Dundee, NY — April 5, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast PR Director
Larry Wight chased the entire 2007 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series and came away with an eight-place finish in the final tour standings to secure Motorsports Safety Systems Rookie of the Year accolades.
Expected to move full-time into the DIRTcar Modified ranks, Wight made his first —and possibly final— career DIRTcar Sportsman triumph a memorable one as he collected a cool $5,000 in the 2008 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series ‘Pepsi 50’ opener Saturday at Black Rock Speedway.
Fifty-six open-wheel entries signed into the pits at ‘The Rock’ requiring six preliminary heats and three consolation round qualifiers to set the 31-car starting field. The top-two finishers in each qualifier re-drew with heat two winner Wight sharing the front row with pole-sitter Mark D’Ilario, a runner-up in race one.
D’Ilario and Wight swapped the top spot until home track favorite Todd Henderson charged high around D’Ilario to forge what appeared to be the final lead change on a lap 18 restart. Defending Super DIRT Week winner Sammy Reakes IV worked his way into third by lap 20 and the order remained intact until lap 49. Not much stayed the same after that.
With starter Scott Hixson ready to display the white flag to signal just one lap to go, D’Ilario suddenly nipped the uke tire low between turns one and two and sheared off the left front wheel to incur the seventh and final caution period. Reakes was left little room to maneuver and careened into D’Ilario’s Bicknell mount that had slid sideways exiting turn two.
While the field realigned under yellow, the right rear tire went completely flat on Henderson’s mount and he reluctantly limped into the pits following a rare black flag, settling for the inaugural ‘Holley Hard Luck Award’ in the aftermath. Steering the potent no. 99 Gypsum Express-Stadium International/Bicknell entry, the talented 15 year-old from Phoenix, New York unexpectedly returned to the point and ‘Wight Lightening’ staved off a last lap effort by Small-Block standout Billy VanPelt to capture the elusive victory, easily the biggest of his budding career.
Eric Giguere snuck past Jeremy Pitcher to grab third on the final circuit while former Big-Block pilot Scott Prentice filled out the front-five. Canadian campaigners Greg Panunte (6th), Boyd MacTavish (9th) and Mark Dixon (10th) helped complete the top-10 with Ray Bliss (7th) and reigning Black Rock Sportsman points king Brady Fultz (8th) salvaging payoff positions in between.
Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Race #1 – Black Rock Speedway, April 5, 2008 ‘Pepsi 50’ Event Summary
FIN STR CAR# DRIVER
1 2 99 Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY
2 15 v28 Billy VanPelt/Westfield,PA
3 4 67g Eric Giguere/Waterloo,NY
4 14 14 Jeremy Pitcher/Fulton,NY
5 3 17b Scott Prentice/Hastings,NY
6 6 99p Greg Panunte/Port Colborne,ONT
7 24 12z Ray Bliss/Warsaw,NY
8 17 70 Brady Fultz/Dundee,NY
9 11 00 Boyd MacTavish/St.Catharines,ONT
10 10 140 Mark Dixon/Durham,ONT
11 16 6 Mat Williamson/St.Catharines,ONT
12 19 52 James Friesen/St.Catharines,ONT
13 5 19w Justin Wright/Piffard,NY
14 22 2x Rob Knapp/St.Catharines,ONT
15 25 10 Tim Currier/Auburn,NY
16 26 12 Chad Chevalier/Port Colborne,ONT
17 8 18h Todd Henderson/Canandaigua,NY
18 9 17k Sammy Reakes IV/Palermo,NY
19 1 08 Mark D’Ilario/Smithville,ONT
20 21 4 Daryl Hilkert/Potter,NY
21 28 2 Loren Lincoln/South Bristol,NY
22 23 11x Donnie Lawson/Woodhull,NY
23 7 66 Dan Wiesner/Geneva,NY
24 27 58 Steve Gray/Rushville,NY
25 12 71 Mike Bowman/St.Catharines,ONT
26 30 m93 Mike Entwistle/Locke,NY
27 18 0 Jipp Ortiz/Ransomville,NY
28 20 85 John Pietrowicz/Phoenix,NY
29 31 777 Tyler McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT
30 13 14s Brian Swarthout/Beaver Dams,NY
31 29 410 Chris Hile/Syracuse,NY
DID NOT QUALIFY(25)
1j-Joe Dgien/Cameron Mills,NY
17-Marcus Dinkins/Watkins Glen,NY
26h-Luke Carleton/Port Colborne,ONT
83x-Tim Sears Jr./Central Square,NY
LAP LEADERS: D’Ilario (1-7), Wight (8-9), D’Ilario (10-17), Henderson (18-48), Wight (49-50).
CAUTIONS: 7 (lap 8, lap 10, lap 11, lap 18, lap 32, lap 33, lap 49); 1 RED FLAG (lap 8).
SYRACUSE TOWN MECHANICAL 30 QUALIFIER: Larry Wight.
HOLLEY HARD LUCK: Todd Henderson.
Heat Races (10 laps, top 3 finishers transferred to feature, top 2 went to re-draw)
#1: Panunte, D’Ilario, Swarthout, Friesen, Quick, Sears, Knapp, Kingsley, McPherson.
#2: Wight, Bowman, Pitcher, Hile, Button, Lincoln, Hefti, Currier, Turner,.
#3: Wiesner, Wright, VanPelt, Pietrowicz, Susice, Hollyfeld, Dgien, Carleton, Smith (DNS).
#4: Giguere, MacTavish, Williamson, Raabe, Lawson, Bellante, Chevalier, Yehl, Towns, Sweet.
#5: Dixon, Reakes, Fultz, Bliss, Hilkert, Flannigan, Entwistle, Cowell, Hilton.
#6: Henderson, Prentice, Ortiz, Dinkins, Gray, Juhl, Sharp, Mandigo, Billings, Sellen.
Consolation Round (15 laps, top 3 finishers transferred to feature)
#1: Friesen, Knapp, Currier, Turner, Sears, Hile, Quick, Hefti, Bellante, Kingsley (DNS).
#2: Pietrowicz, Lawson, Chevalier, Lincoln, Towns, Carleton, Hollyfeld, Raabe, Susice, Dgien, Yehl, Sweet, Smith (DNS).
#3: Hilkert, Bliss, Gray, Juhl, Dinkins, Entwistle, Mandigo, Button, Billings, Sellen, Hilton, McPherson, Sharp, Flannigan, Cowell (DNS).
Guaranteed Starters: Lincoln, Hile, Entwistle, McPherson.
Provisionals: Lincoln, Hile, Entwistle, McPherson.
The 19th Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series takes more than a month break before resuming action over the Memorial Day holiday with a 25-lap finale at Rolling Wheels Raceway on Monday, May 26. A big ‘4th of July’ doubleheader in Central New York and a trip to Canada are all that run prior to Labor Day, with every extra-distance affair offering valuable points towards the overall Hoosier Tire-Sunoco Race Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship as well as guaranteed starter status for the Super DIRT Week main event in October.
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 25 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Thr-Jul 3 2-20 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Fri-Jul 4 30 Brewerton Speedway Brewerton,NY
Thr-Jul 10 30 Brockville Ont. Speedway Brockville,ONT
Mon-Sep 1 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Fri-Sep 5 50 Ransomville Speedway Ransomville,NY
Sat-Sep 6 50 Merrittville Speedway Thorold,ONT
Sun-Sep 7 50 Humberstone Speedway Pt.Colborne,ONT
Sat-Sep 13 30 Genesee Speedway Batavia,NY
Sat-Sep 20 45 Canandaigua Speedway Canandaigua,NY
Sat-Sep 27 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
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
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.