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Big-Block Teams Set To Invade Gator Country



With entries spanning four states and Canada, a preliminary Advance Auto Parts Big-Block Modified pre-race roster for the 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park is taking shape with 40 drivers currently planning to compete.

The return trip to Volusia kicks off with an optional practice day on Tuesday, Feb. 12, opens for racing on Wednesday and concludes Saturday, Feb. 16 with a big $5,000-to-win 50-lapper. Two more Big-Block shows are scheduled in between on Feb. 14-15.

“We’ve already heard from a lot of teams and we’re expecting another great turnout,” said Cory Reed, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning. “There’s a solid mix of veteran drivers with talented newcomers and we can’t wait until they all get the chance to trade some paint in just one more month.”

The formidable field of cars and stars from the NorthEastern Big-Block Modified ranks includes 22 drivers from last year, with the top-nine in final 2007 Florida Tour points once again making the haul down south.

Headlining the assault are reigning Alltel DIRTcar Nationals points king Danny Johnson, defending overall Hoosier Tire-Sunoco Race Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Champion Brett Hearn and DIRTcar NorthEast’s all-time winningest Big-Block Modified driver Alan Johnson. That legendary trio is joined by Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series standouts Billy Decker, Jimmy Phelps, Dale Planck and Matt Sheppard along with other New York notables Pat Ward, Dave Rauscher, Vince Vitale, Roger Chrysler, Sean Beardsley, Jeff Isabell and Jeremy Markle.

Garden State speedsters Jimmy Horton, Billy Pauch, David VanHorn and Rich Scagliotta are signed up for the trip to gator country as are Pennsylvania pilots Rick Laubach, Colin Jackson, Dan Vauter, Darwin Greene, Dave Schrader and Kevin Hirthler plus Delaware drivers Jamie Mills, Chad James and Steve Downs, and the lone Massachusetts entry Andy Bachetti.

2007 Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Champion Mario Clair, Wallace Stacey and Martin Gagne pose a triple threat from the Canadian province of Quebec, while Mark Forte Jr., Rob Bellinger, Joe Isabell, Alan Fink, Keith Flach, Jordan Watson, Rick Wegner, Steve Haggan and ’07 Sportsman rookie of the year Larry Wight are among the young guns aiming highest during the 2008 DIRTcar Racing campaign.

For those racers looking to add their team to the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals Big-Block Modified roster, please contact NorthEast PR Director Tom Skibinski (315/834-6606) at DIRTcar NE headquarters in Weedsport, N.Y. or through e-mail correspondence. Volusia Speedway Park

1 Darwin Greene/Susquehanna,PA ….. 2nd straight year to Fla., 2 cars in ‘08
1w Billy Pauch/Frenchtown,NJ ….. 1982 & 1985 Florida Tour champion
5 Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ ….. 1999 Florida champ, 5 tour wins
6g Martin Gagne/Granby,QUE ….. Florida Tour debut with owner J.P. Gobeille
6j Joe Isabell/Pennellville,NY ….. 18 year-old 2nd-generation driver
6pack Dave Schrader/Endeavor,PA ….. Keystone State veteran planning 2nd trip
7j Jeff Isabell/Pennellville,NY ….. JIR Motorsports mainstay fielding 4 cars
8 Rich Scagliotta/Bound Brook,NJ ….. Florida Tour regular every winter
8b Rob Bellinger/Dexter,NY ….. ‘Kid’ Troyer making VSP Big-Block driving debut
10 Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY ….. New Sherlock team, still high expectations
14 Rick Laubach/Quakertown,PA ….. Seeks more series shows with owner Dick Biever
18 Sean Beardsley/Central Square,NY ….. 3rd trip to Florida for ’08 competition
20 Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ ….. All-time Florida DIRTcar Nationals Big-Block Champ
20s Steve Haggan/Ringoes, NJ ….. 2008 marks second year of Modified competition
t21 Roger Chrysler/Lewiston,NY ….. Western New Yorker gaining Mod experience
22 Mario Clair/St-Edmond,QUE ….. ’07 Mr. DIRTcar 358 Champ entering Big-Block
22w Rick Wegner/Monmouth Junction,NJ ….. Maiden trip south for sophomore pilot
27 Chad James/Laurel,DE ….. Son of Bridgeport (NJ) Speedway owner Jay James
27j Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY ….. New ride for defending Florida Tour Champ
30 Jordan Watson/Milford,DE ….. Nephew of Delaware State Champ Jamie Mills
34 Andy Bachetti/Sheffield,MA ….. 2005 Florida Tour champ, Lebanon Valley star
39w Steve Downs/Georgetown,DE ….. newcomer steering owner Bill Wood’s mount
m40 Mark Forte,Jr./Blue Anchor,NJ ….. 2nd straight winter trip South
42p Pat Ward/Genoa,NY ….. 2004 Florida Tour points champion, Gypsum teammate
43 Keith Flach/Ravena,NY ….. 2nd-generation driver expanding program in ‘08
44s Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY ….. 1st-string Ross Motorsports driver for 5th year
48too Dave Rauscher/Waterloo,NY ….. Sheppard teammate again in ‘Sunshine State’
55 Jamie Mills/Milford,DE ….. Searching for elusive Florida title in 11th straight trip
56 Vince Vitale/Phoenix,NY ….. 1st time racing at Volusia for CNY regular
66w Wallace Stacey/Kahnawake,QUE(2) ….. Alan Johnson teammate in 2007
71 David VanHorn/Phillipsburg,NJ ….. 8th-place in final ’07 Florida Tour points
77x Dale Planck/Cortland,NY ….. High aspirations with new owner Carey Terrance
79 Jeremy Markle/Port Jervis,NY ….. Florida Tour staple and Orange Co. regular
85 Dan Vauter/Forest City,PA ….. Sponsor search continues during trip south
91 Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY ….. Resumé space reserved for 1st Florida Tour title
98h Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY ….. Prepared even more after best season ever
99 Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY ….. ‘07 DIRTcar NE Sportsman top rookie at 15 yrs. old
117 Kevin Hirthler/Boyertown,PA ….. Only other VSP appearance made in 2003
923 Colin Jackson/Peckville,PA ….. Orange County runner kicking off season south
-tba- Alan Fink/Central Square,NY ….. 1st trip to Florida for promising 20 year-old

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.