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What you need to know for 01/20/2018

Season may be turning around for Davis team

Season may be turning around for Davis team

First win of season.

It would be easy to chalk up Jimmy Davis’ first modified victory of the season Saturday at Fonda Speedway to the fact that he started fourth, took the lead on lap two and smoked the field — which is essentially what he did.

But there’s a lot more to the win that could become apparent in the next couple of months.

“I think we hit on something,” said Davis earlier this week. “We were better than everyone in the heats, and were eight-tenths [of a second] quicker in the feature. I had them covered all night, and that felt good.”

Feeling good hasn’t really been one of Davis’ strongest emotions in the last month or so. He did some damage to his small block early in July at Fonda (that motor was back in the car for Saturday’s win) and broke a radius rod on July 13, after he had dropped a big block in the car (“We were horrible with the big block. That’s not the right combination for Fonda,” he said.). Hence, the great starting spot last weekend.

But I remember talking to Tommy Corellis years ago, after he won a race from the pole at Lebanon Valley Speedway, and he said, “It doesn’t matter where you start. It’s where your finish,” and the way

Davis’ luck has been, any checkered flag will do.

“We really needed a shot in the arm,” he said. “I’m down on help, it’s just me and a couple of guys. My brother [John], who had been running my tire program, has been out with a bad back, so I’ve taken over the tires. Basically, it’s just me, Dave Gregorak and a couple of other guys who help out when they can. Sometimes, you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall.”

But whenever Davis gets too far down in the dumps, he just has to call his grandfather to bring him back up.

Don Vrooman, 90, is affectionately known as “Gramps” to everyone associated with the Davis Racing team, and he’s the glue that keeps everything together. Two years ago, when Davis didn’t have a small block to make him compet-itive at Fonda, Gramps bought him one. This year, when Davis wasn’t even sure if he was going to have a ride, Gramps convinced Davis’ brother-in-law Tom Sanford, who works on Wall Street, and Davis’ sister Judy to get financially involved in the program again.

“He’s the reason we’re still doing this,” Davis said of his grandfather. “He’s like a pit bull. He loves his racing.”

Last weekend’s victory was defin-itely a morale booster, but so is the fact that Davis will soon be getting a new TEO chassis to run at Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday nights.

“Bobby [Hearn, the owner and fabricator at TEO] had been calling me,” said Davis. “He knew I wasn’t happy with Troyer. There are some things with the Troyer that I just don’t agree with. It’s not a driver-friendly car. But I’m pumped up about the TEO.”

Davis has been around racing for as long as he can remember, and the friendships and loyalties still pay off. Growing up in Ballston Spa, he began helping out on Brian Ross’ car, and when Ross’ son, Chris, started racing, Davis was part of his team, as well.

So it should be no surprise

Davis credits the scale pads that Chris Ross manufactures through his Ross Racing Fab Shop business as a vital component of his Saturday night win. “They give me a consistent set-up every week,” said Davis, sounding like a true pitchman.

Davis has always had good friends, a lot of family support and tons of talent. The right equipment could be just what he needs to get over the hump.

Around the tracks

Nice job by Columbia High School student Matt Pappa at Albany-Saratoga Speedway last Friday. In the first race of the night, he picked up his third novice sportsman win of the year, which forced him to “graduate” to the regular division. So he went out with the regular sportsman drivers, easily qualified and than drove to his first career victory against the regulars.

By some convoluted formula, Papa was allowed to start fifth in the sportsman feature, even though the points he accumulated all year were in the rookie division, which made his night a little easier. Sometimes, it’s easier to decipher Chinese math than it is to figure out how things are done at a race track. . . .

A 60-cent nut was the difference between winning and losing for Matt Pupello in the modified feature at Lebanon Valley on Saturday. Using a front-row starting spot, he went right to the front, and with no cautions, was cruising along. Smoke began to trail from his car in the closing laps, but he hung on to pick up his second career victory. After the race, his crew found that only one nut was left on the rear-end housing, but that one nut allowed Pupello to walk off with $3,000. . . .

Richie Price is going to be out of action for a couple of weeks after getting tangled up with Craig Hanson while they were battling for the lead in last Friday’s modified feature at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park. According to the Glen Ridge website, Hanson went over the left front of Price’s car and both wound up in the infield. That incident allowed Bobby Varin to get the lead, and he came away with his fifth win of the season. . . .

Although Darwin Greene has struggled at Fonda Speedway this season, he did record his first win of the year at I-88 Speedway in Afton recently. Like Davis, the Greene team needed a shot in the arm. . . .

Todd Stone picked up his sixth modified win of the year at Devil’s Bowl last Sunday. Joey Williams of Scotia was second, with Ken Tremont Jr. taking another Sunday ride to Vermont and finishing sixth. The track will be back in action tonight with the C.J. Richards Memorial. . . .

The Empire Super Sprints will be on the card at Albany-Saratoga Speedway tonight, The ESS bunch hasn’t been at the Malta track since 2006.

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