RPW Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – Saturday night, Dillon Steuer picked the perfect night to capture his first OCFS Big Block Modified feature win.
With an enhanced winner’s purse of $5,000 up for grabs, Steuer won a convincing triumph over some of the biggest names in the sport.
The 34 car field that signed in for Big Block competition required 4 heats which were won by Mike Mahaney, Steuer, Anthony Perrego and Tommy Meier.
John Brown and Kirk Horton made up the front row for the feature and Horton got out to the early lead. The caution flag waved on lap 2 when Craig Mitchell spun and Danny Cronk, Donnie Wilson, Billy VanInwegen and Bob McGannon all were involved. Horton again led on the restart, but the race was halted with a red flag for Tyler Jashembowski having a a hard crash on the frontstretch with Jerry Higbie, Max McLaughlin, Sammy Martz and Nick Rochinski also involved. Rochinski was driving the Dieter Schmidt #5. Of the 5 drivers involved, only Martz was able to continue. Jashembowski’s car was heavily damaged.
Horton led Steuer on the restart, but the red flag flew again on lap 3 as Martz barrel rolled 5 times in turn two. He was uninjured.
Steuer took the lead on the restart and was able to distance himself from the field as the race for 2nd heated up between Mahaney and Matt Sheppard, up from 11th starting spot. Sheppard got by Mahaney on lap 8 as Steuer quickly got into lapped traffic. But Sheppard couldn’t make up any ground on the leader. Perrego, looking for his 3rd straight Big Block win was moving up steadily from his 12th starting spot. He moved past Jimmy Horton and into the top 5 just before the yellow waved on lap 24.
On the restart, Mahaney got by Sheppard to take back 2nd. With 27 laps down, Brown spun to bunch up the field once again. On the restart, Steuer again pulled away from the field as both Perrego and Stewart Friesen got by Sheppard. At the checkered, it was Steuer with the victory, becoming the 216th driver to win a Modified feature at OCFS. Mahaney, Perrego, Friesen and Sheppard rounded out the top 5. Jimmy Horton, Jessica Friesen, Michael Storms, Tommy Meier and Matt Hitchcock completed the top 10 running order.
In the holdover Sportsman feature, 2nd generation racer Dominic Rosell Jr. drove to an impressive win, his first ever Sportsman feature victory at OCFS. With the yellow flags flying, it took a couple of attempts to get the race underway. Anthony Falanga was the early leader. Clinton Mills passed Falanga on lap 3 while Roselli Jr. was moving up very quickly from his 12th starting spot. Roselli Jr. moved past Mills on lap 4 and proceeded to drive away from the field.
At halfway, it was Roselli Jr. well ahead of Mills and Joe Conklin. Caution on lap 13 wiped out Roselli Jr’s huge lead. Sammy Martz Jr, up from 14th spot, moved into 2nd on the restart with Conklin 3rd and Mills dropping to 4th. As the double checkers waved, it was Roselli Jr. by a straightaway over Martz Jr, Conklin, Mills and Tanner Van Doren. Joe Bonetti, Jake Bedell, Charles Loiodice, Tyler Corcoran and Bobby Flood finished 6-10.
It has been a rough go of it so far in 2020 for the 2019 Sportsman Champion, Grant Hilfiger. But Hilfiger took the first step to turn around his season with a win in the regularly scheduled feature.
Hilfiger jumped out to the lead from his outside front row starting spot in a feature event that was plagued by caution flags. But Hilfiger was up to the task on every restart. One of the more unusual yellow flags occurred late in the race when Mel Schrufer did a quick 3 barrel roll flip. The car landed on it’s wheels with little apparent damage and Schrufer proceeded to finish the feature. It brought back memories long ago when OCFS favorite Henry Sharp had a similar occurrence.
With the final restart, Hilfiger pulled out to a comfortable lead, finishing about 2 seconds ahead of Tighe Sherlock. Bonetti, Flood and Roselli Jr. were the other top 5 finishers. Daniel Morgiewicz Jr., Van Doren, Kevin Stevens, Martz Jr. and Troy Arnold completed the rest of the top 10 finishing order.
Wayne Taylor passed early leader Dillon Gannon on lap 2 and held off Walt Henry to take the Street Stock victory on this Saturday night. Charlie Donald was 3rd followed by Bob Sleight Jr. and Rob Taylor. Jack Beaumont, Nick Giardini, Jim Hajkowski, John Aumick and Curt Ayres were the rest of the top 10 finishers.
There was sadness in the OCFS racing family this week. Kenny Kear, a long time crew member, most recently with Craig Mitchell’s team, passed away on Tuesday from injuries sustained in a highway accident.
“Kenny had a heart of gold. He was great to me and my family,” Craig said. “He would do anything you asked. He would always always have a smile and he would always be ready with a joke. Kenny was a great tire guy and he was so dedicated to our team. I’m so glad that we won a race with him last year.”
Race Pro Weekly sends it’s condolences to Kenny’s family and friends and to Craig’s team.