Weedsport, NY — June 11, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series PR Director
*Boris Rudzinski Photo
The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series is five races old and just 10 points separate the front four drivers in tour standings. Competition is closest at the very top as Dale Planck and Billy Decker are dead-locked for first, with reigning overall Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Modified Champion Brett Hearn looming just four markers back.
While both Planck and Decker have reached victory lane twice, all-time Advance Series winner Hearn is still in search of his first extra-distance triumph of the 2008 campaign. Yet maybe even more important than winning Big-Block Modified features so far for Planck is his recent success found in the preliminary events.
“Time trials have always been my downfall, so this year I’ve tried really hard to do better from the outset,” said Planck, who has scored a qualifying heat race win in every event run so far aboard Carey Terrance’s RezX Racing no. 77x Grow It Hydroseeding/TEO machine. In search of his first-ever Mr. DIRTcar crown, the second-generation standout from Cortland, New York is also the only driver among the top-10 in points to collect an Integra Shocks Fast Time award.
Refiguring the point standings without calculating any qualifying bonuses, Planck would rank fourth tied with Jimmy Phelps and behind Danny Johnson, with Decker having an eight-point advantage over Hearn. “The way things are it shows that you really have to be on your game all night to stay in the hunt. These bonus points have really helped out after the bad finish (18th) at Virginia but I don’t think I can afford another mistake to have a shot at the end.”
“Its easier to be either fast in the beginning or at the end. The hard part is being consistently quick in qualifying and staying that way come feature time. I’ve been geared towards being up front in time trials to get in a better situation for the heats. Track position means everything nowadays with all the cars being so close. I remember looking at the points last year and wondering how Billy (Decker) was always good in points after some tough luck in the feature. Being fast in every qualifying run kept him in the mix and now the same thing is kinda happening to me which is pretty neat,” added Planck, who has earned an additional 25 points through qualifying while Hearn (13 pts.), Danny Johnson (11), Matt Sheppard, Decker (9) and Justin Haers (9) follow next in the bonus category.
Qualifying procedures for the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series follow a double standard in 2008 with heat race inversions after time trials once again shaping the Big-Block Modified starting grid for nearly every tour event. Drivers continue to draw for their order in the ‘Integra Shocks Time Trials’ at all Advance Series stops and the fast timer selects a second pill to determine how many cars (0, 2, 3 or 4) are inverted to start each preliminary heat race.
The customary pre-race re-draw among top heat race qualifiers will continue to be in effect throughout the summer, with season-ending events —Syracuse Super DIRT Week Rite Aid 200 and Eastern States 200 at Orange County Fair Speedway— the only Advance Auto Parts Series stops awarding fast timers with pole-position starts. Top heat race and Dig Safely New York consolation round finishers will fill those fields in the same order as heat points will not be awarded.
“Qualifying is more important than its ever been as it sets you up for the rest of the night,” said Hearn, who leads all qualifiers with 38 Integra Shocks Fast Times posted in the Advance Auto Parts Series events since 1983. The ‘Jet’ has copped a pair of heat races steering the Madsen Motorsports no. 20 Wentworth Custom Homes/TEO entry, so far being clocked third-best at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in early May.
“The biggest thing is that you need to get into the draw and get a starting spot up front for the feature. That really showed at Virginia and Rolling Wheels when we timed in the top-10 and had front-five finishes. I still have no explanation for Cayuga County and Fulton. We were among the best in hot laps but timed out of the top-20. I think we still maybe had a second-place car at Fulton but we had to work really hard all night,” added Hearn, who has logged four top-five finishes in the initial five Advance Series shows toward his bid for an unprecedented seventh overall Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block title.
The ‘Integra Shocks Fast Time Award’ winner collects $100 and five (5) bonus points and the top-three heat race finishers earn additional bonus points as follows: 1st-5 pts, 2nd-3 pts, 3rd-1 pt. A driver can earn a maximum of 10 more points being the fast timer as well as a heat race winner during the 2008 Advance Auto Parts Series.
“Looking at the tightness of the points right now its obvious how important qualifying has become for every big event,” noted Decker, who led all drivers with 10 heat race wins last season buckled into the LJL Racing no. 91 Gypsum Wholesalers-Stadium Int’l-Quality Hardwoods/Bicknell ride. The 1998 Mr. DIRTcar Champion was matched by Tim Fuller a year ago with six Integra Shocks Fast Times. “This whole season can boil down to bonus points the way things are going.”
“Time trials and heats mean so much, they’re not uneventful any more as every team is going at ‘em full bore with so much at stake. We’re still trying to be fast all night, things just haven’t gone as good as expected from the start. Hey, we want some bragging rights, too. Its just so tough to have everything go your way every show when everybody else wants the same thing,” Decker figured.
For further questions regarding qualifying procedures for Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series events or the 2008 race schedule, please contact Cory Reed in the DIRTcar Northeast Office (315/834-6606) during normal business hours. Log into www.superdirtcarseries.com for the latest news and results, driver and track information, media galleries and DIRTVision.com video clips, as well as many special features as the season rolls on.
Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Point Standings (Through June 7, 2008)
Rank No. Driver Total SeriesDiff Money Wins Top-5 Top-10 Starts
1 77x Dale Planck 363 363 0 $12,725 2 3 4 5
91 Billy Decker 363 363 0 $12,900 2 3 5 5
3 20 Brett Hearn 359 359 -4 $9,200 0 4 5 5
4 27J Danny Johnson 353 353 -10 $10,625 0 3 4 5
5 98h Jimmy Phelps 341 341 -22 $7,600 0 2 5 5
6 9s Matt Sheppard 325 325 -38 $12,900 1 2 3 5
7 84 Gary Tomkins 305 305 -58 $5,075 0 1 5 5
8 3 Justin Haers 285 285 -78 $4,000 0 1 4 5
9 7x Steve Paine 278 278 -85 $5,375 0 2 2 5
10 14J Alan Johnson 275 275 -88 $4,025 0 0 3 5
11 FX1 Frankie Caprara258 258 -105 $2,800 0 0 3 5
12 99 Ryan Phelps 242 242 -121 $2,300 0 0 1 5
13 99L Larry Wight 216 216 -147 $2,500 0 0 1 5
14 6 Pat O’Brien 214 214 -149 $2,360 0 0 1 5
15 49 Billy Dunn 210 210 -153 $1,950 0 0 0 5
16 29 Jeff Brownell Jr 193 193 -170 $1,675 0 0 0 5
17 42B Kevin Bates 175 175 -188 $1,650 0 0 0 5
18 99b Chuck Bower 140 140 -223 $900 0 0 0 4
19 11j Sean Beardsley 139 139 -224 $900 0 0 0 4
20 16 Mike Bowman 135 135 -228 $900 0 0 0 4
21 19 Tim Fuller 130 130 -233 $2,750 0 1 1 2
22 56 Vince Vitale 125 125 -238 $610 0 0 0 3
23 48T Dave Rauscher 119 119 -244 $750 0 0 0 3
24 4 Duane Howard 105 105 -258 $6,000 0 1 1 1
25 79 Mike Storms 102 102 -261 $1,050 0 0 0 3
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.