By Carol D. Haynes; photos by Jim Feeney
Epping, NH – There are those moments in racing that the car and the driver find their plans and the circumstances align to make a perfect race scenario. Saturday night Jeffrey Abold had it all come together and the Bob Webber Sr. Memorial Star Classic 125 was all his. Abold had been close to victory in the past here. He had always run well at the prestigious event, but fell just short of the victory.
Starting 10th in a field consisting of many of supermodifed’s top drivers, the 30-year old second generation supermodied driver, calmly wove a path through those challengers lap after lap. With only a few caution flags to slow him down, Abold lapped everyone but the four cars remaining in the top five, pulling into victory lane with his family, all with strong racing roots, there to celebrate alongside of him. The win was his first in ISMA, but one his three-time ISMA champion father Pat had not achieved. Abold’s confident, calculated run through the field was a memorable one.
Jeff replayed his race as the accomplishment began to set in. “This feels awesome. From lap 1 to 125 the car was just phenomenal. I just have to thank my crew and everybody for working as hard as they did. They came up with a great setup for the car. We had a good game plan coming into this race. And I think we executed it pretty well. We’ve run well here in the past and each year we get better and better but it always seems there is somebody that is right there running well and apparently this was going to be our year for it.
“This takes a little of the disappointment away from the Oswego Classic. So we were really, really into it for this weekend. We wanted to come out and make this one count and we did that. We were able to get by the field pretty easily. I saw I was coming up on the guys who were on the lap board behind me. I could kind of see Perley out of the corner of my eye . So I decided to put it on cruise control and not to push the issue too much. When I had the opportunity to get by a lap car, I would take it. But I didn’t want to push it and do something silly though. It’s just the way I wanted to run the race… to be able to do that. Usually when you come up with a strategy for this race you can throw it right out the window. But, not tonight. This was exactly how I wanted it to go.
“I want to thank my crew, my family, my dad and grandfather for working so hard……Larry, Kenny, Josh, Mike.. just everybody here. I also thank my wife for all her support. And my mother. Thanks to our sponsors A&P Auto Parts, Skip’s Fish Fry, Trucks are Us and Magic Wand Construction for all the help they have given us.”
Five-time Star Classic winner Chris Perley had a special mission in this race. Chris had wanted to get the win to honor long-time racing supporter and friend Russ Conway who had recently passed away. And, he gave it his all, but fell one spot short, a distance away from the cruising 05.
“I’m real happy to finish second. You know we’ve all been working our asses off since Oswego where we obviously got wrecked a lot. I really wanted to win tonight for Russ Conway. But I’ll take a second. It’s a lot different being here without him. I love coming to Star Speedway and glad to see all the fans here. I want to thank all my sponsors and my crew for all their hard work. Jeffrey had a great car. I know he was just cruising but I thought we were going to have something at mid-race, but the rear end broke and I coated both of my rear tires with my own oil. But it kept going. I’m wicked happy with four tires and we can roll it. Again thanks to everybody. A big congratulations to Jeffrey and the 05 crew.”
2018 Classic winner of the inaugural Bob Webber Sr. Memorial, Jon McKennedy, was on the podium after finishing third. He described his race. “It was a decent run. We started seventh and ended up third. We were just too loose…loose off the whole race. We kind of had a bit of an issue with the right rear tire all day as it was too big. I was worried it was going to be an issue in the race. And it was. We had a little bit too much stagger. It was too loose but we ended up third. Congratulations to Jeffrey Abold and all of them. He ran really well and I knew he’d get one one of these days as he’s always run up front. Again congrats to them.”
After time trials and the top tweleve redraw, Mike Ordway Jr. started second behind polesitter Russ Wood and it was the 61 which led the way for the first 44 laps before loosing the point to Abold. With Wood, Perley, Dan Bowes, Joe Gosek, Jon McKennedy and Mike Lichty among the challengers, and with mainly green flag racing, Ordway had his hands full, especially when his front wing was rearranged in traffic.
He said later after falling back to fifth, “Overall it was not a bad race. We had a pretty good balance right at the start. And, then one of the nose wing brackets broke off and it kind of sucked the nose wing under the front. We lost some downforce on the nose then. It just got tight naturally, when all that happened. All in all it wasn’t a bad run. We learned some stuff and we’re trying some different stuff. We salvaged a fifth place finish with it. So I just have to thank Clyde and Susan and all the guys. We’ll keep digging and we’ll go on to Thompson working off what we learned here. We’ll see what we come up with.”
One yellow marred the quick pace in the early going and it came on lap 36 when Jamie Timmons slowed and pitted. Following him pitside were Ben Seitz, and 2019 Oswego Classic winner Tyler Thompson. Timmons returned but the 32 and 98T were finished with mechanical problems ending their night.
The field now bunch up with Ordway, Perley, Wood, Abold, Bowes, McKennedy, Gosek, Kyle Edwards, Lichty, Micheal Muldoon, Mark Sammut, Otto Sitterly and more still in contention.
The battle for the front spot began with Ordway and Perley the top two but Abold soon worked up to third trailed by McKennedy and Edwards.
On lap 40 Abold raced by Perley and headed for Ordway. Four laps later Jeff would overtake the 61 and set the 05 on cruise. The race was his to lose as it is often said.
The race proceeded at a rapid pace on the famed quarter mile bullring as Abold was in command. But behind him racing was not over by an means as Ordway, Perley, McKennedy, Edwards, Bowes, Sammut, Muldoon and Gosek still battled for positions and possible cautions. While out front Abold was disseminating the field one by one. He was by Ryan Locke, Timmons, Eric Lewis and then the Lane teammates of Jeff Battle and Wood.
On lap 63 he easily pocketed the Halfway Bonus of $1,000 sponsored by Shea Concrete Products.
At the lap 66 mark yellow fell for the 15 of Mike Muldoon who stopped off the track. He would restart but left the track eight laps later.
On this restart, Abold had no less than four lap cars between his 05 and that of Ordway, Perley, McKennedy, Edwards, Bowes, Sammut, Lichty, Gosek and Sitterly.
As the laps wore down, there was still a heated battle between Ordway, Perley, McKennedy and Edwards a distance behind. Perley got by Ordway to take over second on lap 88 but neither had cars running 100% at this point and Abold was well out of sight. As they passed the lap 100 mark, Ordway began to fade and ultimately, McKennedy would take the last of the podium spots. Now Ordway tried to keep Edwards at bay, who was looking for points toward a possible second straight ISMA championship.
Edwards mentioned that his goal for the race was collecting some points on current point leader Lichty. “A top five; it’s not what we really wanted. Once again we missed the set up a little bit. The balance of the race car was just off from the beginning of the race. I think we would have had a good 150 lap car, but they cut the race to 125 and we were kind of going off notes from the 150 lap race. It just didn’t play into our hands. All in all, fourth place is not bad. It’s not what we needed. We have one race to go and if we’re going to repeat as champion, we need a win. I’ll guess we’ll just go on to Thompson and just give it hell. Fourth place is nothing to hang your head for here. It’s a Classic. Many good names and it’s a tradition. So we are happy but not quite satisfied.
With ten laps to go, it was Abold, Perley, McKennedy and Edwards, the only cars in the lead lap. Down one to the cruising Abold, were Sammut, Lichty, Gosek, Sitterly and Wood as the checkered fell on Abold who finally claimed his first Star Classic and this would also be his first ISMA win as well. The large crowd on hand showed their approval of the win with a thunderous ovation.
FINISH ISMA BOB WEBBER SR. MEMORIAL STAR CLASSIC 125: 1. Jeff Abold, 05, 2. Chris Perley, 11, 3. Jon McKennedy, 21, 4. Kyle Edwards, 1, 5. Mike Ordway Jr. 61, 6. Mark Sammut 78, 7. Mike Lichty 84, 8. Joe Gosek 00, 9. Otto Sitterly 6, 10. Russ Wood 97, 11. Ryan Locke 37, 12. Jeffrey Battle, 9, 13. Jamie Timmons, 27, 14. Dan Bowes, 25, 15. Mike Muldoon, 15, 16. Bobby Chartier, 29, 17. Eric Lewis, 28, 18. Ben Seitz 32, 19. Tyler Thompson, 98T.
Halfway Leader – 1,000 – Sponsored by Shea Concrete: Jeff Abold
Fast Time Trial, $200 – Sponsored by Coyote Construction: Jeff Abold
Hard Charger: $100 – sponsored by Burns Family Racing #17 Supermodified: Jeff Abold
Last Car Running, sponsored by H&S Design and Prototype, LLC: Jamie Timmons, who also suffered a bad crash at the Oswego Classic the previous week.