In all disciplines of dirt racing, on-track experience is crucial for drivers given the limited time for testing and/or practice. But with the competitiveness of racing nowadays, most home track drivers will brush off their home track advantage against the touring stars.
On the other hand, New York Dirt Modified racer Jerry Higbie, Jr. is a firm believer in a home advantage, at least when it comes to his Friday night home track Accord Speedway, site of Tuesday’s Battle of the Bullring 6 for the Short Track Super Series.
In 2017, Higbie’s claim was backed up on multiple occasions with fellow Accord full and part-time drivers Anthony Perrego and Andy Bachetti each claiming victories in Brett Deyo-sanctioned shows on the quarter-mile bullring.
“We are looking forward to it. Every year we do well at this race,” Higbie told Speed51.com. “It’s our home track and when you have a tire selection to be made it lends itself to the home track guys. I think right now, Bachetti, Perrego, and I are running real here and we’ve all been running well on the (Short Track Super) Series.”
After a strong third-place finish to open the season in the STSS North Region Modified championship, Higbie was dealt a DNF after a cut tire last time out at Outlaw Speedway (NY). He hopes that the momentum that has produced a win and multiple top-five finishes at Accord on Friday’s can get him back into championship contention.
As for Accord itself, the Catskills oval has been producing spectacular racing after getting a fresh layer of clay and a slight re-profiling of the turns over the offseason. Higbie is especially pleased with the passing one can do with a great car, despite Accord’s reputation as a tight track.
“The track surface has been outstanding; Gary Palmer does a great job up there,” he stated. “I ran second to Bachetti on Friday night. He was running all the way on the outside and I was running right on the bottom, you could’ve probably put three cars between us. He started 10th, I started 12th, Perrego was third and he started 15th, so it provides some really good racing. Tomorrow is going to be excellent. It’s also easier on tires than in year’s past.”
While Higbie sits third in track points in his No. 97 Modified, he will be sticking with STSS No. 48 and car owner Steve Lowitt for Tuesday’s battle. He believes that it will be a machine to beat.
“I’ll be in the United Pump and Tank 48 car with Steve Lowitt, who owns it, just like all the other series races. It won’t be my own, actually Steve owns the engine in my own 97 car. He’s a part of everything I do, it’s been a real good thing that we got going on, and he loves the Series too.”
Higbie is also hoping that his luck will turn around during the pre-race draw for starting position for heats and the feature. But should the draw not go in his favor, he is confident he has the race car and know-how to make as many passes as possible in either a heat or the 50-lap feature.
“Last year I started ninth in my heat and they were redrawing the top two, and I passed Friesen on the last lap to get in the redraw. Then I drew 12th for the race, it was most if not all green the whole race, but I finished fifth. I passed as many race cars as anybody. I do like the way Brett Deyo does the format with the draw, when you race all the races it eventually evens out, plus you always get a good race for the fans without tearing up the track for time trials. It keeps it interesting.”
Higbie has made it no secret that he expects to not just be a threat Tuesday, but even counted as a pre-race favorite.
“I’m very confident at Orange County and I’m extremely confident at Accord. Going into tomorrow, I feel the most confident of any race that we go to on the series,” he claimed. “Some of the other places like Outlaw last time out, I’ve only been there a couple of times in my life, so there wasn’t a lot to expect. Some of the places like Woodhull, Big Diamond and Thunder Mountain, I’ve only been there a few times. That’s what makes this race at Accord so good for us, is that we race there a lot.”
Race fans can watch Higbie attempt to defend his home turf by watching Tuesday’s race and all of the 2018 Short Track Super Series races on the Speed51 Network. With one monthly or yearly subscription, race fans can watch all of the action. Click here to sign up for a subscription today.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos