Weedsport, NY — June 4, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series PR Director
*Boris Rudzinski Photo
Steve Paine has been a weekly fixture at Canandaigua Speedway on Saturday nights for a quarter-century. When Fulton Speedway hosts round four of the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series this weekend, Paine will be away from “home” for the first time this season yet still among his closest rivals that are also regulars at the Ontario County Fairgrounds in Canandaigua.
“Fulton is probably one of the tougher tracks with some of the tour guys running there regularly,” figured Paine, 47, who kicked off his 27th season of open-wheel competition with a 4th-place finish in the Advance Auto Parts Series lid-lifter at Virginia Motor Speedway on May 1. Steering his familiar no. 7x Tallmadge Tire-Swarthout Recycling-Instant Heat Wood Pellets/Troyer entry, the Waterloo, New York pilot followed up with another top-five tally in the second series stop at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park and currently ranks eighth in points through the first four races. “But every race at any track has been really tough lately.”
“The cars are pretty even and all the teams have the same information available so its tougher to get an advantage nowadays. The biggest change is where you finish. Running real good in this series may just mean a top-five, but if you’re off just a little bit you’ll probably end up out of the top-10. Right now my cars are as good as they’ve ever been, it just comes down to timing, the equipment and having a little luck on your side,” Paine said.
The ‘Hurricane’ is confident that a generous helping of good fortune will fill his plate when he storms into Fulton on Saturday, June 7 for the ‘Showdown At Sundown 100’ presented by Bradco Supply and Ferris Mowers. Pit gates are scheduled to unlock at 3 p.m. with hot laps slated for 6 o’clock. Heat race qualifiers take the first green flag at 7 p.m. following Integra Shocks Modified Time Trials that begin at 6:30 and the main grandstands open for seating at 5 p.m.
Paine’s weekly Canandaigua foes Gary Tomkins, Matt Sheppard, Justin Haers and Jeff Brownell Jr. are also among the Advance Series travelers, while series stars Alan Johnson, Dale Planck, Jimmy Phelps, Danny Johnson, Ryan Phelps and Kevin Bates have been Fulton favorites early in the 2008 campaign. Paine remains in search of his first Big-Block feature win this season both on the homefront and in tour competition.
“I’ve been fairly decent at Fulton lately and like the track a little better now with more laps run,” admitted Paine, who posted a solid sixth-place finish in last year’s 100-lapper despite losing a brake hose midway through. “Actually, I really notice the banking more at Weedsport as Fulton kinda flattens out at the bottom in the turns. I think I chased Pat (Ward) most of the race last time without any brakes. I might’ve moved up a couple spots if that didn’t happen but still ran well. I’d like to think I have a good set-up coming back but I’m sure everybody else does, too.”
Establishing a new DIRTcar Racing NorthEast record last season after collecting an eighth straight Big-Block Modified points title at Canandaigua, Paine also captured the overall Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Championship in 2000 and stands seventh all-time with 27 Advance Series victories at 13 tracks including the inaugural events at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway and Lowe’s Dirt Track in Concord, North Carolina.
“Its been a difficult year so far with all the bad weather, we usually have a half-dozen races in alone at Canandaigua,” said Paine, who is third in points at the storied ‘Land of Legends’ half-miler behind leaders Tomkins and Sheppard. He also holds down fifth on the points chart at Cayuga County Fair Speedway although current plans include following only half the CCFS schedule behind the wheel of Joe Beyea’s no. 121 Troyer mount. “And the competition might be a little stiffer this year as well.”
“(Canandaigua) conditions have been tough in the spring. The track hasn’t settled and I haven’t either. I don’t like to wreck and can’t afford to so I guess I’ll just have to wait until the place dries out to get any better,” noted Paine, who stands behind only Alan Johnson (113) and Bob McCreadie (99) on the career win list at Canandaigua with 79 checkered flags.
Paine has yet to break into the winner’s circle at Fulton, but then again neither has current Advance Series points leader Brett Hearn, who is also the winningest tour driver with 98 extra-distance victories. Paine settled for 16th in the series debut at Fulton in 1999 aboard the no. 12T Thum Racing Special and the following year opened up the new millennium with a 12th-place finish en route to earning Mr. DIRTcar accolades.
“I always hope to win but get over it faster nowadays when I don’t with a family to take care of, it’s the only thing better for me than racing,” added Paine, who is still joined on raceday by his wife Stacy and sons Billy (6 yrs.), Tommy (4) and Joey (1-1/2). “I still put in as much time getting the car ready, just spend a whole lot more doing other things at different hours.”
When the green flag flies at Fulton on Saturday, Paine http://stevepaine.painemotorsports.com will have the $6,000 top prize on his mind as well as a coveted starting berth guaranteed the winner for the prestigious Rite Aid 200 Championship race on Oct. 12 of Super DIRT Week XXXVII at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. Along with the all-star cast of Advance Auto Parts Series stars, the roster of Fulton faithful will be headlined by current track leader Tom Sears Jr. and top-five point-getters Jim Witko and Steve Hulsizer (1 win).
Contact Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning Cory Reed at the DIRTcar NorthEast Office (315/834-6606) or log into www.superdirtcarseries.com for additional Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series information. Fulton Speedway www.fultonspeedway.com is located south of the village on County Route 57 and officials can be contacted in the track office at 315/593-6531 with the race line accessible at 315/668-RACE.
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 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.