BRIDGEPORT, NJ – In spite of Mother Nature’s unrelenting grip on winter weather, the Bridgeport Speedway welcomed a host of dedicated racing fans and officially opened their 2018 season with the 60 Over Special – Doug Hoffman Memorial Event on Saturday. The start of the season was greatly anticipated by both fans and competitors alike as they lined up to gain entrance to the grandstands and pit area for this event.
More than forty Spirit Auto Center Big Block Modifieds, 29 Stewart Stainless 602 Crate Sportsman and 16 Pennco Tech Outlaw Stocks, filed into the pit area for the first day of racing.
The fans were not disappointed as the race teams rose to the occasion to deliver a great day of racing. Ryan Watt became the first driver to repeat in the 60 Over Special – having won the 2014 event and now adding the win in the new season. Adam McAuliffe traveled some five hours from his home in upstate New York to capture the victory in the first 602 Crate Sportsman feature in his first ever Bridgeport appearance. Rich Stinson Jr. took his father’s Outlaw Stock to Victory Lane to open the new season.
The opening day event was also the first hand in the 811 Dig Safely 2018 Poker Series. Aces were earned by the three race winners – Watt, McAuliffe and Stinson – as the 2018 competition gets underway. Drivers finishing second through thirteenth will receive cards of a King through a deuce, respective of their finishing positions of second through thirteenth.
The top twelve qualifiers in the Spirit Auto Center Big Block Modifieds participated in a revenge draw to determine the line-up for the forty-four lap 60 Over Special. Ricky DiEva drew the outside pole and gave that position to Bridgeport regular, Tommy Beamer who promptly outgunned Mike Gular at the wave of the green flag to lead the twenty-six car field at the start. Beamer led the way with Gular, Anthony Perrego, Craig VonDohren and Jim Britt in tow.
Making his way through the field from his eighth place start was Watt who had made his way to fourth by the second lap. Perrego fell to Watt’s challenge a lap later as Gular was next on Watt’s radar.
Beamer had the Thornton Gulf No. 31 well out in front when the first caution waved on lap seven as Roger Manning limped to the pits with a left rear flag. Watt raced by Gular on the restart and then, using the outside, Watt raced by Beamer to take the lead on lap eight.
Watt pulled away from the field while Beamer continued his hold on to the runner-up spot through a lap sixteen restart. 2017 60 Over winner, Stewart Friesen was on the move from his eleventh place start as he raced into fourth and began to pressure Perrego for third. First Perrego and then Friesen completed the pass by Beamer to take over second and third. Watt led Perrego, Friesen, Beamer and Bachetti through half way. By lap twenty-seven, Watt was making his way through lapped traffic.
With less than fifteen laps remaining, Ryan Godown broke into the top five after racing his way from twelfth. With Watt well out in front, Friesen continued to pressure Perrego while Godown chased Beamer for position. Friesen won the position in the closing laps while Godown was able to best Beamer for fourth.
Watt led the way to the checkered flag followed by Friesen, Perrego, Godown and Beamer. Bachetti, Duane Howard, Jim Britt, Jeff Strunk and Craig VonDohren rounded out the top ten at the finish.
Invader, Adam McAuliffe led the field of Stewart Stainless 602 Crate Sportsman to the start but it was third place starter, Jeremy Harrington who raced into the lead on the first lap. A lap six caution was a game changer for the race as Harrington headed to the pits for a tire change. Harrington’s misfortune moved second place competitor, Dave Schilling into the lead but Schilling never had the chance to lead a lap as he, too, headed to the pits with a tire issue. McAuliffe became the new leader. McAuliffe led the way to the checkered flag with a hard charging Eric Kormann closing the gap in the final laps to finish second. Chris Jenkins finished third with Frank Dorry and Scott Kohler rounding out the top five.
Rich Stinson, Jr. took the field of Pennco Tech Outlaw Stocks to the green flag, leading every lap until 2017 Outlaw Stock Champion, Tom Wills, Jr. completed the pass for the lead on lap ten. Two laps later, Wills, Jr. slowed with a right front flat, putting Stinson back out in front. Stinson raced to the win over Spider Ensinger. Mike Creamer recovered from a first lap spin to finish third over Lee Allen with Wills, Jr. racing back for a top five finish
Big Block Modified heat winners Duane Howard, Ricky DiEva, Ryan Godown and Mike Mahaney each received $50 courtesy of Mike Dise and the Mini Shed. Stewart Friesen received a $200 bonus as the race’s Hard Charger from Precision Hydraulics & Oil.
Competitors will have the opportunity to practice on the Design for Vision/Sunglass Central 3/8 th mile track as well as the Spirit Auto Center quarter mile on Saturday, April 7th. Racing action returns to the 5/8 mile track on Sunday, April 15th for the 2018 season opener for the United Racing Club Sprint Car season opener in addition to the Big Block Modifieds, 602 Crate Sportsman and Rookies.
SUMMARY – 60 Over Special – Doug Hoffman Memorial 811 Dig Safely Poker Series Hand #1
Spirit Auto Center Big Block Modified (44 laps): 1. Ryan Watt, 2. Stewart Friesen, 3. Anthony Perrego, 4. Ryan Godown, 5. Tommy Beamer, 6. Andy Bachetti, 7. Duane Howard, 8. Jim Britt, 9. Jeff Strunk, 10. Craig VonDohren, 11. Billy Pauch, Jr., 12. Jimmy Horton, 13. Wade Hendrickson, 14. Dominick Buffalino, 15. Davey Sammons, 16. Mike Mahaney, 17. Roger Manning, 18. Richie Pratt, Jr., 19. Rick Laubach, 20. Danny Bouc, 21. Brett Kressley, 22. Rick DiEva, 23. Billy Pauch, Sr., 24. Mike Gular, 25. Ron Roberts, 26. Neal Williams, DNQ – Sam Martz, Doug Manmiller, Butch Tittle, Dillon Steuer, Ernie Miles, III, Matt Stangle, Brian Papiez, Rusty Smith, Bob Sarkisian, Travis Hill, Mike Franz, Stan Frankenfield, Jesse Hill, J.R. Burritt, P.J. Oliver
Stewart Stainless 602 Crate Sportsman (20 laps): 1. Adam McAuliffe, 2. Eric Kormann, 3. Chris Jenkins, 4. Frank Dorry, 5. Scott Kohler, 6. Ryan Simmons, 7. John Criscion, 8. David Crossman, 9. Pete Serra, 10. Tom Creed, 11. Kevin Borden, 12. Mark Clauss, 13. Paul Hartwig, 14. David Schillings, 15. Tom Moore, 16. Jeremy Harrington, 17. Joe Brown, 18. Brad Roberts, 19. Wayne Weaver, 20. Steve Kemery, 21. Tommy Errico, 22. Rich Wenger, Jr., 23. Melissa Scarpati, 24. Parker Gulden, DNS – John Cavallero, Ernie Miles, Jr., Jim Gallagher, Jr., Ricky Thompson, Ray Cost
Pennco Tech Outlaw Stocks (15 laps): 1. Rich Stinson, 2. Spider Ensinger, 3. Mike Creamer, 4. Lee Allen, 5. Tom Wills, Jr., 6. Brian Ludwig, 7. Billy Wroble, 8. John Parker, 9. Andrew Joslin, 10. Gary Klimeczak, 11. Keith McKinley, 12. Jeramy Doerr, 13. Bill Liedtka, 14. Paul Donahue, 15. John Meyer, 16. Scott Hulmes