Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – Dillon Gannon was fast in his great looking #46 Street Stock Thursday night as the 60th annual Eastern States Weekend got underway. He got the lead at the start, had a good lead over 2nd place, survived several restarts and looked to be heading to Victory Lane.
But a final caution with one lap to go was the break that 2 time OCFS Street Stock Champion Bob Sleight needed and he powered around the outside of Gannon and led his only lap of the race, the one that counted. Sleight collected the win in the 20 lap Crackers Motorsports Marketing LLC Eastern States Street Stock Championship for the NAPA North East Parts Group Street Stocks.
Earlier heat race action set the lineup for the heads up start. It was Charlie Donald and Gannon on the front row and Gannon got the jump on Donald who was an early retiree after just one lap. Gannon continued to lead with Sleight moving into 2nd on lap 3 and took up the chase of Gannon. But Dillon was able to maintain a comfortable lead.
With Gannon and Sleight out front, there was a lot of jockeying of positions between jim Hajkowski, Danny Carlough, Walt Henry and Ray Tarantino.
Hajkowski’s race ended with 2 to go and Tim Daly brought out the final caution with a 4th turn crash. On the restart, Sleight finally got a run on the outside of Gannon and was able to grab the last second win. Following Gannon in the top 5 were Tarantino in 3rd, Carlough in 4th and Randy Torres 5th.
“Thank God for that yellow because I had nothing for him. I’m just so thankful for my sponsors, my family, my wife,” Sleight said. “I’ll be honest with you, I had nothing for Dillon, cautions are your friend.”
For a young driver that had lost a heartbreaker, Gannon was all smiles after the race.
“The track was excellent, Bob’s a hard guy to handle out there. But I felt that we had a great run. Tires started to heat up a little bit, the track got some moisture and when you have Bob beside you with one to go, you kind of freak out a little bit,” Gannon said. “We had a great season here, I just want to thank my awesome crew.”
“It was a lot of fun, the track was real racey tonight,” said 3rd place Tarantino. “I thought I might have a little bit for Bobby, but congratulations to him and to Dillon Gannon.”
Although he didn’t win, Gannon still made out well money wise in the race, taking 19 out of the 20 lap bonus money including $200 from Rock fantasy in Middletown NY.
Eleventh place finisher Tyler Romer won a special $111 award in memory of JoAnn Stevens , wife of former driver Ed Stevens.