Rookie Perrego Scores Gobbler Payday
ACCORD, N.Y. – Anthony Perrego won his first modified event in style Saturday at Accord Speedway.
Perrego, the 19-year-old rookie from Montgomery, N.Y., drove Gary Mann’s No. 55 to a $7,732.11 payday as the 2013 outdoor dirt-track season concluded with the ‘Gobbler’ at Accord Speedway.
Perrego outran a charging Stewart Friesen, surviving a final caution with one lap remaining in the 50-lap big-block/small-block modified event to post a popular victory. The second-generation driver, a standout in the sportsman ranks, only began his modified career in August.
“This is really big,” Perrego said after exiting the New York Truck Parks-sponsored Teo-Pro mount. “I can’t thank Gary (Mann) enough for this opportunity.”
Perrego has capitalized on his chance to steer Mann’s potent Modifieds with a number of top-five finishes.
“We haven’t been out of the top-five very often,” he said. “But we wanted to win one. With this field, it was awesome.”
Friesen, meanwhile, fell just one position short of collecting $10,000 via the “Clean Your Plate Challenge” sponsored by Insinger Performance. Friesen won his heat race and then topped the Jack’s Used Race Car Parts Dash for Cash. Had he gone on to win the feature, he would have returned to Sprakers, N.Y., with $10,000 for his Tadd Parks-owned team. Instead, he rallied late for an Accord career-best second-place result.
In his Accord Speedway debut, Nick Rochinski launched off the pole to lead the race’s opening two circuits before Perrego, who rolled off the grid third, powered into the top spot. Rochinski, of Dickson City, Pa., returned the favor to press his Rochinski Enterprises No. 20R back to the lead on the seventh tour of the Ulster County quarter-mile oval.
Perrego, with an emerging Andy Bachetti (from 10th) and Mike Mahaney (who started ninth) in tow, chased Rochinski into lapped traffic. At lap 17, Perrego drove to the extreme outside of Rochinski to reclaim the lead.
Friesen, who started seventh and dropped back early, was marching forward after the race’s halfway mark. He cracked the top-five on lap 28 and took fourth position a lap later. Following a yellow on lap 32, he slipped past Mahaney for second with 15 laps remaining. Advancing from an extended side-by-side battle with Rochinski, Friesen was the runner-up at lap 39.
Moments later, a spin by Tommy Meier put Friesen on Perrego’s rear bumper.
Friesen ran with Perrego – stalking the leader following another restart on lap 41 but unable to pose a serious challenge – until, on lap 49 with the checkered in sight, Pat Ward’s No. 99L stalled in turn one. It set up a final-lap dash to the checkered.
Friesen darted to the inside as the leaders turned their final lap, but Perrego’s outside momentum thwarted the advance, as he recorded a popular home track triumph.
“I knew he was back there,” Perrego said. “I had to be smooth and run my line. He was there if I made a mistake.”
Friesen, 30, a native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., who now resides in Sprakers, N.Y., settled for second-place pay. It was his finest outing to date at Accord, a track where he has traditionally struggled.
“I got trapped in traffic early on,” Friesen said. “I was worried about getting wrecked the first few laps, so I took it easy. We had a good car, it just took so long to get cleared. We definitely built up a notebook tonight to come back here with.
“It has been a challenge for me just to get around the track here in the past. This was a big step for us. With the bigger races being held here now, we needed to get better and we did.”
Bobby Varin of Sharon Springs, N.Y., picked up the ride in Jerry Darrah’s No. 14B small-block for the ‘Gobbler’ and drove to a third-place finish despite a lack of power steering. Mahaney, of King Ferry, N.Y., registered a fourth-place finish in the Charlie Davis-owned No. 21 and Bachetti, of Sheffield, Mass., edged Rochinski on the final lap to finish fifth.
Rocky Warner of Gloversville, N.Y., dominated the sportsman “Turkey 25” event, leading from green to checkered. Charlie Houghtaling of Jeffersonville, N.Y., emerged from a wild late-race battle through lapped traffic to win the first Ron Wright Memorial 20-lap event for the Pure Stock/Street Stock division.