DIRT: September Packed With Mr. DIRTcar Series Shows In U.S. & Canada
DIRTcar Racing’s 34th consecutive year of sanctioning motorsports events in the Northeast is ready to make its stretch run beginning in September with a full slate of high-paying extra-distance Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series races in all classes.
More than 20 point races highlight the biggest month of the season on the DIRTcar NE circuit, including the Super DIRTcar Series return to Lernerville Speedway in Pennsylvania plus 358-Modified Series stops in both Canada and the United States, with Sportsman and Pro Stockers contending in almost a dozen more prime time events.
Originally scheduled for July 11 as part of the ‘Great Canadian Tour’ up north, the Big-Blocks return to Autodrome Drummond on Sept. 18 as part of ‘Dream Weekend’ opening day activity. The Pro Stock series show slated for the following day at Canandaigua Speedway has been cancelled and other locations are being considered at this time to fill the Sept. 19 void. Rain also forced the July 21 Sportsman tour race at Canandaigua to be added to the Sept. 18 card creating a big DIRTcar doubleheader at the ‘Land of Legends’ on Friday.
Overall 2009 Hoosier-VP Mr. DIRTcar Champions will be determined by tabulating points earned in the Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds and the Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series for 358-Modified, Sportsman and Pro Stock teams, along with bonuses collected in each divisional DIRTcar Regional Racing Series. The track bonus formula remains nearly identical for all four touring classes, with each afforded the opportunity to carry up to 360 extra points (60 per race) into the Mr. DIRTcar Championship when track points are officially tallied after Labor Day. In the Sportsman division ONLY due to the large number of events, a driver's two (2) worst finishes can be dropped through September with each of the last six (6) events counting.
Current Championship Series leaders in the respective point chases heading into the extended Labor Day Weekend are Brett Hearn (BB Mod), Dale Planck (358-Mod), Chris Raabe (Spt) and Pete Stefanski (Pro).
To gain access to DIRTcar Racing Series headline stories and point standings during the upcoming season, log into http://www.dirtcar.com and select ‘Series’ at the top then choose Mr. DIRTcar Series (#7) and hit ‘GO’ on right. Specific information about the Big-Block Modified Super DIRTcar Series can be found at www.superdirtcarseries.com. Bookmark each selection for quick review at a later time.
2009 Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series Schedule of Events: SEPTEMBER
DAY-DATE TRACK/LOCATION CLASS
Sun-Sep 6 Cayuga County Fair Speedway/Weedsport,NY MOD
Sun-Sep 6 Cornwall Motor Speedway/Cornwall,ONT 358
Mon-Sep 7 Rolling Wheels Raceway/Elbridge,NY MOD, SPT
Fri-Sep 11 Lernerville Speedway/Sarver,PA MOD
Fri-Sep 11 Mohawk Int’l Raceway/Akwesasne,NY 358
Fri-Sep 11 Ransomville Speedway/Ransomville,NY SPT
Fri-Sep 11 Autodrome Edelweiss/Hull,QUE PRO
Sat-Sep 12 Brockville Ontario Speedway/Brockville,ONT 358
Sat-Sep 12 Merrittville Speedway/Thorold,ONT SPT
Sat-Sep 12 Lebanon Valley Speedway /West Lebanon,NY PRO
Sun-Sep 13 Autodrome Granby/Granby,QUE 358
Sun-Sep 13 Humberstone Speedway/Pt.Colborne,ONT SPT
Fri-Sep 18 Autodrome Drummond/Drummondville,QUE MOD
Fri-Sep 18 Canandaigua Speedway/Canandaigua,NY SPT (2)
Sat-Sep 19 Autdrome Drummond/Drummondville,QUE 358
Sat-Sep 19 Genesee Speedway/Batavia,NY SPT
Fri-Sep 25 Rolling Wheels Raceway/Elbridge,NY 358
Sat-Sep 26 Rolling Wheels Raceway/Elbridge,NY MOD, SPT, PRO
WSMT: Gene Pack Excited To Race At Myrtle Beach
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will visit another new track on the schedule this weekend when Myrtle Beach Speedway hosts the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified 150 this Saturday night.
The race will be the ninth race of the 2009 season for the southern tour and while it is the first time the modifieds have raced under the NASCAR banner at Myrtle Beach, it is not the first time the cars have competed on the track.
One driver who is looking forward to coming to South Carolina is Gene Pack. Pack currently sits in ninth place in the points standings and looks to get his second top-five finish in the past three races.
“I can’t wait to get down to Myrtle Beach and race the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour cars this weekend,” said Pack.
“I spent a lot of my younger years down at the beach and have a lot of family and friends who are planning on coming out to watch us race. I appreciate everyone who supports our race team and hopefully we can put on a good show for them.”
Pack scored his season-best finish of third at Bowman Gray Stadium back on August 1, and will try for his first win on the Tour Saturday night. While it is the first NASCAR modified race at the track in a long time, the historic track has enjoyed a long history hosting NASCAR Touring events.
The track has hosted national touring series such as the NASCAR Nationwide Series and also hosted many NASCAR regional touring series, like the former Dash and All-Pro cars.
Current points leader George Brunnhoelzl III competed at the track when he drove a Hooters Pro Cup Series car at the track earlier this decade. Brunnhoelzl knows this race will be totally different because of the difference in the cars racing, but it is still Myrtle Beach.
“I can’t wait to get our NASCAR Whelen Modifieds on Myrtle Beach,” Brunnhoelzl said. “The track is abrasive and everyone knows that about Myrtle Beach, but it ought to be a great race for the fans.”
Another driver who has experience at the track is L.W. Miller. Miller, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion, is coming off one of his best finishes of the year coming home fourth last weekend at Caraway Speedway. He also raced in a ProCup car several years ago.
Some of NASCAR’s biggest names have raced at Myrtle Beach during their careers. Whether it was climbing the career ladder like Dale Earnhardt Jr. did during his late model stock driving days, or veterans like Sam Ard, who was rewriting record books during his days in the NASCAR Nationwide Series; the track has enjoyed a rich history.
The track will also have its Mini Stocks and Limiteds in action in addition to the 150-lap special event for the modifieds.
Practice and qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified 150 is Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. The green flag flies at 8 p.m.
Sunoco Modifieds: Pitkat Wins at Thompson
In the race program of Thursday, August 27th at Thompson International Speedway, Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT, took over the lead on lap five and withstood a number of late race cautions to score his second Sunoco Modified feature event of the 2009 season. The opening lap was marred by an incident involving Tim Sullivan and Shelly Perry. The caution led the way to some intense racing. Jimmy Blewett was the early leader followed by Rowan Pennink and Pitkat. The top four cars ran side-by-side and nose-to-tail.
As Rocco began to challenge Pennink for third, Blewett and Pitkat got away just slightly. They began a heated battle of their own to once again tighten up now the eight cars that made up the lead pack. Pitkat was able t o take the top spot from Blewett on lap five while Rocco moved into the third spot.
Pennink began to take back the ground he lost earlier to regain the second position. Blewett had his hands full with Rocco who in turn had pressure from Kerry Malone. Bert Marvin was on the move taking the sixth position from Ted Christopher.
Blewett began to falter falling back to the eighth position. Marvin took over positions from both Blewett and Malone and into the fourth spot. Pitkat continued to lead with Pennink and Rocco in close proximity.
At halfway, Pitkat led Pennink, Rocco, Marvin, Malone, Christopher, Blewett and Danny Cates. Harry Rheaume and Andy Gaspar ran a straight-away behind to round out the top ten. At lap 20, Rocco was getting racy; peeking to the inside of Pennink. All action mellowed when the second caution of the event flew for an incident involving Rheaume.
Coming out of turn four for the restart, Rocco ducked to the inside making it three-wide for the top spot. Pitkat came out of the mix with the lead once again. Rocco was able to steal second from Pennink. Marvin was fourth while Christopher was using the outside groove to make his way inside the top five.
Contact between Christopher and Cates necessitated the caution. Under the caution, Blewett headed to pit road for service. Both Blewett and Cates were able to continue while Christopher retired from the event.
On the single file restart, Pitkat had the advantage until turn one when Rocco got alongside. The two went wheel-to-wheel before Rocco had to settle back into second. Pennink got a run on the outside looking to take the second position away from Rocco. Contact between Rocco and Pennink found Pennink into the outside wall on the backstretch. Marvin and Malone were nearly collected. Rocco was put to the rear for his involvement.
With the green in the air once again, Pitkat led a hard-charging Marvin. Malone ran in the third position ahead of Ricky Shawn. After only two laps, Rocco was already up to the fifth spot.
At the checkers, Pitkat was able to hold off Marvin to score his second win of the season. With his win, Pitkat secured his car owners Bob Hitchcock and Kelly Iverson a guaranteed starting spot in the 7th Annual John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout at Concord Speedway in Concord, NC, on November 7, 2009. Marvin came home second followed by Malone, Ricky Shawn, and Rocco.
Tracks: Rain Wins Big This Past Weekend
Weekly Modified shows at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT), Waterford Speedbowl (CT), Mahoning Valley Speedway (PA) and Wall Stadium (NJ) were all rained out this past weekend.
WSMT: Up Next: New Hampshire 100
Following the Budweiser 150 presented by New England Dodge Dealers on Thursday at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make the second of two trips this year to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.
The New Hampshire 100 is set to go green on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s second visit to the ‘Magic Mile’ could prove to be a crucial event in deciding the season championship as there will be only three races remaining on the schedule upon its conclusion.
In addition to being the winningest driver in NHMS history, Ted Christopher is also the defending winner of the New Hampshire 100. He used last year’s triumph to strengthen his title bid, and will look to keep himself out front in this year’s standings with another strong performance.
In addition to Christopher, Donny Lia also figures to be a contender in Loudon. The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion won the New England 100 in June and has captured the checkers in four of the last six races in which he has competed at national series tracks (NHMS, Bristol Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway.)
The race week will commence for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on Thursday with practice and qualifying. The New Hampshire 100 will proceed the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday.
DIRT: Brockville To Host Mr. DIRTcar Championship Weekend In October
The wait is finally over for Paul and Cheryl Kirkland. Now the long-time Brockville Ontario Speedway owners can go ahead with their often dreamed about plans to hold the biggest event in track history as the ‘City of the Thousand Islands’ will take center stage for a season-ending Mr. DIRTcar Championship Weekend, October 17-18.
“This is the kind of event we’ve wanted to do for the past 3-4 years, just needed to make sure it had DIRT-backing to put it over the top,” remarked Kirkland, 47, who took over the helm of the BOS following its 1994 season and has remained a loyal DIRTcar member ever since. “Its by far the biggest event we’ve ever promoted around here.”
The inaugural Brockville Fall-Fest will get underway Saturday, Oct. 17 with DIRTcar 358-Modifieds and Sportsman joined by an open 360 Sprint Car special on the revamped 3/8-miler. A full card is on tap for Sportsman title contenders, including a 50-lap main event, with Small-Block Modifieds running time trials and heat race qualifiers plus a Dash-for-Cash.
100-lap 358-Modified and 50-lap Pro Stock title races highlight the show on Sunday Oct. 18, with overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Champions crowned in both classes. Street Stocks complete the titanic tripleheader with area full-fender racers competing in a 40-lap finale.
“We’re very proud that DIRTcar is giving us this opportunity to showcase our facility,” added Kirkland, who planted the seed at the DIRTcar Northeast Promoters Meetings in the spring and had already obtained some sponsorship interest from area companies by mid-summer. “We’ve always had great support from the Northeast office, so we can’t wait to play an even bigger role with such a top-flight event.”
“We started with just Sportsman after rain knocked out our July 4th series show, and now its quickly evolved into so much more. Maybe next year we can add the Big-Blocks, that’s probably every promoter’s dream if they can make it work. Last year the weather was absolutely pristine this time in October, hopefully we’ll have more of the same to give the fans and racers a good experience heading into winter,” Kirkland said.
While 358-Modified and Pro Stock teams will close out their ’09 campaign north of the border, just one event for the Sportsman point-chasers remains the following weekend at Black Rock Speedway in New York State’s Finger Lakes Region.
“We’ve had this weekend open since day one so we’re certainly pleased Paul was able to step in and fill the void,” noted Cory Reed, DIRTcar Racing Northeast Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning. “This will be a great autumn attraction for all the fans and touring teams on both sides of the border. Paul and Cheryl have made Brockville a fun place to be every Saturday, an entire weekend of DIRTcar racing should make it another can’t miss event.”
Tracks: Airborne Track Title is Up For Grabs
Patrick Dupree of Saranac Lake gets a final chance to overtake point leader Martin Roy and repeat as Airborne Speedway Ernie’s Tools Modified champion in Saturday’s 100-lap Charlie Trombley Memorial, presented by Cold Spring Granite and Bimbo Bakeries. Dupree trails Roy by 12 points 658-646.
Should Dupree manage his fourth win, Roy could still nail down his first track championship by finishing fourth or better. Twice this season when Dupree has driven the Greg Norman Estates/Wes Moody Landscaping No.24 to victory, Roy has finished second. Roy is a six-time feature winner.
The extra-distance event is held in honor of the late Charlie Trombley of Mooers Forks, who was a four-time Airborne track champion.
All Airborne divisions will be in action, including the Versatile Trailer Sales Renegades where Nick Heywood of Plattsburgh has a two-point lead over defending champion Lonnie Rivers of Cadyville. The Renegades, J&S Steel Sportsmen, NAPA Mini-Modifieds and Monster Energy have another point race next Sunday, September 13 when Airborne hosts the 38th Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Fall Foliage 300 for American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models.
Gates open this Saturday at 4 p.m. Post time is 6 p.m. Admission is adults/$13, kids 6-12/$3, family (2 adults, 2 kids)/$30.
Tracks: October is Month of Money for Mahoning Valley Speedway Modified Drivers
Mahoning Valley Speedway has just two race dates in October which are the first and last Saturday’s of the month and on those days Modified drivers will be vying for some serious cash payouts. One lucky driver can even walk away with over $10,000!
On October 3 and 31 the final three 100-lap events of the Modified 100 Poker Series will be run. With each of those features paying $3000 to win plus the additional bonus of the Poker Series point fund which includes $2500, $1500 and $1000 to the top three card holders, there is the possibility that one driver can win all three races and grab the top prize in the bonus jackpot.
October 3 will consist of Hands Three and Four of the Modified 100 Poker Series. Hand three still has 63 laps to be run after the original show was halted back on July 25 due to rain. Hand Four was initially set for August 22 but that show was also washed out as well.
Currently division point leader John Bennett is leading in the Hand Three race over Chip Santee, Tom Flanagan, Eric Beers and Rick Reichenbach.
Beers was the winner in Hand One with Earl Paules taking the win in Hand Two. Flanagan, meanwhile, holds the best poker hand after two events with a pair of sixes. Next come Paules with an Ace and King.
When Hand Three is completed a full round of time trials and heats will be run in order to set the grid for Hand Four.
That same evening all regular track classes, Late Models, Street Stocks, Dirt Modifieds and Pro4 Late Models will run their final point race of the season with the exception of the Street Stocks. All those aforementioned classes will run for double points also. Race time is 6:00 p.m.
October 31 will be an afternoon program beginning at 2:00 p.m. This will be the final race of the season at Mahoning.
Once again the Modifieds will run time trials in order to set the top-12 who will be guaranteed starters. All others will then run in heats.
With no other asphalt tracks throughout the tri-state area running that day it is expected that a stellar field will be on hand for the 2009 finale. This will also be the final point race for the Mods.
Also on the card will be a 100-lap Street Stock feature. Before that takes place, however, there will be a 25-lap make-up feature from July 25 which will be the race that decides the outcome of this year’s class champion.
Keeping in mind that night is Halloween, the track is planning special treats for the kids that day and after the races are over they are invited to bring their treat bags into the pits and meet the drivers.
Mahoning Valley Speedway is conveniently located just west of Lehighton on PA Route 443.
TVMRS: Ricky Miller Memorial Will Benefit David's House Charity
When the True Value Modified Racing Series returns to action Sunday, Oct 4, at Twin State Speedway, Claremont, NH., the feature race for the open wheel modifieds will be part of a special presentation honoring the memory of three speedway greats, and will have special meaning for series racers.
It's the first of three season ending programs that will determine the series championship for 2009, and it is also a qualifying race for the North-South Shootout, Nov 5-7, at Concord Motorsports Park, in North Carolina.
The race also is the second annual “Ricky Miller Memorial Race” memorializing the popular modified racer who passed away in 2004. Miller was a former Claremont, (Twin State) Riverside Park, and NASCAR modified standout. The event was organized last year by Miller's family with support from racers, sponsors, fans, friends, the speedway, and the sanctioning series. That support has carried over to next month's event.
“This year the race is going to benefit David's House,” said Donnie Miller, brother of Ricky, and the son of legendary racer Donnie “The Golden Jet” Miller. David's House, is a home-away-from-home that offers support for families with children receiving treatment through Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in New Hampshire. “David's House does so much for families in need. We wanted to benefit this great program right in our region. I know my family has made a good choice.” Miller said.
The TVMRS race, presented by Granite State Harley Davidson, Lebanon, NH; will go the distance of 112 laps. Miller furthered,” We wanted to change it up a little bit so in honor of my brothers last car number, and with the support of Twin State Speedway and Jack Bateman, (TVMRS) we'll go 112 laps for Ricky.”
This year's event will also honor the memory of two Twin State Speedway greats, Donnie Ayer, and Kirby Monteith. Both drivers passed way last year. Ayer served as an honorary starter for the inaugural event, while battling cancer. Monteith died a few weeks in advance of the race also from cancer.
“These two drivers were original ground-pounders at Twin State, it's important that we remember them too,” said Miller.
A lap sponsorship campaign is ongoing at $25 per lap. Raffles will be conducted throughout the day. For additional information log on to www.rickysraceforkids.com.
Tracks: Stafford to Add Another Friday Night Race Event
Stafford Speedway also announced that they will add Friday, September 18th to its 2009 Event Schedule. The September 18th event will consist of Stafford’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions and will be priced at $15 for Adult General Admission, $5 for children ages 6 to 14 and free for children 5 & under. Reserved seating will be available for $18.As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking with overnight parking available.
DIRT: Super DIRT Week 'Super Pass' Provides Super Fan Package
Super DIRT Week continues to be the signature event that separates itself from all others held throughout the season on the DIRTcar Racing Northeast circuit.
It is only fitting that a ‘Super Pass’ be made available for this crown jewel in the motorsports mainstream, with five full days and three action-packed nights packaged around four Empire State ovals during the annual autumn affair.
Super DIRT Week XXXVIII, October 7-11, includes daily events at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse while satellite short-track shows are staged four straight nights beginning Wednesday.
A 2009 ‘Super Pass’ provides a SDW Reserved Seat Combo Ticket, NYS Fairgrounds Infield Parking Pass, General Admission Ticket to the Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Championship at Brewerton Speedway on Thursday, Oct. 8, choice of a VIP Ticket to either Rolling Wheels Raceway Park (358-Mod/Sportsman) or Cayuga County Fair Speedway (360 Sprint/Street Stock) doubleheader on Friday, Oct. 9, and a reserved seat for the World of Outlaws Sprint Cr Series/‘Win and You’re In’ Big-Block Modified twin-bill at Rolling Wheels on Saturday, Oct. 10.
All this for only $185.00 (minus $20 if opting not to order a Brewerton ticket).
The 38th edition of Super DIRT Week opens trackside on Wednesday, Oct. 7 with Modified ‘Happy Hour’ slated for 3-5pm. Thursday is ‘Media Day’ on the fairgrounds with the annual press gathering held in the Infield Conference Building, followed by Integra Shocks Time Trials for both Big-Blocks and 358-Modifieds plus the 358 and Sportsman futures events.
The Friday card is headlined by Big-Block Triple 20 and 358-Modified Twin 20 qualifying races plus Sportsman Time Trials before first-time Big-Block and Pro Stock pilots contest in their own finale.
The weekend is filled with main events for DIRTcar Northeast’s top traveling series --- Syracuse 150 358-Modified Championship and Sportsman Championship races on Saturday, with the 200-lap SDW XXXVIII Modified Championship and Pro Stock Championship taking center stage on Sunday.
For more information about Super DIRT Week, including ticket order placement, lap sponsorship and vendor space availability, please contact DIRTcar Racing NE Headquarters during the week at 315/834-6606. Now active on-line is www.superdirtweekonline.com for a complete SDW schedule of events, with room saved for additional news and notes, race results and photos as the week speeds on at the Syracuse Mile.
Tracks: Jones Wins at Sundance
Compared to his first career Modified win earlier in the season, Lehighton’s Bobby Jones had his work cut out for him Sunday at Sundance Vacations Speedway. With an impressive outing, Jones held off Matt Hirschman and Rusty Smith to earn his second win of the season.
Twenty cars lined up for the start of the 40-lap Modified main event and polesitter, Nick Pecko, led the opening laps over Todd Baer, Barry Callavini, Kyle Ebersole and Bobby Jones.
The red flag waved when Amber Levandowski got out of shape in turn four. Trying to get the car righted, she came across the track and collected Lenny Fischer and Paul Skodachek. Skodachek hit the front stretch wall very hard with the driver’s side of the car, but luckily he did not appear to be injured.
Green flag racing resumed and Callavini overtook Pecko for the race lead. Jones followed through as well and on the following lap he challenged Callavini for the top spot.
Very quietly, Matt Hirschman, Rusty Smith and Brian DeFebo began to work toward the front of the field. On lap 13 Hirschman got by Callavini for the runner-up spot. Meanwhile, Smith and Hirschman rounded out the top five.
The caution flew on lap 23 when Brian Romig, Geary Rinehimer, Jr. and Jim Bojohnny tangled in turn two. Callavini surrendered the third spot and took his mount pit side.
Jones held off his competition once green flag racing resumed. Hirschman tried to gain on the leader and Smith waited for Hirschman to slip up so that he could jump into second. DeFebo held fourth, followed by Kyle Ebersole.
DeFebo’s day came to a quick end on lap 29 when his car began to overheat. The exchange moved Pecko back into the top five.
Despite the talent behind him, Jones stayed out front and took his second victory of the season over Hirschman, Smith, Ebersole and Pecko.
Heat race victories went to Kyle Ebersole, Nick Pecko and Geary Rinehimer, Jr.
DIRT: Decker Wins Big at Lebanon Valley
After a month and a half of misfortune, reigning Mr. DIRTcar points king Billy Decker was finally on the receiving end as he cashed in on the $17,500 top prize following his second career win in the ‘Mr. DIRT Track, USA’ title event presented by Budweiser and Hoosier on Thursday night at Lebanon Valley Speedway.
Integra Shocks Fast Timer Decker shadowed the leaders throughout the race before taking advantage of a blown rear-end on the car of front-runner Jimmy Phelps with just four laps to go before cruising on to half-track victory on the high-banked half-miler.
“We were fortunate to pick up the pieces there,” said Decker, 44, following his third Super DIRTcar Series triumph of the season and fifth all-time at the storied West Lebanon oval. The Unadilla, N.Y. open-wheel veteran last won the Mr. DIRT Track race in 1991, and has since set fast time at The Valley on four occasions.
“Brett (Hearn) had trouble and the #98 (Phelps), every time I tried shoving it in a little bit harder, a little bit harder I’d overdrive a lap and he’d get back away from me. We were just lucky. Tonight we just happened to be in the right position at the right time,” figured Decker, who started third on the 32-car grid and actually lost a spot in the early going before working his way to the front.
Rounding out the top-five behind Marshall were June series winner at Lebanon Matt Sheppard, second-generation favorite Donnie Corellis and Sheppard’s teammate Jeff Brownell Jr., the final driver scored on the lead lap in the 40-minute main.
Hearn entered the mid-week special with a commanding lead of more than 100 points over Sheppard in the Super DIRTcar Series and after drawing the pole for the 100-lap finale seemed destined for his own third tour win of the ’09 campaign. The ‘Jersey Jet’ opened up 10 car-length lead after just one circuit and remained on course more than half the race before mechanical failure sidelined his best effort.
Valley regular Ryan Larkin slowed exiting turn on lap 11 to force out the first of just two yellow flags in the nightcap, once more closing the gap on runner-up Marshall, Brownell, Decker and Phelps. Yet back under green, Hearn’s Madsen Motorsports no. 20 Wentworth Custom Homes-Kruger-WLR-BPG/TEO machine wasted little time re-establishing his supremacy over his nearest challengers.
After just one more time around after the ensuing lap restart, the yellow lights flashed on for the final time as Hearn protégé Michael Storms came to stop in Vinny Salerno’s no 4-Star Keizer Aluminum Wheels-Mike Sparta Truckng-Four Star Transmissions/TEO. With Phelps charging into fourth, Marshall was scored fourth behind Decker and ahead of both Corellis and Brownell and Sheppard with 20-lap complete.
Back under green, the lead trio of Hearn, Phelps and Decker separated themselves from the pack, making their way into traffic on lap 38 as Hearn crept up to the back bumper of Alan Johnson in the borrowed no. 34 Steve Hough/PMC mount. Starting 13th on the grid, Dale Planck was the mover on the day as he cracked the top-10 a third of he way through and still hungry for more as the laps continued to click off.
The front-three remained intact with 50 laps in the books, while Marshall and Corellis diced for fourth ahead Sheppard and Planck. Flying high around the smooth speedway, Planck pulled into fifth on lap 53 and was ready for more before the complexion of the race changed just as fast, shaking up the running order in the process.
With all eyes on the leaders, Hearn suddenly slowed off the pace on lap 56 due to a faulty wheel bearing and he was followed pitside immediately after by Planck, who lost oil pressure in the RezX Racing no. 77x Grow It Hydroseeding-Action Race Parts/TEO entry. Phelps and Decker retained their sizeable advantage over Marshall while Sheppard moved in to lock horns with Corellis as just 14 cars were scored on the lead lap.
Traffic became a deterring factor as the leaders were forced to weave their mighty Modified machines both high and low to keep their positions in the latter stages. 1994 Mr. DIRT Track titlist Rich Ricci Jr. gave Phelps fits before succumbing on lap 70 while contact with 10th-place runner Haers forced Phelps wide out of turn two and put Decker on the binders directly behind to avoid another impact.
Phelps proceeded to put ninth-running Kory Sandstedt down a lap with 20 to go, then blasted high around Jerry Higbie in eighth a half-dozen circuits later. When the scoreboard read ‘90’ Phelps and Decker remained way out front with equidistance evident between Marshall, Sheppard, Corellis, Brownell and Mark Flach Jr.
Phelps disposed of Flach on lap 94 yet exiting turn four just two laps later his H&H Motorsports no. 98H Mohawk N.E.-New England Race Fuels-Joe Gibbs Racing Oil/Troyer ride hesitated and slowed for good, forcing Decker to swerve as they crossed the stripe together allowing the ‘Franklin Flyer’ to inherit the lead just two miles from the finish.
“Fortunately, we only had a couple restarts because I was terribly tight,” noted Decker, following his 12th Big-Block Modified feature win of the year, second only to Sheppard (16) on the DIRTcar Northeast list. “Then I would become neutral or about 10 laps and get a little bit loose after that. We weren’t quite as balanced as good as we needed to be.”
“That lapped traffic was making it a little bit dicey there and a guy came right across Jimmy that one time. It was tough sledding, I’d like to return to daytime racing here, slow it down a little bit and maybe we can dice it out a little more.”
“Have to thank Howard Commander (promoter) and Lebanon Valley for having this race back again, certainly appreciate all the support here. I’m very sincere, I’ve always had a great following of fans here and they’ve always been great. I feel fortunate, its like a home away from home, when you come back here you’re welcomed with open arms and you have a good time,” added Decker, after capturing his 34th Big-Block checkered flag at the Capital District dirt track aboard the red LJL Racing no. 91 Gypsum Wholesalers-Stadium Int'l-Quality Hardwoods/Bicknell ride.
Despite crossing the finish line more than 14-seconds behind Decker, runner-up Marshall still pocketed a $4,000 check after 50 miles worth of fast-paced work.
“Certainly had a good run, Billy was really strong so my congratulations go out to him,” said Marshall, 51, who finished fifth in the previous Mr. DIRT Tracks showdown in 2005, and was coming off a victory at Lebanon Valley on Aug. 15. “I saw Brett break but I didn’t realize the no. 98 broke too so I thought we were really running third at the end.”
“We were pretty good for a bit, this Teo chassis handled real good and Kevin Enders gave us an exceptional motor here. Probably halfway I was kind of tight up on the right front then it wasn’t too bad for awhile and I still went forward. Then I kinda came unglued with the back end the second half of the race and I was just trying to pedal it the best I could.”
“Has a lot of fun early with Donnie Corellis, we were along side each other a lot and had some good racing there so it was a good, clean run. Didn’t see too many cars getting tore up so I guess everybody had a little luck in that department,” figured Marshall, himself a 21-time feature winner at the Valley over the past quarter-century, on this night steering the Marshall Oil Co. no. 98 Advance Water Technologies-R&M Heating & AC/TEO entry.
In quest of his second tour triumph of the season at Lebanon Valley, ‘Super Matt’ Sheppard settled for the show position yet still cut into Hearn’s series points lead through the first 15 extra-distance events.
“We had a good car tonight,” said Sheppard, 27, the hottest commodity on the DIRTcar Northeast Modified circuit this season, already posting a career-best 16 wins for owner Jeff Brownell in his JB Motorsports no. 9s Xtreme Lubricants/Bicknell machine. “This car was great both times we came here this year so we can’t ask for much more.”
“This car was not very good early but it seemed like the longer the race went the better it got. The last 20-30 laps it felt real, real good. I didn’t really want to see it end, I thought I was catching Eddie a little bit there.”
“This car has been good everywhere we’ve brought it. I can’t thank enough the guys that work on it, everybody’s been working their butts off. And Mike (Burdick) has come along this week so things are really coming together,” added four-race winner Sheppard, who now stands second in series points only 60 behind Hearn after once trailing the all-time Super DIRTcar Series champion by 169 markers in early July.
The final mid-week Super DIRTcar Series show arrives in just our more days as the revival of the ‘Mr. DIRT Track U.S.A.’ title event takes place on the high banks of Lebanon Valley Speedway with a whopping $17,500 saved for the 100-lap winner on Thursday, Aug. 27.
Superclean Modifieds: Tight Point Race Heads to Orange Show
The SuperClean Modified Racing Series teams will be loading their car haulers and making the journey to San Bernardino-California, September 5th, for round six of what has been an outstanding and highly competitive 2009 racing season.Saturday night's race, the K&N Air Filters 75, will be held at the Orange Show Speedway. This ASA sanctioned quarter mile paved oval has a long and rich history for outstanding racing shows.
That certainly was the case this past July 11th when the SuperClean Modified Series last visited the Orange Show Speedway. On that night the fans were on their feet cheering wildly while watching eventual race winner James Cole and home town favorite Jim Mardis stage a side by side duel to the checkers.
The anticipated excitement level this Saturday night will be enhanced by the skin tight points battle for the series championship. There is presently only 16 points separation between the top four drivers in the standings.
While the SuperClean Modified Series easily lives up to its reputation of featuring the best driving talent from the western states area, it's a long, tall, San Antonio-Texan who is sitting on top of the championship points standings going into the Orange Show Speedway race.
Since last year James Cole has been racking up the travel miles to participate in this series and that effort is now rewarding him. Cole comes into Saturday night's K&N Air Filters 75 with a series leading 226 points based on one win, four top five finishes and one top ten finish.
Just mention the name Orange Show Speedway and Cole breaks out in a Texas sized smile. "I'm really excited about returning there," he said adding " that night, (July 11th), was the first time that we took this car to the Orange Show and I think we're going to find more speed in it when we return. I think that we learned a lot from the 75 lapper we ran there the last time and I know (Jim) Mardis is going to be tough, because that's his home town track, but hopefully we'll have something for him again."
However that Cole's lead is only two points over Andrew Phipps who is someone else who knows the directions to the Orange Show Speedway's victory lane. The Simi Valley-California driver won the series' race in Las Vegas, back on May 16th, and has backed that win with five top five finishes.
Third in the standings, and only a mere six points away from the top of the chart, is Jim Mardis. Now here's a driver who knows every square inch of the Orange Show Speedway's quarter mile oval like he knows his Riverside-California address. He's proven that with his track championship, and multiple feature wins, in the track's ASA Stock Pony division. Mardis and his team joined the SuperClean Modified Racing Series late last year and has been coming on strong every since. Many series observers have been saying that it's just a short matter of time before he pulls off that first series win. He almost did exactly that July 11th at his home track and he's got a better than great chance of getting that first win Saturday night. So far this season Mardis has four top five finishes and one top ten.
Chris Gerchman won the series' season opener, March 28th, at his home track: the Havasu 95 Speedway, He's also the series' only two time winner following his most recent win, August 15th, at the Las Vegas Bullring. Despite two wins and four top five finishes, Gerchman is fourth in the series' points but only 16 markers from the leader. There's a reason for that and it's the Orange Show Speedway. The series' July 11th race was a mechanical disaster for the Lake Havasu City-Arizona native and he only collected 16 points that night. One has to believe that Gerchman may be arriving in San Bernardino Saturday high thinking the Orange Show Speedway owes him one. It's absolutely safe to believe that he'll be looking to settle the score Saturday night.
Commenting on that night Gerchman said "we had a semi DNF the last time we raced at Orange Show. The bottom line is we need to keep winning these races and make up those points that we lost that night and see what we can make of this thing. We just need to keep our nose clean at Orange Show and I think our car will be ready for it. We have never lost that feeling of being championship players."
The K&N Air Filters 75 will start 22 modifieds Saturday night with the drivers going after the $1,000 winner's check. When the SuperClean Modifies Series promotes a 75 lap feature they mean exactly that. The fans will be treated to 75 green flag laps of racing.The series' car count has been extremely healthy this season despite the economy and it's likely that a B main, or last chance race, will be needed.
Series promoters Greg Scheidecker and Bill Rozhon are thrilled with the racing they've seen from the teams so far and both men are excited about the potential of the K&N Air Filters 75 this Saturday night. "Orange Show Speedway is my home track," Scheidecker said adding "the people who are running that race track are really trying hard. My hat's off to the McCray family and the effort there. I'm really looking forward to our September 5th race there. Bobby Allison is going to be the special guest Grand Marshall and will be doing an autograph session. There's also going to be a large fireworks show that night. This is going to be a race to attend because all the bells and whistles are in place and I know that Rick McCray is going to put on one terrific show that night. Our SuperClean Modified teams put on a great race last July. Rick McCray is excited to have our series there. We're really looking forward to this event."
Bill Rozhon is also excited about the SuperClean Modified Racing Series returning to the Orange Show Speedway and said "Rick McCray has a big show scheduled for his grand opening that night. Greg and I are very proud of the fact that Rick considered bringing our series to his track for their grand opening."
Rozhon also said he was looking forward to watching his teams put on the same high level show that the fans saw at the July 11th event at the Orange Show. "The last three laps of that race, when Jim Mardis and James Cole put on that side by side finish was one very good show." he added.
Scheidecker is also excited about the prospect of shaking hands with NASCAR legend Bobby Allison Saturday night. The McCray family, and their Best In The West Racing promotion, will be celebrating their grand opening on this night and will be treating their fans to a meet and greet with Allison the former NASCAR champion and ring leader of the famed racing group known as "The Alabama Gang."
In addition to the K&N Air Filters 75, the Orange Show Speedway will also be presenting racing action from their ASA sanctioned late model, stock pony, factory four and stock car USA divisions.