Alex Bright
Alex Bright

Alex Bright
Collegeville, PA

East Coast Drivers Represent Well During Annual "Eastern Storm"


USAC East Coast Sprint Cars

East Coast Drivers Represent Well During Annual "Eastern Storm"

June 20th 2023, Nick Fillman, USAC ECSC

As we are just a handful of days removed from the 16th annual USAC National “Eastern Storm” fans from far and wide were treated to what could be considered the most difficult field in the history of the week long series, largely in part due to the influx of our strong and talented drivers from the USAC East Coast Series and East Coast alike.

Car counts in the upper 20’s and low 30’s, were brought together from an ultra competitive crop of drivers from the west coast, and midwest, clashing with many of the local stars and cars that can be found with the series on a regular basis.

Lead by current points leader, and defending series Champion Briggs Danner, a plethora of series regulars either dropped the 410 power plant between the frame rails, or tried their hand with their 360 power plant that they utilize on a regular basis.

Briggs Danner and Alex Bright lead the way, qualifying for all of the feature events during the week, starting off with Bright collecting a top ten and a hard charger effort at Grandview. Drevicki would be just outside the top ten in eleventh, and Danner in 19th. Drevicki scored a heat race win on the night, while Bobby Butler, with his 360 fought tooth and nail with some of the national series best at Grandview in the semi event and qualified for the feature, finishing in 24th. While not a regular with the series, former series winner and regular Tim Buckwalter had the best night on Tuesday with a 4th place effort. Series drivers Joey Amantea, Jason Cherry, and Patrick Chilmonik were also in attendance but did not qualify.

A rain out at the Bridgeport Motorsports Park on Wednesday night ruined the scheduled debut of talented young driver Preston Lattomus, and veteran driver Ed Aikin in their 410 national series events, but would get the opportunity later on in the weekend.

Moving to Big Diamond, Danner scored a great run in foruth, Buckwalter 12th, Drevicki 18th, Alex Bright 21st, and Carmen Perigo making his first show of the week coming home in 22nd.

Friday night at the Williams Grove Speedway series drivers shined with Tim Buckwalter leading the way. Buckwalter lead multiple laps and came home in a strong third place aboard his combination effort of Lotier Motorsports and Hummer Motorsports, with Briggs Dinner coming hime 6th after running inside the top five through most of the event. Joey Amantea made his first show of the week and finished 14th from starting 22nd. Alex Bright suffered a rough night and had an incident resulting in a scary tank fire, and severely damaging the Heffner 27 for the rest of the week.

Heading off to Port Royal for the first time of the season for many of our drivers, the unique Silver Crown and USAC National double, with wing 410’s was a fan favorite, and again featured series drivers impressing on the national stage. Steven Drevicki picked up another heat race win, and came home in a very strong 6th place effort. Briggs Danner finished with a top ten, in 10th, with Preston Lattomus and Ed Aikin making their first shows of the week, and first career USAC National starts, finishing 19th and 21st, respectably. Alex Bright had another adventurous night, as the Heffner team took over the Hummer Motorsports entry from Tim Buckwalter while he had his regular modified obligations at the Grandview Speedway. The team qualified through the semi feature, but their 410 engine suffered a mechanical failure leaving them un-able to start the feature.

In addition to the sprint car field, the USAC Silver Crown series was also in action, where again, USAC East Coast series drivers, and drivers from the Pennsylvania and New Jersey again shied brightly. Carmen Perigo scored the best USAC East Coast result with a 4th place effort, coming just shy of a podium run. Alex Bright cored a 13th place effort in his USAC Silver Crown Debut aboard Mike Haggenbottom’s 24 entry. Drivers who have non-wing starts with the series, Steve Buckwalter (14th and the Hard Charger), Mark Smith (17th), and Mark Bitner (21st), also qualified for the feature event against a stout field of 30 cars.

But perhaps the most impressive run of the night came from a driver making his “wingless” and Silver Crown debut, Chase Dietz. The wing 410 regular, at one point set a new track record in time trials, before falling back to third in qualifying. Dietz piloted their brand new car to an amazing runner up finish, challenging the series best like Kody Swanson, Brady Bacon, and 2022 and now 2023 winner Logan Seavey.

The mini series wrapped up at Action Track USA where our USAC East Coast drivers have plenty of laps, not only in their 360 Sprint cars, but 600 sprints and others as well. Many of our series drivers were able to swap cars, or swap engines to their 360 power plants like Briggs Danner, Alex Bright, and Carmen Perigo. Tim Buckwalter was in the Lotier Motorsports 7 car with a 360 power plant, but suffered mechanical issues and was unable to start the feature. Billy Pauch Jr made his debut aboard Mike Heffner’s 27 entry and finished the feature in 16th. Alex Bright with his 360, started second, ran within the top three for most of the feature event, and ended the teams very long week with a 6th place. Joey Amantea finished out the week with a 13th place, while Carmen Perigo (15th), Briggs Danner (17th), and Preston Lattomus (20th) were also in action and made the feature event.

Between the series regulars, one off teams, and Silver Crown teams, the East Coast, and USAC East Coast series were well represented all week long. Hopefully a sign of things to come for future USAS “Eastern Storm” weeks, and events throughout their season.

In addition to drivers who have series experience, the Chris Dyson Motorsports team lead by Sean Michael had two vehicles in action during the week. A sprint car piloted by Thomas “T-Mez” Meseraull, who picked up multiple top five and top ten finishes. Brady Bacon piloted the teams Silver Crown entry, and finished on the podium in 3rd. With the final example of the strength in the east coming from another winged regular, Kyle Moody. Moody piloted the potent Baldwin-Fox Racing 5, as a teammate to Anton Hernandez, and qualified for the show at Big Diamond, and nearly made the show at Williams Grove. Moody has previous experience during Eastern Storm, but made his first start in many seasons.

In total, 15 different USAC East Coast or East Coast based teams made an attempt to qualify during the week, with 7 USAC East Coast, or East Coast based teams and drivers attempted to qualify for the Silver Crown event. A major boost in participation from 2022 to 2023!

After a very busy week for most of the teams who own 410 power plants, or otherwise, the series and its drivers earned a well deserved week off before the next series race on June 30th at the Delaware International. Following DIS, the series goes on a long break before returning to action on July 12th at Action Track USA!

Article Credit: Nick Fillman

Submitted By: Nick Fillman

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