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Young & Old Savor Syracuse Advance Auto Parts Modified Triple 20s Victories

Brett Hearn
Brett Hearn

Syracuse,NY — The Advance Auto Parts DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Triple 20 qualifying heats held at the New York State Fairgrounds on Friday offered a glimpse of the new and the old — for race fans attending the 37th edition of Super DIRT Week on the Syracuse Mile it was a chance to reminisce about what once was, what is now, and what may become in the seasons ahead.

Spanning two-generations of success at the historic Syracuse Mile, veteran Jack Johnson earned a popular victory in the 20-mile opener while rising star Matt Sheppard copped the second leg and all-time Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Champion Brett Hearn topped the field in round three. Johnson had not won a qualifier at the fairgrounds since 1997 while Hearn’s most recent heat win was his 14th in the Salt City. Sheppard’s riple 20 triumph worth $4,000 was only his second since joining the Big-Block ranks in the new millennium.

“I love this place, especially when you’re fast,” remarked Johnson, who turned 64 in September and competed in the inaugural Syracuse show in 1972 (finished 8th) then went on to capture Rite Aid crowns in 1979 and 1984. Prior to not starting last year’s 200-lapper, the Duanesburg, New York veteran only missed out on the 1983 race. “If you’re not fast it’s a tough place. Right now I feel pretty good.”

“I’ve got a heckuva team behind me, these guys worked really hard just to get the car here. Its actually Ronnie’s (Jack’s son) car from last year so its a good piece. I feel bad for Timmy (Fuller) on that restart, it was a tough break, but that’s the way it goes I guess,” added Johnson, who will start ninth in Sunday’s Rite Aid 200 with his son Ronnie filling alongside in 10th spot on the 45-car grid.

The elder Johnson started fifth in the opening heat and watched as runner-up Jimmy Phelps shredded a right rear tire to end his day and leader Fuller was docked two positions for jumping for the second time on a lap nine restart. Johnson had overtaken Kenny Tremont and Dale Planck in the early stages and found himself at the head of class after Fuller was dismissed early prior to the halfway point. From there, Jumpin’ Jack held off Tremont, Fuller, Moody Mile master Billy Decker and third-generation Canadian chauffeur Stewart Friesen to park the familiar orange Witz Roofing no. 12A Palmer’s Service-Krug Builders/TEO mount in victory lane.

Ronnie Johnson out-dragged pole-sitter Sheppard down the front stretch to begin the second qualifier before Ron Smoker, Jason Herrington and Casey Swamp made contact in the first turn to force out the first yellow flag. Johnson chose the inside lane on the restart and once Sheppard beat his front row partner to the first corner only second-place was up grabs the remainder of the way.

“Wow, those restarts were something else … a little scary and a little slick getting into turn one,” said Sheppard, 26, a past winner of both the Sportsman Modified and 358-Modified mains during Super DIRT Week with only the Rite Aid 200 missing from his portfolio. The Waterloo, New Yorker starts outside the front row on Sunday to begin his latest quest at Syracuse. “I thought I had Ronnie the first time, he just snuck around me and I don’t know how. He got it sideways and I was sideways but he got it to stick. Then I was up top and was able to sneak back around him. From there on out the car was perfect,” Sheppard said.

Once ahead of the pack, Sheppard and Johnson pulled away at will, leaving Mitch Gibbs, J.R. Heffner and Jason Barney to battle for front-five positions almost a straightaway behind.

Hearn took advantage of his pole-position start to lead the distance in the third and final Advance Auto Parts Triple 20, surviving no less than four caution periods in the longest qualifier of the afternoon on the Syracuse Mile.

“That’s a pretty good day,” summed up Hearn, 50, after ending the day with his second checkered flag that resulted in a $5,000 payday for the 1978 Rite Aid 200 rookie of the race and the winningest driver in the history of the storied State Fairgrounds oval. “I’ve got great people behind me paying attention to all the details and this right here is why.”

“But I’ve been down this road before when everything is clicking until Sunday arrives. Anything can happen here and usually does. This car has been so smooth I really enjoy driving it. Right now my guys are going to go back and work their butts off and get ready for Sunday, that’s when we find out how good things really are this week,” added Hearn, after sweeping both Big-Block and Small-Block qualifying heats on the same day for the sixth time in his career. The five-time Rite Aid 200 winner will file into third on Sunday’s starting grid looking for his 101st Advance Series victory, this being the biggest as a $50,000 grand-prize goes to the 200-mile winner.

Hearn never trailed in his heat and following in his shadow across the stripe were young wheelmen Vince Vitale, Justin Haers and Bobby Varin, with each earning a coveted starting berth in the richest DIRTcar Modified event in the Northeast.

Time trials (6), Lebanon Valley 200 winner (1), Rolling Wheels 200 winner(1), qualifying races (30), BRP Tour winner and two guaranteed starters from the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series bring the total to 41 cars before the ‘Dig Safely New York Shootout’ last-chance consolation round on Sunday morning and Saturday night shootout at Cayuga County Fair Speedway complete the 45-car starting grid for Sunday’s headline Rite Aid 200 finale scheduled for 2:15 p.m.

SUPER DIRT WEEK XXXVII MODIFIED TRIPLE 20s RESULTS
Advance Auto Parts Heat #1
FIN CAR# DRIVER
1 12A Jack Johnson/Duanesburg,NY
2 115 Kenny Tremont/West Sand Lake,NY
3 19F Tim Fuller/Edwards,NY
4 91 Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY
5 44 Stewart Friesen/Niagara-o-t-Lake,ONT
6 77X Dale Planck/Cortland,NY
7 26 Ryan Godown/Ringoes,NJ
8 98 Eddie Marshall/Ridgefield,CT
9 35 Mike Perrotte/Elizabethtown,NY
10 44C Frank Cozze/Wind Gap,PA
11 1H David Hebert/St.Damase,QUE
12 42P Pat Ward/Genoa,NY
13 28P Eldon Payne,Jr./Hopewell,NY
14 16 Mike Bowman/Baldwinsville,NY
15 87x Paul Gilardi/Pittsfield,MA
16 347 George ‘Skippy’ Fox/Springfield,MA
17 M40 Mark Forte Jr./Blue Anchor,NJ
18 22 Larry Lampman Jr./Port Colborne,ONT
19 21M Bob McGannon/Garnerville,NY
20 98H Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY
21 96 Todd Milton/Auburn,NY
22 42 Pete Bicknell/St.Catharines,ONT

Advance Auto Parts Heat #2
FIN CAR# DRIVER
1 9S Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY
2 2 Ronnie Johnson/Duanesburg,NY
3 55 Mitch Gibbs/North Norwich,NY
4 88 J.R. Heffner/Pittsfield,MA
5 35X Jason Barney/Constantia,NY
6 4 Duane Howard/Oley,PA
7 99 Ryan Phelps/Fulton,NY
8 57 Donnie Corellis/Averill Park,NY
9 14 Rick Laubach/Hellertown,PA
10 32C Vic Coffey/Leicester,NY
11 7 Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ
12 48too Dave Rauscher/Waterloo,NY
13 88H Steve Hulsizer/Bridgeport,NY
14 29 Jeff Brownell Jr./Geneva,NY
15 37 Jason Herrington/Troy,NY
16 24 Chris Shultz/Pawling,NY
17 3B Chad Brachmann/Sanborn,NY
18 44S Casey Swamp/Akwesasne,NY
19 1NY Greg Atkins/Clintonville,NY
20 220 John Ferrier/Middletown,NY
21 14J Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY
22 7X Steve Paine/Waterloo,NY
23 62R Ron Smoker/Hamburg,NY

Advance Auto Parts Heat #3
FIN CAR# DRIVER
1 20 Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ
2 49 Billy Dunn/Watertown,NY
3 56 Vince Vitale/Phoenix,NY
4 3 Justin Haers/Phelps,NY
5 1 Bobby Varin/Sharon Springs,NY
6 84 Gary Tomkins/Clifton Springs,NY
7 J66 Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY
8 99L Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY
9 53 Ric Hill/Lafayette,NJ
10 41 Shawn Reimert / Oley,PA
11 19H Chris Higgins/Syracuse,NY
12 FX1 Frankie Caprara/Watertown,NY
13 83 Brian Swartzlander/Leechburg,PA
14 37X Tom Scheetz Jr./Boyertown,PA
15 87 Hector Stratton/Bennington,VT
16 02 Roy Bresnahan/Fulton,NY
17 66 Vince Gagliardo Jr./Reading,PA
18 43 Keith Flach/Ravena,NY
DNS 34 Andy Bachetti/Great Barrington,MA
DNS 21 Yan Bussiere/Drummondville,QUE
DNS 4S Brad Shova/North Bangor,NY
DNS 66X Carey Terrance/Hogansburg,NY

SUPER DIRT WEEK XXXVII MODIFIED NON-QUALIFIERS RACE LINE-UP (Oct. 12)
Dig Safely New York Shootout – 3 Qualify
ST CAR# DRIVER
1 02 Roy Bresnahan/Fulton,NY
2 42P Pat Ward/Genoa,NY
3 88H Steve Hulsizer/Bridgeport,NY
4 37X Tom Scheetz Jr./Boyertown,P
5 28P Eldon Payne,Jr./Hopewell,NY
6 29 Jeff Brownell Jr./Geneva,NY
7 87 Hector Stratton/Bennington,VT
8 16 Mike Bowman/Baldwinsville,NY
9 37 Jason Herrington/Troy,NY
10 66 Vince Gagliardo Jr./Reading,PA
11 87x Paul Gilardi/Pittsfield,MA
12 24 Chris Shultz/Pawling,NY
13 347 George ‘Skippy’ Fox/Springfield,MA
14 3B Chad Brachmann/Sanborn,NY
15 M40 Mark Forte Jr./Blue Anchor,NJ
16 44S Casey Swamp/Akwesasne,NY
17 22 Larry Lampman Jr./Port Colborne,ONT
18 1NY Greg Atkins/Clintonville,NY
19 21M Bob McGannon/Garnerville,NY
20 220 John Ferrier/Middletown,NY
21 96 Todd Milton/Auburn,NY
22 62R Ron Smoker/Hamburg,NY
23 42 Pete Bicknell/St.Catharines,ONT

2008 MODIFIED RITE AID 200 STARTING LINE-UP
STR CAR# DRIVER
1 98H Jimmy Phelps / Baldwinsville,NY
1 19F Tim Fuller/Edwards,NY
2 9S Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY
3 20 Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ
4 98H Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY
5 55 Mitch Gibbs/North Norwich,NY
6 43 Keith Flach/Ravena,NY
7 34 Andy Bachetti/Great Barrington,MA
8 14J Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY
9 12A Jack Johnson/Duanesburg,NY
10 2 Ronnie Johnson/Duanesburg,NY
11 49 Billy Dunn/Watertown,NY
12 115 Kenny Tremont/West Sand Lake,NY
13 88 J.R. Heffner/Pittsfield,MA
14 56 Vince Vitale/Phoenix,NY
15 91 Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY
16 35X Jason Barney/Constantia,NY
17 3 Justin Haers/Phelps,NY
18 44 Stewart Friesen/Niagara-o-t-Lake,ONT
19 4 Duane Howard/Oley,PA
20 1 Bobby Varin/Sharon Springs,NY
21 77X Dale Planck/Cortland,NY
22 99 Ryan Phelps/Fulton,NY
23 84 Gary Tomkins/Clifton Springs,NY
24 26 Ryan Godown/Ringoes,NJ
25 57 Donnie Corellis/Averill Park,NY
26 J66 Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY
27 98 Eddie Marshall/Ridgefield,CT
28 14 Rick Laubach/Hellertown,PA
29 99L Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY
30 35 Mike Perrotte/Elizabethtown,NY
31 32C Vic Coffey/Leicester,NY
32 53 Ric Hill/Lafayette,NJ
33 44C Frank Cozze/Wind Gap,PA
34 7 Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ
35 41 Shawn Reimert / Oley,PA
36 1H David Hebert/St.Damase,QUE
37 48too Dave Rauscher/Waterloo,NY
38 19H Chris Higgins/Syracuse,NY
39 FX1 Frankie Caprara/Watertown,NY
40 83 Brian Swartzlander/Leechburg,PA
41 7X Steve Paine/Waterloo,NY
*Top-6 locked in from Thursday time trials;
*Position 7 locked in from Lebanon Valley 200;
*Position 8 locked in from Rolling Wheels 200;
*Positions 9-38 locked in from Friday Advance Auto Parts Triple-20s;
*Positions 39 & 41 filled in by Series Guaranteed Starters;
*Position 40 filled in by BRP Tour Champion;
*Positions 42-44 filled from Sunday Dig Safely New York Shootout Non-Qualifiers race;
*Position 45 filled by Cayuga County event points winner;

SUPER DIRT WEEK XXXVII EVENTS SCHEDULE: Oct. 11 – Oct. 12, 2008
*All tmes and events subject to change.
DAY-DATE TIME EVENT
Sat-10/11 8am Pit Gates Open, BNC Motorsports Pro Stock Inspection Open;
9:00am Syracuse 150 358-Modified Championship Driver and Crew Chief Meeting (in pit building);
9:15am Town Mechanical, Inc. Sportsman Driver’s Meeting (in pit building);
9:30am Grandstands Open, Track open for Syracuse 150 358-Modified Final Practice;
10am BNC Motorsports Pro Stock First Practice;
10:30am Town Mechanical, Inc. Sportsman Final Practice;
11:15am BNC Motorsports Pro Stock Practice Second Practice;
11:45am Dig Safely New York Sportsman Last Chance Qualifier;
12:15pm Terrell’s Potato Chips Pro Stock Time Trials (2-laps, Top-24 Qualify);
1:30pm Syracuse 150 358-Modified Championship Pre-Race ceremonies;
2pm Syracuse 358-Modified Championship (150 laps, 40 cars to start);
4pm Town Mechanical, Inc. Sportsman Championship (30 laps, 30 cars to start);
7pm ESS/URC/ASCS PSG Sprint Challenge at Rolling Wheels Raceway.
7:30pm Pullen’s Truck Center presents the SUNY Canton “Win and You’re In” Big-Block/Small-Block Twin 25’s plus BRP CanAm Late Model Series at Cayuga County Fair Speedway (Mod Overall Winner Earns 45th starting spot in the Rite Aid 200).

Sun-10/12 8am Pit Gates Open;
9:15am BNC Motorsports Pro Stock Driver’s Meeting (in pit building);
9:30am AAP Rite Aid 200 Modified Driver and Crew Chief Meeting (in pit building);
10am Grandstands Open, Track Open for Pro Stock Final Practice;
10:20am Advance Auto Parts Series Rite Aid 200 Final practice;
10:45am Dig Safely New York Pro Stock Last Chance Qualifier;
11:15am Dig Safely New York Modified Last Chance Qualifier;
11:45am Mandatory Advance Auto Parts Modified Top-30 Autograph Signing under grandstand (Top 30 in Thursday Time Trials);
12:00pm BNC Motorsports Pro Stock Championship (25 laps, 30 cars to start);
12:45-1:45pm Rite Aid Cold Pit Tour of Pit Row;
1:30pm Rite Aid 200 Modified Championship Pre-Race ceremonies;
2:15pm Rite Aid 200 Modified Championship (200 laps, 44 cars to start)

Mon-10/13 -TBA- Rain Date for Saturday or Sunday events.

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 and Sunoco Race Fuels. Promotional partners include AMB i.t., Rite Aid Corporation and the University of Northwestern Ohio and the contingency sponsors are Bert Transmission, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Crane Cams, Integra Shocks, MSD Ignitions, Motorsports Safety Systems, Penske Shocks and Wrisco Industries.

SUPER DIRT WEEK XXXVII MODIFIED TRIPLE 20s @ NYS Fairgrounds, Oct. 10
RACE RESULTS

Advance Auto Parts Heat #1
FIN CAR# DRIVER
1 12A Jack Johnson/Duanesburg,NY
2 115 Kenny Tremont/West Sand Lake,NY
3 19F Tim Fuller/Edwards,NY
4 91 Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY
5 44 Stewart Friesen/Niagara-o-t-Lake,ONT
6 77X Dale Planck/Cortland,NY
7 26 Ryan Godown/Ringoes,NJ
8 98 Eddie Marshall/Ridgefield,CT
9 35 Mike Perrotte/Elizabethtown,NY
10 44C Frank Cozze/Wind Gap,PA
11 1H David Hebert/St.Damase,QUE
12 42P Pat Ward/Genoa,NY
13 28P Eldon Payne,Jr./Hopewell,NY
14 16 Mike Bowman/Baldwinsville,NY
15 87x Paul Gilardi/Pittsfield,MA
16 347 George ‘Skippy’ Fox/Springfield,MA
17 M40 Mark Forte Jr./Blue Anchor,NJ
18 22 Larry Lampman Jr./Port Colborne,ONT
19 21M Bob McGannon/Garnerville,NY
20 98H Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY
21 96 Todd Milton/Auburn,NY
22 42 Pete Bicknell/St.Catharines,ONT

Advance Auto Parts Heat #2
FIN CAR# DRIVER
1 9S Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY
2 2 Ronnie Johnson/Duanesburg,NY
3 55 Mitch Gibbs/North Norwich,NY
4 88 J.R. Heffner/Pittsfield,MA
5 35X Jason Barney/Constantia,NY
6 4 Duane Howard/Oley,PA
7 99 Ryan Phelps/Fulton,NY
8 57 Donnie Corellis/Averill Park,NY
9 14 Rick Laubach/Hellertown,PA
10 32C Vic Coffey/Leicester,NY
11 7 Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ
12 48too Dave Rauscher/Waterloo,NY
13 88H Steve Hulsizer/Bridgeport,NY
14 29 Jeff Brownell Jr./Geneva,NY
15 37 Jason Herrington/Troy,NY
16 24 Chris Shultz/Pawling,NY
17 3B Chad Brachmann/Sanborn,NY
18 44S Casey Swamp/Akwesasne,NY
19 1NY Greg Atkins/Clintonville,NY
20 220 John Ferrier/Middletown,NY
21 14J Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY
22 7X Steve Paine/Waterloo,NY
23 62R Ron Smoker/Hamburg,NY

Advance Auto Parts Heat #3
FIN CAR# DRIVER
1 20 Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ
2 49 Billy Dunn/Watertown,NY
3 56 Vince Vitale/Phoenix,NY
4 3 Justin Haers/Phelps,NY
5 1 Bobby Varin/Sharon Springs,NY
6 84 Gary Tomkins/Clifton Springs,NY
7 J66 Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY
8 99L Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY
9 53 Ric Hill/Lafayette,NJ
10 41 Shawn Reimert / Oley,PA
11 19H Chris Higgins/Syracuse,NY
12 FX1 Frankie Caprara/Watertown,NY
13 83 Brian Swartzlander/Leechburg,PA
14 37X Tom Scheetz Jr./Boyertown,PA
15 87 Hector Stratton/Bennington,VT
16 02 Roy Bresnahan/Fulton,NY
17 66 Vince Gagliardo Jr./Reading,PA
18 43 Keith Flach/Ravena,NY
DNS 34 Andy Bachetti/Great Barrington,MA
DNS 21 Yan Bussiere/Drummondville,QUE
DNS 4S Brad Shova/North Bangor,NY
DNS 66X Carey Terrance/Hogansburg,NY