EVANS MILLS, NY – Saturday’s highly anticipated Bob Johnson Auto Rocket 76er Weekend at the Evans Mills Raceway Park was enjoyed by all. Early in the day, forecasts threatened thunderstorms around the time of cars hitting the track. However, the forecast continued to clear as the night went along and not a drop of rain found it’s way to the Mills. Race fans, not sure what to expect while watching their radar continued to trickle in as the night progressed. A nice crowd of race fans and first-timers were excited to witness the first Rocket 76er Sportsman Modified race and the Independence Day fireworks display to follow immediately after.
The Bob Johnson Auto Group, now with locations blanketing all of New York state, were on board to help create this weekend and made it possible to supply a great show for everyone. NBC Watertown also helped add to the action by bringing their digital LED trailer allowing graphics to play on rotation in the infield. Bob Johnson Auto employees, NBC Watertown employees, and participants of NBC Watertown’s Old Glory Golf Classic helped make up the crowd.
The night began with Spectator Racing at intermission. Chris Rombough returned to the Mills in his Subaru. After easily taking the trophy he called out the Mustang of Dan Estal hoping to see him at the next Spectator Race.
The Christman Fuel Service INEX Legends ran their feature first. Chris Malbeuf would find his way to the front and take control from there going on to complete his fourth feature win of 2023. Feature Results: 1) Chris Malbeuf, 2) Kyle Hart, 3) Camdin Cook, 4) Brayton Malbeuf, 5) Evan Thomas, 6) Cody Draper, 7) Brody Beckwith, 8) Kyle Wurtz, 9) Jayden Hall
Next up where the Sport Compacts and Thunderstocks. As we enter the dog days of summer, the competition has been heating up in these divisions ahead of their enhance purse night the Coca-Cola 4-Banger Nationals on July 8th. Jock Symonds returned to EMRP and found his way through the field in the Sport Compact division while holding off the “Rabbit on a Mission” Chuck Powelczyk. Keeping the overall race tight up front, Mike Greenfield took steady control of the field in the Thunderstocks division and would roll on to his second feature win of the season.
Sport Compact Feature Results: 1) Jock Symonds, 2) Chuck Powelczyk, 3) Justin Coachman, 4) Billy Matteson, 5) Sam Curcie, 6) Bridget DeMarse
Thunderstock Feature Results: 1) Mike Greenfield, 2) David Paige, 3) Michael Marcinko, 4) Ryan Wurtz, 5) Angela Pettinelli, 6) David Liscum, 7) Jerry Rogers
The Excess Storage Pro Late Models would roll out next with the return of Ray Bancroft to the field in the #29. The racing would be tight between the field until near the end when Rylee Gill setup an inside pass on Chuck Meyer out of turn four. Once through, Gill would go on to take the victory one again.
Feature Results: 1) Rylee Gill, 2) Chuck Meyer, 3) Tyler Papin, 4) James Kiah, 5) Ray Bancroft
The crowd was ready for the first Rocket 7er field to roll out for their feature. The field picked up some new faces due to a cancellation of racing at Wyoming County International Speedway earlier in the day. Storylines heading into the night feature the return of Russ Brown in a modified currently for sale, Bryce Bailey racing what is expected to be his final weekend of the year with a dominant car for sale before he prepares for college and baseball season, Joe Papin coming off his first career victory in Sportsman Modifieds, and the visiting drivers of Andy Lewis Jr., Alyssa Leaty, and Madison Knapp.
Fireworks blasted in the air as Jeff Pringle and Kevin Warren brought the field to Brad Berry to take the green flag. It would be hard two-wide racing all through the field for many laps. The front cars remained steady until Kevin Warren was sent into a spin exiting turn two but made a great save to gas it up into the infield before any cars tangled with him. Later in the race cars would find themselves 3 wide resulting in a spin for Steven Sherwood in the #96. Once again, the field did a great job avoiding the spun out cars. Tony Pettinelli found his way to the outside lane on the front row and tried his best to make something happen quick enough to take the lead. Unfortunately, the inside would remain the key. Pettinelli found himself a victim of the outside lane quickly after.
Mid way through the race, Kaden Bailey and Cory Trombley would be in a tight battle with Kaden now trying to make the outside work. He hung tight with the 006 for a few laps but allowed the trailing Bryce Bailey to close in and follow Trombley past Bailey. As the race neared the end it would be Papin, Roggie, and Bailey finding their way to the front. A late caution between Damon Frutchey and Tony Pettinelli would reset the field on lap 73. Papin would restart perfect and hold court for the remaining laps to win the first Bob Johnson Auto Rocket 76er. Papin went from winning his first career victory to winning the longest race on the schedule in back to back weeks.
Feature Results: 1) Joe Papin, 2) Andre Roggie, 3) Bryce Bailey, 4) Kreig Heroth, 5) Jeff Pringle, 6) Kaden Rogers, 7) Randy Brunelle, 8) Andy Lewis Jr., 9)Tony Pettinelli, 10) Scott Dinzler, 11) Cory Trombley, 12) Kevin Warren, 13) Damon Frutchey, 14) Steven Sherwood, 15) Steven Sherwood, 16) Alyssa Leaty, 17) Madison Knapp, 18) Levi Arthur, 19) Anthony Pettinelli, 20) Joel Hall, 21) Russ Brown, 22) John Ramsey, 23) Geoff Sharkey
Papin would thank his team and sponsors and the crowd awaited the start of the fireworks show. Music played and dans oohed and ahhed at the display.
Next week is another inaugural event with the Coca-Cola Watertown 4-Banger Nationals plus a Skid-Plate race at the end of the night. Sport Compacts will be competing for $500 to win and the Thunderstocks will race for $300 to win. Both divisions will pay $100 to start the feature. Admission is regular pricing and booths in the TJ Toyota Tower area available for rent.