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Panunte Wins Over World In Rolling Wheels Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series

Greg Panunte
Greg Panunte - Alex Bruce Photo

Elbridge, NYSeptember 27, 2008 – By Dave Medler, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast Series Correspondent

Greg Panunte out of Port Colborne, Ontario became the first two-time Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series race winner this season, leading flag-to-flag in the Taylor Rental 30 on Saturday night at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park. Panunte grabbed the lead on the opening lap and never looked back in the 30-lap event yet the win was anything but easy for the Canadian as he had to hold off challenges from fellow countryman Chris Raabe to grace victory lane.

“I could hear (Raabe), for some reason his car is louder than mine, it was the same way last Friday night at Humberstone when we won,” remarked Panunte after collecting his second $1,000 victory in nine days aboard the no. 99P Montgomery Gas, Heating & Cooling-Gaston’s Auto Sales/Bicknell entry. “Tonight he was going to have to go around me, I wasn’t moving off the bottom. “It’s my first win here and that makes even more special.”

Panunte out-raced pole-sitter Marcus Dinkins to starter Matt Burdick’s initial green flag to lead the opening lap of the 30-lap feature. By time the 32-car field had exited turn two the Port Colborne, Ontario veteran had opened a six car-length advantage on the lead pack to set the early pace.

And by lap five Panunte was on rails on the tacky 5/8-mile surface, opening up a 2.5-second advantage over Dinkins and Sammy Reakes IV while Tommy Juhl and Eric Giguere ran a distant fourth and fifth.

Two laps later, the first caution of the race occurred as turn two became a parking lot on lap seven. Mark D’Ilario slid wide high exiting turn one and Justin Wright slammed in with no place to go when D’Ilario came back down trying to straighten his mount. Wright and Luke Carleton were both taken pitside on the hook for the remainder while Tim Sears Jr. fired back up. Another quick yellow flag flew the following circuit for Darryl Hilkert although he was able to rejoin the back of the field.

When the field was back under green, Panunte was like a rocket ship as he opened another comfortable lead, with Chris Raabe and Reakes both getting by Dinkins and setting their sights on the leader. Juhl slowed on lap 15 with mud in his wheel and at the halfway point of the race Panunte, Raabe, Reakes, Dinkins and Mike Bowman paraded at the front of the pack.

On the restart Panunte wasn’t able to get quite the jump he did before, as this time Raabe and Super DIRT Week ’07 winner Reakes stayed right on the leader making it a three-car battle for the top spot. D’Ilario slid down the infield of the front stretch to incur the fourth caution period and once again Panunte got a great restart and opened up over a 1.0-second lead over Raabe and Reakes as Dinkins and Bowman ran in the top-five trying to close the gap on the top-three.

Casey Williams got out of shape in turn two on lap 24 launching his car over the inside jersey barrier going into a barrel roll landing on all fours to create a red flag situation. Williams was okay but his car sustained heavy damage and the Vernon, New York driver was done for the night.

A trio of pilots —Mat Williamson, Justin Sharp and Tyler McPherson— from St. Catharines, Ontario tangled in turn two to bring out the caution lights for a final time on lap 27, setting up a three-lap dash to the finish.

Over the final laps Raabe could stay with Panunte but was unable to mount a serious threat as Panunte was first under the checkers. Raabe, Reakes, Dinkins and Giguere completed the front-five while Bowman, Jeremy Pitcher, John Pietrowicz, Williamson and Dan Wiesner rounded out the top-10.

“I couldn’t do it without my guys especially my brother in-law as he put 20 hours in this week on the car. We’re a very low dollar team and do the best with what we got,” commented the winner about the crate engine making everyone equal, not who can out-spend who. “Some days the hard work pays off and some days it doesn’t. Today it did.”

Round number 12 of the Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series is slated for Fulton Speedway in a return trip to Central New York as part of the 23rd Schneider Brothers 200 Weekend on Friday, October 3.

Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Race #11 – Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, September 27, 2008 ‘Taylor Rental 30’ Event Summary
Feature
FIN STR CAR# DRIVER
1 2 99p Greg Panunte/Port Colborne,ONT($1,000)
2 5 01 Chris Raabe/Napanee,ONT
3 6 17k Sammy Reakes IV/Palermo,NY
4 1 17 Marcus Dinkins/Watkins Glen,NY
5 7 67g Eric Giguere/Waterloo,NY
6 8 71 Mike Bowman/St.Catharines,ONT
7 12 14 Jeremy Pitcher/Fulton,NY
8 13 85 John Pietrowicz/Phoenix,NY
9 15 6 Mat Williamson/St.Catharines,ONT
10 11 66 Dan Wiesner/Geneva,NY
11 21 5 Don Spatorico/Ransomville,NY
12 24 52 James Friesen/St.Catharines,ONT
13 25 m1 David Marcuccilli/Cayuga,NY
14 20 83x Tim Sears Jr./Central Square,NY
15 26 08 Mark D’Ilario/Smithville,ONT
16 23 10 Tim Currier/Auburn,NY
17 22 24 Brandon Sweet/Watertown,NY
18 27 11 Ben Wheeler/Genoa,NY
19 17 17t Todd Town/Jordan,NY
20 4 17d Tom Juhl/Weedsport,NY
21 31 51x Tyler McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT
22 29 4 Daryl Hilkert/Potter,NY
23 9 38 Ryan Susice/Ransomville,NY
24 10 74 Matt Billings/Brockville,ONT
25 3 8s Justin Sharp/St.Catharines,ONT
26 19 20x Kevin Ridley/Geneva,NY
27 30 24a A.J. Lewis/Stony Creek,ONT
28 28 1x Casey Williams/Vernon,NY
29 16 jvs1 Jim Spano/Skaneateles,NY
30 32 12 Chad Chevalier/Port Colborne,ONT
31 14 26h Luke Carleton/Port Colborne,ONT
32 18 11jr. Justin Wright/Piffard,NY
DID NOT QUALIFY(9)
3m-Henry Maier/Spencerport,NY
11a-Anthony Fiorentino/Watertown,NY
17a-Alan Fink/Pennellville,NY
17m-Mark Olmstead Jr./Elbridge,NY
21-Randy McCulloch/Romulus,NY
22-Greg Cool/Geneva,NY
51x-Cody McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT
72-Rob Lerch/Romulus,NY
85hBob Humphreys/Elbridge,NY
EVENT SUMMARY:
LAP LEADER: Panunte (1-30).
CAUTIONS: 5 (lap 7, lap 8, lap 15, lap 20, lap 27); 1 RED FLAG (lap 24).
HEAT WINNERS: Panunte, Pitcher, Sharp, Raabe.
CONSI WINNERS: Spatorico, Sweet.
SYRACUSE TOWN MECHANICAL 30 QUALIFIER: Sammy Reakes IV.
HOLLEY HARD LUCK: Kevin Ridley.
CARS ENTERED: 41.
NEXT EVENT: Fulton Speedway – October 3, 2008.

QUALIFYING
Heat Races (8 laps, 5 transferred to feature, top 3 went to re-draw)
#1: Panunte, Susice, Bowman, Pietrowicz, Town, Currier, Cool, Wheeler, Maier, C.McPherson(DNS).
#2: Pitcher, Giguere, Juhl, Carleton, Wright, Spatorico, Marcuccilli, Hilkert, McCulloch, Chevalier.
#3: Sharp, Reakes, Wiesner, Williamson, Ridley, T.McPherson, D’Ilario, Williams, Lewis, Olmstead.
#4: Raabe, Dinkins, Billings, Spano, Sears, Sweet, Friesen, Fiorentino, Humphreys, Fink, Lerch (DNS).
Consis (8 laps, 5 transferred to feature)
#1: Spatorico, Currier, Marcuccilli, Wheeler, Hilkert, McCulloch, Chevalier, Maier, Cool, C.McPherson(DNS).
#2: Sweet, Friesen, D’Ilario, Williams, Lewis, Fink, Fiorentino, Olmstead, Humphreys, T.McPherson, Lerch (DNS).
Guarantee: T.McPherson.
Provisional: Chevalier.

Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series Point Standings (Through Sept. 27, 2008)
Rank No Driver Total Series Bonus Diff Wins T-5 T-10 Sts
1 01 Chris Raabe 1,039 739 300 0 1 6 8 10
2 66 Dan Wiesner 979 699 280 -60 1 5 6 11
3 99p Greg Panunte 970 690 280 -69 2 3 6 11
4 71 Mike Bowman 918 634 284 -121 0 3 6 10
5 85 John Pietrowicz 914 632 282 -125 0 2 6 11
6 08 Mark D’Ilario 914 666 248 -125 1 4 5 11
7 777 Tyler McPherson 912 634 278 -127 0 2 6 11
8 6 Mat Williamson 880 624 256 -159 0 2 4 11
9 14 Jeremy Pitcher 870 586 284 -169 0 1 6 10
10 19w Justin Wright 848 574 274 -191 0 1 2 11
11 67g Eric Giguere 837 567 270 -202 0 3 3 11
12 52 James Friesen 811 519 292 -228 0 3 4 7
13 12 Chad Chevalier 728 464 264 -311 0 0 3 9
14 10 Tim Currier 653 385 268 -386 0 0 0 9
15 20x Kevin Ridley 653 375 278 -386 1 1 3 7
16 2x Rob Knapp 603 345 258 -436 0 0 1 8
17 17k Sam Reakes IV 598 318 280 -441 0 2 3 6
18 2L Loren Lincoln 558 316 242 -481 0 2 3 6
19 29g Steve Gray 528 244 284 -511 0 1 2 5
20 140 Mark Dixon 521 341 180 -518 0 0 1 8
21 4 Daryl Hilkert 510 256 254 -529 0 0 0 6
22 17T Todd Town 505 261 244 -534 1 2 3 5
23 26h Luke Carleton 502 258 244 -537 0 0 0 6
24 24 Brandon Sweet 490 198 292 -549 0 0 1 3
25 21JJ Jimmy Johnstone 481 241 240 -558 0 0 2 4
26 17 Marcus Dinkins 479 227 252 -560 0 1 2 3
27 2K Chris Hile 475 225 250 -564 1 1 1 4
28 M1 Dave Marcuccilli® 473 201 272 -566 0 0 0 5
29 18R Brad Rouse 462 172 290 -577 1 1 2 2
30 8s Justin Sharp 460 186 274 -579 0 0 0 4
31 06 Brandon Easey 454 184 270 -585 0 0 2 3
32 70 Brady Fultz 447 151 296 -592 0 0 1 3
33 vs1 Jim Spano 446 190 256 -593 0 1 1 4
34 38w Luke Whitteker® 439 187 252 -600 0 0 1 4
35 5 Don Spatorico 434 150 284 -605 0 1 1 2
36 06 Jordan Bennett 428 160 268 -611 0 0 0 4
37 18h Todd Henderson 423 123 300 -616 0 0 0 3
38 33 Mike Ruggiero 417 125 292 -622 1 1 1 2
39 38 Ryan Susice 416 156 260 -623 0 0 0 3
40 17d Tom Juhl 414 142 272 -625 0 0 1 2
41 25g Nick Guererri 412 132 280 -627 0 0 1 3
42 0 Jipp Ortiz 410 140 270 -629 0 1 1 2
43 74 Matt Billings® 394 124 270 -645 0 0 0 2
44 99c Nick Cupolo 390 136 254 -649 0 1 1 2
45 62 Rick Bellante 388 198 190 -651 0 0 0 4
46 3a Fran Hilton 382 132 250 -657 0 0 0 3
47 83x Tim Sears Jr.® 360 118 242 -679 0 0 0 2
48 54 Mark Chiddy 352 140 212 -687 0 0 2 2
49 3k A.J. Kingley 352 90 262 -687 0 0 0 2
50 12x Dan Sellen 343 83 260 -696 0 0 1 2
51 p38 Rob Pratt 342 60 282 -697 0 0 0 1
52 11 Mike Mandigo 334 50 284 -705 0 0 0 1
53 96 Cole Dingwall 334 50 284 -705 0 0 0 1
54 11 Ben Wheeler® 330 124 206 -709 0 0 0 2
55 12 Brian Sage 328 40 288 -711 0 0 0 1
56 38p Jason Parkhurst® 328 72 256 -711 0 1 1 2
57 9R Tyler Rand 328 76 252 -711 0 0 0 1
58 32 Randy Gaudet 326 46 280 -713 0 0 0 1
59 76 Rob Bussey 324 62 262 -715 0 0 0 1
60 83 Dylan Evoy® 324 60 264 -715 0 0 0 1

UPCOMING EVENTS
The 19th Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series opens up the final month of competition when teams travel to Central New York for the Gater Racing News/Motorsports Expo 30 as part of Schneider Bros. Weekend at Fulton Speedway on Friday, October 3 before kicking off Super DIRT Week XXXVII, Oct. 7-12, at Can-Am Motorsports Park.

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 3 30 Fulton Speedway Fulton,NY
Wed-Oct 8 30 Can-Am Motorsports Park LaFargeville,NY
Fri-Oct 10 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Sat-Oct 11 30 New York State Fairgrounds Syracuse,NY
Fri-Oct 17 40 Thunder Mountain Speedway Center Lisle,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.