Matt Williamson Make History at Orange County with $100,000 Victory

This was billed as a race for the ages. An event that would gather some of the most prominent figures of racing lore during the 100-year history of the Orange County Fair Speedway as well as many of today’s top dirt-track Modified competitors.

At stake was the richest prize in dirt-track racing history – a whopping $100,000 to the driver luckiest enough to take the checkered flag at the conclusion of 160 grueling laps around the newly surfaced, five-eighths mile, hard clay oval.

Mat Williamson, a talented young driver that has sizzled the western New York racing scene the past several seasons, emerged as the victor of this thrilling event as he held off a late charge provided by Stewart Friesen for his first OCFS career triumph in the Centennial Anniversary 160-lap feature that ended early Sunday morning following a two-hour rain delay.

Williamson, who started on the pole following the redraw for the top 12 qualifiers from six heat races, traded first place several times during the race. He forged ahead of Anthony Perrego with an inside pass down the homestretch to complete 147 laps.

Friesen then moved past Perrego on the 151st lap and was riding the outside groove as he started gaining ground on Williamson. The two drivers then put on a classic battle for the lead during the next few laps before Friesen made contact with the outside wall off the fourth turn to forced a caution with 157 laps in the record books.

Friesen, despite forcing the caution, was able to maintain his second-place position because he never lost momentum after making contact with the wall. The race was slowed as a safety measure for the Sprakers driver.

Williamson assumed command when racing resumed and went on to gain some breathing room on Friesen and secured his initial OCFS by nearly two seconds. Matt Sheppard, after being involved in an early massive pile-up, moved into third place following the restart to finish ahead of Danny Johnson, Billy Decker, Jimmy Phelps, Justin Haers, Larry Wight, Chris Hile and Brian Krummel.

Sheppard, who won Thursday’s DIRTcar Series 100-lapper and Friday’s Centennial Anniversary 80-lapper, watched his bid for a clean sweep of Modified racing during the weekend dampened after 12 laps were completed during the 100-lap grind.

Sheppard and several other drivers in the 43-car field were involved in a massive pile-up in the first turn when the track got slick from a sudden burst of rain. Ryan Godown, Tim Fuller, Tyler Dippel and Tommy Meier were all forced out of the event as their cars were unable to continue.

Williamson assumed his lead when racing resumed following the rain delay and remained there until Decker utilized a backstretch pass to move into first place on the 34th circuit.

Danny Johnson, meanwhile, was able to move into second place past Williamson on the 43rd lap and then quickly began closing in on Decker. Johnson took over first place through lapped traffic on the 57th circuit, but it was short-lived as Williamson gained control once again a lap later.

Williamson would remain in front as the lapsticked off with Decker, Johnson and now Perrego entering the picture as the lead group raced well ahead of the rest of the field. Perrego and Johnson were embroiled in a heated battle for second place with Perrego finally winning out on the 128th lap.

Perrego then quickly moved in on Williamson and grabbed the lead with a first-turn pass on the 130th lap. However, after opening a big cushion over the next 15 laps, Perrego’s car began to fade as Williamson grabbed first place for good on the 147th lap.

A field of 69 cars were signed into the pits with six qualifying heats going to Pat Ward, Decker, Johnson, Chris Hile, Brett Hearn and Williamson. The consolation races were won by Tyler Boniface, Matt Hulsizer and Krummel.

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