MIDDLETOWN, NY – From 20th on the grid, Andy Bachetti rolled to a ‘Hard Clay Open’ victory Sunday evening at Orange County Fair Speedway.
After a blown right-rear tire in heat-race action, Bachetti started eighth in the afternoon’s second consolation race, which he won. The Sheffield, Mass., driver then roared from the 10th row in the 50-lap main event to score the victory with some late-race dramatics.
Bachetti opened the 2017 Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By VP Halmar International North Region with a win, the second-career STSS triumph for the two-time series champion. Bachetti also became the first repeat ‘Hard Clay Open’ winner in the event’s fourth running.
“This car was on rails tonight,” Bachetti explained after exiting his No. 4 Teo-Pro mount. “We got behind early with the flat tire in the heat race, but this team never gave up. It’s big to start out the series with a win.”
Bachetti picked up $5,000 from the posted purse plus $100 in lap money and 24 free Team Wear shirts courtesy of Bob Hilbert Sportswear.
A field of 54 STSS Modifieds signed in for the opener, which was postponed to Sunday following a harsh winter and week of wet weather in southeastern New York.
At the start of the main, all-time leading OCFS winner Brett Hearn shot off the outside pole to take over the early edge. The first 20 laps of the event spun off without a caution with Hearn leading a battle involving Anthony Perrego, Matt Sheppard and Stewart Friesen for second.
Friesen, who started seventh, muscled into the runner-up position on the 21st tour of the five-eighths-mile oval.
Sheppard’s first outing in the Sweeteners Plus No. 92s was derailed momentarily when he slowed on lap 28 to draw the caution with a right-rear flat tire.
On the ensuing restart, the race’s most serious incident took place. Danny Creeden, who had driven to third, spun due to a broken left-rear hub and no less than six cars were collected, drawing the red flag. Creeden’s car momentarily tilted to its side before landing on its wheels. Fortunately, all drivers were uninjured.
Following the red flag, Bachetti – who had been working masterfully through traffic – lined up third behind Hearn and Friesen.
The race’s final caution flew on the 35th tour, setting up a classic battle in the final 15 laps.
Friesen began to utilize the top of the speedway in turns one and two, at times pulling even with Hearn, while Bachetti lurked in third. On lap 41, Friesen slipped momentarily, allowing Bachetti to dart into the runner-up position.
Two laps later, Bachetti’s roll to the front landed him in the lead. He found real estate to the inside of Hearn on the 43rd circuit and took command.
Bachetti began his defense of the STSS Halmar International North Region in the winner’s circle.
Friesen’s Halmar International No. 44 small-block cleared Hearn with four laps remaining and chased Bachetti to the flag, taking home a second-place finish worth $4,000 from the purse and bonuses for the Sprakers, N.Y., star.
“I got to Brett and started trying to roll the top a little,” Friesen said. “The one lap I slipped up in (turns) one and two and no one rolled under me. The next time, Andy was right there.”
Sussex, N.J., native Hearn finished third in the Madsen Motorsports No. 20 after leading the opening 42 laps in search of his first STSS win.
“After that red flag (on lap 28), we struggled,” Hearn said. “We just couldn’t get back in the rhythm from earlier in the race.”
In his debut for car owner Jeremy Smith, Billy Decker of Sidney, N.Y., finished fourth after starting from eighth.
Tommy Meier of Waldwick, N.J., authored a stirring run from 26th to finish fifth in Jeff Behrent’s No. 3. Meier picked up a $500 cash bonus as the event’s Grand Rental Station of Middletown Hard Charger.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Anthony Perrego of Montgomery, N.Y., who ran as high as second in the Superior Remodeling No. 44; speedway regular Matt Janiak of Warwick, N.Y., in the Halmar International No. 17J big-block; Brian Krummel of Middletown, N.Y., in the Zubi’s Racing mount after starting 27th on the grid; Waterloo, N.Y.’s Sheppard, recovering from his flat tire; and pole starter Smith of Triangle, N.Y.
Heat winners for the 54 assembled Modifieds were Decker, Hearn, Bob McGannon (Garnerville, N.Y.), Friesen, Janiak and Sheppard. Three consolations went to Jimmy Horton (Neshanic Station, N.J.), Bachetti and Mike Mahaney (King Ferry, N.Y.). The 3-lap Last Chance Qualifier went to Tyler Dippel of Wallkill, N.Y.
The accompanying OCFS Crate 602 Sportsman 20-lap feature went to Joey Bruning of Bloomingburg, N.Y., picking up the $1,000 payday. Bruning was chased under the checkered by Billy Eggers, Jamie LaBagh, and young guns Leo Fotopolous and Daniel Morgiewicz. There were 39 Sportsman registered.
Racing resumes for the STSS Halmar International North Region on Sunday, May 28 with the ‘Lightning on the Mountain’ at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Center Lisle, N.Y. The next STSS Velocita South Region event is Sunday, April 23 at Bridgeport (N.J.) Speedway with the ‘South Jersey Shootout’ 40-lapper.
To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP or BD Motorsports Media LLC, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com or www.bdmotorsportsmedia.com, call 845.728.2781 during business hours, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, “like” Short Track Super Series on Facebook or follow @ShortTrackSS on Twitter.
HARD CLAY HOT SPOTS: Spring broke just in time for the ‘Hard Clay Open’ with temperatures in the high-60s for Sunday’s race event. The weather drew a very healthy crowd to both the speedway’s grandstands and drive-in section….
Track operator Michael Gurda IV and his team worked overtime in the days leading up to the event. With more than an inch of rainfall on Thursday into Friday morning, the crews struggled to get equipment on the oval until Friday, working and reworking the surface following Saturday’s open practice….
The stout STSS Modified field drew drivers from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts….
STSS officials organized a pre-race technical inspection of all registered cars and ‘pumped’ engines to check for cubic inch of the top-five finishers in the 50-lap feature….
It was announced at the drivers’ meeting that the ’17 STSS Halmar International North Region champion would receive $12,500, an increase from a year ago….
The 2017 Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, VP Racing Fuel, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Halmar International, Allstar Performance, ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, Fast Axle, Fox Racing Shocks, Hig Fab, Henry’s Exhaust, HyperCo, Keizer Wheels, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, K&N, QA1, Race Pro Weekly, Racing Optics, Teo-Pro Car, Velocita & Wilwood.
‘HARD CLAY OPEN’ RESULTS SUMMARY – ORANGE COUNTY FAIR SPEEDWAY APRIL 9, 2017
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP Halmar International North Region Event No. 1 Modified Feature Finish (50 laps): ANDY BACHETTI, Stewart Friesen, Brett Hearn, Billy Decker, Tommy Meier, Anthony Perrego, Matt Janiak, Brian Krummel, Matt Sheppard, Jeremy Smith, Rich Ricci Jr., Tyler Dippel, Billy Van Inwegen, Craig Hanson, Matt DeLorenzo, Kirk Horton, Bob McGannon, Allison Ricci, CG Morey, Rob Rowe, Michael Sabia, Rich Eurich, Danny Creeden, Jerry Higbie, Erick Rudolph, Mike Mahaney, Nick Nye, Jimmy Horton, Chris Shultz, Craig Mitchell.
Did Not Qualify: Matt Hitchcock, Gary Edwards Jr., Dan Humes, Cass Bennett, Michael Horton, J.R. Hurlburt, Tyler Treacy, John Ferrier, Dale Welty, Chad Cook, Richard Smith, Corey Lowitt, Brett Barrett, Heath Metzger, David Van Horn, Cory Costa, Danny Cronk, Tyler Boniface, Bobby Trapper, Chad Loiodice, Jeff Heotzler, Mike Ward, Kurt Hundeland, Dillon Steuer.
‘Lucky 7’ Lap Money Breakdown ($1,010 Total): Brett Hearn ($140); Jeremy Smith ($120); Stewart Friesen ($120); Billy Decker ($120); Anthony Perrego ($120); Andy Bachetti ($100); Danny Creeden ($85); Matt Sheppard ($60); Matt Janiak ($60); Tommy Meier ($60); Matt DeLorenzo ($25)
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire): Jeremy Smith (10th) & Craig Hanson (14th)
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Winner’s Bonus (24 FREE Teamwear Shirts): Andy Bachetti
ATL Fuel Cell Bonus ($200): Tommy Meier (fifth)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses ($50 Gift Cards): Billy Decker (fourth) & Matt Sheppard (ninth)
C&R Enterprises Heat-Race Winners ($100 Cash): Billy Decker, Brett Hearn, Bob McGannon, Stewart Friesen, Matt Janiak & Matt Sheppard
Fast Axle Bonus ($50 Certificate): Anthony Perrego (sixth)
Grand Rental Station of Middletown Hard Charger ($500 Cash): Tommy Meier (26th to fifth)
Keizer Racing Wheels Bonus (FREE Wheel): Billy Decker (fourth)
QA1 Hard Charger ($50 Certificate): Tommy Meier (26th to fifth)
VP Racing Fuels Makin’ Power Positions: Stewart Friesen (second), Tyler Dippel (12th) & Danny Creeden (22nd)
Wilwood Brakes ‘Lucky 7’ Bonus ($50 Certificate): Matt Janiak (seventh)
OCFS Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (20 laps): JOEY BRUNING, Billy Eggers, Jamie LaBagh, Leo Fotopolous, Daniel Morgiewicz, Joe Conklin, Dave Schilling, Mel Schrufer, R.J. Smith, Brad Horton, Chris Curtis, Mike DuBois, Anthony Falanga, Corey Cormier, George Begg, Austin Smith, Cody Hunt, Connor Cleveland, Rich Ricci III, Shayne Spoonhower, Nick Plumstead, Jimmy Johnson, Bobby Flood, Rocky Warner, Cole Hentschel, Jeff Hulseapple, Lem Atkins.
Did Not Qualify: Richie Ryder, Matt Shultz, Brian Calabrese, Justin Gilson, Joey Decker, Michael Murphy, Dylan Smith, Tommy Zwart, Jamie Dullen, Richie Van Orden, Howie Finch Jr., Jim Karus.