(Photo by Mike Petrucci)
WEST LEBANON, N. Y. – August 17, 2012 – Brett’s back. And Brett “the Jet” Hearn’s return to the Super DIRTcar Bit-Block Modified Series did not disappoint.
Sudden illness kept Hearn from competing in last week’s series events at Merrittville and I96 Speedways, but he made up for his absences with a stunning victory at Lebanon Valley Speedway’s $17,500-to-win “Mr. DIRT Track USA” Thursday, Aug. 16.
After starting 23rd, even Hearn, seven-time Super DIRTcar Series champion and regular racer of Lebanon Valley’s high-banked half-mile, was surprised to find himself leading the field through the checkered flag.
“I’m totally in shock,” said Hearn in victory lane. “I really didn’t know what to expect tonight.”
Hearn had made the fast time with a 19.673-second lap, nearly setting a new track record. However, a broken set of gears forced him to the pits early in his qualifier, causing him to finish tenth in the heat. His team prepped the backup car and Hearn powered it to second place in a last-chance qualifier, putting him 23rd in the starting grid.
“We jumped on there with the fast time, a super fast car, then we break the car in the heat race, go to a backup car, and we didn’t know what to expect,” said Hearn, who celebrated his ninth “Mr. DIRT Track USA” win with Thursday’s victory. “If I had my best car, and I knew it was my best car, to come from 23rd here in a race is really really hard. But to come from 23rd in a backup car against this field, it’s – I gotta really think about this a little bit. I’m shocked.”
Despite his difficult starting position, Hearn spent the caution-ridden early laps of the race steadily gaining ground, finally breaking the top five off a double-file restart in lap 39. He steered his No. 20 around Billy Decker’s 91 for third in lap 58 and closed in on Andy Buchetti in second. When leaders reached traffic in 71, Hearn was able to maneuver around lapped cars just slightly better than Buchetti, taking the second spot in lap 72.
Hearn continued darting through lapped traffic in pursuit of Jimmy Phelps, who had led the race from the initial green flag. In lap 83, Hearn got his chance, passing Phelps on the outside of turns one and two and never looking back.
For his surprising victory, Hearn thanked the No. 20 crew members, who took a backup car prepped for shorter tracks and worked quickly to get it ready for the difficult half-mile before the feature.
“I’m really proud of my team for making the switch over because that car was really set up for some of the smaller tracks that we go to, it wasn’t set up for here. So they had to thrash and change a bunch of stuff to get it even close. They got the job done.,” Hearn said. “They had to work quick. They had to steal parts off the other car, steal parts out of the trailer, get everything changed over, and I am just amazed at how good the car was.”
Early race leader Jimmy Phelps just couldn’t catch up to Lebanon Valley Speedway track points leader Hearn in the last 15 laps of the 100-lap eighth round of the series, but he was able to walk away with a second-place finish – not too shabby, considering Phelps entered the race just 81 points shy of Super DIRTcar Series point leader Matt Sheppard.
“All in all we’re happy. We would have liked to have held on there the last 15 laps, but that’s racing,” said Phelps, a native of Baldwinsville, N. Y. “We led a long way, just obviously Brett was really good. For him to come that far, he obviously had a really good car.”
Phelps, who earned the second-best time trial with a 19.866-second lap and qualified well, drew the top spot in the lineup and maintained it through 80 laps and four double-file restarts. He almost kept it through the final 20 laps, until Hearn utilized Lebanon Valley’s unique high-banking to overcome him in lap 83.
“You need a whole different approach to this place. I’m really fortunate that HBR has got a pretty good handle on it, runs pretty good equipment for here,” Phelps said of the track at Lebanon Valley. “I think we could have been a little bit tighter at the end, but then again it could have hurt us at the beginning. It’s one of those deals where it would take a whole lot of trial and error, and we don’t run here enough to do that.”
Andy Bachetti finished third after starting sixth in the lineup, spending 40 laps in second until passed by Hearn in lap 72. Billy Decker started fourth and powered ahead to fourth by the checkered flag. Donnie Corellis was able to make fifth after starting eighth. Rounding out the top ten are Stewart Friesen in sixth, Kenny Tremont Jr. in seventh, two-time defending “Mr. DIRT Track USA” J. R. Heffner in eighth, defending Super DIRTcar Series champion Matt Sheppard in ninth, and Eddie Marshall in tenth.
The Super DIRTcar Series heads back to Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in Elbridge, N. Y., for the 100-lap, 150-point round nine Sunday, Sept. 2. For the latest news and updates about the Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series, “like” DIRTcar Racing on Facebook or follow the @SuperDIRTcar Twitter feed.
Super DIRTcar Series, Round 8 – “Mr. DIRT Track USA”
Lebanon Valley Speedway, August 16, 2012
A-Main (100 laps): 1. 20 Brett Hearn ($17,500), 2. 98h Jimmy Phelps, 3. 34b Andy Bachetti, 4. 91 Billy Decker, 5. 57 Donnie Corellis, 6. 1 Stewart Friesen, 7. 115 Kenny Tremont Jr., 8. 74 J. R. Heffner, 9. 9s Matt Sheppard, 10. 98 Eddie Marshall, 11. 98s Kolby Schroeder, 12. 42p Matt Pupello, 13. 43 Keith Flach, 14. 45 Wayne Jelley, 15. 8R Rob Bellinger, 16. 8s Rich Scagliotta, 17. 49 Billy Dunn, 18. 21a Pete Britten, 19. 55 Mike King, 20. 34 Mike Hough, 21. 77F Mark Flach Jr., 22. 10c Tim Currier, 23. 27J Danny Johnson, 24. 17 Rob Pitcher, 25. 11a Kyle Armstrong, 26. 87x Paul Gilardi, 27. 48T Dave Rauscher, 28. 60 Brian Berger, 29. 34L Kim Lavoy, 30. 16 Kyle Hoffman, 31. 3H Justin Haers, 32. 56 Vince Vitale, 33. 5* Tyler Siri
B-Main 1 (10 laps, top 3 transfer): 1. 98s Kolby Schroeder, 2. 20 Brett Hearn, 3. 16 Kyle Hoffman, 4. 49 Billy Dunn, 5. 56 Vince Vitale, 6. 10c Tim Currier, 7. 5* Tyler Siri, 8. 10s Dylan Scribner, 9. 8s Rich Scagliotta
B-Main 2 (10 laps, top 3 transfer): 1. 3 Justin Haers, 2. 27J Danny Johnson, 3. 42p Matt Pupello, 4. 3s Rich Scagliotta, 5. 48T Dave Rauscher, 6. 8R Rob Bellinger; DNS: 42 Kyle Sheldon, 20Q Matt Quinn, 2J Ronnie Johnson
Qualifying Heats – Top 5 transfer, top 3 go to redraw
Heat 1: 1. 115 Kenny Tremont Jr. 2. 11a Kyle Armstrong, 3. 91 Billy Decker, 4. 34L Kim Lavoy, 5. 87x Paul Gilardi, 6. 16 Kyle Hoffman, 7. 56 Vince Vitale, 8. 5* Tyler Siri, 9. 10s Dylan Scribner, 10. 20 Brett Hearn
Heat 2: 1. 34b Andy Bachetti, 2. 77F Mark Flach Jr. 3. 57 Donnie Corellis, 4. 45 Wayne Jelley, 5. 9s Matt Sheppard, 6. 98s Kolby Schroeder, 7. 49 Billy Dunn, 8. 10 Tim Currier, DNS: 14 C. G. Morey, 21M Bob McGannon
Heat 3: 1. 21a Pete Britten, 2. 34 Steve Hough, 3. 74 J. R. Heffner, 4. 98 Eddie Marshall, 5. 17 Rob Pitcher, 6. 2J Ronnie Johnson, 7. 27J Danny Johnson, 8. 48T Dave Rauscher, 9. 42p Matt Pupello
Heat 4: 1. 60 Brian Berger, 2. 1 Stewart Friesen, 3. 98h Jimmy Phelps, 4. 43 Keith Flach, 5. 55 Mike King, 6. 3H Justin Haers, 7. 8R Rob Bellinger, 8. 8s Rich Scagliotta, 9. 42 Kyle Sheldon
Time Trials: 1. 20 Brett Hearn (19.673), 2. 98h Jimmy Phelps (19.866), 3. 34b Andy Bachetti (19.960), 4. 115 Kenny Tremont Jr. (19.978), 5. 60 Brian Berger (20.016), 6. 77F Mark Flach Jr. (20.044), 7. 57 Donny Corellis (20.058), 8. 1 Stewart Friesen (20.060), 9. 21a Pete Britten (20. 072), 10. 49 Billy Dunn (20.095), 11. 34L Kim LaVoy (20.096), 12. 34 Steve Hough (20.108), 13. 9s Matt Sheppard (20.114), 14. 74 J. R. Heffner (20.137), 15. 43 Kieth Flach Jr. (20.154), 16. 11a Kyle Armstrong (20.170), 17. 98 Eddie Marshall (20.221), 18. 87x Paul Gilardi (20.236), 19. 17 Rob Pitcher (20.318), 20. 42 Kyle Sheldon (20.325), 21. 2J Ronnie Johnson (20.344), 22. 45 Wayne Jelly (20.448), 23. 55 Mike King (20.459), 24. 27J Danny Johnson (20.473), 25. 91 Billy Decker (20.484), 26. 98s Kolby Schroeder (20.576), 27. 16 Kyle Hoffman (20.582), 28. 56 Vince Vitale (20.582), 29. 3H Justin Haers (20.650), 30. 8R Rob Bellinger (20.713), 31. 10c Tim Currier (20.735), 32. 8s Rich Scagliotta (20.843), 33. 48T Dave Rauscher (20.965), 34. Matt Pupello (20.988), 35. 5* Tyler Siri (21.263), 36. 21m Bob Mcgannon (21.400), 37. 14 C. G. Morey (21.571), 38. 10s Dylan Scribner (22.272), 39. 20 Matt Quinn —
The Super DIRTcar Series and DIRTcar Racing in the Northeast Region is brought to fans by several sponsors and partners including Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels, Chevy Performance Parts, Gander Mountain, NAPA Auto Parts, Nationwide Insurance, and Safety-Kleen. Promotional partners include the University of Northwestern Ohio. Contingency sponsors are ASI, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix, ButlerBuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Intercomp, JE Pistons, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, MSD Ignition, Penske Shocks, Racing Electronics, Superflow, Vicci Racing Apparel, WIX Filters, Wrisco Industries, and Xtreme Lubricants.