Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – Someone may take a look at the August 21st OCFS Big Block feature lap chart in the next day or so and say, “Stewart Friesen led every lap. It must have been an easy win.”
But to those who witnessed the 30 lap United Rentals DIRTcar feature on Saturday’s Heroes Night, they saw that it wasn’t nearly as easy as it may look on paper. Once he got into 2nd, Dillon Steuer hounded Friesen the rest of the race.
After the redraw, Chris Shultz and Friesen led the competitors to the green flag with Stewart gaining the advantage over Shultz and Jimmy Horton. Caution waved on lap 6 as Horton slowed with a flat. After another lap, caution was out again for Shultz slowing with a flat. This moved Steuer up to 2nd. A crash on the restart saw Richie Eurich end up on top of the jersey barrier on the inside of turn 4.
Caution was out again on lap 8 as both Billy VanInwegen and Matt Sheppard headed to the pits, but both quickly returned to the race. On this restart, Steuer made a strong bid on the inside of Friesen and briefly nosed out ahead of the #44, but Stewart was back in front when the lap was scored.
After another caution, Friesen was out in front again on the restart and the race saw it’s first extended green flag segment. Anthony Perrego had dropped back some spots early in the race, but he passed Tyler Boniface to move into 3rd on lap 16. By lap 17, Friesen had caught the back of the pack and Steuer once again was challenging for the lead. But Friesen was able to move through the track efficiently enough to maintain the top spot.
The final caution came out after 27 laps were completed. Free of lapped traffic, Friesen once again sprinted out to the lead and polished off the final 3 laps, taking the checkered flag by 1.1 seconds over Steuer with Perrego 3rd, Billy Decker 4th and Tyler Dippel 5th. Sheppard recovered from his pitstop to finish 6th with Keith Flach advancing from 16th to 7th. Horton came back from his early flat to take 8th with Craig Mitchell 9th and Danny Creeden 10th.
“Dillon Steuer was fast tonight. He put a couple of sliders on me, but it was good back and forth racing,” the victorious Friesem commented in Victory Lane. “Track was in good shape. It’s been a long, hot summer, so it’s good to get back into Victory Lane. We are looking forward to the championship race on September 2nd.”
With Friesen’s win, he is still the only driver that’s locked into the final four race on September 2nd. So next Saturday’s race will be determining the other 3 drivers who will be competing for the $25,000 OCFS Modified Champion prize. At least two drivers from the top 8 will be advancing to the final four via their point standings. If Friesen returns next week and wins again, it will be 3 drivers advancing by their point standings.
Horton, Steuer and Friesen were Saturday’s heat race winners.
Jeff Hulseapple and the Vitale Motorsports have endured some tough racing luck the last several weeks. But the hard working team put it all together on Saturday night as Hulseapple put the 1X into the Arkel Motors Sportsman division Victory Lane in a race that was checkered after 12 laps due to rain.
Lem Atkins and Hulseapple led the racers at the start with Jeff grabbing the lead. After a lap was completed, a front stretch crash brought out the red. Frank Frasco, Brett Weslowski and Troy Arnold all went off on the hook. A series of cautions ensued with Husleapple withstanding several restarts to stay in the lead over Atkins and Matt Shultz . A lap 3 restart saw Shultz make a bid for the lead, but Hulseapple stayed on point.
A restart after a lap 5 caution saw the first sustained period in the race of green flag racing. Hulseapple again was challenged by Shultz, but matt just couldn’t get the push to the lead. Caution was out again after lap 12. At this point, the outer bands of Hurricane Henri, which had been a threat the whole race, intensified and the OCFS officials declared the race official, Hulseapple was the winner over Shultz, with Sportsman points leader Joe Bonetti 3rd, Atkins 4th and Ryan Neiger 5th. Sixth through 10th were Jared LaBagh, Gary Edwards Jr, Everett Haubrich, Michael Bull and Bobby Flood.
“Tonight, we just wanted to get a good finish. It feels real good to be in Victory Lane,” Hulseapple said. “We had a good starting spot, the car handled well, it felt good. It was kind of like it was in the beginning of the year. It felt good to be in control. Matt was under me a few times on the restarts, but once I got going, I felt we were in good shape.”
Two OCFS Street Stock veterans, Walt Henry and Bob Sleight put on a great race for the fans Saturday night in the NAPA North East Parts Group Street Stock feature. Side by side racing, Henry was finally able to wrest the lead from Sleight with 2 to go and Walt took the win. Sleight finished 2nd with Jim Hajkowski 3rd.
John Tucker was the early leader of the feature, but slowed on lap 2 with Sleight moving to the lead and Henry taking 2nd. Sleight held on for a number of restarts as Henry was really pressuring for the top spot. With 3 laps to go, Tucker spun in turn 1. Henry was finally to prevail on the restart and Walt was the victor over Sleight and Hajkowski. Charlie Donald was 4th and Danny Carlough finished 5th. Mike Vigiletti was 6th with Ryan Modiano 7th, Ben Richard 8th, Dillon Gannon 9th and Ron Constable 10th.
“I had a lot of transmission problems this morning. I swapped over to our Accord tranny. I think I may have gotten some water in the transmission, it was slipping the practice. We drained it a number of times I was holding it in place. But I had a great race with Sleight. It was a lot of fun,” Henry said.
It will be a big show next Saturday as it will be a 4 division show. The H.O. Penn 358 Small Block Modifieds will be joining the Big Blocks, Sportsman and Street Stocks in action. Point championships will be determined for the 358’s, Sportsman and Street Stocks. And as mentioned earlier in this column, the final 4 for the Big Blocks will be determined.