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Racing Modifieds hits Jones where he lives

When 358 Modified driver and Hamburg native Tim Jones first started crossing the border to compete each week at Ontario's Merrittville Speedway, it was solely for the love of the sport.

Now his visits have a very added involvement allowing him a chance to catch up with the love of his life, new bride Erica Bicknell-Jones.

Jones, who resides in Sanborn, married Merrittville General Manager Bicknell-Jones on Feb. 26 and the couple has been living apart while they await the finalization of paperwork that will allow Jones to move to Canada.

Erica is the daughter of Pete and Nancy Bicknell.

Pete is a championship Modified driver and Nancy has been deeply involved in the sport for many years, supporting their family racing efforts and businesses.

The Bicknell family also co-owns and operates Merrittville, a three-eighths mile dirt track located in Thorold, Ont., just minutes across the border.

On Saturday night, Jones accorded himself very well in the 358 Modified feature race, swapping the lead with Travis Braun before finally settling into a strong second place result.

Jones is one of the few Western New York drivers who crosses the border to compete each week against Merrittville's mostly Southern Ontario-based drivers. More Americans come for special shows. On Saturday he was one of four Americans in the 25-car starting field.

Jones has raced 358 Modifieds since 2004 and has won at Merrittville and Genesee Speedway.

As for racing this season, Jones has had to sort through some early season difficulties but achieved his season-best result on Saturday.

"I found my good run tonight to be a little surprising," said Jones. "I got in a pretty bad wreck a couple weeks ago and actually bent the chassis pretty bad. We left it alone because all the suspension parts are free on it. We put a new set of torsion bars in it tonight. The car was great."

Braun rode around Jones on lap 27 of the 35-lap affair to grab the lead for the final time. Jones crossed the line second by a car length.

"It was a great race and a lot of fun," Jones replied. "Travis and I kept each other on our toes."

Braun was ecstatic as it was his first career Merrittville 358 Modified victory.

"I knew that when that late race restart happened I had a lot of gear in the car and I knew I had to get to the top of the track," said Braun of Jordan Station, Ont. "Tim's a real clean racer but I'm glad I came out on the right end if it."

Pete Bicknell enjoyed his son-in-law's strong run and also the fact that the Merrittville pit area was filled with 112 cars Saturday. What was very much troubling to Bicknell was his severe back pain. He is the current point leader at Ransomville.

"My back's screwed up again," said Bicknell. "It's a bulging or herniated disk. It started a little bit before that big wreck at Ransomville [May 13] and then that wreck at Ransomville finished it off. I'll make the season through one way or the other."

Another Merrittville runner who had a sensational week was Sportsman driver Greg Panunte, who followed a victory at Ransomville last Wednesday with a triumph Saturday in Merrittville's 25-lap Sportsman main event.

"It was an excellent week," said Panunte.

Elsewhere South Arcade Speedway hosted its second race of the season Saturday with the positive news that an increased field of 40 cars were pit side. Andy Michael won his second SAS Street Stock race of the season.

"We've had some problems at some other tracks but my car has been running real good here," said Michael.

On the national racing scene this past weekend, Team Sahlen posted a very positive result, placing second on Saturday in the GT class of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series event at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

The team's No. 42 Mazda RX-8 was co-driven by Ohio's Wayne Nonnamaker and new driver John Edwards of Cincinnati. Elma's Joe Sahlen is involved with the team.

e-mail: lawrence_o_14075@yahoo.com