By JEFF WITHEY
BRIDGEPORT, NJ- Ryan Watt is getting very accustomed to showing up at Bridgeport for big events and taking home piles of cash in extra distance events. He was “The King of The Big Blocks” in 2017, the high point champion and add in his other accomplishments in 2017, and Watt is picking up right where he left off last year, in victory lane.
Saturday marked the 47th season opener at Bridgeport and once again it was dedicated to former Modified campaigner and former promoter of Bridgeport, Doug Hoffman. 24 cars made the show with a cool $4400 going to the winner of the 44 lap affair. The starting line up was set in the revenge format with the top 12 drivers having to pick the number and then hand it off to another driver. Positions 13-22 were set via heat race finishes consi finish and positions 23, and 24 were provisionals that went to Neil Williams and Richie Pratt Jr.
Mike Gular and Tommy Beamer lead the field to the green with Beamer setting the early pace. Ryan Watt who started eighth was up to third by lap six when the first yellow slowed the pace of the race. On the ensuing restart, Watt blasted past Gular and then one lap later assumed complete control of the race for the rest of the way with his pass of Tommy Beamer.
The field would get stretched out pretty good over the next nine laps when Mike Gular’s day would come to an early end on lap 15 when he came to rest in-between turns one and two after setting on the pole for the feature.Just one lap later another and final caution flag waved. Stewart Friesen was now into the top 3 and looking for more while Watt and Perrego were just ahead. Friesen spent the rest of the race chasing down Perrego for second and on the final lap was able to take the spot away as Perrego bobbled.
No one had anything for Watt though on this night. As the feature wore on he was able to open up a nearly full straightaway lead over second place Anthony Perrego. The win was the second of the year for Watt as he picked up a win at the season opener at Georgetown Speedway just two weeks earlier.
“To get two wins this early in the season is great,” said Watt in victory lane. “ I just need to thank Ron and Fay for all the support they give me and to give me the equipment to do this with”.
News & Notes
Stewart Friesen has been busy since the end of last year not only with Modified and Sprint Car racing, he’s markedly improved on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Over the winter it was reported on DTD’s forum that Stewart would call Lebanon Valley home in 18. Then a few weeks ago an article in AARN said that his car owner Chris Larsen was signing a five year lease at Orange County and he would be racing full time at Orange County with his wife. Friesen wanted to clarify some things.
“I was told to be at Orange County a couple of times this year and we will race a few times at Fonda as well and the Super DIRTcar Series tour when it doesn’t conflict with the truck racing” Friesen will also chase the STSS tour as his schedule allows.
Friesen also said “it was a good bonding experience” with his wife over the winter to build her new car…
Adam McAuliffe took a his DKM chassis for the first time to Bridgeport on Saturday and walked out with the winners check.
“I like the place” said Adam. “Its like a big Fonda without the river.”
He added, “We wont be racing on the weekends this year. I like going to the lake with the family.”
Look for Adam to be at Albany-Saratoga though on Friday nights. When asked what was he doing at Bridgeport, McAuliffe said with a big grin “well we went to Georgetown a few weeks ago and that was seven hours by car and this was all of four hours. Its either we look out the garage and wait to go racing near home or we go on the road so here we are.”…
The struggles continue for Rick Laubach in 2018. After having water pump issues during the Florida tour in February, the team had steering box and pump troubles at Georgetown and rear suspension trouble. Now today the team used the same chassis with new non sail panels tin and the car was “maxed out” during hot laps. During the feature the new rear suspension on the new Teo failed again. According to his crew chief look for Laubach to be on hand Sunday at Orange County in the 1K car. He has no set plans for Friday nights in 2018 but will chase the entire STSS north and south series, regular campaigner at Bridgeport and select Super DIRTcar Series events…
A recent Youtube video posted by Mandee Pauch shows how her famous dad Billy Pauch Sr. car is lettered. Its hand painted! When asked why he chooses to get his cars hand lettered versus decals and vinyl he was very succinctly in his reply. “It costs $400 for Dennis to paint the car versus $1000 for vinyl.”
Also in another Youtube video, noted racer Mike Mahaney gives you a tutorial on installing MSD boxes. If your new to racing it is a must watch video as his video on shop safety and used car safety.
“No one gives you a road map or a guide on how to do some of these things. You learn by doing and sometimes you do it wrong so I wanted to show how to do it so it takes some of the guess work out of it,” said Mike…
Another season and another march to championships are underway or about to get underway. When speaking to Jeff Strunk, the ultra talented Modified driver who calls the tough PA small-block circuit his home base on Fridays and Saturdays, he had a little perspective to someone who has achieved so much in his career.
“You always want to do well. Opening day or any day you always want to win. What makes you nervous isn’t that its a new car or its the first race of the year its when you don’t qualify well and your way in the back.”
Strunk said that by Tuesday of this week he would know if he would be in attendance at Orange County on Sunday.
“Its a new car and the motor should be done early this week. Ill know for sure by Tuesday.”…
“The car doesn’t want to stop, it doesn’t want to go but it turns well” said Dominick Buffalino.
Buffalino was talking about his new car. “It shut off on me in hot laps.”
The team proceeded to take nearly the entire car apart in the pit area and he ended up missing his heat race and had to qualify via the heat race. The team took the fuel system apart and was bleeding brakes with all hands on deck during the evening. The only thing that Dominick said that he didn’t have trouble with was his new shoes. “They need to get dirty” he said with a smile…
If your new to racing Bridgeport is going to help take some of the confusion away. The track will now line the cars up on the front stretch for the heat races and stop them. The announcing team will then go over each car, driver and sponsor so you can see whose in each car…
It was a typical early season show as the track was dusty throughout the day. The track had a new surface put down late last season and Saturday marked the first time that a full day of racing was held on it due to the unrelenting winter weather. With a sunny and breezy day, the track crew tried in vain to keep the dust down but its a product of a new surface and daytime racing. A lengthy intermission was held before the Modified feature so that the track support team could water and grade the track surface…
Not many tracks have a member of the management team meet the fans at the front gate as they are entering but that’s what Dave Adams has been doing for at least the last few years. If more tracks treated fans as customers it could help improve the bottom line and help attract more people to attend the events.