USAC East Coast Sprint Cars
Wild Bridgeport Feature Falls to Bright
Swedesboro, NJ. September 25th, 2021. Nick Fillman, USAC ECSC.
After surviving a barrage of late cautions, balding tires, and a rapidly dissipating fuel supply, Alex Bright was able to make his car last and collect his tenth win of the 2021 Rapid Tire, USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series, presented by Capitol Renegade Season.
Following three extremely entertaining heat races, and the feature redraw, Ed Aikin, and rookie driver, Brian Spencer shared the front row for the twenty-five lap feature event. Aikin was able to get the initial jump on the field, with Damon Paul, Briggs Danner, and Alex Bright hot on the heels of the veteran driver vying for the race lead.
Aikin collected the first two circuits of the feature event, before Damon Paul moved his way by Aikin, and staying ahead of Danner as the trio were three wide for the race lead for more than an entire lap. Shortly as the field worked by and completed lap three, another rookie driver, Shea Wills went for a spin in turn one and two bringing out the first caution flag of the feature event.
With Paul leading the field back to green, Danner was quickly trying to make his move as the two traded a set of slide jobs for the feature event lead with Danner taking the lead of the feature event on lap five. Behind them, Christopher Allen was flying around the extreme bottom lane of the speedway picking off cars left and right moving into the third place position with, Aikin and Alex Bright rounding out the top five.
Outside of the top five, battles remained intense with Mark Bitner, Nash Ely, Joey Amantea, and Colin White in an intense four car battle at the back half of the top ten. Impressive rookie Colin White, separated himself from the battle, and reeled in Alex Bright for fifth and began to pressure the multi time feature winner and current points leader for the final spot in the top five.
The troubles for Shea Wills in his series debut continued on lap nine as he slowed to a stop in turn one and two and drew the second caution flag of the feature event. The restart saw Danner out front, and his sizable lead now gone with Damon Paul, Chris Allen, Ed Aikin, Alex Bright, and a hard charging Colin White being the top six with sixteen laps to go in the feature event.
On the ensuing restart many drivers continued to battle for position on the extreme bottom, and extreme topside of the speedway trying to gain as many positions as they could as it appeared that the track was beginning to show signs of taking rubber.
The caution flag was displayed for the third time on lap thirteen of the feature event, as Lee Kauffman, who was making his return to the series, went for a spin in turn one and two. Unfortunately for Kauffman a broken steering box ended his night.
With just under half of the race to be completed, Danner remained out front with, Paul, Allen, Bright, and White the top six. The lead six cars continued to run hard for position, but with rubber coming in on the speedway around the exact middle lane of the speedway, passing was at a premium with a narrow strip to work with.
The fourth caution flag of the event was displayed on lap seventeen as Joey Amantea spun to a stop on the back stretch after making contact with Nash Ely, as he, Ely, Mark Bitner, and Christian Bruno were putting on the best battle on track with the foursome trading positions back and forth with slider after slider for position before the caution flag flew.
Danner remained the leader on the restart with Paul in second, Bright now moving into third on the completion of lap eighteen, Allen, and Aikin who remained under heavy fire from Colin White for fifth.
As the field completed lap twenty, the caution flag yet again was brought out as Nash Ely had made contact with another driver, folding the front end of the 3BC entry leaving him unable to control the car, and collecting Bruce Buckwalter on the front stretch in an accident that could have been much worse than it was. Ely’s night was done, with Buckwalter being able to push back off to finish the feature event.
Danner faced another restart with five laps to go with Paul still in second, but a now hard charging Alex Bright who was noticeably in tire conservation mode, setting his eyes on the race lead and race leader Briggs Danner.
As the green flew, Bright made quick work of Paul for second, and rapidly drew closer to Danner. With two laps to go, Bright was all over the rear of race leader Briggs Danner trying to find the best place to make his move for the lead. As the leaders took the white flag, the yellow was quickly displayed as David Swanson slowed to a stop on the exit of turn two. While the field came to the caution, the right rear tire on race leader Briggs Danner had gone completely flat, forcing Danner to the pits, leaving Bright with the race lead for the Green-White-Checkered finish.
Bright nailed the restart putting distance between himself and Paul, with Allen, Aikin, and now Colin White inside the top five, still trying his best to get by Aikin for fourth. The leader Bright, took the white flag on lap twenty-four, but unfortunately Eric Jennings slowed with problems, and Briggs Danner would make contact with the right rear of Jennings car sending him into the air, before the car slammed to a stop at the exit of turn four, setting up another Green-White-Checkered finish.
Bright lead the field to the final restart of the feature event with Paul, Allen, Aikin, White, and now Christian Bruno rounding out the top six with all drivers trying to make their tires and fuel last for the final two laps of the feature event.
This time there would be no more cautions as Alex Bright went on to collect his tenth win of the 2021 season. A strong run for Damon Paul in second, with Allen, Aikin, and Christian Bruno grabbing fifth in turn four as Colin White blew a right rear and was unable to hang onto his top five position.
What more can be said about Alex Bright and the Hummer Motorsports team this season that hasn’t already been said? One finish outside of the top five in feature results, winning four out of the last five, impressive starts with the USAC National Series, and so much more. The consistency of Bright and the Hummer team is second to none, but it takes more than a teams consistency to win. Sometimes, luck has to play into it, and perhaps a bit did on Saturday night with the unfortunate ending for Danner and team. The tenth win for Bright, coupled with his heat race win, now leaves Bright with a 110 point lead over Danner for the season championship with only four races remaining, the largest gap that either driver has seen all season long. With only four races remaining, perhaps Danner can mount a charge, but the Bright and team show no signs of slowing down.
A strong second place effort for Stony Point, NY driver Damon Paul on Saturday night was a welcome sight. The Cicconi Racing team had been in a bit of a slump with four consecutive finishes outside the top ten. Paul was strong all night finishing second to Bright in his heat race, and running a smooth and consistent feature event and being rewarded with a second place effort, that put Paul back into the third place spot in points.
Chris Allen has not been a full time regular with the series this season as in years passed, which is understandable with a busy off track life in purchasing a house, getting married, have left Allen with a full plate in 2021. But each and every team the team unloads in the pit area they’re just as fast as ever. The team like always, seems to find even more speed when they are racing in their home state of New Jersey. Allen was involved in one of the most entertaining heats of the night trading sliders with Ed Aikin and Briggs Danner, and was extremely fast in the feature event working the bottom side of the speedway to nab his fifth top five of the year.
Ed Aikin is usually known for his hard charging runs through the field in USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series feature events, but when it comes to racing at the Bridgeport Speedway, Aikin is usually found at the front of the field. Starting on the front row of the feature, leading a couple of laps, and standing strong with the front of the field left Aikin with his third top five finish, second at Bridgeport, and tenth top ten of the season. Aikin is just on the outside of the top ten in points for the season, and with a few more runs in the top half of the field, could see himself crack the top ten and make championship pay out at the conclusion of the season.
Rounding out the top five in his first ever start at the Bridgeport Speedway was Deptford, NJ’s Christian Bruno. Bruno is another driver who has not been full-time this season, but has unloaded fast at nearly every event the team has showed up to. Bruno ran a smooth and steady feature event, which is the moniker of the young and upcoming driver in everything he drives. Bruno was involved in some intense battles for position throughout the feature event, and with the unfortunate flat for Colin White, pounced on the position and came away with his fourth top five of the season.
The heartbreak of the night award without a doubt, belongs to newly dubbed “Hollywood” Colin White. White made one of the most impressive moves of the season in his heat race to grab the heat two win making a move to the outside of Nash Ely where it appeared there was no room for a car. White was fast all throughout the feature event tirelessly working over the rear end of Ed Aikin’s car for a spot in the top five. White had finally established himself in the fourth place position going into the final lap, before the right rear tire gave out as the field was exiting turn four coming to the checkers. White has been extremely impressive in his debut season in a sprint car, and we certainly hope White and team return next season for a chance to improve even further.
Up next for the Rapid Tire, USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series, Presented by Capitol Renegade is stop number two of the year to the always entertaining Georgetown Speedway on Friday, October 1st for a $2,000 to win, $300 to start show. Heat races at Georgetown will pay $100 to win, including a $100 hard charger award as well thanks to Heather A Long, Attorney At Law, Specializing in Personal Injury Cases.
Follow along on our social media pages for all the latest news, photos, updates and much more! On Facebook at: USAC East Coast Sprint Cars, and on Twitter at: @USACecsc.
USAC East Coast At Bridgeport Results:
Heat 1 (8 laps, 5 qualify, 3 Redraw): 1. 20 Alex Bright, 2. 57 Damon Paul, 3. 62 Brian Spencer, 4. 8 Larry Drake, 5. 117 David Swanson, 6. 00 Ken Nealis, 7. 96 Lee Kauffman, 8. 67 Jason Cherry.
Heat 2 (8 Laps, 5 Qualify, 3 Redraw): 1. 32 Colin White, 2. 3BC Nash Ely, 3. 88J Joey Amantea, 4. 15 Mark Bitner, 5. 17m Christian Bruno, 6. 7B Aiden Borden, 7. 07 Ken Nealis, 8. 17J Jonathan Swanson.
Heat 3 (8 Laps, 5 Qualify, 3 Redraw): 1. 5G Briggs Danner, 2. 7 Ed Aikin, 3. 71 Chris Allen Jr, 4. 83 Bruce Buckwalter Jr, 5. 16cw Eric Jennings, 6. 56 Jermain Godshall, 7. 3H Heidi Hedin, 8. 73 Al Cheney.
Semi Feature (8 laps, 6 Transfer): 1. 7B Aiden Borden, 2. 17J Jonathan Swanson, 3. 07 Shea Wills, 4. 67 Jason Cherry, 5. 3H Heidi Hedin, 6. 73 Al Cheney, 7. 96 Lee Kauffman, 8. 00 Ken Nealis, 9. 56 Jermain Godshall.
Feature Event (25 Laps): 1. 20 Alex Bright, 2. 57 Damon Paul, 3. 71 Chris Allen Jr, 4. 7 Ed Aikin, 5. 17m Christian Bruno, 6. 15 Mark Bitner, 7. 17J Jonathan Swanson, 8. 83 Bruce Buckwalter Jr, 9. 8 Larry Drake, 10. 67 Jason Cherry, 11. 73 Al Cheney, 12. 3H Heidi Hedin, 13. 62 Brian Spencer, 14. 32 Colin White, 15. 5G Briggs Danner, 16. 16cw Eric Jennings, 17. 7B Aiden Borden, 18. David Swanson, 19. Nash Ely, 20. 88J Joey Amantea, 21. 96 Lee Kauffman, 22. 07 Shea Wills.
Lap Leaders: Ed Aikin (1-2), Damon Paul (3-4), Briggs Danner (5-23), Alex Bright (23-25).
Penske Shocks $100: Alex Bright
Penske Shocks $50: Damon Paul
Penske Shocks $25: Chris Allen
Ultra Shield 3rd Place: Chris Allen
Ultra Shield 6th Place: Mark Bitner
Vahlco Wheels Hard Charger: Jonathan Swanson (17th to 7th)
USAC East Coast Points Following Bridgeport:
Alex Bright 1463
Briggs Danner 1353 (-110)
Damon Paul 1064 (-399)
Nash Ely 1052 (-411)
Bruce Buckwalter 965 (-498)
Steven Drevicki 882 (-581)
Joey Amantea 850 (-613)
Tommy Kunsman 832 (-631)
Mike Thompson 790 (-673)
Kenny Miller lll 781 (-682)
Article Credit: Nick Fillman
Submitted By: Nick Fillman