to change.
DAY-DATE LAPS TRACK WINNER/LOCATION
Sun-Apr 5 75 Black Rock Speedway Sammy Reakes IV
Fri-Apr 17 30 Can-Am Motorsports Park Chris Raabe
Thr-Jul 2 25 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park rain-cancelled
Fri-Jul 3 30 Brewerton Speedway Tim Sears Jr.
Sun-Jul 5 50 Cornwall Motor Speedway Chris Raabe
Sat-Jul 18 30 Cayuga County Fair Speedway Justin Wright
Mon-Sep 7 25 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park Jipp Ortiz
Fri-Sep 11 50 Ransomville Speedway Don Spatorcio
Sat-Sep 12 50 Merrittville Speedway Thorold,ONT
Sun-Sep 13 50 Humberstone Speedway Pt.Colborne,ONT
Fri-Sep 18 33 Canandaigua Speedway Canandaigua,NY(2)
Sat-Sep 19 30 Genesee Speedway Batavia,NY
Sat-Sep 26 25 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park Elbridge,NY
Fri-Oct 2 30 Fulton Speedway Fulton,NY
Wed-Oct 7 30 Can-Am Motorsports Park LaFargeville,NY
Fri-Oct 9 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park Elbridge,NY
Sat-Oct 10 30 New York State Fairgrounds Syracuse,NY
Sat-Oct 17 30 Brockville Ontario Speedway Brockville,ONT
Sat-Oct 24 50 Black Rock Speedway Dundee,NY
@Driver’s (2) worst finishes dropped through September; last (6) events count.

DIRTcar Racing Northeast main office is located in Weedsport, New York on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds, home of DIRTcar All-Star Weekend in July. DIRTcar Northeast’s crown jewel event —Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse— runs October 7-11, 2009 featuring Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series events for Big-Block Modified, 358-Modified, Sportsman and Pro Stock divisions. Ticket and schedule information is available by contacting the Weedsport office (315/834-6606) during the day or logging into www.superdirtweekonline.com anytime.

The Big-Block Super DIRTcar Series is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Hoosier Racing Tire www.hoosiertire.com and VP Racing Fuels www.vpracingfuels.com. Promotional partners include Dig Safely New York www.digsafelynewyork.com and the University of Northwestern Ohio www.unoh.com and the contingency sponsors are Bars Leaks www.barsproducts.com, Bert Transmission www.berttransmission.com, Bicknell Racing Products www.bicknellracingproducts.com, Bilstein Shocks www.bilstein.com, Brodix Cylinder Heads www.brodix.com, Ferris Industries www.ferrisindustries.com, Integra Shocks www.integrashocksandsprings.com, Intercomp www.intercomp-racing.com, KSE Racing Products www.kse-racing.com, Motorsports Safety Systems www.motorsportssafetysystems.com, Penske Shocks, www.penskeshocks.com, Racing Electronics www.racingelectronics.com, Rislone Oil Stabilizer www.barsproducts.com and Wrisco Industries www.wrisco.com.