Weedsport, NY — March 31, 2009 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing Northeast PR Director
*Alex Bruce Photo
The 2009 Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series gets the initial green flag at Black Rock Speedway on April 4.
Rolling out the red carpet first for defending Mr. DIRTcar Chris Raabe, the popular Yates County 4/10-mile clay oval located on Route 14A just outside the village of Dundee, New York welcomes back the top DIRTcar Sportsman teams to wine country in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region for round one of the 20-race Championship tour.
The return to Black Rock is filled with mixed emotions for teenage sensation Raabe, a remnant of the strong 56-car turnout last spring that resulted in his only DNQ (did not qualify) during the entire 15-race tour. The Napanee, Ontario speedster went on to capture his first-ever Sportsman Series victory in the summer and register a tour-best seven top-five finishes, with Black Rock the only blemish on a career year that produced a DIRTcar division-high 19 feature wins.
“I really liked the track, it just wasn’t meant to be,” remarked Raabe, who turned 18 just last week, although already harboring four full seasons worth of experience in DIRTcar Northeast’s entry-level open-wheel class. “Like a lot of tracks last year, it was my first time there. Yet drawing 124 out of 125 when I signed in turned out to be too much to overcome that early in the year.”
This same time last year, the 50th Anniversary celebration of auto racing at Black Rock was about to get underway with a 50-lap finale being earmarked as the first-ever crate-only show in Sportsman Series history. Stakes are once again high this weekend as the winner of Saturday’s 75-lap main event will pocket a cool $2,000 and earn valuable points toward the overall Mr. DIRTcar crown.
“I’m a lot more comfortable coming to the track this year with a guaranteed starting spot in case we get any more bad luck or something breaks in qualifying,” noted Raabe, who is among the returning Top-12 series point-getters from a year ago that holds automatic starter status along with the front-five in Black Rock’s final 2008 standings. “Hopefully, we won’t need to fall back on it.”
“It would certainly be a huge accomplishment being able to repeat as champion, its such a prestigious title for me as well as the entire crew and everybody that’s put in their time along the way. Consistency is the key just like it’s always been, but you still want to pick up a win any time you can. We’re looking forward to running the series shows close to home at Brockville and Cornwall, and the four races in a row should be a lot of fun,” added Raabe, who looks to contend weekly in the states at Can-Am Motorsports Park (Fri.) and Thunder Alley Speedpark (Sat.), mixing in between all the specials at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park.
One of just seven high school students to receive the highest scholastic honor from Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario where he will enroll at the end of summer in pursuit of a Mechanical Engineering degree, Raabe’s anticipated effort in NASCAR’s Canadian Tire Series with team owner Peter Gibbons may force him to miss a pair of series shows come autumn. However, with the large number of events making up the tour this season, drivers will be allowed to drop their two worst finishes through the end of September although all October races will count.
Scoring his first DIRTcar Sportsman victory in 2005 at Brockville Ontario Speedway at the tender age of 14, Raabe will be back in ’09 steering the potent black no. 01 Scott Industrial Services-Kingston RV Centre-Tyroute Communications/TEO entry for owner Garry McColman. The ’08 points champion at Brockville, Thunder Alley and Rolling Wheels will have to stave off returning veteran Greg Panunte (Mr. DIRTcar runner-up), Central New York standout Jeremy Pitcher (4th) and Canadian upstart Tyler McPherson (5th) if he hopes to secure a second straight title during the 2009 points chase.
With Mark D’Ilario (3rd Mr. DIRTcar points), Mat Williamson (6th), Mike Bowman (8th) and James Michael Friesen (10th) recently graduating into the Small-Block ranks, waiting anxiously to fill the void are returning Sportsman Series stars John Pietrowicz (7th), Justin Wright (9th), Eric Giguere (11th) and Dan Wiesner (12th), who will be aboard a brand new Troyer mount just in time for the Rock’s lid-lifter.
Headlining the list of home track entries is defending Black Rock champion Todd Henderson, who took six checkered flags last season en route to high point honors. After leading laps 18 to 48 in last year’s opening day heartbreaker, Henderson suffered a flat right rear tire under yellow to send him limping into the pits and afford then 15 year-old Larry Wight the biggest win of his career.
In preparation for this highly anticipated event, Black Rock will open for Sportsman practice on Friday, April 3 beginning at 6:00 p.m. Time trials will follow Saturday morning practice that runs from 10-11:30 a.m., with heat races scheduled to get underway at 1:00 p.m. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and the main grandstands open for seating at 11 a.m.
For additional information, please contact Sportsman Series Competition Director Michael Sanchelli (cell 862/432-3597; e-mail email@example.com) or DIRTcar NE Competition Director Cory Reed at the Weedsport office (315/834-6606) during normal business hours. In the meantime log into the homepage at www.dirtcar.com to find out more about the entire circuit, and for specific track information please contact the Black Rock Speedway office at 607/243-8686 or visit www.blackrockspeedway.com.
2009 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Schedule
*All events subject to change.
DAY-DATE TRACK LOCATION
Sat-Apr 4 Black Rock Speedway Dundee,NY
Fri-Apr 17 Can-Am Motorsports Park LaFargeville,NY
Thr-Jul 2 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park Elbridge,NY
Fri-Jul 3 Brewerton Speedway Brewerton,NY
Sat-Jul 4 Brockville Ontario Speedway Brockville,ONT
Sun-Jul 5 Cornwall Motor Speedway Cornwall,ONT
Sat-Jul 18 Cayuga County Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY
Tue-Jul 21 Canandaigua Speedway Canandaigua,NY
Mon-Sep 7 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park Elbridge,NY
Fri-Sep 11 Ransomville Speedway Ransomville,NY
Sat-Sep 12 Merrittville Speedway Thorold,ONT
Sun-Sep 13 Humberstone Speedway Pt.Colborne,ONT
Fri-Sep 18 Canandaigua Speedway Canandaigua,NY
Sat-Sep 19 Genesee Speedway Batavia,NY
Sat-Sep 26 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park Elbridge,NY
Fri-Oct 2 Fulton Speedway Fulton,NY
Wed-Oct 7 Can-Am Motorsports Park LaFargeville,NY
Fri-Oct 9 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park Elbridge,NY
Sat-Oct 10 New York State Fairgrounds Syracuse,NY
Sat-Oct 17 -TBA-
Sat-Oct 24 Black Rock Speedway Dundee,NY
-Two worst finishes through the end of September will be dropped by each driver; all October events count.
-A driver must make six DIRTcar weekly event starts at a single track to earn maximum home track bonus points of 360.
DIRTcar Racing Northeast main office is located in Weedsport, New York on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds www.cayugacountyfairspeedway.com, home of the 2009 DIRTcar All-Star Weekend, July 17-19, featuring Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series events for Sportsman and Big-Block Modifieds in the richest short-track show of its kind in the nation — the $20,000-to-win Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series “DIRTcar All-Star 100” on Sunday, July 19.
Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket retailer of parts, accessories, batteries, and maintenance items in the United States, serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets As of April 19, 2008, the Company operated 3,291 stores in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Additional information about the Company, employment opportunities, customer services, and on-line shopping for parts and accessories can be found on the Company’s web site at www.advanceautoparts.com.
The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Advance Auto Parts, Hoosier Racing Tire www.hoosiertire.com and VP Racing Fuels www.vpracingfuels.com. Promotional partners include Rite Aid Corporation www.riteaid.com, Dig Safely New York www.digsafelynewyork.com and the University of Northwestern Ohio www.unoh.com and the contingency sponsors are Bars Leaks www.barsproducts.com, Bert Transmission www.berttransmission.com, Bicknell Racing Products www.bicknellracingproducts.com, Bilstein Shocks www.bilstein.com, Brodix Cylinder Heads www.brodix.com, Ferris Industries www.ferrisindustries.com, Integra Shocks www.integrashocksandsprings.com, Intercomp www.intercomp-racing.com, KSE Racing Products www.kse-racing.com, Motorsports Safety Systems www.motorsportssafetysystems.com, Penske Shocks, www.penskeshocks.com, Racing Electronics www.racingelectronics.com, Rislone Oil Stabilizer www.barsproducts.com and Wrisco Industries www.wrisco.com.