Column By: MIKE WARREN / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – While at the front of the field, names like Sheppard, Rudolph, and Godown reached the podium, but it was a driver just outside the top five that caught many people’s eye in Thursday night’s Super DIRTcar Series race at Orange County.
Frenchtown, N.J. competitor Billy Pauch made his second trip to the speedway in less than a week on Thursday, and third in the month of August. Prior to that, it had been about 30 years since the veteran campaigner took to the “Hard Clay.”
Pauch got off to a pretty good start to the night in his Graham Racing ride, winning the pole for his qualifier throughout the time trial session, and backing it up with a heat race victory.
However, it was around lap 36 of the “Battle of the Midway” 100 where he caught everyone’s eye.
Running in 8th at the time, Pauch went to the extreme outside of the racetrack on a re-start and picked off three cars, two of them being Brett Hearn and Peter Britten.
When asked about what he saw before the move happened, Pauch said, “everyone was running the bottom, and I figured with the tires being cooled off I could make it work for a lap or two.”
Overall, Pauch was happy about his 6th place finish during the event, as he knows it’s a stout field out there.
He says the Graham racing team has given him good equipment, and they will continue to work at it for the rest of the centennial weekend.
Danbury CT. driver L.J. Lombardo had a great run going in the top 10, before a motor went loose with 25 laps remaining in the event. Lombardo was in the process of looking for a motor for the rest of the weekend, per his facebook page.
“Lightning” Larry Wight was one of a few drivers to come in a take a tire in the later stages of the event. Like Pauch it helped him pick off a couple of cars at the beginning, before the car settled down into position.
The track was a bit of a curveball to many tour regulars, as they had not seen the new surface that is slicker than in years past. Despite this, Brett Hearn was the only track regular to finish in the top 10. The next regular over the line was Tommy Meier who finished 17th.
Current point leader at Albany-Saratoga Speedway Marc Johnson was in attendance with the Scott Hamlin owned 33 machine he pilots at Lebanon Valley. Unfortunately the “White Knight” didn’t make the show, finishing one spot out of a transfer position in the consolation event.
Many drivers were sporting “Throwback” paint schemes for the weekend. Three of the teams taking part are the cars driven by Mat Williamson, Gary Edwards Jr., and Craig Mitchell.