RPW Column: Consistency Has Jeff Hulseapple Atop Orange County Points For Sportsman

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – For the third straight week, there is a different driver at the top of the OCFS Arkel Motors Sportsman division point standings.

Heading into the April 24th racing card, Joey Bruning was leading the points, already having recorded a feature win and a 2nd place finish early on. Problems in that night’s feature resulted in a 22nd place feature finish. Runner-up on April 24th, Joe Bonetti , moved to the top of the standings. This past Saturday, Bonetti had early trouble and struggled until pulling in which had him finishing the feature in 24th place.

When the points were tabulated after this past Saturday’s races, it’s now Jeff Hulseapple on top of the standings with 5 Sportsman races completed. And it’s been Hulseapple’s consistent finishes that have vaulted him to the top spot.

Hulseapple started the season with two 3rd place runs in the first two races. A 5th place finish has been followed by two more 3rd place finishes and he now has a 15 point lead over Bruning. Bonetti’s tough race has dropped him to 3rd in the standings.

And it hasn’t been a totally easy road to the point lead for Hulseapple. His starting spots in the features have been 13th, 15th, 17th, 12th and 13th. That’s a lot of traffic to come through each week. On week 3, Hulseapple was caught up in a 1st lap incident and drove from the rear to finish 5th. This past Saturday, he had a brush with the wall in hot laps, but still drove the Vitale Motorsports 1X to a 3rd place finish, his 4th time on the podium of the still young season.

After driving for Vitale Motorsports for many years, Jeff did not race in 2019. Christian Rumsey raced for the team in 2019. As Rumsey formed his racing plans for 2020, his planned schedule included racing his family’s sprint car at many different tracks on Saturday nights. It opened the ride back up and Hulseapple slid back into the driver’s seat.

After an 11th place points finish in the short season of 2020, the team acquired a HigFab Chassis for 2021 and to say the team is pleased with their performance would be an understatement.

“It’s all due to the hard work my guys (Jeff Boyer & Nick Masci) do in the shop and Jeff’s heads up driving and of course the guys at HigFab,” said team owner Anthony Vitale on the team’s Facebook page. “And a big thank you to all our sponsors, without their support, we couldn’t do it. Big O Fuels, Saft Electric, O & R Painting, JRS Homes, Villa Gaudio and Klotz Oils.

Although Hulseapple is pleased with the podium finishes he has accumulated, he did say in an interview that he wouldn’t mind moving up to a higher step on the podium.

Following Hulseapple, Bruning and Bonetti in the points are Jake Bedell in 4th and Gary Edwards Jr in 5th. Bobby Flood, Jared LaBagh, Joe Conklin, Ryan Neiger and Charlie Loiodice complete the top 10 Sportsman point standings.

Danny Creeden will be looking for another good finish in the H.O. Penn 358 Small Block feature this week at OCFS. Creeden has finished in the top 5 every race this season thus fan in the Small Blocks. Anthony Perrego is a close 2nd with Tanner VanDoren 3rd, Jimmy Horton 4th and Craig Mitchell 5th. Tyler Boniface is 6th, Corey Cormier 7th, Richard Smith 8th, Jerry Higbie 9th and Billy VanInwegen 10th.

Although you need to win a race to secure a spot in the Final Eight in the OCFS Big Block Point Series Playoff, some spots in the eight may be determined by the point standing positions if there are repeat winners in the Big Blocks when the elite 8 are determined after the July 10th racing. So far, Tommy Meier and Matt Sheppard have already locked themselves into the Final Eight.

After Saturday’s United Rentals DIRTcar Big Block Modified points, it’s Meier in front of Max McLaughlin with Billy Decker 3rd, Anthony Perrego 4th and Peter Britten 5th. Tyler Dippel, Craig Mitchell Bob McGannon, Tyler Jashembowski and Sheppard complete the top 10.

Mike Vigiletti leads the NAPA North East Parts Group Street Stock Points followed by Bob Sleight, Walt Henry, Wayne Taylor and Danny Hedges.

The Precision Hydraulic and Oil Rookie Sportsman division will also be in action this week with the 358’s and Sportsman.

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