By Robby Knowles
OSWEGO, NY — Oct. 10, 2019 — Jimmy Phelps has earned the pole in a Big Block Modified three times at NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week, but on Thursday afternoon at Oswego Speedway the “Baldswinsville Bandit” captured the top spot in DIRTcar 358 Modified Series Time Trials for the first time in his career.
Phelps hit the track in group five of six, setting a time of 20.948 seconds around the 5/8-mile “Clay Palace” to win the $1,000 STOP Tech/GPS Pole Award for Saturday’s Salute to the Troops 150, surprising even himself.
“I’m really happy with our results because we were mediocre in practice,” Phelps said. “There’s a lot of good cars here, so it helps to get a head start.”
DIRTcar 358 Modified Series points leader Erick Rudolph qualified second fastest at 20.962 seconds and receives the $500 Fastline Performance Outside Pole Award.
“We made a few tire adjustments for time trials and it worked,” Rudolph said.
Tim Fuller, piloting the Randy Slack-owned 3rs machine, stopped the clock with a time of 21.036 seconds, good enough for third best.
“The Slacks gave us a strong race car,” Fuller said. “Putting ourselves in this position will keep us out of the dust on Saturday.”
In his rookie season, Dave Marcuccilli posted a 21.045 second lap time to put him outside the second row for the 150-lap event.
“We really surprised ourselves by timing fourth, we’re looking forward to Saturday,” Marcuccilli said.
Mat Williamson is arguably the hottest modified driver coming into NAPA Super DIRT Week, and he was clocked at 21.059 seconds, fifth best on the afternoon.
“You know you’ve been going good when you’re disappointed with fifth,” Williamson said.
Todd Root was the final driver to lock into the Salute to the Troops 150. Root was in the first part of group four, with 33 drivers left to time after him. Root’s 21.070 lap time was good enough for sixth fastest in the session.
“I was really nervous with 33 cars left to time after me,” Root said. “Locking in takes the pressure off of us for sure.”
Phelps, Rudolph, Fuller, Marcuccilli, Williamson and Root are now all locked into the 150-lap event on Saturday, no matter what happens in during the Friday Night Lights Heat Races, which begin at 7 p.m. Three 25-lap heat races will take place to qualify more drivers for Saturday.