By MIKE MALLETT
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – Stewart Friesen blasted by Andy Bachetti on a late race restart to claim the ‘Hard Clay Finale’ at the Orange County Fair Speedway. The Sprakers, N.Y., driver picked up $5,000 for the win in the Short Track Super Series North Region finale. By virtue of his second place finish, Bachetti earned his third North Region championship.
“That was wild,” said Friesen. “Brett’s (Deyo) races always are. I got up there to Andy (Bachetti) and saw his tires were almost shot. I don’t know what lap it was, probably just about halfway. I knew ours was close. I tried driving it as straight as I could. It blew and I raced with Andy and Anthony (Perrego) back up through. It was neat and exciting.”
Bachetti started on the pole of the 50-lap main-event and quickly jumped to the lead at the green flag. He paced the first laps as he was chased by Mike Mahaney and Ryan Godown.
Bachetti ran a quick pace early catching the back-side of the field by lap 15. As he attempted to work traffic pressure was applied by Mahaney and eighth starting Stewart Friesen.
At the halfway point of the event Bachetti kept himself at the front with Mahaney and Friesen still trying to track him down while racing each other for the runner-up position.
On lap 28 Mahaney was all over Bachetti for the lead. He worked high, low and through the middle looking for a way around Bachettit as they raced in traffic. Unfortunately, one lap later, Mahaney brought out a caution as he got together with a slower car which caused him to spin in turn two.
Bachetti held the advantage over Friesen at the green. Friesen tried to stay with the Sheffield, Mass., driver but couldn’t keep up the pace. On lap 36 Bachetti blew a right rear tire giving the lead to Friesen for the first time.
Bachetti hit the pits as Friesen earned the top spot. His stay at the front this time was short lived as two laps later he blew a right rear tire and was forced to the pit area for the tire change. From this point forward flat tires were the story as nearly everyone near the front of the field succumbed to flat tires.
Several different drivers led laps including Brandon Grasso and Jerry Higbie, but both of them were forced to pit as the race went on due to flat tires. Eventually it became a race again between Bachetti and Friesen.
With seven laps left in the race, Bachetti and Friesen restarted together off of four. Friesen got a great jump with the big-block power beating Bachetti into the first turn. The two made slight contact off the second corner with Friesen taking the lead.
“We were able to roll Andy on that last restart and get out in front,” mentioned Friesen. “From there it was smooth sailing. He’s got the open small-block and we brought the big-block. He got a little bit of a jump but halfway down the straightway we got our legs underneath of us and were able to beat him down into one.”
Friesen held on to the lead the final few laps for his second Halmar International North Region victory of the year with his last coming in June at the Afton Motorsports Park.
Bachetti’s second place finish was good enough to earn him the 2017 North Region title.
“Stew drove around me there,” cited Bachetti. “I think he took two tires and I took one. I kind of felt the tire starting to get a little thin again so I knew they didn’t put a harder tire on. They put a softer tire on so I backed off and took it a little easy. Then you go into big picture mode. We got it done and I’m proud of my team.”
Rick Laubach held on late to finish in third after starting 13th. Billy Decker crossed the line fourth after starting 23rd but failed to make weight as did fifth place finisher Higbie. They were both disqualified moving Craig Mitchell to fourth and Jeremy Smith into fifth.
BEHRENT’S PERFORMANCE WAREHOUSE ‘HARD CLAY FINALE’ RACE SUMMARY – ORANGE COUNTY FAIR SPEEDWAY OCTOBER 19, 2017
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP Halmar International North Region Event No. 9 Big-Block/Small-Block Modified Feature Finish (50 laps): STEWART FRIESEN, Andy Bachetti, Rick Laubach, Craig Mitchell, Jeremy Smith, Mike Ricci, Danny Creeden, Matt DeLorenzo, David Van Horn Jr., Brandon Grosso, Allison Ricci, Shane Jablonka, J.R. Hurlburt, Jimmy Horton, Anthony Perrego, Mike Mahaney, Billy Van Inwegen, Ryan Godown, Tommy Meier, Ric Hill, Joey Bruning, Nick Nye, Matt Sheppard, Kirk Horton, Brian Krummel, Craig Hanson, Tyler Dippel, Frank Cozze.
Disqualified (Weight Infractions): Billy Decker & Jerry Higbie
Did Not Qualify: Joey Bonetti, Gary Edwards Jr., Rich Ricci Jr., Ricky Davis III, Jeff Heotzler, Rich Eurich, Rob Rowe, Brett Tonkin, Heath Metzger, Roger Henion, Billy Pauch Jr., Rusty Smith, Brad Horton, Sean Mandel, Chris Stevens, Joe Judge, Joe Falanga, Yanick Mathieu, Tyler Treacy, Kurt Hundeland, Kenny Ferrier, Cole Hentschel, Frank Venezia, Sam Martz, Rich Eggers, Tyler Boniface, Billy Eggers, Cory Lowitt, Tom Hindley, C.G. Morey, L.J. Lombardo, Terry Arnold.
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire): Matt DeLorenzo (eighth) & J.R. Hurlburt (13th)
ATL Fuel Cell Bonus ($200 Certificate): Jeremy Smith (fifth)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Craig Mitchell (fourth) & David Van Horn Jr. (ninth)
Dewalt Tools Giveaways (Pre-Race): Billy Van Inwegen, Tyler Treacy & Kurt Hundeland
Fast Axle Bonus ($50 Certificate): Mike Ricci (sixth)
Grand Rental Station Middletown Hard Charger ($500): Jeremy Smith (28th to fifth)
Keizer Wheels Bonus (FREE Wheel): Craig Mitchell (fourth)
QA1 Hard Charger Bonus ($50 Certificate): Jeremy Smith (28th to fifth)
Rock Fantasy Halfway Leader ($250): Andy Bachetti
VP Racing Fuels Bonuses (second, 12th & 22nd): Andy Bachetti (second), Shane Jablonka (12th) & Nick Nye (22nd)
Weld Wheels Bonus ($50 Certificate): Mike Mahaney (16th)
Wilwood ‘Lucky 7’ Bonus ($50 Certificate): Danny Creeden (seventh)
Street Stock Feature Finish (20 laps): KEVIN SKELLY, Joel Murns, Charlie Donald, Tommy Pickles, Walt Henry, Ray Tarantino, Emerson Cargain, Ryan Brockner, Jim Hajkowski, John Hechinager, Bob Sleight, Ron Constable, Paul Harding, Mike Vigiletti, Wayne Taylor, David Cook, Jim Maher, Dan Maher, Joe Scheffole, Chris Murphy, Kyle Welsch, Kevin Corman, Livy Johnson, Jay Smalley, Shawn Maher.
Did Not Start: Larry O’Donnell, Matt Guadagno, Gary Gamble.