Reynolds outduels Gille, captures second Late Model win

The old guy, as he is known by race fans, Gene Marocco, 73, of Rockford, showed the way for all the youngsters Saturday night, taking the victory in the 20-lap Rockstar Energy Drink Road Runner feature event. (Photo by Jim Ambruoso, courtesy of Rockford Speedway)

By Eric Huenefeld

LOVES PARK, Ill. — As tradition goes, when the weather gets hot, so does “Driver X,” Jon Reynolds Jr.

Reynolds, who won the Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Model feature two weeks ago at Rockford Speedway, was again top dog Saturday night, June 22, winning a caution-free 30-lap feature and topping three-time track champion Jerry Gille in doing so.

Joel Clossey led the field to green, taking the early race lead from outside pole-sitter Mark Hartline. Very quickly, Reynolds would move to the runner-up spot, pursuing Clossey. On lap three, Reynolds made the move past Clossey, and assumed the race lead. However, behind Reynolds, Gille also continued to forge his way toward the front.

Gille jumped to Reynolds’ back bumper, and for the next 20 laps, would try every possible angle in his pursuit of Reynolds. Reynolds held off Gille’s advances for the lead, en route to his second triumph of the year.

Gille took the runner-up spot, while Alex Papini would finish in the third spot. Papini, the division’s point leader, closed to within a car length of the top two, but settled for third spot. Jake Gille, who took the Gerber Collision and Glass Ultimate Challenge, came from the back of the field to finish in fourth place, while Mitch Garfield rounded out the top five.

The Bargain Hunter Sportsman division feature was action-packed and crowded. Seventeen of the Sportsman cars took the green flag, and at the end of the race, it was one of the least experienced of the Sportsman drivers taking the win.

In only his second Sportsman feature race ever, Kyle Lapier was the big winner of the 25-lap main event. Lapier, who climbed from fifth-place starting spot, ripped the lead away from Howie Ware on lap 12, and stormed away from the pack, en route to his first-ever Sportsman feature win.

Lapier was followed to the line by Austin Nason, who made his first start in a Sportsman car in more than a year while taking a runner-up finish.

Nason advanced 10 starting spots from his 12th starting position on the way to his second-place finish. 2012 track champion Doug Bennett finished in third spot.

73-year-old Gene Marocco showed the way for all the youngsters Saturday night, taking the victory in the 20-lap Rockstar Energy Drink Road Runner feature event. The win was Marocco’s first of the year, while using a borrowed engine. Marocco stole the lead from James Gregory on lap 12, a lap after Gregory inherited the lead from Jonathon Stotlz in a wild exchange. Road Runner point leader Terrance Robinson came all the way from 16th starting spot to capture second. Joey Thomas came across the line in third, followed by Arlyn Roush and Gregory.

Antioch’s David Cerer topped a thrilling 25-lap American Super Cup feature. Cerer held off the last-lap advances of teen-ager Cody Erdmann to take the win. Erdmann finished second, while Mick Ellis took home third.

Upcoming at the track

Wednesday night June 26, at 7:07 p.m., it’s the second “Wild Wednesday” of the year, and it’s also “Faith Night” featuring the “Fastor Pastor Races.” The Wild Wednesday racing lineup includes the Road Runner Super Summer Series, Bandits, Misfits, Winged Women on Wheels and Super Cup cars as well as One-on-One Spectacular Drags and the Wild and Crazy Figure 8 race. Every Wild Wednesday is also Dollar Beer Night. Adult admission is $9. Spectator gates open at 5:30 p.m.

Saturday night, June 29, at 7:07 p.m., is “Stan Burdick Night,” a salute to Burdick, who has been an employee at Rockford Speedway for every one of its 66 years of operation. A reception will be held for Burdick starting at 3 p.m. that afternoon under the Party Pavilion, and the public is invited to attend. On track, it’s Round II of the Cool 5 Series with the NASCAR Late Models, Sportsman, American Short Trackers and Road Runners. The Late Models will compete in a 76-lap feature event, the “Star Spangled 76.” Spectator gates open at 5 p.m., time trials begin at 5:55 p.m. Adult general admission is $12, students 12-17 are $8, kids ages 6-11 are $5, and kids age 5 and younger are free.

Visit or call the box office at (815) 633-1500.

From the June 26-July 2, 2013, issue

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