Weedsport, NY — April 11, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series PR Director
*Jim Clarke Photo
Pat O’Brien has logged thousands of miles at dozens of tracks around the DIRTcar NorthEast circuit, chasing valuable points in between towards the coveted 358-Modified Championship for the past quarter-century. The upcoming season, however, marks his first ever trip to Virginia and his initial run at the biggest prize in Big-Block Modified racing today.
An immediate concern of O’Brien is collecting the monumental first-place prize of $10,000 that awaits the winner of the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Paul Sawyer Memorial at Virginia Motor Speedway on May 1. His long-term goal will be reached that same day, finally being afforded the opportunity of a lifetime to follow the premier Big-Block Modified tour full-time in 2008.
“I’ve always wanted to give the whole Advance Series a try before its too late,” divulged O’Brien, 43, a four-time Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified points king who stands fourth on the all-time Small-Block list with 142 feature wins. Another 24 victories are chronicled in the Big-Block record book with a pair registered in Advance Series competition — including last year’s convincing triumph on the local front at Brockville Ontario Speedway. “We ran pretty respectable alongside the Big-Blocks last season so this is a good time to make the jump.”
“Our business has been good lately and with fewer mid-week Series shows now scheduled we’re looking forward to finally seeing how we can do. There were a number of tour guys we ran against last season at Can-Am and Thunder Alley and we managed to hold our own. It’s always nice to pick up a win now and then but running consistent and being better at the end of the year than at the beginning is what we’re really hoping for this time around,” O’Brien said.
The second-generation standout from Kingston, Ontario will have his driving gloves full as he takes on the best in the Big-Block business for six straight months. Headlining the tour opener at VMS are defending Sawyer Memorial winner Danny Johnson, reigning overall Mr. DIRTcar Modified points king Brett Hearn and DIRTcar NorthEast’s all-time winningest Big-Block Modified driver Alan Johnson. Both Johnson brothers are boasting new rides for the ’08 oval track campaign.
“There’s not much of a difference from the 358s and I’ve run against most of the tour guys for a lot of years now. There are probably more quality cars running the Big-Block Series on a regular basis throughout the entire year, but you see those same names at all the major 358 races once the track points finish. With the Small-Block tour mostly at the end of the year, by the time you get accustomed to running time trials its pretty much over. I like being able to have the same type of format all year,” O’Brien added.
Set to begin his 24th consecutive season of Modified racing, O’Brien has intentions of also competing weekly aboard his potent Gypsum Racing no. 6 Mile Stone-730 Truck Stop/Bicknell entry at Can-Am Motorsports Park, the site of his first Advance Series victory in 1990.
“We’re keeping a pretty laid back attitude using last year’s car until we can get a new one together,” noted O’Brien, who has previous experience at every speedway hosting an Advance Series event except for Grandview and Lernerville in Pennsylvania and Virginia. “We enjoyed going to Fulton a few times last season and we’ll probably hit most of the bigger shows up here in the north. I generally like the tracks we do good at and I’ve felt comfortable going to Canandaigua and Brewerton in the past. Right now we’re looking forward to the Canadian swing in July, they’re all closer to home and I’ve done well. But so have all the travelers, it should be a fun trip for everyone.”
O’Brien adds his name to Virginia’s all-star roster of more than 40 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series standouts already spotlighting Billy Decker, Jimmy Phelps, Steve Paine, Gary Tomkins, Dale Planck, Matt Sheppard, Justin Haers, Tim Fuller and Vic Coffey. February Florida tour winners Billy Pauch and Jimmy Horton join young guns Ryan Phelps, Billy Dunn, Kevin Bates, Sean Beardsley, Larry Wight, Joe Isabell and ‘07 DIRTcar Big-Block Rookie of the Year Mike Bowman on the pre-race entry list.
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. Race teams planning to attend the Sawyer Memorial at Virginia Motor Speedway are encouraged to call DIRTcar NorthEast PR Director Tom Skibinski at DIRTcar NE headquarters (x28) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Virginia Motor Speedway www.vamotorspeedway.com (804/758-1867) is located on U.S. Route 17, eight miles north of Saluda and 25 miles south of Tappahannock in Jamaica, Va. The speedway is just a short drive from Richmond, Fredericksburg, Southern Maryland and the Hampton Roads areas.
2008 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Schedule
*All events subject to change.
DAY-DATE TRACK LOCATION
Sat-Mar 22 Hagerstown Speedway Weather-cancelled
Thr-May 1 Virginia Motor Speedway Jamaica,VA
Sun-May 4 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Sun-May 25 Cayuga Co. Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY
Sat-Jun 7 Fulton Speedway Fulton,NY
Thr-Jul 3 Ransomville Speedway Ransomville,NY
Thr-Jul 10 Brockville Ont. Speedway Brockville,ONT
Fri-Jul 11 Autodrome Granby Granby,QUE
Sat-Jul 12 Autodrome Drummond Drummondville,QUE
Sun-Jul 13 Cornwall Motor Speedway Cornwall,ONT
Wed-Jul 16 Grandview Speedway Bechtelsville,PA
Thr-Jul 31 Orange Co. Fair Speedway Middletown,NY
Mon-Aug 4 Merrittville Speedway Thorold,ONT
Fri-Aug 8 Brewerton Speedway Brewerton,NY
Sat-Aug 9 Canandaigua Speedway Canandaigua,NY
Sat-Aug 16 Can-Am Motorsports Park LaFargeville,NY
Sun-Aug 31 Cayuga Co. Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY
Mon-Sep 1 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Sat-Sep 6 Lebanon Valley Speedway West Lebanon,NY
Fri-Sep 12 Lernerville Speedway Sarver,PA
Sat-Sep 20 Canandaigua Speedway Canandaigua,NY
Sat-Sep 27 Rolling Wheels Raceway Elbridge,NY
Sun-Oct 12 New York State Fairgrnds Syracuse,NY
Sun-Oct 19 Orange Co. Fair Speedway Middletown,NY
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.
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 and Hoosier Racing Tire. Rite Aid Corporation is a promotional partner and the contingency sponsors are Bars Leaks, Bert Transmission, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Crane Cams, Dig Safely New York, Holley HP Carburetors, Integra Shocks, Intercomp, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, Penske Shocks, Rislone Oil Stabilizer and Wrisco Industries.