RPW Column: News & Notes From A Busy Sunday Of Eastern States At Orange County Fair Speedway

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – It wasn’t the Eastern States 200 that Tyler Boniface was looking for. A violent flip on lap 62 left him uninjured, but the car was heavily damaged, possibly beyond repair.

Thanks to some great work by the administrators and members of the Facebook page, The Hard Clay Observer, Tyler didn’t go home empty handed. The group secured $4,000 for the Hard Luck Award. It is definitely not the type of award that any racer sets out to receive, but hopefully the funds will help out the race team.

It was a great effort put forth by the Hard Clay Observer. Congratulations to the administrators and members for a super job!!

Eastern States 200 race rules for 2022 stated that a driver had to pit at least once after lap 30. When most of the leaders pitted, Rick Laubach stayed out and assumed the lead. This set him up for heavy lap bonuses on lap 56 and 66.

The lap 56 bonus was the Astro Pete lap and it was worth $1,362 in memory of Pete Gardner, a true friend of and to racing. According to Pete’s brother, Ben Gardner, it’s the highest lap 56 total since the memorial lap began. It’s a nice tribute memorial to Astro Pete and for the Gardner Family.

The lap 66 bonus was in memory of Jared Petruska and it was worth $666. Jared was lost in a work related accident in 2020 and the Petruska Family and friends have done these laps in his memory since.

Laubach led quite a few laps in the first half of the race, so he earned over $2.000 in lap money. Rick finished 23rd.

It sure looked like Stewart Friesen was on his way to his 4th Eastern States 200 victory as he was safely ahead of Matt Sheppard until contact with the inner barrier caused a flat and Sheppard got by with 6 laps to go to take the win. Friesen did collect the $1,000 Busch Beer/Dana Distributors halfway leader bonus.

Friesen and Kevin Root won Sunday’s last Chance Qualifiers. Past winners Rich Eurich, Jerry Higbie and Tommy Meier, all past winners of the 200, were added to the starting field.

Sheppard became the 6th driver to win back-to-back 200’s. He joined Will Cagle, Frank Cozze, Danny Johnson, Brett Hearn and Stewart Friesen as consecutive year’s winners. Frankie Schneider won back-to-back Eastern States 100 lap races. Hearn remains the only driver in OCFS history to win 3 consecutive 200’s, and he’s done that twice. That’s a mark that Sheppard will be aiming for in 2023.

Tanner VanDoren was the Rookie of the Race. Tanner finished 14th, completing all 200 laps.

Twenty one cars completed the 200 laps. Sheppard had the fastest lap of the race and his margin of victory at the finish was 7/10ths of a second.

With the threat of rain, possibly occurring as early as 6:00 pm, the show was efficiently moved along. There were some intermittent raindrops throughout the afternoon, but nothing significant occurred until the last car crossed the finish line.

After weeks of speculation, Chris Larsen announced that there will be racing once again at the historic 5/8ths mile hard clay oval in 2023. It was an announcement that was definitely well received.

See all you racers and fans with more OCFS coverage in 2023!!

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