Weedsport, NY — April 18, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast PR Director
Temperatures continue to rise as the Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Championship Series kicks off at Merrittville (Ont.) Speedway on Saturday, April 26 with the Baron Roofing Windows and Doors ‘Spring Sizzler 100’ serving as the headline attraction.
A top prize of $4,000 awaits the winner of the 26th tour lid-lifter, with a star-studded field of DIRTcar NorthEast’s top Small-Block teams set to challenge the hometown heroes in Merrittville’s own 57th season-opener. Gates are scheduled to open at 4 o’clock with hot laps starting at 5:30 and qualifying leading off the trackside action at 6:30 p.m.
“We’re on the right track with the Small-Block tour and its growing stronger,” said 358-Modified Series Competition Director Gaston Salvas, as he noted a number of first-time Series followers from his neighborhood north of the border in Quebec. “I think more teams are motivated now having the feeling they stand more of a chance to win with a solid rule book in place. We set the standard last year with consistent enforcement, something that has definitely carried over to this season. And having Bob (Dini, Director of Technical Operations for DIRTcar Racing NorthEast) back on board certainly adds credibility to the 358 class and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
The Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Championship Series gets underway next weekend in Ontario — the same time many top Small-Block teams will start accumulating points at their weekly home tracks. In 2008, each driver will now be taking the best five (5) finishes from a designated track to collect bonus points which will then be added to actual Series points to determine the newest champion. Using the standard DIRTcar NE weekly points format, a driver winning five features could carry up to 300 extra points (60 per win) into the Mr. DIRTcar Championship when track points are officially tallied after Labor Day.
Leading off the 358-Modified Series in April for the first time since 2003-04, Merrittville’s earliest date ever in its own 2008 lid-lifter will mark a return to the Mr. DIRTcar Series after a two-year layoff. The Johnson Brothers from Central New York have enjoyed the best exchange rate, with ’05 victor Alan (6 wins) and Danny (4) claiming all but one tour race triumph since 1996; track owner Pete Bicknell interrupted the streak in 2002.
Reigning overall Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified points king Mario Clair is set to return aboard his potent no. 22 Batiments JDL-Bert Transmission-backed Bicknell machine equipped with a potent Pat Morrison-prepared powerplant. “If everything goes as planned we’ll follow the whole series once again,” said Clair, 35, through a translator. Last season the talented driver from St-Edmond, Quebec became the first French-speaking driver in DIRTcar’s 32-year history to climb the podium. Clair will once again compete regularly during the summer at autodromes Granby and Drummond, where he is the defending track points champion.
Hoping to match Clair’s success on DIRTcar NorthEast’s premier Small-Block circuit will be fellow Frenchmen David Hebert, Martin Gagne, Eric Gauvreau, Sportsman graduate Alex Boisvert and Drummond racing promoter Yan Bussiere. 2007 Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified runner-up Danny O’Brien, Carey Terrance (3rd) and Roy Tarbell (5th) are also expected to sign in Saturday as are opening round entries Todd Burley, Kyle Jacobs and Lance Willix II. Defending the homefront will be top Merrittville point earners from a year ago champion Bicknell, Scott Wood, Chad Brachmann, Kenny Cosgrove and Larry Lampman Jr. along with Rick Richner, who plans to chase tour points as well.
For additional information, please contact 358-Modified Series Director Gaston Salvas (450/655-5022 or 514/817-2270; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) or DIRTcar NE 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 Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Series as well as the entire circuit.
Track information can be found at www.merrittvillespeedway.com or by contacting Public Relations Director Jim Irvine at 905/892-8266. Merrittville Speedway can be reached from any direction in the U.S., taking the Peace Bridge in the Buffalo, NY/South Niagara Region, Rainbow Bridge and Queenston-Lewiston Bridge in Niagara Falls, or in Canada following the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) south to Niagara from the Hamilton or Toronto areas.
2008 Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Championship Series Schedule
*All events subject to change.
DAY-DATE LAPS TRACK LOCATION
Sat-Apr 26 100 Merrittville Speedway Thorold, ONT
Fri-Aug 1 68 Ransomville Speedway Ransomville, NY ($6,800 to win)
Thr-Aug 21 100 Mohawk Int’l Raceway Akwesasne, NY
Sun-Aug 31 100 Cornwall Motor Speedway Cornwall, ONT
Sat-Sep 6 75 Brockville Ont Speedway Brockville, ONT
Sat-Sep 13 150 Autodrome Drummond Drummondville, QUE ($15,000 to win)
Fri-Sep 19 75 Canandaigua Speedway Canandaigua, NY
Fri-Sep 26 75 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Wed-Oct 8 75 Can-Am Motorsports Park LaFargeville, NY
Thr-Oct 9 75 Brewerton Speedway Brewerton, NY
Fri-Oct 10 100 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge, NY
Sat-Oct 11 150 New York State Fairgrnds Syracuse,NY ($20,000 to win)
Sat-Oct 18 100 Orange Co Fair Speedway Middletown,NY ($7,500 to win)
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 and Hoosier Racing Tire. Rite Aid Corporation is a promotional partner and the contingency sponsors are Bars Leaks, Bert Transmission, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Crane Cams, Dig Safely New York, Holley HP Carburetors, Integra Shocks, Intercomp, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, Penske Shocks, Rislone Oil Stabilizer and Wrisco Industries.