Beers Gets Back to Winning - This Time at Chemung by Jim Blacroch
RoC Victory Turns Around a Bad Week
Eric Beers in victory lane (All photos reprinted with the permission of GATER Racing News)
For Eric Beers of Northampton, Penn., the 2008 season hasn't been that great since winning the Richie Evans Memorial 100 at New Smyrna Speedway during 'Speedweeks' in Florida. His new ride on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with Bob Katon's JR PreCast Team has going well, up until Thursday night when a crash gave them a 32nd place finish at Thompson, so Beers came home and went to work.
On Saturday night, Beers took it to the regulars on the tight confines of the Mahoning Valley Speedway as he scored his 24th Mahoning triumph over his friend Chip Santee. It was a victory that Beers needed.
“We've been struggling a little and it's good to find our legs here,” Beers related following the event. “This place (Mahoning) is so much fun to race, even when the car isn't perfect you kind find lanes to race in and there is always plenty of room to race clean. This feels pretty good and I'm very excited about it.”
Beers, believe it or not, captured the same race a year ago, only a couple of days after the passing of John Blewett, III at Thompson. This night was just as meaningful for Beers, but from some different perspectives.
“This game is pretty tough because you lose a whole bunch more then you win,” reflected Beers. “But you've got to keep trying. However, sometimes the wallet gets a little thin and you've got to take a look at what you are doing and this was one of those times. We didn't run Spencer or start at Lancaster because we needed to regroup and
Mahoning seems to always provide us with a great place to do just that and that's what happened here tonight.”
Beers wrestled the lead away from John Bennett on lap 54 and steered to victory over Santee and Matt Hirschman, which helped him make the decision to head to Chemung Speedrome for Sunday's 150-lap DART Race of Champions Asphalt Tour event, which was also the first event of the RoC 'Championship Season' events.
It was a late decision that turned out to be the right one of Beers as he visited victory lane for the second straight day.
Beers showed up at Chemung, drew the 91st pill, started 6th in his heat, finished second, started 8th in the feature and didn't take the lead until lap 127 after pitting for a right rear tire just past the halfway mark.
“We've run good here a couple of times and others we've struggled, so today was big,
very big,” grinned Beers following the event. “The guys did a great job on the pit stop
and beating Matt (Hirschman) out of the pits was huge. It gave us the ability to not
have to pass him and run our own race.
“That was one of the most important parts of today. You can't really write a script for
this, but today it worked out for us. Everything did, it was pretty cool for it to go the
way it did. You've got to enjoy weekends and days like this because they are too far
and few between. It's easy to get down when you are struggling, but it's even harder to
pull yourself back up and I feel like we did just that this weekend. We pulled ourselves
right back up and got where we needed to be.”
It wasn't without making it through some fireworks. On the restart before Beers inherited the lead on lap 127, Hirschman glued himself to the back bumper on Beers' machine as Beers tried to work his way around Leaty. Seeing the only opportunity that Hirschman had to win, he stuck his machine to the outside of the Beers and then snuck up on Leaty. As the trio exited turn four on the 127th circuit all hell broke loose with Leaty and Hirschman slamming the turn four wall while Beers drove by.
“The right rear definitely helped us and Jan's (Leaty's) tires were pretty old at that point,” explained Beers. “He was trying to protect his lines. I got a good run on the bottom at the same time Matt (Hirschman) went to the top and unfortunately, Jan (Leaty) and Matt (Hirschman) got tangled up and crashed. It would have been wild to see what would have happened if we could have raced to the finish. I still think the fans got their monies worth, definitely. It was a good show, of course I might be a little biased, but Matt and I passed a bunch of cars after we pitted.”
Beers was happy to be celebrating another birthday on Saturday night and even happier to have his parents with him both nights.
“I've got to thank everyone on the crew, like I said, we've had tough luck, but we stuck it out and it's paid off and I can't forget to thank all of my sponsors, Sunoco, Q Racing Oils, Performance Friction, Adam Horwith and Horwith Freightliner. This was a big weekend for us and my family and friends were with us both days, including my Mom and Dad, which is really nice. Also I need to tip my hat to Andy Harpell and his staff, we get on those guys from the Race of Champions from time-to-time and they give us some neat races to run. I guess it does beat going to Knoebel's amusement park a little bit.”
In the event T.J. Potrzebowski and Brian Defebo swapped the lead until Tony Hanbury, who is a master at Chemung took over on lap 50 and led all the way up until Jan Leaty forged his way into the lead on lap 116, which brought things to the turning point in the race.
Leaty reflected on the incident with Hirschman.
“I feel pretty bad right now,” stated Leaty in the pits after the event. “I knew we couldn't finish at least third. We didn't pit and those guys were coming. I knew Eric was back there trying my spotter said outside, but I looked in my mirror on the window post and I saw Eric had a run, so I moved up and I didn't take into account that Matt was out there. I moved up and it happened. I feel bad about it and know those guys are upset, but we really can't go back and change it as much as I want to.”
TJ GOES RETRO
TJ Potrzebowski brought back the original colors that he ran on his Sport Mod in 1995 including a light blue wheel scheme and it helped him run to second in the race.
“We did it for the fans because this is our hometown crowd,” offered Potrzebowski after the race. “It was what we ran back in 1995 and if it brings us some luck, maybe we'll keep it.”
It must have worked to an extent as Potrzebowski ran in the top-five for most of the event and came back through the field with Beers and Hirschman.
“It was an interesting race today. We planned on pitting somewhere around halfway and ended up pitting the same time as Matt and Eric. We came up through the field with them and had no incidents. We're satisfied with second today because we didn't have the car to catch Eric, but we were close and like him we've been struggling. The car has just been too tight with everything we've been trying this year, plus my day didn't start out too well as we drew 90th out of 100. (For the record, Beers drew 91st). But we're happy with the gains we've made and with where our program is heading. We'll take it.”
DEFEBO HAS GOOD RUN COMES HOME THIRD
Brian DeFebo captured a qualifying race, led for a while and overall had a good day with a third place finish.
“Thinking back we could have pitted earlier, because we waited too long,” began DeFebo. “I could have led everyone down pit road, but it's a tough call and damn if you do, damn if you don't. I'm just real happy with third today. We had a good solid effort all around.”
CAR COUNT AND OTHER NOTES
28 teams made the tow to the Central New York oval. The race should have been a lesson for the upcoming NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event. The one tire allotted to the teams for the race and the format made for a race that had everything, pit strategy, passing, cars coming from the back to the front and a bit of controversy, which makes for a good event.
JR Kent was back in a modified and looked fairly strong until some challenges on the race track sidelined him for the rest of the event.
Pete Brittain was sporting a soft cast on his right hand after an incident on Saturday night at Lancaster in the Tommy Druar / Tony Jankowiak Memorial 50 which was won by Chuck Hossfeld in his own car.
The next DART Asphalt Race of Champions Modified Tour show is this Sunday as part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration at Lancaster (now Dunn Tire Raceway Park) Speedway, which now takes on it's third date due to uncooperative weather on the last two tries. It's a features only format as the field was set on the 9th of August when the qualifying heats were run and won by Sege Fidanza, Matt Hirschman and Tom McGrath. Buck Catalano and Erick Rudolph will lead the field to the green flag.
The Race of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour is sponsored by; Dart Machinery, Gater Racing News, Hoosier Racing Tire, Sunoco Race Fuels, PBM Performance Products, Total Seal Piston Rings, Dura - Bond, Competition Engineering by Moroso, Dynatech, Xceldyne, Afco, CV Products, and LA Sleeve.
BOX SCORE - Chemung Speedrome - DART Asphalt Race of Champions Modified Tour Championship Series Race #1
RACE OF CHAMPIONS DART ASPHALT MODIFIED TOUR
CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES RACE #1
1.) Eric Beers
2.) TJ Potrzebowski
3.) Brian DeFebo
4.) John Markovic
5.) Lee Sherwood
6.) Rick Kluth
7.) Daren Scherer
8.) Pete Brittain
9.) Tony Hanbury
10.) Earl Paules
11.) Kyle Ebersole
12.) Billy Putney
13.) Todd Smith
14.) Doug Reaume
15.) Jimmy Zacharias
16.) JR Kent
17.) Matt Hirschman
18.) Jan Leaty
19.) Jim Storace
20.) Dave Bellis
21.) Rusty Smith
22.) Steven Reed
23.) Tommy Farrell, III
24.) Chris Whitenight
25.) Kevin Lewis
26.) Mike Leaty.
DNS; Matt Clemens, TJ Zacharias.
LAP LEADERS; Potrzebowski ( 1 ), DeFebo ( 2 ), Potrzebowski ( 3 - 15 ), DeFebo ( 16 - 49 ) Hanbury ( 50 - 116 ), J. Leaty ( 117 - 127 ), Beers ( 128 - 150 ).
DART MACHINERY AWARD $1,200 SET OF HEADS; Farrell.
GATER RACING NEWS DRIVER BONUS DRAW $500; Whitenight.
HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD CHARGER AWARD; T. Smith ( 24th to 13th ).
HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD LUCK AWARD; R. Smith ( 6th to 21st ).
NEXT RoC EVENT; Saturday August 24th - Dunn Tire - 6:30 start - 50th Anniversary Show - 100 laps - $3,500 to win, final regular season point show.
Jan Leaty (#6) and Matt Hirschman race side by side.