CENTER LISLE, N.Y. – Brent Wilcox is home sweet home.
Wilcox opted to return to the driver’s seat of a Modified this season when news circulated that Karl Spoonhower was back as the owner of Thunder Mountain Speedway. On Saturday night, the Whitney Point, N.Y., native wired the field to earn a $1,992 payday in the grand reopening of the three-eighths-mile facility. Wilcox fended off a stout field of big-block/small-block Modifieds in the 30-lap main.
Despite persistent afternoon showers, a large crowd filled the grandstands for Saturday’s lid-lifter, which started approximately one hour late due to a heavy storm that rolled through at approximately 5:45 p.m. The evening marked the return of Spoonhower ownership to Thunder Mountain after seven years away from the sport.
“I’m so glad to be back,” Wilcox said in Victory Lane after exiting his Chris Clark- and Tom Coar-owned Sharkey’s Fuels No. 27. “The only reason I’m back is because Karl has this place again. I love racing at Thunder Mountain.”
Wilcox started the main from the outside pole and drove into the lead at the outset. Brett Tonkin was the race’s biggest mover early on. The Carbondale, Pa., driver started fifth and wheeled into second spot by lap six.
One lap later, first-year Thunder Mountain regular Brian Malcolm – Wilcox’s teammate who started seventh – raced into the top-three.
Tonkin offered his most formidable challenge to Wilcox following a lap-14 double-file restart. Exiting turn two, Tonkin’s No. 15 edged in front of Wilcox. However, Wilcox nosed back in front shortly after the halfway mark.
Despite a pair of cautions in the event’s final third, Wilcox drove to Victory Lane, starting off his pursuit of the 2014 Modified championship, worth $5,000, in style.
Tonkin registered a second-place effort, worth an increased $1,000. Malcolm, of Lake Ariel, Pa., placed third, ahead of Nick Rochinski (Dickson City, Pa.) and 11th-starter Danny Johnson of Rochester, N.Y. Johnson was driving the Lisa Maroney-backed No. 27J.
Despite no increase in pit or grandstand admission, the top-five Modified drivers enjoyed a boosted payout as part of the ‘Grand Reopening’ celebration.
In a battle of siblings, younger brother Chance Spoonhower of Berkshire, N.Y., edged Billy Spoonhower to win the 20-lap Sportsman main. The victory was worth $700 thanks to sponsor Howard Jones Logging & Firewood.
Chance Spoonhower paced the entire distance, but not without significant pressure from his brother, with whom he raced side-by-side for the last five circuits of the main. Charlie Hendrickson Jr., who started 12th, charged through the field to finish third, followed by Butch Green and Marshall Balzer.
Jordy Decker of Berkshire, N.Y., wired the 12-lap main for the Rookie Sportsman division.
Matt Spencer of Binghamton, N.Y., won his first career Thunder Mountain Street Stock main event following a back-and-forth battle with Jonathan Carpenter in the division’s 20-lap main. Spencer, who started from the pole, led the first eight laps before Carpenter – from fifth on the grid – drove to the top spot utilizing the outside lane.
Spencer, working the inside, stalked Carpenter for several circuits before reclaiming the top spot on lap 15. Carpenter settled for second. Earl Zimmer, Rich Sharpsteen and Daryl Krebs trailed.
Bob Crandall of Sidney, N.Y. thwarted a late charge from Brandon Clapperton to annex the 12-lap Empire Sport Truck event.
Isaiah Forward got the best of a late-race battle with Trevor Dudley to win the Four Cylinder 15-lap event. The Bouckville, N.Y., driver took over the lead on lap seven and successfully snaked through lapped traffic with Dudley on his bumper to earn the win. Dudley, Ken Underwood, Mark Wheeler and Rick Sinsabaugh trailed.
Leading from start-to-finish in the 15-lap Pure Stock main, Buck Mills Jr. of Newark Valley, N.Y., opened his Thunder Mountain season in Victory Lane. Mike Morse, Zack Mills, Kevin Garland and Mitch Quail Jr. followed Mills across the line.