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Larry Ott: Stephens gets assist from Reis at Lancaster

The Stout Racing team took some advice from an old friend, Freedom Motorsports Park promoter Bob Reis and all worked out in their moment of need as the team with driver Trent Stephens raced to Victory Lane before a nearly packed house in the International Supermodified Association 50, Saturday at Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway.

Also joining Stephens at Lancaster this past weekend with very notable victories was Doug Vanstrom and Jason Bezinque in the Outlaw Street and Limited Street finals respectively during the track's Friday night IHRA weekly drag racing competition.

Stephen's team was on route from Ohio to Lancaster on Saturday afternoon when their transporter truck developed problems. A call to Reis for assistance was made and timely advice from Reis helped in their effort to get to Lancaster.

Reis drove for the Stout Supermodified team a few years ago and still maintains a close association with the team.

"A couple of hours before racing started I got a call that they were on the way to Lancaster and were as far as Hamburg but their truck developed problems," Reis said. "During the call they wondered if they should still proceed to Lancaster. They described to me what their problem was and I advised them that they could make it to Lancaster and they did.

"Now that the race is over, we have to go back in the pits and see if we can fix the problem, or take their truck to my shop or find another truck to get them home. At least they won."

Stephens, of Ravenna, Ohio, started fourth in the ISMA feature and passed Moe Lilje of Vikery, Ohio on lap 15 to get the top spot. Stephens took it the distance from there besting Dave McKnight Jr., of Brampton, Ont., by five car lengths to score the victory.

"I can't thank all the people for being here and it was pretty cool to see them up in the grandstand when we took the green," Stephens said. "Lancaster's a crazy track and it's definitely challenging. We got the car pretty good in the heat race and it kind of carried over in the feature. I was relatively comfortable and I could have pushed harder if I wanted to."

McKnight appeared just as fast as Stephens if not faster until a minor mishap during a lap 23 restart spelled problems for McKnight, a two-time Lancaster career ISMA winner.

"On that restart the No. 22 (Mike McVetta) didn't go and I hit him and clipped the nose wing and it knocked it down and the car pushed really bad after that," McKnight said. "I had to struggle with it. That really hurt me. I think I had a really good car and I could have probably come out of here with a win. After I damaged the nose wing I had nothing for Trent."

A solid field of 24 Supermodifieds came for what was ISMA's first visit to Lancaster since 2003. A grandstand crowd of a little more than 2,000 was on hand.

The Lucas Oil Can-Am Midget Racing Club also made their first visit to Lancaster in several seasons and Mack DeMan of Mississauga, Ont., took the checkered flag in their 25-lap main event. Lancaster president Tim Packman stated that Saturday's crowd was the largest for any single day oval track event at the track in several seasons, larger than the last several Sunday portions of the annual U.S. Open.

Four years ago the Buffalo Street Outlaws group was formed by local motorsports marketer Rob Kozak. Two classes of the BSO, the Outlaw Street and Limited Street competed at Lancaster Friday. Outlaw Street consist of full purpose-built race cars that resemble fast cars seen on area highways. Limited Street is reserved for cars that are completely street legal and can be registered and insured for everyday highway use but are not required to be highway registered and insured.

The concept of Outlaw Street and Limited Street racing on sanctioned drag strips is not only catching on locally but across the country as well.

On Friday, North Collins' Vanstrom defeated Rochester's Randy Jewell in the Outlaw Street final. When the pair left the starting line, Jewell immediately lost traction causing a large amount of tire smoke. Realizing that his opponent was having trouble Vanstrom backed off a little bit to ensure getting safely across the finish line. Vanstrom's winning effort was 5.425 seconds at 113.60 mph, far off the speeds of about 140 mph he had achieved earlier in the evening.

"I knew Randy was behind me and I had been running 140 to 145 miles per hour all night, so there was no reason to try to go all out," Vanstrom said. Jewell was racing a brand new car for the first time.

A somewhat smaller field of only six Outlaw Street and eight Limited Street machines were at Lancaster on Friday but competitors say that more cars have been there in the past and the future looks bright.

"There's cars being built all over the state, including Western New York," Vanstrom said. "There wasn't very many here tonight but at least 12 to 15 cars will be out here eventually. It will be a great show for everybody. We're all friends and that's what makes it nice."

In Limited Street, Amherst's Bezinque is a perfect three-for-three in wins in 2017 at Lancaster after besting Chris Scarlata in the final Friday with a victorious 5.656 at 120.91 mph effort.

"It wasn't easy because I had to run a few guys down to get the round wins tonight," Bezinque said. "My car's been very consistent. I just drive the car here to the track, no trailer needed and turn 5.50's (seconds) pretty consistent so most of the guys know they've got their work cut out for them when they're running against me."

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