Weedsport, NY — March 25, 2010 – By Tom Skibinski, Super DIRTcar Series PR Director
*Rick Young Photo
Super DIRTcar Series veteran Steve Paine heads a short list of Big-Block drivers hoping that history repeats itself when the mighty Big-Block Modifieds return to Hagerstown Speedway for the 7th Annual North-South Shootout on Saturday, March 27.
The inaugural tour winner at Hagerstown in 2001, Paine has followed up with a trio of 6th-place finishes, boasting a rate of consistency equal to past victors Gary Tomkins (2), Alan Johnson, Brett Hearn and Tim Fuller in the previous half-dozen trips made to the popular Maryland half-miler.
“Its certainly one of the better tracks we get to race on, still its been a couple years so hopefully not much has changed,” remarked Paine, 49, alluding to the fact that unfavorable weather conditions have kept the familiar yellow Paine Motorsports no. 7X Swarthout Recycling-Tallmadge Tire-Terrell’s Potato Chips/Bicknell entry loaded in his Waterloo, N.Y. garage the past two springs. “Don’t really know why (success), just like the place and have always done well. It’s a ways to travel but we seem to make out good enough to keep coming back.”
2010 will be somewhat of a comeback year for Paine following his first year of limited tour action in the past two decades. Qualifying for 12 of the 20 Series stops in ’09, the first Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Champion of the new millennium still climbed to 15th in the final point standings.
“Last year was a combination of family and finances, I didn’t want to spend hours driving on the weekends and pass by a track 20 minutes from my house. I’m still the owner and my biggest responsibility comes with putting the money where it’s worth the most. I still like traveling so more midweek shows on the schedule is much more feasible this year. Right now I have every intention of making all the races,” assessed Paine, who will also compete regularly at Canandaigua (Sat.) and Cayuga County Fair (Sun.) speedways during his 28th season on the DIRTcar Northeast Modified circuit.
This season Steve’s wife Stacy, sons Billy (8), Tommy (6) and Joey (3) will continue to be weekly fixtures at the Ontario County Fairgrounds —where he owns a record 10 Canandaigua point championships— although road trips will be made only with Paine’s race day team in tow.
“The kids go every week to Canandaigua and a few times to Cayuga County, but there’s just not enough room in the hauler when we pack up for the longer midweek runs. Right now we are planning to make the Quebec swing our family trip. All the kids are playing sports nowadays so getting everyone together at the same time gets tougher every year,” noted Paine, recognized as a series mainstay for three decades, scoring his first tour triumph at Canandaigua in 1985 and logging his latest extra-distance victory at Can-Am Motorsports Park in the summer of 2007.
Along with the coveted Mr. DIRTcar crown earned in 2000, Paine has racked up 27 career extra-distance Series wins to stand seventh on the all-time list. DIRTcar Northeast’s Driver of the Year in 1991 also ranks fifth on the career chart with 17 Fast Time Awards, setting the single-lap standard at Autodrome Granby (Que.) in 2008. Among the ‘Hurricane’s’ career-best six Series checkered flags taken in 2001 was his victory on a national stage in the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified debut at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
“We’ll definitely be going back to Charlotte, it’s a big event that deserves everybody’s attention,” added Paine, who is also a two-time overall Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified champion. Along with collecting 28 track championships, he has tallied 272 open-wheel wins since graduating from the Late Model ranks in 1982. “But right now there’s a lot of work to do before then. So many teams are spending a lot of money, our only concern is just running better than we did last year. Hopefully, we can pick up a few more wins along the way and make it worthwhile.”
Already padding his career win list this season is fellow Waterloo, New Yorker and early season favorite Matt Sheppard, who remains in pursuit of that elusive first-ever Mr. DIRTcar Championship. Defending champion Brett Hearn is in search of an unprecedented 8th Big-Block title and will also be challenged by two-time champ Billy Decker, Jimmy Phelps and Dale Planck, Alan and Danny Johnson, along with young guns Justin Haers, Ryan Phelps, Billy Dunn, Michael Storms, Larry Wight and first-year tour follower Lance Willix II.
An ‘Octoberfest’ qualifier for Small-Block Modifieds will fill out Hagerstown’s dirt doubleheader on March 27 with pit gates scheduled to unlock at 3:00 p.m., grandstands opening at 4:00 p.m. and 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 more information, contact DIRTcar Racing Northeast Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning Joe Skotnicki (704/796-4566) or log into www.superdirtcarseries.com for additional news & notes. Be sure to sign up on http://www.twitter.com/SuperDIRTcar and receive updates anywhere at anytime. The speedway office can be reached by phoning 301/582-0640 and the track website remains www.hagerstownspeedway.com while http://stevepaine.painemotorsports.com provides the most updated material about Steve Paine.
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.allstar100weekend.com and www.superdirtweekonline.com anytime.