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Gray Earns Thrilling Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series Win At Rolling Wheels

Steve Gray
Steve Gray - Bill Moore Photo

Elbridge,NYOctober 10, 2008 – By Chris Dolack, DIRTcar VP Public Relations
*Bill Moore Photo

Steve Gray and Mark D’Ilario waged an epic duel for 30 laps on Friday night at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park.

The sixth caution of the Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman event set up a thrilling two-lap sprint to the checkered flag. Gray charged hard into the first corner on the final restart, D’Ilario stayed with him. The two pulled away from the field, Gray’s momentum carried him high into the second corner, D’Ilario powered through a groove lower. They shot down the backstretch nose-to-tail and repeated the same line on the final lap. D’Ilario looked for any chance to pounce. Gray was near perfect, driving it into the corners so hard D’Ilario had no chance to get a wheel under him. They came off the final corner and rolled to the checkered flag, with Gray ahead by three tenths of a second for his first Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman victory at the 5/8-mile oval in Elbridge, N.Y.

“I expected him to be right there,” said Gray, of Rushville, N.Y. “When I came across the line with one to go I could have swore I heard him right behind me. If I hadn’t got him on that restart I think he would have pulled away and the race would have been his. I think whoever got out front first was going to get it. The kid is a great driver.”

The two started on the front row, with Gray grabbing the initial lead before D’Ilario charged to the front on a restart with two laps complete. On another restart with five laps down, Gray went back in front and held off D’Ilario to the finish.

“I was hard on the wheel the whole race, real close the whole time, but I just couldn’t get the momentum to go by him,” said D’Ilario, of Smithville, Ontario. “I was counting on another double-file restart to try to get by him on the outside like I had done earlier. A little bit of a different gear change and I think we would have had him coming off the corner.”

Gray clearly was excited to be in victory lane after such a dramatic victory in front of a huge crowd.

“It’s awesome to win here,” he said. “I was pushing extremely hard. I didn’t want to let up the slightest bit. I thought for sure he was going to be right there. I was almost flat-footing it all the way around here. This is my first win here at Rolling Wheels so it really comes as a surprise. Mark is wicked fast and he runs an awesome line. It was a crazy one. Restarts were really critical. If I didn’t get the jump on him he was going to be out front.”

Matt Williamson, JimLaRock and Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series leader Chris Raabe rounded out the top five. Raabe used those six cautions and some hard driving to advance from 11th on the grid to a top five that not only strengthened his position atop the Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman championship standings but also should be good enough to clinch the Rolling Wheels Raceway Sportsman crown.

Following Saturday’s event at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, the next event in the Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series is slated for Friday, Oct. 17, at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Center Lisle, N.Y.

Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Race #13 – Rolling Wheels Raceway; October 10, 2008; “Super DIRT Week 30” Event Summary
Feature
FIN STR CAR# DRIVER
1 1 1F Steve Gray/Rushville, NY
2 2 08 Mark D’Ilario/Smithville, ONT
3 6 6 Matt Williamson/St. Catharines, ONT
4 7 58L Jim LaRock/Seneca Falls, NY
5 11 01 Chris Raabe/Napanee, ONT
6 4 38s Chris Susice/Ransomville, NY
7 8 5 Don Spatorico/Ransomville, NY
8 5 18 Brad Rouse/St. Catharines, ONT
9 20 0 Jipp Ortiz/Ransomville, NY
10 3 JV1 Jim Spano/Skaneateles, NY
11 16 54x Jeremy Pitcher/Fulton, NY
12 99p Greg Panunte/Port Colborne, ONT
13 21 24 Brandon Sweet/Watertown, NY
14 25 85 John Pietrowicz/Phoenix, NY
15 19 67G Eric Gugiere/Waterloo, NY
16 22 777 Tyler MacPherson/St. Catharines, NY
17 71 Mike Bowman/St. Catharines, NY
18 18 3k A.J. Kingsley/Fulton, NY
19 17D Tom Juhl/Weedsport, NY
20 9 6R Nate Reynolds/Newfane, NY
21 10 85H Robert Humphreys/Elbridge, NY
22 26 90 Ken Bearup/Redwood, NY
23 12 4SL Bob Hentschel/Pine Bush, NY
24 17 21J Jimmy Johnstone/Niagara-on-the-Lake, ONT
25 11J Justin Wright/Piffard, NY
26 14 11X Anthony Fiorentino/Watertown, NY
27 24 26h Luke Carleton/Port Colborne, NY
28 23 52 James Friesen/St. Catharines, ONT
29 17 2L Loren Lincoln/South Bristol, NY
30 13 M1 Dave Marcuccilli/Cayuga, NY
31 172 Bryan Davis/Voorheesville, NY

EVENT SUMMARY
LAP LEADERS: Gray (1-2, 6-30), D’lario (3-5).
CAUTIONS: 6 (lap 2, lap 4, lap 6, lap 10, lap 16, lap 28).
HEAT WINNERS: Spatorico, Spano, D’Ilario, Gray and Rouse.
CONSI WINNERS: Sweet, MacPherson.
CARS ENTERED: 50.
NEXT EVENTS: New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Oct. 11.Thunder Mountain Speedway Center, Lisle, N.Y., Friday, Oct. 17.

2008 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Schedule
*All events subject to change.
DAY-DATE LAPS TRACK LOCATION/WINNER
Sat-Apr 5 50 Black Rock Speedway Larry Wight
Mon-May 26 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Dan Wiesner
Thr-Jul 3 20 Rolling Wheels Raceway Mark D’Ilario
Thr-Jul 3 20 Rolling Wheels Raceway Todd Town
Fri-Jul 4 30 Brewerton Speedway Chris Hile
Thr-Jul 10 30 Brockville Ont. Speedway Chris Raabe
Mon-Sep 1 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Mike Ruggiero
Sat-Sep 6 50 Merrittville Speedway Brad Rouse
Fri-Sep 12 50 Ransomville Speedway Rain-Cancelled
Sat-Sep 13 30 Genesee Speedway Rain-Cancelled
Fri-Sep 19 50 Humberstone Speedway Greg Panunte
Sat-Sep 20 45 Canandaigua Speedway Kevin Ridley
Sat-Sep 27 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway G. Panunte/Sammy Reakes IV
Fri-Oct 4 30 Fulton Speedway Jeremy Wilder
Wed-Oct 8 30 Can-Am Motorsports Park Rain
Fri-Oct 10 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Steve Gray
Sat-Oct 11 30 N.Y. State Fairgrounds Syracuse, NY
Sat-Oct 18 50 Orange Co. Fair Speedway Middletown, NY

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.