BRIDGEPORT, N.J. – Jeff Strunk etched his name on the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco winner’s list on Sunday night on the new three-eighths-mile oval at Bridgeport Speedway.
Driving Glenn Hyneman’s Keystone Racing No. 126 with spec small-block power, Strunk dominated the day’s events, launching off the pole via a pre-race redraw of top qualifiers and leading all of the 40 laps.
Strunk earned $5,000 for his victory and an additional $100 from Beyea Headers for turning the day’s fastest lap in timed warm-ups.
“I’ve been trying for a long time to win one of these races,” said Strunk, who became the 23rd different winner in 51 STSS events contested since BD Motorsports Media LLC formed the series in 2014.
“There was no junk here today. They were all good cars. Even when I was in lapped traffic I was racing cars that could win a feature any given weekend. That’s what makes this series such a challenge.”
A field of 46 STSS modifieds signed in for the second round of the STSS South Region and the first-ever series visit to the new three-eighths-mile oval at Bridgeport.
Strunk drew the pole during a fan meet and greet behind the grandstands moments before the 40-lap main reached starter Warren Alston’s green flag. Strunk immediately drew away from New York State invader Danny Creeden, who settled into second.
The first 10 laps spun off caution-free before disaster struck at the exit of turn two. Frank Cozze, who had been rim-riding on the outside lane from his sixth starting position, and Creeden met at the exit of turn two. Cozze’s No. 401 shot off the track and made contact with a tire marker, drawing the red. Initially shaken, the Wind Gap, Pa., driver walked away.
On the restart, the inside lane jammed up and caused a multi-car tangle that saw Jared Umbenhauer on his side. A second red and short clean-up ensued.
When green-flag racing resumed, Strunk again motored away from Creeden, who now felt pressure from Matt Sheppard in the Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s.
Sheppard ultimately cleared Creeden entering the race’s final quarter, but was more than a straightaway behind Strunk, who was negotiating lapped traffic.
The race’s final yellow flew on lap 36 for a flat tire on Creeden’s car.
Strunk knew he had company on the restart in the form of Sheppard and 10th-starter Stewart Friesen, who had dropped deep in the field early and rallied back in the Halmar International No. 44.
“I looked at the scoreboard there on that last yellow and saw two of the best right behind me,” Strunk said. “I knew I had to hit my marks and not make any mistakes just like the first 36 laps.”
Sheppard scored his second runner-up finish in a pair of STSS starts for the Hurlock, Md.-based Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply team. He opened the South Region at Delaware’s Georgetown Speedway in March placing runner-up to Ryan Watt.
“It’s a long ride down here to run these races,” Sheppard said. “But it makes the ride a lot easier when we keep having good runs.”
Friesen, of Sprakers, N.Y., completed the podium in third spot, followed by Andy Bachetti and Anthony Perrego
Tom Collins Jr. made the long tow to South Jersey for round two of the STSS Crate 602 Sportsman South Region. His haul was rewarded with a $1,000 victory in the 20-lap event.
Jeramy Doerr won the accompanying 15-lap Outlaw Stock feature.
Jeff Strunk, Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen, Andy Bachetti, Anthony Perrego, Ryan Godown, Rick Laubach, Duane Howard, Billy Pauch Jr., David Van Horn Jr., Ryan Watt, Brian Krummel, Craig Von Dohren, Mike Gular, Danny Creeden, Jimmy Horton, Danny Bouc, Neal Williams, Dillon Steuer, Matt Stangle, Brett Kressley, Joseph Watson, Dave Hunt, Frank Cozze, Richie Pratt Jr., Billy Pauch Sr., Jared Umbenhauer, Billy Decker.