(June 23, 2021): Billy Pauch Jr. took top honors Wednesday evening in the fourth annual Garden State Gunfight presented by Creston Hydraulics. Pauch Jr., who waged a crowd pleasing duel for almost 20 laps with 4-time NES champ Ryan Godown, grabbed the lead right at the halfway point of the 60 lap main event and went on to score his 3rd victory at NES in 2021.
“Ryan (Godown) and I had a great battle there for the fans,” exclaimed Pauch Jr. in victory lane, “We raced very close on all grooves of the track for many laps, and never touched once. That was a lot of fun!”
Matt Stangle and DJ Hunt would bring the field to the start of the 60 lap event with Stangle putting his Danny Sommeling Motorsports #51 into the early lead. Stangle was fast in his new ride and opened up a nice lead as Wade Hendrickson, Danny Bouc and John McClelland battled with Hunt for the second position. It did not take long for 7th starter Ryan Godown to quickly move into the mix, and soon he won the battle for second and set his sights on the Stangle. As he ran down the leader, Pauch Jr., who started 11th, was quickly on his heels as a caution flag reset the field. The restart saw Stangle fight hard to hold on to the lead, but Godown finally wore him down and got around him to take the lead, bringing a very fast Pauch Jr. with him. PAuch Jr. quickly caught Godown, but then could only match the speed of Godown, as they both raised their game and put on a crowd pleasing side by side battle each lap and thru several restarts. David Van Horn, who had fallen back early in the event, had now moved to third after battling with Stangle and was looking to make it a three car race. Godown and Pauch Jr. battled side by side thru turns lap after lap with Godown’s momentum taking back out front each lap. The two swapped grooves as well a couple times, and finally, as the crossed flags were being displayed to the duo, Pauch roared into the lead. At this point, point leader Mike Gular was in 4th and really working well in the bottom groove, despite a broken sail panel that had been dangling since lap 5. Gular continued to move up until he was second, and would challenge Pauch on the last two restarts only to watch him pull away each time. Pauch Jr. would win the event by 1.795 seconds over Gular to score the 32nd Modified win of his career at NES. Godown came on strong again during the closing laps but settled for third, chased by Van Horn and Stangle. Sixth thru tenth went to Bouc, Hendrickson, Rick Laubach, Brandon Grosso and first year Modified competitor DJ Hunt.