RPW Column: Billy VanInwegen Scores HUGE Orange County Fair Speedway Modified Win

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – It was a big night for Billy VanInwegen on Saturday at the Orange County Fair Speedway.

The field of contenders was being reduced to the Final Four that will race for the United Rentals DIRTcar Big Block Modified $30,000 championship next Saturday night.

After making the final 12 that would be eligible for the championship, VanInwegen just squeezed into the Elite 8. And coming into Saturday, he was 7th in points, pretty much needing a win or very bad luck by his fellow Elite 8 competitors to advance to the Final 4.

But Billy and the Escape Powersports team rose to the occasion as he passed Jimmy Horton on a lap 26 restart and survived one final restart challenge from Anthony Perrego to take the big $5,000 Orange and Rockland Utilities sponsored victory.

And Billy will be racing for the $30,000 championship next Saturday against Perrego, Max McLaughlin and Matt Sheppard.

Horton was the early pacesetter in the race, taking the lead at the start over Tommy Meier and VanInwegen. Eleventh starting Perrego was making slow progress through the first 1/3rd of the race, only advancing to 9th. VanInwegen moved past Meier for 2nd on lap 9 and started his pursuit of Horton who was well out front.

The race went green until caution came out after 19 laps down. Horton maintained the lead on the restart, but it was Perrego on the move as he got an excellent restart and went from 7th to 3rd. Caution was out again after lap 26, And Billy made this restart count as he made the pass of Horton for the lead.

With 2 to go, one final caution flew. Perrego, racing with a left front flat, and McLaughlin were both able to get past Horton to take 2nd and 3rd respectively. At the finish, it was VanInwegen, .730 ahead of Perrego with McLaughlin 3rd, Horton 4th and Mike Gular 5th.

Brian Calabrese had his best OCFS feature finish with 6th. Meier was 7th, Danny Creeden 8th, Charles Loiodice 9th and Bob McGannon 10th.

Gular, despite his 5th place finish, was knocked out of the Final 4 with Billy V’s win.

“This is absolutely my biggest win ever,” Billy said after the 358 feature concluded. “The pressure was on us, being 7th in the points. It was a must win for us to stay in contention. We were out of this thing twice but we’re still alive for 30 grand next week. I’m looking forward to racing those 3 next week (Sheppard, Perrego and McLaughlin). They are 3 of my favorite people to race against. We put a new car together about 3 weeks ago and we finally got the bugs worked out of it. We worked our tails off the last couple of weeks to get this car right and it paid off tonight.”

Later on in the evening, it was VanInwegen and Perrego again battling at the front of the pack in the H.O. Penn 358 Small Block feature. Anthony was able to turn the decision in his favor this time as he made a late race pass of Billy to take the win.

Both VanInwegen and Perrego started deep in the pack, coming from the 7th row. Jimmy Horton and Tyler Boniface had a great race at the front for the 1/3rd of the race as VanInwegen and Perrego made their way forward. The strong running Horton took the lead on lap 9 and held it until Billy V grabbed the lead on lap 16.

Perrego took 2nd on lap 18 and took the lead with 2 to go. A final caution with one lap remaining did not stop Perrego as he pulled away on the restart to take the win by 1.2 seconds over VanInwegen. Dillon Steuer passed Horton on the last lap to finish 3rd with Horton taking 4th and Charles Loiodice 5th.

Jimmy Spellmon was 6th, Danny Creeden 7th, Bobby Flood 8th, Chris Stevens 9th and Craig Mitchell 10th.

After losing the Arkel Motors Sportsman points lead a few races ago, Cody Higbie had seen his deficit to Michael Sabia expand to 26 points. But Higbie ran a brilliant, fast pace on Saturday night to take a big win and slice Sabia’s lead to an unofficial 3 points going into next Saturday’s Championship Night.

It was Higbie’s 2nd win of the season at OCFS.

Bob Jashembowski had the early lead until a strong running John Kendall took over on lap 2. Before lap 3 could be scored, a group of cars got together on the backstretch, bringing out the red flag. Ryan Neiger and Grant Hilfiger retired from the race, the other cars involved raced on.

Kendall led on the restart and held it until lap 6 when Higbie, powerful in the high lane, moved past for the lead. Kendall maintained 2nd and Drew Boniface, from deep in the pack, raced his way into 3rd.

Later in the race, the red flag was out again as several cars got together in turn 2 which resulted in Eddie Owens rolling onto his side. Eddie was not injured.

Higbie was just too fast for anyone to keep up with on this race night and at the finish, it was Cody, more than 5 seconds ahead of Kendall in a great run for the young driver. Boniface finished 3rd with John Farissier 4th and Tyler Peet 5th. Finishing spots 6 thru 10 were Jared LaBagh, Travis Green, Sabia, Jeff Higham and Tyler Banks.

Jack Beaumont travels a long way from well into the southern part of New Jersey to compete at OCFS. Jack now wears the crown of a NAPA North East Parts Group feature winner as he raced his way to his first ever OCFS win.

Beaumont took the lead on the lap 3 from Codi Clark and held off a last lap challenge from Dillon Gannon to take that coveted first win. Gannon was a close 2nd, trailing Beaumont by a scant 3/10ths of a second. Mike Vigiletti finished 3rd with Clark in 4th and Doug Sterling 5th.

Rounding out the top 10 were Ray Tarantino 6th, Tyler Romer 7th, Wayne Taylor 8th, Isiah Guest 9th and Anthony Tarantino 10th.

Next Saturday, August 27th, the OCFS regular season comes to an end with the running of Champions Night. Big Blocks, Small Block, Sportsman, Street Stocks and the Precision Hydraulic and Oil Rookie Sportsman will all be in action.

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