Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – BATAVIA, NY – Phil Vigneri III redrew pole position, and it was all she wrote in the DIRTCar Sportsman Series Western Regional, USA opener at Genesee Speedway on Thursday night.
“We had a really good car. Set up to run the top, that’s kind of been common here. I got the opportunity to start outside the front row and got it done,” Vigneri told RPW post-race.
All it took for that fast car was one change to the setup, and PV3 parked it.
“We went outside the box here with no weekly points on the line. We tried some things we wanted to try, and I really think the car’s better with it. Mid-point in the season, I think it’ll be a good turning point for us. Hopefully, we can keep it going in the weekly stuff.”
Despite heavy storm threats in the WNY region, it turned out overcast to clear skies throughout the night. The race brought not just WNY locals but also central region invaders and a Canadian.
The race turned out to be excellent as a whole, with only one caution for a three-car incident in turn four involving Brett Martin, Brandon Michaud, and Brad Rouse, as the leader was on lap three.
Before the halfway mark was when Vigneri hit lap traffic, “PV3” held a near three-second lead, and it was all about dodging them to get to victory lane.
“It just keeps your composure, hit your marks. You’re forced to move down to the bottom. Don’t get crazy. Just hit your marks. When you can, get to the top. All the guys raced me clean in lapped traffic, so got to respect that,” Vigneri explained.
An issue did develop with five to go as his steering box started to give out.
“The front end got heavy. I think my steering box is messed up. Luckily there wasn’t a restart. Who knows what would’ve happened?”
This win comes 22 years after Phil’s father, Phil Vigneri Jr., took the checkers in the same race at Genesee.
Ryan Barrett finished a career-high second place in a Sportsman and took it as a win.
“I’m just beyond happy. I had no faith, and it turned out to be a great night for my family,” Barrett said, who is 8th in track standings after finishing 13th last year at the 1/3 mile track.
The 2nd year Sportsman driver in the class finished P3 in heat three, giving him the final redraw spot. Thanks to the luck, his fate found him starting second after no one drew the pill.
“Normally, when I used to start up front last year, I go backward. That’s not the case with this car. This Bicknell was phenomenal,” said Barrett, a big confidence booster for the young driver.
23 drivers checked in for the Sportsman Series West Region opening round. Its next stop going to the Land of Legends Raceway on the 30th in a conjunction race with the Central Region. It is also a qualifying race for the Gerald Haers Memorial Sportsman Challenge, happening at the end of the year.
For more with Vigneri, Barrett, and third place Jim Harbison, head to the RSN Trackside Facebook page.
DIRTCar Sportsman (35 Laps)
12v Phil Vigneri III (13:28.053), 2. 21 Ryan Barrett (2.901s), 3. 18w Jim Harison (3.443s), 4. 22 Noah Walker (4.714s), 5. 108 Billy Bleich (6.932s), 6. 35t Cam Tuttle (7.276s), 7. 26 Kyle Richner (7.891s), 8. 410 Mike Fowler (7.987s), 9. 44 Dave Conant (8.572s), 10. 132 Dalton Martin, 11. 2v Larry Vick (12.347s), 12. 132 Brandon Michaud (13.215s), 13. 14 Jordan Moden (14.838s), 14. 27z Ray Bliss (15.183s), 15. 00 Sam Hoxie (-1L), 16. 71 Jake Bansmer (-1L), 17. 18R Brad Rouse (-1L), 18. 66 Brett Martin (-1L), 19. 73g Gordy Hermanson (-11L), 20. 3N Noah Mamo (-18L), 21. 63 Jessica Kriegisch (-21L), 22. 18 Clifford Gregg (-30L), 23. Justin McKay (DNS)
Heat Winners: 18w Harbison, 22 Walker, 410 Fowler