Mother Nature was very unkind to the state of New York, as virtually every track in the state pulled the plug on their race day due to weather. Every track, with the exception of the Woodhull Raceway in Woodhull, NY. On what would be a mostly cloudy day with temperatures in the low 50’s, 24 Modifieds signed in to race at the 1/3 mile bullring for the season opener, but it would be the track’s winningest driver who would warm things up on the racetrack.

 

Because it was opening night, drivers drew for starting spots for the night’s heat race lineups when they entered the facility. Heat wins would go to Ron Cartwright Jr, Joe Dgien, and Billy Van Pelt. After the heat races, the top four of each heat would go to the redraw. The only catch was, the track decided to do a “revenge redraw”, where you pull the pill and assign another driver the position. Cartwright would be handed the pole with Mike Bills being assigned to the second position. The big shake-up would be Bills giving Van Pelt the 11th starting position.

 

When the green flag flew in the 25-lap feature, it would be Cartwright jumping out to the lead, but the yellow flag would fly for Ray Bliss who would spin out of the third place position on lap one. On the restart, the action back in the pack got wild as drivers went two and three wide for position in the tight corners of the track. Alan Rudalavage who started in the ninth position would quickly make his way to the front, getting to the second position in a matter of four laps, breathing down the neck of the leader Cartwright when the yellow would come out again on lap 6. On the ensuing restart, Cartwright would once again jump out to the lead, but it would be Billy Van Pelt making the biggest move of the race.

 

“I got the restart on the bottom and I got a good run on the bottom and those guys all missed the first corner and that let me get up to third or fourth there,” Van Pelt told Speed51.com. “When I got up to second I didn’t dare go up to the top yet because I thought my car was just a tick tight and I had just started moving up and started feeling like it was going to go and Cartwright broke. That’s what gave me the lead.”

 

Van Pelt would inherit the lead from Cartwright who would slow to a stop on the backstretch on lap 12. From there, he would get lots of pressure from Rudalavage, but wouldn’t give in. “He always is a great runner,” Van Pelt said of Rudalavage. “I didn’t know he was there, I didn’t hear him, I didn’t feel his presence to put it that way. But I know he is an awesome runner and you don’t make mistakes around him. He’s a tough runner, there’s no doubt about it.” With two more spins in the final two laps, Van Pelt would hold off Rudalavage and Donnie Lawson to pick up the victory. The win would notch the 209th of this career as he sets sail for his 20th track championship.

 

Watch video highlights from the racing action from Woodhull Raceway on Speed51.com

 

Full results: Billy Van Pelt, Alan Rudalavage, Donnie Lawson, Curt Van Pelt, Cory Costa, Mike Bills, Joe Dgien, Art Goodier, Brian Doolittle, Ryan Tracy, Dillon Groover, Russell Morseman, David DuBois, Patrick Hoopes, Mark Frankhouser, Ray Bliss, Bobby Davis, Dayton Brewer, Brady Fultz, Josh Keesey, Brandon Martin, Ron Cartwright Jr., Larry Keegan DNS: Bryce Martin

 

-By: Evan Canfield, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent/MoJo Photos

-Photo credit: MoJo Photos

Van Pelt Tops Strong Woodhull Field on Opening Night