CHRIS PERLEY CLAIMS OLLIE SILVA MEMORIAL CLASSIC AT LEE USA
By Carol D. Haynes
Photos by Jim Feeney
Lee, NH – Chris Perley had come home from Oswego Speedway last week with a sixth place in the ISMA Super Nationals and a wrecked race car from the Oswego Classic. For the second straight year Perley had crashed out of a top five spot in a race he has really wanted to do well in. Friday night at Lee USA, he made up for the disappointment a bit by winning the 75-lap Ollie Silva Memorial ISMA feature, which had been rained out on Aug. 20. Perley started 12th in the field and sat back watching guys in front of him lose tires. With ten to go he was third and was watching Johnny Payne and Russ Wood skating out front of him. It was time to move. On lap 66 Perley was second and on lap 67 he was the leader and moved gingerly out front to claim his fourth win of the season. In victory lane Perley really wanted to give credit where credit was due as he stood in victory lane.
“The main thing I’d like to say is that the Vic Miller crew worked so hard. They never gave up. We went to Oswego last weekend. We had put a car together in two weeks. We worked every night on it. We time trialed ninth quick out of the rest of the Oswego guys. We were one of the outside cars that did it. We had a really good car throughout the whole race. Then we got mixed up late in the race in that jingle while running fifth. I really want to make sure the crew was recognized for all they did. This is their win.
“After we wrecked that car we worked all week again to fix it before we came to Lee. We needed to in case we wrecked this one tonight. That was the whole reason we put that car together in the first place to have it for these couple shows. I really want to thank all these guys. It was tough out there tonight. Lee is always tough on tires. I had to race at first to get up toward the front. Then I waited until the guys ahead of me started losing tires. I waited until I felt I could get a run on them, and luckily my tires weren’t as bad as theirs. I’d also like to thank my sponsors – Ed Shea, R&R, Perley’s, New England Motor Racing Supply, Jack Cook Enterprises, Hardy Transportation and Barrett Transportation.
Second place finisher Johnny Payne had stayed within sight of leaders Bob Santos at first and then Russ Wood and might have had a chance at Wood but both were pretty loose on the track when Perley glided by. Said Payne “The car was awesome. Bruce set it up. We went out early in practice. He took a push in the car. Everything was good. The track loosened up so much, the car just got really loose and I burned the tires off. But, I’ll take second gladly.”
Scott Martel had stayed in the top five for most of the race but when Russ Wood began to fade off the pace up front, Martel was able to take the third place spot away from the Pelham driver. Martel also felt the finish was redeeming after Oswego’s weekend. “I’m really happy to rebound after Oswego. We had a real tough weekend out there but it shows how hard we work. We came back. All the guys on the crew worked hard this week and got the car straightened out. We got a top three tonight. This is exactly what I wanted and what I needed. So now it’s on to Star and hopefully we’ll do a little bit better.”
Bobby Santos, who was coming off a first and second at Oswego’s Classic weekend, had the pole for the Ollie Silva Memorial with Lane teammate Kyle Carpenter right alongside. Santos took off but didn’t get far as yellow flew for the 58 of Letcher and the 27 of Timmons. Letcher was eliminated from the race with a bent radius rod. Timmons continued.
On lap three, with Santos trying to gain momentum, Jennifer Chesbro and Timmons came together with both going pitside. Timmons suspension was bent and Chesbro went into the outer pits and could not return until later.
The race got moving for a time after these two jingles. Santos fled the scene while Carpenter ran second as Justin Belfiore, John Payne, Rick Wentworth, Wood and Perley were among the nearest challengers.
On lap 18 Dave McKnight slid off the track and into the grass in front to fly another flag. Mark Sammut also pitted here. Both returned. On this restart, a checkup in the middle of the pack found as slew of runners affected with Joey Payne, Kevin Tourigny, and Bentley Warren all on hooks, not to return. Nokie Fornoro also went into the inner pits, ofn. Rick Wentworth, Sammut, Joe Petro, Vern Romanoski and McKnight ran a quick pit in the infield.
Santos still had command of the event, but Russ Wood was his nearest challenger now. Justin Belfiore once again had to exit the race from a top five spot. Wood closed up the gap that Santos had opened but yellow flew on lap 26 for the 33 to slow things down.
Santos put on a spectacular display to hold off the veteran Wood when the race resumed as John Payne, Perley and now Scott Martel were the top five. Lap after lap Wood would try the 9 of Santos to no avail. But the hard racing would take its toll.
Russ Wood finally gained the point on lap 39 and Santos, obviously out of tire, began to lose ground. John Payne moved into second as Perley, Santos and Martel sat a couple car lengths behind.
Russ ran the Lee oval to perfection for a while out front, encountering some heavy lap traffic along the way. With twenty to go, things began to unravel. As Wood passed around some lap cars, Payne and Perley moved in on him. On lap 62 it was evident that tires would settle the outcome of this race. Payne and Perley were right up on Wood with Scotty Martel out in fourth and Mike Lichty fifth. A pack of cars found the 88 and 11 challenging Wood for the lead.
On lap 66 Perley seized the opportunity to go. On lap 67 he was the leader after passing both Wood and Payne. He immediately put some distance on the field, but one more caution slowed the race as Joe Petro flew the flag.
Perley had a three lap car cushion, which included his close point challenger Pat Abold, when the green dropped again. Perley crossed under the checkers alone with John Payne, Scotty Martel who grabbed third from Wood in the waning laps; Wood and Mike Lichty.
New England ISMA racing continues with the Star Classic 200 on Sept. 11.
ISMA Lucas Oil, Helping Hands of America
Lee USA Speedway, Silva Memorial 75
Heat 1: Pat Abold, Justin Belfiore, Mark Sammut, Chris Perley, Joey Payne, Vern Romanoski, Joe Petro, Jamie Timmons
Heat 2: Bob Santos, Russ Wood, Rick Wentworth, Scott Martel, Dave McKnight, Lou Cicconi, Kevin Tourigny, Jonathan McKennedy
Heat 3: Johnny Payne, Kyle Carpenter, Nokie Fornoro, Mike Lichty, Bentley Warren, Jon Gambuti, Jamie Letcher, Jennifer Chesbro, Matt Seavey
75 lap Ollie Silva Memorial, run Sept. 10
1. Chris Perley (11), 2. Johnny Payne (88), 3. Scott Martel (14), 4. Russ Wood (29), 5. Mike Lichty (84), 6. Bobby Santos III, (9) 7. Pat Abold (26), 8. Dave McKnight (94), 9. Jon Gambuti (15), 10. Rick Wentworth (10), 11. Matt Seavey (66), 12. Joe Petro (99), 13. Vern Romanoski (5), 14. Mark Sammut (78), 15. Kyle Carpenter (97), 16. Justin Belfiore (8),17. Jennifer Chesbro (33), 18. Bentley Warren (25), 19. Joey Payne (4), 20. Nokie Fornoro (32),21. Kevin Tourigny (86), 22. Jamie Timmons (27), 23. Jamie Letcher (58).(dns: Lou Cicconi-blown motor, Jonathon McKennedy)