After a month of waiting, the northern Modified division of the Short Track Super Series is finally set to begin its 2018 campaign, starting with the Hard Clay Open at the Orange County Fair Speedway this coming Tuesday, May 8. Delayed from its original April 8 race date, the 5/8-mile Middletown, NY oval is now fit for racing after the long winter.
Already, the local stars have put down some laps in the track’s season opener back on April 21, including New Jersey driver Tommy Meier. Meier is set to return to the seat of the Jeff Behrent owned No. 3 this coming Tuesday, eager to see what the track will have to offer the STSS field.
“Yeah I’m ready, especially with the upgrades to the track with the new construction equipment for track prep. I think we’ll be in good shape,” Meier told Speed51.com. “Pretty good, first night there was some dust in practice, but later in the night we had good conditions, track crumbled a little bit but that’s normal for early in the season. But it was very good, no dust.”
Orange County Fair, has gained a reputation as one of the toughest clay tracks on tires. But, Meier has many Saturday 30-lap races under his belt, as well as Eastern States 200 starts, a race which he took the victory in 2015.
“Home track advantage always helps. It’s always been abrasive, but that’s the characteristic of the clay. You just got to take care of your stuff so you can be there at the end. It should be fine, they make tires plenty hard, shouldn’t be any issues.”
Meier’s understanding of the Hard Clay is to not even think of the surface as clay at all.
“Some guys that don’t know the place, will have blistering problems. They are not used to racing on a track that’s closer to asphalt then dirt.”
With such knowledge, Meier is ready to chase his second win in the Hard Clay Open, which he won in 2016. That victory was also his last win on the Short Track Super Series. Meier will once again run the full STSS North schedule for the Behrent team, also alongside new teammate Mat Williamson, who told Speed51 in a previous story that he will be leaning on Meier some this season, especially at Orange County.
Overall, Meier believes he is a part of what could be a great winning operation, not just next week, but all season long.
“We’ve been prepared for a month already, been waiting for it to get here. We still do the draw for starting positions, so we have that element in there. But we have the right equipment to win; we just have to put the right package together for the day and have lady luck on your side.”
Race fans can watch the Hard Clay Open on Tuesday night, May 8; as well as all races on the Short Track Super Series live on the Speed51 Network for free as a premium subscriber.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/MoJo Photos