Owego, New York
Owego, New York, USA
June 25, 2005
By Jason Bonsignore
New York State Championship
While leaving the track after the New York State Speedway Championships each of the last two seasons, Tommy “Gator” Sephton (180) couldn’t help feeling robbed. The 2002 State Champion had been leading the 2003 main event twice before Cam Rafferty won on the third try, and in 2004 he had been in the lead twice before Jeremy Parsons won the third start as well. This time around, Sephton was on a mission, and he took the title convincingly, with his only loss coming in his last heat race (as a result of a flat tire).
After being staged at Action Park East each of the last three years, the State Championship was moved to Champion Speedway in Owego for 2005. Several former champions were in the deep field of 16, including Sephton, Parsons, and 1983 champ Tuff McBride, who was expected to be in the running after a strong performance in his comeback event two weeks earlier but had been suffering with a shoulder injury that became aggravated early in the night, and he pulled out of the event after two rounds. The race was run on an excellent track that developed a nice outside, but temperatures were up in the high 90s, which had a negative effect on several riders.
The first round of heats produced wins from Sephton, Lenny McBride, Tom Burge and Parsons. Second places went to Mikey Buman, Brian Hollenbeck, Casey Donholt and Gene Bonsignore.
Round two began with Burge defeating Chris Strong, Lenny beating Keith Hawkins, Sephton getting three points over Donholt, and Parsons besting Merle Craven.
The third heat round saw a dominating Lenny McBride continue his winning ways against Parsons. Adam Mittl scored his first win over Buman. Sephton stayed undefeated by beating Burge, and Hollenbeck notched one on Bonsignore.
As the final round began, it looked like Sephton was going to have some very stiff competition from Lenny, who was dominating his races, but Lenny scored a zero in his last heat due to a lost float-bowl nut. Sephton then was thrown a curveball; he had passed Parsons in his last heat for the lead, only to suffer a flat tire. These events stopped Sephton and Lenny from transferring directly to the final as the top points scorers and relegated them to the semis. Picking up wins were Hollenbeck over Mittl, Donholt over Bonsignore, Parsons over Strong, and Burge over Craven. When points were tallied up, Burge and Parsons were able to avoid the semis.
In semi number one, Lenny was back in top form, scoring the win over Strong, Craven and Bonsignore.
Semi two was all Sephton’s, as he ran away from Hollenbeck, Mittl and Donholt.
Mittl, who has been somewhat of a big surprise this season, stormed through the last-chance qualifier to secure his place in the big race. Craven was second, Hollenbeck was third, and Strong was fourth.
Many in attendance couldn’t help but wonder if the main event would end in controversy, as it has the last several years. When one of the favorites, Red Line Oil/Justice Brothers/NGK Spark Plugs-sponsored Lenny McBride, wheelied and looped his bike from gate four on the initial start, some people thought, “Here we go again, more restarts!”
Surprisingly, though, the second event was run without trouble. Sephton came from gate one, and it was no shock as to the outcome. The Metro Racing-sponsored Sephton was first to turn one, and he ran away from the pack for his second New York State Championship title. Burge squeaked into second, ahead of Parsons, and McBride, who was coming from the 10-yard line, held off Mittl for fourth.
New York State Championship
1. Tom Sephton
2. Tom Burge
3. Jeremy Parsons
4. Lenny McBride (from the penalty line)
5. Adam Mittl
1. Andy Pandich
2. Jesse Diem
3. Shawn Engel
4. Dee Holden
5. Mark Fillebrown