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Tommy Meier Earns Eastern States Mod Victory

2/2/2016 - 5:18:04 PM

By FRANK CATTIZONE

MIDDLETOWN - Popular Modified driver Tommy Meier drove the race of his lifetime and collected the biggest pay day of his career early Sunday evening as he rode him with his first Eastern States 200 victory at the Orange County Fair Speedway.

Meier, who started outside pole, took advantage of several caution periods and a gutsy restart late in the event to overtake Tim McCreadie and walk home with the first-place prize of $35,000 offered from Halmar International and Arkel Motors.

"I still can't believe just what happened,'' said Meier, who was greeted in victory lane my a throng of well wishers. "I'm just in awe right now and can't believe what I just did. This is just fantastic and is easily the biggest victory of my racing career.''

Meier, who raced second to McCreadie since the 162nd lap of the race, went for broke on a 197th lap restart when he drove around McCreadie and into the lead.

"I felt like that was going to be my last chance at winning the race,'' said Meier. "I noticed that McCreadie was having a little problem and thought he might have a tire going down. I was able to get a good run off the top and was able to nose ahead off the restart.

"But I just couldn't believe all the cautions and could wait to get the race over. I was worried about tire wear myself and that right rear was never changed. We just took on fuel during our stop and I still can't believe the tire held up. I really don't know how much further we could have gone.''

The race was red-flagged shortly after Meier was scored the leader when Anthony Perrego slowed on the homestretch and had his car flipped over when Matt Hitchcock slammed into it. The ambulance and safety crews were summoned to the scene to check on the drivers.

Brett Hearn, meanwhile, who led the event around the midway mark, was able to work his way into second place following the restart, but fell just one position short of claiming the $10,000 bonus offered by Halmar International.


 

Hearn captured the Eastern States 100 Saturday afternoon and was the only driver with a chance at earning the sweep of the weekend.

Hearn, who was obviously disappointed in victory lane, was upset with the scoring during the race and felt it hurt his chances at claiming another Eastern States crown and the $60,000 that went with it.

"I've never seen poorer scoring before in a 200-lap race,'' said Hearn, during the post-race interview.

Hearn managed to still finish in second place as he took advantage of the last 20 laps having to be run under green conditions. Several drivers ahead of him were dropping out during the final 10 laps and he was able to advance as the caution flag waved five times.

McCreadie, who was vying for his second Eastern States title, faltered after leading for so many laps and finished in third place with Mike Mahaney, Andy Bachetti, Vic Coffey, L.J. Lombardo, Gary Edwards Jr., Rich Laubach and Bob McGannon rounding out the top 10.

"We gave it our best shot, but I started losing my tires at the end,'' said McCreadie. "It's unfortunate because we really had a good race car this afternoon and pretty much stuck to our game plan.''

All drivers were forced to make a mandatory stop after the 30th lap when the pits were opened and a flurry of cars did just that on the 45th lap after Matt Janiak stopped in the second turn to force a caution for the first time since the 11th circuit.

Those tucking into the pits included Meier, Stuart Friesem, Steve Dodd and Perrego, who were all racing among the top five behind Ken Tremont Jr.

Tremont, who stared on the pole, led from the opening green and elected to stay on the racing surface as Jerry Higbie, Andy Bachetti, Hearn and Chuck McKee now occupied the top five spots.

Tremont was able to build a tremendous lead over the rest of the starting 45-car field as the caution-marred event moved closer to the halfway point. The West Sand Lake driver finally made his way to the pits on the 90th circuit when Danny Creeden forced a caution with right rear damage to his race car.

Tremont would never be a factor again in the race as he had trouble working his way from the back and eventually landed on the second turn concrete retaining wall after forcing a caution with 163 laps completed. He would lose two laps under caution from the incident.

McCreadie and Friesen, meanwhile, who also made their stops with Meier, would become a factor as they raced back into the top five when Tremont pitted.

Hearn was now the leader and started to pull away from the field when racing resumed. Hearn, however, still needed to make his mandatory stop as the race reached its midway point.

Dale Planck forced a caution with 102 laps completed and Hearn's car came up with a left front flat under yellow conditions. He was forced to pit on consecutive laps to change both the left front and right rear tires.

"It's unfortunate,'' said Hearn. "We stuck to our game plan and made our stop just about when we wanted to. I just came up a little short.''

Hearn's exit to the rear placed Tim Hindley in the lead when racing resumed with McCreadie and Friesen following right behind. Hindley was able to keep the two hot shoes behind as he led until finally making his mandatory stop with 118th laps in the record books.

McCreadie would now assume command and looked well en route to claiming another Eastern States title. The second-generation driver from Watertown staved off the challenges provided by Friesen, Jeff Heotzler Sr.and then Meier as the race progressed.

But McCreadie, who was racing with the same tires since the 45th lap, was beginning to lose his command in the race's latter stages and was hampered by all the caution periods. The fact the last 20 laps had to be run in green conditions also played a big role and enabled other competitors to move back into contention.

The biggest beneficiary of that might have been Meier, who kept McCreadie in his sights during the final 40 laps of the event.

"This was a real long race and I really wasn't for the last 20 laps having to be run under green conditions,'' admitted Meier. "It might have worked out for us, but all the cautions just made things that much more anxious.

"I'm not complaining because this is the biggest win of my racing career. I still can't believe this happened. It really still hasn't sunk in because this is just an amazing feeling. I couldn't be happier with everyone involved in this because we've worked so hard. To win this race is something I'll cherish for the rest of my life.''

Charlie Donald also grabbed his first Eastern States championship in Street Stock competition as he captured the 20-lap event during the second stage of the Steet Stock Shootout Series.

Donald grabbed first place away from Danny Carlough on the fourth lap and then went on to finish ahead of Ray Hall, Jason Meltz, Jim Maher and Ryan Brockner.

 


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