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Utter Powers To Second ELS Win At Albany-Saratoga

By Toby LaGrange
Malta, NY - To say that Ralph Utter, Jr. has figured out the Albany-Saratoga Speedway would be an enormous understatement. The New Jersey native won Friday night’s 20 lap Empire Lightning Sprint feature event at the Malta, New York oval.

Gary Reyer and John Cassaza led the stout field to the green with Reyer taking the early lead. On lap three Cassaza was the meat in an ELS sandwich, being split by Justin Phillips and Shaun Gosselin which forced the Southbury, Connecticut driver back to the fourth position. Gosselin would take hold of second with Cassaza third.

Meanwhile Utter was on the move. After starting twelfth, he was up to eighth by the end of lap one and then fourth on lap four. Reyer meanwhile was still out front however Gosselin was all over the rear end of Reyer’s All Electric #4r.

On lap four Gosselin took the lead but his time out front was very short. Utter went from fourth to the lead before lap four could be completed. The races first caution would wave on lap six when Jon Moore would spin in turn two. The restart would see Utter pull away however the battle was on for fifth between Matt Norrie and Mike Kiser with Norrie getting the spot.

At the half way point Utter had a convincing lead over Phillips – who had just gotten past Gosselin for second, Gosselin, Matt Norrie and Doug Norrie. The second of six caution flags would occur on lap eleven when Fred Hoffman would come to a stop in turn four.

After a failed restart attempt Utter would continue leading however the action behind him was fierce. Doug Norrie started to make a charge, passing Matt Norrie for fourth and Gosselin for third. Matt would follow into fourth. On lap 16 Doug would take the New Boston Crane Service/K&S Power Sports number 92m past Phillips for second and set his sights on Utter.

Tim Durland would bring out a caution on lap 18, which would give Norrie a shot at Utter. On the restart Norrie would give it everything he had and in doing so drove into turns three and four a bit to hard, spinning his beautiful racer in front of the field. No less than five other cars were collected including Matt Norrie, Kiser, Dan Nappi, Joe Askew and Durland.

The jingle moved Phillips back into second for the races final restart. When the race went back to green Utter pulled away only to have Askew and Christian Wright get together, causing the race to end under a checkered/yellow condition.

Utter would claim his second win of the season over Phillips, Moore, Gosselin and Scott Goodrich. Earlier in the evening the heat races were won by Matt Norrie, Gosselin and Utter. A total of 25 cars entered the second ever ELS race.

The Empire Lightning Sprints return to action on Sunday June 14th at the Devils Bowl Speedway in Vermont. For more information on the ELS consult their website at

ELS Extras

- A scary wreck occurred in the second heat race when Doug Norrie would get together Art Kiser. The contact would send Kiser into Joe Szczapa, causing both drivers to flip violently. Neither driver was injured.

- Kiser’s night was finished however Szczapa was somehow able pull away.

- Among the three drivers who signed in however did not compete was Rick Russell whose Ullery Racing Products and Fabrication number 76 suffered mechanical issues during hot laps.

- The ELS drivers utilize the same transponder system as the tracks weekly divisions. Those times showed that the winged warriors were turning times as quick and in some cases quicker than the Modifieds.

- The ELS portion of the show was completed before 10 pm.

Feature Finish (20 Laps) – Ralph Utter, Jr., Justin Phillips, Jon Moore, Shaun Gosselin, Scott Goodrich, Jamie Kiser, Gary Reyer, John Cassaza, Joe Szczapa, Doug Norrie, Mike Kiser, Tim Durland, Matt Norrie, Joe Askew, Glenn Sullivan, Christian Wright, Will Cassaza, Dan Nappi, Jerry Sehn, Fred Hoffman, Steve Lapine.

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