RPW Column: Wight & Williamson Share Orange County Opening Night Big Block Glory Saturday

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – The Orange County Fair Speedway began their 103rd year of racing Saturday at the House Of Power. Three of the five winners etched their names into the OCFS record books as first time winners at the historic oval near Middletown, NY.

Larry Wight took the lead near the halfway point of the 33 lap Tommy Meier Tribute Race and collected his first ever Big Block feature in the United Rentals DIRTcar race that was worth $3,300.

Peter Britten took off from his pole position and paced the field through the first 14 laps, holding off Wight on a couple of restarts. Wight was never very far behind and was finally able to get by Britten on lap 15. After pulling out to a bit of a lead, Britten closed the gap, closely trailed by Matt Sheppard in 3rd. As the laps wore down, it was a 3 car battle for the lead as Sheppard really closed in on the top two. Sheppard made a last lap pass on Britten to take 2nd, but there were no laps left to take a crack at Wight.

At the checkers, it was Wight the winner, a scant 1/4 second ahead of Sheppard with Britten finishing 3rd, Stewart Friesen 4th and Jimmy Horton 5th. Mat Williamson was 6th, Danny Creeden 7th, Max McLaughlin 8th, Billy VanInwegen 9th and Anthony Perrego 10th.

For finishing 3rd, Britten received a $333 bonus in honor of the career of Tommy Meier from Mike Sparta Trucking and Ray and Debbie Tuit.

With the top 8 inverted for the 2nd 30 lap Big Block feature, it was McLaughlin taking the early lead. But Williamson was quick to take the lead on lap 2. Williamson was comfortably out for the first 22 caution free laps as drivers jockeyed for position behind him. Fifth starting Friesen was up to 3rd on lap 10 and passed McLaughlin on lap 20. caution on lap 22 tightened up the field and gave Friesen a restart attempt at Williamson. But Mat was just too strong as he pulled out to a 1.6 second advantage over the last 8 laps to take the win. Friesen was 2nd. Sheppard passed Mclaughlin for 3rd on the lap 22 restart and finished there with Max taking 4th with Britten 5th. Completing the top 10 were VanInwegen 6th, Creeden 7th, Horton 8th, Mike Mahaney 9th and Matt Janiak 10th.

In the H.O. Penn 358 Small Block Modifieds, Mike Gular picked up his first ever OCFS feature win as he won by a large margin over Ryan McCartney and Ryan Walther.

The race was marred by an early crash which took out many contenders including VanInwegen, Williamson, Creeden, Meier, driving the Petruska 66, Allison Ricci and Dillon Steuer. When racing went back to green, Gular just pulled away from the other competitors and sailed to a half lap win over McCartney and Walther with Craig Mitchell finishing 4th and Tyler Boniface 5th. Completing the top 10 were Chris Stevens 6th, Shane Jablonka 7th, Jimmy Horton 8th, Daniel Morgiewicz Jr 9th and Gary Edwards III 10th.

2019 OCFS Sportsman Champion, Grant Hilfiger, was back in Victory Lane as he was Saturday night’s Arkel Motors Sportsman winner.

Brian Krummel was impressive in taking a heat win and early on, looked like the one to beat in the race. After 5 laps were down, Krummel slowed and went to the pits. This set up a restart with Jared LaBagh leading with Hilfiger in 2nd. LaBagh chose the low groove for the restart, but Grant, on the high side, got the better restart and was out front. LaBagh stayed close and was trying to make a late race bid for the lead that came up short and brought out the caution. Hilfiger held on for the win by 8/10ths of a second over Dylan Madsen with Cody Higbie 3rd. Joey Bruning finished 4th and Dom Roselli Jr was 5th. Positions 6 through 10 were Travis Green, Mike Sabia, Dylan Smith, Jimmy Johnson and Tighe Sherlock.

The final first time OCFS winner on this Saturday night saw Fred Pavia take the victory in the Precision Hydraulic and Oil Rookie Sportsman division. Pavia was a wire-to-wire winner by 3/4 of a second over Joey Conklin with Matt Fairchild 3rd, Matt Sydoryk 4th and Mark Connoly 5th. Rounding out the top 10 were Kevin Murphy 6th. Clark Bradford 7th, Shawn Murphy 8th, John Jashembowski 9th and Randy Torres 10th.

It will be a big night on April 30th for the NAPA North East Parts Group as they will be having their first events of the season with a double feature scheduled. The Big Block Modifieds, Small Block Modifieds and Street Stocks will also be in action.

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