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Bear Ridge Speedway News

Modified Rookie Eastman A Title Contender

- Justin St. Louis on 07 Jun 2010

Dan Eastman has been impressive in his Modified rookie season. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)THETFORD CENTER -- Dan Eastman had a spectacular 2009 season, winning checkered flags hand over fist at Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford and Canaan Fair Speedway in New Hampshire. But even though he has yet to win a feature event in 2010, he might just be onto something better.

After winning the Bear Ridge Limited Late Model championship and over a dozen features last summer, Eastman puchased a Sportsman Modified and is making a full-time go in the top class at both tracks. As a rookie in just his first month of Modified racing, the Thetford Center driver has already taken four podium finishes and is the point leader at Canaan.

"I don't know about 'kicking butt,' but I'm doing alright," Eastman grinned. "I'm having a good time."

Eastman's Late Model was a low-slung, full-fendered car, with the driver's seat in the traditionally left-of-center location. His Modified is a lighter, faster, more powerful open-wheeled machine with a higher center of gravity, and the driver sits in the middle of the car.

Not surprisingly, Eastman said his results are far ahead of his pre-season goals. Even though he was a champion last year, he now races in a class with a much deeper talent pool in an unfamiliar car, and does so on the fraction of the budget of most teams. Most nights at the track, his only crew member is his son, Cole.

Still, the learning curve has been a short one.

"I adapted quick," he said. "If you ask me [Modifieds] are easy to drive, but they can also be way harder to drive if they're not set up just right. They're very, very touchy, and you can miss the set-up very easily. The more seat time the better I'm gonna get, I think. I'm starting to learn. When [the track surface] is a little tacky or dry, I know what to do to the car already."

For a driver who is "starting" to learn, Eastman's results have been impressive: He took the point lead at Canaan after just his third start, and with a runner-up finish on Friday night he extended his lead over Jason Sanville. The next night, he finished third at Bear Ridge.

Eastman said his goals are changing as the season goes on. "If you were to ask me in the winter I would have said, 'Hey, if I can get a top five it'd be great,'" Eastman said. "Now that I've started off good my goals are higher. I mean, I've already got three thirds and a second. I'm leading the points. I'm way ahead of what I expected."

So does a pair of track championships now seem a likely achievement for the rookie? Eastman skipped the May 29 event at Bear Ridge to celebrate his wedding anniversary and thinks the hit he took in the point standings will likely leave him too far out of title contention there. Then again, he missed two races last season en route to his Late Model championship.

"You do start to think that [it's possible]," he said. "I like running for points, I like trying to win championships. Canaan is on my mind. If I was at Bear Ridge every week I think I could compete, I really do. I definitely want a win, though. I haven't won yet, I'm just consistent."

On the first week of June the end of the season seems a long way away, but when it comes it could be Dan Eastman -- a rookie -- celebrating a championship. Or two.

1. Dan Eastman has been impressive in his Modified rookie season. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)
2. Eastman with a trophy from the Bear Ridge Speedway car show. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)
3. Eastman runs three-wide at Bear Ridge with Adam Pierson (#15) and Ryan Dutton. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

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