GREG FURLONG TAKES NEWLY NAMED OLLIE SILVA SUMMER CLASSIC AT LEE USA FOR ISMA SECOND
By Carol D. Haynes
Lee, NH - 2001 Oswego Speedway champion Greg Furlong didn't fare well on the first half of his ISMA career which he embarked upon in 2002. His first Lee USA appearance in May provided him with a 17th place finish. Bad luck pretty much plagued the 72 team until they broke out with a win at Kawaratha on July 12. Friday night at Lee USA Speedway, Furlong showed he had done his homework as he played tag with a couple masters Joey Payne and Chris Perley for over twenty laps before grabbing the lead with just two to go.
NESMRA driving legends had gathered to watch and be honored. They saw a race worthy of their past. The classic three-way battle up front was one "Ollie Silva would have been a part of in his day ", said a Lee official after the race that had just that night been named for the New England racing legend. The hard-fought, exciting race to victory was one Furlong is also fast becoming comfortable with on the tough ISMA trail.
Said Furlong after the steamy hot 75 laps, "I had an awesome car. This place is just a really, really loose track. I started out early with the side cell full. The car seemed really tight. I just took my time and picked cars off as we were going along. I was thinking we'd getting looser and looser and we did, but so did everybody else. I transferred the fuel and the car was still pretty good. Joey and Chris were racing in front of me and Perley was just
trying everything to get the lead. And I just got by them both. It was just some fun racing."
Chris Perley, much to the delight of a big contingent of local fans, did his best to make it win number two in a row. He threw every move at leader Payne he could muster and then had to contend with the man who is quickly learning winged racing. Chris, ever enjoying a good race, was ecstatic with the run. "I'm psyched We didn't want to see that caution after we finally got Payne, but Joey and I were in the same boat. We were both just sideways. I was trying to wear him down before he wore me down. We were kind of even and then Furlong got into the mix. He had a better car than we did. There was no way
we were holding him off. I was trying to sneak out on Joey there because he was protecting the bottom. He wasn't giving me enough room, so I had to do it because I wasn't going to get by underneath and that's when Greg got by. It was a good race. It was good tight racing. It was fun."
Jamie Timmons, who led most of the first half of the event, lost a possible first-ever career ISMA win when he came up on some lapped cars on lap 38. The lead then went to Joey Payne who tried to protect it to the end and he almost made it. He was just two laps shy. Joey quipped in victory lane, "Couldn't this have been a 73 lap race. We fought this car from the first lap. It was loose. We had a pretty decent car in the heat race but the handle just went away. I went in the corner on the first lap and the rear end came around and
I said this is going to be a long race. So I just tried to cruise and I knew I was second. Then Jamie checked out. We were trying to catch him and I saw him tangle and I said 'we got the lead'. I took the lead and held it for a long time, then Chris got me, then Furlong got me and then the yellow came out. I said that's it. I got the lead back and they are going to work for it. But with two laps to go, it got so sideways that I couldn't hold it. They
both got me. The crew did a great job tonight and we got another third place finish. We gained some points and we look forward to tomorrow night. I'd like to thank our sponsors Essex Seafood, Dr. Mom Says School is Cool, and Ronnie Penn Masonry."
The night was hot and the racing matched at Lee as Steve Knowlton led the first few laps of the Ollie Silva Summer Classic 75. A first of only two yellows that flew during the "classic race" came on lap 4 when the 15 of Brian West went hard into the first turn wall after a brush with the 78 of Mark Sammut.
Knowlton took up the lead on the restart with Jamie Timmons tacked to his rear bumper. Exiting the race at this juncture was multi-time Lee winner Mike Ordway with a flat left front. With no-rentry under green, the team parked it to work on a few problems for the next day's race. John Payne also pulled his new 67 out with mechanical woes after a great Lancaster run. Timmons powered by Knowlton, who was filling in for Jon Gambuti in the Budnick 88, on lap 12 and he left the scene. Back in the pack Joey Payne moved into second by Knowlton as perennial powerhouses Russ Wood, Dave McKnight, Chris Perley, Joe Gosek, Scott Martel and soon Lou Cicconi came into challenge.
On the ultra fast third mile, things get hectic fast and Timmons knew that as he wove in and out of lap cars trying to put a lot of real estate behind. The action behind him was no less exciting as Payne, Wood, McKnight, then Perley, Gosek, Cicconi, Knowlton were side by side with Greg Furlong coming into the fray.
On lap 33, Timmons still had half a track lead with Payne, Perley, Wood, Cicconi and Furlong settling into six spots in the slicing and dicing of traffic.
Traffic was Timmon's demise, however, as he said later he struggled around a couple lap cars and finally lost the back end on his 27 trying to power around.
The yellow flew for the young North Andover driver on lap 38 as he sat off turn three. He restarted in the rear while a few cars like McKnight and Page flew into the pits for some adjustments.
On the restart, Perley was all over Payne while Cicconi, Furlong, Wood and Gosek were preparing to make moves of their own.
Fast and furious was the action when Furlong moved by Cicconi.
The top three of Payne, Perley and Furlong sped away from third on back, delighting fans with their battle out front. They were up on early leader Timmons by lap 54 as they moved by traffic Perley and Furlong looking for that way by Payne out front. Perley finally made one of his attempts stick on lap 65 when he pulled alongside Payne off 4 and took the point in turn one. But, the lead was not his long.
A lap 66 yellow flew for fifth place runner Cicconi who, with a little help, did a 360 smoking the speedway. Cicconi straightened it, but lost his spot as he was the cause of the yellow. The lead went back to Joey Payne.
The chase was on with ten to go. Perley tried every way back around Payne on the restart as the animated crowd approved. But, as Joey said, they were going to have to work to take it this time. The three -way battle resumed as the laps wore down. Perley would try the outside of Payne. Furlong would show on the inside. Once Furlong almost got both of them in turn three but Payne slammed the door.
The counter showed 73 when Perley slung the 11 outside Payne one more time. Furlong seized the opportunity and took both the 11 and 9 in one swoop. Time was fleeting. As the checkered flew on lap 75, Furlong had his second career ISMA win in just over a month. It was a $3800 payday for the Hannibal, NY driver. Perley, Payne, Joe Gosek and Scott Martel finished up the top five. Gosek said later of his run, "Another top five. It's a lot better than the last time we were here. We were just loose. To bring it home in the top five, in one piece, not banged up is good so we can go on to tomorrow and hopefully get in the top three."
Scott Martel had to earn every spot a couple times as he put it as he struggled forward, backward and then forward again in the race. "I'm happy with fifth believe it or not, only because I felt I was patient and I persevered. I probably went from fifth back to twelfth and then battled my way back up to fifth. So I'm happy with that. Now we can go to Oxford where we can actually race and see what happens there. All in all I'm happy to race in front of the New England fans and come away with a top five finish." Dave McKnight, Timmons, Russ Wood, Cicconi and Knowlton finished the top ten.
SUMMARY - ISMA 75 - Event #13
1. Greg Furlong (72), 2. Chris Perley (11), 3. Joey Payne (9), 4. Joe Gosek (26), 5. Scott Martel (14), 6. Dave McKnight (94), 7.; Jamie Timmons (27), 8. Russ Wood (29), 9. Lou Cicconi (75), 10. Steve Knowlton (88), 11. Jamie Letcher (58), 12. Jim Shirey (16), 13. Eric Shirey (72s), 14. Howie Page (18), 15. Mark Sammut (78), 16. Ken Bell (32), 17. Howie Lane (97), 18. Brad Lichty (84), 19. Jen Chesbro (33), 20. John Payne (67), 21. Mike Ordway (61), 22. Brian West (15), 23. Doug Kells (38), 24. Bob Timmons Sr. (13)