TIOGA CENTER, N.Y. – Tony Hanbury fended off a strong challenge from Paul Johnson to collect the Sportsman Modified win in the season opener at Shangri-La II Motor Speedway.
Paul Johnson has come a long way in the Sportsman Modified ranks at Shangri-La II. Johnson led the field to the green flag Sunday, flanked to his outside by Tony Hanbury. The first of two cautions came on lap one as rookie Nick Morich spun his new ride coming off turn four.
As the field was coming to the green flag the second time, T.J. Zacharias spun in turn four. Once the field returned to racing Johnson and Hanbury ran wheel to wheel for a lap until Hanbury grabbed the front spot coming off of turn two. The pair continued to battle and pulled away from the remainder of the field. Johnson tried to get by Hanbury on the inside and outside, but Hanbury was up to the challenges each time.
Zacharias recovered from his early race spin to give chase to the leaders, but he had his hands full with Morich. Morich got by Zacharias, but could only get to within six carlengths of the leaders. At the checkers, Hanbury held off Johnson by one car length to claim the win. Johnson, who recorded four runner-up finishes in 2013, held on for second. Morich had a very respectable first Sportsman run at the track finished third. Zacharias rounded out the top four.
Gene Purvis collected the season opening win for the second year in a row in the four-cylinder division. Glenn Lippolis survived several lead changes in the Pudgies Pizza Street Stocks en route to a victory in that division.