ORANGE COUNTY FAIR SPEEDWAY'S "NOSTALGIA NIGHT" RACE WIN TO MODIFIED DRIVER CHRIS WHITEHEAD, SPORTSMAN RAINED OUT
By FRANK CATIZONE
MIDDLETOWN, NY – A large throng of former drivers gathered at the Orange County Fair Speedway Saturday evening as the track held its annual Nostalgia Night to honor many of those competitors that have raced at this historic facility over the course of 100 years.
An expanded autograph session was scheduled during intermission as the racing fans had an opportunity to meet and greet some of their favorite drivers from the past and present. However, because of the threat of an impending thunderstorm, OCFS officials altered the program in an attempt to get all the racing in.
Chris Whitehead took the checkered flag for his first victory of the 2019 racing season in the 30-lap Modified feature as the rain already began falling. The Sportsman main event was then quickly called to the track, but only three of the scheduled 20 laps were completed as the rain fell harder – postponing any further action for the evening.
The Sportsman main event will be made up at some time later in the season. But the autograph session went on as planned following the racing as there were tents and tables set up for the Nostalgia Night festivities.
Some of this year’s contingent of Modified drivers honored some of the former stars with painting schemes on their cars.
Whitehead, who started on the pole, was never seriously challenged throughout the event as he picked up his eighth career Modified victory at the track. The veteran driver took advantage of Anthony Perrego’s spin of the inversion wheel to claim the best seat in the house for the 30-lapper.
Perrego, who has set fast time in the group hot laps for the fourth time this season, toured the five-eighths mile, hard clay oval in 21.469 seconds for an average speed of 104.802 miles per hour. Brett Hearn was next in line with a clocking of :21.704 (103.668 mph).
Hearn, who started fifth in the 34-car feature field, passed Matt Janiak for third place on the 10th lap and then turned his attention towards Tommy Meier. Hearn was finally able to slip past Meier on the 26th lap as Whitehead was sailing well ahead of the pack.
A caution for Brian Krummel with 27 laps completed reduced Whitehead’s advantage as rain was now beginning to fall. But Whitehead was too strong on the restart as Hearn settled for his third second place performance of the season with Meier, Janiak, Mike Gular, Tim Hindley, Gary Edwards Jr., Jimmy Horton, Brendan Finley and Craig Mitchell rounding out the top 10.
Hearn’s performance pushed his season total to 552 points as he paces the Modified standings ahead of Meier (522), Mitchell (516), Janiak (508) and Krummel (494).
Joining Hearn and Perrego as group timed hot lap leaders were Hindley (:21.794), Janiak (:21.802) and Meier (:22.092). Matt Hitchcock and Horton won a pair of eight-lap heat races. The four-lap Modified dash was won by Mitchell.
In Sportsman competition, Greg Sleight, Jake Bedell, Michael Sabia, Grant Hilfiger and Matt Shultz were victorious in the qualifying heats. Mel Schrufer and Jesse Leiby captured the consolation events.
Modified Feature Finish, 30 Laps: 1. Chris Whitehead, 2. Brett Hearn, 3. Tommy Meier, 4. Matt Janiak, 5. Mike Gular, 6. Tim Hindley, 7. Gary Edwards Jr., 8. Jimmy Horton, 9. Brendan Finley, 10. Craig Mitchell, 11. Chris Shultz, 12. Matt Hitchcock, 13. Donnie Wilson, 14. John Ferrier, 15. Dillon Steuer, 16. Danny Creeden, 17. Anthony Perrego, 18. Kirk Horton, 19. Roger Henion Jr., 20. Rich Eurich, 21`. Dominic Roselli, 22. Brian Krummel, 23. Jerry Higbie, 24. Steve Dodd, 25. Stan Frankenfield Jr., 26. C.G. Morey, 27. Bob McGannon, 28. Sam Martz Sr., 29. Tyler Jashembowski, 30. John Lieto, 31. Chris Grbac, 32. Jimmy Spellmon, 33. Jeff Heotzler Sr., 34. Ray Jashembowski. Did Not Start: Corey Lowitt, Scott Ferrier.