Alex Bright Battles To First Career Bridgeport USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series Victory

Story By: NICK FILLMAN / USAC EAST COAST SPRINT CARS – SWEDESBORO, NJ – In a thrilling two car duel for the feature event victory, Alex Bright out lasted the multiple slide job attempts from Briggs Danner to collect his fifth victory of the Rapid Tire, USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series, Presented by Capitol Renegade season, and first ever at the Bridgeport Speedway.

After heat race action, and the redraw for the top nine drivers from the heat races was complete, Alex Bright and Mark Bitner shared the front row of the twenty lap feature event. During the 305 sprint car feature event that was running prior to the USAC feature, and based off of the result of the final two heats along with the prior feature, USAC EC officials made the call to cut the feature event short by five laps. Taking the feature event from twenty-five, to twenty in an attempt to save teams money on their tire bills for the evening.

As the field saw the initial green flag, Bright quickly escaped to the lead of the feature event. But, as quickly as the event began, it was quickly under red for the first time as David Swanson went for a series of wild flips into the first turn. Top five finisher from Friday night Billy Ney was also collected, along with Ricky Rutt. All three drivers would not return to the feature event.

Bright nailed the ensuing complete restart and worked his way out to a solid lead with the rest of the field in tow vying for positions all over the speedway. Briggs Danner quickly moved his way into the second place position by the completion of lap two, and drew his sights on the rear of Bright for the feature event lead. Damon Paul was quickly moving through the field as well utilizing the extreme top side of the speedway along with Bright and Danner.

Bright held a comfortable lead as the field drew ever closer to the half way mark with Danner continuing to reel in Bright for the race lead. Damon Paul, Mark Bitner, and Ed Aikin were locked in a three car battle for the fourth spot, with Allen, Buckwalter and Amantea all battling hard for positions inside the top ten.

The first caution flag of the night would fly on lap eight, as Bruce Buckwalter, Chris Allen, and Joey Amantea would all be collected in a turn one incident. Amantea and Buckwalter would suffer too much damage to continue on in the feature while Allen would continue on. Under yellow, trouble fell upon Craig Pellegrini who was running inside the top five at the time of the yellow as he would suffer a flat tire. The Hummer Motorsports team loaned a rear tire to Pellegrini to finish the feature event with multiple members different teams helped get Craig back on track.

As the field went green with twelve laps to go, the intensity only skyrocketed as Bright and Danner began to put on an absolute show. Danner threw a number of inside to outside slide job attempts on Bright for the race lead as the feature event reached the half way mark. Each and every time Danner made his move to the bottom, Bright was able to turn the car underneath and regain the top spot in the feature. Meanwhile, Ed Aikin continued to pick off cars and found himself inside the top four of the feature event behind Bitner who had moved into third as Damon Paul would fade a bit in the feature.

Bright had opened up a few car lengths advantage over Danner and the rest of the field as they reached the five to go mark, but Danner again reeled in the Hummer Motorsports entry for the race lead. Danner would try the slider one last time inside of three laps to go, but Bright again dove under neath of Danner and regained the race lead. As those two battled for the win, Ed Aikin moved into third and dispatched Bitner who held fourth, with Nash Ely moving into the top five for the first time on the evening.

As the final two laps clicked off, Bright ended his clean sweep night by taking the checkered flags and winning his fifth feature event of the season. Danner followed Bright to the line over Aikin, Bitner, and Ely.

The win for Alex Bright was well earned and hard fought after the events that unfolded on Friday night in feature competition. Bright would get upside down while running in second, and extensive repairs were made to the car, including fresh welding, was required to get the Hummer Motorsports team back out on track. Bright also broke the streak of finishing second to Danner at Bridgeport as the prior two events had seen Danner take the win with Bright in a close second.

Briggs Danner continued to show immense speed, establishing himself as one of the top drivers in the series, along with non wing driver in the nation. Danner recorded a win on Friday, and second on Saturday leading to him maintaining his lead in the points chase for 2021 by only twelve markers over Alex Bright.

Ed Aikin has been very strong so far on the series trail whenever he can make it to our different events. Ed has won three hard charger awards thus far, but on Saturday it was not needed as Aikin collected his heat race win, along with a great outing in the feature event. We are hoping that perhaps we will get to see Aikin run the majority of the events left on the series schedule when time allows.

Fourth place on the evening belonged to two time USAC EC winner Mark Bitner who was making his first start of the season. Bitner looked sharp immediately as he drove from seventh to second in his heat race and nabbing a spot in the redraw. Bitner would hold strong within the top five of the feature the entire distance and come away with a top five run. Like Aikin, hopefully we see Bitner a few more times on the series trail in 2021 before its conclusion, and perhaps Bitner could score another victory as he did last season at New Egypt.

Rounding out the top five continuing his impressive runs was Sinking Spring, PA driver Nash Ely. Ely recorded an impressive runner up finish on Friday night at the Georgetown speedway and backed it up with another strong performance at Bridgeport on Saturday night. The third generation driver is coming into his own behind the wheel of a sprint car, and regularly finishing inside of the top five is quickly becoming a normalcy. With his performances this weekend, and the absence of Tommy Kunsman Jr, Ely has worked his way into third place in the points standings behind Danner and Bright.

While not finishing inside the top five, Eric Jennings made start number two of the season taking his Welsowski Racing entry from the nineteenth starting spot to finish seventh when the checkered flags flew. Jennings made one other start this season at the Grandview Speedway where unfortunately he ended his night upside down in the feature. Jennings is a former series regular, and showed off his skill on Saturday night at Bridgeport.

Up next for the Rapid Tire, USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series, presented by Capitol Renegade, is the second ever stop for the series to the Winchester Speedway in Winchester, VA on July 31st.

As always, stay up to date with all the lates news, photos, and updates from the series by following along on our social media pages! On Facebook at: USAC East Coast Sprint Cars, and on Twitter at: @USACecsc.

USAC East Coast at Bridgeport Results:

Heat 1 (10 Laps, 3 Redraw): 1. 71 Chris Allen, 2. 5G Briggs Danner, 3. 27c Craig Pellegrini Jr, 4. 88J Joey Amantea, 5. 64 Rich Carnathan, 6. 57x Ricky Rutt, 7. 16CW Eric Jennings.

Heat 2 (10 Laps, 3 Redraw): 1. 7 Ed Aikin, 2. 15 Mark Bitner, 3 83 Bruce Buckwalter, 4. 11 Mike Thompson, 5. 83s Billy Ney, 6. 117 David Swanson, 7. 17J Jonathan Swanson.

Heat 3 (10 Laps, 3 Redraw): 1. 20 Alex Bright, 2. 57 Damon Paul, 3. 3BC Nash Ely, 4. 22B Troy Betts, 5. 5z Zack Burd, 6. 62 Brian Spencer, 7. 10M Mike Meyers.

Feature event (20 Laps) 1. 20 Alex Bright, 2. 5G Briggs Danner, 3. 7 Ed Aikin, 4. 15 Mark Bitner, 5. 3BC Nash Ely, 6. 57 Damon Paul, 7 16CW Eric Jennings, 8. 11 Mike Thompson, 9. 71 Chris Allen Jr, 10. 22B Troy Betts, 11. 17J Jonathan Swanson, 12. 62 Brian Spencer, 13. 5z Zack Burd, 14. 27c Craig Pellegrini, 15. 10M Mike Meyers, 16. 64 Rich Carnathan, 17. 83 Bruce Buckwalter Jr, 18. 88J Joey Amantea, 19. 83s Billy Ney, 20. 57x Ricky Rutt, 21. 117 David Swanson.

Lap Leaders: (1 – 20): Alex Bright

Penske Shocks $100 Award: Alex Bright
Penske Shocks $50 Award: Briggs Danner
Penske Shocks $25 Award: Ed Aikin
Ultra Shield 4th Place: Mark Bitner
Ultra Shield 8th Place: Mike Thompson
Vahlco Wheels $50 Hard Charger: Eric Jennings (19th to 7th).

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