SWEDESBORO, N.J. – Last year on the final night of the Big Track Classic, JJ Grasso was leading when he suffered a flat left-rear tire on a restart and lost the win to Robbie Stillwaggon.
This year, however, the tables turned and Grasso found himself in victory lane during night one of the Midge Miller Memorial Big Track Classic on Friday at Bridgeport Speedway.
Twenty-two cars signed in to battle the brutally cold temperatures and compete in the final race weekend of the Capitol Renegade United Racing Club season.
There was much to be determined going into the weekend, including the crowning of the Midge Miller Memorial winner and the season champion, in addition to saying goodbye to the five-eighths-mile track at Bridgeport.
Steve Buckwalter and two-time Big Track Classic winner Stillwaggon shared the front row and led the field to the green for the first night of action. Stillwaggon jumped to an early lead while his brother, Ryan Stillwaggon, followed suit into second from fourth on the grid.
Battles began to ensue all over the race track, but clean air gave Robbie Stillwaggon the advantage as he began pulling away from the field and into lapped traffic.
At that point, Buckwalter was running third, Curt Michael was fourth, and Grasso found himself fifth. Lapped traffic caused havoc on the field and the first victim was Ryan Stillwaggon, who was running second and tagged the inside jersey barrier attempting to put lapped cars behind him. The contact eventually ended his night early.
Grasso worked his way through lapped traffic – using one to his advantage to get by Michael and into fourth and eventually working his way by Buckwalter and into the second spot.
On the final night of 2018, Grasso looked as though he was untouchable when tragedy struck and a left-rear flat on the final restart cost him the race.
This year, Robbie Stillwaggon looked as though he had the race wrapped up, when once again tragedy struck the leader and he hit a lapped car and backed into the outside wall in turn two.
Though Stillwaggon was able to keep going, his lead quickly vanished and Grasso – after having lap car issues of his own – took the point with Buckwalter behind him.
Grasso then cruised the last four laps to take home the win for night one of the finale weekend as Buckwalter, Tyler Ross, Michael and Chad Layton rounded out the top 5.
“Lapped cars helped us and hurt us tonight,” Grasso said after his win, “I heard someone say Robbie got into a lap car which helped us, but I did the same thing a lap earlier and hurt my car and my thumb and body.
“This win felt like it has been a long time coming,” he added. “This is the first win since a former crew member, sponsor, and friend, Todd Elwell, passed away so I dedicate this one to him.”
The KSE Hard Charger for the night went to Ross who started 10th and ended up on the podium in third. Heat race wins went to Layton, Josh Weller and Buckwalter.
1. 25-J.J. Grasso, ; 2. 7X-Steve Buckwalter, ; 3. 5-Tyler Ross, ; 4. 5G-Curt Michael, ; 5. 35-Chad Layton, ; 6. 63-Josh Weller, ; 7. 5W-Lucas Wolfe, ; 8. 72-Ryan Smith, ; 9. 47-Adam Carberry, ; 10. 39-Ryan Watt, ; 11. 22-Troy Betts, ; 12. 11A-Austin Bishop, ; 13. 71-Chris Allen Jr., ; 14. 7-Ed Aikin, ; 15. 5Z-Jeff Geiges, ; 16. 67C-Jason Cherry, ; 17. 89-Robbie Stillwaggon, ; 18. 11-Ryan Stillwaggon, ; 19. 83-Larry McVay, ; 20. 5Q-Ryan Quackenbush, ; 21. 706-Mark Sasso, ; 22. 34-Mark Van Vorst, (DNS).