Week 4 Recap
Posted: May 8, 2016
By FRANK CATIZONE
MIDDLETOWN, NY – The waiting is finally over for veteran Modified driver Jeff Heotzler Sr.
Heotzler, who will be enshrined in the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame in August, joined an elite group of Modified drivers at the Orange County Fair Speedway last Saturday when he captured his 50th career victory at the historic track in the 30-lap main event.
Heotzler, who picked up his initial triumph here on May 14, 1983, became only the third driver in the track’s rich Modified history to reach the 50-win milestone – joining Brett Hearn (174) and Frankie Schneider (58).
“I’m glad to finally get this behind me,’’ said Heotzler, “but this is also going to be a season to remember. It’s just fantastic getting 50 wins here and being elected into the Hall of Fame is something I’ll always cherish. We’ve struggled to get here and got off to a pretty lousy start. But this makes it all worthwhile.’’
Heotzler, who blew an engine on April 30, captured the first qualifying heat and then was handicapped to start on the pole for the main event. The 58-year-old Wallkill resident, who is in the midst of his 39th racing season, vaulted right into the lead and remained there until Jeremy Markle’s backstretch mishap forced a caution with two laps completed.
Chris Shultz, who rolled his car in the first turn a week earlier, got the jump on Heotzler in his makeshift Modified on the restart and seemed in command despite three more cautions in the early going. Stewart Friesen forced one of them when his car slowed off the fourth turn and he was forced to retire after just seven laps.
Bob McGannon’s third-turn incident forced the race’s final caution and set the stage for Heotzler’s race-winning move.
“I can’t believe he (Shultz) gave me the outside on that restart,’’ said Heotzler. “There was a lot of bite on the top tonight and I was able to drive around him. He was able to do the same thing to me earlier in the race.’’
Heotzler was able to stretch his lead out to the finish as he notched his first OCFS win since May 2, 2015.
“I really didn’t know how much of a lead I had,’’ said Heotzler. “I thought there was someone right on my tail. I just wanted to get this race over because reaching the 50 wins has been a struggle. I’m glad it’s over, but this is a special moment for me.’’
Shultz was able to hold on to finish a distant second with another pair of veteran competitors – Jimmy Horton and Richie Eurich – following close behind. Eurich entered the season with 49 career OCFS wins as well and is the only active driver within the milestone.
Craig Mitchell concluded the top five with Mike Kolka, L.J. Lombardo, Tommy Meier, Jerry Higbie and Billy VanInwegen following.
Reigning track titlist Gary Edwards Jr. started on the pole and led the distance as he displayed some awesome power en route to his first win this season in the Small Block Modified 25-lap main event.
Edwards, who has struggled during the early season, was in complete control from the drop of the opening green as he averaged speeds of nearly 106 miles per hour to finish more than four seconds ahead of McGannon at the finish. The Wurtsboro driver claimed his sixth career triumph.
Meier capitalized on a late-race charge to finish in third place with Tom Hindley, Brian Krummel, Frank Doty, Shane Jablonka, Joe Falanga, John Lieto and Jesse Leiby following.
Eddie Strada got the Capital Region Sprint Agency’s 2016 schedule at OCFS to a flying start as he drove his powerful 305-cubic inch sprinter to a convincing victory in the 20-lap feature.
Strada, who earned his first career victory here, and the rest of his CRSA competitors will have five stops at OCFS this season. There were 20 cars here for their opening show.
Strada grabbed the lead from Christian Rumsey on the second lap and never looked back as he finished ahead of Rumsey, Krummel, Scott Flammer and Scott Goodrich.
Chris Stevens picked up his first triumph of the season in the Sportsman 20-lap feature as he finished ahead of Frank Venezia, Tyler Johnston, Joe Conklin and Tyler Boniface.
Stevens, who started on the pole, never trailed during the race as he secured his fifth career win at the track. Venezia, who claimed his first victory of 2016 a week ago, charged ahead of Johnston following a 16th lap restart, but never challenged Stevens for first place.
Defending track champion Jim Maher passed Joel Murns Jr. on the final lap to register his first win of the season in an exciting Street Stock 15-lap feature.
Maher, who started 10th, chased Murns since grabbing second place following a restart on the second lap. But Murns was able to stave off each challenge Maher had to offer as the race progressed.
Maher finally found an opening off the second turn on the final lap as he went on to secure his 10th career victory ahead of Murns, Mike Vigiletti, Paul Maiolo and Emerson Cargain Sr.
Modified Feature Finish, 30 Laps: 1. Jeff Heotzler Sr., 2. Chris Shultz, 3. Jimmy Horton, 4. Richie Eurich, 5. Craig Mitchell, 6. Mike Kolka, 7. L.J. Lombardo, 8. Tommy Meier, 9. Jerry Higbie, 10. Billy VanInwegen, 11. John Lieto, 12. Matt Janiak, 13. Mike Ruggiero, 14. John Ferrier, 15. Danny Cronk, 16. Gary Edwards Jr., 17. Mike Wahl, 18. Jeremy Markle, 19. Stewart Friesen, 20. Jesse Kline, 21. Bob McGannon, 22. Brendan Finley, 23. Chris Whitehead. Did Not Start: Steve Dodd.
Small Block Modified Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Gary Edwards Jr., 2. Bob McGannon, 3. Tommy Meier, 4. Tom Hindley, 5. Brian Krummel, 6. Frank Doty, 7. Shane Jablonka, 8. Joe Falanga, 9. John Lieto, 10. Jesse Leiby, 11. Rob Rowe, 12. Bobby Hentschel, 13. John Ferrier, 14. Jimmy Spellmon, 15. Joe Barbagallo Jr., 16. Tyler Treacy, 17. Mike McKerrell, 18. Kirk Horton, 19. Eddie Burgess, 20. Zack Vavricka, 21. Tim Hindley, 22. Rich Eggers, 23. Matt Janiak. Did Not Start: Tyler McKee.
CRSA 305 Sprint Car Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Eddie Strada, 2. Christian Rumsey, 3. Brian Krummel, 4. Scott Flammer, 5. Scott Goodrich, 6. Thomas Radivoy, 7. Josh Flint, 8. Brett Jaycox, 9. Bobby Hackel, 10. Kyle Smith, 11. Dana Wagner, 12. Chuck Alessi, 13. Dalton Herrick, 14. Emily VanInwegen, 15. Ed Newhauser, 16. Art Kiser, 17. Sydney Prince, 18. Craig Pellegrini, 19. Tyler Jashembowski. Did Not Start: Billy VanInwegen.
Sportsman Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Chris Stevens, 2. Frank Venezia, 3. Tyler Johnston, 4. Joe Conklin, 5. Tyler Boniface, 6. Brandon Grosso, 7. Jeff Richardson, 8. Jeff Hulseapple, 9. Allison Ricci, 10. Anthony Falanga, 11. Dan Morgiewicz, 12. Howie Finch, 13. Jimmy Johnson, 14. Patrick Murphy, 15. Corey Cormier, 16. Joe Bonetti, 17. Dillon Steuer, 18. R.J. Smith, 19. Troy Arnold, 20. Randy Sweetman, 21. John Illanovsky, 22. Jesse Leiby, 23. Larry Hendershot, 24. Rafaele Carson. Did Not Start: Joe Falanga. Did Not Qualify: Nick Plumstead, Austin Smith, Leo Fotopoulos, Matt Stangle, Connor Otten, Jim Kraus, Tommy Vigh Jr., David Demorest, Tanner Johnson, Milton Mann, Dylan Smith, Patrick Reiser, Eddie Burgess, Phil Johnson, Brad Horton, Steve Eubanks, Zach Mead, Matt Shultz, Charlie Donald, Tony Kowalchuk, Anthony Horton.
Street Stock Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Jim Maher, 2. Joel Murns Jr., 3. Mike Vigiletti, 4. Paul Maiolo, 5. Emerson Cargain Sr., 6. Emerson Cargain Jr., 7. Jim Hajkowski, 8. Tommy Pickles, 9. Terry McNamara, 10. Mario Contarino, 11. Ron Constable, Wayne Taylor.
Week 3 Recap
Posted: April 30th, 2016
By FRANK CATIZONE
MIDDLETOWN, NY – Tommy Meier is in the midst of what has to be considered the hottest streak he’s ever savored during his Modified racing career at the Orange County Fair Speedway.
Meier, including his first Eastern States 200 victory last October, has now won three of the last four Modified features contested at OCFS after tracking down Jimmy Horton for a thrilling triumph in last Saturday night’s 30-lapper, which was worth $5,000.
Meier, who has suddenly emerged as a dominant figure in lucrative paying events, found the high road to his liking as he rocketed past his competition en route to overtaking Horton on the final lap as he secured his 18th career OCFS win – knotting Pee Wee Griffin for 21st place on the track’s all-time leader board.
“It’s a little risky going on the top here because you just don’t know what kind of a grip you’re going to get on the surface,’’ said Meier. “But I knew by the fifth lap that I could go out there and it was kind of by mistake.
“I got a little tap to the outside and was surprised just how well I was able to stick to the surface. I was able to move out even further as the race progressed and knew I found something special. I don’t think he (Horton) even knew I was there. I was just able to ride around him and into the lead.’’
Meier was able to move into first place while riding off the first turn on the final lap. The two drivers took the white flag almost dead even before Meier went on to score the exciting victory.
But the route to victory didn’t come without a few bumps in the road. Meier, after starting ninth in the 27-car field, was having a difficult time working his way around Jerry Higbie and John Lieto as the race was entering its middle stages.
“Jerry was racing the same line I was and was tough to get around,’’ said Meier. “But he drove down low to try to get around Lieto, and that left the outside wide open. I was able to drive around him and then passed Lieto shortly after that.’’
Meier moved into fourth place past Higbie on the 17th circuit around the five-eighths mile, hard clay oval and passed Lieto a lap later to move into third. The veteran Waldwick, N.J., driver moved ahead of Mike Kolka for second by the 20th lap and then set his sights on Horton.
Horton, an OCFS regular for the first time in many seasons in 2016, was enjoying a commanding lead aboard the Halmar No. 43 Modified. Horton wrestled first place away from Jeff Heotzler Sr. following a second lap restart and was looking for his first OCFS win since Aug. 31, 1996.
But Meier, who was averaging speeds of over 106 miles per hour, was able to reel in Horton with each passing lap before making his race-winning move on the final circuit. Horton settled for a second-place effort with Kolka, Lieto, Higbie, L.J. Lombardo, Billy VanInwegen, Chris Whitehead, Brendan Finley and Gary Edwards Jr. rounding out the top 10.
The race was only cautioned once when Chris Shultz rolled his Modified in the first turn after one lap was scored. Shultz lost the brakes on his car and headed straight into the wall. He wasn’t injured, but the car had extensive damage.
Frank Venezia, who has struggled with a rash of bad luck, took advantage of a good starting position to secure his first win this season in the Sportsman 20-lap main event.
Venezia, who started on the pole, got the jump on teenage rookie driver Leo Fotopoulos following an eighth-lap restart and then went on to secure his 11th OCFS career win. Fotopoulos had led the race since the opening lap.
The race was marred by two multi-car pileups as only 14 of the starting 24-car field finished the event. Jeff Richardson slowly rolled his car in a first-turn mishap involving five cars before a lap was scored, but was able to continue racing.
However, reigning track champion Randy Sweetman and Johnny Illanovsky were not as fortunate. A homestretch accident later in the race sent Joe Bonetti, Chris Stevens and Tony Kowalchuk to the pits with extensive damage to their cars.
Fotopoulos was able to steer clear of the cautions to finish in second place with Jeff Hulseapple, Tyler Boniface and Allison Ricci rounding out the top five.
Roger Henion Jr. drove past Chris Raser through the third turn on the final lap to secure his first career win in the Rookie Crate Sportsman 15-lap feature.
Raser, who started outside pole, led the race from the start as he was also searching for the initial victory of his racing career. But he fell just two turns short as Henion stole an exciting win. Corey Cormier, Patrick Reiser and Cole Hentschel completed the top five finishers.
Mike Vigiletti has served an early season statement as the driver to beat in 2016 as he grabbed his second straight victory in the Street Stock 15-lap feature.
Vigiletti wrestled the lead away from Emerson Cargain Sr. as he captured the 21st win of his OCFS career – deadlocking Ray Tarantino for fourth place all-time at the track. Cargain finished second with Jim Maher, Tarantino and Joel Murns Jr. following.
Darryl Hulbert captured the Northeast Vintage Modified 12-lap main event.
Modified Feature Finish, 30 Laps: 1. Tommy Meier, 2. Jimmy Horton, 3. Mike Kolka, 4. John Lieto, 5. Jerry Higbie, 6. L.J. Lombardo, 7. Billy VanInwegen, 8. Chris Whitehead, 9. Brendan Finley, 10. Gary Edwards Jr., 11. Matt Janiak, 12. Craig Mitchell, 13. Bob McGannon, 14. John Ferrier, 15. Richie Eurich, 16. Jeremy Markle, 17. Danny Cronk, 18. Jesse Kline, 19. Bobby Zwart, 20. C.G. Morey, 21. Tom Hindley, 22. Jeff Heotzler Sr., 23. Kirk Horton, 24. Mike Ruggiero, 25. Steve Dodd, 26. Mike Wahl, 27. Chris Shultz.
Sportsman Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Frank Venezia, 2. Leo Fotopoulos, 3. Jeff Hulseapple, 4. Tyler Boniface, 5. Allison Ricci, 6. Patrick Murphy, 7. Troy Arnold, 8. Jimmy Johnson, 9. Rafaele Carson, 10. Howie Finch, 11. Joe Conklin, 12. Dan Morgiewicz, 13. Tyler Johnston, 14. Anthony Falanga, 15. Jesse Leiby, 16. Joe Bonetti, 17. Chris Stevens, 18. Bob Wosyluk, 19. Zach Mead, 20. Jeff Richardson, 21. Johnny Illanovsky, 22. Randy Sweetman, 23. Jared LaBagh. Disqualified: Tony Kowalchuk. Did Not Qualify: Charlie Donald, Jim Cronk, Steve Eubanks, Connor Otten, Eddie Burgess, Tommy Vigh Jr., Joey Falanga, Pete Goydich, Larry Hendershot.
Rookie Crate Sportsman Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Roger Henion Jr., 2. Chris Raser, 3. Corey Cormier, 4. Patrick Reiser, 5. Cole Hentschel, 6. George Begg, 7. Cody Hunt, 8. Stan Vishinski IV, 9. Anthony Horton, 10. Matt Shultz, 11. Danny Carlough, 12. Ashley Rogosich, 13. Rich Eggers, 14. Erin Paulison, 15. Jimmy Devitt, 16. Keith Johannessen, 17. Jared Miller, 18. Brad Horton, 19. Taylor Hurban, 20. Tighe Sherlock, 21. Phil Johnson. Did Not Start: Bob Hallabeck, Tanner Johnson.
Street Stock Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Mike Vigiletti, 2. Emerson Cargain Sr., 3. Jim Maher Jr., 4. Ray Tarantino, 5. Joel Murns Jr., 6. Jim Hajkowski, 7. Kevin Schlossareck, 8. Terry McNamara, 9. Mario Contarino, 10. Tommy Pickles, 11. Wayne Taylor, 12. Ron Constable, 13. Dick Shaddock, 14. Paul Maiolo, 15. Emerson Cargain Jr. Did Not Start: Curtis Ayers.
ortheast Vintage Modified Feature Finish, 12 Laps: 1. Darryl Hulbert, 2. Ray See Jr., 3. Chris Adams, 4. Rob Sanford, 5. Dan McKiernan, 6. Bill Liese, 7. Jeff Hager, 8. Rob Casti, 9. Ken Hermance. Did Not Start: John Hager.
Week 2 Recap
Posted: April 25th, 2016
By FRANK CATIZONE
MIDDLETOWN, NY – Davie Franek knew his chances at stealing a victory were dwindling as the laps were clicking off during last Saturday night’s United Racing Club (URC) Sprint Car 25-lap feature at the Orange County Fair Speedway.
But Franek also had a feather in his cap as he chased leader Ed Aiken around the fast five-eighths mile, hard clay oval for so many laps. The Wantage, N.J., driver is no stranger to the OCFS racing surface and also received some friendly advice from his father Dave Franek Sr. – who called the track his Saturday night home for many seasons.
Franek, who felt it was just a matter of time before he would overtake Aikin, finally found an opening on the 21st lap when he drove around Aikin between the third and fourth turns, and then went on to secure the first URC triumph of his OCFS career.
“I just had to wait for the right moment to pounce on him and it worked out,’’ said Franek, who posted his second URC win in 2016. “He (Aikin) slipped up going into the turn and got stuck down low. I just drove around him and into the lead.
“It’s great to win at your home track. I won a Modified feature here several years ago and my father also had some success here. My father gave me some good advice how to get around this place and it really helped me.’’
Franek, who picked up his lone Modified win here on Aug. 5, 2006, followed Aikin past leader Jason Clauss following a second-lap restart to set the stage for their duel during the remainder of the event. A three-car mishap in the third turn involving last year’s winner Justin Barger, Jonathan Swanson and Clauss slowed action with five laps down.
Aikin continued to lead Franek when racing resumed as the two drivers raced several car lengths ahead of the rest of the 18-car field. Robbie Stillwagon and Curt Michael slowly gained on the leaders, but never proved to be factors.
Franek, meanwhile, was able to draw in on Aikin with each passing lap through slower traffic and just waited for his opportunity to move ahead.
“I knew I just had to be patient and wait for the right time,’’ said Franek. “There was a lot of rubber on the racing surface and I was able to move around out there pretty well. I knew I was probably only going to get one shot and took advantage of the opportunity when it presented itself.’’
Franek, who captured the URC season-opener at Bridgeport (N.J.) Speedway on April 10, found that opening on the 21st lap and then went on to outrace Aikin, Michael, Stillwagon and Randy West to the checkered flag.
Barger, who turned in the quickest lap of the race with a time of 18.837 seconds (119.446 miles per hour) rebounded from his early-race accident to finish in sixth place with Nate Snyder, Troy Betts, J.R. Berry and Paulie Colagiovanni following.
Tim Hindley, who admits using poor judgement in the season-opener on April 10, rebounded to score an impressive victory in the Small Block Modified 25-lap main event.
“That was all my fault,’’ said Hindley, who crashed into the third-turn wall while battling for the lead early in the race. “I need to be more patient and bring the car home in one piece. It just goes to show that starting up front doesn’t always result in a win.’’
Hindley, who was scored 21st in the opener, took advantage of his third starting position this time around en route to his 17th career OCFS Small Block Modified triumph. He passed his older brother Tom Hindley coming off the second turn on the second lap and never trailed again.
But Bob McGannon, who experienced mechanical problems a week ago, didn’t make it easy on Tim Hindley as he remained within striking distance throughout the race. He would finish just a little over a second off the winning pace.
“I’ll be concentrating a lot more on our Small Block racing program this year,’’ said Tim Hindley. “We have a very good car here with a powerful motor. The Hermance racing team has been very good to me through the years and we’re putting all our efforts into making this a successful season.’’
Tommy Meier followed in third place with Matt Janiak, Jesse Leiby, Bobby Hentschel, Brian Krummel, Jimmy Spellmon, Shane Jablonka and John Ferrier rounding out the top 10.
Krummel, who captured the season opener, crashed his car during his qualifying heat, but was able to get it repaired for the feature to place seventh.
Leiby saw double-duty during the evening and utilized a late-race pass to earn his first win this season in the Sportsman 20-lap main event.
Leiby, who started seventh in the 24-car field, passed Allison Ricci and leader Randy Sweetman through lapped traffic between the third and fourth turns on the 18th lap to secure his third career OCFS win. Leiby picked up his other victories here last season.
Sweetman, who started on the pole, led the event until Leiby tracked him down. Sweetman settled for second place with Ricci, Zach Mead and Jimmy Johnson rounding out the top five.
Cody Hunt started on the pole and led the distance to score his first career OCFS triumph in a Rookie Crate Sportsman feature that was cut from 15 to 10 laps because of the time curfew.
The 27-car starting field, which included several slingshot competitors from the 2015 season, got off to a fast start as Hunt led the parade with non-stop racing for seven laps. However, several cautions ensued from that point, including a pair of multi-car pileups, as the 20-minute time limit expired.
Roger Henion Jr. was scored in second place with Steven Ball, Bobby Flood and Danny Carlough following. Flood won many races in slingshot competition at Accord Speedway.
United Racing Club (URC) Sprint Car Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Davie Franek, 2. Ed Aiken, 3. Curt Michael, 4. Robbie Stillwagon, 5. Randy West, 6. Justin Barger, 7. Nate Snyder, 8. Troy Betts, 9. J.R. Berry, 10. Paulie Colagiovanni, 11. Jimmy Stitzel, 12. Scott Flammer, 13. Jonathan Swanson, 14. Mark Sasso, 15. Davey Sammons, 16. Jason Clauss, 17. Benny Rizzo, 18. Brett Michalski.
Small Block Modified Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Tim Hindley, 2. Bob McGannon, 3. Tommy Meier, 4. Matt Janiak, 5. Jesse Leiby, 6. Bobby Hentschel, 7. Brian Krummel, 8. Jimmy Spellmon, 9. Shane Jablonka, 10. John Ferrier, 11. Tyler McKee, 12. Rob Rowe, 13. Joe Falanga, 14. Frank Doty, 15. Mike McKerrell, 16. Joe Barbagallo Jr., 17. Tom Hindley, 18. Gary Edwards Jr., 19. Zack Vavricka, 20. Thomas Strupp. Did Not Start: Jeff Heotzler Sr., Eric Haubrich.
Sportsman Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Jesse Leiby, 2. Randy Sweetman, 3. Allison Ricci, 4. Zach Mead, 5. Jimmy Johnson, 6. Tyler Boniface, 7. Tyler Johnston, 8. Steve Eubanks, 9. Joe Bonetti, 10. Jeff Hulseapple, 11. Rafaele Carson, 12. Jared LaBagh, 13. Johnny Illanovsky, 14. Joe Falanga, 15. Jeff Richardson, 16. Anthony Falanga, 17. Joe Conklin, 18. Dan Morgiewicz, 19. Troy Arnold, 20. Howie Finch III, 21. Austin Smith, 22. Eddie Burgess, 23. Scott Flammer, 24. Chris Stevens. Did Not Qualify: Charlie Donald, Tommy Vigh Jr., Billy Eggers Jr., Matt Burke, Tony Kowalchuk, Leo Fotopoulos, Cody Cormier, Pete Goydich, Frank Venezia, Connor Otten, Larry Hendershot, Bob Wosyluk.
Rookie Crate Sportsman Feature Finish, 10 Laps: 1. Cody Hunt, 2. Roger Henion Jr., 3. Steven Ball, 4. Bobby Flood, 5. Danny Carlough, 6. George Begg, 7. Ira Landrum, 8. Chris Raser, 9. Stan Vishinski IV, 10. Bryan Jones, 11. Matt Shultz, 12. Brad Horton, 13. Ashley Rogosich, 14. Cole Hentschel, 15. Otto Bradatsch, 16. Rich Ricci III, 17. Jimmy Devitt, 18. Bobby DeLeon, 19. Tommy Zwart, 20. Patrick Reiser, 21. Derrick Cormier, 22. Tanner Johnson, 23. Rich Eggers, 24. Dylan Smith, 25. Jared Miller, 26. Erin Paulison, 27. Phil Johnson.
Opening Night Recap
Posted: April 18th, 2016
By FRANK CATIZONE
MIDDLETOWN, NY – Bob McGannon had no idea how much of a lead he had during last Saturday night’s season-opening, 30-lap Modified feature at the Orange County Fair Speedway.
McGannon, a fan favorite at the historic racing facility, which has hosted Modified racing since 1948, was only concerned with getting to the finish as he collected a first-place payoff of $4,000 and became the 69th different driver to capture an OCFS season opener.
“This car was just awesome tonight,’’ said McGannon, who completed the 30-lap distance in just 14 minutes and 43.374 seconds. “I didn’t know how far in front I was. I was just concerned with keeping the car straight and finishing.
“I thought I also had a very good Small Block Modified car tonight and would have been in contention for that win as well. But we had a little mishap early in the race and I was forced to drop out with mechanical issues. But this was a great way to start the season and I’m happy I was able to bounce back after some adversity in the Small Block race.’’
McGannon, who captured the third qualifying race, was scheduled to start third for the Modified main event. However, pole-sitter Mike Kolka ran into some difficulties following the initial green flag to force a quick caution.
Kolka, who appeared to be a contender for the victory after a powerful winning performance in the first qualifying heat, slowed while racing down the backstretch and stopped in the third turn to bring racing to a halt. Kolka was towed off the track with rear end problems to his Modified.
That opened the door for McGannon to restart the race on the pole and would be the only caution during the event. McGannon was able to get the quick jump on Jeremy Markle when racing resumed and would stretch out his lead lap after lap.
Craig Mitchell was also able to pass Markle following the restart, but was never a factor as he finished nearly three seconds behind McGannon when OCFS starter Bob Ryder waved the checkered flags. McGannon was averaging speeds nearly 103 miles per hour around the five-eighths mile, hard clay oval.
Markle was able to ride in third place throughout the race and reigning track champion Jerry Higbie did likewise in taking fourth. Ken Tremont Jr. passed Steve Dodd on the second lap to grab fifth place and remained in that position as well.
Those rounding out the top 10 were Dodd, Tommy Meier, Chris Whitehead, Billy VanInwegen and Stewart Friesen, who was making his OCFS weekly debut aboard the Halmar No. 44 Modified.
Brett Hearn, who drew 40th place for the quailifying events, was never a factor as he finished nearly 10 seconds off McGannon’s winning pace. McGannon picked up his third career Modified victory and his first since July 12, 2014.
Jimmy Horton, who will also be a weekly competitor in the Halmar No. 43 during the 2016 season, dropped out after 26 laps and finished in 23rd position.
Brian Krummel had a successful maiden voyage behind the wheel of the Zubi’s Racing No. 17Z as he completely dominated a 21-car field to capture the Small Block Modified 25-lap main event.
Krummel, after starting third, was able to power ahead of Shane Jablonka following a fifth-lap restart to grab the lead and then went on to provide car owner Dave Zubikowski with his first win ever at the track. It was Krummel’s second career Small Block victory and first since June 8, 2013.
“Dave (Zubikowski) was at Grandview with Doug Manmiller,’’ said Krummel, “but I was in contact with him several times during the night and he couldn’t be happier. I do most of the work on this car myself at his shop in Greenville, but I also get a lot of help from a great group of guys.
“This is a great opportunity for me and I’m glad Dave has enough trust in me to get things done here while he’s with his other drivers in Grandview. The only thing I want to do is race as much as I can and this was a great way to start our season. I was just worried about staying focused because this was my first race this season. Some of the other drivers already have raced a few times.’’
Krummel, who dominated Sportsman racing with 33 career wins and two track titles during the past decade here, was clearly the class of the field as he set a blistering pace to finish nearly eight seconds ahead of Jablonka. The Middletown driver turned in a fast time of 21.548 seconds (104.418 mph) around the track.
Meier followed Jablonka across the line in third place with Rob Rowe, Jesse Leiby, VanInwegen, Jimmy Spellmon, Bobby Hentschel, John Ferrier and Zack Vavricka rounding out the top 10.
Fourteen-year-old rookie driver Dillon Steuer drove like a seasoned veteran as he withstood several cautions and some hefty competition breathing down his back to grab his first career win in the Sportsman 20-lap feature.
Steuer, a former slingshot driver, who was making just his second OCFS career start, started on the pole and led the entire distance as he finished ahead of Tyler Boniface, Jared LaBagh, Jeff Hulseapple and Tyler Johnston.
Boniface, after starting 20th in the 24-car field, made a great charge from the back as he took advantage of seven caution periods to move into contention. But he never seriously challenged Steuer after slipping past Troy Arnold following a last-lap restart.
A resounding field of 56 Sportsman signed in for opening-night competition with six heats and three consolation races determining the starting grid for the feature.
Mike Vigiletti became only the fifth driver in OCFS street stock history to collect 20 career victories as he captured the Jeremy Michael Hedges Memorial 15-lap feature ahead of Jim Maher, Ray Tarantino, Joel Murns Jr. and Emerson Cargain Sr.
Vigiletti was able to move ahead of Maher following a fifth-lap restart and never looked back as he earned an impressive victory.
Walt Henry won the Four Cylinder feature event.
Modified Feature Finish, 30 Laps: 1. Bob McGannon, 2. Craig Mitchell, 3. Jeremy Markle, 4. Jerry Higbie, 5. Ken Tremont Jr., 6. Steve Dodd, 7. Tommy Meier, 8. Chris Whitehead, 9. Billy VanInwegen, 10. Stewart Friesen, 11. John Ferrier, 12. Brett Hearn, 13. Matt Janiak, 14. Mike Ruggiero, 15. L.J. Lombardo, 16. John Lieto, 17. Gary Edwards Jr., 18. Chris Shultz, 19. Chad Loiodice, 20. Richie Eurich, 21. Danny Cronk, 22. Brendan Finley, 23. Jimmy Horton, 24. Kyle Redner, 25. Jeff Heotzler Sr., 26. Mike Kolka. Did Not Qualify: Bobby Zwart, Ricky Davis, Kurt Hundeland, Jesse Kline, Jeff Behrent, Joe Barbagallo Jr.
Small Block Modified Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Brian Krummel, 2. Shane Jablonka, 3. Tommy Meier, 4. Rob Rowe, 5. Jesse Leiby, 6. Billy VanInwegen, 7. Jimmy Spellmon, 8. Bobby Hentschel, 9. John Ferrier, 10. Zack Vavricka, 11. Tyler McKee, 12. Mike McKerrell, 13. Matt Janiak, 14. Mike Wahl, 15. Gary Edwards Jr., 16. L.J. Lombardo, 17. Bob McGannon, 18. Frank Doty, 19. Tim Hindley, 20. Joe Falanga, 21. Tom Hindley. Did Not Start: Thomas Strupp.
Sportsman Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Dillon Steuer, 2. Tyler Boniface, 3. Jared LaBagh, 4. Jeff Hulseapple, 5. Tyler Johnston, 6. Joe Conklin, 7. Howie Finch, 8. Johnny Illanovsky, 9. Dan Conklin, 10. Rafaele Carson, 11. Pete Goydich, 12. Joe Falanga, 13. Scott Flammer, 14. Troy Arnold, 15. Corey Cormier, 16. Chris Stevens, 17. Jeff Richardson, 18. Phil Johnson, 19. Leo Fotopoulos, 20. John Farissier, 21. Jimmy Johnson, 22. Jesse Leiby, 23. R.J. Smith, 24. Billy Eggers Jr. Did Not Qualify: Bobby DeLeon, Joe Bonetti, Zach Mead, Dan Morgiewicz, Chris Raser, Jimmy Devitt, Connor Otten, Brad Horton, Eddie Burgess, Allison Ricci, JaMike Sowle, Tony Kowalchuk, Steve Eubanks, Danny Carlough, Tommy Vigh, Dylan Smith, Frank Venezia, Anthony Falanga, Charlie Donald, Tanner Johnson, Larry Hendershot, Pat Reiser, Brian Jones, Roger Henion Jr., Randy Sweetman, Mike DuBois, Bob Hallaback, Austin Smith, Bob Wosyluk, Nick Plumstead, Mike Murphy, Tyler Treacey.
Street Stock Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Mike Vigiletti, 2. Jim Maher, 3. Ray Tarantino, 4. Joel Murns Jr., 5. Emerson Cargain Sr., 6. Terry McNamara, 7. Tommy Pickle, 8. Walt Henry, 9. Jim Hajkowski, 10. Dick Shaddock, 11. Jim Maher Sr., 12. Curt Ayers, 13. Paul Maiolo, 14. Wayne Taylor, 15. Emerson Cargain Jr., 16. Steve Johannessen, 17. Jack Dekker, 18. Ron Constable. Did Not Start: Kyle Riley, Dave Van Sise.
Four Cylinder Feature Finish, 12 Laps: 1. Walt Henry, 2. J.B. Morris, 3. Joe Morris Jr., 4. James Ronk. Did Not Start: Dan Houghtaling.
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