Jason Blonde Drives to Victory in Berlin Finale,
Gary Fedewa Announces Retirement

By Duane Turner

MARNE, Mich. (September 11, 2004) – 
In an interview with Jason Blonde on August 21, 2004 after a feature win at Kalamazoo Speedway, Jason Blonde said he just wanted to win races, and the points would take care of themselves. How true those words would be just three weeks later at the season championships for the Auto Value/ Bumper to Bumper Super Sprints at Berlin Raceway. Blonde took the lead away from Curt Shumaker on lap 11, and never looked back. “Did we tie?” Asked Blonde in victory lane, referring to the points championship race between himself and Bill Tyler. “I thought we were two down after that. This has been a pretty emotional night for a lot of people. With Gary Fedewa retiring, and the points with Bill (Tyler) and myself. The car was just awesome. I really need to thank Mo, Tal, Steve, Roger, Darren, Tyler, and of course Marv Carmen. Along with our sponsors Carman Farms, Caudill’s Scrap Metal, Sintered Metal Products, Bailey’s Engines, City Glass and Courtesy Car and Truck.”

As the 21 cars of the Auto Value/ Bumper to Bumper Super Sprints pulled through the gates for the final evening of racing in 2004, tension was in the air. Point battles were in high gear, and this was the last chance for any improvement in the standings. The most notable battles included a one-point separation between Bill Tyler, and Jason Blonde for the 2004 AVSS Championship. Also, Curt Shumaker, and Brian Lay would battle for the third position only 12 points apart.

The evening started with two hot laps sessions. After the two sessions, no guess could be taken as to who was faster, Blonde, or Tyler. With Tyler setting fast time during the first session, Blonde beat Tyler’s first session time by only a few thousandths of a second in the second session. During Hamilton Trucking Time Trails, Troy Underwood would be the first car to break the 13-second barrier at Berlin Raceway with a lap of 12.947. However, Tyler would edge Blonde by 0.080 seconds, and gain one point over Blonde before heat race action.

As the heat races pushed off, the 2004 AVSS Championship was now sitting at two points. 16 year old Tyler Underwood would claim the United Trailers Heat Race by edging out 16 year old Cameron Dodson. In the Dowker Engines Heat Race, Bill Tyler took the lead on the third lap from his seventh starting position, gaining another six points. Jason Blonde, however, would match Tyler in the Hoosier Racing Tire heat by taking the win after starting in the seventh position as well. The score after the heats: Bill Tyler 1103, Jason Blonde 1101. These two points equal one finishing position in the A-main.

After the 3-wide parade lap salute to the fans, the drivers settled into their starting positions for the 30-lap contest that was about to unfold. Ryan Katz and Curt Shumaker would bring the field down to the green flag, and when the green did wave, nearly 17,000 horsepower made its way down the front stretch and into turn one. Shumaker would take the early lead, with Katz, Blonde, Cameron Dodson, and Troy Underwood in tow. At the completion of the first lap, Blonde was sitting second, and was able to gain five points, giving him the lead by just three points. On lap three, Tyler would move past Troy Underwood on the high side of turn four to take over fifth, cutting Blonde’s lead to just two points.

On lap seven, Blonde would counter with a pass of his own in turn four. Blonde used the low side to take second away from Katz, and moved his points lead to four points. Three laps later, Blonde would close in on race leader Shumaker. On lap 11, Blonde moved past Shumaker on the low side of turn four to take over the lead as they entered lapped traffic. This now put Blonde up by six points over Tyler for the championship. One lap later, Tyler cut two points by passing Katz. Katz was slowing and would appear to be losing power in the Katz Well Drilling sponsored sprint car.

At the ½ way mark, Blonde was setting the pace, and turning faster laps than anyone else in the field. Dodson made a pass on Shumaker to take over second, with Tyler, and Underwood rounding out the top five. The very next lap, Tyler made a daring high side move in turn three to pull alongside Shumaker, and then make the pass exiting turn four to take over third, and cut Blonde’s lead back down to two points. With 10 laps to go, Blonde proved he would not be denied as he turned the fastest lap of the event with a time of 13.842. Behind Blonde, a furious battle was shaping up for second with Dodson and Tyler. Dodson, making only his second start ever in a pavement sprint car, was holding off the challenges of Tyler as the duo moved through lapped traffic. The break Tyler needed came late on lap 24 when Dodson broke loose exiting turn four, allowing Tyler to slip by on the bottom.

With only five laps to go in the 2004 season, Blonde and Tyler would race for position for the very first time this racing season. On lap 27, a lapped car would slide up in front of Blonde, allowing Tyler to close the gap a little, and bring the crowd to their feet. Tyler would get past the lapped car, and set his sights on the leader. With the laps winding down, Tyler would simply run out of time to catch Blonde, and finished a mere 0.833 seconds behind the race winner. Shumaker would hang on for third, with Dodson, and Underwood rounding out the top five. Brian Lay, Kevin Feeney, Jeff Bloom, Shane Butler and Gary Fedewa would complete the top 10.

“We had a good season, and I had a lot of help from a lot of good people.” Said Bill Tyler after the A-main. “I want to thank Thunder Chassis, Wellhoff Concrete, Southwest Trailers, and a ton of people and my guys that help me all year. It is amazing that you can race that hard, that long, all year, and come out to the last race this way in points. This is great. Win, lose, or draw, this is a great bunch of guys that we race with. Everybody supports everybody. We pit side by side, chum together, it is just a great group. I guess this is the best way for everybody.”

After 15 racing events (6 more were cancelled due to weather), and over 750 racing laps, the 2004 AVSS Championship would end in a tie. Jason Blonde, driving the Marv Carman owned #61, and Bill Tyler, driving the Bill Tyler Racing #24 will be crowned Co-Champions. Shane Butler from Bushnell, Florida will be the 2004 AVSS Rookie of the year.

Aside from the exciting action with Blonde and Tyler, a somber moment took place on this very same night. Gary Fedewa, a long time racer in the Michigan area, announced his retirement before the A-main pushed off. With over 1000 victories, and 40 championships to his credit, Gary Fedewa was surrounded by family and friends on his final night of racing. There is not a racetrack in Michigan, where to fans do not know who Gary Fedewa is. It is only fitting that a points race of this caliber would happen on this night. Thank you, Mr. Gary Fedewa.

Hamilton Trucking Time Trials: 1) 4 Troy Underwood 12.947 2) 24 Bill Tyler 12.964 3) 61 Jason Blonde 13.044 4) 8m Cameron Dodson 13.123 5) 71 Curt Shumaker 13.181 6) 35 Ryan Katz 13.241 7) 33 Kevin Feeney 13.274 8) 20 Brian Lay 13.295 9) 99 Mike Ling 13.312 10) 26 Jeff Bloom 13.641 11) 10 Shane Butler 13.649 12) 42 Gary Fedewa 13.812 13) 8 Ryan Davis 13.927 14) Z George Gustafson 14.047 15) 3a Mike Astrauskas 14.128 16) 7 Tyler Underwood 14.139 17) 69 Davey Brown 14.208 18). 34 Johnny Scherer 14.421 19) 11 E.J. Calloway 14.903 20) 17 Roger Anderson 15.426 21) 62 Eric Curry 16.332

United Trailers Heat #1 (No Time): 1) 7 Tyler Underwood 2) 8m Cameron Dodson 3) 26 Jeff Bloom 4) 4 Troy Underwood 5) 33 Kevin Feeney 6) 8 Ryan Davis 7) 11 E.J. Calloway

Dowker Engines Heat #2 (No Time): 1) 24 Bill Tyler 2) 10 Shane Butler 3) 20 Brian Lay 4) 71 Curt Shumaker 5) Z George Gustafson 6) 69 Davey Brown 7) 17 Roger Anderson

Hoosier Racing Tire Heat #3 (1:53.279): 1) 61 Jason Blonde 2) 35 Ryan Katz 3) 34 Johnny Scherer 4) 3a Mike Astrauskas 5) 62 Eric Curry 6) 99 Mike Ling 7) 42 Gary Fedewa (dns)

Auto Value/ Bumper to Bumper Super Sprints A-Main, 30 Laps (No Time) 1) 61 Jason Blonde 2) 24 Bill Tyler 3) 71 Curt Shumaker 4) 8m Cameron Dodson 5) 4 Troy Underwood 6) 20 Brian Lay 7) 33 Kevin Feeney 8) 26 Jeff Bloom 9) 10 Shane Butler 10) 42 Gary Fedewa 11) 8 Ryan Davis 12) 3a Mike Astrauskas 13) 7 Tyler Underwood 14) 34 Johnny Scherer 15) 35 Ryan Katz 16) 99 Mike Ling 17) 69 Davey Brown 18) Z George Gustafson 19) 17 Roger Anderson 20) 11 E.J. Calloway 21) 62 Eric Curry

Lap Leaders: Curt Shumaker 1-10, Jason Blonde 11-30

Hard Charger: Johnny Scherer +4

Hamilton Trucking Fast Time: Troy Underwood 12.947, 121.650 mph, NTR