SWEDESBORO, NJ – It’s a family tradition! Doing as their fathers have done before them, Richie Pratt, Jr. and Jim Gallagher, Jr. followed the lead set by their fathers as both drivers raced to victory in their respected divisions in Saturday night action at the Bridgeport Speedway. Mark Bitner earned his second win of the season by winning the Mid Atlantice Sprint Series (MASS) feature event.
Just as his father and uncles have done in the past, Richie Pratt, Jr. raced to his first victory of the season in the family owned No. 28 to capture the Spirit Auto Center Big Block Modified feature event on Saturday night, winning a wheel to wheel battle with Dominick Buffalino. It was Big Block Modified racing at its best with Pratt taking the lead from Dave Shirk on lap six. Pratt then led the way through lap ten before Buffalino raced to the outside on a lap eleven restart to become the new race leader. Several times, Pratt raced through the turns with Buffalino but each time, Buffalino pulled ahead exiting the corner. That is until lap eighteen when Pratt crossed the start/finish line side by side with Buffalino.
The two drivers raced door to door for more than two laps – no banging, no sparks – just good clean racing by two drivers who have a long history in racing. Leading the field to take the five to go sign, Pratt was able to pull ahead, using the inside line to regain the lead. “How did he get that fast?”, was the question Buffalino had as Pratt took the lead. The question was soon answered as Buffalino followed Pratt’s line with just a few laps to go. Pratt pulled away as he drove to the checkered flag and his 24th career Bridgeport Big Block Modified win.
Buffalino finished second followed by Rick Laubach in third. Ryan Watt rebounded from an earlier incident to drive from the rear to finish fourth while Jim Britt had a strong run to finish fifth.
Pratt shared his victory with his family and sponsors. “Please support the names that you see on these race cars,” Pratt told the fans. “Everybody says it but it is true – if it weren’t for our sponsors, there wouldn’t be any racing!”
After capturing the DA’s Auto Body & Repair Rookie Championship earlier this season, Jim Gallagher, Jr. captured his first Stewart Stainless Crate/Sportsman feature win, leading from the green flag to the checkered in a caution riddled event.
The first caution came before the first lap could be scored when Brian Papiez drew the yellow. Gallagher prevailed in spite of all of the cautions that tightened up the field and brought his competition to his rub rails and bumpers.
Gallagher concentrated on hitting his marks and being smooth as he led all twenty laps to the checkered followed by David Crossman and Eric Kormann. Jeff Bubori had a strong outing to finish fourth with Matt Stangle using a late race pass to crack the top five.
“The Twister”, Mark Bitner, took the lead from Eddie Wagner on lap three – using a smooth move to the inside of turn two to lead the field of MASS Sprint Cars. Bitner never looked back as he raced to the finish for his second Bridgeport win of the season over Wagner. Bryant Davis finished third after capturing his first 305 Sprint Car win just one week earlier. Dave Brown raced home in fourth with Brendon Poff rounding out the top five.
Bitner and the Brian Nixon owned No. 202 are proof of the old adage that races are won and lost in the garage as their hours of dedication have resulted in strong finishes for the team this year.
Racing action returns to the Bridgeport Speedway at 7pm Saturday night with Big Block Modifieds, Crate Sportsman and Outlaw Stock action.
SPIRIT AUTO CENTER BIG BLOCK MODIFIED FEATURE (25 laps): 1. Richie Pratt, Jr., 2. Dominick Buffalino, 3. Rick Laubach, 4. Ryan Watt, 5. Jim Britt, 6. Billy Pauch, Jr., 7. Jesse Hill, 8. Ron Roberts, 9. Sam Martz, 10. Mike Franz, 11. Tommy Beamer, 12. David Hunt, 13. Jack Swain, 14. Dave Shirk, 15. Don Hallowell, 16. Bob Sarkisian, 17. Neal Williams, 18. Billy Pauch, Sr., 19. Stan Frankenfield, 20. Anthony Moran, 21. J.R. Burritt, 22. Tom Maccherone, 23. P.J. Oliver, DNS – Ernie Miles, III
STEWART STAINLESS SUPPLY CRATE/SPORTSMAN FEATURE (20 laps): 1. Jim Gallagher, Jr., 2. David Crossman, 3. Eric Kormann, 4. Jeff Bubori, 5. Matt Stangle, 6. Roger Manning, 7. Clyde Cox, 8. Tom Tanner, 9. Kevin Belmont, 10. Adam Cox, 11. Ryan Simmons, 12. Jeremy Martino, 13. Tom Holding, 14. Dave Damiano, 15. Matthew Peck, 16. Keith McKinley, 17. Tom Moore, 18. John Scarpati, 19. Steve Kemery, 20. Rich Wegner, Jr., 21. Wayne Weaver, 22. Ray Cost, 23. Brian Papiez, DNS – Chris Jenkins
MASS 305 SPRINTS FEATURE (20 laps): 1. Mark Bitner, 2. Eddie Wagner, 3. Bryant Davis, 4. Dave Brown, 5. Brendon Poff, 6. Tommy Carberry, 7. Jeff Geiges, 8. Scott Frack, 9. Austin Bishop, 10. Tom Carberry, Sr., 11. Bobby Butler, 12. Keith Anderson, 13. Craig Pellegrini, 14. Rick Stief, 15. Joe Kay, DNS – Tim Tanner, John Webster, Gabe Fox