MIDDLETOWN, NY – Last October, Brett Hearn won the Eastern States 200 for the 12th time, beating runner-up and 2016 winner Stewart Friesen. Although Hearn holds most of the racing records on the Middletown Hard Clay, he has not raced weekly at Orange County for several years. Thus, there is a debate whether “The Corporate Jet” should be considered an invader or an Orange County regular competitor. Hearn and six-time Eastern States 200 winner Danny Johnson, who also has not raced here weekly for a number of years, lead all others in dominating this oldest of championship dirt track Modified races. Both will return for this year’s 57th Annual Eastern States 200 Presented by Halmar International, Arkel Motors, and WLR Construction. The Eastern States 200 is the headline race of Eastern States Weekend, this year Friday-Sunday, October 19-21.
In the 56 previous running of this classic endurance race for dirt track Modifieds, 19 of the winners have been drivers who have raced weekly at Orange County at least one full season and 13 who can be considered “outside” invaders. But in terms of total wins, the Orange County contingent wins hands down, 42 to 14. And only one invading driver, Gerald Chamberlain in 1973 and 1976, has more than one Eastern States victory to his credit.
In addition to Johnson and Hearn, among active Orange County competitors, Jimmy Horton in 1991 and 1995, Jerry Higbie in 2009, Jeff Heotzler, the 2007 victor, Rich Eurich, who won back in 1988, Tommy Meier in 2015, and Friesen in 2016 would surely like to take home another Eastern States trophy. Two-time Eastern States winner Frank Cozze (1989 and 1990) also hasn’t been a regular Orange County competitor for several years, but his entry in this year’s race would be no surprise.
Of the 13 invaders who have won the Eastern States gold, Bobby Varin (2003), Alan Johnson (1999), Billy Decker (1998), and Tim McCreadie (2010) are also possible entrants in this year’s race.
The top-6 drivers in time trials will lead the field in Sunday’s race. The balance of the starting field will be made up of guaranteed starters and qualified drivers from heat and consolation races.
In recent years, both Heotzler and Hearn have won the 200-lap grind from the back of the field, proving that this race can be won from any position. That’s why a banner field is expected for this year’s edition of the oldest continuously-run championship race for dirt track Modifieds—the 57th Annual Eastern States 200 Presented by Halmar International, Arkel Motors, and WLR Construction.
Added to this year’s events, and as a warmup to Sunday’s Eastern States 200, is a special Friday evening, October 19 Eastern States Champions Race, a 20-lap dash for former winners. There’s a potential field of a dozen previous victors…and perhaps 13 starters if 2000 winner Chuck McKee can be coaxed out of retirement for this all-star race.
Advance tickets for Sunday’s race, or the entire Eastern States Weekend, plus camping and parking permits are available at the Speedway Office during regular business hours or through credit card sales (Visa and MasterCard) by calling 845-342-2573. Tickets may also be ordered online—as well as additional Eastern States information—-at the official Orange County Fair Speedway website, www.orangecountyfairspeedway.net.
EASTERN STATES 200 WINNERS
*Brett Hearn (12)
*Danny Johnson (6)
*Will Cagle (4)
*Frankie Schneider (3)
Gerald Chamberlain (2)
*Frank Cozze (2)
*Jimmy Horton (2)
*Alan “Rags” Carter
*Raced at Orange County Fair Speedway at least one full season