Weedsport, NY — January 29, 2009 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing Northeast PR Director
The 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida is closing in fast with another stellar field of Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series competitors expected back for the popular winter bash.
High atop the chart of over 35 pre-race entries are a handful of drivers accounting for nearly a dozen Florida Tour point titles spread over the past quarter-century. That legendary list includes seven-time and defending champion Brett Hearn, Alan Johnson (2), Jimmy Horton (2), Pat Ward and Andy Bachetti, with 26 wins shared along the way.
“We’ll have my favorite car rebuilt and ready to go and another with just a few races on it. Other than a little different paint scheme, we’ve stayed with a lot of the same this year,” remarked Hearn, 50, who tied Garden State rival Billy Pauch for the points title last winter. Also a six-time overall Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Modified Champion, the Sussex, New Jersey superstar is DIRTcar Racing Northeast’s all-time Modified win leader with 518 (345 Big-Block) victories.
“Everybody always wants to come out of the box and make a statement. We’re just going down there to prove we’re ready to race this season. Last year we ran well but still left a lot on the table in the fall races so we’re really looking to fine-tune a lot of what we already have in place. We’re confident with our 2009 package going in, hopefully we’ll be satisfied when it comes time to head home,” Hearn commented.
The traditional Florida Tour schedule for the ground-pounding Advance Auto Parts Big-Block Modifieds includes three 30-lap main events with a $5,000-to-win 50-lap finale closing out the ’09 trip, February 11-14. An optional practice day has been saved for Tue., Feb. 10.
Hearn has dominated the oval-track action like none other since the return of DIRTcar’s Northeastern Big-Block Modifieds to the Sunshine State in 1998, racking up an Advance Auto Parts mini-series best 17 victories the past 11 Februarys with another checkered flag chalked up at VSP in the ’93 Invitational.
“I really like the combination shows and love racing at the same place for a whole week, not having to worry about moving equipment all the time is a big plus,” noted Hearn, who will be back aboard the potent Madsen Motorsports no. 20 Wentworth Custom Homes-Kruger-WLR-BPG/TEO mount to kick off his 34th consecutive season of open-wheel activity. Last February the ‘Corporate Jet’ posted all top-five finishes and he remains the lone driver to qualify for every Big-Block main event (44 races) run since DIRTcar Racing returned to gator country.
“Its nice seeing some of the late model guys I know, running together down there is one of the few times we get the opportunity to cross paths. But the bottom line is still doing well and having the Big-Blocks put on a show the fans can talk about until our season starts back up north. For us, at least one win will make it a successful trip. Guy (Madsen, owner) certainly feels that way and he probably wants to come away with two or three. We always seem to do well in the points, but that’s more for bragging rights, something to take home showing that you had a good trip,” added Hearn, who has been one of the best annually in Florida, placing first in five Alltel Nationals openers while copping three 50-lap feature race finales.
A little more will be at stake in the ’09 edition as JB Motorsports proprietor Jeff Brownell Sr. has posted a special bonus package for the top Big-Block points earner. Brownell will be rewarding the top points getter with a check for $500 plus $500 in Xtreme Lubricants Gear Lube and/or Hi-Performance Race Oil. That award accompanies a $2,000 winner’s share in each of the 30-lap features and $5,000 in the 50-lapper.
Joining Hearn and the all-star cast of past champions scheduled to make the haul south are reigning Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block Modified points king Billy Decker, teammate and ’08 Rookie of the Year Larry Wight, plus Advance Series point chasers Dale Planck, Matt Sheppard and Jeff Brownell Jr.
Tickets are on sale for the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals, February 3-14, at Volusia Speedway Park, available for any individual night and also in blocks for each headline division. Along with the Big-Block Modifieds, competition also features Sprint Car racing (Feb. 3-8), Late Model action (Feb. 9-14) and UMP DIRTcar Modified activity (Feb. 3-10). For tickets call the track directly at 386/985-4402 or visit https://volusia.ticketdirector.com/ticketdirector.web.ui/SelectEvent.aspx on-line.
For additional information, contact the DIRTcar Northeast Office (315/834-6606) during normal business hours or log into www.dirtcarnationals.com. Advance Series Big-Block Modified news is always available on the internet at www.superdirtcarseries.com.
Volusia Speedway Park www.volusiaspeedwaypark.com is located 15 miles west of Daytona Beach on State Road 40 in Barberville, Fla. Mail is received at: 1500 E. Highway 40, DeLeon Springs, FL 32130.
All-Time Florida Tour Big-Block Modified Point Champions: 1978-2008
YEAR CHAMPION (wins) TRACK(S)
*2008 Brett Hearn(1)/Billy Pauch(1) Volusia Speedway Park
*2007 Danny Johnson(2) Volusia Speedway Park
*2006 Brett Hearn(2) Volusia Speedway Park
*2005 Brett Hearn(1)/Andy Bachetti(1) Volusia Speedway Park
*2004 Pat Ward Volusia Speedway Park
*2003 Tim Fuller(1) Volusia Speedway Park
*2002 Brett Hearn(2) Putnam County, Volusia Park
*2001 Brett Hearn(3) East Bay, Volusia Park
*2000 Brett Hearn(3) Volusia Speedway Park
*1999 Jimmy Horton(1) Volusia Speedway Park
*1998 Brett Hearn(2) Volusia Speedway Park
1996-97 -no races-
*1995 Doug Hoffman(1) St. Augustine
1994 -no races-
*1993 -Invitational- Volusia County
1990-92 -no races-
*1989 Alan Johnson Volusia County
1988 Danny Johnson(1) Volusia County
*1987 Danny Johnson(3) Volusia County
*1986 Jimmy Horton(2) Volusia County
1985 Billy Pauch(3) Volusia County
1984 Kenny Brightbill(2)/Jack Johnson Volusia County
*1983 Alan Johnson East Bay, Volusia County
*1982 Jeff Kappesser(2)/Billy Pauch East Bay, Volusia County
*1981 Jack Johnson(1) Florida State Fairgrounds
*1980 Kenny Brightbill(3) Florida State Fairgrounds
1979 -no races-
1978 Walt Breeding(1) Volusia County
Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket retailer of parts, accessories, batteries, and maintenance items in the United States, serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets As of April 19, 2008, the Company operated 3,291 stores in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Additional information about the Company, employment opportunities, customer services, and on-line shopping for parts and accessories can be found on the Company’s web site at www.advanceautoparts.com.
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, Hoosier Racing Tire and Sunoco Race Fuels. Promotional partners include AMB i.t., Rite Aid Corporation and the University of Northwestern Ohio and the contingency sponsors are Bert Transmission, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Crane Cams, Integra Shocks, MSD Ignitions, Motorsports Safety Systems, Penske Shocks and Wrisco Industries.