Several drivers enjoyed success in the 11th annual NAPA U.S. Open this past weekend at Lancaster Motorsports Park, but John Julicher enjoyed it twice as much.
Julicher won the 75-lap Lancaster-type Late Model headliner as well as the 35-lap NASCAR-type Late Model race on Sunday. He was "tired" after the two races -- in more ways than one.
Julicher almost had his double win ruined in a freak tire incident during the 75-lap race. He started on the outside pole and was leading on lap 21 when Tom Gesel hit the backstretch wall to bring out the race's fifth caution flag. As the field slowed down heading into the third turn, an errant tire from Gesel's car rolled into Julicher's car and lodged itself under his front end. The field came to a stop on the frontstretch and Julicher was able to back up and dislodge the tire. He restarted the race with the lead and went on to victory over Tom MacLeod and Ron Nurmi.
"I knew when that tire was stuck it would cause a problem," said Julicher. "It did some damage that blocked the flow of air to my motor. Toward the end of the race, my temperature gauge was at 270 degrees (about 200 is normal) and I didn't think we'd make it. Somehow it did."
Julicher started 15th in the 35-lap event and moved to fifth by lap 10. On lap 22, Julicher and Vern Bliss were battling for second with Joe Carbone in the lead. Bliss took over second before running into Carbone, who spun out. Bliss was sent to the back under caution and Dave Russell inherited the lead.
On the restart, Julicher and Russell ran side-by-side before Julicher assumed the top spot on lap 25. Julicher went on to victory over Mark Bliss and Carbone.
Sege Fidanza dominated the caution-filled New York State Modified Championship Series 50-lapper. He started from the outside pole and led every lap for his third NYS series win of the season.
"Is there anymore caution flags?" Fidanza said in Victory Lane. "Please tell me there's no more caution flags."
Danny Knoll Jr. and Todd Burley were second and third, respectively.
After an early joust with Jeff Ulrich, Kirk Rutherford also took advantage of an outside pole start to win the 30-lap Sportsman race. Rutherford passed Ulrich on the backstretch on lap five and was never seriously challenged. Kevin Eckerich and Dave Reese were next.
"The car was working good again," Rutherford said. "It just seems that everything came together for us at the end of this year. It was a little too late for the points race however."
Rookie Todd Hoddick, 15, the son of veteran racer Trey Hoddick, won the 30-lap Street Stock feature in dominating fashion, leading every lap from the pole.
"The car was a little too tight but otherwise it was good," said Hoddick. "We'll be good for next year when I return to the Street Stocks."
Tim DiPasquale was second with Mike Catalano third.
Jared Turnbull beat his father, Wayne Turnbull, to the finish line in the 25-lap TQ Midget feature. Rich Watkins was third.
"It was a long time in coming," Jared said of his first career win. "I have a long way to go to win as many as my dad has over the years."
On Saturday, Terry Weldy beat George Roesch and Frank Green in the Strictly Stock race at LMP. Ed Murray bested Fidanza and Don Adamczyk for the MBNA Cup Lite Racing Series victory.
The NAPA U.S. Open capped LMP's 1999 stock car racing season. LMP still has two drag race meets left, Oct. 8 and 15.