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Larry Ott: Mat Williamson executes last lap magic at Freedom

Although Mat Williamson's day began with his race-car hauler stuck in the mud, it didn't stop the fast Canadian and his team from unloading their potent car, racing fast and executing a dramatic last lap pass to win the Outlaw Modified 30-lap thriller on a summer-like evening Saturday at Freedom Motorsports Park.

Williamson of St. Catharine's, Ont., is now two for two at Freedom after winning the Outlaw Modified main event in his first ever visit there on Sept. 1.

Max Blair of Centerville, Pa., was also victorious Saturday at Freedom in the 30-lap United Late Model Series race for the second time in the three Freedom ULMS  2017 appearances.

Williamson worked his way through the field and caught leader Shannon Whaley with a handful of laps remaining in the Outlaw Modified contest Saturday. Using the outside groove to perfection, Williams soared by Whaley as the pair sailed under the front stretch flag stand with the white flag waving to begin the race's final circuit. Williamson kept his newfound lead to the checkered flag with Whaley and 2017 Freedom Outlaw Modified champion Adam Hilton next.

In the Outlaw Modified class at Freedom teams are allowed to use either small-block or higher horsepower big-block engines. Williamson felt that on Saturday, the big-block engine he was utilizing offered no inherent advantage.

"The No. 44 car (Whaley) was pretty good and he ran a heck of a race," Williamson said. "My car came on late. I just never gave up. It worked for us here. Them small-blocks can certainly roll the bottom a lot easier then this big-block can. We had to take the horsepower and put it on the topside and send it. It was a nail-biter  and hopefully the fans enjoyed it."

The night ended up much better for Williamson's team considering how it started Saturday at Freedom.

"First off I got to thank the guys who towed me into the pits," Williamson said. "We got stuck on the way in. Usually they say if your nights not going good to start with you should load up and go home so we proved that theory wrong and I'm just happy to be here again. We just got into a wet spot and couldn't get our truck and trailer into where we needed to go so we had to get the backhoe in there and it was interesting. Now we have to work some more to get it out of there so we can go home."

Meanwhile, Blair won a caution filled ULMS 30-lapper that saw the yellow flag wave seven times in the first 19 laps. Blair started ninth but worked his way toward the lead. Blair got by Dave Hess Jr., for second just past the race's midway point when Hess got trapped behind the very slow lapped car of Joe Layfield. Blair hunted down a very strong running Chris Hackett and sailed past him for good on the front stretch on lap 23. Hess recovered to get by Hackett on lap 27 to reclaim second. Hackett placed third.

Blair is Stateline Speedway's 2017 Super Late Model and Crate Late Model champion.

"It was a pretty awesome race track and you could really race all over it," Blair said about Freedom. "When you start that far back you just got to take what's there and get yourself in a position to have a chance at the end. It was a lot of fun racing with them guys. It's cool to come to a different race track like Freedom and I can still race against the guys that we run against every week at Stateline and Eriez."

Blair commented on his Stateline twin championships.

"I never won a track title in the Super Late Models so it was a pretty big accomplishment for me," Blair said. "I won eleven features at Stateline this season with the Super Late Model and six races with the Crate Late Model. It was a great year at Stateline for me."

Blair has won numerous Super Late Model races this season at many tracks. Hess, who won a ULMS feature this season at Freedom, can attest to Blair's success.

"It was fun battling with the guys," Hess said. "I really thought Chris was going to get himself a good win and Max snuck up there and got another one from us. I was just lacking a little bit on my car. I felt good at the start of the race and then I faded and made the high side work at the end. I was real close but got another second place. I got a win here this year but I think tonight was probably about our 14th or 15th second to the same car (Blair) this year everywhere we go so if it wasn't for Max we'd have a whole pile of wins."


Orchard Park's Patrick Emerling will make his career debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway next Saturday. He will also compete there in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event before returning home Sunday to compete in the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series 125 during Lancaster National Speedway's U.S. Open Weekend. Emerling competed this past Saturday with the Outlaw Modifieds at Freedom.

"I'll be racing the Copp Motorsports No.83 that I'll be driving in the truck race next Saturday," Emerling said. "This is a newer team there. It was something that just kind of came about and something we talked about. We figured Loudon would probably be the best place to start. I'm doing double duty running both the Whelen and truck race at New Hampshire. I'm excited and just going to get some experience. I won't be in a winning truck but just get experience. That's the most important thing."

The Copp organization has a local relationship with Leaty Racing of Williamson for whom Emerling drives for in local asphalt Modified competition.

"Copp Motorsports is based in North Carolina," Emerling said. "D.J Copp, the owner there grew up with Mike Leaty so that's the connection that worked."


Ted Christopher, 59, of Plainville, Conn., died along with his pilot in a small plane crash at 1:53 p.m. Saturday in a wooded area near Guilford, Conn., while on route to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Riverhead, Long Island. Winning success was the hallmark of Christopher's career. Christopher made several appearances in events over the years at both Lancaster and Holland.

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