Weedsport, NY — July 31, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast PR Director
When a DIRTcar Championship Series event comes to your home track, its easy to get caught up in the excitement of formulating lap strategy, speculating about track conditions and ultimately envisioning that elusive trip to victory lane.
Don Barnes is certainly looking forward to a return visit by the Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock Championship trail to his weekly hangout on the Genesee County Fairgrounds, yet the Gasport, New York driver has only one thought in mind. And its the same one he harbors every time he pulls into the pits no matter what the occasion.”
“Just be consistent and smooth,” said Barnes, who turned 37 last week, and is fresh off his first career triumph in tour competition at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park on July 3. “I never really look too far ahead, just take one race at a time. Hopefully, I’ll get some better luck this year and things will work out a bit better.”
“I usually wait until hot laps and the heats to put together a plan. After that my driving style is actually determined by the track that day, whether I need to be more aggressive or run conservative. I’ll settle for wherever I can finish, as long as I gave it my best shot,” noted Barnes, as he prepared for round three of the 2008 Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock Series shootout slated for Genesee Speedway on Saturday, August 2.
After missing from the schedule last season, Genesee is back on the Mr. DIRTcar Championship trail. That bodes well for Barnes, although two-time reigning Mr. DIRTcar points king Pete Stefanski is also the defending track champion at the Batavia, New York oval and triumphed the last time the tour was in town in 2006.
“I’ve definitely watched (Pete) a lot and learned from running behind him, but I told him someday it will be my time to get by for the win,” revealed Barnes, who has already taken a pair of checkered flags this year at Genesee; ironically four-time winner Stefanski settled for second both nights. Western New York standout Stefanski once again tops the track standings followed by Mike Martin (3 wins) with Barnes holding down third — his final ranking at Genesee in 2007.
“Pete’s a veteran and I try to run just as smooth and be as consistent as he is. He’s definitely a talent and been around awhile so he knows what it takes. I feel I’m getting close to that point as well. The key to Genesee lately has been patience on a slick track but I think being cautious running with the laps cars will be the biggest challenge on Saturday,” said Barnes, who finished eighth two years ago at Genesee when the event was held in September.
A life-long race fan with his roots taking hold around the area dirt track circuit, Barnes launched his own career in 1997 competing in the Street Stock division at nearby Ransomville Speedway. Despite witnessing the exploits of Big-Block Modified stars like brothers Alan and Danny Johnson during his infant years, he remained a staunch supporter of the full-fender ranks where he has since emerged as a solid contender during the newest millennium.
“I’m very content running a Pro Stock today, for me its an economical class and I have no plans to land an open-wheel ride,” declared Barnes, who was first introduced to stock car racing by his Newfane High School football teammates, the Kramp brothers. Ten years later, his no. 28 Original Pizza Logs-Action Race Parts & Fabrication-backed Pontiac GTO/Black Widow is recognized as one of the cars to beat in the Mr. DIRTcar title chase. “I always wanted to work on something and be able tweak things myself as I’ve been raised around the dirt tracks my whole life.”
“I’m a firm believer in the crate (motor) program. Power is costly, its still the chassis set-up that’s most important as you have to get through the corners to make a difference. To keep this division going there should be just one set of rules and freeze them. And with so many stock classes out there it would be nice to combine a few and make it easier for drivers to move up from the entry level,” Barnes figured.
Barnes has quickly made his way through the stock ranks, placing 27th in the final overall 2005 Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock standings before blossoming into a tour regular during the ’06 (11th-place, 2 top-10s) and ’07 (5th, 1 top-5) short-track campaigns. He opened the 2008 Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series with a 16th-place finish in a borrowed ride at Can-Am Motorsports Park in April before posting the memorable win at Rolling Wheels to kick off July.
“I’m looking forward to Genesee but I also can’t wait to get back to some other tracks too, I pretty much like them all when I’m running well,” added Barnes, who is employed as a Concrete Finisher Foreman for the Signature Design Group based in Amherst, New York. “I’ll be at all the Canadian shows and the banking at Cornwall makes it one of my favorites right now. The super wide sloped turns make Fulton another fun place to get around and Rolling Wheels is a great track that fits the way I like to drive. I can’t wait to get back to Canandaigua, it’s a real challenging layout but there’s obviously nothing like the Syracuse Mile. The next couple months will be filled with as much travel as racing so it can’t get much better than that.”
Genesee regulars Barnes, Stefanski and Martin are easily marked among the pre-race favorites next weekend at the tricky third-miler. And so will season-opening Can-Am Series winner Louie Jackson (8th pts.) and top-five point earners Don Carlson, Denis Gauvreau and P.J. Peters currently sandwiched between Stefanski and Barnes.
Racing at Genesee Speedway gets underway Saturday at 6 p.m. with grandstand admission beginning at 5 p.m. and pit gates swinging open at 4 o’clock. A top prize of $1,000 is on the line for the 30-lap Jack Veach Memorial tour winner with the American Cancer Society presenting the Super Six show.
For additional tour information, please contact Pro Stock Series Director Brian Mulligan (613/938-6751) or Cory Reed, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning, at the Weedsport office (315/834-6606) during normal business hours. More about the entire circuit is posted on the DIRTcar homepage at www.dirtcar.com.
Further race day material can be found at www.geneseespeedway.com or by contacting Promoter Mike Lauterborn at the track office 585/426-2430 on weekdays. Genesee Speedway (585/343-1076) is located on Route 5, one mile east of Batavia on the Genesee County Fairgrounds.
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 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.