EPPING, N.H. — Jon McKennedy raced to victory Saturday in the 125-lap Bob Webber Sr. Memorial Classic at Star Speedway in New Hampshire.
A field of 25 supermodified drivers gathered to compete in the running of the prestigious 55th Classic, and it was a race for the history books. Battling for the win were some of the best big-block supermodifieds from the Midwest to New England. The action provided a fitting end to a disrupted 2020 supermodified racing season.
The appreciative crowd on hand was treated to a day of good weather and competitive racing. The race saw only three caution flags.
McKennedy staved off the advances of Pennellville’s Jeff Abold to claim his third win of the long-running annual event.
“The car was awesome,” McKennedy said, thanking car owners Tim and Cheryl Lepine and his racing team. “Everyone worked hard. … The race is won at the shop. I’m just the lucky guy who gets to drive it. We had good preparation and a good notebook to go off of after a few years of running the same car. It feels good.”
McKennedy said this win meant a lot considering the quality of competition in the field. He said it was “probably the strongest field we’ve had in a long, long time for this race. We were fast all day. I was able to get the lead early and kind of control the race.”
Still, he had to keep an eye on Abold, the 2019 Bob Webber Sr. Memorial Classic winner.
“I was trying to pace myself a little bit, but just as I would get really comfortable pacing myself, I could hear someone rolling up to my outside. I knew it was Jeff,” McKennedy said. “He gave me a good race. You know Jeff is a class ‘A’ driver. He’s awesome and it’s fun to race with him nice and clean.”
Getting through lapped traffic also require McKennedy to stay at his best.
“There were a lot of lapped cars out there and I feel like I lapped a lot of them a multiple times. For the most part they were pretty good. They gave me a groove. These cars now are so aero dependent that several times in traffic the car got really loose. It got my attention, that’s for sure. But, I was able to keep it under me and get my third Classic.”
Abold gave it everything he had, but could not overtake McKennedy.
“We tried every which way but driving through him — inside, outside, everywhere. We were pretty equal tonight,” Abold said. “Toward the end I just started fading a little bit. I think we had a bit of a car issue, about then, but regardless of that I think Jon drove a great race. It was hard coming from farther back and to pass a lot of fast cars this year to get to the front. It was obviously a who’s who of supermodified racing here.”
He said his car began to fade in the late stages of the race, preventing him from mounting a more serious challenge to McKennedy.
“My only chance might have been on a restart, but the last one was back on lap 86. I had plenty of time. I just couldn’t get it done,” Abold said. “Congratulations to Jon. He was very deserving of the win. They work hard and I am not ashamed of finishing second to him. It’s always a lot of fun racing with those guys.”
Mike Ordway Jr. placed third. Completing the top five were Oswego Speedway standout Otto Sitterly and Chris Perley.
Other Oswego Speedway regulars in the field included Dan Connors Jr. (10th), Alison Sload (11th), Dave Danzer (12th), Aric Iosue (22nd), and Brandon Bellinger (23rd).
Sitterly posted the fastest lap time (10.893 seconds) during time trials. After the redraw for top starting positions, Sitterly found himself on the pole with McKennedy on the outside of the front row.
Sitterly grabbed the lead from the start with McKennedy and Perley right behind him. Sitterly pulled away in those early laps.
Sitterly saw his advantage fizzle when the caution flag came out on lap 20 for Mike Netishen, and then another quick stop came on that restart for Rich Reid, who pitted.
On the restart, Sitterly kept the point with McKennedy on his tail. Just past lap 30, McKennedy motored around Sitterly, pulling Ordway and Perley with him. Abold soon took over fourth place.
While McKennedy led, Abold got by the No. 61 of Ordway around lap 50. That left Ordway, Sitterly, and Perley in places 3-5 with lapped traffic starting to play a role.
The halfway bonus of $1,000 donated by Shea Concrete Products was grabbed by McKennedy, but Abold was getting closer despite being held up by a couple of lapped cars.
By lap 80, McKennedy was being slowed by a roadblock of about four lapped cars, and Abold closed the gap on the leader.
Two laps later the last yellow flag flew for the No. 22 of Mike McVetta, who ended his night in a cloud of smoke.
The restart put Abold right on McKennedy’s tail.
Over the final 25 laps, the action behind the No. 79 of McKennedy remained hot and heavy from Abold. Ordway, Sitterly, Perley, and Tim Jedrzejek were still within striking distance.
Abold’s charge fell short and the checkered flag flew for McKennedy.
Sitterly said he was pleased with his fourth-place finish in the No. 7 car.
“You know, with not much experience with this car and not much experience here, we just did what we had to do,” Sitterly said.
He said the car’s tires started slipping by lap 40. “At that point I was able to hang on decently, but the top two at least were considerably better,” Sitterly said. “I couldn’t put it in places I needed to be and make moves I wanted to make. Overall we’re happy. Each time we bring the car out we are learning more and the results are starting to go in the right direction. It was fun to race with the wing and to be competitive.”
Star Classic 125: 1. Jon McKennedy (79), 2. Jeff Abold (05), 3. Mike Ordway Jr. (61), 4. Otto Sitterly (7), 5. Chris Perley (11), 6. Tim Jedrzejek (97), 7. Dan Bowes (25), 8. Ryan Locke (37), 9. Jamie Timmons (27), 10. Dan Connors Jr. (01), 11. Alison Sload (39), 12. Dave Danzer (52), 13. A.J. Lesiecki (88), 14. Dave Duggan (51), 15. Joey Payne (14), 16. Rich Reid (5R), 17. Kyle Edwards (11E), 18. Ken White (77), 19. Mike McVetta (22), 20. Bobby Chartier (29), 21. Bob Timmons (13), 22. Aric Iosue (75), 23. Brandon Bellinger (02), 24. Russ Wood (9), 25. Mike Netishen (55).