Richie Eurich Picks Up His 50th Win
FRANK CATIZONE – MIDDLETOWN – Richie Eurich considers the Orange County Fair Speedway to be the greatest track he’s ever raced on.
Since 1967, Eurich has made the historic racing facility his Saturday night home and has prospered with many feature victories and four championships between the Modified and Limited Sportsman divisions.
It’s been a fruitful career for the “Electrifying’’ Eurich, who has been circling the five-eighths mile, hard clay for over 50 years and spanned across six decades.
Eurich has taken his career in stride throughout the seasons, but last Saturday night he joined a group of OCFS immortals that could now be considered the track’s Modified “Mount Rushmore.’’
Because Eurich, finally lifting a huge weight off his back, became only the fourth driver in OCFS history to claim 50 career Modified victories as he staved off a late charge by Mike Ruggiero to capture the 30-lap main event for his first triumph since the 2014 season.
“I’m glad that 50 wins is finally over with,’’ said Eurich. “It was really starting to get to me. I really didn’t think about it that much, but everyone just kept asking me about it. But it’s over and now I’ll just concentrate on getting No. 51.’’
Jeff Heotzler Sr. earned his 51st career triumph just the week before on June 17. The track’s all-time winningest driver Brett Hearn (174) and Frankie Schneider (58) are the only other ones to reach the elusive milestone.
“It’s been a long time coming, but getting 50 at this track is quite an accomplishment,’’ said Eurich. “I’ve raced at many tracks over the years, but I consider this to be the greatest one of all. The racing fans here really pump you up and I’m looking forward to being around here for a few more years.’’
Eurich, who claimed his last victory on May 17, 2014, started the race in fifth place among a field of 26 cars. But a rash of strange events in the early going had the legendary driver out in front after only one lap was scored.
Mike Kolka’s car slowed at the initial start and stopped in the second turn to force a caution as Danny Cronk was scored the leader after one lap. A pile-up involving several cars in the third turn forced OCFS starter Jerry Enright to display the red flag.
Cronk was unable to fire up his car for the ensuing restart and was pushed off the track to the pits. Matt Hitchcock inherited first place, but he also left the racing surface before another lap was scored and Eurich was now in front.
Eurich, who has had several opportunities to get his 50th win for more than three seasons, wasn’t about to let this chance slip through his hands again. The Warwick driver was able to build a big cushion as the race went caution-free to the checkered flags.
But he would need that advantage while racing through lapped traffic in the latter stages of the race. Eurich was unable to overtake Chris Whitehead as both Chris Shultz and Ruggiero were starting to reel him in.
Ruggiero passed Shultz for second place on the final lap, but really wasn’t able to mount a serious challenge for the victory.
“It’s tough passing out there,’’ said Eurich. “I don’t know why he was racing with me. I was told he was never shown the move-over flag. I’m just glad things worked out and it’s finally over.’’
Shultz held on to finish in third place with Brendan Finley, Matt Janiak, Tommy Meier, Jerry Higbie, Jimmy Horton, Tim Hindley and Gary Edwards Jr. rounding out the top 10.
Thomas Radivoy continued to bulster the best season of his young racing career as he utilized a late-race maneuver to score his second OCFS win of 2017 in the Capital Racing Sprint Agency (CRSA) 305 Sprint Car 15-lap main event.
Radivoy, who now has five wins this season, dove underneath Brett Jaycox while racing off the fourth turn on the 14th lap to grab first place and then went on to finish ahead of Sydney Prince, Jaycox, Mark Taylor and Geoff Quackenbush.
It marked the second time this season that Radivoy swept features at both OCFS and nearby Accord Speedway on the same weekend. He won the NEWS wingless sprint feature at Accord last Friday night.
Joey Bruning continued his dominance of Sportsman racing as he notched his fourth triumph this season in the 20-lap feature over Howie Finch III, Jesse Leiby, Leo Fotopoulos and Tommy Vigh Jr.
Bruning, after starting fifth in the 25-car field, passed Finch for first place on the 17th lap, but was placed back to second after jumping the ensuing restart. Bruning was able to regain his lead on the 19th lap and then went on to the win.
Jared LaBagh dominated the first half of the race, but his car began pushing and he lost first place to Finch while racing off the fourth turn on the ninth lap.
Jake Grannacker grabbed his first career victory in the Rookie Sportsman 15-lap feature as he finished ahead of Bobby Flood, Mike Talmadge, Richie VanOrden and Michael Giuliano.
Grannacker, who started on the pole, led the entire race despite some pressure from Flood in the latter stages.
Jim Hajkowski picked up his first win this season in the Street Stock 15-lap race as he finished ahead of Tommy Pickles, Joel Murns Jr., Mike Vigiletti and Charlie Donald.
Hajkowski wrestled the lead away from Wayne Taylor on the third lap on the way to his win. Taylor was scored in fifth at the finish, but was disqualified for an illegal carburetor during the post-race inspection.
Modified Feature Finish, 30 Laps: 1. Richie Eurich, 2. Mike Ruggiero, 3. Chris Shultz, 4. Brendan Finley, 5. Matt Janiak, 6. Tommy Meier, 7. Jerry Higbie, 8. Jimmy Horton, 9. Tim Hindley, 10. Gary Edwards Jr., 11. Billy VanInwegen, 12. C.G. Morey, 13. Steve Dodd, 14. Chris Whitehead, 15. Tyler McKee, 16. Craig Mitchell, 17. Donnie Wilson, 18. Bob McGannon, 19. Danny Cronk, 20. Matt Hitchcock, 21. Joey Falanga, 22. Tyler Jashembowski, 23. Jeff Heotzler Sr., 24. Mike Kolka, 25. Kirk Horton, 26. Corey Lowitt. Did Not Qualify: John Ferrier, Stan Frankenfield Jr., Bob Hayes Jr., Kurt Hundeland.
CRSA 305 Sprint Car Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Thomas Radivoy, 2. Sydney Prince, 3. Brett Jaycox, 4. Mark Taylor, 5. Geoff Quackenbush, 6. Billy VanInwegen, 7. Jeff Trombley, 8. Kyle Smith, 9. Tyler Boniface, 10. Scott Flammer, 11. Chuck Alessi, 12. Emily VanInwegen, 13. Tyler Jashembowski, 14. Christian Rumsey, 15. Dana Wagner, 16. Eddie Strada, 17. Dustin Purdy.
Sportsman Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Joey Bruning, 2. Howie Finch III, 3. Jesse Leiby, 4. Leo Fotopoulos, 5. Tommy Vigh Jr., 6. Danny Carlough, 7. Joe Conklin, 8. Mel Schrufer, 9. Jimmy Johnson, 10. Greg Sleight, 11. R.J. Smith, 12. Anthony Falanga, 13. Brad Horton, 14. Dan Morgiewicz, 15. Connor Otten, 16. Winter Mead, 17. Roger Henion Jr., 18. Chris Grispin, 19. Austin Smith, 20. Patrick Murphy, 21. Joe Bonetti, 22. Jared LaBagh, 23. Matt Shultz, 24. Billy Eggers Jr., 25. Jeff Hulseapple.
Rookie Sportsman Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Jake Grannacker, 2. Bobby Flood, 3. Mike Talmadge, 4. Richie VanOrden, 5. Michael Giuliano, 6. Bob Jashembowski, 7. Jamie Doolan, 8. Mike Orlando, 9. Ashley Rogosich, 10. Michael Bull, 11. John Farissier, 12. Ken Ryder, 13. Dylan Smith, 14. Erin Paulison, 15. Art Jones, 16. Russell Crotty, 17. Brett Weslowski, 18. Roddy Watts, 19. Jimmy Leiby, 20. Chris Raser, 21. Taylor Hurban, 22. Mark Connoly, 23. Jake Bedell. Disqualified: Rich Eggers (weight).
Street Stock Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Jim Hajkowski, 2. Tommy Pickles, 3. Joel Murns Jr., 4. Mike Vigiletti, 5. Charlie Donald, 6. Pete Wiegand, 7. Emerson Cargain Sr., 8. Ryan Modiano, 9. Rob Taylor, 10. Larry O’Donnell, 11. Michael O’Sullivan, 12. Steve Larsen. Disqualified: Wayne Taylor (carburetor). Did Not Start: Joe Scheffold.