Weedsport, NY — January 21, 2009 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing Northeast PR Director
*1983 Florida Tour Champ Alan Johnson (Don Bok Photo)
Race fans attending the 38th Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH are in for a treat when the Advance Auto Parts Series stars come to town for their annual trip to Volusia Speedway Park. Some of the best drivers ever to strap in behind the wheel of a mighty Big-Block Modified machine are expected to arrive, with bragging rights on the line four straight nights.
With a roster featuring more than 35 pilots from nine states and Canada heading to Florida for a week of high speed short track activity, nearly two-dozen of those same chauffeurs account for over 1,700 feature wins on the demanding DIRTcar Racing Northeast circuit. Eight have reached Volusia’s hallowed victory lane, including three from last year’s visit to the storied Barberville oval.
“On paper we should do very well this year with some real good equipment,” said DIRTcar Northeast’s career Big-Block Modified win leader Alan Johnson from Middlesex, New York. Now 51, age certainly means more experience as ‘A.J. Slideways’ is the only driver to register at least one feature win every season since the DIRTcar organization was launched in 1976. But only one has come at Volusia.
“Don’t really know why I haven’t had more wins. I like the track, its just not too easy to win with a lot of good cars in the line-up every year. There’s not too many slouches that make this trip, everybody going down expects to win. I’ve had some good finishes lately, just not good enough,” added Johnson, who owns a DIRTcar NE high total of 358 Big-Block wins and 114 more in a Small-Block competition over the past 33 years. He has logged top-five finishes in Florida each of the past six Februarys, including three last winter en route to third in the final point standings.
The Alltel DIRTcar Nationals Big-Block lid-lifter is Wednesday, February 11 with a 30-lap feature headlining the program. Ground-pounding action continues with 30-lap feature events on Thursday and Friday before a big $5,000-to-win 50-lapper brings the curtain down Saturday, Feb. 14. An optional practice day is set for Tuesday, Feb. 10.
“Starting positions are always important no matter where you race, but Volusia has had a couple lanes lately providing more room to pass. The track has been really good since more clay was put down a couple years ago and that gives you a better chance to make up ground in the shorter races. We’re definitely going there looking to win, but so is everyone else. 20 years has definitely been too long a time,” figured Johnson, who last won at VSP in 1986 and is entered in Dave Thompson’s no. 14J Chiefs Tobacco & Gas/Troyer ride for the ’09 edition.
Since the legendary Lou Lazzaro first graced victory lane at Volusia in 1978, 104 Modified features have been chronicled in the Sunshine State with New Jersey veteran Jimmy Horton honored in the winner’s circle for the sixth time following his 50-lap triumph last February. In just three more weeks Johnson and Horton will be joined in gator country by past Florida tour winners Brett Hearn (18), Doug Ingalls (3), Billy Decker (2), Jamie Mills (2), Andy Bachetti and Dale Planck; all among the 37 drivers currently registered for the upcoming Alltel DIRTcar Nationals. Since the return of Big-Block racing to Volusia in 1998, Hearn has won at least one feature every year but one (2007) to remain atop the all-time list.
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 Race Winners: 1978-2008
(104 events / 5 tracks / 32 drivers)
WINS DRIVER FIRST WIN LAST WIN
18 Brett Hearn Volusia County, 2/11/93 Volusia Park, 2/14/08
11 Danny Johnson Volusia County, 2/9/87 Volusia Park, 2/17/07
9 Kenny Brightbill Volusia County, 2/13/78 Volusia County, 2/13/87
8 Doug Hoffman Volusia County, 2/18/84 Volusia Park, 2/14/98
6 Jack Johnson Tampa Fairgrnds, 2/14/81 Volusia County, 2/14/89
6 Jimmy Horton Volusia County, 2/12/86 Volusia Park, 2/16/08
5 Tim Fuller Volusia Park, 2/15/01 Volusia Park, 2/16/07
5 Billy Pauch Volusia County, 2/11/85 Volusia Park, 2/13/08
3 Merv Treichler Volusia County, 2/13/82 Volusia County, 2/17/83
3 Doug Ingalls East Bay, 2/15/83 Volusia County, 2/16/84
2 Will Cagle Volusia County, 2/17/78 Volusia County, 2/18/78
2 Tommy Hager Volusia County, 2/16/78 Tampa Fairgrounds, 2/8/80
2 Gary Iulg Volusia County, 2/12/78 East Bay, 2/8/82
2 Jeff Kappesser East Bay, 2/7/82 Volusia County, 2/10/82
2 Kenny Tremont Volusia County, 2/13/93 Volusia Park, 2/12/99
2 Bob McCreadie Volusia Park, 2/10/99 Volusia Park, 2/16/01
2 Billy Decker Volusia Park, 2/12/04 Volusia Park, 2/16/05
2 Jamie Mills Volusia Park, 2/15/00 Volusia Park, 2/18/05
1 Lou Lazzaro Volusia County, 2/10/78
1 Walt Breeding Volusia County, 2/11/78
1 Kevin Collins Tampa Fairgrounds, 2/13/81
1 Ray Dalmata Volusia County, 2/15/84
1 C.D. Coville Volusia County, 2/16/85
1 Alan Johnson Volusia County, 2/11/86
1 Richie Tobias,Jr. Volusia County, 2/13/89
1 Jeff Heotzler St. Augustine, 2/14/95
1 Steve Paine St. Augustine, 2/16/95
1 Tim McCreadie Volusia Park, 2/16/02
1 Craig VonDohren Volusia Park, 2/11/03
1 J.R. Heffner Volusia Park, 2/13/04
1 Andy Bachetti Volusia Park, 2/15/05
1 Dale Planck Volusia Park, 2/15/08
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.