Two of four Nevada drivers place in top-10 at annual Vukovich Classic

Amy Lisenbe/Nevada Appeal

Amy Lisenbe/Nevada Appeal

MADERA, CALIF. - Reno's C&M Motorsports driver Ernie Coppo Jr. managed a seventh-place finish and Whitey Janssen of Dayton held on for 10th at the Annual Vukovich Classic Saturday at Madera Speedway for the Supermodified Racing Association.

The driver with eight of the classic wins to his credit is Troy Regier of Dinuba, Calif., who drives for S&S Motorsports of Carson City. Regier began the day by posting fast time out of 20 supermodifieds. He also won his heat race and was looking for a good run in the main event.

However, Lady Luck was not on his side, but did make an appearance for Coppo, Janssen and Eric Silsby of Minden, who drove for Donnie Large of Lompoc, Calif., in one of Large's 360 supermodifieds.

The 50-lap main event started cleanly for 21 racecars and worked through 5 laps before a caution flew for a stopped car in turn 4. After four restarts, Regier had worked his way through traffic from the eighth to second when on lap 12, the front panhard bar broke and Regier had to pull the car to the infield. He was out of the race.

"It was just one of those freak deals (bar breaking)," Regier said after the race. "The car started out loose at first, then was coming around.

"That bar breaking is a freaky thing happening."

The panhard bar holds the front axle and wheels together within the chassis (laterally), in place.

As the race continued, Coppo was trying to hold his fourth-place position; Janssen, who started on the pole and is in just his second full season of supermodified racing, slipped back through the field as Silsby did his best to maintain a car with much less horsepower than the 410s.

"The car was faster on the bottom so I tried to work with it," Silsby said. "But I finished. All in all, the car was good."

"My car was loose and tight," an exhausted Coppo said. "She was a handful.

"I tried different lines to see what the car would like and she didn't like anything. I'm tired."

Janssen also showed signs of fatigue as he commented on his car's conditions.

"I fought the car the whole race," Janssen said. "It had a vibration in it then got loose on me.

"I'm so worn out. That was 50 laps of fighting, not racing."

After lap 6 the race was paced by Jeff Russell of Boise, Idaho, who ran fast and clean to the checkered flag, followed by Justin Belfiore of Ipswich, Mass., Bryan Warf of Boise in third and Bobby Dalton of San Martin, Calif., fourth, the only cars on the lead lap.

Finishing one lap down were: Mike McCann, Martin McKeefery, Coppo and Jim Birges; two laps down were Janssen, Pat Whittet and David Tuey; 47 laps was Lance Tatro, Silsby and Kenny Kinchen; 46 laps Kenny White; 43 laps David Prickett; 20 laps David Gassett; Regier; Larry Hines and Donnie Large.

Regier won the first heat with Belfiore second and Coppo third. Whittet won the second heat over Russell and Warf; Birges won the third heat over Dalton and McKeefery. Birges won the trophy dash.

"We really need to thank Jim and Norma Regier, Donn Simons, Ron Burdg and Capital City Auto Parts for helping us race," said Steve Shaw, co-owner of S&S Motorsports.

"With the economy the way it is, we are very grateful to our sponsors, and are always looking for more help."

The SMRA next races June 14 at Madera Speedway. For information, visit or for information on S&S Motorsports go to


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