BLODGETT MILLS — Mark Effner, Rich Michael Jr. and Tyler Yeagle all ended up in victory lane for the first time this racing season at Skyline Raceway Park on Saturday night.
Effner, who has enjoyed a stellar career competing in the Street Stock Division throughout the state, captured his first open wheel victory by winning the Open Sportsman Division.
Michael Jr. was also in transition mode, as the former UMP Modified driver made the switch to the IMCA Modified Division a successful one with a victory in only his second appearance at Skyline.
Yeagle broke through leading the way in the Street Stock Division, his first Skyline triumph.
Also on the racing card, Andrew Smith took a big step toward the 2015 WXM Auto Sales Crate Sportsman Championship with his eighth win of the season, while Buck Mills continued his domination of the Stock Car class with his 12th win of the season. Rich Wagner won the regularly scheduled Four Cylinder feature while Bobby Wagner won the rain-postponed feature from the previous week in that division.
Smith, known as “The Lockport Lazer,” continued his domination of the WXM Auto Sales Crate Sportsman to earn the $800 winner’s share of the purse.
It was a hard fought victory for Smith, locked in a classic battle with veteran Dale Welty. The two put on a show for the Skyline fans as they raced hard and clean, often side-by-side for the lead for most of the second half of the event.
Welty managed to hold off Smith’s advances for many laps, but with just three laps to go, Welty hopped the cushion in the fourth turn, opening the door for Smith. Smith took advantage of the mistake to drive past and into the lead.
Smith led the final three laps to earn the victory after a hard weekend that included a sleepless Friday night repairing crash damage suffered at another facility. Welty hung on to finish a strong second with Glenn Forward finishing third. Gary Card Jr. finished fourth with defending track champion Tyler Ward fifth.
Effner took over the race lead in the Open Sportsman 25-lap feature when an intense battle for the race lead between veterans Buck Mills Sr. and Bill Leonard got a bit too intense as contact sent both spinning up against the third turn wall, turning the race lead over to Effner.
From there, Effner had to hold back a hard charging Randy Shantel, who raced from deep in the field to run second behind Effner. A late race caution put Shantel right on Effner’s rear deck, but Mark was up to the challenge and was able to keep Shantel behind him to score the win.
Shantel finished second with former track champion Jim “Rocky” Rothwell finishing third.
Michael Jr. was dominant in the 20-lap IMCA Modified Division feature as he got to the front early and was never seriously challenged for the win. Ray McClure drove to a strong runner-up finish, his best result of the season.
Yeagle, out of Wyndham in Pennsylvania, held off a late charge from current Street Stock point leader and multiple feature winner Bob Mills in order to claim this first trophy.
In the Stock Car Division, the night did not start off well for Mills Jr. as a heat race incident with a lapped car put his trusty No. 18 on the trailer for the night. Mills struck a deal with Rich Fike to drive his car in the feature event, and Mills promptly drove the unfamiliar car to his 12th feature win.
Bobby Wagner nearly picked up two Four Cylinder Stock wins, starting by winning his second feature of the season in the postponed featured from July 16.
In the regularly scheduled feature, Bobby Wagner actually passed Rich Wagner for the lead on a last lap restart only to be penalized back to second for jumping the restart. That awarded the win to Rich Wagner.
Racing continues this Saturday night at the Skyline Raceway Park. All of the track’s regular divisions will be in action with the Street Stocks taking center stage for a 30-lap STAR Series feature.
The NY6A Micro Sprint will also be in town for their second appearance of the season.. Racing begins at 6:30 .m. with the gates opening at 4 p.m.