NOKIE FORNORO PICKS UP FIRST OF SEASON AT RAIN-DELAYED CAYUGA SPEEDWAY ISMA EVENT
By Carol D. Haynes
Photos by Jim Feeney
Nelles Corners, Ont. – Persistence paid off for all those involved with the running of the ISMA Lucas Oil-Helping Hands of America Super Series at Cayuga 2000 Speedway as Mother Nature did her best to get in the way. Saturday rain moved in after the qualifying to push the feature to Sunday, which didn’t look much better, weather-wise. But everyone was patient and waited it out. Just after 1 pm, the ISMA cars took to the 5/8th’s mile Canadian oval and despite dark clouds and thunder booming in the distance, the race went on. Reeder, PA’s Nokie Fornoro came by race leader Mark Sammut on lap 40 to take away that Canadian’s chance at a first win. But, Fornoro looked to be the class of the field and even Sammut indicated that fact. It’s possible the day’s wait was a pivotal element in Fornoro’s first win of 2005 in the Soule Racing 32 as after some changes and then the rain, the crew went back to the “out of the trailer” setup that worked to perfection.
Said Fornoro in victory lane, “We unloaded the car Saturday and you know how sometimes you hear some Nextel Cup teams say that they are good right off the trailer. Well we were excellent right off the trailer. We made some changes for the second warmup and the car went a little bit slower. We made some other changes for the heat race, which turned out pretty bad, but you always try to go better. So, after the rain we went right back to the “off the trailer setup” and on a green track like it was at practice, it was perfect and I hate to put it this way - the rest is history. We were a very fortunate because there are a lot of good cars in ISMA and we’re just happy we could bring our car to victory lane. I thank Danny (Soule) for giving me a chance in the car, Mike Jarrett of Helping Hands, NuFast, everybody on our team, SAVES Auto Body, Ken’s Collision, Bell Helmets, Pepsi, Haun Welding, and Jimmy D’s Machine … that’s one helluva motor I have. “
It was London, Ontario’s Mark Sammut who led for many laps and came so close to his first ever win which would have been in his homeland besides. Mark described his great run. “We started off real good and maybe I ran a little too hard trying to keep up with Randy. He was really going at the first. By the first yellow our right rear was starting to go away and I had to slow it down a little bit after that. I tried to stay to the bottom of the racetrack to make them go around. We ran forty laps like that and Nokie was the only guy that could get by. We sure didn’t have a car for him. He was really hooked up a lot better than we were. We’ll take second after the way our season started out. It’s just like a win for us really. We’re more than happy to take that and go on to Sandusky. This is our highest finish and by far our best run. It wasn’t perfect but it was awful close.”
Rounding out the top three was another Canadian who was also looking for win number one was Mike Lichty. “We were good at the beginning and for about the first ten laps,” said the young driver. “After that the car just got real loose. We were trying to hold them off but we were sideways there near the end. I’d just like to thank everybody that helps us out - Lucas, PATCO, and the whole gang. They did a great job. “
Sammut, Rick Wentworth and Jon McKennedy took home the heat wins on Saturday and just before the feature could get underway, a torrential downpour flooded out any chance of finishing that night. Early morning rain on Sunday came to a halt and gave the racetrack the window it needed to finish the show. Randy Ritskes took off in the lead as the green fell as Mark Sammut chased.
A quick yellow for a Dave McKnight trip off the track slowed the field and pitting with McKnight were Joey Payne, Kyle Carpenter and Justin Belfiore. All restarted at the rear.
Ritskes got to lead one more lap before the second yellow fell for Justin Belfiore and Bobby Haynes who tangled off turn two. Both were hooked.
The Bruce Budnick-owned 88 was once more the leader trailed by Sammut, Pat Abold, Mike Lichty and Chris Perley among others.
But just as the yellow fell on lap 18 for a spin by the V2 of Eric Shirey, the leader suddenly pulled into the pits with a broken torque arm mount. The great run for Ritskes unfortunately ended here with a broken torque arm mount.
Sammut now took over the point with Lichty getting by Abold for second, as Chris Perley was fourth. Jon McKennedy, Fornoro, Wood, Wentworth and McKnight jockeyed for position behind.
At the halfway mark Sammut had Lichty right on his tail as Perley and Abold followed them. Nokie Fornoro, however, was quietly making his way toward the front and was now fifth.
The dark clouds moved by and everyone was now concentrating on the 32, which moved into fourth and then into third on lap 37. At this juncture Sammut had moved away from Lichty and was giving it his all, trying to run and hide. On lap 39 Fornoro moved into second past Lichty and in one more circuit, he slid by Sammut for the lead. It was all Fornoro from there on in. Sammut fought off Lichty for second while Perley and Abold fought for fifth.
At the checkered, the Helping Hands of America 32 was first, trailed by Sammut, Lichty, Perley and Abold.
Perley congratulated Fornoro on his win saying, “I’m glad to see Nokie get one. He worked for it. He was the best car today. I would have liked to see Sammut get one. He’s been knocking on the door for so long. But a good second will keep him going. We finished fourth and I guess that’s okay. I’m just glad we got the race in. “
Fifth place finisher Pat Abold commented, “I guess a top five is a top five. I wasn’t real happy. The car was going good at the beginning of the race and then it just got loose on me. There was a lot of water coming out of the track in the corners. The car just went away after the second caution. It was terrible. But, we finished in the top five, we’re in one piece and you can’t do more than that.”
McKennedy, McKnight, Wood, Martel and Wentworth finished up in the top ten.
ISMA heads to Sandusky’s Hy-Miler weekend on July 29 and 30.
SUMMARY - Event #6 - Cayuga Speedway - Run 7/17
Heat 1: Mark Sammut, Randy Ritskes, Dave McKnight, Pat Abold, Scott Martel, Eric Shirey
Heat 2: Rick Wentworth, Mike Lichty, Chris Perley, Lou Cicconi, Kyle Carpenter, Justin Belfiore
Heat 3: Jon McKennedy, Joe Petro, Nokie Fornoro, Russ Wood, Joey Payne, Brad Noffsinger, Bobby Haynes Jr.
Feature (50): 1. Nokie Fornoro (32), 2. Mark Sammut (78), 3. Mike Lichty (84), 4. Chris Perley (11),5. Pat Abold (26), 6. Jon McKennedy (79), 7. Dave McKnight (94), 8. Russ Wood (29),9. Scott Martel (97), 10. Rick Wentworth (10), 11. Joe Petro (33), 12. Kyle Carpenter (9), 13. Brad Noffsinger (74), 14. Lou Cicconi (75), 15. Eric Shirey (V2), 16. Joey Payne (4), 17. Randy Ritskes (88), 18. Bobby Haynes Jr. (44), 19. Justin Belfiore (8).