Area Stock Car Racing: Heotzler to drive for Palmer Service Center

The latest area stock car racing news from The Recorder's Thomas Coughlin Jr.
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Categories: Sports

I would have never guessed this combination.

The suspense ended last Saturday, as the driver of the Palmer’s Service Center No. 76 modified for the 2020 racing season was unmasked. Wallkill resident Jeff Heotzler will be the pilot of the Carole and Alton Palmer-prepared TEO chassis. The Palmer’s Service Center No. 76 will call Fonda Speedway home on race night.

“We’ll be at every race at Fonda,” Alton Palmer said in a press release.

The Howes Cave-based team is prepared to go with a full arsenal of cars and motors.

“We have JPM motors and TEO Pro Car chassis to go to any track,” Alton Palmer said. “All of the cars for this year are outfitted with what I call a Deyo body.”

Alton Palmer added that they are also prepared with DIRTcar legal body panels and motors, if needed.

“We’ll be running a 430 cubic inch motor at Fonda weekly, and we also have the combinations to run anywhere else we chose,” he said. “Our focus is on Fonda and select Deyo shows, like Orange County.”

Jeff Heotzler Jr. will also occasionally be behind the wheel of a Palmer’s Service Center car. He will be traveling with his father weekly to Fonda and working with the Palmer team.

Here is a little background information to help prepare you with some knowledge about Heotzler. He is known as “The Jeffer,” and his family includes his wife Petra and son Jeff Jr. He works at Behrent’s Performance Warehouse in Florida. Behrent’s provides services and parts to the automotive racing industry.

Heotzler’s driving career started in 1978 at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown. He has 152 career victories in three different divisions — big block, small block and T.Q. midget — at 13 different tracks. The majority of his wins have come at Orange County Fair and Accord speedways with 53 each.

Heotzler had 11 track championships, six at Orange County Fair and five at Accord. He was crowned the 1984 Mr. DIRTcar series 320/358 modified champion.
Heotzler won the 2007 Eastern States 200 for big block at Orange County Fair, and the Eastern States 100 for small block in 1988 and 89. He sat on the pole for the ESW 200 in 1996 & 2008.

Heotzler was inducted into the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame in 2016, the Hudson Valley Historical Racing Committee Hall of Fame in 2017 and the New York State Stock Car Association Hall of Fame last year.

The Palmer’s Service Center logo will also be proudly displayed on the 602 crate sportsman cars of Ricky Quick and JaMike Sowle, and the pro-stocks of Kenny Gates and Andy Graves.

So when the gates eventually swing open at The Track of Champions and you hear track announcers Jay Severson and Paul Szmal talk about the new driver of the No. 76, you will have a better idea of who they are talking about.

AROUND THE TRACKS

Just in case you were wondering, Glen Ridge Motorsports Park has postponed their season opener on Sunday. The Ridge said that it is ready to go whenever the clearance is given to open up.
NASCAR had some big news this week.
After suffering serious injuries in a last lap accident at the season opening Daytona 500, Driver Ryan Newman has been cleared to return to the drivers seat of the No. 6.

Chip Ganassi Racing has signed Matt Kenseth to take over the driving duties of the No. 42, that was left without a driver when Kyle Larson was released from his contract. Kenseth just celebrated his 48th birthday in March. He was the 2000 Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series and the 2003 Cup Series champion. He has 39 Cup Series wins, including two Daytona 500 victories.

NASCAR announced it was going to start racing again May 17.

Restrictions may be starting to lift in regard to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, only time will tell when and where. There was real racing last weekend in South Dakota, but with no fans in the stands.

Stay healthy, stay safe.

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