Ryan Watt Earns First Career Super DIRTcar Series Win; Bridgeport Champion Defends Home Turf
Story By: CLAYTON JOHNS /DIRTcar SERIES MEDIA
Photos By: WALT SMITH / RACERSGUIDE.COM
SWEDESBORO, NJ – May 17, 2017 – Ryan Watt inherited the lead when Rick Laubach suffered a flat tire on lap 10 and dominated the remaining 50 laps to earn his first career Super DIRTcar Series win in the Friends of Mike ‘The Finale’ Feature at Bridgeport Speedway on Tuesday night.
Watt, a native of Boyertown, PA and the reigning Bridgeport track champion, defended his home turf while earning the 811 Dig Safely New York redraw bonus for holding off Billy Pauch and Stewart Friesen to win from the eighth starting position.
“I can’t thank my crew enough,” Watt said in Victory Lane. “We wanted to run this Bicknell (Racing Products) car and we were waiting for the Enders motor. We got the call last week that it was done and made a trip up to Brewerton. We came home Saturday and the guys busted their butts to get this thing together. Who would have though it would end this way?”
Initially, it looked as though third-starting Rick Laubach of Quakertown, PA was going to be the car to beat. After Billy Pauch Jr. of Frenchtown, NJ brought the field to the green flag with Peter Britten of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on the outside of the front row, Laubach darted past Pauch Jr. on lap three to take over the top spot.
He held that position until lap 10, when he rolled to a stop on the front straightaway with a flat left-rear tire. Laubach returned to the track with a fresh sneaker and eventually worked his way back to sixth before suffering another flat tire on lap 30. As a result of his trouble, Laubach received the Speedy First Aid Hard Luck Award.
Watt, who quickly made his way forward, was handed the lead when Laubach was forced to the pit area the first time and just moments after passing Neil Williams of Pittsgrove, NJ for the runner-up spot. After a slow start, Watt found his groove and knew he had a strong car as he battled into the top-five.
“The fuel load really made it tight in the beginning and getting stuck on the outside wasn’t good for me either,” Watt explained. “We actually lost two spots and we were 10th. On the (first restart), we picked off quite a few spots and the car was just getting better and better.”
Watt had to endure several restarts once he had the lead before green flag runs of 14 and 22 laps throughout the middle of the race allowed drivers to create space and discover what was in their arsenal. During the latter stretch, Watt’s lead grew as large as 3.8 seconds over Billy Pauch Sr. of Frenchtown, NJ.
It was cut in half while Watt worked through lapped traffic during the final 15 laps and completely erased by a caution with two laps to go that setup a green-white-checkered finish.
“At the end, I could tell (the track) started taking rubber,” Watt said. “I tried to pass some lapped cars on the outside and it wasn’t working so I had to move back down to the rubber. The car was actually starting to get a little bit tight in the rubber, so I did not want to see that caution. I wasn’t sure what it was going to do on the restart, but once the tires cooled down, the thing was good.”
Watt left no doubt he was the superior car on the night, pulling ahead of Pauch Sr. to a 1.4-second margin of victory. Pauch Sr.’s second-place finish was hard-fought, after he held-off a late surge from Friesen.
“We were pretty good tonight,” Pauch Sr. said. “I was just really on tire conservation. I didn’t think we were going to make it to the end because I had heat race tires on and I really had it grooved up. I forgot about it. I really didn’t think I would make the end of the race and I’m really thankful I did.”
The 11th-starting Friesen was a quick-mover early on, advancing to fourth by the time of the lap four restart. He bounced around the top-five throughout the race though and was unable to challenge for the lead. Eventually he passed both Williams and Brett Kressley of Orefield, PA to claim the final podium spot.
“When they prepped the track at intermission it made it kind of slick for us, kind of greasy,” Friesen said. “We got a good bite on the bottom and were able to catch a bunch of guys sleeping at the start and kind of weasel our way up there. Then we got on the outside and cycled back. I’m happy with third. We battled through this one. Watty was fast all night long. The times in his heat races were unbelievable so he was due for one here.”
Williams and reigning series champion Matt Sheppard of Waterloo, NY rounded out the top-five.
Frank Cozze of Wind Gap, PA started the night off with Pole Position Raceway Fast Time Award in group time trials with a lap of 20.717 seconds around the 5/8-mile oval. Cozze’s night ended on a lap 12 restart when he tangled with Britten and was taken off the track via a tow truck.
Qualifying heat races went to Cozze, Pauch Jr., Watt; Laubach, and Billy Decker of Unadilla, NY. Keith Flach earned the KSE Hard Charger by advancing 17 positions from 32nd to 15th in the Feature.
The Super DIRTcar Series is next in action at Weedsport Speedway for Big-Block Monday on May 21, 2017. Fans can watch the race LIVE on DIRTvision pay-per-view.
CONTINGENCY WINNERS: VP Racing Fuels ($50 Cash): Erick Rudolph; Pole Position Raceway Fast Time ($100 Cash): Frank Cozze; Bicknell Racing Products ($100 Product Certificate): Ryan Watt; Cometic Gasket ($50 Cash): Tim Fuller; Comp Cams ($50 Cash): Alan Johnson; Comp Cams ($50 Product Certificate): Ryan Watt; Edelbrock ($50 Cash): Larry Wight; Fox Racing Shox ($50 Cash): Stewart Frisen; JE Pistons ($50 Cash): Matt Sheppard; JE Pistons (Product Certificate): Danny Johnson; JE Pistons (Product Certificate): Ron Roberts; KSE Racing Products Inc. ($50 Product Certificate): Keith Flach; MSD Ignition ($50 Cash): Ryan Watt; MSD Ignition ($25 Cash): Ryan Anderson; SuperFlow Dynos & Flowbenches ($50 Cash): Max McLaughlin; Wrisco Aluminum (Product Certificate): Ryan Watt; JRI Shocks ($50 Cash): Max McLaughlin; Dig Safely 811 Redraw Bonus ($100 Cash): Ryan Watt; Speedy First Aid (Product Certificate): Rick Laubach; ASi Racewear ($50 Cash): Billy Pauch Jr.
SEASON WINNERS: Billy Decker – 1 (Fulton Speedway on April 29); Ryan Watt – 1 (Bridgeport Speedway on May 16)
Super DIRTcar Series Statistical Report; Friends of Mike ‘The Finale’ at Bridgeport Speedway, NJ; May 16, 2017
Race Notes: Ryan Watt inherited the lead when Rick Laubach suffered a flat tire on lap 10 and dominated the remaining 50 laps to earn his first career Super DIRTcar Series win of the Friends of Mike ‘The Finale’ Feature at Bridgeport Speedway. Watt, a native of Boyertown, PA also earned the 811 Dig Safely New York redraw bonus for holding off Billy Pauch and Stewart Friesen to win from the eighth starting position.
Feature – (60 Laps) – 1. 14w-Ryan Watt ; 2. 1-Billy Pauch ; 3. 44-Stewart Friesen ; 4. 0-Neal Williams ; 5. 9s-Matt Sheppard ; 6. 126-Jeff Strunk ; 7.15-Billy Pauch Jr. ; 8. 25r-Erick Rudolph ; 9. 99L-Larry Wight ; 10. 14J-Alan Johnson ; 11. 91-Billy Decker ; 12. 19-Tim Fuller ; 13. 20-Brett Hearn ; 14. 6m-Max McLaughlin ; 15. 43x-Keith Flach ; 16. 27J-Danny Johnson ; 17. 30m-Jamie Mills ; 18. 109-Billy Whittaker ; 19. 42p-Pat Ward ; 20. 98h-Jimmy Phelps ; 21. z14-Ron Roberts ; 22. 19b-Brett Kressley ; 23. 8-Rich Scagliotta ; 24. 27a-Ryan Anderson ; 25. 7-Rick Laubach ; 26. 22-Brandon Walters ; 27. 47-Bob Sarkisian ; 28. 35-Frank Cozze ; 29. 21a-Peter Britten ; 30. 357-Duane Howard ; 31. 27-David Hunt ; 32. 88-Mike Mahaney ; 33. 3-Sammy Martz .
Qualifying Group 1 – 1. 35-Frank Cozze, 20.717; 2. 19b-Brett Kressley, 20.940; 3. 19-Tim Fuller, 21.237; 4. 20-Brett Hearn, 21.302; 5. 8-Rich Scagliotta, 21.431; 6. 7m-Michael Maresca, 21.439; 7. 43-Keith Flach, 21.468; 8. 44-Stewart Friesen, 21.522; 9. 118-Jim Britt, 21.619; 10. 27a-Ryan Anderson, No Time.
Qualifying Group 2 – 1. 15-Billy Pauch Jr., 20.941; 2. 126-Jeff Strunk, 20.992; 3. 25-Erick Rudolph, 21.179; 4. 357-Duane Howard, 21.308; 5. 14J-Alan Johnson, 21.454; 6. 27J-Danny Johnson, 21.571; 7. R2-Rusty Smith, 21.625; 8. 7w-Shawn Ward, 21.672; 9. M40-Mark Forte, 22.101.
Qualifying Group 3 – 1. 14w-Ryan Watt, 21.172; 2. 99L-Larry Wight, 21.326; 3. 3-Sammy Martz, 21.415; 4. 43-Jimmy Horton, 21.620; 5. 66-Ryan Godown, 21.631; 6. 0-Neal Williams, 21.653; 7. 42p-Pat Ward, 21.714; 8. z28-Mike Franz, 22.322; 9. 28f-Stan Frankenfield Jr., 22.386.
Qualifying Group 4 – 1. 7-Rick Luabach, 20.743; 2. 1-Billy Pauch, 20.755; 3. 47-Bob Sarkisian, 21.043; 4. z14-Ron Roberts, 21.341; 5. 30-Jamie Mills, 21.470; 6. 13-Steve Davis, 21.687; 7. 98h-Jimmy Phelps, 21.718; 8. r40-Ryan Forte, 21.985; 9. 22-Brandon Walters, 22.214.
Qualifying Group 5 – 1. 21a-Peter Britten, 20.846; 2. 6m-Max McLaughlin, 21.284; 3. 91-Billy Decker, 21.289; 4. 51m-Dominick Buffalino, 21.370; 5. 27-David Hunt, 21.465; 6. 109-Billy Whittaker, 21.465; 7. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 21.608; 8. 13x-PJ Oliver, 21.672; 9. 88-Mike Mahaney, 21.719;10. 96-Jean-Francois Corriveau, 22.541.
Heat 1 (8 Laps – Top-4 Finishers Transfer to A-Feature; Top-2 Redraw) – 1. 35-Frank Cozze; 2. 19b-Brett Kressley; 3. 44-Stewart Friesen; 4. 19-Tim Fuller; 5. 27a-Ryan Anderson; 6. 20-Brett Hearn; 7. 7m-Michael Maresca; 8. 8-Rich Scagliotta; 9. 118-Jim Britt; 10. 43-Keith Flach.
Heat 2 (8 Laps – Top-4 Finishers Transfer to A-Feature; Top-2 Redraw) – 1. 15-Billy Pauch Jr.; 2. 25r-Erick Rudolph; 3. 126-Jeff Strunk; 4. 14J-Alan Johnson; 5. 27J-Danny Johnson; 6. 357-Duane Howard; 7. R2-Rusty Smith; 8. m40-Mark Forte Jr.; 9. 7w-Shawn Ward.
Heat 3 (8 Laps – Top-4 Finishers Transfer to A-Feature; Top-2 Redraw) – 1. 14w-Ryan Watt; 2. 99L-Larry Wight; 3. 0-Neal Williams; 4. 42p-Pat Ward; 5. 3-Sammy Martz; 6. 66-Ryan Godown; 7. 28f-Stan Frankenfield; 8. 43-Jimmy Horton; 9. z28-Mike Franz.
Heat 4 (8 Laps – Top-4 Finishers Transfer to A-Feature; Top-2 Redraw) – 1. 7-Rick Laubach; 2. 1-Billy Pauch; 3. 30-Jamie Mills; 4. z14-Ron Roberts; 5. 47-Bob Sarkisian; 6. 98h-Jimmy Phelps; 7. 22-Brandon Walters; 8. 13-Steve Davis; 9. r40-Ryan Forte.
Heat 5 (8 Laps – Top-4 Finishers Transfer to A-Feature; Top-2 Redraw) – 1. 91-Billy Decker; 2. 21a-Peter Britten; 3. 9s-Matt Sheppard; 4. 88-Mike Mahaney; 5. 27-David Hunt; 6. 96-Jean-Francois Corriveau; 7. 109-Billy Whittaker; 8. 51m-Dominick Buffalino; 9. 6h-Max McLaughlin; 10. 13x-PJ Oliver.
Last Chance Qualifier 1 (10 Laps – Top-3 Finishers Transfer to A-Feature) – 1. 27a-Ryan Anderson; 2. 3-Sammy Martz; 3. 357-Duane Howard; 4. 27-David Hunt; 5. 98h-Jimmy Phelps; 6. 28f-Stan Frankenfeld; 7. 109-Billy Whittaker; 8. 7m-Michael Maresca; 9. 6m-Max McLaughlin; 10. z28-Mike Franz; 11. 13-Steve Davis; 12. 118-Jim Britt; 13. m40-Mark Forte Jr.
Last Chance Qualifier 2 (10 Laps – Top-3 Finishers Transfer to A-Feature) – 1. 47-Bob Sarkisian; 2. 27j-Danny Johnson; 3. 20-Brett Hearn; 4. 22-Brandon Walters; 5. 43-Jimmy Horton; 6. 8-Rich Scagliotta; 7. 43x-Keith Flach; 8. R2-Rusty Smith; 9. 96-Jean-Francois Corriveau; 10. r40-Ryan Forte; 11. 66-Ryan Godown; 12. 13x-PJ Oliver; 13. 51m-Dominick Buffalino – DNS; 14. 7w-Shawn Ward – DNS.
DIRTcar Racing is brought to fans by many important sponsors and partners, including: Hoosier Racing Tire (Official Tire), VP Racing Fuels (Official Racing Fuel), Chevy Performance Parts and NAPA Auto Parts (SDS). Contingency sponsors include: ASI Race Wear (SDS), Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Cometic Gasket (SDS), COMP Cams (SDS), Edelbrock (SDS), Fox Shocks (SDS), Henry’s Exhaust Systems, Intercomp, JE Pistons (SDS), JRi Shocks (SDS), KSE Racing Products (SDS), Mike’s Racing Heads (SDS), Number One Speedway (SDS), MSD (SDS), Pole Position Raceway (SDS), Superflow Dynos (SDS) and Wrisco Aluminum (Exclusive Racing Aluminum) (SDS); along with manufacturer sponsors, including: Beyea Headers, Racing Electronics and TNT Rescue.