Rookie Sensation Lay Wins at Baer Field

By Mike Strevel

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (June 1, 2003) –
The Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Super Sprint Series is enjoying a great start to the 2003 season and there is one young man enjoying it more than any one else. The 22 year old racer from Millbury OH a suburb of Toledo Brian Lay is leading the Owen’s Petroleum Rookie of the Year points standings and what helps that is winning features like he did Saturday night at Baer Field Speedway in Fort Wayne IN.

This young driver with less than 20 appearances in a winged sprintcar now has captured his second AVSS feature of the season. The race at Baer Field was the fifth of the season and this amazing talent Lay was able to pass two-time AVSS champion Bill Tyler on lap 19 of the 30 lap feature and cruise to the victory.

The chilly May day started with 33 AVSS teams checking into the pits in Fort Wayne and after hotlaps it was time for Hamilton Trucking qualifying. The fastest man at the ultra fast half-mile was Warsaw IN driver Denny England at 14.734. It was Kevin Newton second quick at 14.786 and Ryan Katz third at 14.928.

The United Trailers heat race went to Kevin Feeney, Newton took the Dowker Engines heat and Gary Fedewa picked up the Wolverine Steel heat race. The 17 car Jim Benson B-Main went to Johnboy Hotchkiss over Travis Miniea, Danny Williams, Doug Stepke and Hank Lower. The Lane Automotive/Aeroquip provisional was awarded to Troy Underwood. This made it a 21 car-starting field for the 30 lap main event.

All 21 starters saluted the very vocal Baer Field crowd with the AVSS three wide salute and then it was time for pole sitter Bill Jacoby and outside front row driver Bill Tyler to lead the feature to the green. The main started with Tyler taking the lead before Doug Stepke and Hank Lower were involved in an accident on the backstretch on the first lap. The Stepke car was finished for the night and Lower was able to return after changing a flat tire.

The race restarted and Tyler once again took control in his Thunder Chassis. The yellow was thrown again on lap nine for the spinning Jay Rohrback car. The main restarted and the next lap a three-car incident in turn two developed. Everyone but Danny Williams and Mark Tarlton avoided the spinning car of Feeney. The Williams car was slowing to avoid Feeney and Tarlton came around turn one with no where to go and collected Williams. The race was red flagged to aid with clean up and let the teams refuel.

The last 20 laps went nonstop and they were some of the best sprint action seen at Tom Isch’s fine facility in quite some time. The restart after the red flag had Tyler still in the lead, but there were several cars on the move to close on Tyler. The fast qualifier England who started tenth was moving through the pack and was in the top five by half way. The car really on the hunt was Lay who had started seventh and was second before the red flag was thrown. The Ohio driver Lay was very patient in trying to find a way around the veteran Tyler and it took until lap 20 for Lay to finally make a beautiful high side pass of Tyler and take the lead.

This action up front was incredible, but there was a couple of amazing stories unfolding in the back of the field as 20th starting Tom Fedewa who had motor problems in qualifying was flying through the pack and was seventh at half way and was actually racing for third at the end before taking fifth at the end.

The race behind Lay between Jason Blonde, Bill Jacoby, Ryan Katz and England was incredible and eventually it was Blonde able to take the runner up position.

The young Ohio driver was able to pull away over the last few laps and take his second feature win of his young career. The Cherry Bomb Air Freshners 45 car was heavily damaged two weeks ago at Kalamazoo, but there was no way of telling as he topped the 33 car field in Fort Wayne.

The top ten finishers were Lay, Blonde, England, Tyler, T.Fedewa from 20th, Katz, Jacoby, Jeff Bloom, Hotchkiss and Newton. The AVSS officials would like to thank the great fans and the fine staff of Baer Field for an incredible evening.

The AVSS gets next weekend off before returning for a big double header weekend on the 13th and 14th of June. The Friday the 13th show at Toledo Speedway is being billed once again as the “World’s Fastest Short Track Race” and will feature AVSS and ISMA. The next night will be at Auto City Speedway in Flint MI. The AVSS Suspension Spring Specialist driver of the race at Baer Field was Jason Blonde and the Hamilton Trucking $100.00 winner was Denny England. The AVSS website is for more news about the Auto Value Bumper to Bumper Super Sprint Series.

Time Trials

1. 84 Denny England 14.734 2. 99 Kevin Newton 14.786 3. 35 Ryan Katz 14.928 4. 45 Brian Lay 15.011 5. 55 Jason Blonde 15.062 6. JB Johnboy Hotchkiss 15.213 7. 98 Kevin Feeney 15.227 8. 82 Travis Miniea 15.289 9. 24 Bill Tyler 15.317 10. 44j Bill Jacoby 15.335 11. 33 Jay Rohrback 15.356 12. 70 Dennis Craft 15.365 13. 26 Jeff Bloom 15.425 14. 65 Danny Williams 15.437 15. 71 Curt Shumaker 15.471 16. 69 Chris Hettinger 15.472 17. 9 Mark Tarlton 15.513 18. 42 Gary Fedewa 15.517 19. 37 Hank Lower 15.652 20. 66 Doug Stepke 15.754 21. 8G Jimmy Halloway 15.798 22. 92 George Gustafson 15.811 23. 4 Troy Underwood 15.845 24. 14 Dave Baumgartner 15.880 25. 11 Dennis Venia 15.891 26. 6 John Batts 16.155 27. 97 Ben Hidy 16.239 28. 43 Jason Fuller 16.277 29. 8 Ryan Davis 16.278 30. 27 Rick Toncray 16.409 31. 3A Mike Astrauskas 18.811 32. 20 Tom Fedewa N.T. 33. 61 Marv Carman N.T.

United Trailers Heat 1- Feeney 2.Bloom 3.Jacoby 4.Lay 5.England 6.Hettinger 7.Lower 8.Venia 9.Astrauskas 10. Gustafson 11. Fuller

Dowker Engines Heat 2- 1. Newton 2. Tarlton 3. Rohrback 4. Blonde 5. T.Fedewa 6. Miniea 7. Williams 8. Underwood 9. Davis 10. Batts 11. Stepke

Wolverine Steel Heat 3- 1. G.Fedewa 2. Katz 3. Shumaker 4. Tyler 5. Craft 6. Hotchkiss 7. Baumgartner 8. Toncray 9. Halloway 10. Hidy

B-Main 1. Hotchkiss 2. Miniea 3. Williams 4. Stepke 5. Lower 6. Venia 7. Hettinger 8. Gustafson 9. Underwood 10. Hidy 11. Astrauskas 12. Fuller 13. Toncray 14. Davis 15. Baumgartner 16. Halloway 17. Batts

A-Main 1. Lay 2. Blonde 3. England 4. Tyler 5. T.Fedewa 6.Katz 7. Jacoby 8. Bloom 9. Hotchkiss 10. Newton 11. Craft 12. G.Fedewa 13. Miniea 14. Rohrback 15. Shumaker 16. Feeney 17. Williams 18. Tarlton 19. Lower 20. Underwood 21. Stepke