Weedsport, NY — December 17, 2009 – By Tom Skibinski, Super DIRTcar Series PR Director
*Rick Young Photo
Chimney smoke has finally filled the air and the holidays are now at hand, sure signals the start of a new season of DIRTcar Racing is right around the corner.
For legions of fans and racers snowbound in the Northeast, the arrival of winter means only a few weeks remain before the mighty DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds head south for their 13th successive trip to Volusia Speedway Park for the Feb. 2-13 DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH near Daytona Beach, Fla.
In the Central New York home of Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified superstar Jimmy Phelps the countdown is on.
“I’ve never been itching more to race than in the coming year,” remarked Phelps, 34, who finished third in the 2009 Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship point standings. “We ended last season with a lot of positives and we’re anxious to get back. The PRI (Performance Racing Industry) show in Orlando got our adrenaline going again and after Christmas it will be fast forward until we leave in February.”
Phelps will get his first chance to capitalize on his ’09 success when the Florida tour for Big-Blocks kicks off Feb. 10 at Volusia with a 30-lap feature headlining the program. Open-wheel action continues with 30-lap main events on Thursday and Friday before a big 50-lapper brings the curtain down on Saturday, Feb. 13. An optional practice day has been set for Tuesday, Feb. 9, with Phelps hoping to double up at nearby Disney World as the family enjoys some different style rides.
“With racing in Australia and Shannon (wife) pregnant last winter the timing just wasn’t right,” noted Phelps, who has competed at VSP twice, scoring a 4th-place best in his 2006 debut before leaving with a runner-up tally in the ’08 trip south, good enough to be in the Top-10 in points on both occasions. “Things are looking good right now and we’re keeping an open mind going back.”
“Coming off our best season then, we had higher expectations for Florida in 2008. We didn’t do as well as we wanted but the good part was that it showed us our weaknesses and we were able to make improvements up north.”
“Any time you can get out of town during the winter is fun, and running well definitely makes it a lot more fun when you’re away. Going to Florida gets everybody back on track earlier, not only allowing you to experiment a little more but giving the whole team a chance to gel. We had some hard luck last year so we’ll be heading down looking to build back up some of that momentum,” said Phelps, who owns 26 DIRTcar Big-Block victories with five registered in the Super DIRTcar Series.
Chasing championship points for owners John Holland and Al Heinke the past four seasons, Phelps is set to steer the HBR Motorsports No. 98H Wave Energy Drink-Mohawk Northeast/Troyer entry for Heinke, who recently joined up with Baldwin Racing for the 2010 campaign. Along with managing his own team on weekends, including select Small-Block shows throughout the season, the Baldwinsville, N.Y., pilot will keep focused on the coveted Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block crown that has eluded him since 2005.
“It’s business as usual, not much has really changed other than some ownership details,” commented Phelps, in the meantime confirming Randy Kisacky will remain the crew chief while the cars will continue to be maintained at Troyer Race Cars located on the west side of Rochester, N.Y. “Everybody knows their job and what’s at stake, especially Billy (Colton, TRC President), he’s wrapped up 24/7 in everything that’s going on with all the Troyer cars in competition.”
“We touched on some really good things with a brand new Troyer that came out in mid-season. We consistently ran up front and were in position to win some pretty big races after that, probably learned more than in all the previous years. Going to Volusia the (track) conditions are never quite the same, but now we’re better prepared to make the necessary changes when the time comes,” added Phelps, who in August lost out on a $17,500 payday due to a blown rear-end with only four laps remaining at Lebanon Valley Speedway before falling just 10 laps short of a career-making Rite Aid 200 victory at Syracuse when a soft tire foiled his best effort.
Among the more than 30 DIRTcar Modified teams expected to join Phelps for the popular Florida mini-tour staged at Volusia are those of reigning Hoosier-VP Mr. DIRTcar points king Brett Hearn, 2009 Rite Aid 200 Champion Matt Sheppard, ’09 Motorsports Safety Systems Rookie of the Year Rich Scagliotta, and defending DIRTcar Nationals titlist Pat Ward, along with his Gypsum Express teammates Billy Decker and Larry Wight.
Drivers wishing to update team information for the Florida DIRTcar Nationals pre-race roster, please contact Super DIRTcar Series PR Director Tom Skibinski by phone (585/350-8997) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Specific questions regarding rules can be addressed to Joe Skotnicki (704/796-4566), DIRTcar NE Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning.
Just in time for the holidays, tickets are currently on sale for the 39th Florida DIRTcar Nationals. A special Big-Block ticket package is available for all four nights they race. In addition, with every ticket bought fans can sign up on race night for a FREE Fan Pit Pass, which provides an up-close look at the cars and stars towing in for competition that night.
Along with the Big-Block Modifieds, competition during the weeks also features Sprint Car racing (Feb. 3-7), Late Model action (Feb. 8-13) and UMP DIRTcar Modified activity (Feb. 2-9). Call the track directly at 386/985-4402 or visit www.dirtcarnationals.com for the latest information.
39th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH – Volusia Speedway Park
Big-Block Modified Schedule/Information
Day-Date Event Feature Winner
Tue-Feb 9 Practice —
Wed-Feb 10 Qualifying Heats, Feature (30 Laps) $2,000
Thr-Feb 11 Qualifying Heats, Feature (30 Laps) $2,000
Fri-Feb 12 Qualifying Heats, Feature (30 Laps) $2,000
Sat-Feb 13 Qualifying Heats, Feature (50 Laps) $5,000
– DIRTcar Northeast Rulebook applies;
– DIRTcar Hoosier Tires mandatory, Soft, Hard, Extra Hard compounds may be used in any combination;
– VP Racing Fuel only;
– Weight Minimum:
*DIRTcar legal big-block up to 467 c.i. (min. 2500 lbs.);
– AMB Transponders & RACEceivers required, NO Radios allowed;
– All heat race line-ups determined by draw, all features will start heads-up;
*Notice: Mufflers NOT required for Florida DIRTcar Nationals events.
DIRTcar Racing NE Contacts:
Joe Skotnicki – DIRTcar NE Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning (704/796-4566);
Tom Skibinski – Super DIRTcar Series PR Director (585/350-8997).
Volusia Speedway Park (386/985-4402);
– located 15 miles west of Daytona Beach (I-95) on Route 40 in Barberville.
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 annually in October 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.