JANIAK WINS FIRST MODIFIED VICTORY
MIDDLETOWN, NY – Matt Janiak ventured to Ohio for the Super DIRTcar Series’ recent swing through the Buckeye state this past week and he feels the lessons he’s learned traveling have improved his driving style immensely.
Janiak, who broke on to the Modified scene late last season as a member of Chris Larsen’s Halmar racing team, became the 10th different winner at the Orange County Fair Speedway in 2016 last Saturday night when he captured his first career triumph in the 30-lap main event.
Janiak, who said he has about 20 Modified races under his belt, admitted his starting position was a major factor in the victory. But the lessons he’s learned on the road against such talented competition taught him that slowing things down sometimes makes you go faster.
“We’ve hit the road quite a bit this season and I really feel that’s improved my racing style,’’ said Janiak. “I’ve learned a lot about throttle control and how much different it is racing these cars compared to the Sportsman.
“I pretty much could go all out through the turns in a Sportsman. But these Modified cars are too powerful and this is a very fast track here. You have to ease up on the throttle or you’ll end up in the wall.’’
Janiak, who started on the pole, never trailed throughout the event as he raced ahead of Chris Whitehead until the checkered flag dropped. Whitehead was able to keep Janiak within striking distance until fading a bit in the latter stages.
“We ran 30 good laps and I was told we got faster as the race went on.’’ said Janiak. “We actually broke the drive shaft during warmups and had to replace it in the pits. But I had no problems during the race and the race was just perfect.’’
However, things were anything but perfect for Modified points leader Tommy Meier and last week’s winner Craig Mitchell, who entered racing first and second in the standings. Meier’s car slowed before a lap was scored and he had to be pushed to the pits. Mitchell retired under green with 11 laps completed.
Reigning track champion Jerry Higbie, who is seeking his first win this season, vaulted into first place in the standings with 772 points. He’s closely followed by Jimmy Horton (768), Billy VanInwegen (768), Stewart Friesen (767) and Bob McGannon (753). Meier fell to sixth place with 751 points.
The chase for the 2016 championship banner will be intense as there are only four points events remaining on the schedule. That could prove to benefit Higbie, Horton and Friesen as the season winds down with OCFS’s track policy. No feature winner can start in the first three positions for a main event. The three drivers have yet to win this season.
Whitehead turned in his best performance of the racing campaign in finishing second with McGannon, Richie Eurich, Mike Kolka, Friesen, Higbie, VanInwegen, Horton and Gary Edwards Jr. rounding out the top 10.
Joe Conklin broke a two-year winless drought as he held off the late charge provided by Howie Finch III to score his first victory this season in the Sportsman 20-lap feature.
Conklin, who hasn’t won here since Aug. 16, 2014, wrestled the lead away from Corey Cormier following a sixth-lap restart and then went on to earn his seventh OCFS career win ahead of Finch, Joey Falanga, Tyler Boniface and Jimmy Johnson.
Johnson, who is celebratimg his 30th season of racing, was in contention for his first victory in 14 years as he raced second to Conklin with following a ninth-lap restart. But Johnson was involved in an accident with Cormier moments later, and had to fall in at the rear of the field.
Johnson was able to race back to a fifth place finish following the mishap.
Third-generation driver Rich Ricci III grabbed the first win of his OCFS racing career as he captured the Rookie Crate Sportsman 15-lap feature ahead of Patrick Reiser, Matt Shultz, Brad Horton and Connor Otten.
Ricci, the son of former OCFS driver Rich Ricci Jr., got the jump on Brad Horton following a second-lap restart and never looked back as he sailed to an impressive win. Rich Ricci Sr. was also on hand to witness his grandson’s first triumph here.
Jim Maher continued his climb up the OCFS winner’s ladder as he claimed his 12th career victory in the Street Stock 15-lap feature.
Maher, who now stands 11th all-time at the track, finished ahead of Paul Maiolo for the second straight week to claim his third triumph in 2016. Emerson Cargain Sr. followed in third place with Jim Hajkowski and Mike Vigiletti rounding out the top five.
Modified Feature Finish, 30 Laps: 1. Matt Janiak, 2. Chris Whitehead, 3. Bob McGannon, 4. Richie Eurich, 5. Mike Kolka, 6. Stewart Friesen, 7. Jerry Higbie Jr., 8. Billy VanInwegen, 9. Jimmy Horton, 10. Gary Edwards Jr., 11. Jeremy Markle, 12. L.J. Lombardo, 13. Mike Ruggiero, 14. Danny Cronk, 15. John Lieto, 16. Donnie Wilson, 17. Kirk Horton, 18. John Ferrier, 19. Brendan Finley, 20. Chris Shultz, 21. Craig Mitchell, 22. Jesse Kline, 23. Tommy Meier.
Sportsman Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Joe Conklin, 2. Howie Finch III, 3. Joey Falanga, 4. Tyler Boniface, 5. Jimmy Johnson, 6. Jeff Hulseapple, 7. Eddie Burgess, 8. Bobby DeLeon, 9. Austin Smith, 10. Leo Fotopoulos, 11. Troy Arnold, 12. Corey Cormier, 13. Dan Morgiewicz, 14. Joe Bonetti, 15. Joey Bruning, 16. Rafaele Carson, 17. Tommy Vigh Jr., 18. Allison Ricci, 19. Jesse Leiby, 20. Steve Eubanks, 21. Milton Mann, 22. Doc Young, 23. Jeff Richardson, 24. Frank Venezia. Did Not Qualify: Chris Stevens, Billy Eggers Jr., Justin Gilson.
Rookie Crate Sportsman Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Rich Ricci III, 2. Patrick Reiser, 3. Matt Shultz, 4. Brad Horton, 5. Connor Otten, 6. Ashley Rogosich, 7. Chris Raser, 8. Bobby Flood, 9. Tommy Zwart, 10. Taylor Hurban, 11. Dylan Smith, 12. Erin Paulison, 13. Michael Giulano, 14. Tanner Johnson, 15. Cole Hentschel, 16. John Farissier, 17. Jimmy Devitt, 18. Jared Miller, 19. Brian Jones. Did Not Start: Roger Henion Jr., Rich Eggers, Ray Hulseapple, Mike Orlando, Bob Hallabeck, Danny Carlough, Keith Johannessen.
Street Stock Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Jim Maher, 2. Paul Maiolo, 3. Emerson Cargain Sr., 4. Jim Hajkowski, 5. Mike Vigiletti, 6. Tommy Pickles, 7. Emerson Cargain Jr., 8. Stan Vishinski Sr., 9. Mario Contarino, 10. Ron Constable, 11. Tim Daly, 12. Wayne Taylor, 13. Terry McNamara, 14. Shawn Johannessen.