Weedsport, NY — March 25, 2009 – By Tom Skibinski, Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series PR Director
Weather often plays a factor in early spring and late autumn race meets scheduled around the Northeast. With any luck, ‘storms’ will be prevalent throughout the entire 2009 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series as rising star Michael Storms hopes to emerge as a solid contender on the nation’s premier Big-Block Modified tour.
“Our plan right now is to be at the first five events and then evaluate our progress,” remarked Storms, 21, who finished his rookie Big-Block campaign qualifying at eight of the 26 Advance Series stops to place 19th in the Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship. The Wantage, New Jersey speedster is on the brink of embarking on a sophomore season holding higher aspirations of more series shows and increased travel as the summer speeds on.
“We had a decent run last year that gave us a lot of experience in a Big-Block. There are so many good drivers and strong teams on tour you have to keep expectations realistic so we’re just hoping to get a few top-10s. Most of all, gain a lot of track time at places we haven’t run too much. I’ve been at Hagerstown a handful of times already and I’m probably more determined to get a good finish there after all the bad luck we’ve had lately,” said Storms, who blew a motor in Hagerstown’s recent Big-Block lid-lifter on March 7 to end up 22nd on the scoresheet.
The first ‘Storms’ warning on the DIRTcar NE circuit goes into effect this weekend when the Advance Auto Parts Series opens at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway on Saturday, March 28. The $6,000-to-win ‘North-South Shootout 100’ is expected to attract one of the finest fields of the season to the storied Maryland oval, with Storms joining reigning overall Mr. DIRTcar points king Billy Decker and all-time Advance Series race winner Brett Hearn on the preliminary list of nearly 40 pre-race entries.
Storms returns as the primary Big-Block pilot for owner Vinny Salerno —who continues to provide a Small-Block ride for Hearn— steering the Four Star Motorsports no. 4 Keizer Aluminum Wheels-Mike Sparta Trucking/TEO machine powered by a Pat Morrison-prepared engine.
“The guys on Brett’s crew were the ones that really pushed Vinny to get a Big-Block ride for me,” revealed Storms, who finished 4th in Salerno’s Small-Block mount during Eastern States Weekend at Orange County before closing out 2007 at Hagerstown filling in for Hearn, who was sidelined with a back injury. “Everybody put in a good word for me and I kept my fingers crossed never leaving Vinny alone much after that.”
The Salerno/Storms combination clicked for an OCFS feature win last year at the end of June and finished fourth in track points at the same Middletown, New York oval.
“We made the decision to do something together after Eastern States in ’07 but it wasn’t really all that much at the time,” explained Salerno, 43, who began as a partner with Bobby Hayes Jr. at OCFS in 1994 before teaming with Storms last season and fielding a top ride for Hearn since 2004. In between, his Stony Point, New York shop maintained top-notch cars for Earl Paulus Jr. (1999), Andy Bachetti (2000-01) and Jerry Higbie (2002-03), garnering three Small-Block titles along the way. “We’re hoping for a little more this season, yet happy to take it all one step at a time.”
“Last year was our first together and winning a race was as much as we could’ve hoped for. The main goal was just being able to move forward during the season, every race try to improve from wherever we started. The major focus this year in the series will be to qualify for the features and get more seat time. Mike is cautiously aggressive, a nice trait to have starting out, especially when it comes down to keeping your expenses in line and carrying you through the whole season,” Salerno noted.
Storms’ career climb up the ladder of success has been earmarked by patience, competing as a youth in quarter-midgets, micro- and mini-sprints before making his DIRTcar Sportsman Modified debut in 2005. Employed today as a body fabricator at TEO Pro Car, he scored three feature wins in the entry-level open-wheel division from 2006-07 before taking his first Big-Block checkered flag last summer on the hard clay.
“I pretty much hung around Brett’s shop and have been around racing since I was born so getting into a Big-Block was the natural progression,” said Storms, who was always accompanied by his grandfather Whitey Memmelaar, a long time proponent of B.H. Racing Enterprises in the Garden State. “If I have a chance to go anywhere further in racing I’ll certainly check it out, but I’d be just as content in a Big-Block the rest of life. Its what I know, how I’ve been brought up and definitely a great way of life being a part.”
“Getting more experience at other tracks is at the top of our agenda this season. We’ll see how far the series can take us and probably run at least a half-dozen shows at Cayuga County for (Mr. DIRTcar Championship) bonus points. I know all the best guys will be on tour but that’s the only way to learn. If you see guys like Alan or Danny (Johnsons) beside you or know some of the veterans are coming up fast, you just can’t get intimidated too much. Try to race them clean and stay out of the way if you can’t keep up, that’s how you gain respect. Maybe the same guys will return the favor somewhere down the road,” Storms figured.
Joining the Advance Auto Parts Modifieds in the Saturday evening doubleheader will be the Late Models. Pits gates are scheduled to unlock at 3:00 p.m., grandstands open at 4:00 p.m. with warm-ups starting at 5:30 p.m. followed by Integra Shocks Big-Block Time Trials. Hagerstown Speedway is located on U.S. Route 40, four miles west of I-81.
For additional information, contact DIRTcar Racing Northeast Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning Cory Reed via cell (315/224-9009) or in the DIRTcar Northeast Office (315/834-6606). Also log into www.superdirtcarseries.com, phone the speedway office at 301/582-0640 or visit the track website at www.hagerstownspeedway.com.
2009 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Schedule
NP=Non-Point event; SP=Show-Up Point event.
*All events subject to change.
DAY-DATE TRACK WINNER/LOCATION
Wed-Feb 11 Volusia Speedway Park-NP Pat Ward
Thr-Feb 12 Volusia Speedway Park-NP Pat Ward
Fri-Feb 13 Volusia Speedway Park-NP Jamie Mills
Sat-Feb 14 Volusia Speedway Park-NP Brett Hearn
Sat-Mar 28 Hagerstown Speedway Hagerstown,MD
Sun-Apr 26 Big Diamond Raceway Minersville,PA
Sat-Jun 6 Lebanon Valley Speedway West Lebanon,NY
Sun-Jun 7 Airborne Speedway-SP Plattsburgh,NY
Wed-Jun 17 Orange Co Fair Speedway Middletown,NY
Fri-Jul 3 Ransomville Speedway Ransomville,NY
Sat-Jul 4 Fulton Speedway Fulton,NY
Thr-Jul 9 Brockville Ont Speedway Brockville,ONT
Fri-Jul 10 Autodrome Granby Granby,QUE
Sat-Jul 11 Autodrome Drummond Drummondville,QUE
Sun-Jul 12 Cornwall Motor Speedway Cornwall,ONT
Sat-Jul 18 Cayuga Co Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY
Sun-Jul 19 Cayuga Co Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY ($20,000-to-win)
Mon-Aug 3 Merrittville Speedway Thorold,ONT
Fri-Aug 7 Brewerton Speedway Brewerton,NY
Sat-Aug 8 Canandaigua Speedway Canandaigua,NY
Fri-Aug 21 Can-Am Motorsports Park LaFargeville,NY
Thr-Aug 27 Lebanon Valley Speedway West Lebanon,NY ($17,500-to-win)
Sun-Sep 6 Cayuga Co Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY
Mon-Sep 7 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Fri-Sep 11 Lernerville Speedway Sarver,PA
Sat-Sep 19 -TBA-
Sat-Sep 26 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Sun-Oct 11 New York State Fairgrnds Syracuse,NY ($50,000-to-win)
Sun-Oct 18 -TBA-
Sun-Oct 25 -TBA-
DIRTcar Racing Northeast main office is located in Weedsport, New York on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds www.cayugacountyfairspeedway.com, home of the 2009 DIRTcar All-Star Weekend, July 17-19, featuring Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series events for Sportsman and Big-Block Modifieds in the richest short-track show of its kind in the nation — the $20,000-to-win Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series “DIRTcar All-Star 100” on Sunday, July 19.
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 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.