MAT WILLIAMSON IS BRIDGEPORT’S KING OF THE BIG BLOCKS
Bridgeport, NJ – Mat Williamson became the most recent heir to the throne as he was crowned “King of the Big Blocks” at the Bridgeport Motorsports Park on Sunday when the stars of the Super DIRTcar series came to the Logan Township speed plant to open their 2023 point season.
“Money Mat” lived up to his name when he drove into the lead with just a dozen laps remaining in the 75 lap main event for Big Block Modifieds. Polesitter, Matt Shepperd was only able to lead a single lap before he was forced to the work area for a tire change. That moved quick timer, Darren Smith into the lead on lap two where he fought off the challenges of Williamson for more than sixty laps. When the leaders got into lapped traffic in the final leg of the race, Williamson was able to race into the lead for the first time and then race to the checkered for the victory. It was Williamson’s third Super DIRTcar win of the season after the St. Catherines, Ont. driver picked up a pair of wins in Florida earlier this year.
Even though those early wins did not carry points toward the Super DIRTcar title, the momentum that those victories provided Williamson and his Buzz Chew crew was very valuable. “It’s always great to win at your home track but when you win one of these races, you know that you are racing against the best of the best,” Williamson stated. “It’s a level of excellence.” Williamson went into the race, hoping for a good finish, knowing that the track regulars hold the advantage on Bridgeport’s High Banks. And the “local” drivers did well with Matt Stangle racing along side of Williamson to the checkered flag for a photo finish. “I probably was off the throttle before the transponder even crossed the line,” Williamson explained. “I knew he (Stangle) was there – he had gotten his nose underneath me that one time.” As the leaders exited turn four, Stangle give it everything he had. Williamson went to the inside and Stangle to the outside as they crossed the line together. It was a great finish for the extra distance event.
Stangle ran a strong race in his family owned, ACE Materials No. 6 – a car that is wrenched by Matt and his dad, John. In the final laps, he turned on the pressure but just felt that he wasn’t able to maneuver through turns one and two like he did three and four. He would close the gap on Williamson coming out of four but would then lose ground through one and two. “Second again,” Stangle stated after earning yet another runner-up finish – his second of the weekend. “We had a really good car the whole race” and the driver gave it a really good ride for seventy-five laps.
Billy Pauch, Jr. turned his day around when he charged from his 22nd starting spot to finish third at the end of seventy-five laps. Pauch quickly moved through the field to break into the top ten in the first thirty circuits around the High Banks. With just over twenty laps remaining, Pauch broke into the top five.
Pauch worked his way through the top ten, moving into third during the final ten laps. The third generation driver struggled in time trials and his heat race. He even joked that as the car owner, he thought about firing the driver after that performance. But driver and crew turned it around in time for the last chance qualifier and feature. For the second year in a row, Pauch, Jr. came home with a podium finish in the King of the Big Blocks event.
Boyertown, PA driver, Mike Gular, finished fourth in his Terry Fastnacht owned, Ron Seltman wrenched No. 2a. Gular ran among the top five throughout the entire race.
Darren Smith rounded out the top five at the checkered. Smith, who had never been to the Bridgeport Motorsports Park before, set fast time and a new one lap record during time trials. He then finished second in his qualifier and drew the outside pole for the seventy-five lap main event. In only his second year of competition, the Jeremy Smith Racing driver was impressive in his maiden voyage on the Bridgeport surface.
Max McLaughlin finished sixth followed by Matt Shepperd who rebounded to a seventh place finish after his early race tire change. Tim Sears, Jr. finished eighth followed by Chris Hile and Jimmy Phelps at the checkered.
Qualifying races were won by Jack Lehner, Shepperd, Mike Mahaney and Matt Stangle while Jeff Strunk and Billy Pauch, Jr. picked up wins in the last chance qualifiers.
Steve Buckwalter was the winner of both the heat and feature for the Action Track USA All Pro SpeedSTRs. Buckwalter led every lap of the fifteen lap feature event to pick up the win over Louden Reimert and Briggs Danner. Mike Manieri and Charles Belanger rounded out the top five in the main event.
Reimert was the fast timer among the SpeedSTR competitors as he did double duty on Sunday, competing in the Grebe No. 33 Big Block Modified as well.
SUPER DIRT SERIES MODIFIEDS FEATURE (75 LAPS)
1. Mat Williamson, 2. Matt Stangle, 3. Billy Pauch, Jr., 4. Mike Gular, 5. Darren Smith, 6. Max McLaughlin, 7. Matt Sheppard, 8. Tim Sears, 9. Chris Hile, 10. Jimmy Phelps, 11. H.J. Bunting, 12. Adam Pierson, 13. Steve Bernard, 14. Jack Lehner, 15. Anthony Perrego, 16. Tyler Dippel, 17. Peter Britten, 18. Matthew Desjardins, 19. Louden Reimert, 20. Alex Yankowski, 21. Mike Mahaney, 22. Ronnie Davis, III, 23. Kevin Root, 24. Dillon Steuer, 25. Jeff Strunk, 26. Sammy Martz, Jr., 27. Marcus Dinkins, 28. C.G. Morey, DNQ – Sam Martz, Sr. Larry Wight, Felix Roy, J.F. Corriveau, Stan Frankenfield, Jim Britt, Rich Scagliotta, Kevin Root
ALL PRO SPEEDSTR FEATURE (15 LAPS)
1. Steve Buckwalter, 2. Louden Reimert, 3. Briggs Danner, 4. Mike Manieri, 5. Charles Belanger, 6. Cale Zangli, 7. Jason Musser, 8. Billy Pauch, Sr.
Thank you to everyone that makes the Kingdom of Speed Possible…..
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