RPW Column: Jeff Strunk Captures Accord’s 5 Grand Feast

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – ACCORD, NY – As the Northeast dirt racing season came to it’s 2021 conclusion, it was Jeff Strunk, taking the biggest piece of the holiday pie, winning the Accord Speedway Gobbler event Saturday. Strunk distanced himself from Danny Creeden and Bobby Hackel to take the big win.

As good as Strunk ran in Saturday’s 50 lap feature, he did get a break when an unfortunate set of circumstances happened to race leader Tyler Siri in the first 1/3 of the race.

After the redraw. it was Siri and Strunk leading the field to green. Siri grabbed the lead as the first dozen laps clicked off before the first caution flag slowed the pace. After a couple of restart attempts, it was Siri leading, but Strunk was applying heavy pressure in the low groove. Siri was able to hold him off until 15 laps were completed.

And that’s when the race fell apart for Siri.

Two cars tangled in turn 2. As one car drifted down the banking, it crossed the path of the approaching leader, Siri. Tyler got his car stopped before making contact, but in doing so, the car stalled. And being unable to restart it, Siri got a push. And the Accord Speedway rulebook states that once a car needs a push to restart, it is required to drop to the rear of the field. When informed of this, an unhappy Siri decided to call it a race and retired to the pits.

This put Strunk and Creeden into the top two positions. Strunk pulled away on the restart and pulled out to a big lead. With Strunk long gone, attention switched to the great racing for 2nd between Creeden and Hackel. As they battled through lapped traffic, Danny and Bobby swapped the spot several times before Creeden was able to distance himself from Hackel.

The last 35 laps were raced non-stop with Strunk taking the win by half a lap over Creeden with Hackel 3rd, Randy Green 4th and Shane Jablonka 5th. Last place starter, Danny Johnson, came through the pack to finish 6th. Danny Tyler was 7th, Bobby Flood 8th, Joe Judge 9th and Brian Malcolm 10th.

“We had a real good battle with Tyler Siri. He was a little better on the restart than we were, but I felt we had the little bit better car.” Jeff said in Victory Lane. “I feel bad for him to get caught up like that, it would definitely have been a challenge to beat him. Great car, great car owner, Dave Zubikowski and a great team. We had a great end of the year and it’s great to end it with this win today.”

It was noted that despite infrequent appearances at Accord, that Jeff always seems to be in the mix.

“We run well here. It’s a 3 1/2 hour trip here, but it’s worth it when we can run well at Accord. We appreciate them having some big shows each year and that’s why we are here today.”

And Strunk had a special dedication to a family member after the race.

“My brother was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer about a month ago. This win is for him.”

In the Sportsman, Justin Comes took the lead at the start and survived numerous restarts to take a wire-to-wire win over Josh Allen. Allen put pressure on Comes every restart, but just never had quite enough to get the lead. But nevertheless, Allen had a fine 2nd place finish with Doug Smith 3rd, Joey Bruning 4th and Travis Green 5th. Rick Wegner was 6th, Kevin Stevens 7th, Corey Wood 8th, Brian Conrad 9th and Steve Williams 10th.

Nick Johnson, driving the 454 formerly driven by the recently retired Livy Johnson, was the wire-to-wire winner in the Pure Stock division at Accord Saturday. But it was hardly an easy drive for Nick. He received constant pressure from John Hechinger, Ray Tarantino and Jay Smalley. Smalley’s great race ended in a plume of smoke a few laps from the end. At the finish, it was Johnson with the win over Hechinger and Tarantino with Gary Ronk 4th and Bill Deak Jr 5th. Rounding out the top 10 were Jared Palmer 6th, Josh Bussino 7th, Joel Murns Jr 8th, Jayden Sleight 9th and Matt Mosher 10th.

In the Slingshots, Sophia Spear was in the right place at the right time. With the white flag waving, leaders Ashley Rogosich and Madison Lewis made contact with each of them spinning. Rogosich was towed off while Lewis continued. Spear went on to take the win with Lewis coming back for 2nd. Chase See was 3rd, Calleigh Stritmater 4th and Reanna Davis 5th.

Mike Travis was the Rookie Sportsman winner on Saturday. Many other positions in the field were affected by tech issues. Cody Cordova was 2nd, Lenny Helmich Jr 3rd, Nick Giaradini 4th and Mike Baldwin 5th.

In the Fireball 4 Cylinder division, Jesse Norman was the winner over Tim DeGrote, George Barringer, Rob Storms and Anthony Tarantino.

The Enduro win went to Tim DeGrote over Ryan Heady, Rob Storms, Collin Mills and Andrew Mills.

Gobbler Notes.

As usual with The Gobbler, the car counts very good, season highs in most every division. 30 Modifieds, 32 Sportsman and 22 Pure stocks were amongst the cars that filled Accord’s pits on Saturday.

There was quite a bit of extra money distributed in the Pure Stocks Saturday. There was lap money available to the racers that was left over from the twice rained-out Halloween Havoc event. In a recent Facebook post, Accord Speedway thanked Livy Johnson, Walt Henry and Jordan Sheehan for their efforts . Over $850 was collected from businesses and fans for the Pure Stocks. Well done by all involved.

There was a $500 halfway bonus to the Sportsman leader at halfway Saturday. This was courtesy of Tracey Floor and Tile. Race winner Justin Comes was able to pocket that extra cash.

There was an $1,000 halfway bonus in the Modified feature courtesy of Advanced Tree Removal and Asphalt Repair Solutions. Race winner, Jeff Strunk, was the leader at halfway and this $1,000 bonus pushed his day’s earnings to $6,000.

Heartbreak for two Pure Stock drivers Saturday. After a 4 hour tow from southern New Jersey, Jack Beaumont had his day end on the 2nd lap of his heat with a broken axle. And veteran Accord racer Jay Smalley saw a potential chance for a win end in a plume of smoke a few laps from the end. Bad luck for two of the really good guys in the pits wherever they race.

With this being my final Accord Speedway column of 2021, I would like to thank Accord’s owners, the Palmer Family for the courtesy that they show me through the course of the season. Thank you to Robert Freer and Michael Hager from the track’s scoring staff for always supplying me with copies of the finishes every week. It is such a big help for the race report columns. Thank you to Accord’s track photographer, Kevin Berryman, he always makes me feel welcome at Accord as he has from my first time there. And thank you to the racers, crews and fans at Accord. I always get a lot of great feedback on the columns and photos and it is certainly appreciated. It makes the 1 1/4 hour trip each way each week well worth it!!

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