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Saturday, June 23 - We tossed around going to Lincoln or heading to Bridgeport and since we figured we would be at Lincoln next Saturday for the Pennsylvania Speedweek opener we opted for Bridgeport. The first thing we noticed was that the crowd had increased in number and that is a positive sign. It seems a combination of good word of mouth, positive remarks on South Jersey Dirt Racing website and the adult admission reduced to $15 has brought more people to the south Jersey speed plant. Our observation is that management should extend the $15 admission price through the rest of the year.
Racing started slightly after 7 with the first of two sportsman heats for the 19 cars on hand. We were given an indication that it might be an odd evening with the pole sitter for the first heat crashed on the backstretch before the start of the race!! The TSRS 305 sprints were on the card tonight brought out 18 of the sprinters. The big block modifieds brought a field of 24 cars so no consies would be needed on the evening. All heat qualifying was completed by 8:11 and it was now intermission. Promoter, Doug Hoffman, put the track crew to work as he was not happy with the track surface on this evening. A rather long 45 minutes later the 20 lap sportsman feature was ready to go. Only two cautions slowed this event and Travis Hill looked like he had been shot out of a cannon. He charged from ninth starting position to take the lead in turn 3 on lap 8 and that was all they wrote for any lead changes. Hill turned this one into a cakewalk blasting to his fifth win of the year over Ryan Wozunk, Ricky DiEva, a heat winner, Brett Kressley and Matt Budd who took the fifth spot on the last circuit. This was a good feature and we looked forward to the remaining two feature races.
The TSRS sprints did the sportsman one better only bringing out one caution in their 20 lap feature. Mike Haggenbottom, former URC pilot, checked out early but Kyle Purks found the right groove late and closed significally on Haggenbottom at the end. Former micro sprint driver, Rick Stief, brought his mount home in the show position. Rounding out the top five were impressive female driver, Steph Palmai, with Bob DeVault taking fifth. Now it was time for the 30 lap big block modified feature and anticipation was high but the high was quickly erased when the second starter decided to turn left on the first starter entering turn one turning him across the track with a 13 car pileup resulting. That took much of the air out of the balloon as six cars were unable to continue. A good call by management had the offending driver sent to the rear of the field. The cleanup of the accident scene took 28 minutes to complete and adding in five additional cautions this one turned into a stinker. Don’t get me wrong there were some good moments such as the marches of Rick Laubach and Jimmy Horton from the rear after pitting from the big one. Also Laubach’s amazing move to advance from fifth to second on a lap 14 restart was good racing. But the combination of the big wreck and five other cautions brought this one down. Laubach eventually took the lead at the line to complete lap 18 passing Richie Pratt Jr. and taking almost a half track lead on his way to his 4th win of 2012 at Bridgeport over Pratt, Eric Kormann who held off Horton for third with Scott Irwin rounding out the top five. There were many crumpled body panels on the modifieds and the fact that it took 55 minutes to complete the feature at 11:06 you can see why this race was a disappointment especially after the fine racing we had seen the last time we visited earlier in the year.
Special thanks to Tim and Margo Frost, the new publishers of the National Speedway Directory, for our copies of this fine publication which should be in the cars of any race fan who likes to visit different tracks. This book provides speedway information for every track in the United States and Canada providing the night of racing, divisions on the card, directions and contact phone numbers. If you want a copy visit your favorite track’s souvenir stand for $10 or send $15 to Tim Frost at National Speedway Directory. The address is 909 Seneca Road, Wilmette, IL 60091. Tell him that you read about it here.
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