Weedsport, NY — April 15, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast PR Director
Reigning Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock points king Pete Stefanski will have history on his side when he opens the 2008 title chase at Can-Am Motorsports Park on Saturday, April 19. A decade of experience behind the wheel of stock car should only bolster his chances when the 14th Mr. DIRTcar Championship gets underway this weekend at the popular LaFargeville, New York layout.
The two-time defending Mr. DIRTcar Champion won the only other Pro Stock tour event staged at Can-Am in 2005 and the Wheatfield, New York chauffeur is once again an early season favorite to wear a third straight overall crown — although that feat has never been accomplished in any DIRTcar NorthEast touring division during the past 32 years.
“I’ve heard a few people mention it but we really haven’t even thought about the record,” admitted Stefanski, 37, who captured the ‘06 tour opener at Genesee Speedway en route to his initial Mr. DIRTcar Championship. DIRTcar NorthEast’s all-time Pro Stock feature winner (66) has racked up 12 of his 14 Series wins over the past four seasons to rank second behind only Western New York rival Jipp Ortiz (17), an ‘06 graduate into the Sportsman Modified ranks.
“We want to win every race we’re in, so that’s all we really worry about, doing the best we can every time out. We’re confident the end result (Mr. DIRT) will take care of itself. It’s an even bigger challenge knowing you’re in a marked car each race but at the same time I think it keeps the team more on its toes. Winning three in a row would definitely be awesome but I thought two straight was pretty amazing, normally something unheard of with so many good drivers out there. Every year you have to be a little better so we’re hoping 2008 will be our best yet,” said Stefanski, who entered 32 events last season and drove away with an impressive count of a DIRTcar NE best 17 feature wins.
No doubt the familiar Sunrise Racing no. 2 San Ter Sewing-Sunrise II Sport Fishing-PJ NFB Auto Sales Chevrolet Monte Carlo entry will be attracting the most attention throughout the year. Stefanski has already countered by purchasing an EMS (Eric’s Machine Shop) Chassis with a brand new JACR mount —the same type that carried him to titles the past two seasons— waiting in the wings as a reliable back-up. His primary powerplant is still provided by fellow tour regulars Allen and P.J. Peters.
“I’m expecting the circuit to be even tougher this season and the odds against to be even greater. But the rules have really helped us using the rev limiter. We’ve never been able to rely on horsepower and always got the job done with better handling. Our biggest goal is to stay competitive and be a consistent runner, of course winning always helps. I’m fortunate to have a group of guys that know what they’re doing. When we get to the track there’s very little work that has to be done. And when you arrive prepared there’s no scrambling on race day and you can focus on what you need to do out on the track,” added Stefanski, who singled out his wife April and brothers Rob and Jim as the backbone of the team 12 months a year.
Joining Stefanski in his bid for the prestigious Mr. DIRTcar Championship are ’07 points runner-up and opening day winner Allen Peters, former Syracuse Super DIRT Week champion Louie Jackson and Western New Yorker Don Barnes. North country standouts Roch Aubin, Dion Oakes, P.J. Peters, Denis Gauvreau and Jack Terrell rounded out the top-10 on the overall points chart and all are expected back to challenge for the coveted title.
Can-Am’s 2008 lid-lifter on Saturday gets underway at 7 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 25-lap tour winner with sister track Thunder Alley Speedpark in nearby Evans Mills, New York kicking off the weekend on Friday with its first UMP/DIRTcar Pro Stock main event paying $500 to win.
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.
Track information can be found at www.canammotorsports.com or by contacting Race Director Chip Burdick at 315/778-3407. Can-Am Motorsports Park is located off of NYS Route 411 and can be reached from the east or west by traveling the NYS Thruway to I-81 (Exit 36). Take I-81 North or South to Rt. 411 (Exit 49), then head west four miles.
Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock Championship Series Opening Day Top-5s
DATE TRACK FIRST – SECOND – THIRD – FOURTH – FIFTH
5/6/07 Rolling Wheels Allen Peters – Louie Jackson – Don Barnes – Bob Buono – Roch Aubin
9/10/06 Genesee Pete Stefanski – Clayton Benedict – Steve Miller – Louie Jackson – J. Ladouceur
5/15/05 Rolling Wheels Joe Stefanski,Jr. – Lee Burnett – Jipp Ortiz – Bob Buono – Clayton Benedict
5/16/04 Rolling Wheels Joey Ladouceur – Daryl Hilkert – James Henry – Lee Burnett – Frank Guererri,Jr.
5/18/03 Rolling Wheels Tom Barron – Pete Stefanski – Phil Retter – Dave Schulz – Jipp Ortiz
6/9/02 Cayuga County Dave Schulz – Tom Barron – Joey Ladouceur – Jon Miller – Scott Kerwin
5/20/01 Rolling Wheels Andy Dembek – Tom Barron – Jim Langenback – Mike Halachik – Wayne Ellison
5/21/00 Rolling Wheels Jipp Ortiz – Joe Stefanski,Jr. – T.J. Fitzgibbons – Bret Belden – Mark Schulz
5/16/99 Rolling Wheels Tom Kuck – T.J. Fitzgibbons – Randy Miller – Dave Schulz – Mike Watkins
5/17/98 Rolling Wheels Andy Dembek – Tom Barron – Ricky Breed – Bill Hallett – Steve Pesarek
5/18/97 Rolling Wheels Kenny Martin – Jim Burton – Phlan Hart – Rob Noviczski – Les Whyte
6/9/96 Fonda Bryan Peters – Mark Lighthall – Jim Burton – Kenny Gates – Kevin Munson
5/7/95 Fonda Phlan Hart – Rob Noviczski – Bill Lease – Chobby Culver – Mike Watkins
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.