Higbie breaks through with Modified win on Upstate Auto Night
By FRANK CATIZONE Accord Speedway Media 5/19/2013
ACCORD, NY – Jerry Higbie has been racing through some rough times during the past few seasons at the Accord Speedway.
Higbie, a former Modified track champion and winner of the 2009 King of the Catskills championship held here annually in September, has only managed one victory the past two years and his 2013 racing campaign was off to another rocky start.
However, Higbie, taking advantage of a front row starting spot, put an end to his recent string of bad luck last Friday night as he led the entire 30-lap distance to capture the All American Ford Modified main event during Upstate Auto Night. It was the veteran driver’s first visit to the Lucas Oil Victory Lane at the Ulster County bullring since Sept. 16, 2011.
Higbie, who was driving the New York Truck Parts owned No. 55 Modified, was the class of the 15-car starting field as he took the checkered flag more than two seconds ahead of reigning track champion Andy Bachetti, who was also seeking his first win this year.
Bachetti, who dominated racing here in 2012 with 11 Modified wins, has also been plagued with bad luck so far this season. The Sheffield, MA., driver, after leading so many laps a week ago, lost a potential win to Jeff Heotzler Sr. when his car had a right rear tire go soft in the latter stages. He managed to cross the finish line in third place.
But Bachetti would be no match for Higbie in this event. Higbie blasted into first place at the drop of the initial green flag and stretched out his margin with each passing lap as the event was run caution free. The more intense racing was contested behind Higbie and Bachetti.
Heotzler, after battling with Danny Creeeden for several laps, backed up last week’s victory with a third-place effort, while Creeden, Jackie Brown Jr., Tommy Meier, Danny Tyler, Danny Johnson, Billy VanInwegen and Ken Boniface Jr. rounded out the top 10.
Johnson, who has enjoyed much success in previous visits to the quarter-mile banked oval, was making his 2013 debut at the track. “The Doctor’’ was behind the wheel of the No. 27J, owned by Lee Shultz of Holmes.
Richie Eurich, who had an impressive drive in winning his qualifying heat, scratched his own car for the feature and drove Creeden’s No. 16X back-up car. Eurich was scheduled to start on the pole, but was forced to the rear because of the car change.
In the Escape RV Sportsman division, Anthony Perrego picked up a controversial victory in the feature after dragging Vinnie DeCicco across the finish line. The drivers’ cars hooked together while racing down the homestretch.
DeCicco, who blasted ahead of Randy Green down the homestretch to complete four laps, looked well en route to his first win this season until a caution came out with 15 laps completed. DeCicco’s big cushion evaporated and Green was right back on his tail.
But DeCicco was able to begin stretching his lead again when racing resumed. Perrego, meanwhile, was making his presence known as he cracked the top five, moved ahead of Dave Werber, Tom Johnson and Green, and was sitting behind DeCicco when Dave Coene’s spin halted racing with 23 laps completed.
Perrego found an opening while racing into the third turn following the restart and dove inside of DeCicco to grab first place. However, the two drivers’ cars hooked together while racing off the fourth turn and Perrego pulled DeCicco across the finish line as the checkered flag was displayed after 24 laps were completed.
After a meeting involving track officials and scorers, Perrego was awarded his first win of the season with DeCicco finishing in second place, Green, Tyler Dippel and Tom Johnson rounded out the top five.
The Healey Brothers Spec Sportsman class had Mike DuBois pick up his first victory this season in the 20-lap feature. He finished ahead of Joe Judge, Ed Dachenhausen, Mike Traver and Rich Ricci III.
DuBois, who picked up his last Accord win on Sept. 7, 2012, wrestled the lead away from Nick Plumstead following a third-lap restart and never trailed again as he was able to hold of Judge by 0.483 seconds at the finish.
In the Ruge’s GM Parts Center Pro Stock division, Tom Vasta notched his first win at Accord this decade. Vasta wrestled the lead away from Paul Aragon Jr. on the backstretch of the 15th lap and then went on to capture the 20-lap main event.
Aragon, who was also seeking his first win, led for most of the race after grabbing first place away from Ralph Ronk on the second lap. But Vasta was able to chase down Aragon as the race progressed before making his winning move.
John Roese also passed Aragon to finish in second place. Aragon, Ronk and Paul Maiolo rounded out the top five.
The Arkel Motors Pure Stock division had Nick Johnson record back-to-back victories for the second time of his young racing career. He took the 15-lap feature ahead of Kevin Skelly, John Woinoski, Ray Tarantino and Ant Marguglio.
Nick Johnson, who opened the 2012 season with the first two wins of his Accord career, grabbed first place from Woinoski on the ninth lap and never looked back. Skelly made some late-race passes to finish in second, but never challenged Nick Johnson for the win.
The Want Ad Digest Fifreball Four-Cylinder class was highlighted by Matt Curry’s second straight triumph of the season. He finished the Fireball Four-Cylinder 15-lap feature ahead of George Zeininger, Shawn Maloney, Kayla Curry and Johnny Bankich.
Heotzler chases down Bachetti for 47th career Modified win on Dig Safely NY Night
By FRANK CATIZONE Accord Speedway Media 5/12/2013
ACCORD – Jeff Heotzler Sr. could feel his car getting better and better with each passing lap last Friday night at the Accord Speedway.
Heotzler, one of the most dominant drivers in the track’s history, knows the fast way around the Ulster County bullring and put all of his years of experience to good use as he chased down reigning Modified champion Andy Bachetti.
Heotzler, after stalking Bachetti throughout the race, finally saw an opening off the fourth turn on the 28th lap and took advantage of the situation as he went on to capture his first win of the season in the All American Ford 30-lap main event during Dig Safely NY Night. It was the veteran driver’s first victory at Accord since last Sept. 7 and the 47th of his legendary career at the track.
“Andy just bobbled a little off the turn and the bottom was wide open for me,’’ said Heotzler. “I don’t know if he had a right rear tire going down on his car, but my car was getting better as the race went on and it seemed like his was getting worse. He just got a little wide off that turn and I was there to take the lead.’’
Bachetti, who has been plagued with early season problems, also relinquished second place to Danny Tyler before Heotzler grabbed his first checkered flag of the 2013 Accord season.
“My car was really strong on the bottom, but I just couldn’t seem to build up enough momentum to make a pass for the lead,’’ said Heotzler. “Andy is a very good driver and I don’t think he was bothered at all by my pressure. He just made a mistake off the turn and I was there to capitalize on it.’’
Bachetti, after starting on the pole, was able to build a commanding lead in the early going as the race ran caution free until Tommy Meier and Ken Boniface Jr. had their cars get hooked together with 14 laps completed.
The accident enabled Heotzler to draw side-by-side with Bachetti for the double-file restart. Bachettii, however, was up for the challenge and remained in front until racing was halted a second time with 17 laps down for a fourth-turn incident involving Danny Creeden and Mel Schrufer.
Bachetti vaulted back in front and remained there until Heotzler was able to complete his winning pass on the 28th circuit and Tyler followed behind moments later. Bachetti was able to hold on for third place with Jackie Brown Jr. and Meier rounding out the top five.
Jerry Higbie also continued his early-season struggles and only was able to complete two laps as he finished in 13th place. Richie Eurich never took the green flag.
In the Escape RV Sportsman division, Kevin Ward took advantage of a late-race caution to pick up his first victory this season in the 25-lap feature. It was the 11th victory this decade for Ward, who collected five checkered flags in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Ward, after starting eighth in the 22-car field, seemed destined for a second-place finish as Jimmy Wells, who led from the start, built a commanding lead during the first 23 laps. However, that cushion vanished when Al Archiere was involved in an accident on the backstretch.
Wells, who was seeking his first career win, was unable to hold off Ward following the restart and relinquished first place off the second turn of the 24th circuit. Ward then went on to finish ahead of Wells, Dave Coene, Anthony Perrego and Jeff Hulseapple.
In the Healey Brothers Spec Sportsman class, Mike Sabia notched his first victory of the season in the 20-lap feature as he outdueled both Nick Plumstead and Tyler Boniface.
Sabia, after starting sixth in the 13-car field, chased Plumstead for the first eight laps when Jason Thew brought racing to a half with rear end problems to his car. Sabia vaulted ahead of Plumstead on the restart and was in command until the 16th lap when Plumstead hit the backstretch wall.
Boniface inherited second place because of the accident and grabbed first place when the bottom was left wide open following the restart. However, Sabia rebounded on the next lap to regain the lead and then went on for the win.
Boniface settled for second place with Ed Dachenhausen, Joe Judge and Andrew Reeves completing the top five.
The Ruge’s GM Parts Center Pro Stock class 20-lap feature was won by John Roese, who has been one of the most dominant drivers at Accord during the decade. Roese, who secured his first win of 2013, finished ahead of Jim Sykes, Tom Vasta, Paul Maiolo and Ralph Ronk in the 20-lap main event.
Roese, who led the race start-to-finish, has reached victory lane 14 times since the 2010 season. His last win at Accord came on Sept. 14 last year.
In the Arkel Motors Pure Stock ranks, Nick Johnson, who opened last season with back-to-back wins, reached the Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the first time in over a year as he captured the 15-lap feature ahead of Dom Marguglio, Ray Tarantino, Joe Knoth and Jerry Craig Sr.
George Deckelman, who won the first two races this season, finished in second place, but was disqualified during the post-race inspection for an illegal distributor. Kurt Hundeland, who was scored fifth, was also disqualified because of an illegal carburetor.
In the WRWD Lightning Sprints, Jon Moore grabbed his first win this season in the 15-lap feature ahead of Christian Wright, Zack Bennett, Jason Roe and Justin Phillips.
Phil Bessette, who took an apparent lead following a sixth-lap restart, was penalized two spots for jumping the start when action was halted for Phillips’ spin with 14 laps down. Bessette was disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct after the event.
Kurt Conklin flipped his sprinter while racing in second place in the first turn just after a lap was scored. Conklin wasn’t injured.
“What a relief,’’ said VanInwegen. “This is just a great feeling. I’ve come close to winning my first Modified feature before, but something always seemed to happen. I finally got the monkey off my back.’’
VanInwegen, a three-year Modified competitor from Port Jervis, joined forces with the Sherlock Brothers, Robbie and Randy, during the latter stages of the 2012 season. The Sherlocks, who own Tri-State Roofing, have picked up wins through the years with other chauffers. This is the first time this combination has clicked.
“I really enjoy working with the Sherlocks and feel fortunate to have been given this opportunity,’’ said VanInwegen. “They provide me with an outstanding car to race and have some of the best equipment around. This was only my second start at Accord and we were able to park this car in victory lane. Hopefully, this is the start of good things for the Tri-State Roofing team.’’
VanInwegen, who started fifth in the 17-car field, stayed clear of two wrecks before a lap was completed to move into third place behind leader Mel Schrufer and Gary Quick.
Reigning champion Andy Bachetti, who looped his car to create a first-turn pile-up at the start, spun again on the ensuing restart and drove his car into the pits. He would return two laps down, but went to the pits again and parked his car for the night.
VanInwegen, meanwhile, settled in behind leader Schrufer and Quick when racing resumed, and it remained that way until Jeff Heotzler Sr. spun in the second turn with five laps completed. Quick got the jump on Schrufer following the restart and was able to stay in front until Brad Rothaupt spun in the fourth turn to force a caution with 11 laps completed.
VanInwegen, utilizing his small block power, got a great bite on the bottom off the restart and was able to edge ahead of Quick for the lead. He woukd remain there until the finish.
“We were strong on the bottom all night,’’ said VanInwegen, “and using our small block was the way to go. We had the big block on opening night, but we just couldn’t get a handle on things. The track was a little slick and the small block was definitely the right choice.’’
VanInwegen ran a flawless line after grabbing first place from Quick and was able to keep his competition behind him en route to his first Modified victory. Quick chased VanInwegen throughout the race but could never find a way around him.
Quick took the checkered flag behind VanInwegen, but was disqualified following the event for being light over the scales. The disqualification handed second place over to Danny Tyler with Tommy Meier, Danny Creeden, Jackie Brown Jr., Mike Doty, Scott Ferrier, Rothaupt and Ken Boniface Jr. rounding out the top 10.
In the Escape RV Sportsman 25-lap feature, Greg McCloskey notched his first victory this season ahead of Ken Ferrier, Will Dietz, Tom Johnson and Dave Werber.
McCloskey, after starting fourth in the 20-car field, chased down early leader Ferrier and was able to grab first place with a pass off the third turn on the 18th lap. Kevin Ward produced the race’s first caution a lap later with a flat tire.
But McCloskey was able to stay ahead of Ferrier following the restart and was never challenged to the finish.
The Healey Brothers Spec Sportsman 20-lap feature was marred by seven cautions and a disqualification during the post-race weigh-in. Ed Dachenhausen, who took the first win of his Accord career, was stripped of first place when he was light over the scales.
That handed the win over to Joe Judge, who was scored ahead of Mike Sabia, Mike Traver, Tyler Boniface and Mike DuBois.
In the Ruge’s GM Parts Center Pro Stock division, Jim Sykes unveiled a brand new car and it quickly paid off as he captured the 20-lap feature ahead of Ralph Ronk, Emerson Cargain Jr., John Roese and Ron Rion.
Sykes, who finished 12th in the season opener on April 26, started on the pole and never trailed as he was able to stave off his competition and avoid five accidents . Paul Maiolo, while racing second, spun off the second turn with 18 laps down to halt racing for the final time.
In the Arkel Motors Pure Stock class, George Deckelman continued his early-season dominance as he utilized a last-lap pass for his second straight victory in the 15-lap main event.
Ray Tarantino enjoyed the upper hand from the start as he grabbed first place, and was able to keep both Nick Johnson and Charles Deckelman behind him. But Ant Marguglio’s spin in the second turn opened the door for George Deckelman with 12 laps down.
George Deckelman chased down Tarantino when racing resumed and was able to power in front on his final tour around the quarter-mile bullring.
The Want Ad Digest Fireball Four-Cylinder 15-lap feature was won by Matt Curry.Accord Speedway Season Opener - All American Ford Night
ACCORD, NY – Jackie Brown Jr. made a rousing return during All
American Ford night at the Accord Speedway Friday evening as the Ulster
County bullring was finally able to open the curtain on its 2013 racing
Brown, who hasn’t been an Accord regular competitor since the 2008 season, wasted no time rekindling his winning touch as he parked his Modified in the Lucas Oil Victory Lane following an impressive drive in capturing the 30-lap main event.
“It’s really great to be back here at Accord,’’ said Brown. “I’ve been traveling around the past few seasons and I feel that has really helped my racing style and made me a better driver. But I really enjoy racing at Accord and Gary Palmer does a great job preparing his track. It was nice and smooth out there tonight, and there were two lanes to race on. The racing surface was exceptional for opening night.’’
Brown, who hasn’t visited victory lane here in five seasons, said he was surprised how quickly he was able to find his winning touch. The 41-year-old, second-generation driver from Hurley, who is the son of former Accord driving sensation Jackie Brown Sr., has been a fixture around here for many years.
“But things happen very quickly and the racing is very tight,’’ said Brown. “I raced at Glen Ridge in 2009 and I think my time there really helped. It’s very similar to Accord, but it’s D-shaped and you have to react even quicker. My Glen Ridge experience helped me tonight because I was able to see things developing on the track more clearly.’’
Brown, after starting fifth in the 17-car field, caught a break with 13 laps completed when reigning track champion Andy Bachetti slowed down off the fourth turn and Jeff Heotzler Sr. was forced to the pits with a flat tire. The caution wiped out a nice lead Danny Creeden had built and provided Brown with his winning move following the restart.
Brown, starting on the inside, was able to get ahead of Creeden when racing resumed and soared ahead down the backstretch. The event went caution-free the rest of the way as Brown was able to pull away from his competition.
“I’m kind of surprised Danny gave me the inside for the restart,’’ said Brown. “We were really working well on the bottom and he just left it wide open for me. I was able to pull away on the start and was able to increase my lead as the race progressed.
“I understand Danny had brake problems, but my car was really good. I thought it would take some time to get back into the swing of things here, but we were really able to hit on a good set-up. This was just a great way to start off the season.’’
Creeden, who started outside pole, and Tommy Meier swapped the lead back-and-forth in the early going as three caution periods during the first nine laps brought racing to a halt. Creeden was able to move ahead of Meier on the 11th lap and remained in front until Bachetti’s troubles slowed racing for the final time two circuits later around the quarter-mile, banked oval.
Creeden managed to hold on to second place with Danny Tyler, Meier, Rich Ricci Jr., Scott Ferrier, Jerry Higbie, Brad Rothaupt, Richard Smith and Bill VanInwegen Jr. rounding out the top 10.
Youthful driving sensation Tyler Dippel continued to impress during the early stages of his racing career as he utilized a late-race move to capture the Sportsman 25-lap main event.
Dippel, after starting fifth in the 20-car field, chased leader Dave Coene and Kevin Ward for several laps as the race was winding down. Coene, who led from the start, watched his cushion evaporate when Jimmy Wells came up with a flat right rear tire with 17 laps completed.
Coene was able to maintain his lead following the restart, but had both Ward and Dippel now in hot pursuit. The three drivers ran under a blanket for several laps, before coming off the fourth turn three-wide on the 23rd circuit. Dippel was scored the leader to complete the lap just before a caution flew and Ward was scored in second.
Coene was dropped to third place and remained behind the leaders to the finish as Anthony Perrego and Mike Barrett completed the top five.Tyler Boniface, who started outside pole, opened his 2013 Accord campaign with a decisive victory as he took the checkered flag ahead of Kyle VanDuser, Joe Judge, Mike Sabia and Mike Traver in the Spec Sportsman 20-lap feature.
It was the second straight season that Boniface won Accord’s season opener. He wound up with two wins at the track in 2012.
A hard crash into the homestretch wall on the final lap cost leader Ralph Ronk and carried Emerson Cargain Jr. to a surprising victory in the Pro Stock 20-lap feature race. Ronk was able to cross the finish line in seventh place with his crippled vehicle.
Ronk, despite being slowed by several cautions, was able to remain out in front the entire race before meeting his own demise while racing off the fourth turn on the final lap. Cargain was able to sneak into the lead as Ronk made contact with the outside wall.
Tom Vasta followed in second place with Ron Rion, Paul Aragon Jr. and John Roese rounding out the top five.George Deckelman assumed command at the drop of the green flag and never wavered as he captured the caution-free Pure Stock 15-lap feature ahead of Steve Smalley, Charles Deckelman, Nick Johnson and Johnny Davis.
Joe Szczapa was able to wrestle the lead away from Zack Bennett on the eighth lap and then went on to capture the Lightning Sprints 15-lap main event. Less Burritt followed in second place with Rich Stone, Phil Bessette and Christian Wright completing the top five.