Peter Britten Wins Thrilling ESW 100 With Last Lap, Last Corner Pass – DTD Exclusive

21A Peter Britten

By:  Bobby Sweeney

MIDDLETOWN, NY – Peter Britten started on the pole of the Eastern States 100 for the Small Block Modifieds and won the feature. While that does not sound particularly thrilling, the events leading up to Britten’s win were a different story. In the final lap and a half, Britten went from third to first, passing Marc Johnson and Matt Sheppard in traffic to score a wild victory and $10,000 payday.

Sheppard spent the early stages of the racing hounding Britten for the lead. Throughout the first quarter of the event, Sheppard rarely let Britten extend his gap further than a couple car lengths, but could not pull off a pass. Britten seemed better on restarts and in clean track, but Sheppard put up a steady challenge in traffic.

At halfway, Johnson picked off Mike Mahaney to reach third. Quickly, Johnson joined the battle of the top two, with the front trio locked together in thick traffic. On lap 70, Johnson pried under Sheppard to take second. However, the pass did not stick for long, as Sheppard regained the second spot ten laps later.

While Johnson and Sheppard swapped spots, they lost little to no time to Britten. Three laps after regaining second, Sheppard took a swing at Britten. Britten made a move around the outside of a lapped car, but the move did not go to his plan and Sheppard was able to slide by for the lead. Britten hung close to Sheppard, but Britten was having to play defense on Johnson as well.

With five laps left, Johnson got by Britten for second, but Britten wasn’t going down without a fight. Britten got back under Johnson with a lap and a half to go, the pair running door-to-door down the backstretch. As Britten looked to complete the pass on Johnson, Sheppard slipped up trying to roll around a lapped car. The result was Britten with a nose ahead of Sheppard with the white flag waiving.

While Sheppard put up a charge on the top, Britten had the preferred line on the bottom. Johnson was right on the tail of the top two, with Johnson following Britten to slip by Sheppard in the final set of turns. With the checkered waiving, it was Britten winning over Johnson, Sheppard, Mike Mahaney, and Stewart Friesen from 34th.

“I got back to third, and it was really tough in traffic,” Britten noted. “When you get right up behind a lapped car, it takes the air off your car a little bit and it makes you a little looser. I wonder if that’s what happened to Marc, just getting in a little hot if you can’t see your marks properly when you’re right on someone. That’s how Marc got by me, I was messing with a lapped car and snuck by, then he messed with one and I snuck back by. I figured it was cool that we got back to second, then all of a sudden, I think Sheppard was trying to roll the outside of a lapped car and we’re back in the lead.”

Johnson’s steady month of October continued with another strong run. A third on Friday with the Short Track Super Series was nice, but Johnson did one spot better tonight with the 358-Modifieds.

“It hurts to be that close,” said Johnson. “Hell of a race, my guys gave me an awesome race car. I got hung a little bit there in the center, there was not much I could do after that. I was just trying to make gains on lapped traffic and Peter got by me, it is what it is.”

For the second night in a row, Sheppard was leading late but did not end up with the big check. Lapped traffic helped Sheppard get to the lead, and then took it away in the final laps.

“Crazy race,” Sheppard stated. “I felt like we had the third best car, we got lucky in traffic there and got by those two guys. We were doing okay and holding our own, but I was torn on what to do with the lapped cars. I was afraid to follow them around the bottom, but wasn’t sure I could roll them in the middle. I really underestimated how much the bottom had locked down.”

Eastern States Weekend Small Block Modified Feature (100 Laps) – PETER BRITTEN, Marc Johnson, Matt Sheppard, Mike Mahaney, Stewart Friesen, Mat Williamson, Billy VanInwegen, Jimmy Phelps, Corey Cormier, Anthony Perrego, Dillon Steuer, Lance Willix, Danny Creeden, Max McLaughlin, Patrick Reiser, Tyler Boniface, Tyler Jashembowski, Tanner VanDoren, Charlie Loidice, Craig Mitchell, Allison Ricci, Jimmy Horton, Chris Stevens, Matt Caprara, Alex Tonkin, Bob Hentschel, CG Morey, Daniel Morgiewicz, Tommy Meier, Joe Bonetti, Tim McCreadie, Andy Bachetti, Robert Bublak, Roger Henion, Brad Szulewski, Michael Storms, William August, Jerry Higbie