Lance Willix Opens 2023 Racing Season At Can-Am With DIRTcar 358-Modified Win Friday
Story By: TIM BALTZ / CAN-AM SPEEDWAY – LAFARGEVILLE, NY – The A great crowd was on hand at the Can Am Speedway this past Friday night with nearly 100 cars in the pit area.
Number One Speed and VP Racing Fuel representatives along with the great race fans were on hand and treated to so exciting racing in all 6 divisions
The night started off with a 12-lap feature event for the Donath Motorworx Limited Sportsman. Keegan Nier would start on the front row for the event and begin to author a dominating performance in the early laps. Behind the leader Dylan Moore was looking great in his debut as he charged to second as Dustin Woods was right there to challenge from third. Nier had a lead of nearly a full straight away just past the halfway point. With the race going caution free Keegan Nier would drive away to a half track lead claiming the opening day win with Dylan Moore and Dustin Woods completing the podium.
A three-car spin in turn 4 on lap 2 was the only thing that slowed Dakota Sharp and his quest for his first ever win in the FABCO DIRTCar Pro Stocks. Sharp jumped into the lead early with Kevin Fetterly Jr. and Burton Ward giving chase. Sharp had the car to beat but charging through the field was Pete Stefanski. The 4-time DIRTCar Pro Stock Series Champion, made his way into the top 3 just before halfway and would run down the race leader. Sharp continued to run the low lane with Stefanski in his tire tracks while behind them, Sid Harmer Jr. was making a late race charge and would be a factor at the finish. With two laps to go Sharp continued to lead but Harmer was flying on the top lane taking second from Stefanski and would close quickly on the leader. However, Harmer would run out of time as Dakota Sharp would bring it home for an emotional first career win. Harmer crossed in second with Pete Stefanski crossing in third.
The 25 lap Whitesboro Plow Shop DIRTCar 358 Modified feature was a classic battle between some of the best in the history of the speedway. 2019 track champion Ryan Arbuthnot led the way early over Taylor Caprara, Derek Webb, Scott Webb and 6-time track champion Billy Dunn. Arbuthnot had a solid car in the opening laps but Caprara was not going away as he stayed close by in the number 2 spot, but Billy Dunn was on the move. Dunn started 6th and would make his way to the top 3 by the halfway point, as the leaders entered traffic with Arbuthnot and Caprara continuing to show the way. Lance Willix was also moving forward and would make some noise in the later stages. With 10 to go Billy Dunn was tired of running second and made a big move in traffic to take over the lead from Arbuthnot, while Willix moved to third over Taylor Caprara and Tim Fuller. Dunn appeared to have the better car but on lap 22 Willix saw an opening in traffic in turn 3 and would grab the lead away. From there Willix would work the traffic perfectly and march on to his 2nd ever Can-Am victory and first since July 31st of 2020. Dunn came home 2nd while Tim Fuller made a late race pass on Ryan Arbuthnot and Taylor Caprara to complete the top three.
Remington Hamm won his heat race early in the day and would lead the field of 31 Bob Johnson Auto Group DIRTCar Sportsman drivers to green with Ryan Shanahan and Gavin Eisle right there with him. Hamm had a great car in the early laps but Ryan Shanahan was quick, as he put the pressure on for the race lead. On lap 9 Shanahan went to the top lane and would take over the lead with Gavin Eisle in the third spot, while Mike Fowler and Eric Nier both had strong top 5 runs going. Once in the lead, Ryan Shanahan had the dominant car of the night as he drove away from Remington Hamm and the rest of the field while behind them, defending track champion Tyler Corcoran was making some big moves late in the race. Corcoran would charge to third, using the outside lane and would close in on Hamm for second, but by this time Ryan Shanahan had checked out on the field. In the end, after going winless in 2022, Ryan Shanahan would take care of business by scoring his first win in over a year at Can Am. Tyler Corcoran would barely edge out Remington Hamm for second, with Mike Fowler and Eric Nier completing the top 5.
A solid field of Panther Frameworx 602 Crate Sprints took the green flag and Tucker Donath looked to be the driver to beat early on with Tiger Chapman and defending track champion Josh Verne Jr. completing the top three. Donath had a fast car but Verne, who had mechanical problems early in the night, would be a factor before the finish. By lap 9 Verne had moved to second and was charging after Donath down the back stretch as the top 2 put on a great show for the fans. With 5 to go Josh Verne Jr. would make the move on the top lane for the lead and go unchallenged the rest of the way, for his 6th career win in the division and first opening day win. Donath and Chapman rounded out the top 3.
The 15 lap Sundance Leisure Thundercar division closed out a great night of racing with a great finish. Francois White, who was pulling double duty, having just completed the Panther Frameworx 602 Sprint Car feature, would take the lead early with Damien Bechler and Steve Smith completing the top three spots. A restart on lap 6 would see Bechler grab the lead briefly but White was fast and was able to reclaim the number one position, one lap later. White appeared to be in complete control but was showing signs of brake problems, as the rotors on his car were glowing, allowing Steve Smith to close in. Despite the glowing brake rotors, White would not be denied as he held on for the win, his first of the year and third win in the last four races, dating back to the end of the 2022 season. Steve Smith and Damien Bechler would complete the top 3.
Next week five divisions will be on hand for Cinco de Mayo Frenzy night at the speedway. The FABCO DIRTCar Pro stocks have the night off but will return for a Night of Remembrance on May 19th.
Modified Feature (25 Laps): 1. 31-Lance Willix; 2. 49-Billy Dunn; 3. 19-Tim Fuller; 4. 21C-Taylor Caprara; 5. R70-Ryan Arbuthnot; 6. 18W-Scott Webb; 7. 83X-Tim Sears Jr; 8. 66W-Derek Webb; 9. 28-Jordan McCreadie; 10. 23J-Jeff Sykes; 11. 39-Ryan Bartlett; 12. 60-Jackson Gill; 13. 7S-Shaun Shaw; 14. 25P-Michael Parent; 15. 45R-Preston Forbes; 16. 9-Tyler Meeks; 17. 29-Matt Caprara; 18. 01-Chris Raabe; 19. 1-Jack Meeks; 20. 151KB-Brian McDonald; 21. 27W-Nick Webb; 22. 38J-Jarrett Herbison; 23. 24-Jordan Kelly; 24. 74-Lucas Fuller; 25. 23-Cameron Black; 26. 6-Justin Mason; 27. 96-JF Corriveau; 28. 55-Dan Reif; 29. 26-Michael Mandigo
Sportsman Feature (20 Laps): 1. 32RS-Ryan Shanahan; 2. 64-Tyler Corcoran; 3. 57H-Remington Hamm; 4. 410-Mike Fowler; 5. 34-Eric Nier; 6. 52-Jessica Power; 7. 91-Josh Reome; 8. FOX28-Tyler Stevenson; 9. 31B-Ryan Dolbear; 10. 35B-Brennan Moore; 11. 94-Gabriel Cyr; 12. 88Z-Bobby Herrington; 13. 6-Brian Hudson; 14. 22C-Cederic Gauvreau; 15. 10B-Jamie Brown; 16. 92-Frank Sibley; 17. 88J-Justin Cyr; 18. 7O7-Greg Brinklow; 19. 83D-Dustin Bradley; 20. 7D-Dustin Hutton; 21. 95-Kearra Backus; 22. 1D-Paul DeRuyter; 23. 17-Owen Nier; 24. 03-Joshua Jock; 25. 32-Joe Trichilo; 26. 12S-Kyle Sharp; 27. 5R-Steve Roberts; 28. 18-Gavin Eisele; 29. 62-Jonathan Murphy; 30. 2-Taylor Doxtater; 31. 11X-Devon Guyette
Pro Stock Feature (20 Laps): 1. 12S-Dakota Sharp; 2. 690R-Sid Harmer Jr; 3. 2-Pete Stefanski; 4. 57K-Kevin Fetterly Jr; 5. 28-Burton Ward; 6. 75-Eli Gilbert; 7. 72G-Denis Gauvreau; 8. 16X-Tim Bailey; 9. 22B-Blayne Nichols; 10. 1X-Ian Bressette; 11. (DNS) 3-Rick Dusckas; 12. (DNS) 41-Terry Gardner
602 Crate Sprint Car Feature (15 Laps): 1. 1V-Josh Verne Jr; 2. Z28-Tucker Donath; 3. 271-Tiger Chapman; 4. 87-Andrew Hennessy; 5. 73-Michael Cousins; 6. 88-Bruno Richard; 7. 23M-Francis White; 8. 00-Ryan Poole
Limited Sportsman Feature (12 Laps): 1. 34-Keegan Nier; 2. 35D-Dylan Moore; 3. 16-Dustin Woods; 4. 21L-Skylar Ladouceur; 5. 54-Brady Howard; 6. 33-Alan McDonald; 7. 11-Genavieve Bartlett
Thundercar Feature (15 Laps): 1. 60-Francis White; 2. 16-Steve Smith; 3. 26R-Damien Bechler; 4. 13-Remington Hamm; 5. 94-OJ White; 6. 5M-Ray Bechler; 7. 61-Lyle Robinson; 8. X-Travis Berkman; 9. (DNS) 111J-Anthony St Mary Jr; 10. (DNS) 22J-Jared Gilson; 11. (DNS) 11J-Justin Burns