Eastern States Pole To Brett Hearn
MIDDLETOWN, N. Y. — The 51st annual Eastern States Weekend got off to a wet start, with rain pushing Friday’s scheduled Super DIRTcar Series qualifying events to today, but the delay did not hamper eight-time Eastern States 200 champion Brett Hearn’s qualifying efforts.
Hearn, just coming off a successful week in Syracuse finding victory in the VP Small Engine Fuels 200, won the pole starting position for the Sunday’s Eastern States 200 with the fast time, a 21.260-second lap in time trials.
“It’s exactly what we wanted to do today because it makes tomorrow a whole lot easier,” Hearn said. “Now we can dictate the pace and hopefully get in the pits and get a nice clean stop, but anything can happen.”
The fastest six cars in time trials earn starting positions in the front three rows for Sunday’s race. For Saturday’s time trials at the Orange County Fair Speedway, drivers could enter more than one car in time trials, and both Hearn’s entries scored in the top six. His backup car registered a 22.019-second lap, placing fifth overall.
“Track position is very important here, so that puts a lot of emphasis on how you qualify. You don’t want to be trying to dig from the back of the pack if you don’t have to.”
However, anything can happen in 200 laps on Orange County’s “Hard Clay.”
“We’re just trying to make sure we have a car that stays and handles for the entire distance, not just the beginning of this race,” said Hearn, whose team is especially concerned about tire wear.
Series point runner-up Jimmy Phelps, Orange County Fair Speedway track champion Jerry Higbie, series fifth in points Billy Dunn, Andy Bachetti, and Tim McCreadie also qualified strongly for Sunday’s Eastern States 200 by topping time trials.