VanHorn Shoots Down Competition to Win ‘Garden State Gunfight 2’ at New Egypt – DTD Exclusive

By KEN BRUCE

For David VanHorn it has been a very good season in 2018 at the New Egypt Speedway. The driver out of Ringoes, NJ has been consistent all year and that consistency has landed him a top the points race halfway through the season. The one thing VanHorn hasn’t been able to accomplish in 2018 was to get that elusive checkered flag. Last night that came to an end as VanHorn dominated the 60-lap ‘Garden State Gunfight 2’ to take the big $6,000 win.

The feature event took awhile to get going with four cautions in the first six laps but the action was pretty intense as the drivers knew that restarts would be key tonight with the track being heavy. Former New Egypt track champion Frank Cozze vaulted to the lead at the outset from his outside pole starting spot with Duane Howard from fourth right behind him. VanHorn was on the move early and moved into the runner-up spot after lap four restart and immediately started to challenge Cozze for the top spot.

Another restart on lap six was what VanHorn needed as he powered his way by Cozze to take the lead. Once in front, VanHorn was never really challenged except on restarts but even then, he was able to stay in front and stretch his lead after a few laps. A restart on lap 56 was Cozze’s last chance to steal the win but it was to no avail as VanHorn easily sped under starter Warren Alston’s checkered flag

“We finally got that win here tonight,” cited an excited VanHorn. “The car was good; the track was good and it was smooth. Maybe a little too heavy but not too bad. Starting seventh I knew it would be tough to get by Duane (Howard) and Frank (Cozze) with them starting in front of me but we drove a smart race in the beginning there getting up to third.  Then when we got the lead when the top started to come in and I was able to keep it up there and run a smooth race. They said Frank was starting to close in on me when we got to lapped traffic but he never got close enough to make a move.”

With tonight’s race at New Egypt not being a points race per say, although all drivers did get 50 show-up points, David and his father thought it would be a good time to experiment a little on the Vahlco Wheels sponsored, Fred Vahlsing owned No. 323. The team has been running on gas all season at New Egypt and has been consistent but they were looking for something to try and get them over the hump and into victory lane. Talking to David and his father earlier in the night they thought tonight would be a good night to try and switch the car over to alcohol to see if it helped their performance. Obviously, the change helped as VanHorn parked the car in the winner’s circle.

“The car tonight was better on the starts running on the alcohol,” mentioned VanHorn. “The motor ran really nice tonight and the car was good as well. I think switching over to the alcohol definitely helped. With the gas we usually seem to struggle on the starts and tonight we didn’t seem to struggle at all. So yeah, I think switching over to the alcohol improved our performance. At least for tonight.”

Strong Second Place run for Frank Cozze

As a former track champion at New Egypt Speedway, Frank Cozze always like to return to the speedway and it’s even better when the driver out of Wind Gap, Pa., is able to post a strong finish. Cozze returned to his old stomping grounds last night in central New Jersey and at night’s end came in a strong second place after leading the first six laps.

“You know, I have a lot of friends here and it’s always good to come back here to New Egypt and see them,” commented the veteran Cozze. “I only get to see them when I come here so that’s always a good part.  To get a good finish with nothing wrecked or blown up makes it even better. After 45 years of doing this, you know when it’s a good night or not and tonight was a good night.”

Cozze was back in the Dave Renaldo No. 401 Bicknell chassis on Wednesday night and was impressed by how the car ran in only its second time out.

“You know that’s only the second time we’ve run this car,” Cozze stated. “We destroyed the other 401 we had at Bridgeport a couple of months ago. This car is a Bicknell short run coil car and we’re still learning about it. We haven’t raced it enough yet to really know exactly what to do to it yet. It’s good to come here and have a good run with. We didn’t have sail panels on and that hurts, you can’t give up that free air which is what makes it happen. Even with the sail panels on I’m not sure we had anything for Dave (VanHorn), he was pretty good. I’m just happy to finish, happy to roll into the trailer and we’ll go race it again.”

Danny Bouc Happy with his Third-Place Finish

Danny Bouc would have liked a better finish in the ‘Garden State Gunfight 2’ but at the end of they day his third place finish was enough for him to leave happy.

“We had nice solid run here tonight,” cited Bouc. “The track was just a little too fast around the top tonight for good passing. Whoever got out front first was going to be hard to beat. Duane (Howard) and I kind of swapped spots on every restart there. It was hard to pull off a complete pass without crowding somebody.  Racing with guys as talented as they are, they don’t make too many mistakes. So, we’ll take it. It’s a really good run for us, we’ve been consistent lately so it’s a good night.”

New Egypt Nuggets

29 Modifieds signed in for action on the night with Mike Mahaney, Matt Stangle and Johnny McClelland the heat winners with Brian Papiez winning the consolation race…

It was a rough night for Billy Pauch Jr., and the Rick Holsten team. After blowing up a motor in their heat race, the team thrashed to get the backup car ready for the consi where Billy finished sixth to make the main event. The feature didn’t go much better as Pauch was involved in a lap one crash that did major damage to the front end of the No. 96 ending his night…

After blowing up their big-block on Sunday at Bridgeport, the Atlas Paving No. 66 team with drive Ryan Godown was looking to rebound with a solid run at New Egypt. The night started out on a good night with a strong second place run in his heat. Godown started 12th in the feature and made his way quickly into the top five. Running fifth with only four laps remaining, the 358 Dodge powerplant bolted into the Bicknell chassis gave up the ghost causing Godown to coast to a stop and bringing out the yellow. It’s been a tough few days for the #66 team…

Another driver who ended up grenading a motor Sunday at Bridgeport was Jimmy Horton. Horton said there was major damage done the motor and that it is unrepairable. Horton was probably the driver who passed the most cars during the main-event. Starting 15th, Horton was moving up when he was involved in a lap one tangle forcing him to the back of the pack. Horton was a man on the move and had worked his way close to the top ten when he ran into the back of Brett Kressley entering turn three causing the driver of the No. 19K to spin and bring out the yellow. Horton was sent to the back of the pack again after being penalized for over aggressive driving eventually working his way back up to finish 10th…

Mike Gular made some strong moves late in the race coming from out of the top ten to finish a solid sixth. Gular told me his car really came on at the end when the track had slowed down some…

Mike Mahaney made the long haul from King’s Ferry, New York to compete and looked good winning his heat going away. However, Mahaney was never a factor in the feature struggling to a 14th place finish…

The Packenham team cars of Domick Buffalino and Rich Rutski both had nights they would rather forget with both cars being involved in hard wrecks early in the feature event…

The red flag was thrown after a hard lap one crash on the backstretch involving Kressley, Gular, Pauch Jr., Davey Sammons and Buffalino. Sammons seemed to have suffered the hardest impact with the ambulance being called to the scene. All drivers were deemed okay…

My condolences to Bobbi and Jaxx Johnson on the passing of their husband and father World of Outlaws driver Jason Johnson. A very sad time for all race fans…

As always I can reached at dirtracefan25@hotmail.com or on Twitter @dirtracefan25 for any questions or comments.