Alex Bright Takes Home “5G’s” In USAC East Coast Sprint Gallagher Memorial At Williams Grove

Story By: NICK FILLMAN / USAC EAST COAST SPRINT CAR SERIES – MECHANICSBURG, PA – Alex Bright of Collegeville, Pennsylvania topped the field at the Williams Grove Speedway for a $5,000 pay day and the highest paying event in the history of the Rapid Tire, USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series, presented by Capitol Renegade.

After a dismal performance in the heat race that saw Alex Bright miss the points inversion spot by one coming home fourth, the 2021 series champion had to start the feature event off in the 12th position in the 30 lap event, with Mark Smith and Mike Thompson leading the field to green.

The initial green flag saw Mark Smith jump out to the early race lead for the 30 lap event, with Kenny Miller quickly scooting by Thompson for the runner up spot. Early on in the opening laps of the feature the field gravitated toward the bottom side of the speedway, with the exception of Joey Amantea who immediately went to where he is most comfortable, and began pounding the cushion around the top side of the speedway. By lap five, Briggs Danner who had followed Amantea to the high side had moved himself into the fifth place position from his seventh place starting spot.

Alex Bright also joined the contingent of early runners using the top side of the speedway, but starting in 12th was not able to make up much ground early on in the feature event only working his way up to the eighth place position.

Briggs Danner found out how treacherous the top side of the speedway was on lap seven in turns three and four as Danner went over and beyond the cushion, nearly spinning out the Heffner Racing 5G. Somehow, Danner was able to keep the car rolling, but had fallen back to the ninth place position.

The caution flag flew for the first time on lap eight as Steve Wilbur slowed off of turns three and four with a flat right rear tire. Mark Smith was the leader over Kenny Miller lll, Amantea, Steven Drevicki, and Alex Bright who had made a pair of great moves to work his way into the fifth place position.

On the following restart, Steven Drevicki opted for the bottom side of the speedway and began to pick off a few cars early on in run following the yellow. Drevicki utilizing both the top and bottom side of the speedway quickly found himself into the top three, challenging for second. The restart was not ideal for Bright who had lost a pair of positions, but was able to rebound and work his way back into the top five.

The second caution flag flew on lap fourteen for Kyle Spence who got above the cushion in turns three and four and tagged the wall coming to a stop. Nash Ely who had also make contact with the outer walls in three and four and in one and two, also exited the speedway under the yellow flag on lap fourteen.

The ensuing restart again was a good one for Drevicki as he worked his way into the runner up spot, and drew the crosshairs on the back of the M1 of leader Mark Smith who on the previous two green flag runs had a near half straightaway advantage over the second place car.

The restart again helped Briggs Danner and Alex Bright, with Bright moving into the top three and Danner rebounding into the top five after a spirited battle with both Joey Amantea and Mike Thompson where all three traded slide jobs for position on the top and bottom of the speedway.

The first and only red flag of the feature event was unfortunately displayed on lap eighteen of the feature saw Mike Thompson and Joey Amantea make big contact as the pair went into turn three. Both cars ended up flipping wildly out of the speedway and onto the grassy hill outside of turns three and four. Luckily both drivers were ok, and able to walk away from the vicious incident.

The restart with 12 laps to go drew Drevicki right in on the tail tank of leader Mark Smith, where Drevicki again utilized the catfish line on the bottom side of the speedway to stay right with the early leader Mark Smith.

Drevicki eventually worked his way by Mark Smith on lap 19 of the feature event, becoming the official lap leader on lap 20. Heart break struck just one lap later as Mark Smith slowed with issues down the back stretch to bring out the caution on lap 21.

Drevicki was able to nail the start on the bottom, but Alex Bright utilized the extreme speed of the top side of the speedway to get a big run off of turns one and two, and pull off the massive slide job for the position into turns three and four to the the lead on lap 23. Briggs Danner worked his way by both Kenny Miller lll and Steven Drevicki to move into second place on lap 26 and tried his best to track down leader Alex Bright.

Bright was strong on the top side, with Danner about equal with the speed of Bright in the late stages of the feature event. Try as he might, and he sure did try, Briggs Danner was not able to get close enough for the slide job on leader Alex Bright, as Bright went on to collect the $5,000 pay day in the Bill Gallagher Memorial event at the Williams Grove Speedway. Danner, Steven Drevicki, Kenny Miller lll, and Kody Swanson rounded out the top five.

While this season has had plenty of ups and downs for Alex Bright, the team was able to put together their third complete night of the season, and win the biggest event on the series trail so far in 2022, and series history. The team has been leading races late and not been able to hold off the advances of fierce competitor Briggs Danner in recent events. Bright found himself victorious on Friday night for the very first time at Williams Grove, becoming the third different winner in four events.

No team in the pit area wanted to win on the Bill Gallagher memorial more than that of the Heffner racing 5G team and driver Briggs Danner. It was more than evident from the heat race, all the way to the feature event. Danner did everything he possibly could in the feature event, after rebounding from a miscue on the cushion on lap seven. But ultimately the car came home in one piece and the team will try again on Saturday at Lincoln.

Coming home third was a solid run for Steven Drevicki as the team fought engine issues all night last time out at the Selinsgrove Speedway. Drevicki expressed he thought he had a car capable of winning, but stated that at water hose came off of the 19 entry late in the feature event, pushing water out of the engine and causing bogging, and high heat about the Drevicki Motorsports ride. Perhaps and tail of what could have been for the Drevicki team on Friday night.

Fourth place on Friday night belonged to that of Morgantown, PA’s Kenny Miller lll. Miller again is working on assignment for an internship for the summer months, with Miller’s involvement in the series being limited over recent events. Miller picked up where he left off and came home with yet another top five run.

Rounding out the top five and making his first ever USAC East Coast Start was Kingsburg, California driver, and six time USAC Silver Crown Series champion Kody Swanson. Swanson was solid in his heat race, and from his eight place spot fell back early on in the feature event. Swanson grew more comfortable in the car over the course of the feature event and was rewarded with a top five run. Additionally, Swanson picked up an additional $500 thanks to Briggs Danner’s Grandparents David and Susan, in honor of Bill Gallagher.

Heartbreak fell upon Mark Smith and his M1 entry on Friday night, as Smith no doubt had what could arguably be the fastest car on track during the feature event. The multi-time winged feature winner at Williams Grove came so close to victory, but due to a power steering line failure sending power steering fluid all over the visor, gloves, and steering wheel of the Mach-1 Chassis entry, Smith elected for safety and tried to pull in under caution. Mark unfortunately could not see, so the caution flag was thrown ending the night for the versatile open wheel driver.

Rexton, PA’s Austin Graby attempted to make his first start of the season on Friday night after making a USAC National Series feature event at the Atomic Speedway in Ohio. Unfortunately Graby’s night came to an end in hot laps when the car shut off and the team scratched for the night.

Up next for the Rapid Tire, USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series, presented by Capitol Renegade is the one and only stop of the season to the Lincoln Speedway on Saturday June 4th as a part of the Steve Smith tribute night.

USAC East Coast at Williams Grove Results:

Heat 1 (8 Laps, 5 Qualify, 3 Invert): 1. 19 Steven Drevicki, 2. 20k Kody Swanson, 3. 88J Joey Amantea, 4. 17B Christian Bruno, 5. 59 Steve Wilbur, 6. 23B Preston Lattomus, 7. 83s Billy Ney, 8. 12w Troy Fraker, 9. 42 John Fraker.

Heat 2 (8 Laps, 5 Qualify, 3 Invert): 1. 22 Kyle Spence, 2. 23m Kenny Miller lll, 3. M1 Mark Smith, 4. 7 Ed Aikin, 5. 21 Carmen Perigo Jr, 6. 3BC Nash Ely, 7. 67 Jason Cherry, 8. 7B Aidan Borden.

Heat 3 (8 Laps, 5 Qualify, 3 Invert): 1. 5G Briggs Danner, 2. 21k Tommy Kunsman Jr, 3. 11 Mike Thompson, 4. 20 Alex Bright, 5. 83 Bruce Buckwalter, 6. 76 Mike Smith, DNS: 87 Austin Graby, 96 Lee Kauffman.

Semi Feature (8 Laps, 5 Qualify): 1. 3BC Nash Ely, 2. 23B Preston Lattomus, 3. 83s Billy Ney, 4. 12w Troy Fraker, 5. 7B Aidan Borden, 6. 67 Jason Cherry, 7. 76 Mike Smith, 8. 42 John Fraker. DNS: 87 Austin Graby, 96 Lee Kauffman.

Feature Event (25 Laps): 1. 20 Alex Bright, 2. 5G Briggs Danner, 3. 19 Steven Drevicki, 4. 23M Kenny Miller lll, 5. 20K Kody Swanson, 6. 21k Tommy Kunsman, 7. 17B Christian Bruno, 8. 83 Bruce Buckwalter Jr, 9. 23B Preston Lattomus, 10. 7 Ed Aikin, 11. 59 Steve Wilbur, 12. 12w Troy Fraker, 13. 7B Aidan Borden, 14. M1 Mark Smith, 15. 88J Joey Amantea, 16. 11 Mike Thompson, 17. 22 Kyle Spence, 18. 3BC Nash Ely, 19. 21 Carmen Perigo Jr, 20. 83s Billy Ney.

Lap Leaders Mark Smith (1-19), Steven Drevicki (20-23), Alex Bright (24-30).

Vahlco Wheels Hard Charger: Alex Bright (+11) (12th to 1st).

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