RPW Column: Despite A Great Start, Joey Bruning Unsure Of Full Season At Orange County

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – In the first three races of the Arkel Motors OCFS Sportsman division season, Joey Bruning has shown that he could be a solid contender for the division championship.

An opening night 2nd place was followed up with a dominating win the following week. This past Saturday wasn’t quite as good. Involved in a first lap incident, he came from the back to finish 9th, still quite respectable. After 3 races, he is in great position, leading the Sportsman points.

But on Tuesday’s ‘Talkin’ Dirty’ podcast hosted by Brett Hearn and Christina Contento, subbing for Pat Reiser, Bruning indicated that he may not be doing the complete OCFS schedule this season.

“We were not going to run Middletown this year,” Bruning said. “We started the year at Georgetown, Delaware and then Selingsgrove racing in the Deyo Series. We are still looking at traveling the Deyo Series mainly because of schedule. The midweek races kind of fit. It gives us and our crew some weekends to live a different life.”

“We are still thinking about running the Deyo shows that are coming up, but we did not anticipate coming to Middletown and being that fast out of the gate,” Bruning continued. “This track’s been good to us in the past. We were winners 4 years ago in the Sportsman division, led the points then but it faded away.”

“But now, we are on top again. We got with Bicknell Chassis over the winter. They have been a big help to our program. and it’s showing right now.”

When Hearn asked if he was going to be at OCFS the rest of the season, Bruning had this to say.

“I can’t say that. We are kind of treating it like when last week we said, “let’s go another 2 weeks and see how it goes.”

One other factor that may change Bruning’s late season plans is that he and his wife Melanie are expecting twins in late August or early September.

During the show, there was a trivia question that read, “Who was the only Sportsman to have his engine claimed with the OCFS claimer rule?” The answer is Bruning, and he talked about that experience.

“It didn’t bother me because I was certain that it was 100% legal. I didn’t know that the guy who claimed it was going to take it apart to find something, to look for something to say that it was illegal. We had just come back to Middletown and we were running Teo cars for the first time. We were fast, we were winning races by a huge margin. It was a great car, a great combination. When they took the engine it was like, okay I have to get another one and I got to find one in a week. We got a new engine and we won again. It kind of quieted everyone. The guy who claimed it proved that we were legal.”

“It was a repaired engine, the camshaft was worn out. He claimed a great Sportsman engine, but it was not a fresh engine. It was not worth what it was claimed for.”

Brett asked Joe if the claimer rule has a place in the sport.

“I do, but I don’t think it does right now. It’s hard to get crate engines right now. I have no problem with anyone claiming my engine at all. I just want the ability to buy one tomorrow and you can’t. And the price of a claimer engine needs to go up, they’ve gone up in price.”

There were some other notes from the podcast.

Last Saturday’s Hard Charger awards went to Danny Creeden in the Small Blocks 21st to 5th and Joe Bonetti in the Sportsman 27th to 5th.

This week’s H.O.Penn 358 Small Block feature will be 30 laps with a $3,000 winner’s purse. The race will not be done in the handicap system. There will be a draw for heat starting spots and redraw for the feature.

When the United Rentals Big Block Modifieds return on May 1st for the Joe Falanga Memorial race, Max McLaughlin, Mat Williamson and possibly Peter Britten are expected to be in competition according to Hearn.

Also for the Joe Falanga Memorial Race, the Falanga Family has added $1.000 to the winner’s purse, an outstanding gesture by the family in memory of Joe.

With a higher than expected field in the Precision Hydraulic and Oil Rookie Sportsman division, their races will be expanded from 12 to 15 laps for their 5 upcoming races before they graduate into the Sportsman after June 26th.

Last week, Stephen Keeler of Rock Fantasy in Middletown added $100 to the NAPA North East Parts Group Street Stock winner Mike Vigiletti. He also added $50 to both Wayne Taylor in 2nd and Danny Hedges in 3rd.

On Friday, May 7th, OCFS will host the first in a series of car shows. There are six of these shows scheduled the first Friday night from May-October. There is a $15 registration per car with all cars eligible for a $250 door prize.

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