News, Notes and Quotes Doug Hoffman Memorial Race at Bridgeport Speedway – DTD Exclusive

By KEN BRUCE

For many years, Bridgeport Speedway has billed itself as a big-block only track, but in 2019 the track has opened up the motor rules in its star division and allow small-blocks and sail panels in an attempt to draw in more teams to compete weekly at the sprawling 5\8’s mile dirt oval.

With yesterday’s warm temperatures, wind and most of the racing taking place in the daylight, running a big-block was certainly not the way to go as the open 358’s with the sail panels attached dominated the top five.

The only big-block to finish in the top five was Bridgeport Speedways all-time winner in the Modifeds, Jimmy Horton who took the checkered flag in the third position. Horton who started in the eighth spot quickly moved into the top five and hung in there all race long to get the podium finish. After struggling for a couple of years at Bridgeport with uncharacteristically bad finishes, Horton has seemed to have found the right combination once again with his new for Super Dirt Week last year DKM Cyclone chassis. Last year Horton closed out the year with a strong second place finish at Bridgeport and quickly backed it up at the opening race this season with a well earned third.

“We’re gaining on it, but we still need to be a little bit better,” explained Horton. “We stole Stewie’s (Stewart Friesen) crew-chief (Eric Mack) for the day and Kyle (Hoffman) came down form DKM last night to work on the car and we were better. We still got some work to do with this car but we’re starting to get it. We finished second with this car here last year so we’re making progress, but we still need to get a little bit better and the driver needs to lose a couple of years at it.”




Although Horton crossed the line in the third spot, the driver out of Neshanic Station, N.J.,  can say he was the first car to cross the line with a traditional big-block bolted in under the hood. Unfortunately for Horton yesterday’s track conditions strongly favored the small-block sail panel configuration and Horton talked about the disadvantage and what he thinks about the new open motor rules.

“I really don’t know what to say, it’s a tough deal,” explained Horton. “I see their point and they’re trying to draw cars, but they are putting us (big-blocks) in a disadvantage, so now it’s making not everybody but the ones that can afford it go and buy another motor. There seems to a lot of them out there and some of the guys already have them. I don’t have one.  I have a big small-block for the Deyo (STSS) but they penalize that also and it’s the same thing New Egypt is doing. I thought they were coming around last year and they gave us sail panels and cut us back on the weight but now this year they took the sail panels away and put the weight back up.  I don’t know what they’re trying to do.”

I asked Horton what he thinks the reason for all of the different motor rules and if it’s just a way to try and up the car counts.

“Yes, that’s it and that’s what has got this whole program in trouble. Because a lot of guys up in New York had 430’s sitting up under their benches from years ago. So okay, they let ’em run so they can use them up and get cars. So that’s great but now it forces all of us if we want to run up front to go out and get the latest and greatest. So now everyone goes great we now we have to go out and get another motor. Which most of us did, but now they are bitching. It was alright when you brought yours out and you had the advantage but now it’s not. I don’t know, there’s really no answer to it. The tracks are caught between a rock and a hard place and you can’t bitch at them. They’re trying to make it work for everyone so they can make it. It’s just a tough deal for everyone involved.”

Von Dorhen Fights Hard for Fourth

It was a up and down feature event for the Craig Von Dohren. The driver out of Oley, Pa.,  driving the Dick Biever No. 14S got off to a strong start from his ninth starting spot but bell back through the mid-race portion of the race only fight his way back to a solid fourth place finish at the end.

“We were a little tight early on,” said a disappointed Von Dohren. “It was just so hard to see out there, but we were okay and the car got better as the race went on and we were able to work our way back up there.”

Bridgeport Bites

Thirty-three Modifieds signed in for the afternoon with Rick Laubach, Billy Pauch Sr., and Matt Stangle winning the three heats. Richie Pratt Jr., came home first in the consi…

Defending Bridgeport Speedway champion and the winner of this race last season Ryan Watt pulled out of the feature while running in the top ten with power steering issues…

Jeff Strunk and the Glen Hyneman No. 126 were done after warmups when the motor in their TEO chassis didn’t sound right ending the team’s day. This was the same motor the team had issues with at the Georgetown opener only two weeks ago…

Billy Pauch Jr., had a driveshaft break in warmups and having to be pushed in. The team was able to make repairs and ended the night with a strong sixth place finish…

It was a tough day for Roger Manning as he jumped the cushion in warmups and ended up upside down straddling the second turn wall. Roger was okay after a quick trip to the ambulance but unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for the No. 414…

After suffering engine problems testing at Georgetown earlier this month causing the team to miss the first couple of weeks. Neal Williams and the Sal Debruno No. 0 team were ready for the Bridgeport opener on Sunday. The day didn’t play out as hoped for the team after seemingly suffering severe engine problems once again while running in a qualified spot in his heat…

David Hunt and Jack Swain never came out for their qualifying heat race after having problems…

It was nice to see Mike Maresca make the long haul down form Potsdam, N.Y., to take in the day’s action. Maresca qualified easily in his heat race and ran in the top ten all race long to garner a strong seventh place finish…

Rick Laubach had a nice run going in the feature event when he pulled to a stop on the front stretch with ten laps to go…

A scary incident occured in turn two in the late stages of the race when Brian Papiez and Tommy Beamer got together with Beamer’s car catching fire. Thankfully the flames were extinguished quickly, and Beamer was okay…

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