Matt Janiak Triumphant At 3rd Outing In New DKM Car
By FRANK CATIZONE
MIDDLETOWN – Matt Janiak finally turned the tables at the Orange County Fair Speedway last Saturday night as he ended a two-year winless drought with a convincing victory in the 30-lap Modified main event.
“We really needed this one,’’ said Janiak, who last parked his car in OCFS’s victory lane on July 23, 2016. “It’s been a struggle all season long, but the entire crew has hung in there and this here is what it’s all about.
“This is just the third time out with this new car and it just was perfect tonight. It took some time figuring how to get it dialed in, but the crew has worked hard all season and hopefully this is the start of some better performances down the road.’’
Janiak, who started on the pole, was in complete command from the beginning of the event and never wavered as the race took only 11 minutes, 25.959 seconds to complete as it ran caution-free. He took the checkered flag well ahead of John Lieto, who was embroiled in a heated battle with Anthony Perrego.
“I had no idea how big of a lead I had,’’ said Janiak. “I just concentrated on hitting my marks and keeping the car going in the right direction. It’s been a long time since I’ve made it here…too long. I’m just happy our luck changed and maybe it won’t take so long to get back here the next time.’’
Lieto, meanwhile, had his hands full with Perrego after passing C.G. Morey for second place on the 13th lap. Perrego also moved past Morey on the same lap and set his sights on Lieto.
Perrego moved in on Lieto within a few laps and was looking for an opening to pass, but Lieto stood his ground to remain ahead. Perrego’s car made contact with the inside barrier wall moments later and he never really mounted another serious challenge.
Lieto finished two seconds ahead of Perrego with Craig Mitchell, Morey, Jimmy Horton, Danny Creeden, Jerry Higbie, Brendan Finley and Chris Whitehead rounding out the top 10.
Perrego came back later in the program with another stellar performance in the Small Block Modified 25-lap feature as he picked up his fourth win of the season and is now within striking distance to defend his track championship.
Perrego, in fact, has a chance to capture both the big and small block modified championships this season. Tommy Meier was the last OCFS driver to accomplish that feat in 2016.
Perrego, despite being disqualified after an apparent win earlier this season, is now just 31 points behind Brian Krummel in his quest for a second straight small block title.
“We’ve just had a phenomenal season with the small block car,’’ said Perrego. “I can pretty much put this car any place I want to on the track and we’re able to move forward without too much trouble.
“It’s been a little bit different with the big block because the cars are just so even out there. You need to get some breaks with some cautions and take advantage of them. Unfortunately, there we no cautions tonight. But if you’re the leader, those yellow flags are the last thing you want to see.’’
Perrego, who started in 12th position, powered ahead of Creeden on a 14th-lap restart and then pretty much had things his own way as he picked up his fifth career OCFS victory.
Gary Edwards Jr. was able to find his way around Creeden following a 23rd lap restart to finish in second place with Creeden, Tyler Boniface, Krummel, Joey Bruning, Chris Stevens, Frank Venezia, Mitchell and Michael Storms rounding out the top 10.
Joe Conklin joined Janiak in victory lane with his first win since July 23, 2016 as he outraced Jesse Leiby to capture the Sportsman 20-lap feature.
Conklin, after starting on the pole, never trailed during the race as he picked up his eighth OCFS career win. Leiby chased Conklin for most of the race before settling for second place with current points leader Jimmy Johnson, Tommy Vigh Jr. and Jared LaBagh rounding out the top five.
Jim Hajkowski picked up his second victory of the season in Street Stock competion as he nosed out Kevin Skelly at the wire in the 15-lap main event.
Hajkowski and Skelly put on quite a show during the middle stages of the race as they swapped the lead back and forth. Skelly, however, lost the handle on his car in the fourth turn on the ninth lap and nearly looped it.
Hajowski regained the lead at that point and then went on for the win over Skelly, Wayne Taylor, Ryan Modiano and Nick Giardini.
Modified Feature Finish, 30 Laps: 1. Matt Janiak, 2. John Lieto, 3. Anthony Perrego, 4. Craig Mitchell, 5. C.G. Morey, 6. Jimmy Horton, 7. Danny Creeden, 8. Jerry Higbie, 9. Brendan Finley, 10. Chris Whitehead, 11. Donnie Wilson, 12. Tommy Meier, 13. Bob McGannon, 14. Richie Eurich, 15. Stan Frankenfield Jr., 16. Gary Edwards Jr., 17. Corey Lowitt, 18. Joey Falanga, 19. Danny Cronk, 20. Chris Shultz, 21. Jimmy Spellmon, 22. John Ferrier, 23. Bob Hayes Jr., 24. Jeff Heotzler Sr.
Small Block Modified Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Anthony Perrego, 2. Gary Edwards Jr., 3. Danny Creeden, 4. Tyler Boniface, 5. Brian Krummel, 6. Joey Bruning, 7. Chris Stevens, 8. Frank Venezia, 9. Craig Mitchell, 10. Michael Storms, 11. Brendan Finley, 12. Shane Jablonka, 13. Bob Hentschel, 14. Chris Grbac, 15. Jeff Heotzler Sr., 16. Patrick Reiser, 17. Zack Vavricka, 18. Joe Bonetti, 19. Tommy Vigh Jr., 20. Anthony Falanga, 21. Allison Ricci, 22. John Ferrier, 23. Tom Hindley, 24. Roger Henion Jr. Did Not Qualify: Tighe Sherlock, Jesse Leiby, Rich Eggers, Mark Bishop.
Sportsman Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Joe Conklin, 2. Jesse Leiby, 3. Jimmy Johnson, 4. Tommy Vigh Jr., 5. Jared LaBagh, 6. Greg Sleight, 7. Matt Shultz, 8. Mel Schrufer, 9. Jake Bedell, 10. Brad Szulewski, 11. Howie Finch, 12. Troy Arnold, 13. Jimmy Leiby, 14. Dan Morgiewicz, 15. Danny Carlough, 16. Bobby Flood, 17. Bob Jashembowski, 18. Ryan Macartney, 19. Ryan Neiger, 20. Joe Bonetti, 21. Jeff Hulseapple, 22. Milton Mann, 23. Corey Cormier, 24. Jimmy Devitt. Did Not Qualify: John Brown, Nick Plumstead, Mike Bull, Jake Granacker, Connor Otten, Samantha Muller, Marshall Jones, Billy Eggers Jr., Lem Atkins, Jamie Yannone, Jeff Higham, Bob Wosyluk, Dylan Smith, Mike Talmadge, Pat Mann.
Street Stock Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Jim Hajkowski, 2. Kevin Skelly, 3. Wayne Taylor, 4. Ryan Modiano, 5. Nick Giardini, 6. Ron Constable, 7. Charlie Donald, 8. Jack Dekker, 9. Tommy Pickles, 10. Jim Maher, 11. Rob Taylor, 12. Marty Van Nieuwland. Disqualified: Tim Daly (illegal distributor).