March 27, 2010 – By Tom Skibinski, Super DIRTcar Series PR Director
Billy Decker had competed in the first six Super DIRTcar Series events at Hagerstown Speedway, racking up the most top-five finishes of any driver without a win since 2001.
That all changed for the two-time Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar champion on Saturday night as he overtook ‘Super Matt’ Sheppard on a lap 65 restart and held off the hottest driver on the circuit to win the 7th Annual North-South Shootout 100 at the storied Maryland oval.
“I’m as surprised as anyone, very fortunate, feel like I got away with one tonight,” remarked the modest Modified chauffeur from Unadilla, N.Y. after escaping with a narrow three car-length victory over Sheppard, who had led almost from the outset after taking advantage of the first of three restarts to jump past outside pole-sitter Danny Johnson on lap eight. “Early on we just didn’t have anything for Matt.”
“Honestly, this is one that I’ve had on my calendar because the series race always seemed to get the best of us down here. Never been overly happy with our performance in this race so it feels really good to finally get one,” said Decker, whose previous best finish south of the Mason-Dixon Line was third in 2006, sandwiched between a pair of fourth places in 2004 and ’07 — the Series’ last trip prior to Saturday.
Second-year tour follower Michael Storms from Wantage, N.J. scored a career-best third-place ahead of pole-sitter Danny Johnson towing in from Rochester, N.Y. and Watertown, N.Y. pilot Billy Dunn. Reigning Mr. DIRTcar points king Brett Hearn from Sussex, N.J., and Empire State stalwarts Pat Ward, Justin Haers, Larry Wight and Jimmy Phelps rounded out the top-10.
Finishing up the ’09 campaign with three straight Super DIRTcar Series victories, then capturing the Florida DIRTcar Nationals in February gave Sheppard plenty of momentum coming into Saturday’s showdown. The Waterloo, N.Y. standout remained on top of his game by besting 45 cars in time trials before copping the opening heat after starting third.
Already the winningest driver in Hagerstown history, Hearn was just as confident after slipping past Sheppard in a 25-lap Small-Block preliminary event to score his 26th feature race triumph before lining up third to begin the 100-lap Big-Block finale.
While drawing number one to lead the 31-car field to the line, Decker was quickly overtaken by Johnson at the drop of the initial green, with Sheppard wrestling the third spot away from Hearn on the opening circuit. Following the first yellow flag for a slowing Dan Vauter machine, Sheppard blasted by Johnson to force the first lead change and Decker took over the runner-up slot with 10 laps in the books.
With a clear road ahead, Sheppard extended his advantage to 20 car-lengths after 15 laps, yet that margin quickly evaporated when Pennsylvanian Rick Laubach suffered a flat tire to incur a second slowdown just a handful of laps later. Sheppard continued to set the pace well ahead of Decker while Haers, Johnson and sixth-starting Storms settled in with a quarter of the race complete.
Second-generation star Sheppard finally reached the back of the pack on lap 37, methodically maneuvering around the smooth half-miler with no signs of letting up. At the halfway point Decker and Danny remained his closest pursuers as Storms and Haers stayed ahead of Hearn a straightaway behind.
A slowing mount of Bristolville, Ohio veteran Rex King on the back stretch required the third and final yellow flag, and this would ultimately prove to be the difference in Decker’s bid to unseat Sheppard. With a double-file restart on the docket, Sheppard stayed low and Decker pulled alongside, and when lap 65 clicked off on the scoreboard it was the LJL Racing no. 91 Gypsum Wholesalers/Bicknell forging ahead to establish a lead he would never relinquish.
Dunn was nearly as quick on the same restart, charging from seventh to fifth past both Hearn and Haers on lap 66, but unable to threaten Storms as the laps dwindled. With the trio of Decker, Sheppard and Johnson running nose-to-tail lap after lap, Storms was suddenly able to reel in the leaders and steal the show position from the ‘Doctor’ with just four to go. A last lap flurry by Sheppard fell a half-second shy, giving Decker his 54th career triumph and a $6,000 payday in the 45-minute main.
“On that last restart, man, this car was just balanced for about 15 laps,” exclaimed Decker, 45, who also scored season-opening Series wins in 1999 and 2000, although his Hoosier-VP Racing Fuels titles were earned in 1998 and 2008. “Then I got tight again, was probably holding up Matt at the end. It just happened to be a restart, hit it just right and got lucky. All in all, the car was really good and we’re just tickled.”
“We started out last year 15th or 16th, which was kind of indicative of our whole season, hot and cold. Won a lot of good races but as the Series unfolded we just missed on too many nights. You just can’t afford to do that, it’s a tough deal and you can’t afford to roll over at all. Throw in a couple bad finishes against these other guys and it really hurts. It feels good to get off on the right foot this time but there’s such a long way still to go,” Decker acknowledged.
As pleased as Decker was with his opening-day performance, a subdued Sheppard was equally as disappointed with the final result in a day of domination by the talented 27 year-old.
“I just picked the wrong groove, thought the bottom was going to be the way to go on that last restart,” stated Sheppard, who captured seven Series shows last season to fall just four points behind record seven-time champion Hearn in the final standings. “I think the bottom a got a little dusty under caution, I spun the tires and Billy was able to out-drag me.”
“Other than that, our cars were about the same exact speed. When (Decker) was in front of me he was gonna win it and when I was in front of him I was gonna win it. I think we did everything right tonight, just picked the wrong lane near the end, so I can’t really be too upset. Jeff Brownell (owner) gives me a great car and the guys worked real hard. I don’t think they stopped all night with running the Big-Block and Small-Block. I kept them pretty busy so I’ve got to thank them. Still, to start off the year with a second, that’s a good run for us,” added Sheppard, whose finish Saturday was 28 spots better than last-place in the 2009 lid-lifter when he only completed the initial three laps at Big Diamond. Better yet, he heads back home to Central New York this time around clinging to an early two-point lead over Decker in the quest for his first Mr. DIRTcar crown.
Possibly the proudest of the front-runners was third-place finisher Storms, who recorded a pair of top-10 finishes in 20 Series stops a year ago. He ended up 14th in the Big Diamond opener before climbing to 10th on the final Mr. DIRTcar points chart behind the wheel of Vinny Salerno’s Four Star Racing no. 4 Keizer Aluminum Wheels/TEO entry.
“The car was absolutely awesome tonight, our whole team really needed this,” declared Storms, who last season suffered through a combination of engine failures and racing wrecks along with having Salerno’s ride stolen near season’s end to elevate his level of appreciation even higher in his sophomore year of touring. “TEO gave us a great car, hopefully it will stay consistent the whole year.”
“It was pretty nerve-racking, I haven’t run with these guys like that … ever. I just kept looking up at the lap board, thinking how many laps to go, how many laps to go. We knew we were good after setting fast time in our group ahead of Brett and Billy, that was nice right there. So to come out of here with a top-3 finish it really means a lot, definitely a great way to start the season. This place is just awesome, easily the best series finish I’ve had so this is really a good day,” smiled Storms, who finished 4th the first time ever in Salerno’s Small-Block mount during Eastern States Weekend at Orange County before closing out 2007 at Hagerstown filling in for Vinny’s former first-string driver Hearn, who was sidelined then with a back injury.
After a two-week layoff from tour competition, the ground-pounding Big-Block Modified Series heads back into the Empire State for the first of two events this season scheduled at Fulton Speedway. The ‘VP Racing Fuels Spring Fever 100’ on Saturday, April 10 takes center stage at owners John & Laura Wight’s Central New York facility as DIRTcar continues in its 35th successive season of racing around the Northeast.
Super DIRTcar Series Race #1 – Hagerstown Speedway, March 27, 2010, 7th North-South Shootout 100′ Big-Block Modified Event Summary
FIN STR CAR# DRIVER/HOMETOWN
1 1 91 Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY ($6,000)
2 4 9s Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY
3 6 4* Michael Storms/Wantage,NJ
4 2 7z Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY
5 13 49 Billy Dunn/Watertown,NY
6 3 20 Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ
7 10 42p Pat Ward/Genoa,NY
8 5 3 Justin Haers/Phelps,NY
9 8 99L Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY
10 19 98h Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY
11 23 99 Ryan Phelps/Fulton,NY
12 27 77x Dale Planck/Cortland,NY
13 9 7x Steve Paine/Waterloo,NY
14 12 32c Vic Coffey/Caledonia,NY
15 28 14j Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY
16 17 62s Tom Sears Jr./Clay,NY
17 24 3t Gary Tomkins/Clifton Springs,NY
18 18 57 Donnie Corellis/Averill Park,NY
19 16 71 David VanHorn Jr./Phillipsburg,NJ
20 15 7 Rick Laubach/Quakertown,PA
21 31 16 Lance Willix II/Theresa,NY
22 26 8 Rich Scagliotta/Bound Brook,NJ
23 20 37md Jeremiah Shingledecker/Polk,PA
24 25 65 Rex King/Bristolville,OH
25 7 1f Stewart Friesen/Niagara-o-t-Lake,ONT
26 11 12a Ronnie Johnson/Duanesburg,NY
27 29 88c Billy Pauch Jr./Frenchtown,NJ
28 30 21k Randy Chrysler/Lewiston,NY
29 14 44 Frank Cozze/Wind Gap,PA
30 22 14 Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ
31 21 85 Dan Vauter/Forest City,PA
GATER RACING NEWS LAP LEADERS: D.Johnson (1-7), Sheppard (8-64), Decker (65-100).
CAUTIONS: 3 for 13 laps.
HEAT WINNERS: Sheppard, Hearn, Wight, D.Johnson.
CONSI WINNERS: Vauter, Horton.
BICKNELL RACING PRODUCTS WINNER AWARD: Billy Decker.
MSD IGNITION WINNER AWARD: Billy Decker.
SYRACUSE 200 QUALIFIER: Billy Decker.
HALFWAY LEADER: Matt Sheppard.
BERT/KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER AWARD: Dale Planck.
XTREME LUBRICANTS SLICK MOVE OF THE RACE AWARD: Billy Decker.
PENSKE POWER POSITION AWARD (23rd): Jeremiah Shingledecker.
MSD IGNITION FINAL PLACEMENT AWARD: Dan Vauter.
FAST TIMER: Matt Sheppard (20.573sec/87.493mph).
TOTAL PURSE: $27,750.
CARS ENTERED: 46.
NEXT EVENT: Fulton Speedway “VP Racing Fuels Sprinfg Fever 100”- April 10, 2010.
DID NOT QUALIFY(15)
10v-Bobby Varin/Sharon Springs,NY
37x-Tommy Scheetz Jr./Boyertown,PA
84-Rick Wegner Jr./Monmouth Jct.,NJ
85L-Ted Lamb Jr./Clay,NY
165-Rex King Jr./Bristolville,OH
TIME MPH CAR# DRIVER
1 20.573 87.493 9s Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY
2 20.581 87.459 42p Pat Ward/Genoa,NY
3 20.673 87.070 7x Steve Paine/Waterloo,NY
4 20.686 87.015 4* Michael Storms/Wantage,NJ
5 20.806 86.514 49 Billy Dunn/Watertown,NY
6 20.880 86.207 20 Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ
7 20.901 86.120 77x Dale Planck/Cortland,NY
8 20.989 85.759 99 Ryan Phelps/Fulton,NY
9 21.080 85.389 12a Ronnie Johnson/Duanesburg,NY
10 21.087 85.361 91 Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY
11 21.115 85.247 62s Tom Sears Jr./Clay,NY
12 21.126 85.203 65 Rex King/Bristolville,OH
13 21.159 85.070 3t Gary Tomkins/Clifton Springs,NY
14 21.186 84.962 32c Vic Coffey/Caledonia,NY
15 21.241 84.742 7 Rick Laubach/Quakertown,PA
16 21.248 84.714 99L Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY
17 21.266 84.642 19h Chris Higgins/Raleigh,NC
18 21.299 84.511 98h Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY
19 21.349 84.313 71 David VanHorn Jr./Phillipsburg,NJ
20 21.378 84.199 44 Frank Cozze/Wind Gap,PA
21 21.425 84.014 7z Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY
22 21.432 83.987 88c Billy Pauch Jr./Frenchtown,NJ
23 21.433 83.983 85 Dan Vauter/Forest City,PA
24 21.444 83.940 48too Dave Rauscher/Waterloo,NY
25 21.462 83.869 1f Stewart Friesen/Niagara-o-t-Lake,ONT
26 21.504 83.705 3 Justin Haers/Phelps,NY
27 21.507 83.694 57 Donnie Corellis/Averill Park,NY
28 21.577 83.422 49er Billy Pauch/Frenchtown,NJ
29 21.585 83.391 16 Lance Willix II/Theresa,NY
30 21.587 83.384 23 Billy VanInwegen/Sparrowbush,NY
31 21.620 83.256 8 Rich Scagliotta/Bound Brook,NJ
32 21.658 83.110 7a Chic Cossaboone/Petersburg,NJ
33 21.680 83.026 21k Randy Chrysler/Lewiston,NY
34 21.699 82.953 10s Kyle Strickler/Mooresville,NC
35 21.714 82.896 14j Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY
36 21.723 82.861 14 Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ
37 21.769 82.686 85L Ted Lamb Jr./Clay,NY
38 21.785 82.626 1 Darwin Greene/Susquehanna,PA
39 21.971 81.926 26 Ryan Godown/Ringoes,NJ
40 22.012 81.774 37md Jeremiah Shingledecker/Polk,PA
41 22.112 81.404 37x Tommy Scheetz Jr./Boyertown,PA
42 22.128 81.345 10 Tim Currier/Auburn,NY
43 22.371 80.461 83 Brian Swartzlander/Leechburg,PA
44 22.423 80.275 84 Rick Wegner Jr./Monmouth Jct.,NJ
45 22.503 79.989 165 Rex King Jr./Bristolville,OH
46 -NT- —– 10v Bobby Varin/Sharon Springs,NY
Heat Races (8 laps, top 5 finishers transferred to feature; top 3 redrew)
#1: Sheppard, Paine, Ward, Dunn, Sears, R.King Sr., Tomkins, R.Phelps, Planck, Higgins, Scheetz, Wegner.
#2: Hearn, Decker, Storms, Cozze, Corellis, Vauter, B.Pauch Sr., Rauscher, Willix, Cossaboone, Greene, VanInwegen.
#3: Wight, R.Johnson, Haers, Laubach, J.Phelps, A.Johnson, B.Pauch Jr., Chrysler, Godown, Varin, Lamb.
#4: D.Johnson, Coffey, Friesen, VanHorn, Shingledecker, Scagliotta, Horton, Strickler, Currier, Swartzlander, R.King Jr.
Consolation Races: (10 laps, top 5 finishers transferred to feature)
#1: Vauter, R.Phelps, R.King Sr., Planck, B.Pauch Jr., Willix, Rauscher, Higgins, Greene, Cossaboone, VanInwegen, Scheetz, B.Pauch Sr., Wegner.
#2: Horton, Tomkins, Scagliotta, A.Johnson, Chrysler, Varin, Strickler, Currier, Lamb, R.King Jr., Godown, Swartzlander.
Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified Point Standings (Through March 27, 2010)
Rank No. Driver Total Series Bonus Diff Wins Top-5 Top-10 Starts
1 9s Matt Sheppard 105 105 0 0 0 1 1 1
2 91 Billy Decker 103 103 0 -2 1 1 1 1
3 4* Michael Storms 91 91 0 -14 0 1 1 1
4 7z Danny Johnson 90 90 0 -15 0 1 1 1
5 20 Brett Hearn 81 81 0 -24 0 0 1 1
6 49 Billy Dunn 80 80 0 -25 0 1 1 1
7 42p Pat Ward 73 73 0 -32 0 0 1 1
8 99L Larry Wight 70 70 0 -35 0 0 1 1
9 3 Justin Haers 69 69 0 -36 0 0 1 1
10 98h Jimmy Phelps 62 62 0 -43 0 0 1 1
11 99 Ryan Phelps 60 60 0 -45 0 0 0 1
12 7x Steve Paine 59 59 0 -46 0 0 0 1
13 77x Dale Planck 58 58 0 -47 0 0 0 1
14 32c Vic Coffey 57 57 0 -48 0 0 0 1
15 14j Alan Johnson 52 52 0 -53 0 0 0 1
16 62s Tom Sears Jr. 50 50 0 -55 0 0 0 1
17 3T Gary Tomkins 48 48 0 -57 0 0 0 1
18 57 Donnie Corellis 46 46 0 -59 0 0 0 1
19 71 David VanHorn Jr. 45 45 0 -60 0 0 0 1
20 7 Rick Laubach 44 44 0 -61 0 0 0 1
21 16 Lance Willix II 43 43 0 -62 0 0 0 1
22 12a Ronnie Johnson 43 43 0 -62 0 0 0 1
23 8 Rich Scagliotta 42 42 0 -63 0 0 0 1
24 37md Jer. Shingledecker 41 41 0 -64 0 0 0 1
25 1f Stewart Friesen 41 41 0 -64 0 0 0 1
26 65 Rex King 40 40 0 -65 0 0 0 1
27 88c Billy Pauch Jr. 40 40 0 -65 0 0 0 1
28 21k Randy Chrysler 40 40 0 -65 0 0 0 1
29 44 Frank Cozze 40 40 0 -65 0 0 0 1
30 14 Jimmy Horton 40 40 0 -65 0 0 0 1
31 85v Dan Vauter 40 40 0 -65 0 0 0 1
32 48too Dave Rauscher 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
33 19h Chris Higgins 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
34 1 Darwin Greene 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
35 7a Chic Cossaboone 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
36 23 Billy VanInwegen 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
37 37x Tommy Scheetz Jr. 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
38 49e Billy Pauch 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
39 84 Rick Wegner Jr. 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
40 10v Bobby Varin 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
41 10s Kyle Strickler 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
42 10 Tim Currier 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
43 85 Ted Lamb Jr. 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
44 165 Rex King Jr. 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
45 26 Ryan Godown 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
46 83 Brian Swartzlander 10 10 0 -95 0 0 0 0
2010 Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified Roster (46)
Car# Driver/Hometown Team (Sponsor / Chassis / Engine)
0 Richie Pratt Jr./Woodbury Heights,NJ South Jersey Overhead Door/TEO/DDE
1 Darwin Greene/Susquehanna,PA Greene Quality Bluestone-Big Diamond Tools-TJ’s NAPA/Bicknell/Jensen Tech
1f Stewart Friesen/Niagara-o-t-Lake,ONT Pizza Logs-Jeff Daley & Sons Oil Service-Westmoreland Golf Club/TEO/Enders
3 Justin Haers/Phelps,NY Phelps Cement Products-SMV Motorsports-Jeff Jolly Masonry/Bicknell/Finger Lakes
3t Gary Tomkins/Clifton Springs,NY Power Trip Energy Drink-Mighty Taco-Brachmann Racing/Bicknell/Honest Abe’s
4* Michael Storms/Wantage,NJ Keizer Aluminum Wheels-Four Star Transmissions/TEO/Morrison
7 Rick Laubach/Quakertown,PA Benton Electric & Elevator-Jones Racing Products/TEO/Enders
7a Chic Cossaboone/Petersburg,NJ Tuckahoe Turf Farms/Bicknell/Enders
7x Steve Paine/Waterloo,NY Swarthout Recycling-Tallmadge Tire-Terrell’s Potato Chips/Bicknell/Finger Lakes
7z Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY Honeoye Auto Parts-Currier Plastics-Waste Management/Bicknell/Mastin
8 Rich Scagliotta/Bound Brook,NJ Central Jersey Trailer & Hitch Depot-Adamsville Maintenance/Troyer/Feil
9s Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY Xtreme Lubricants/Bicknell/C.C. Performance
10 Tim Currier/Auburn,NY Currier Plastics-NorthStar Business Center/Bicknell/Mastin Engineering
10s Kyle Strickler/Mooresville,NC Glen Miller Demolition-Comp Cal/Bicknell/Philadelphia Racing Engines
10v Bobby Varin/Sharon Springs,NY Commercial Roofing & Sheet Metal-JWJ Container Service/Bicknell/Morrison
12a Ronnie Johnson/Duanesburg,NY Palmer’s Service Center-Witz Roofing-Krug Home Builders/TEO/JPM
14 Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ Alpha Distribution Solutions-McKeansburg Hotel/TEO/Enders
14j Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY Raymond’s Car Care-RE Nolan Assoc.-Pizza Logs/Bicknell/Chevrolet
16 Lance Willix II/Theresa,NY SUNY Canton-Nor-Shir Construction/Bicknell/Morrison
19h Chris Higgins/Raleigh,NC Transportation Repair Service-Terrell’s Potato Chips/Bicknell/Higgins Performance
20 Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ Madsen Mtrsprts-Wentworth Custom Homes-Benjamin Moore Paints/TEO/Enders
21k Randy Chrysler/Lewiston,NY TIBchurch.org-Signal Cigarettes-Randy’s Smoke Shop/Bicknell/Jeff Nicholson
23 Billy VanInwegen/Sparrowbush,NY Len & Jo’s Restaurant/Bicknell/Precision
26 Ryan Godown/Ringoes,NJ Stanton Hills Landscaping-Champion Tire-Art’s Radiator/Bicknell/Roush-Yates
32c Vic Coffey/Caledonia,NY Sweeteners Plus-Integra Shocks-CME,Inc./Troyer/C.C. Performance
37x Tommy Scheetz Jr./Boyertown,PA TNT Repairs-Jeff D’Ambrosio Dodge/Bicknell/Doug Meyers
37md Jeremiah Shingledecker/Polk,PA Village Auto-Hards Welding-Steve’s Teez/Bicknell/MD Racing Engines
42p Pat Ward/Genoa,NY Gypsum Express,Ltd./Bicknell/Kevlar
44 Frank Cozze/Wind Gap,PA Waite’s Gen.Contractors-Carquest-Bert Trans.-Deerfoot Auto Parts/PMC/Enders
48too Dave Rauscher/Waterloo,NY Magee Transportation Services-Monadnock Disposal Service/Bicknell/Morrison
49 Billy Dunn/Watertown,NY Number One Speed-American Traditions-Fast Lube Watertown/Bicknell/Finger Lakes
49er Billy Pauch/Frenchtown,NJ Nick Nero Motorsports/Bicknell/DIRTcar 500
57 Donnie Corellis/Averill Park,NY Rifenburg Construction-John Ray & Son/Bicknell/Bedell
62s Tom Sears Jr./Clay,NY Summit Auto Group-Mullen Industrial-Trackman Equipment/Bicknell/Morrison
65 Rex King/Bristolville,OH Midway Garage Doors-RD Bank Chevrolet-GS Engine Power/Bicknell/Jim Bailey
71 David VanHorn Jr./Phillipsburg,NJ Harmony Sand&Gravel-Diamond Hart Ent.-Art’s Radiator/TEO/D.VanHorn,Sr.
77x Dale Planck/Cortland,NY RezX Racing-Twin Leaf/Bicknell/Kevlar
83 Brian Swartzlander/Leechburg,PA McCutcheon Enterprises-B&J Motorsports-Precise Racing Products/TEO/Enders
84 Rick Wegner Jr./Monmouth Jct.,NJ Ideal Auto Body-Racin’ For Romano/Bicknell/Hansen
85 Dan Vauter/Forest City,PA Vauter Racing/Bicknell/Enders
85L Ted Lamb Jr./Clay,NY M.R. Burdick Enterprises-Fergison Water Works/TEO/Morrison
88c Billy Pauch Jr./Frenchtown,NJ Clay Realty Group-Paradise Beach Realty/TEO/LJL-Kevlar
91 Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY Gypsum Wholesalers-Stadium Int’l-Quality Hardwoods/Bicknell/Kevlar
98h Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY HBR Motorsports-Wave Energy Drink-Mohawk Northeast/Troyer/Bruneau
99 Ryan Phelps/Fulton,NY Big Red Towing-Dave Miller Auto Body/Bicknell/Enders
99L Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY Gypsum Express,Ltd./Bicknell/Kevlar
165 Rex King Jr./Bristolville,OH Jim Brown Seed Sales-Reese Services-Cintas/Bicknell/Jim Bailey
*Its About Time: For the past two seasons early spring weather conditions were far from favorable for fans and racers making plans to attend the Super DIRTcar Series season-opener at Hagerstown. 2010 was even borderline as not a single race had been run due to inclement weather suffered every weekend since the first show originally scheduled Feb. 27. According to track GM Steve Crumbacker, the last year that Hagerstown lost its first five events was 1999, but officials were hopeful following a successful practice session held the weekend before. The final Saturday of the month still turned out to be cool, yet clear, and the mighty Big-Block Modifieds didn’t disappoint. 47 teams signed in featuring eight past winners of the Super DIRT Week Rite Aid 200, which included eventual ‘North-South Shootout 100’ victor Billy Decker and defending Syracuse champion Matt Sheppard. A special 25-lap Small-Block feature was also on the card with winner Brett Hearn among 11 in that 17-car field doing double-duty. The Series win for Decker was his 54th (3rd all-time) while Hearn remains Hagerstown’s career Modified win leader now with 26 checkered flags.
*Roster Regulars: Registering to compete throughout the 2010 Super DIRTcar Series are 17 of the top-20 point chasers from last season plus first-year Big-Block tour regular Lance Willix II. Comprising the stellar list are reigning overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar points king Brett Hearn, Matt Sheppard, Jimmy Phelps Billy Decker, Justin Haers, Gary Tomkins, Ryan Phelps, Danny Johnson, Alan Johnson, Michael Storms, Dale Planck, Larry Wight, Jeff Brownell Jr., Billy Dunn, Steve Paine, Rich Scagliotta and Tom Sears Jr. Medical leave forced Brownell to miss the series lid-lifter.
*Tomkins Trial Run: Still in search of a series ride, 2004 Mr. DIRTcar titlist Gary Tomkins teamed with Brachmann Racing at Hagerstown and completed the entire 100-lap distance to finish 17th on the final scoresheet. Tomkins first met up with driver Chad Brachmann and his brother Corey at the pre-season Bicknell Racing Products Open House and conversation continued as winter came to a close. The no. 3 Power Trip Energy Drink-Mighty Taco/Bicknell ride was left vacant as Chad’s wife Louise is expecting, yet interest was still high to head south to Hagerstown over the weekend. The trio struck a deal to make a test run on Friday before freezing conditions scrapped the Lernerville (Pa.) opener, with Tomkins also lined up to hit the next tour stop at Fulton (NY) Speedway on April 10.
*Number Recognition: Along with Tomkins temporary ride, other notable number changes included Danny Johnson in Mike Payne’s no. 7z Honeoye Auto Parts-Currier Plastics-Waste Management/Bicknell, Billy Pauch Sr. in Nick Nero’s ‘DIRTcar 500’ engine powered no. 49er Bicknell, second-generation star Ronnie Johnson in his father Jack’s customary orange no. 12a Palmer’s Service Center-Witz Roofing/TEO, and Billy Pauch Jr. in the no. 88c Clay Realty Group /TEO Pro Car. Debuting during the Florida DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway with Danny Johnson behind the wheel, New Jersey star Pauch Sr. experienced carburetor problems and tire issues in the high-performance mount on Saturday to just miss out the Modified main.
*Familiar With Fast: Nine drivers that qualified for the inaugural North-South Shootout at Hagerstown in 2001 also started the 2010 edition, led by first-ever winner Steve Paine, Danny Johnson, Jimmy Horton, Alan Johnson, Brett Hearn, Vic Coffey, Pat Ward, Rick Laubach and Saturday winner Decker. Paine, Hearn, Decker, Coffey and Alan Johnson are the lone drivers to make the trek to Maryland every year, with Coffey the only one out of the bunch not to reach victory lane.
*Milestone Markers: The return to Hagerstown for season-opening Super DIRTcar Series action marked the 640th event run, with 45 tracks in 10 states up and down the Atlantic Coast and two Canadian provinces playing host to the premier Big-Block Modified tour in the nation. Before Billy Decker won the most recent race to begin a new decade, Jimmy Horton took the 100th Series checkered flag at the New York State Fairgrounds in 1987 and Doug Hoffman copped the 200th at Flemington Fair Speedway in 1991, while triumphs by Bob McCreadie (300, Can-Am Motorsports Park in 1996), Danny Johnson (400th, Can-Am in 2000) and again Decker (both 500th, Ransomville Speedway in 2004 and 600th, Brockville Ontario Speedway in 2008) were chronicled next. Since the tour format was introduced in 1980, Brett Hearn has racked up a division-best 103 extra-distance wins in between.
*Super Series Just That: Destination events will once again jam DIRTcar Racing Northeast’s top tour in 2010 with the Big-Block Modifieds contending in the 2nd Annual All-Star 100 Weekend, this year featuring three straight days of racing at both Cayuga County Fair Speedway and Brewerton Speedway, July 15-17. The ‘Great Canadian’ tour in Quebec hits autodromes Drummond and Granby, July 19-20, with Super DIRT Week XXXIX on the Syracuse Mile, Oct. 6-10, and DIRTcar Fall Nationals at Brockville Ontario Speedway, Oct. 16-17, two of the biggest autumn attractions. The Hoosier Tire-VP Race Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship concludes competition for the first time ever as a major part of the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (NC), Nov. 4-6, joining the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars and the World of Outlaws Late Models as all three series wrap up their seasons with nationally recognized championship-deciding point events.
*Twitter Keeps Series Connection: Fans were kept informed throughout the Super DIRTcar Series show at Hagerstown with their ‘Twitter’ connection providing Big-Block updates both on-line and through text messages on cell phones. Along with the brief bulletins offered Twitter ‘followers’ of the SDS during each race night, fans can also expect to receive breaking news and interesting notes between tour stops. To sign-up as a SDS Big-Block ‘follower’ on Twitter and receive updates anywhere at anytime, visit http://www.twitter.com/SuperDIRTcar.
*Pot Holes: Matt Sheppard set his first fast time of the year, giving him 16 since posting his initial quick run at Autodrome Drummond in 2004. Decker set the all-time Modified mark (19.016 seconds; 94.657 mph) at Hagerstown in June of ’05 and he currently leads all drivers with 42 fast times, including three south of the Mason-Dixon Line…..New Yorker Chris Higgins and Kyle Strickler from Pennsylvania now reside in North Carolina and both are already making plans to compete in the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in November. Higgins now resides in Raleigh and Strickler in Mooresville, and both will be buckled into a Big-Block when the season-finale arrives Nov. 4-6…..Making his last tour stop in the 2008 opener at Virginia Motor Speedway, veteran Chic Cossaboone joined fellow New Jersey pilot Rick Wegner Jr. in a rare appearance at Hagerstown. The Western Pa./Ohio region was well-represented by Brian Swartzlander, Jeremiah Shingledecker and the father/son duo of Rex King and Rexie King Jr…..A major off-track highway accident forced the late arrival of both Billy Pauch Jr. and Bobby Varin, while Mike Kolka never even made it to the Route 40 oval on Saturday due to traffic trouble…..Central New Yorker Ted Lamb Jr. was already sporting a Syracuse body after rough conditions the previous week racing in Pennsylvania required the no. 85L M.R. Burdick Enterprises/TEO entry to be reskinned with dark purple sheet metal…..Keystone State traveler Dan Vauter won the first of two consolation round races yet suffered a broken brake rotor in his own no. 85 Bicknell machine allowing him to run just 7 laps, however his last-place finish still resulted in a $25 cash prize provided by MSD Ignitions. Other early race casualties were Jimmy Horton (set-up) and Frank Cozze (brakes)…..Billy Decker was the first recipient of the Xtreme Lubricants ‘Slick Move of the Race’ award after his successful pass of seemingly sure winner Matt Sheppard on the final restart was enough to collect the contingency prize — one ironically supplied by Sheppard’s car owner and Xreme Lubricants proprietor Jeff Brownell Sr…..With 47 entries on hand for the Hagerstown happening, Series stars Matt Sheppard, Brett Hearn, Larry Wight and Danny Johnson claimed qualifying heats; the top-3 finishers re-drew for feature race starting assignments. Once under green, all laps were scored up to 75; with any of the final 25 not counted if run under caution. New to the program format in 2010 is that all restarts will be lined up double-file, an element that was used on just three occasions during the opener yet ultimately helped contribute to another exciting finish.
The second round in the 2010 Super DIRTcar Series is set to arrive in exactly two more weeks when Fulton Speedway hosts the ‘VP Racing Fuels Spring Fever 100’ on Saturday, April 10. Valuable points will again be on the line towards the overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship, with a champion crowned in November for the 35th consecutive year.
2010 Super DIRTcar Series Schedule
NP=Non-Point event; SP=Show-Up point event;
DAY-DATE TRACK WINNER/LOCATION
*** FLORIDA DIRTcar NATIONALS ***
Wed-Feb 10 Volusia Speedway Park-np Stewart Friesen
Thr-Feb 11 Volusia Speedway Park-np Matt Sheppard
Fri-Feb 12 Volusia Speedway Park-np cancelled
Sat-Feb 13 Volusia Speedway Park-np Matt Sheppard
Sat-Mar 27 Hagerstown Speedway Billy Decker
Sat-Apr 10 Fulton Speedway Fulton,NY
Sun-May 30 Cayuga County Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY
Tue-Jun 15 Grandview Speedway Bechtelsville,PA
Wed-Jun 16 Orange County Fair Speedway Middletown,NY
Wed-Jun 23 Mohawk Int’l Raceway Akwesasne,NY
Sun-Jul 4 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park Elbridge,NY
Sun-Jul 11 Cornwall Motor Speedway Cornwall,ONT
*** ALL-STAR WEEKEND ***
Thr-Jul 15 Brewerton Speedway Brewerton,NY
Fri-Jul 16 Cayuga County Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY
Sat-Jul 17 Cayuga County Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY
*** GREAT CANADIAN TOUR ***
Mon-Jul 19 Autodrome Granby Granby,QUE
Tue-Jul 20 Autodrome Drummond Drummondville,QUE
Mon-Aug 2 Merrittville Speedway Thorold,ONT
Thr-Aug 26 Lebanon Valley Speedway West Lebanon,NY
Sun-Sep 5 Cayuga County Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY
Sat-Sep 18 Mohawk Int’l Raceway Akwesasne,NY
Sat-Oct 2 Fulton Speedway-sp Fulton,NY
*** SUPER DIRT WEEK ***
Sun-Oct 10 New York State Fairgrounds Syracuse,NY
*** DIRTcar FALL NATIONALS ***
Sun-Oct 17 Brockville Ontario Speedway Brockville,ONT
*** WORLD FINALS ***
Thr-Nov 4 The Dirt Track at Charlotte(qual.) Concord,NC
Fri-Nov 5 The Dirt Track at Charlotte Concord,NC
Sat-Nov 6 The Dirt Track at Charlotte Concord,NC
DIRTcar Racing Northeast main office is located in Weedsport, New York on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds, home of DIRTcar All-Star Weekend in July. DIRTcar Northeast’s crown jewel event —Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse runs annually in October featuring Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series events for Big-Block Modified, 358-Modified, Sportsman and Pro Stock divisions. Ticket and schedule information is available by contacting the Weedsport office (315/834-6606) during the day or logging into www.allstar100weekend.com and www.superdirtweekonline.com anytime.
The Big-Block Super DIRTcar Series is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Hoosier Racing Tire www.hoosiertire.com and VP Racing Fuels www.vpracingfuels.com. Promotional partners include the University of Northwestern Ohio www.unoh.com and Chizmark & Larson Insurance www.chizmarklarson.com, and contingency sponsors are Bicknell Racing Products www.bicknellracingproducts.com, Bilstein Shocks www.bilstein.com, KSE Racing Products www.kse-racing.com, Motorsports Safety Systems www.motorsportssafetysystems.com, MSD Ignition www.msdignition.com, Penske Shocks, www.penskeshocks.com, Racing Electronics www.racingelectronics.com, Vicci Racing Apparel www.vicci.com and Wrisco Industries www.wrisco.com.