358 Small Block Action Returns to OCFS on 2019's Opening Night
By Jordan Sheehan
For the 2019 season, Orange County Fair Speedway has already announced a payout increase for all divisions. For the Small Block division, the winner will now receive $2000 during a Saturday night points race. In 2018 the Small Block division saw 54 drivers collect points with an average of 30 plus cars for all of the seven races the division competed in. Mother Nature wasn’t kind to the Small Blocks in 2018, which played a major role in why the division had fewer races. When the last checkered dropped though, Brian Krummel was announced our 2018 Track Champion. Krummel has been around the speedway for many years, but had returned last season after racing at Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania. Krummel didn’t pick up a win in the division last year, but his consistency proved him stout. He finished only 3 points ahead of Anthony Perrego who won 5 of the 7 races in the division.
In 2019, Brian Krummel will be back full swing to defend his track title with the Zubi’s Racing #17Z and he will compete full season with a Big Block as well. Third place in points was Craig Mitchell. Mitchell announced his plans are to hunt down both the Small Block and Big Block track titles. Craig finished 3rd place in points in both divisions in 2018. Tyler Boniface was 4th in points for 2018. He will also be back looking to win this years championship after collecting one of the seven feature wins in 2018. Along with these drivers will be Gary Edwards Jr. Edwards ended his season with 5th place in points. Gary will have a Big Block ride weekly also in 2019. Shane Jablonka was the only other driver besides Tyler Boniface to pick up a win where Perrego didn’t in 2018. Shane will be back on the hunt for a title in 2019.
A driver many may not be too familiar with is Chris Grbac. Grbac was a mainstay in the South Jersey racing scene for multiple years. Grbac was in the #7 last year and also debuted a beautiful Big Block at Eastern States. Chris will be back in 2019. “I’ll be racing 358 weekly in my Hig Fab #7, and on some certain occasions I’ll bring out my Teo Pro Car Big Block. Orange County is a great place and I had fun last year.”
Chris will be joined by a few returning drivers as well. One of them being Accord Speedway’s Scott Ferrier. It’s been quite some time since Scott Ferrier has raced OCFS weekly. Donnie Wilson will have a fresh Small Block in 2019 and will compete within the Big Block ranks as well. Finally Richie Eurich will compete in a full season of Small Block action. This will be another double duty driver this season.
The up and coming young talent falls nowhere near short in the Small Block division. Allison Ricci is the only female competitor in the Small Block division. She's already had a powerful start to her season competing in Delaware with the Short Track Super Series. She got up as far as sixth place before running out of fuel. She will be competing full time in 2019. Joining her will be another driver who ventured to Georgetown and Port Royal Speedway this season, and that's Roger Henion Jr. Henion joined the Small Block ranks in 2018 after competing in Sportsman. “My main goal is to take the Small Block Championship. This year I have the car and crew to do it. The payout increase is awesome. So glad to see all the upgrades being done to the track. This is going to be an awesome year for drivers and fans!”
Pat Reiser will be another driver who is on the up and coming list for Modified racing. Reiser shocked race fans when he time trialed in the top 6 at Eastern States Weekend for Small Blocks. Reiser is ready for this years Small Block action. “I would like to finish somewhere in the top ten in points. Like 8th through 10th. With this new handicapping system I want to time in the top 12 more than 50% of the year. The pay increase is unanimously awesome. It's going to be great for the fans and the drivers.”
Brendan Finley will be doing double duty this season too. Finley joined the Modified ranks not too long ago and has been very impressive. His efforts even saw him compete at Super Dirt Week in Oswego and finish top 5 in Big Block points in 2018. “Honestly I’m just hoping to improve on last year. With some of these heavy hitters coming in this year it’s going to be hard to be in top 5 in points again, but I’d be happy to have both cars in the top 5 at this year's end.”
Cole Hentschel will be making the jump from Sportsman to Small Block in 2019. Cole has been a strong graduate from the Rookie Sportsman division. He will be joined by his dad Bobby Hentschel full season. Matt Shultz will also have a Small Block on hand this season while competing with the Sportsman as well. Tommy Meier will take over the wheel for Bob Dini’s #75 and Joey Bruning will have his brand new car ready to go.
The division seems to be continuing to grow, and it seems to be the division that will link some of the best talent the Big Block and Sportsman class has to offer. Expect somewhere between 30 and 40 Small Blocks to start the season off. One just has to wonder, who will hold the title of 2019 Orange County Fair Speedway Small Block Track Champion?