Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – Tyler Dippel may only be making his four start of the season on Sunday in the Eastern States 200 at Orange County, but he’s shown speed and improvement with every event his team enters and that continued on Friday afternoon.
Dippel drove his American Electric #7D Teo Pro Car to quick time in qualifying for the Eastern States 200 and was pleased with his effort.
“I’m glad to be back here at Orange County Fair Speedway,” Dippel said. “We laid down a really good lap and I’m pretty proud of it.”
Dippel was the only driver to break into the 22-second barrier in qualifying on Friday and continues to impress as he gets more laps in to close out 2022.
“This is only fourth race this year,” he said. “It really shows the group of guys we’ve got behind us. Teo Pro Car and all my guys back at the shop have been able to give me a fast race car. With just a little seat time, being the fourth race out, to go out and set quick time, I think it shows a lot about Teo and our whole program.”
Since the last time Dippel ran at Orange County, the racing surface has changed, but also the preferred racing groove. Several like the bottom but many now run the extreme outside.
“This was kind of similar to how Oswego Speedway was,” he said. “Slow and slippery but there was grip out there. You had to go way up and get it but it was there.”
Mat Williamson was second quickest in time trials but, thanks to the Race for the Pole, he’ll now start in the number one spot.
Even though he had a fast lap, it was a last-minute decision that probably added in Mat’s good run.
“I was actually very surprised that we could time trial on the outside,” Williamson said. “My guys on the radio were telling me to get up there. I said there’s no way anyone’s going up there and sure enough it was the place to be so I have to give them credit.”
Third quickest in time trials was Jimmy Phelps who only has a handful of starts at OCFS this season but is happy with how his #98H is driving so far.
“We’re pretty comfortable right now,” Phelps said. “We were fortunate that we went out late so we could see the line. I never imagined the top would open up like that but thanks to my crew for some good input and our car’s pretty good.”
Even though Jimmy hasn’t run Orange County much, he’s had some good runs during Eastern States.
“I have to get myself back acclimated with this place,” he said. “We’ve had some good runs here. It’s Eastern States so you have to take it in stride, step-by-step, but fortunately we got off on a good first step.”
Matt Sheppard timed fourth quick on Friday afternoon. Was he happy with how everything shook out?
“Yea, absolutely,” Sheppard said. “Daytime conditions are definitely a little different than we’re use to here on Saturday nights but we still had some very good speed.”
Did Sheppard feel his run was good enough to lock into the top six?
“I didn’t feel like I turned all that great of a lap,” he said. “To still be in the top six just shows how good this 9s car is and how good it has been.”
Dillon Steuer timed fifth fastest on Friday and went out as one of the first cars in qualifying. Did that help or hurt his chances?
“I was happy to go out early,” Steuer said. “I tried one lap on the top and one on the bottom. The top was better but overall, the car’s decent right now. Now, we just need to figure out how to get it to stay like that throughout the long race.”
The final driver locking into the top six in time trials was Peter Britten. Is he pleased with his run?
“I guess I’m just happy to be in the top six,” Britten said. “I think I’m the only one who didn’t get memo that the top was fast.”
Even with that, Britten made it to the Race for the Pole and ultimately will start seventh on Sunday.
“I’m pretty happy that we were able to knock off a good lap on the bottom,” he said. “I can’t thank everybody that helps me out enough. We all work real hard at this. It probably helps we came down here a few times this summer and I guess it shows in the results. Now we have a good car for this race.”