Bright Wins USAC East Coast Sprint Car Feature at Big Diamond

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By Nick Fillman, USAC ECSC

Pottsville, Pennsylvania (July 2, 2021)………Alex Bright of Collegeville, PA, utilized a late race restart to out duel Tommy Kunsman for his fourth victory of the Rapid Tire Service, USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series Presented by Capitol Renegade season.

On what was supposed to be the second of three nights of consecutive action for Valley Forge Inc “Mini Speedweek”, 21 USAC East Coast Sprint Cars entered the pit area of the Big Diamond Speedway for competition for what would be the only feature event of the weekend.

Following three heat race events and the feature event redraw, Tommy Kunsman Jr and Alex Bright shared the front row for the evenings twenty-five lap main event. Kunsman grabbed the initial lead on the start, quickly driving away from Alex Bright and putting some distance on Bright for the race lead.

The car that was moving through the field quicker than any other was Briggs Danner. Danner had moved from his eight place starting spot into the third place position by lap three and moved passed Bright for the runner up spot on lap four. Danner quickly disposed of Bright and reeled in Kunsman for the race lead before the caution flag flew on lap four for a spun Jason Cherry in turns one and two.

On the ensuing restart, Danner would be glued to the rear bumper of Kunsman as the two looked to pull away from the remainder of the field. Alex Bright, Colin White, and Chris Allen rounded out the top five during the restart. Danner tried the inside and the outside groove on Kunsman as the two battled for the race lead before Danner would move by and take the lead from Kunsman coming off of turn four to complete lap ten.

Briggs Danner quickly set sail on the rest of the field, with Kunsman, Bright, White, and Bruce Buckwalter as the top five. As Danner encountered the back half of the field on lap thirteen and began the lapping process, Alex Bright managed to catch the rear bumper of Kunsman and being pressuring Kunsman for the runner up position.

On lap nineteen of the feature event, Kunsman and Bright drastically caught the rear bumper of Danner as it appeared the Bill Gallagher entry was slowing into turns there and four. Bright had just made a move on Kunsman for the runner up spot when the caution flag flew for the slowing car of Danner. While the field was slowing, an unfortunate brake befell Steven Drevicki as he would make contact with an inside tractor tire ending his night and dumping a large amount of water onto the front stretch. With the amount of water being on the speedway, the red flag was thrown to allow for a safe cleanup of the speedway.

Due to the timing of the caution, the pass by Bright on Kunsman would be negated and Kunsman would retain his position and inherit the race lead. The lap nineteen restart saw Kunsman leading: Bright, Allen, White, and Buckwalter with only six laps remaining. Tommy Kunsman had a solid restart as the field came to Nicole Flood’s green flag, with a bit of distance back to second place runner Alex Bright.

As the laps would quickly wind down, Bright caught up to the rear of Kunsman on lap twenty-one and began to pressure Kunsman for the race lead. Kunsman initially held off the charges of Bright on the bottom side of the speedway, before ultimately relinquishing the race lead to Bright at the completion of lap twenty-three. Bright drove away from Kunsman in the closing two laps and found himself in victory lane for the fourth time during the 2021 season. Kunsman would score a career best second place effort, with Chris Allen, Colin White, and Nash Ely rounding out the top five.

With his fourth victory of the 2021 season and the misfortune on Friday night for Briggs Danner, Bright extended his points lead for the series by 31 markers and gained a slight bit of breathing room over his toughest competitor on tour. Bright pulled back even in the win column with Danner on Friday night as the two remain neck and neck, going shot for shot, as the series season is unfolding. No doubt the duo will both be the drivers to beat as the series moves to Action Track USA on Wednesday July 7th for the first ever event to be contested at the speedway. A track where Danner and Bright have been competitors over the last number of seasons in Micro Sprint and USAC SpeedSTR competition.

Tommy Kunsman of Bethlehem, PA, finished a career best second place on Friday night in his rookie campaign. The former midget driver has been more than impressive thus far on the 2021 series tour, tackling tracks that he has not seen before with a sprint car, and making his first starts ever with a sprint car. Kunsman has finished outside of the top ten only one time in the nine events that have been completed so far. Kunsman’s consistency and determination for a series victory has also kept them within reasonable distance of the season long points chase moving into third should some issues arise for the top two. Only time will tell when Kunsman will add his name to the list of feature winners in USAC East Coast competition.

Chris Allen Jr. made his return to the series after missing our last event at the Selinsgrove Speedway. The two time top three finisher in series points has struggled so far this season, but a solid run at the Lincoln Speedway before an unfortunate spin, and a completed podium effort at the Big Diamond Speedway have been more of what the CA Motorsports team is more accustomed too. Unfortunately for Allen, the teams home race at the New Egypt Speedway has been lost due to weather, and a rescheduling date is currently being discussed.

Fourth place belonged to rookie runner Colin White who recorded his best finish of the season though only running three events. White was well on his way to a potential top five finish in April at the Port Royal Speedway before a flip ended his night and resulted in a DNF. The defending Action Track USA 600cc micro sprint champion has been fast each and every time the Hamilton Motorsports entry has taken to the surface so far in 2021. Look for White to continue his improvements in the remaining starts scheduled for the team.

Rounding out the top five was Sinking Spring, PA driver Nash Ely. Ely has been consistent all season long running just inside and just outside the top five in multiple events this season. Ely was one of many drivers who competed in both the Keystone Invasion, and the Eastern Storm swings that the USAC National Sprint Car Series completed on the East Coast with Ely consistently making shows and holding his own. Ely finds himself inside the top five in points as the smooth runs for the eighteen year old continue to pile up.

Finishing just outside of the top five in the sixth place position was Bruce Buckwalter Jr. Bruce missed our last two events at the Lincoln and Selinsgrove Speedways following engine trouble at the Williams Grove Speedway. Engine repairs have been made, and the Buckwalter team showed plenty of speed Friday night at the Big Diamond Speedway.

Up next for the Rapid Tire, USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series presented by Capitol Renegade, is the first ever visit by the series to Action Track USA in Kutztown, PA for the “Iron Cowboy Classic” 30 lap feature event, which will pay $2,000 to the feature winner thanks to sponsor E. Schneider & Sons.

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USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series
Big Diamond Speedway
Pottsville, Pennsylvania
Friday, July 2, 2021

Heat Race #1
1. 17J-Jonathan Swanson[1]
2. 5G-Briggs Danner[6]
3. 83S-Billy Ney[2]
4. 71-Chris Allen Jr[7]
5. 10-Joe Kata[4]
6. 64-Rich Carnathan[3]

Heat Race #2
1. 20-Alex Bright[1]
2. 19-Steven Drevicki[5]
3. 32-Colin White[4]
4. 11-Mike Thompson[2]
5. 67-Jason Cherry[6]
6. 57-Damon Paul[7]
7. 88J-Joey Amantea[3]

Heat Race #3
1. 21K-Tommy Kunsman[2]
2. 3BC-Nash Ely[3]
3. 83-Bruce Buckwalter Jr[4]
4. 17-Christian Bruno[7]
5. 117-David Swanson[6]
6. 5Z-Zack Burd[1]
7. 23M-Kenny Miller III[5]

1. 20-Alex Bright[2]
2. 21K-Tommy Kunsman[1]
3. 71-Chris Allen Jr[10]
4. 32-Colin White[4]
5. 3BC-Nash Ely[9]
6. 83-Bruce Buckwalter Jr[6]
7. 23M-Kenny Miller III[20]
8. 17J-Jonathan Swanson[5]
9. 11-Mike Thompson[11]
10. 5G-Briggs Danner[8]
11. 17-Christian Bruno[12]
12. 83S-Billy Ney[3]
13. 10-Joe Kata[13]
14. 117-David Swanson[15]
15. 64-Rich Carnathan[16]
16. 67-Jason Cherry[14]
17. 19-Steven Drevicki[7]
18. 5Z-Zack Burd[18]