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Leaty pulls old trick in Race of Champions

Jan Leaty passed Matt Hirschman with five laps left to win the Sunoco Race of Champions (ROC) Modified Tour 100 at Dunn Tire Raceway Park. The event was the climax of the Sunday portion of the 20th Annual US Open Weekend, rain delayed from a week earlier. Leaty also won the inaugural race in 1989.

"I pulled a little trick out of my book from when I won this race for the first time," said Leaty. "The pass I made tonight on Matt for the win was the way I won the race in that first US Open." Hirschman settled for second.

The big comeback of this Open was turned in by DTRP all-time winner Sege Fidanza, who placed third. It was a race that nobody, including Fidanza himself, thought he would be in after his recent serious accident.

But a break from Mother Nature, a determined effort by his pit crew and a hard charging drive from his 21st starting spot all spelled a good run.

"Our guys worked real hard all week but I think I pitted too early in the race," said Fidanza. "It was a pretty big accident so I want to thank . . . everyone involved for what they did for me this week."

Daren Scherer took the lead from the pole through the first yellow flag on lap 31. Many in the field made pit stops under that caution but Scherer, Leaty and Hirschman did not pit to make up the top three spots.

On lap 60, the caution flag waved again as Scherer continued to lead Hirschman and Pete Brittain. During the caution, Scherer pitted. Hirschman assumed the top followed by Brittain and Fidanza, who had made earlier pit stops and had fresher tires.

When the race resumed, Fidanza moved to second under Brittain on lap 68 and applied heavy pressure to Hirschman. Leaty then made his move after pitting and passed Fidanza for second on lap 93 and Hirschman two laps later for the win.

Fidanza's accident heavily damaged his car during the first day of the US Open on Sept. 26. It was thought he would miss the remainder of the US Open. But when the ROC Modified 100 was rained out Sept. 28 and was delayed a week until Sunday, Fidanza and his determined crew got an unexpected second chance.

"As soon as we heard that last Sunday's race was rained out we raced back to the shop and began to take the car apart," said Fidanza-Petrie Motorsports co-owner Dennis Petrie. "The car went to Troyer Engineering last Monday and we got it back late Tuesday. From there the crew put in many hours of hard work and we finally got it completely back together and the motor fired up in it this past Friday night. Sege still has a bit of a sore jaw from the accident but he was ready to go too."

Also Sunday, Jeff Brown claimed his first career DTRP Late Model race win in the 75-lap Late Model event. Brown led every lap. He took the lead from the pole at the drop of the green flag but the caution flag immediately waved. Brown jumped back out front on the restart over Dave Rigan.

Despite six more caution periods, including a red flag with two laps to go, Brown kept Rigan at bay and won by three car lengths over Rigan and Dave Heitzhaus.

"That wasn't easy," said Brown of the wait during the late race red flag session. "Dad was on the radio and kept me calm. It's been four years since I last won a race somewhere. I have had lots of second places."

Despite crashing and exiting the race to bring out the late red flag, Ron Nurmi held on to claim the DTRP Late Model season championship.

In the Linda Tasca Memorial Street Stock 50, John Hewson took the lead from Cory Gallagher on lap 12 and held it all the way to the checkered flag, holding off Tim Garlock and Gallagher for his first US Open triumph. John Julicher Jr. clinched this DTRP title.

The SST Sportsman non-point 35-lap special was won Sunday by Tom McGrath, who outran both Holland Speedway champion Jonathon Price and SST rookie Andy Jankowiak.

Dave Wollaber used a late race caution to eventually pass Dan Lawrence and win the TQ Midget 25 lap portion of the US Open for the third consecutive year and fourth time in his career. Lawrence jumped into the top spot at the beginning of the race and dominated the race most of the way. Vince Christiano Jr. was second.

Lawrence came into Sunday's TQ Midget racing competition already the 2008 DTRP TQ Midget season champion.

DTRP's IHRA drag racing point show last Friday attracted 155 vehicles, including 23 Joe's Transmission TNT Hot Rod Series competitors. Jason Vitez scored the win in the TNT series event.

Joe Passaro won the Top ET class. Other winners were: Dale Eckert, Mod ET; Vic Puglia, Quick 16; Pat Vaughan, Bike/Sleds and Jim Bruckman, Street.


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