Five For The 5G, as Danner Wins Again at Bridgeport

Five For The 5G, as Danner Wins Again at Bridgeport

Swedesboro, NJ. April 30th, 2022, Nick Fillman, USAC ECSC.

One night after picking up his worst finish of the season with a sixth place at Delaware International, Briggs Danner of Allentown, PA found himself right back where he’s most comfortable, in the USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series Victory Lane at the Bridgeport Speedway.

The 2021 series Rookie of the Year is always the top car to beat, especially at the Bridgeport Speedway where Danner picked up his first career win in their first ever start in the fall of 2020.

In what was the second ever event in series history featuring a points inversion handicap for positions at the front of the field, David Swanson and Ed Aikin brought the field to green on the high banks of the Bridgeport Speedway for the 25 lap main event.

Swanson was able to get out to the early race lead and lead the opening circuit with a hungry pack of drivers spreading out three and sometimes four wide for position behind the leader. Joey Amantea was the first driver to give charge to the leader Swanson, and took the lead away on lap three to lead his first laps with the series of the season.

Behind race leader Amantea, Danner and Alex Bright had begun their chase of the top spot after starting fifth and sixth in the feature event. As Danner and Bright tried to charge forward, they were met with heavy retaliation from drivers like Kenny Miller lll, Ed Aikin, and heat race winner Billy Pauch Jr as they too were not about to back out of the top five.

Ultimately on lap six, Briggs Danner was able to utilize the low side of the speedway to get by leader Joey Amantea and assume the race lead. Kenny Miller ll would follow along into second, with Bright also moving into third and Amantea settling in to third. The first caution flag of the feature event was displayed on lap seven, as Jonathan Swanson went for a spin in turns one and two.

The ensuing restart brought Kenny Miller lll directly to the tail tank of leader Danner, with Bright, Joey Amantea, and Billy Pauch Jr rounding out the top five. Danner was able to get a great restart and take off from the front of the field and put a bit of distance on the runner up of Alex Bright.

Meanwhile at the tail end of the top ten an ferocious battle was taking place between Ed Aikin, Kyle Spence, Colin White, and Steven Drevicki who was utilizing his patented bottom groove excellence to work his way forward from the fourteenth place starting spot.

As the field neared the halfway point of the feature, Kenny Miller and Alex Bright would put on an absolute show for three to four laps trading big slide jobs back and forth for the second place position, before Bright ultimately won out and began to further his quest for race leader Danner.

The second caution flag again flew on lap fifteen as Billy Ney, who slowed for losing a fuel line, was not able to make it all the way into the infield behind the barriers and was in a more than precarious position.

Danner remained the leader and had a solid half straightaway lead over Bright for second, with Amantea, Miller, and Pauch Jr still remaining the top five. Danner, utilizing the big banking of the Bridgeport Speedway, again gapped Bright for the race lead. However the big mover on this restart at the front of the field was Billy Pauch Jr who utilized a pair of big slide jobs to pick up a pair of spots and move into the third place position.

Bright was reeling in Danner as the laps wound down in the feature event, as Bright was using a slightly lower line through the entire speedway in the slick and making big ground up on leader Danner as they raced into lapped traffic. The red flag was displayed on lap 22 as Preston Lattomus made heavy contact with the wall in turns one and two and went for a vicious series of flips. While the red flag call was coming out, Brian Spencer made heavy contact with the car of Brent Shearer who was slowing for the red flag call, and went for his own series of big flips down half of the front straight away. Luckily Spencer and Lattomus were both ok, but both drivers machines were severely damaged from the incidents.

A red flag with three laps to go was an interesting dynamic that was brought into the feature event, not only due to the cooling cycle that the rear tires were experiencing as the cars sat idle around the speedway, but also bringing Alex Bright and Billy Pauch Jr directly to the tail of race leader Briggs Danner.

On the restart, Danner remained flawless and again was able to get a gap over runner up Alex Bright, who quickly found himself under attack from Billy Pauch Jr who had taken second place from Bright, before Bright yet again took the spot back on at the white flag.

As Bright battled with Pauch for second it only allowed Briggs Danner to experience more smooth sailing up front as he went on to collect his fifth win of the season at the Bridgeport Speedway. Bright followed in second over Pauch Jr, Joey Amantea with yet another top five run, and, Kyle Spence who was in his second start of the season rounding out the top five.

Briggs Danner and the Heffner Racing team have been good just about everywhere they go, but they have another level of speed when it comes to the Bridgeport Speedway. Whether the track is slick or tacky, Danner finds his way to the front on the high banks. As the team experienced a bit of an off night with a sixth place effort on Friday at Delaware International, they were right back into fighting form on Saturday.

Alex Bright and the Hummer Motorsports team continue to be a pestering force for the Danner team, as they are beginning to get back to where the team expects to be. Bright explained in the pit area following the feature event that he’s extremely excited for the rest of the season: “We’ve hit on something that we were missing at the beginning of the year” Bright explained. Bright was not a fan of seeing the caution flags fly as he and the team were utilizing the harder Medium compound tire that was just beginning to come in as the feature event was concluding, while race leader Danner, and second place Pauch had the softer H compound.

Billy Pauch Jr is the current modified points leader at the Bridgeport Speedway, but Billy was right at home aboard the Hogue Motorsports 39 entry for his second start of the year on Saturday at Bridgeport. Pauch was able to win heat one and hold off Alex Bright, which put him into the points inversion. Luckily for Pauch, two other drivers who were not eligible for the full points inversion made it in, and it propelled Pauch from starting ninth, to starting seventh. Pauch was very impressive on Saturday night throwing sliders with the best in the series, and nearly pulling off a runner up finish. Look for Pauch and the Hogue team to continue to build speed as they work together more this season.

Joey Amantea has quickly found himself points racing on the 2022 USAC East Coast Series trail, as the team has found another level of speed so far this season. Amantea had an extremely solid weekend finishing in third at Delaware, and backing it up with a fourth at Joey’s favorite track the Bridgeport Speedway. Amantea is more focused than ever on winning a feature event this season, and if the speed remains for the young driver they have had so far, it is a very realistic feat.

Rounding out the top five was Bridgeton, NJ’s Kyle Spence. Spence, like Pauch Jr picked up another heat race win on Saturday at Bridgeport. However, with the team only making their second start of the season they were left starting behind the drivers who were eligible for the points inversion. Spence started the feature in eighth and did fall back some in the feature event. Spence like Bright was on the harder Medium tire and came to life at the end of the feature picking off drivers one by one on the high side and low side of the speedway. Two top ten runs for the micro sprint veteran Spence as he makes his return to sprint car action in 2022.

Brent Shearer a regular with the winged 410’s of central PA made his first ever start on Saturday night at Bridgeport, and looked fairly comfortable for his first time out. Shearer was running inside the top twelve before being involved in the Brian Spencer crash that ended up taking out the front axle on his 12 machine. Hopefully we see more of Shearer as the season goes on.

USAC EC at Bridgeport Results:

Heat 1 (8 Laps, All transfer, 3 Handicap): 1. 39 Billy Pauch Jr, 2. 20 Alex Bright, 3. 88J Joey Amantea, 4. 21K Tommy Kunsman, 5. 83 Bruce Buckwalter Jr, 6. 15 Mark Bitner, 7. 23B Preston Lattomus.

Heat 2 (8 Laps, All Transfer, 3 Handicap): 1. 22 Kyle Spence, 2. 7 Ed Aikin, 3. 117 David Swanson, 4. 83s Billy Ney, 5. 19 Steven Drevicki, 6. 62 Brian Spencer, 7. 96 Lee Kauffman.

Heat 3 (8 Laps, All Transfer, 3 Handicap): 1. 90 Colin White, 2. 5G Briggs Danner, 3. 23M Kenny Miller lll, 4. 71 Chris Allen Jr, 5. 12 Brent Shearer, 6. 17J Jonathan Swanson, 7. 67 Jason Cherry.

Feature Event (25 Laps): 1. 5G Briggs Danner, 2. 20 Alex Bright, 3. 39 Billy Pauch Jr, 4. 88J Joey Amantea, 5. 22 Kyle Spence, 6. 19 Steven Drevicki, 7. 23M Kenny Miller lll, 8. 7 Ed Aikin, 9. 71 Chris Allen Jr, 10. 90 Colin White, 11. 83 Bruce Buckwalter Jr, 12. 15 Mark Bitner, 13. 17J Jonathan Swanson, 14. 117 David Swanson, 15. 67 Jason Cherry, 16. 96 Lee Kauffman, 17. 12 Brent Shearer (DNF), 18. 62 Brian Spencer (DNF), 19. 23B Preston Lattomus (DNF), 20. 21K Tommy Kunsman (DNF), 21. 83s Billy Ney (DNS).

Lap Leaders: David Swanson (1-2), Joey Amantea (3-5), Briggs Danner (6-25).

Vahlco Wheels Hard Charger: Steven Drevicki (14th-6th)

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