8/24/19 - Brett Hearn Scores first BB Feature win of 100th Anniversary Season
By FRANK CATIZONE
MIDDLETOWN, NY – Brett Hearn inched closer to claiming the $40,000 prize for capturing the Modified track championship at the Orange County Fair Speedway this season after earning his first victory of 2019 last Saturday night in the 30-lap main event.
Hearn, the track’s winningest driver, who is seeking the 16th title of his legendary Modified career at the track, has been on top of the standings since April and has accumulated 970 points behind his consistency entering the final regular-season program on Sept. 7. Tommy Meier is a distant second to Hearn with 896 markers and Craig Mitchell (892) also remains in the hunt.
Hearn, who has reached victory lane 176 times at OCFS, put the finishing touches on a great weekend as he also picked up a win at Albany-Saratoga Speedway last Friday night.
“This was by far my best weekend of the season,’’ said Hearn. “We fine tuned this car during the week and I can’t more pleased with the outcome. I thought I had a shot at winning the Centennial race, but I broke a rod in the motor and had to drop out.
“We put one of our backup motors in this car during the week and the car was really like a rocket. The fact that we were able to use the Hoosier 300 tires on the right rear also made a big difference getting to this track surface. You can see there really is no tire wear and these are the tires I used during the Centennial race.’’
Hearn, who started third in the 30-car field, also earned a guaranteed starting spot for The Gobbler at Accord Speedway on Nov. 30. However, the Sussex, N.J., driver isn’t sure whether or not he’ll be competing in that event.
The spot was originally for the King of the Catskills race in September. However, because of a confliction with another race, Accord owner Gary Palmer cancelled the King of the Catskills race this season.
Hearn, after winning his group time trial hot laps to finish among the top 12 drivers for the inversion wheel spin, started in third in the feature behind Brian Krummel and Michael Storms. Krummel led the field for the first lap before Hearn came sailing into the lead off the second turn a lap later and never looked back.
After Danny Cronk looped his car in the first turn to force a caution with five laps completed, Storms charged ahead of Krummel into second place and turned his attention towards Hearn. But Hearn was able to build a good cushion until the caution flag flew once again for John Ferrier with 23 laps in the record books.
Billy Dunn, who was aboard the Ray Graham Racing No. 18D once again, and Anthony Perrego were involved in a heated battle for third place. Perrego moved past Dunn following the 24th-lap restart, but wouldn’t advance any further as Hearn pushed out his lead once again and Storms ran comfortably in second.
Perrego, who leads the Small Block Modified standings entering the final points night, had to settle for third place with Dunn, Mike Gular, Krummel, Jerry Higbie, Jimmy Horton, Matt Janiak and Dillon Steuer rounding out the top 10.
Steuer set fast time during the hot lap groups with a clocking of 21.079 seconds (106.741 seconds) around the smooth five-eighths mile, clay oval. The other group winners were Dunn, Sam Martz Sr., Hearn, Danny Johnson and Storms. Johnson was driving Atlas Paving No. 66 for car owner Mike Petruska.
The Modified heats were won by Higbie and Tommy Meier. There were 32 cars entered in the pits with John Guarino and Kirk Horton both scratching from the feature.
Michael Sabia picked up his second victory of the season and also earned a guaranteed starting spot for the Joe G’s Great Crate Sportsman race at Accord Speedway on Oct. 5 behind his 20-lap triumph in the main event.
Sabia wrestled the lead away from Joe Bonetti on the ninth lap and never looked back as he finished ahead of Bobby Flood, Bonetti, Sammy Martz Jr. and John Brown.
Bonetti had his hands full throughout the early going with Sportsman division points leader Grant Hilfiger and Greg Sleight right on his tail. Sabia, Flood, Martz and Jared LaBagh were also in the thick of contention before LaBagh was knocked out of action during a homestretch incident with eight laps completed.
The accident was very costly in the title chase for LaBagh, who finished in 23rd place and dropped well behind Hilfiger for the 2019 banner.
Sabia took charge following LaBagh’s misfortune as he got the jump on both Bonetti and Sleight following the restart.
The Sportsman heats were won By Hilfiger, Bonetti, Martz and Flood. Patrick Murphy and Gary Edwards III took the consolation races.
Rob Taylor grabbed his second straight victory in the Street Stock feature, which was shortened from 15 to eight laps because of the time curfew. Wayne Taylor, Jim Hajkowski, Dan Maher and Charlie Donald rounded out the top five.
The Northeast Vintage Modified eight-lap feature was won by Darryl Hulburt with Ray See and Mike Houghtaling following.
Feature Finish, 30 Laps: 1. Brett Hearn, 2. Michael Storms, 3. Anthony Perrego, 4. Billy Dunn, 5. Mike Gular, 6. Brian Krummel, 7. Jerry Higbie, 8. Jimmy Horton, 9. Matt Janiak, 10. Dillon Steuer, 11. Tyler Boniface, 12. Danny Johnson, 13. Tommy Meier, 14. Sam Martz Sr., 15. Chris Whitehead, 16. Craig Mitchell, 17. Matt Hitchcock, 18. Mike Trautschold, 19. Danny Creeden, 20. Bob McGannon, 21. Brendan Finley, 22. C.G. Morey, 23. Gary Edwards Jr., 24. Chris Shultz, 25. John Ferrier, 26. Donnie Wilson, 27. Bob Hentschel, 28. Rich Eurich. Disqualified: Corey Lowitt, Danny Cronk. Did Not Start: John Guarino, Kirk Horton.
Sportsman Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Michael Sabia, 2. Bobby Flood, 3. Joe Bonetti, 4. Sammy Martz Jr., 5. John Brown, 6. Jake Bedell, 7. Grant Hilfiger, 8. Greg Sleight, 9. Mel Schrufer, 10. Charlie Loiodice, 11. Travis Green, 12. Jordan Lawrence, 13. Matt Shultz, 14. Jeff Higham Jr., 15. Jamie Yannone, 16. Patrick Muirphy, 17. Ken Ryderm 18. Joe Conklin, 19. Dan Morgiewicz, 20. Ken Ferrier, 21. Bob Jashembowski, 22. Gary Edwards III, 23. Jared LaBagh, 24. Jared Miller, 25. Troy Arnold. Disqualified: Christian Rumsey. Did Not Qualify: Dylan Smith, Daryl Ford, Justin Gozzi, Trevor Arnold, Brett Weslowski, Pat Mann, Jeff Jones, Ryan Neiger, R.J. Smith, Marshall Jones, Mike Bull, John Farissier, Russell Crotty, Rob Wosyluk, Austin Smith.
Street Stock Feature Finish, 8 Laps (time curfew): 1. Rob Taylor, 2. Wayne Taylor, 3. Jim Hajkowski, 4. Dan Maher, 5. Charlie Donald, 6. Kevin Skelly, 7. Emerson Cargain Sr., 8. Matt Caramano, 9. Emerson Cargain Jr., 10. Jim Maher, 11. Jack Beaumont, 12. Ryan Modiano, 13. Bob Sleight Jr., 14. Joe Scheffold, 15. Ron Constable, 16. Edgar Hedges, 17. Nick Giardini, 18. Dylan Gannon, 19. Ray Tarantino, 20. Jared Palmer.
Northeast Vintage Modified Feature Finish, 8 Laps: 1. Darryl Hulbert, 2. Ray See, 3. Mike Houghtaling, 4. Bob Schmidt, 5. Doug Atkins, 6. Ken Hermance. Did Not Start: John Atkins.