VERNON, N.Y. – Davie Franek has very limited experience at Utica-Rome Speedway in his career.
The Wantage, N.J., driver has made it a point this season to get out on the road and hit more shows in New York rather than closer to home. After Sunday night it’s easy to say that Franek is quickly finding his groove in the Empire States.
For the first time the Panther Frameworx Cole Cup powered by Donath Motor Worx was a 50-lap A-Main format. At the conclusion, it was Franek taking home the Cole Cup, the big check and a $5,000 payday.
“Definitely the biggest win of my career for sure,” commented Franek afterwards. “To do it at Utica-Rome, it’s a place we’ve struggled at. We just kept working on it and kept working on it going to our notes. We put our heads together and we knew what we had to do. Everything just fell our way. The car was really, really good tonight.”
The Cole Cup got underway with Canadian Dylan Westbrook controlling the pace from his pole starting spot. Westbrook battled Joe Trenca on the opening lap before securing the lead. He remained the leader before the first caution came for a spinning Larry Wight on lap six.
Westbrook remained in the top spot on the restart with Franek moving up to second and Trenca falling back to third. Franek stalked Westbrook for the top spot only to have him be up to the challenge in the early stages of the extra-distance affair.
There were 15-laps complete when Danny Varin entered the fray with the top two as all three of them raced in traffic. Varin pulled an amazing three-wide move to go from third to first on lap 17 as the trio raced off the second turn.
Varin showed the way until a bobble on lap 21 allowed Westbrook to sneak back by him for the lead. Franek did the same relegating Varin back to third. They remained the top three when the competition red flag period was called for after 25 laps were complete.
After a 10-minute break the cars were refired with Westbrook holding the race lead and Franek pulling up next to him for the green flag. It was all Westbrook and Franek at this point while Matt Tanner made the move to take over the third position at the green.
Caution was needed on lap 32 as Jonathan Preston got off the top of turn four. Once racing resumed Westbrook hit throttle to bring the field to green and as he did the car pulled a wheel-stand coming down the frontstretch allowing Franek to take over as the leader. At the same time Chuck Hebing moved up to second.
“I saw him pull the wheelie and I knew I had to beat him down into turn one,” stated Franek about the pass for the lead. “I beat him down into one and set sail there. I knew as long as I kept my speed up and everything, hit my marks, I was carrying enough wing speed and everything was good. I didn’t think anyone was going to blow around me.”
Franek and Hebing showed the way while Westbrook was forced to contend with Tanner for the third spot. While the top three mixed it up Shawn Donath and Larry Wight, who both ran the B-Main, were working their to the front to become contenders.
Franek found himself in traffic on lap 39 allowing Hebing to close in to challenge for the lead. Before Hebing could make his move one final yellow came on lap 41 for Paulie Colagiovanni as he spun in turn two.
Hebing pulled along-side of Franke on the restart while Tanner looked down to the bottom as field raced into turn one. It was all for naught as Franek went on to take the checkers for his first ever Utica-Rome Speedway win. Hebing came home second while Tanner, Wight and Donath completed the top five.
Davie Franek, Chuck Hebing, Matt Tanner, Larry Wight, Shawn Donath, Jason Barney, Scott Holcomb, Dylan Westbrook, Billy VanInwegen, Danny Varin, Lucas Wolfe, Josh Pieniazek, Paulie Colagiovanni, Dylan Swiernik, Denny Peebles, Joe Trenca, Chad Miller, Mike Kiser, Josh Flint, Jeff Cook, Jonathan Preston, Emily VanInwegen, Parker Evans.