Latrobe Speedway finally gets an opening nightDJ Johnson
By DJ JOHNSON For The Bulletin
Latrobe Speedway’s 2023 season opener was under beautiful skies and excellent track conditions.
Taking opening night FAST-FIVES feature wins were E.J. Rozak (Pure Stocks), Michael Duritsky (Crate Late Models), Jacob Gomola (RaceSaver Sprint Cars), Colton McNaney (Modified 4 Cylinders), and Brian Noel (Stock 4 Cylinders).
The Pure Stocks were the first feature to hit the track for what was going to be the start of awesome FAST-FIVE features. With three wide at the start of the 12-lap feature, Rozak would lead them into turn one. As Rozak would maintain the point position, the battle for second was between the 22 of Corey Faris of Uniontown, and the 66 of Anthony Monteparte, from Jeannette. This battle raged on until lap 11, when Monteparte was able to pass the 22 coming to the stripe. With Rozak still in the lead, Monteparte ran out of laps to catch Rozak from New Salem.
Rozak explained in victory lane his struggle to build a new car which got him to victory lane at Latrobe Speedway.
“We struggled in ‘21 and ‘22 with everything, including building a new car,” Rozak said. “I’ll be honest with you; I did not see that (win) coming.”
Following Monteparte and Faris was Joey Koteles in fourth and John Cain to round out the top five.
During the feature, Monteparte carried the ashes of the recently departed Pure Stock driver of the No. 06, Bill Finlay, in the No. 66. Bill Finlay’s nephew, Luke Finlay, was the honorary starter for the feature.
In the Crate Late Model feature, Latrobe’s Joe Zulisky started on the pole alongside Troy Shields for what was going to be an exciting 20-lap feature event.
Shields jumped out to an early lead with Michael Duritsky in pursuit. On lap seven, Duritsky would pass Shields, and Shields would then battle with Clinton Hersh for second. Hersh would finally wrestle second away for Shields with two laps to go. Jeff Ferguson was fourth, and fifth was John Over.
The Jesse Sterbutzel Memorial $10,000 to-win feature for the Crate Late Models will feature some of the best drivers from multiple states. Also on the card will be a $2,500 to-win feature for the Super Late Models. There will be several drivers pulling double duty on June 3.
The RaceSaver 305 Sprint Cars were next, with Jarrett Rosencrance from Butler, alongside Reed Thompson of Petersburg.
Rosencrance took the lead, followed by Thompson and Jake Gamola. Fowler, Ohio’s Jim Morris was followed by another Buckeye, Tommy Jasen from Hubbard.
After having problems in the Heat race, Robbie Bartchy would jump up five spots before retiring for the evening.
On lap nine, with Rosencrance in the lead, Gamola would move under Rosencrance in turn three to have the lead exiting turn four.
Rosencrance was slowed by traffic between him and Gamola, and the 4 would keep the lead in the 15-lap feature until the Checkered flag flew.
Third was Thompson, followed by Morris, and in fifth was the Hard Charger of the race, Jasen.
The Mod 4’s was next to hit the big half-mile as nineteen cars were on hand.
Starting outside the front row, Colton McNaney of West Newton would pick up his first-ever win at the Latrobe Speedway.
The “Cobalt Cowboy” has three career wins.
Following McNaney were Jeremy Grubbs, Paul Koffler III, and Joe Jacobs, with Ed Leonard rounding out a competitive field.
In the Stock 4 Cylinders feature, the pole-sitter Brian Noel of Scottdale took home the win over CJ Parrill, Justin Connors, Mark Shaffer, and Dan Shortman.
Latrobe Speedway will be back in action Saturday, May 13, for Mother’s Day Spectacular with Big Block Modifieds, Crate Late Models, Pure Stocks, Mod 4 Cylinders, and the Penn/Ohio Pro Stocks.
SBN Promotion is in discussions with many Hobby Stock teams; due to the late start for many teams and the lack of available parts, the Hobby Stocks debut will be on Saturday, July 1.
“Along with the Hobby Stock teams, there was a buzz among the fan base to see this new division and how many cars have a throwback NASCAR paint scheme,” Dennis Bates said. “The Pro Stocks will replace the Hobby Stocks on Saturday.”
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