Weedsport, NY — August 28, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast PR Director
Second-generation short-track standout Joey Ladouceur has been a fixture on the DIRTcar NorthEast UMP Pro Stock scene for the past decade. He joined his still active father, Laurent Ladouceur, to comprise the first father/son tandem that earned the group’s highest honor as he was crowned Mr. DIRTcar in 2004.
Four years have passed since Joey reached the pinnacle of the UMP Pro Stock world. He’s still chasing the checkered flag around the full-fender circuit today yet continuing to pay little attention to the possibility of someday rubbing rails with his dad in a Small-Block Modified, the same division that Laurent claimed overall high-point accolades in 1989.
“I’ve still got some goals with the Pro Stock, the competition has always been there and it’s a great ride,” said Ladouceur, 32, pilot of the familiar black Club Sweet Dreams No. 92 Minimax Express Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. “I’m pretty far back in points but I’d like to pick up a couple wins and take care of some unfinished business at Syracuse. I’ve won the pole there, led some laps, so now its time to see if I can finally win it.”
First things first as Ladouceur will be defending his home soil on Sunday, August 31 when the DIRTcar Pro Stock Series returns to Cornwall Motor Speedway for the 6th Jiffy Auto Service 50 that annually attracts the Northeast’s top traveling teams to Canada. The personable Alexandria, Ontario chauffeur captured the main event in 2003 and ’04 yet hasn’t placed in the top-five since.
“If there’s one place, one time I can stop Pete (Stefanski), its this weekend at my home track,” figured Ladouceur, who was recently crowned points champion at Cornwall for the third time. Stefanski, the current series points leader and two-time defending Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock Champion, won last year’s tour stop and carries a two-race win streak back over the border on Sunday. “I’ve been good here, maybe I can finally turn the tables on him.”
“Its been a challenge the past couple years so I’m anxious to get another series win. My wife was pregnant much of 2006 and my son was born just three days after we ran Rolling Wheels that September. Last year was miserable in terms of motor trouble and right after Super DIRT Week we broke ground on a new house. We opened this season with five engine failures through July until my sponsors (Sweet Dreams owners Junior & Tracy David) stepped up and bought an old Sportsman motor. There’s not much of a chance left chasing points but closing out the season at Cornwall with a tour win could turn it into a very good year,” noted Ladouceur, who ranks fifth all-time with eight victories in Pro Stock Series competition.
Through all the changes, Ladouceur has been a front-runner since beginning his full-fender career in 1998. That year he won 13 late model (today’s Pro Stock) feature events and garnered his first points championship at Mohawk International Raceway (then know as Frogtown Int’l Speedway) in Hogansburg, New York.
“We’ve always had a good core of drivers around here at Cornwall and (Mohawk), and now that Drummond has come aboard next year we should get a few more,” remarked Ladouceur, who has so far recorded seven wins this season to improve his lifetime mark to 57 full-fender victories, second only to Stefanski in the DIRTcar NE recordbook. “Maybe introducing the crate engines will convince more of the Street Stock guys to step up their programs.”
“I’m not against crates across the board if it will strengthen the class, my only fear is the doctoring of these motors. A sealed motor doesn’t necessarily mean it follows the rules. Tracks need to be educated about how they can be checked. I don’t mind sticking around an extra hour after the race to make sure everything is right. Being consistent with inspection is important to get more cars out and keep them coming back,” pointed out Ladouceur, who revealed a number of phone calls already reaching his shop from interested buyers. “These guys have been looking for cars, not for next year, but right now as they’ve seen what Drummond has done and want to get involved.”
Ladouceur can’t wait to take on more competition, one of the primary reasons he first joined the Pro Stock traveling team in 2002 en route to seventh-place in the final Mr. DIRTcar point standings.
“Winning is what its all about yet I enjoyed racing against a lot of the different guys a few times a year no matter where I finished. There’s a lot of good drivers today, although with different styles, and that changes the dynamics of how you race. We have a strong group of racers this year but there’s a smaller number overall on tour mainly because there are less tracks involved. And most of the drivers that compete in the series I see on a regular basis now. Instead of a lot of newcomers showing up this weekend, I’ve probably raced against most of them a lot of times and likewise, they’ve been at Cornwall more often and that gives me less of an advantage come race time,” Ladouceur said.
Ladouceur has scored feature wins in five of the nine main events staged this year at Cornwall so any advantage will be his to find on Sunday. Gilles Godard (3) and Louie Jackson are the only other Pro Stock winners in 2008 at promoter Ron Morin’s pristine quarter-mile layout so track experience is expected to pay big dividends as soon as the first green flag is unfurled.
“Cornwall is small but you still have to keep looking all around the track and be aware of everything that’s happening,” Ladouceur added. “Everything happens quick and the field can close up even quicker if you’re not paying attention. In the 50-lapper its just a matter of being patient, keeping clean and staying up near the front. Then it’s a dash for cash and see what happens at the end.”
“I’m not up in points so I don’t have anything to lose, but hopefully I can have a respectable finish and still get a good seat at the banquet. My wife has already booked a room so that’s the most pressure motivating me to finish the best I can every time out,” Ladouceur said.
Ladouceur joins the list of Cornwall regulars Gilles Godard, Roch Aubin, Dion Oakes and Ghislain Valade that are already established among the pre-race favorites on Sunday. Stefanski will lead the parade of Americans through customs, with Don Carlson, P.J. Peters, Don Barnes and Louie Jackson following closest in his tire tracks, and Frenchman Denis Gauvreau solidly in the mix as a runner-up on the points chart.
For the Jiffy Auto Service 150, including a Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Championship Series 100-lapper on Sunday at Cornwall, adult general admission grandstand tickets are $25 each, Senior Citizens (65 yrs + over) and Students (13-17 yrs) $17, and Children (12 yrs. + under) Free. The pit fee is $32 (DIRTcar member) and $35 (non-member). Qualifying heats start at 7 o’clock with pit gates unlocking at 3:30 p.m. and the main grandstands opening at 4 o’clock.
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.cornwallspeedway.com or by contacting the track office at 613/938-3945. Cornwall is located off Highway 401, East bound using exit 786 to Power Dam Drive and West bound taking exit 789 to Brookdale Avenue, then following the posted signs from both directions.
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