RPW Column: Cody Higbie’s Title, Six First-Time Winners Highlight Orange County’s ’22 Sportsman Season
Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – It was an exciting and very competitive season in the Orange County Fair Speedway’s Sportsman division in 2022.
Eighteen races have been held with the ESW Sportsman 50 lap race still to he contested on Saturday, October 22nd. Of the 18 races, there have been 13 winners with no driver with more than 2 wins. The victories have been spread around.
Cody Higbie led the Sportsman points for a good part of the season, capturing a win on June 25th. A late July slump, along with Michael Sabia’s consistency saw Cody give up the points lead. But the hard working driver got down to business and he had a late season surge.
Sabia had pulled out to a 26 point lead until Higbie scored an impressive win in the penultimate Sportsman race on August 20th. This set up a championship finale with Sabia ahead by just 1 point.
In the final race, it was tight between Sabia and Higbie in the early laps. But as the race progressed, Cody moved up while Michael was not able to keep pace. Higbie is now a first time division champion at the historic 5/8ths hard clay.
Cody worked hard to attain the champion status that now wears. And that work includes a lot of study.
“I really studied a lot during the off season,” Cody said. “I went to spring seminars, learned more about shocks. I tried to pick as many brains as I could to gather more knowledge and it really helped me learn more about these cars. And it paid off. I know my car inside and out.”
A very well spoken young driver with a great family that mapped out a great plan to get Cody up to championship status. Congratulations to Cody Higbie, the 2022 OCFS Sportsman champion.
One of the great things about the Sportsman division is the opportunity to see driver’s win their first ever feature. Rafaele Carson won for the first time in the Sportsman on April 30th. Tyler Banks raced to his first ever Sportsman win on May 21st in a holdover feature. Later that night, Drew Boniface took his first ever checkered flag. Boniface made a repeat trip to Victory Lane on August 6th.
John Farissier was at the racing crossroads at the end of the 2021 season. Not happy with his progress, he was debating whether to come back to race in 2022. But John did and he grabbed that long awaited trip to Victory Lane on July 2nd. He backed up that win with another one on August 27th.
“It was the best year that we had out of the 8 years that I’ve been racing,” John said. “We switched chassis manufacturers, which is what really did it. We had really struggled the past 3 or 4 years. We were ready to call it quits, but we decided to give it one more go. We put this Bicknell together, the best of everything. It’s really been amazing. I have to thank Steve Eubanks from Steve’s Fab and Performance. Steve has worked with me all season and has been a huge part of my success. And also a thank you to NY-NJ Trailer Supply and to my father.”
A week after Farissier’s win, another driver who had been racing for several years grabbed his first Sportsman victory. On July 9th, it was John Bockhorn with the win.
“Getting that win was awesome. We worked for a few years to get it. I got close a couple of times, but never got the win. And that night, it didn’t feel like I could win it. I felt that we were going so slow on a slick track,” John said. “But we made it through and it was awesome. Best thing ever. Sometimes, you just hit it right. After the win, we fell off a bit, we’re not sure why. But we have some new shocks on it now and we’ll see how it goes.”
Travis Green has a very good year overall in 2022. He was the track champion at Accord Speedway. And he also was good on the Short Track Super Series 602 Crate races, getting a win at Bloomsburg. Travis was the final first time winner on July 30th.
“It’s definitely been a dream year,” Travis said. “The win at Bloomsburg was great, but it was great to get a win here too. Very tough field to win a race and it’s been an up and down year for me here. It’s been a busy season, 2 regular tracks and a lot of mid week races with one car. It was a lot of work, sometimes 3 nights of racing a week. But we made it through in good shape.”
Besides Higbie. Boniface and Farissier, there were two other drivers who had multiple Sportsman wins. Jared LaBagh was the winner on April 2nd (STSS) and July 16th. Grant Hilfiger scored wins on April 23rd and June 4th.
Other winners with a single 2022 trip to Victory Lane were Dominic Roselli Jr. Brian Krummel and Gary Edwards Jr.
It’s no small feat to get a Sportsman win at Orange County. They draw a large field of cars for every event. So congratulations to all those who were successful in 2022.