Syracuse, NY — October 3, 2009 – By Kevin Kovac, World of Outlaws Late Model Series P.R. Director
Vic Coffey has experienced the thrill of winning the world’s richest DIRTcar Big-Block Modified event – twice.
Maybe that’s why the 2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Rookie of the Year doesn’t have any butterflies floating in his stomach as he prepares to make another assault on the Rite Aid 200 Presented By Ferris & Snapper Mowers, which headlines Super DIRT Week XXXVIII, Oct. 7-11, at the famed Syracuse Mile on the New York State Fairgrounds.
“You always want to win that race so bad because it’s the biggest Big-Block Modified race of the year,” Coffey said of the $50,000-to-win event that he captured in 2002 and again in ‘07. “Even after you win it once, you still want to win it again. But once you win it, it does take that pressure off. You’re not thinking, ‘Can I do it this year?’ because you’ve already done it.
“After you’ve won it,” he continued, “if things go bad for you – like they went bad for us last year when we broke a spindle about 20 laps into the race (and finished 45th) – you can deal with the disappointment a little better. But if you’ve never won it before and you have trouble, it seems like it takes 3,000 days for the year to go by so you’ll have another shot at it. You just can’t stop thinking about getting back there again to try to get that first win.”
Coffey, 38, of Caledonia, N.Y., might now carry himself with the confident posture of a former Syracuse champion, but that doesn’t mean he’ll enter the 2009 Super DIRT Week activities totally free of concerns. He has, after all, entered just a half-dozen DIRTcar Big-Block Modified events this season due to his focus on dirt Late Model racing and will be debuting a brand-new, limited-edition machine built by Troyer Race Cars in Rochester, N.Y.
Heading out on the intimidating ‘Moody Mile’ in an untested car wasn’t Coffey’s original plan. He decided a couple months ago to turn over the proven Bicknell car that he’s driven in the last three Rite Aid 200s (including his ’07 triumph) to his Sweeteners Plus Racing teammate Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. – the 2006 WoO LMS champion who is returning to Super DIRT Week competition this year for the first time since 2005 – and ready his team’s existing Troyer car to run at Syracuse. But Coffey destroyed the mount earmarked for ‘Cuse duty in a wild series of flips during a heat race on Aug. 29 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Speedway, forcing him to order a new car for the annual autumn showdown that this year culminates the week on Sun., Oct. 11.
Coffey’s Modified wasn’t constructed specifically for Syracuse – it’s a short-track frame with a body that’s been beefed up to withstand the rigors of the high-speed mile – but it sports enough new ideas, including a different motor placement, to make it quite unique.
“I’m not worried about running the new car, just a little unsure about it,” said Coffey, whose only top-10 finishes in 13 career Rite Aid 200 starts are, amazingly, his pair of victories. “Running this car is a little bit of a gamble. Troyer has only built a few of these type cars and I think we’ll have the only one at Syracuse, so it could be a big advantage for us or it could be a struggle if we can’t get it figured out right away.”
Coffey sees pure speed as probably being more important than gas mileage this year in the Rite Aid 200, thanks to a new rule DIRTcar Racing officials have instituted. Teams must make two mandatory pit stops – one before lap 100 and one after the halfway point – for the first time in an event that usually sees its winner push the fuel envelope well over 100 laps.
“I think it’s a good rule,” said Coffey, who won the 2002 Rite Aid 200 when leader Kenny Tremont ran out of gas on the final lap. “Now everybody should be able to run hard rather than worry about conserving fuel. It should make the race more fun and exciting.”
With Coffey currently on a week-long Midwestern dirt Late Model trip that ends on Saturday night (Oct. 3) with the Knoxville Late Model Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway, he’s dispatched two volunteers to pick up his Syracuse car at the Troyer shop. Troyer workers assembled most of the machine, leaving Coffey and Co. with only some final preparations, including engine installation, when they return to their team headquarters in Avon, N.Y., most likely sometime on Sunday.
Despite the car being largely race-ready, “we’re gonna have a couple late nights in the shop,” said Coffey. In addition to finishing the Big-Block car, Coffey must also swap the dirt Late Model parts in his new Featherlite trailer, which he picked up last week in Iowa, for Modified paraphernalia and load up the car he’ll run in the DIRTcar 358-Modified Syracuse 150. He’s not sure if he’ll make it to the Fairgrounds in time for ‘Happy Hour’ hot laps at 3 p.m. on Wednesday (Oct. 7), so his practice time might be limited before Rite Aid 200 time trials begin on Thursday afternoon (Oct. 8).
The segment of Super DIRT Week that has Coffey most jazzed is the 150-lap 358-Modified event on Sat., Oct. 10. He’s come close to winning the event several times, including last year when he crossed the finish line second but was later disqualified because the back-up car he hadn’t planned to use was found to have a cylinder head infraction.
“I feel more anxious about the small-block (358) deal,” admitted Coffey, who will make his 13th start in the 358-Modified show that headlines Saturday’s Super DIRT Week program. “We’ve had a good shot at winning that thing three or four times, so I’d really like to get that race.
“I think we have a real good shot at it. We’re going there with the same (358) package that we’ve run the last few years (a Bicknell car with a Mopar engine) and we know it’s fast. It’s going to be a matter of catching the right breaks.”
Coffey expects to be back in his dirt Late Model following Super DIRT Week, perhaps for the WoO LMS ‘Topless Showdown’ on Wed., Oct. 14, at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., and certainly for the World of Outlaws World Finals on Nov. 5-7 at The Dirt Track. Though he dropped off the WoO LMS as a regular midway through the season, in 26 tour A-Main starts this year he’s registered more top-five finishes (three, including a career-best second-place run on Sept. 2 at New York’s Brewerton Speedway) and the same number of top-10s (nine) that he did in 34 A-Main outings in 2008
For more information about Super DIRT Week, including lap sponsorship, ticket order placement and vendor space availability, please contact DIRTcar Racing NE Headquarters during the week at 315/834-6606. Further newsworthy items can be found at www.superdirtcarseries.com and www.dirtcar.com as well as www.superdirtweekonline.com, where tickets can be ordered and official Super DIRT Week entry forms are found. Sign up today as a Big-Block ‘follower’ on Twitter by visiting http://www.twitter.com/SuperDIRTcar and http://twitter.com/SuperDIRTWeek, the exclusive site for all the racing activity scheduled during the week ahead.
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 October 7-11, 2009 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.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 Rite Aid Corporation www.riteaid.com, Dig Safely New York www.digsafelynewyork.com and the University of Northwestern Ohio www.unoh.com and the contingency sponsors are Bars Leaks www.barsproducts.com, Bert Transmission www.berttransmission.com, Bicknell Racing Products www.bicknellracingproducts.com, Bilstein Shocks www.bilstein.com, Brodix Cylinder Heads www.brodix.com, Ferris Industries www.ferrisindustries.com, Integra Shocks www.integrashocksandsprings.com, Intercomp www.intercomp-racing.com, KSE Racing Products www.kse-racing.com, Motorsports Safety Systems www.motorsportssafetysystems.com, Penske Shocks, www.penskeshocks.com, Racing Electronics www.racingelectronics.com, Rislone Oil Stabilizer www.barsproducts.com and Wrisco Industries www.wrisco.com.