SWEDESBORO, NJ – Mother Nature may have prevented racing on the last Saturday night of the regular Bridgeport season but she could not stop the Bridgeport Speedway from crowning its 2017 champions. While track management would have preferred to completed the 2017 Championship on the track, rain throughout the area called for a cancellation decision as it did with all area tracks.
For the third time in his career, Boyertown, PA driver, Ryan Watt was crowned as the 2017 Spirit Auto Center Big Block Modified Champion. Watt becomes the first back-to-back champion under the current management team. “I can’t thank Ronnie (Roberts) and Fay (Marion) enough for giving us the equipment that we need,” Watt expressed. It’s a family affair for Watt whose racing his supported by his wife, Lesley, son, Logan as well as his parents and many other family members. “I have to thank Lesley and Logan and my crew – none of this would be possible without them.”
Watt added the championship title in his twentieth season in racing competition, picking up seven Bridgeport victories to date – including four Saturday night victories, two Poker Series wins and the Super DIRTcar event in May. Watt finished fifty-points ahead of Dominick Buffalino who finished second in the season points. Rick Laubach, Richie Pratt, Jr. and David Hunt rounded out the top five.
In spite of Matt Stangle’s nine feature wins throughout the season, the Stewart Stainless Crate Sportsman Championship was still up for grabs going into the final race. Stangle had just an eight point lead over Brian Papiez on the final night in what was a four car battle for the title up until a few weeks ago. Good Sportsmanship also played a role in this year’s championship as the father and son team of Jim Gallagher, Jr. and Sr., turned over the wheel of the No. 31 to Stangle on one race night when mechanical failure sidelined the Stangle No. 6. That one race was pivotal in Stangle’s championship. Brian Papiez finished second followed by Roger Manning, Eric Kormann and Adam Cox.
“It’s really been a good year,” the young champion stated. “I can’t thank everyone enough – everyone that has helped me. The track was good week in and week out and the atmosphere was even better.” Stangle wanted to thank his parents, crew member, Rick, all of his sponsors including TEO Pro Car, Martino Race Engines and Rick Laubach for his shock work.
“It’s a dream come true,” for Pennco Tech Outlaw Stock Champion, Tom Wills, Jr who followed in his father’s foot steps and brought another title home to the Wills family. Tom Sr. is a former Bridgeport Street Stock Champion as well as the 2015 Outlaw Stock Champion. “I couldn’t do it without the support of my dad,” Wills explained. “I didn’t want to see it end in a rainout but you can’t fight the rain!”