George Skora III won the battle Saturday night at Holland Motorsports Complex but due to scheduling conflicts will unlikely win the war this season at the Southern Tier high-banked NASCAR sanctioned asphalt oval.
Skora, Holland’s defending NASCAR Pro Modified season point champion, held off Jeff Brown to win the headlining Pro Modified 35 season opener Saturday. Ordinarily an opening night triumph is a great way to start a title defense.
But Skora will probably miss a Holland race or two this season because he is also running a very limited Race of Champions (ROC) Modified Tour schedule. This will hurt his chances for another Holland NASCAR Pro Modified title, but he will be racing at Holland most every week this season.
When Holland runs the NASCAR Pro Modified Budweiser 100 on June 7, Skora will be running with the ROC at Elegant Builders Raceway Park in Lancaster.
“It’s a tough decision to make, but we got that ROC Modified put together just this week and you know what – I want to race that car,” said Skora about the ROC scheduling issue. “We got a lot of money invested in that thing, and Modified racing needs to be brought back. I guess we’ll go to Lancaster June 7. I’m racing Holland the full year other than the ROC races, and only one or two ROC races conflict with Holland.”
Skora started fourth Saturday and was running near the front of the pack behind front-runners Tommy Catalano and Kirk Totten. Suddenly on lap 10, Catalano started spinning, collecting several other cars. Totten briefly went to the pits under that caution for some quick repair. Skora inherited the lead and held it to the end, winning by a car length over Brown.
“Jeff is a strong runner, and he’s got a new car for this year and he’s going to be pretty tough,” said Skora.
As for the incident that got Skora into the lead, he says that patience was a virtue on this evening. “Those guys (Catalano and Totten) were stout right off the bat,” remarked Skora. “They both had good cars and they both are young and they want to race hard and that’s what happens. I knew I had to be patient and keep the nerf bar and the wheels on my car. I did.”
The NYPAMA Midget Association was also competing at Holland Saturday and their trademark of routinely providing exciting close racing, combined on occasion unfortunately with scary accidents, was again on display.
Despite spinning out on the pace lap, Andy Nye drove a stellar race to emerge victorious by inches in a thriller over Jonathan Reid and Kyle Hutchinson. Nye was exhausted and excited as he drove hard for the win.
“I’m just spent,” said Nye in Victory Lane. “I almost wrecked with Kyle on the last lap. I was racing so hard my head nearly fell off. I don’t think I had another two laps in me.”
Two ugly incidents also interrupted the TQ Midget action Saturday. During the 20-lap feature event, on lap nine, Hayden Newcomb got caught up in an accident and in spectacular fashion barrel-rolled his car several times down the backstretch, finally stopping upside down near the Turn Three wall. He was not injured.
With their lightweight and quick horsepower the TQ Midgets are the fastest cars at Holland, running well over 100 mph. Many wonder if the cars are too fast for that track.
“If you ask my wife, I shouldn’t be doing this here,” said driver Dave Wollaber about racing at Holland in a TQ. “It depends who you ask. I guess we’re crazy at times, but driving these cars gives you such an adrenalin rush.”
The other ugly incident occurred in the infield during a TQ Midget heat qualifying race.
Brandon Zavarbella and Chad Heywood got into an accident, and moments later, with both cars and drivers sitting in the infield, Zavarbella charged several yards from his car and attacked Heywood.
Holland’s management team did an aggressive job over the off-season of promoting the 2014 race season, and the results Saturday were positive for opening night, with a large crowd in attendance and nearly 90 cars in the pits.
Elsewhere, Tim McCreadie of Watertown scored a big win Friday when he earned $3,000 for winning the Tri Track Series 358 Modified 50. McCreadie led every lap to capture his first career win at Ransomville.
Recently the club had a duplicate of the trophy made and it is on permanent display at the North Tonawanda Historical Society and Museum. The trophy is on display in Room 56 – known as the Jim Hurtubise Room. Hurtubise was inducted into the FOAR Score Hall of Fame in 1986.
Dedicated to the late racing legend and Indy 500 driver who hailed from North Tonawanda, Room 56 is filled with Hurtubise memorabilia and artifacts. Presenting the trophy to the museum were FOAR Score president Paul Faleski, vice president Bob Deull and past president Roger McCabe.