On a sunny Sunday afternoon, local favorite Chuck Hossfeld of Ransomville, New York dominated a strong field of Modifieds to capture the 19th Annual US Open at Lancaster Raceway Park. Pete Brittain of Oakhurst, New Jersey finished second and earned the 2007 Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour Overall Championship.

“This was a great way to end the year,” smiled Hossfeld. “I’m very satisfied with how our race went today. Bob Mueller from Troyer’s usually helps us out and makes the calls from up high but he had to be at Stafford this weekend. So I made all the calls on how to set up the car and the changes we made on our pit stop and I’m pretty proud of how that worked out. I don’t really enjoy being my own crew chief because there’s just that much more to think about, but it worked out pretty well today and I’m kind of proud of that..

“I have to give a lot of credit to my team – they are awesome. Today they had a great pit stop and made all the right changes that I asked for and no mistakes. We got back out on the track first with a great racecar. I guess we lost the track championship by two points (to Buck Catalano) but it wasn’t from a lack of effort. I want to thank all my guys for the great effort they give me, especially my friend Dave who does my tires and hit it right on the button. I also want to thank Jerry Gradl Motors for all his support.

“I drew the 12th starting spot for the race so in the early laps I was just going to feel the car out and see how good it was. It wasn’t quite right at the start because it would have freed up too much later in the race. So we made some changes when we pitted and after that the car was unreal. We were able to get by the guys ahead of us quickly and if we had to fight with them it could have been someone else’s race. Once I was out front there really wasn’t anything to worry about. I had a comfortable lead and if anyone got close I was able to step it up when I needed to. I knew Pete (Brittain) was behind me and he was racing for a championship so I didn’t think he was going to race me too hard and jeopardize that. That’s how it worked out. It was great to come home, be around your friends, and race and be running good again. I’m really happy.”

Polesitter Kirk Rutherford led the 26-car starting field to the green flag and led early over Buck Catalano and Daren Scherer. Catalano was pressuring Rutherford and took over the lead down the backstretch on lap ten. He quickly opened a five car length margin as Brittain was running well back in the field. Lap 29 saw Mike Leaty move into third behind Catalano and Rutherford. At lap 40 the top-five was Catalano, Rutherford, Leaty, Scherer and John Markovic.

The first caution of the race waved on lap 42 as Sean O’Neill spun in turn four. Several of the top contenders headed to pit road, including Erick Rudolph, Hossfeld, Billy Putney, Wilbur Hebing, Sege Fidanza, Jan Leaty, TJ Potrzebowski and Brittain. Hossfeld won the race off pit road over Rudolph, Putney, Hebing, Jan Leaty, Brittain, and Fidanza.

The race went back to green on lap 47 with Catalano still in the lead over Rutherford and Mike Leaty. As the field powered down the backstretch there was a massive pileup. Hossfeld and Brittain managed to slip through but caught up in the melee were Rudolph, Putney, Hebing, Jan Leaty and Fidanza. All were unable to continue. Rutherford and Mike Leaty ducked onto pit road before it was opened and would have to restart at the rear of the field. When the pits were opened Catalano, Markovic, and Patsy Catalano pulled in for service.

The race went back to green on lap 51 with NACAR Modified Tour racer Jim Storace the leader over JR Kent, Tom McGrath, Rick Kluth and Hossfeld. Hossfeld was on the move and took the lead on the 59th circuit. On lap 63 Brett Scherrer slammed into the wall off turn four as several cars checked up and the red flag was displayed. Scherrer climbed from his car shaken but otherwise unhurt. When the race went back to caution McGrath, Kluth and Scherer headed to the pits for service.

The race finally went back to green on lap 64 with Hossfeld leading Storace, Brittain, Buck Catalano and Rutherford. Rutherford was off the pace and finally coasted to a halt in turn two to bring out another caution. Green was back out on lap 68 and Hossfeld pulled away from a fading Storace. Brittain soon moved up to second with Buck Catalano following to third ahead of Mike Leaty.

On the 75th circuit Buck Catalano slowed and headed to the pits. The running order was now Hossfeld, Brittain, Mike Leaty, Markovic and Patsy Catalano. Brittain chased the leader over the remaining laps but could never mount a serious challenge. At the checkered flag it was Hossfeld by three car lengths over Brittain, with a large margin back to Mike Leaty, Markovic and Patsy Catalano. Sixth through tenth were Tom McGrath, Daren Scherer, Kluth, Potrzebowski and Jimmy Zacharias.

After the race Brittain was basking in the glow and savoring his accomplishment. “I’m extremely happy, not only that we won the championship but that we ran so well in the race. This is my first overall championship; we won the Central Region before and of course we won the North Region this year but this was the first overall. It’s been my goal since we first came up here to run this series six or seven years ago. I’ve wanted to win the championship and win the Oswego 200 so I have one more to go yet before I can quit. I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight because the competition here is great – in my opinion second to none. You look at the NASCAR guys that come run with us and they certainly don’t blow us away by any means. I think it’s a really competitive tour and to finally win the championship is quite an accomplishment.

“It’s been a gradual process to get to this point. We came into this race three years ago and we were leading the overall points and we lost it to Tony Hanbury in a wreck. I think we have been third or fourth a couple of other times. But this is the first time we’ve won it and it really feels good. Now that I think about it and look back, this is definitely the best year of my career. I guess we’ll celebrate this by going to the North-South Shootout in a few weeks and after that the Turkey Derby at Wall.

“We knew coming into the race we had to finish 19th or better to win the title. I was conservative at the start. I wanted to stay out of all the mess in the first part of the race. I picked my cars one at a time and didn’t try to pass cars in a group and get in trouble. Once they told me we accomplished what we needed to I asked if we could go race now and they said yes, so we started to race and turned it loose. The car was excellent. I got to Chuck’s (Hossfeld) back end on the last lap but he didn’t have a bumper where I could do a ‘bump-and-run’ on him. He was pretty safe because of that.

“I want to thank all my sponsors: Don Ling and Ling Trucking, Ferguson, Builders First Source, and of course Terry Zacharias and his crew. They make everything possible for me. It’s been a great day and a great year for all of us.”

FINISH (Unofficial): 1. Chuck Hossfeld 2. Pete Brittain 3. Mike Leaty 4. John Markovic 5. Patsy Catalano 6. Tom McGrath 7. Daren Scherer 8. Rick Kluth 9. TJ Potrzebowski 10. Jimmy Zacharias 11. Jim Storace 12. Kirk Rutherford 13. Kevin Lewis 14. Sean O’Neill 15. Tom Weist 16. Mark Tychoniewicz 17. JR Kent 18. Buck Catalano 19. Billy Putney 20. Brett Scherrer 21. Erick Rudolph 22. Wilbur Hebing 23. Jan Leaty 24. Sege Fidanza 25. Doug Reaume 26. Matt Clemens
DNS: Chris Finocchario Withdrew: Lee Sherwood, Phil Slater

FINAL ROC Asphalt Mod Tour Overall Points: 1. Pete Brittain 834 2. Matt Hirschman 797 3. Lee Sherwood 739 4.Daren Scherer 692 5. John Markovic 688 6. Billy Putney 657 7. Eric Beers 654 8. Phil Slater 626 9. Erick Rudolph 604 10. Rick Kluth 585

Bruce Boucher/RoC Asphalt Modifieds PR