Weedsport, NY — January 29, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast PR Director
The 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. is just a few weeks away and another stellar field of Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series competitors is expected as the popular winter bash quickly approaches.
Atop the chart of 40 pre-race entries are seven drivers accounting for 17 Florida Tour point titles spread over the past quarter-century. That legendary list includes six-time champion Brett Hearn, Danny Johnson (3), Alan Johnson (2), Jimmy Horton (2), Billy Pauch (2), Pat Ward and Andy Bachetti, with 39 checkered flags shared along the way.
“I’m very close to announcing a new associate sponsorship and the car has a new paint job, besides that everything is just about the same as last year,” said Hearn, 49, who also claimed a record-tying sixth overall Hoosier Tire-Sunoco Race Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Modified Championship last autumn. The Sussex, New Jersey superstar is DIRTcar Racing NorthEast’s all-time win leader with 508 (339 Big-Block) Modified victories. “I guess you can use the angle we’ve got strength in continuity so we’ll just try to carry over all the momentum stored away from a solid 2007 season.”
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 ’08 trip, February 13-16. An optional practice day has been saved for Tue., Feb. 12. Hearn has dominated the oval-track action like none other since the return of DIRTcar’s Norrheastern Big-Block Modifieds to the Sunshine State in 1998, racking up an Advance Auto Parts mini-series best 17 victories during the past 10 Februarys.
“We ended up last season pretty good but ironically it was one of our worst outings down south trying to overcome a lot of mechanical issues,” said Hearn, who will be back aboard the potent Madsen Motorsports no. 20 Wentworth Custom Homes-Kruger-WLR/TEO mount to kick off his 33rd consecutive season of open-wheel activity. Last February the ‘Corporate Jet’ settled for fourth in points after finishing no lower than second only once over the previous nine winters. “So far, we’ve been doing as much work on the truck as the cars lately.”
“We would like to start out like we did two years ago (2 wins, title), last winter was our first time without a win to take back home. Right now we’re trying to find another car that I really like. Other than Syracuse, I only used a back-up car twice all of last season in the twins at Can-Am and Rolling Wheels. But that might be something positive as it shows the other guys that just one car can still get the job done out on the road,” added Hearn, who has been the toughest right out of the box in Florida, placing first in five Alltel Nationals openers while copping three 50-lap feature race finales.
Joining Hearn in the all-star cast of past champions scheduled to make the haul south are perennial rivals Alan and Danny Johnson, along with two-time Florida feature winners Billy Decker and Jamie Mills. Danny is the defending Alltel Nationals Big-Block Champion and Alan is DIRTcar’s all-time Big-Block Modified feature winner, with both siblings boasting new rides to begin the 2008 campaign.
Volusia Speedway Park (386/985-4402) is located 15 miles west of Daytona Beach on State Road 40 in Barberville, Fla. For additional information, contact the DIRTcar NorthEast Office during normal business hours or log into www.superdirtcarseries.com. Reserved seat tickets for each night of the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals can be purchased online at www.VolusiaSpeedwayPark.com.
Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts is the second-largest retailer of automotive aftermarket parts, accessories, batteries, and maintenance items in the United States, based on store count and sales. As of October 6, 2007, the company operated 3,228 stores in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The company serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets.
All-Time Florida Tour Big-Block Modified Point Champions: 1978-2007
YEAR CHAMPION (wins) TRACK(S)
*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
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.