By Ken Bruce
It was another quiet and strong performance for Jimmy Phelps aboard the HBR No. 98 on Sunday in the Eastern States 200. Phelps was steady all day running with the leaders and the end of 200 laps finished in the third position behind winner Matt Sheppard and second place Stewart Friesen. Ironically, just one week ago at Port Royal Speedway, Phelps had finished in the same spot behind the same two drivers.
“Like I always say, this is a tough game to play and at the end of the day it’s satisfying to know that for two weeks in a row, we were in the hunt,” said Phelps standing next to his car after the race. “To be in the same picture frame as those two guys for the second time shows that we aren’t that far off. We are a little disappointed, I thought my car was pretty good around about lap 120 or so and then towards the end it just got really tight, and I couldn’t charge the corner like I wanted to and it felt like I was losing the nose. Once that happened, I had to get on the defense with about 40 laps to go.”
All in all, it was a good race for the Baldwinsville, NY driver and he is looking forward to what’s ahead for the HBR team.
“We will definitely take it, this big block is rolling pretty good right now,” mentioned Phelps. “We have some good stuff to take to Charlotte for three big nights down there and hopefully we can run good and get some points to finish off the season pretty strong.”
Britten caps off strong Eastern States weekend with a fourth-place finish in the 200
In previous years, Peter Britten has struggled at the Orange County Fair Speedway during Eastern States weekend. 2022 proved to be a different story. Although the weekend didn’t start off as planned with a broken rear in the No. 21A during the Hard Clay Finale, Britten knew he had a strong car.
Saturday in the running of the 100-lap small block race, Britten thrilled the crowd going from third to first in the last two laps to capture the victory. In Sunday’s big block Eastern States 200 Britten once again showed everyone that he was a driver to be watched as he drove to a fourth-place finish.
“We had a great car all weekend, even in the Deyo race we had a great car until the rear broke,” said a happy Britten loading up the No. 21A after the race. “These trips to Orange County are actually starting to be fun now because it has been a miserable experience here for years.”
Britten pitted along with the leaders on lap 38 but a miscue on the next restart saw him having to return to the pits.
“We pitted with the others then on the next restart, I made a mistake and clipped the wall and got a left front flat,” explained Britten. “So, we had to pit again to change the tire. When I got back out there, I was cursing myself for putting myself behind. I seem to have to always do things the hard way but we got back to probably where we were supposed to be.”
“It was a fun weekend; sucks we broke that rear end but apart from that we didn’t wreck anything major and that’s a win in itself sometimes racing here. It was a really good weekend for us racing wise and hopefully we can continue to build on that and who know, maybe we can get one of these one day.”
Good fifth-place finish for Dillon Steuer
One driver who keeps on improving from year to year is young Dillon Steuer. Wheeling the Zubi’s Racing No. 17Z, Steuer has shown that he can wheel a big block modified with the best of them at Orange County Fair Speedway. Sunday Steuer ran a strong race and despite having to pit early for a flat end up with a strong fifth-place finish.
“I knew we would be good. I wasn’t sure with the long distance how we would wind up,” commented Steuer. “When we got that flat early, I thought we would be close with fuel. We were looking to come in about lap 60 and I think it was a little under 50 when we had the flat, so I had that in the back of my head and tried to save a little bit of fuel, so we had enough to finish and make weight.”
“At first, I think that flat hurt us but being that we made it on fuel I might have helped us to get an edge because we did pit before some of the other guys. A lot of it was just taking advantage of the restarts whenever a hole opened up and trying to get through lapped traffic and keeping your nose clean.”
Running weekly with likes of Matt Sheppard and Anthony Perrego, Steuer managed to pick up his second big block win of his young career at OCFS in 2022 but more importantly was consistent week in and week out battling within the top five showing the progression in the team’s big block program.
“We definitely upped our program this year,” explained Steuer. “We all have been putting a lot into it. Zube (car owner Dave Zubikowski) gives us everything we need, and we work hard at it. It is really hard to find an edge right now. We are in the ballpark but once you get there it’s hard to find that extra edge that you need to beat some of these guys. We just came into this race doing what we know and didn’t try anything crazy. I just wanted to keep my nose clean and be there at the end and it paid off for us finishing fifth.”