Column By: NICK FILLMAN / RPW – NEW EGYPT, NJ – Saturday evening at the New Egypt Speedway would be a great evening for racing as the USAC East Coast Sprint Cars made their inaugural journey to the speedway, accompanied by the open competition Modifieds that would do battle in the second annual “Firecracker 40” feature event.
“When I pulled up and saw the light say 1475, I said man I think thats right!” Eddie Strada said in a brief conversation after picking up his first career USAC Eastern Sprint victory. The humor and joke behind the comment being that at an earlier show at the Bedford Speedway, Strada would crash in warm ups forcing him to move to his family owned machine. Strada would cross the finish line first that evening, but would en up being light at the scales.
But this saturday night was a totally different evening for Strada and the Gallagher 5g team after picking up their heat race win in dominating fashion, and methodically taking the lead from Steven Drevicki just a handful of laps short of the half way point from the 5th starting spot.
Drevicki and second place points driver entering the night, Chandler Leiby wouldn’t let Strada get away as the top three would stay glued to each other in what would be a thrilling duel for the feature event win.
An unfortunate caution on lap 29 would leave the field with a one lap dash to the finish with Strada grabbing the win over a close by Steven Drevicki, Chandler Leiby, Ryan Godown and Joey Biasi rounding out the top five.
Ryan Godown would be the lone driver in the pit area Saturday night pulling double duty. Godown would win his heat race in the USAC division and look to grab the win from the 8th spot. But an unfortunate spin by Godown on lap 8 would leave the “Ringoes Rocket” to charge his way back through the field for a top five effort.
Two other drivers who ended up with impressive runs though the field were Joey Biasi and Mark Bitner who started 15th and 12th, and would end up finishing 5th and 6th respectively.
At the beginning of the 2018 season as a birthday present for his father, Brandon Grosso debuted his ride for the season at New Egypt sporting a throw back design to the colors, and number that his father Rick had run in previous years. Saturday night Grosso would deliver another present to a family member, as he would grab the feature event win for his mothers birthday.
Grosso started off the feature event in the 11th position and would quickly show to be one of the faster cars in the field quickly moving up to the rear of early race leader Ryan Godown.
After showing his nose to the inside and outside of Godown, Grosso would eventually take the lead on lap 21 before a caution flag would fall on lap 23. The lap 23 caution would eventually lead to an “open red” due to the number of caution laps run, and distance of the feature remaining.
From the drop of the green on the restart Grosso wouldn’t look back, and stretch his lead out to almost a straightaway by the time the checkers flew. Grosso would be followed to the line by Ryan Godown, David VanHorn, Ryan Krachun, and John McClelland.
Ryan Godown would again be in the Steve Searock owned number 26 Troyer chassis entry instead of the Petruska 66 entry. The Searock-Godown team had been fast all year collecting wins at the Big Diamond Speedway, and showed their efforts again on saturday evening.
Trouble would fall for two top drivers at New Egypt in the form of Billy Pauch Jr and Danny Bouc. Both would have issues through the feature event with Pauch Jr suffering a flat tire after contact on lap four. Both drivers would also leave the speedway during the open red flag period and would end up finishing 10th and 11th. Very respectable runs after the issues both teams and drivers had to overcome.
Missing from action on saturday evening was the second Pakenham Motorsports entry that had been driven by Dom Buffalino. Buffalino was in the pit area on saturday evening lending a hand to driver Brian Papiez. The Pakenham motorsports entry of Rich Rutski would end up with a 6th place run.
USAC East Coast Sprint Car Results: 5g Eddie Strada, 19s Steve Drevicki, 119 Chandler Leiby, 4 Ryan Godown, B1 Joey Biasi, F15 Mark Bitner, 14k Trevor Kobylarz, 3h Heidi Hedin, 5Q Ryan Quackenbush, 02 Rich Mellor, 56 Jermain Godshall, 4f Karl Freyer, 09 Brian Riccio, 32 Eric Jennings, 62 Brian Spencer, 74 Duane Nixon, 71 Chris Allen Jr, 73 Al Cheney, 17j Jonathan Swanson, 33b Bill Unglert. DNQ: 8 Larry Drake
Firecracker 40 Modified Feature Results: R24 Brandon Grosso, 26 Ryan Godown, 323ov David VanHorn, 29k Ryan Krachun, 44m John McClelland, 18J Rich Rutski, 99 Brian Papiez, 17 TJ Lilly, 19 Rocco Infante, 96 Billy Pauch Jr, 32 Danny Bouc, 14 Billy Osmun, 3v Kevin Vaclavicek, 98 Tim Apgar, 13r Mary Resnick, 79 Blaine Bracelin, 5w Pat Wall, 747 Davey Sammons, 67 JR Fulper, 96 Jim Bobbitt, 13xxx PJ Oliver, 6 Matt Stangle, 13 Steve Davis.