SWEDESBORO, N.J. – Briggs Danner picked up right where he left off after the last Rapid Tire USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series event at Bridgeport Speedway, holding off a hard-charging Alex Bright for Saturday’s season opening victory.
Danner started the night off on the right foot by winning his heat race, setting himself up for a spot in the top-nine redraw at the front of the field for the feature event.
By the luck of the draw, Danner pulled the number one pill and led the field to green for the feature as a result, taking the lead over Troy Betts early.
The initial green flag of the feature event saw a massive increase in position for reigning rookie-of-the-year Alex Bright, as he piloted his Hummer Motorsports entry from ninth on the grid to fourth by the completion of lap one.
By lap five, Danner held a strong lead over Betts, Bright, Christopher Allen, and Joey Amantea. The lead for the Bill Gallagher-owned No. 5G entry was sizable as the field caught the back of the field and began the lapping process.
Danner, Betts, and Bright opened up a significant lead over the rest of the top 10 in the early laps of the feature event. On lap seven, after a major slide job into turns three and four, Bright maneuvered his way into second position and began his charge at Danner.
The top five of the feature field remained more or less the same as the feature hit the halfway mark with Danner leading Bright, Amantea, Steven Drevicki and Betts.
On lap 15 of the feature, Tommy Kunsman and Kenny Miller lll made contact coming off of turn four that sent Miller for a spin off of turn four.
A caution flag was one of the last things Danner wanted to see, as he was unaware of the momentum that Bright had been gaining as the race wore on.
As the field went green, Bright tried a dive bomb move into turns one and two, with Danner crossing Bright over off of turn two to retain the race lead.
An early race run inside the top 10 came to an end for Betts as he made heavy contact with the outside wall along the backstretch and in turn three. As the field checked up, Nash Ely and Allen tangled, sending both cars for a spin with damage to both at lap 17.
The ensuing restart featured the most intense battle of the night, as Danner and Bright engaged in a battle of slide jobs lap after lap for the top spot in the feature event.
Danner utilized the high and low sides of the speedway to hold off and cross over the many sliders that Bright, the veteran open-wheel driver, threw at the sprint car rookie.
Danner finally fended off Bright for the lead with only three laps to go and went on to collect his second career USAC East Coast feature win, as well as his second at Bridgeport.
Bright came home second, ahead of Amantea, Drevicki, and Tommy Kunsman.
Feature (25 laps): 1. Briggs Danner, 2. Alex Bright, 3. Joey Amantea, 4. Steven Drevicki, 5. Tommy Kunsman, 6. Kenny Miller lll, 7. Bruce Buckwalter Jr., 8. Mike Thompson, 9. Ed Aikin, 10. Blaine Emery, 11. Damon Paul, 12. Jonathan Swanson, 13. Mike Meyers, 14. Aidan Borden, 15. David Swanson, 16. Jason Cherry, 17. Kyle Lick, 18. Troy Betts, 19. Chris Allen Jr., 20. Nash Ely, 21. Billy Ney (DNS).