Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – “Jared was driving this car the last four laps.”
Those were the first words Tim McCreadie uttered to announcer Tim Pitts in victory lane after the 2022 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion made a last lap, last corner pass of veteran Jimmy Horton to win the Eastern States Race of Champions event, in the Petruska family-owned #66, Friday night at Orange County Fair Speedway.
McCreadie started the race in fourth place but had to chase down the likes of Brett Hearn and Frank Cozze before he could begin to hunt down the 43 of Horton.
However, Horton was running the extreme outside of the speedway and McCreadie just worked and worked on the bottom side of the track, making up ground with every lap and was able to make the winning pass off of turn four.
As the two cars drag raced down the frontstretch, McCreadie snuck ahead and captured the $5,000 payday. The money was great, but the emotion shown by McCreadie for the Petruska family afterwards was way more special.
“This is all for him (Jared),” McCreadie said. “These guys have been a dream to drive for and pleasure to work with. I just want to do them justice. That’s all I want to do because they deserve it.”
Lap after lap, McCreadie was working the low groove while the leader stuck to the high side. Did Tim ever think about going upstairs?
“I went out there earlier in the night,” he said. “For what we’re doing with our car, it just feels like it takes me so long to go around out there. I just don’t feel into the race track good enough.”
Ironically, it was his laps in the first Short Track Super Series last chance qualifier that helped him figure out some ideas with his car that eventually led him to victory.
“I found a little bit in that consi,” he said. “I figured out if I just parked and got in some traction, it seemed to help this car,”
Winning this event was big for McCreadie in more ways than one.
“This is pretty cool,” he said. “I’ve won some big races this year, and a championship, but this is where my heart’s always been. To race with these guys, after everything they’ve been through, everything this family has gone through, to get any type of victory, we’ll take it.”
McCreadie also relished in grabbing a win at the Legendary House of Power.
“It’s amazing to win here in front of all of these people,” he said. “This is an awesome race track.”
This race was an invitational for drivers who have captured victories in the historic Eastern States 200 and McCreadie was lucky enough to do so in 2010 while driving for Vinny Salerno. To be part of this race was special for the Watertown, NY driver.
“Any time you can have the best of the best out here is awesome,” he said. “To have the pleasure to be a champion of the race and to run with these guys, it’s a great thing. This was an amazing run tonight and hopefully we can fix this car to make it better for the rest of the weekend because I’d love to see everyone again in victory lane on Sunday.”
Horton had to settle for second with Frank Cozze coming home in third. Mat Williamson and Brett Hearn completed the top five.