By: TIM BALTZ – HOGANSBURG, NY – After many seasons of crowning champions at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, the 2019 track and series champions at Mohawk International Raceway will receive their awards on Saturday March 28th at the Route 37 Steakhouse and Lounge in Hogansburg New York.
Despite the new banquet venue, many familiar faces will be receiving titles from the 2019 season. In the Twin Leaf Stores 358 Modified division Chris Raabe notched his 2nd career track championship 8 seasons after his first title in 2011, his rookie year in the modified ranks. The Alexandria native would have another solid season notching his 3rd career Memorial Cup win on May 24th, one of his division leading 3 wins on the season. The Memorial Cup win saw him join Carey Terrance and Dave Heaslip, to win the coveted event more than three times Raabe also became the 9th driver to win multiple track titles. The MIR 358 Modified series saw Tim Fuller notch his third straight title becoming the first driver to accomplish the feat in the short history of the series. Despite a season that saw him have to sit out for a couple of weeks after foot surgery, the Edwards native and two-time track champion, had a solid run with a 2nd place finish in the series opener on May 24th, followed by his 4th career series win on July 5th. Fuller added a 2nd place finish to teammate Michael Maresca in the season finale on August 30th to secure the title once again.
In the Crossroads Tobacco Sportsman division Shane Pecore started out the year in the Gauvreau Racing ride to help get them in the right direction. He did just that by winning the first two events of the year and with the points lead in hand decided to finish off something he came up short for in the 2015 season, a track title. The St. Andrews native would add two more victories towards the end of the year for a total of 4 feature wins and his first ever MIR Sportsman track title. Pecore also dominated a series he had been successful in over the years as he claimed his 3rd MIR Sportsman Series title in the last 5 years with a dominant showing. After a 2nd place effort to 2018 track champion Brianna Ladouceur on June 21st, Pecore would win the next three series races in a row to not only win the championship, but also tie Dylan Evoy for the most wins in series history with 7.
The 2019 Mod Lite champion began his season with a win but Kevin Foster was more known this year as a guy who was the runner up for nearly half of the year. The newly crowned track champion would run a string of 5 straight 2nd place finishes from June 7th until July 12th before finally getting back to victory lane in back to back weeks on July. 26th and August 2nd. Foster would close out his title run with 3 wins and his 6th runner up finish of the season on August 30th to become the 8th different champion in the 9-year history of the division at Mohawk.
In 12 events for 2019 Bandit division one driver stood out above the rest as clearly the dominant force all season. Matt Zira had a season that nobody has seen in many years at MIR as he made it look easy on his way to his first track championship. The Edwards native started his first of five straight wins with his first of the year on June 21st. After a runner up finish on August 2nd, Zira came right back to win the final 3 events of the year winning the championship by over 100 points over Jeff Putnam and 3-time feature winner Francis White.
Dan Reif had a great season making the jump from a championship ride in the 2018 season in Mod Lite to a championship ride in Novice Sportsman by 18 points over Dan Beachard and 41 ahead of 3rd place point man Joshua Pete. Reif ran consistent all season in his machine and eventually scored the first two wins of his career in back to back weeks on August 16th and August 23rd, one of 7 drivers to visit victory lane. Drivers who won in Novice Sportsman this year included Kurt Russell, Nolan Swamp, Dale Gonyo, Dan Beachard, Jonathon Rush, Deric Ellsworth with 2 wins and Gavin Riddell would lead all drivers with 3 feature wins.
Doors will open at the Route 37 Steakhouse and Lounge at 4pm with dinner at 5pm. The awards ceremony will take place following the meal after 6:30pm. Tickets are $30 American or $35 Canadian and can be purchased by going to the link on the speedway website at mohawkintlraceway.com. Hotel rooms are also available at the Comfort Inn by calling 518-358-1000 using the code MIR Banquet. Anyone wishing to attend the 2019 awards ceremony is asked to purchase tickets on the MIR website by March 20th.