Syracuse,NYOctober 12, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series PR Director
*Chris Dolack Photo

Frank Cozze has been coming to the New York State Fairgrounds landmark oval for 40 years. Sunday afternoon proved to be more than a happy ending for the Keystone State Modified veteran as he captured the biggest DIRTcar Modified victory of his career in the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Rite Aid 200 to close out the 37th edition of Super DIRT Week on the storied Syracuse Mile.

“I don’t even know what to say, I’m kind of choked up,” remarked an emotional Cozze, who accompanied his car-owning father on his first-ever visit to the Salt City’s most famous speedway for the annual NYS Fair Labor Day Championship in 1968. Now at the age of 53, the seasoned veteran from Wind Gap, Pennsylvania becomes the oldest driver to win DIRTcar NorthEast’s premier event for Big-Block Modifieds with the $50,000 top prize going toward an early retirement fund. “Everybody did such a great job … my brother spotting in the stands … all my sponsors … just so many people I don’t know who to thank first.”

“Ya, the old boy (dad Dick Cozze) had a car here for the first couple (DIRT Weeks) and I was almost too young to come to them so it’s gonna feel real good to get him up there with me for a picture. This win is way up there, by far the biggest I’ve ever had, what else is there,” beamed Cozze, after redeeming himself in a marquee event that has teased him for over three decades. Cozze posted a pair of top-threes in his first five title runs between 1977-1981, scored third-place finishes in 1992 and 2003, and even held the lead in 1989 until contact with Danny Johnson just seven laps from the end squelched his best-ever chance to climb to the top of the podium.

Joining Cozze on center stage this Columbus Day Weekend were second-generation chauffeur Matt Sheppard and fellow Pennsylvania pilot Duane Howard, while a late-race charge afforded Canadian standout Stewart Friesen fourth-place just ahead of pole-winner and 2004 Rite Aid winner Tim Fuller. Lebanon Valley Speedway regulars J.R. Heffner and Eddie Marshall crossed the line next while youthful drivers Billy Dunn from the north country, New York’s Capital District runner Keith Flach and Central New York DIRTcar circuit stalwart Justin Haers tallied top-10 finishes in the 200-lap affair.

Sheppard out-dragged front row partner Fuller to set the early pace, opening up a comfortable 10 car-length lead after just one time around the unforgiving Moody Mile. Cozze filed in 33rd on the 46-car starting grid and was hardly noticed the first half of the race as an early pit stop strategy kept his Waite’s General Contractors no. 44 Carquest-Bert Transmission/PMC machine mired midway in the pack. Numerous yellow flags throughout the event proved more than beneficial to Cozze as he waited patiently in his march toward the front and quietly cracked the top-10 by lap 90 after a round of pit stops.

“Nobody, I mean nobody, gets the gas mileage we got all week,” declared Cozze, who would ultimately circle the Syracuse Mile the last 129 laps on one tank of gas, with a handful of his closest challengers running dry as the final laps clicked off. With his crew flanked by recently rehired Brent Tittle and Dave Hoffman, brother of ’96 Rite Aid champ Doug Hoffman, Cozze made his first pit stop for fuel and a two rear-tire change after a lap 39 caution. When Tomkins slowed on lap 70 to force out the sixth yellow flag, Cozze stopped for only a new right rear tread and what amounted to enough fuel to cover the remaining distance. “Jack Stanley and Bill Gill, my fuel guys, they had it right to a tee. They said I could probably go another 20 (laps) if I just conserve. We got enough cautions there that it really helped, and I was worried more about the tires than fuel.”

“I said before the race that if we can keep a right-rear tire on it, we can pit early … you can’t get a much better shot at this (win). Things just went our way, guys made great calls and both pit stops were right on the money. We didn’t even practice (pit stops), that’s how good these guys really are. And this is the same car I’ve been running every Saturday night, we just put a new body on and came here. This is the car I like the most, the one I sit in the best. It’s the number one car, really the only one I got right now,” said Cozze, who made his Modified debut during the Bicentennial, following a brief stint in the Novice Sportsman class from 1974-75.

Sheppard made his own trip down pit lane on the 50th circuit to give perennial Super DIRT Week favorite Brett Hearn his first lead in the Rite Aid 200 since 2003 when the Sussex, New Jersey speedster led the opening 38 laps. Another yellow flag unfurled when Shawn Reimert darted across the track in front of the leaders on lap 61 and Frenchman David Hebert moved to the point the following circuit. Haers was the next in line to inherit the number one position under caution following Tomkin’s mishap, and the Phelps, New York driver held it at the lap 100 mark to pick up the $5,000 Halfway leader bonus packsge posted by Dig Safely New York, Promotion and Pinnacle Design Group (PDG). “I lost the brakes around lap five and I didn’t want to pit with the leaders so I wouldn’t screw up anybody,” Haers divulged afterwards. “When I got out front and was able to stay there I thought I might as well shoot for the halfway deal. Leading that lap and coming home in 10th-place is a pretty good day considering what might have been.”

Chasing Haers under head starter Dave Farney’s crossed flags at the halfway point were two-time Syracuse Sportsman Modified feature winner Vince Vitale, 2005 DIRTcar NE Sportsman rookie of the year Chris Higgins and Cozze, who had managed to lay low saving both fuel and tires while the competition thinned out in front of him. And when Vitale elected to make his final stop pitside on lap 124, Cozze was there to take control followed by another prominent Pennsylvanian Rick Laubach and four-time Rite Aid 200 winner Billy Decker, who had been carving his way through the field following a tour of pit road himself after a lap 81 caution.

Lap after lap Laubach shadowed Cozze, looking for any opening that would take him to the head of the class for the second time in three shows. He led 26 laps in the 2006 Rite Aid race. Yet that opportunity never came as Laubach ran dry on lap 189 sending Dick Biever’s no. 14 Alpha Mills mount limping slowly into the pits at the same time an exploding right rear tire on Vitale’s Troyer ride incurred the 17th and final caution period.

When the green lights returned for the final lap 192 restart, all eyes focused on leader Cozze in his bid for that elusive Super DIRT Week trophy and top chaser Decker who was looking to become just the third driver too sweep both Big-Block and Small-Block features on the same Super DIRT weekend. With five laps still to go, Tomkins moved in on Decker’s bumper while Cozze brought the capacity crowd to its feet trying to tabulate in unison the leader’s fuel mileage as he stretched his narrow advantage to a half-dozen car-lengths.

The closing laps were run off in typical fairgrounds fashion with positions up front seeming to change through every turn. Decker’s LJL Racing no. 91 Gypsum Wholesalers/Bicknell mount suddenly went up in smoke on lap 197 to extend Cozze’s lead and the following circuit offered further relief as new second-place runner Tomkins only remained there one lap before he dropped off the pace with the gas gauge reading empty on the Honeoye Auto Parts no. 84 Red Parker & Son Excavating/Bicknell car. Meanwhile, third-generation driver Friesen was picking off the opposition one by one, improving from 10th-place on lap 192 to fourth at the finish line with all hell breaking loose as the curtain rolled down on Super DIRT Week XXXVII in Syracuse.

“You gotta work on gas mileage out here and M2 had it down pat today,” added Cozze, after establishing a new standard for fuel consumption on the famous fairgrounds oval. “I can’t wait to see how much (fuel) is left. The track got kinda wide out there today and I ran around the top most of the race. I don’t know what Rick was doing, just know that I was conserving. When I had to stretch it out there I had no problems as good a car as I had today,” reflected Cozze, who has been known in the past for getting good gas mileage to minimize pit stops in the extra-distance races.

“The first time I won Eastern States (1989) at Orange County I went the whole way without stopping. Glenn (Donnelly, former event promoter) kind of blew it off not thinking anybody could go 200 laps without stopping. He changed his tune the next year, but I still won with a fast car and today we probably could run a few laps more.”

Sheppard happily settled for runner-up laurels after improving from fourth to second in the closing stages as the misfortune of Decker and Tomkins opened the door for the two-time Syracuse race winner.

“I saw Billy up in smoke and Gary ran out of gas with a couple to go, and I knew he pitted after Frank so I said Frank’s gotta be the next one to go and I’ll be leading this thing,” said Sheppard, who won the Super DIRT Week Sportsman race in 2000 and followed up three years later with a checkered flag in the 358-Modified headline attraction. “But he made it, congratulations to him. I was blubbering a little bit in the corners, I know I was getting pretty low. He got phenomenal fuel mileage, my hat’s off to them guys. ($20,000) we’ll take it,” added Sheppard, after recording his best-ever finish in eight events with two 10th-place tallies coming in 2002 and ’06.

The seventh try at the State Fairgrounds for third-place finisher Howard was easily his best, with his last appearance in Syracuse made in 1999. “We really had a good race car but we were saving fuel, I wish we could’ve raced a little harder,” said the Oley, Pa. driver after steering Chad Sinon’s no. 4 BPG Racing-Alex’s Lemonade/Troyer entry to his best finish since ending up 13th in 1997. “I think we really had a good shot at (win). It was a great effort not being here for a number of years. I always like coming here, maybe this will become a routine event.”

“If you keep the car fairly straight the track was pretty good. I had spotters making sure I didn’t smoke the tires. Our pit strategy worked to perfection, the yellows came out right when we needed them to so it was a good day right to the end. I’m sure we’ll be back,” Howard said.

Despite engine failure putting Decker 24th on the final scoresheet, the Unadilla, New York driver clinched his second overall Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Championship, his first for car owners John and Laura Wight. “I probably owe Gary (Tomkins) a new fire suit,” quipped Decker, 43, who needs one more triumph on tour to surpass Hearn as the all-time Advance Series single-season win leader as Decker has 10 that tied the mark set by Hearn in 2002. “The motor was missing since lap 123 and I was spewing something on him for quite awhile. I knew it was coming apart, just hoped it would last to the end.”

Added Tomkins, who was credited with 22nd-place after getting a brief glimpse of leader Cozze with just two to go, “It wasn’t as much what I was getting on me, it was that smell, I knew something was gonna happen to Billy eventually. I only went through a few tear-offs, but my nose is still burning a little bit from running behind him so long and waiting for something to go.”

Offering the only serious challenge to Cozze throughout his second-half surge to the front, Laubach went home with a prize package valued at over $1,000 courtesy of Budd Olsen Speed Supplies and Area Auto Racing News after being recognized as the Rite Aid 200 ‘Hard Luck’ award winner. “Our game plan got thrown out the window on lap 40 when all the leaders came in, that was what we were going to do. We changed our strategy to make it a one stop deal after that. I tried Frank a few times but just stayed close in back of him waiting, trying to lull him into a daze then maybe sneak by. I think we had a strong enough car to get by, just fell a little short on chances today.”

With Super DIRT Week now officially in the record book, all eyes turn to Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, New York for the 47th running of Eastern States Weekend. The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series season-finale will end with the crowning of an overall Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block Modified champion for the 33rd consecutive year. With his second Mr. DIRTcar title clinched Sunday at the NYS Fairgrounds, Decker will have his eye on returning to victory lane on the ‘Hard Clay’ as it was back in 1998 that he garnered his only other Mr. DIRTcar Championship and Eastern States triumph.

Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Race #25 – New York State Fairgrounds, October 12, 2008 “Rite Aid 200” Modified Event Summary
1 33 44C Frank Cozze/Wind Gap,PA 200 50,000
2 2 9S Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY 200 25,000
3 19 4 Duane Howard/Oley,PA 200 15,000
4 18 44 Stewart Friesen/Niagara-o-t-Lake,ONT 200 10,000
5 1 19F Tim Fuller/Edwards,NY 200 6,000
6 13 88 J.R. Heffner/Pittsfield,MA 200 4,000
7 27 98 Eddie Marshall/Ridgefield,CT 200 3,600
8 11 49 Billy Dunn/Watertown,NY 200 3,400
9 6 43 Keith Flach/Ravena,NY 200 3,200
10 17 3 Justin Haers/Phelps,NY 200 3,000
11 22 99 Ryan Phelps/Fulton,NY 200 2,800
12 3 20 Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ 200 2,600
13 5 55 Mitch Gibbs/North Norwich,NY 200 2,400
14 34 7 Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ 199 2,200
15 7 34 Andy Bachetti/Great Barrington,MA 199 2,000
16 43 29 Jeff Brownell Jr./Geneva,NY 199 1,900
17 14 56 Vince Vitale/Phoenix,NY 199 1,800
18 28 14 Rick Laubach/Hellertown,PA 199 1,700
19 25 57 Donnie Corellis/Averill Park,NY 199 1,700
20 36 1H David Hebert/St.Damase,QUE 199 1,700
21 39 FX1 Frankie Caprara/Watertown,NY 198 1,600
22 23 84 Gary Tomkins/Clifton Springs,NY 198 1,600
23 26 J66 Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY 197 1,600
24 15 91 Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY 196 1,600
25 10 2 Ronnie Johnson/Duanesburg,NY 194 1,600
26 44 02 Roy Bresnahan/Fulton,NY® 193 1,600
27 4 98H Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY 182 1,600
28 20 1 Bobby Varin/Sharon Springs,NY 179 1,600
29 32 53 Ric Hill/Lafayette,NJ® 154 1,600
30 42 42P Pat Ward/Genoa,NY 145 1,600
31 35 41 Shawn Reimert / Oley,PA 126 1,500
32 38 19H Chris Higgins/Syracuse,NY® 123 1,500
33 29 99L Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY® 120 1,500
34 8 *14J Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY 104 1,500
35 21 77X Dale Planck/Cortland,NY 96 1,500
36 45 3B Chad Brachmann/Sanborn,NY 78 1,500
37 30 35 Mike Perrotte/Elizabethtown,NY 58 1,500
38 24 26 Ryan Godown/Ringoes,NJ 47 1,500
39 40 83 Brian Swartzlander/Leechburg,PA® 47 1,500
40 37 48too Dave Rauscher/Waterloo,NY® 38 1,500
41 16 35X Jason Barney/Constantia,NY 32 1,500
42 9 12A Jack Johnson/Duanesburg,NY 27 1,500
43 12 115 Kenny Tremont/West Sand Lake,NY 19 1,500
44 46 66 Richie Tobias Jr.Annville,PA 17 1,500
45 31 32C Vic Coffey/Leicester,NY 10 1,500
46 41 7X Steve Paine/Waterloo,NY 1 1,500
*Alan Johnson drove #88 car not qualified by Steve Hulsizer.
LAP LEADERS: Sheppard (1-49), Hearn (50-61), Hebert (62-70), Haers (71-102), Vitale (103-123), Cozze (124-200).
TOTAL LAPS LED: 77-Cozze, 49-Sheppard, 32-Haers, 21-Vitale, 12-Hearn, 9-Hebert.
LEAD CHANGES: 5 among 6 drivers.
CAUTIONS: 17 for 84 laps.
ELAPSED TIME: 2 hrs. 39 mins. 47 secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 75.100 mph.
TEO PRO CAR OUTSIDE POLE WINNER: Matt Sheppard (30.461 sec/118.184 mph).
MAURI HOLBROOK MEMORIAL FAST TIME OF WEEK AWARD: Chris Shultz (30.106 sec/119.577 mph).
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS TRIPLE-20 RACE WINNERS: Jack Johnson, Matt Sheppard, Brett Hearn.

1NY-Greg Atkins/Clintonville,NY®
4S-Brad Shova/North Bangor,NY
7A-Al Blanchard/Fenwick,ONT
14M-Mitchell Jock/Akwesasne,NY
16-Mike Bowman/Baldwinsville,NY®
19-Joe Williams/Scotia,NY
21-Yan Bussiere/Drummondville,QUE
21M-Bob McGannon/Garnerville,NY
22-Larry Lampman Jr./Pt.Colborne,ONT®
22J-Jeremy Wilder/Fort Plain,NY
24-Chris Shultz/Pawling,NY
24D-Patrick Dupree/Saranac Lake,NY
26R-Rick Richner/Niagara Falls,NY
28P-Eldon Payne Jr./Hopewell,NY®
37-Jason Herrington/Troy,NY®
37X-Tom Scheetz Jr./Boyertown,PA®
M40-Mark Forte Jr./Blue Anchor,NJ®
42-Pete Bicknell/St.Catharines,ONT
44S-Casey Swamp/Akwesasne,NY®
45-Wayne Jelley/Pittsfield,MA
62R-Ron Smoker/Hamburg,NY
66-Vince Gagliardo Jr./Reading,PA®
66X-Carey Terrance/Hogansburg,NY
87-Hector Stratton/Bennington,VT®
87XPaul Gilardi/Pittsfield,MA®
84H-Steve Hulsizer/Bridgeport,NY
96-Todd Milton/Auburn,NY
220-John Ferrier/Middletown,NY®
347-George ‘Skippy’ Fox/Springfield,MA®

Overall Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block Modified
Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Point Standings
(Thru Oct. 12, 2008)
Rank No. Driver Total Series Bonus Diff Wins T-5 T-10 Starts
1 91 Billy Decker 2,383 2,083 300 0 10 18 23 25
2 77x Dale Planck 2,191 1,899 292 -192 3 16 21 25
3 98h Jimmy Phelps 2,153 1,879 274 -230 1 13 22 25
4 20 Brett Hearn 2,114 1,826 288 -269 2 9 20 25
5 84 Gary Tomkins 2,084 1,788 296 -299 2 11 20 25
6 9s Matt Sheppard 2,051 1,767 284 -332 1 9 18 25
7 FX1 Frankie Caprara 1,816 1,524 292 -567 0 2 14 25
8 7x Steve Paine 1,768 1,476 292 -615 0 9 11 24
9 99 Ryan Phelps 1,695 1,439 256 -688 0 1 8 25
10 3 Justin Haers 1,664 1,406 258 -719 0 2 14 24
11 14J Alan Johnson 1,633 1,345 288 -750 3 6 12 21
12 49 Billy Dunn 1,548 1,296 252 -835 0 0 3 25
13 27J Danny Johnson 1,438 1,298 140 -945 0 4 6 25
14 99L Larry Wight® 1,171 949 222 -1,212 0 0 1 22
15 6 Pat O’Brien 1,049 765 284 -1,334 0 0 2 17
16 29 Jeff Brownell Jr. 984 754 230 -1,399 0 0 1 16
17 42B Kevin Bates 691 439 252 -1,692 0 0 0 12
18 56 Vince Vitale 659 417 242 -1,724 0 0 1 8
19 99b Chuck Bower 610 364 246 -1,773 0 0 0 11
20 19 Tim Fuller 559 509 50 -1,824 0 3 3 6
21 32c Vic Coffey 559 393 166 -1,824 0 1 2 7
22 79 Michael Storms® 549 295 254 -1,834 0 0 1 7
23 88 Steve Hulsizer 539 297 242 -1,844 0 0 0 6
24 74 J.R. Heffner 535 271 264 -1,848 0 1 2 2
25 4 Andy Bachetti 529 241 288 -1,854 1 1 1 2
26 98 Eddie Marshall 527 265 262 -1,856 0 1 2 2
27 48T Dave Rauscher 503 277 226 -1,880 0 0 1 7
28 91h Chad Homan 498 280 218 -1,885 0 0 0 8
29 16 Mike Bowman 495 263 232 -1,888 0 0 0 7
30 93 Ryan Bartlett 493 243 250 -1,890 0 0 0 6
31 5 Jason Potter 489 239 250 -1,894 0 0 0 7
32 43 Keith Flach 487 235 252 -1,896 0 0 1 4
33 62s Tom Sears Jr. 482 214 268 -1,901 0 0 0 5
34 02 Roy Bresnahan 472 270 202 -1,911 0 0 1 4
35 357 Stewart Friesen 439 439 0 -1,944 0 2 3 6
36 44 Shannon Whaley 438 236 202 -1,945 0 0 0 7
37 71 David VanHorn Jr. 431 171 260 -1,952 0 0 0 3
38 24 Chris Shultz 422 166 256 -1,961 0 0 0 2
39 21 Derrick Podsiadlo 420 184 236 -1,963 0 0 0 7
40 53e Ric Hill 404 172 232 -1,979 0 0 1 3
41 77F Mark Flach Jr. 403 135 268 -1,980 0 1 1 1
42 115 Kenny Tremont 402 132 270 -1,981 0 0 0 2
43 1x Willy Decker 402 126 276 -1,981 0 0 1 2
44 19h Chris Higgins® 394 188 206 -1,989 0 0 0 5
45 8 Rob Bellinger 388 132 256 -1,995 0 0 0 4
46 89b Todd Burley 378 120 258 -2,005 0 1 1 3
47 13 Tony Steiner® 377 219 158 -2,006 0 0 0 5
48 33.3 Tommy Meier 373 125 248 -2,010 0 0 1 1
49 87 Hector Stratton 366 132 234 -2,017 0 0 1 1
50 6 Pete Taylor 366 168 198 -2,017 0 0 0 5
51 19 Chuck McKee 366 96 270 -2,017 0 1 1 1
52 99 Charlie Donk 362 110 252 -2,021 0 0 0 3
53 85 Dan Vauter 359 200 159 -2,024 0 0 0 5
54 24 Jim Witko Jr. 354 92 262 -2,029 0 0 0 2
55 45J Wayne Jelley 351 97 254 -2,032 0 0 0 1
56 47 Jerry Higbie 351 85 266 -2,032 0 1 1 1
57 83 Brian Swartzlander 350 50 300 -2,033 0 0 0 1
58 90 Scott Parliament 350 88 262 -2,033 0 0 0 2
59 87 Shawn Donath® 346 199 147 -2,037 0 0 0 4
60 777 Kevin Bolland 340 40 300 -2,043 0 0 0 1

No matter how successful a driver may claim to be, victory in the Salt City showdown on the storied Syracuse Mile still stands to separate the best from the rest. And a triumph in the lucrative Rite Aid 200 during Super DIRT Week remains one of the most prized jewels anywhere in motorsports racing today. With his recent win on Sunday afternoon, Cozze joins an elite list of 18 legendary drivers that have made it into victory lane in DIRTcar Racing NorthEast’s premier Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series event. In this year’s field there were 10 past champions qualifying for the headline Advance Series Rite Aid 200 for Big-Block Modifieds, led by five-time winner Brett Hearn, Alan Johnson, Billy Decker, Jack Johnson, Jimmy Horton, Danny Johnson, Tim Fuller, Kenny Tremont, Vic Coffey and late addition Richie Tobias Jr.

10/12/08 200 Frank Cozze Matt Sheppard Duane Howard
10/7/07 200 Vic Coffey Tim Fuller Rich Tobias Jr,
10/8/06 200 Danny Johnson Jimmy Horton Alan Johnson
11/5/05 200 Billy Decker Todd Burley Ronnie Johnson
10/10/04 200 Tim Fuller Gary Tomkins Pat Ward
10/12/03 200 Alan Johnson Kenny Tremont Frank Cozze
10/13/02 203 Vic Coffey Gary Tomkins Jimmy Horton
10/7/01 202 Billy Decker Kenny Tremont Ron Smoker
10/8/00 200 Billy Decker Steve Paine Kenny Brightbill
10/10/99 188 Kenny Tremont Kenny Brightbill Tim Fuller
10/11/98 191 Billy Decker Bud Christmann Dick Larkin
10/12/97 188 Danny Johnson Jeff Heotzler Brett Hearn
10/13/96 188 Doug Hoffman Danny Johnson Kenny Tremont
10/8/95 188 Brett Hearn Dave Blaney Steve Paine
10/9/94 188 Jimmy Horton Dave Blaney Danny Johnson
10/10/93 188 Brett Hearn Kenny Tremont Bob McCreadie
10/11/92 135 Rich Tobias,Jr. Randy Glenski Frank Cozze
10/13/91 188 Brett Hearn Steve Paine Jack Johnson
10/7/90 188 Brett Hearn Alan Johnson Jeff Trombley
10/8/89 188 Alan Johnson Dave Blaney C.D. Coville
10/9/88 188 Kenny Brightbill Jimmy Horton Alan Johnson
10/11/87 188 Jimmy Horton Charlie Rudolph Doug Hoffman
10/12/86 125 Bob McCreadie Billy Pauch Jack Johnson
10/13/85 125 Brett Hearn Jack Johnson Bob McCreadie
10/7/84 125 Jack Johnson Carl Collis Merv Treichler
10/9/83 125 Alan Johnson Merv Treichler Dave Lape
10/10/82 125 Merv Treichler Alan Johnson Brett Hearn
10/11/81 125 Merv Treichler Lou Blaney Brett Hearn
10/12/80 125 Gary Balough Buzzie Reutimann Frank Cozze
10/7/79 125 Jack Johnson Will Cagle Ken Brenn,Jr.
10/1/78 100 Gary Balough Frank Cozze Stan Ploski
4/15/78 100 Gary Balough Dick Tobias Elvin Felty
10/3/76 100 Gary Balough Bobby Gerhart Will Cagle
9/28/75 100 Dick Tobias Billy Osmun Wayne Reutimann
9/29/74 95 Billy Osmun Merv Treichler Gary Balough
9/30/73 100 Buz.Reutimann Tommy Corellis Will Cagle
10/1/72 100 Buz.Reutimann Jerry Cook Stan Ploski

Cozze Capsule: With 2008 marking Cozze’s 24th Rite Aid 200 since qualifying for his first Super DIRT Week main event in 1977, the popular Pennsylvanian still earned a good chunk of change even after failing to make the starting field in his 1976 debut on the Syracuse Mile. “I didn’t make it in my first try so the guys brought up a car for me drive that year at Waterloo Speedway,” recalled Cozze, who finished 27th in his second try at Syracuse, placed second in 1978 then ran third behind bespectacled Buzzie Reutimann as Gary Balough steered the infamous ‘Batmobile’ to victory in the 1980 fall classic. “Back then I only had $100 with me and went over to Waterloo on Saturday night and won the 76-lap race and got $1,700. Until today, that was probably the closest I got to winning at Syracuse.” The highest his father ever reached at Syracuse was seventh in the 1973 SDW event with Budd Olsen behind the wheel of the familiar Cozze #44. In the aftermath of that Labor Day event in 1968 with the late Al Tasnady buckled into the Cozze car, Olsen finished 11th in the inaugural show in ’72 to plant the seed for another generation.

Dig Safely Shootout Qualifiers & More: Central New York Modified veteran Pat Ward led flag-to-flag to capture top honors Sunday in the Dig Safely New York Shootout on the final day of SDW XXXVII competition. With only three spots up for grabs towards making the starting grid for the Rite Aid 200 later that same afternoon, runner-up Jeff Brownell Jr. and race rookie Roy Bresnahan joined Ward in advancing to the Syracuse finale boasting $1,500 just to start. “We’ve had two very sleepless nights,” divulged Ward, 51 after copping the 20-lap last chance qualifier that included 16 of the 24 cars scheduled, with Vince Gagliardo Jr. giving up his no. 66 Vince’s Automotive & Towing/Troyer ride to past Rite Aid champion Richie Tobias hoping to make the field. “We got a bad draw for time trials and then lined up in probably the toughest heat, we just didn’t have any luck most of the week. But the car is driving excellent so I’ve had a good feeling coming in.” Ballooning the starting line-up to 46 cars were the addition of Saturday night’s Pullen’s Truck Center “Win And You’re In” Big-Block/Small-Block Super Shootout victor Chad Brachmann (45th) at Cayuga County plus past champion Tobias.

SDW Tape-Delayed On SPEED Channel: In showcasing the 37th Annual Super DIRT Week at Syracuse, SPEED Channel will offer two hours of tape-delayed coverage showcasing the headline Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Rite Aid 200 Modified Championship. The Big-Block finale run off on Sunday, October 12 will be aired by SPEED on Saturday, Oct. 25, with the two-hour program beginning at 8 p.m., EST. Second-generation Big-Block Modified star Tim McCreadie will join popular color analyst Shane Andrews in the booth to give lap-by-lap coverage while roving trackside reporters Roger Slack and Sarah Hunt will be teaming up to provide exclusive pit notes throughout the Rite Aid 200 main event.

Rite Aid Winner Appearance: Fans will get to meet ’08 Rite Aid 200 winner Frank Cozze when he makes his first post-race public appearance on Monday, October 13 at the Rite Aid Store on 5380 Taft Rd. in North Syracuse, NY. An autograph appearance and photo session is scheduled from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and the first 50 fans will receive a FREE Rite Aid Racing Hat. The Rite Aid 200 culminates Rite Aid’s season long motorsports promotion staged at numerous Rite Aid Store locations across the East Coast that have featured DIRTcar driver appearances, race cars, the Rite Aid “cut-away” Modified, free autograph cards and free tickets to Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series/Rite Aid 200 Qualifier Races.

Get Out The Word First: RACEceiver is the Official Driver Communicator of DIRTcar Racing. A compact radio receiver that conveniently fits into a driver’s pocket, a RACEceiver allows each driver to hear directions from series officials, which greatly enhances the safety and timeliness of events. A similar version available to fans will allow RACEceiver users to hear what information series officials are relaying to the drivers. For more information about RACEceiver, visit, call 866/301-7223, or look for their sales trailers at select events.

Tracks Know The Score: In the ongoing effort to assist every sanctioned track with presenting the best possible race programs, DIRTcar has teamed with AMB i.t. which continues to be recognized as the Official Timing System of DIRTcar racing. AMB i.t. is the world’s leader in automatic race timing and scoring systems and the DIRT organization is proud to retain the company as a valued partner in the timing and scoring of all DIRTcar Racing events.

The final extra-distance event on the 2008 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series schedule arrives next weekend with the 47th Eastern States Championship at Orange County Fair Speedway bringing the curtain down on Oct. 19. Activity begins Fri., Oct. 19 with DIRTcar Modified practice followed by Integra Shocks Time Trials. More Modified practice and Big-Block heats run Saturday while the Sunday show kicks off with Big-Block consis to set the stage for the season-ending 125-mile Modified main.

2008 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Schedule
*All events subject to change.
NP=Non-Point event.
Day-Date Track Winner/Rite Aid 200 Qualifier (Location)
Wed-Feb 13 Volusia Speedway Park-NP Billy Pauch
Thr-Feb 14 Volusia Speedway Park-NP Brett Hearn
Fri-Feb 15 Volusia Speedway Park-NP Dale Planck
Sat-Feb 16 Volusia Speedway Park-NP Jimmy Horton
Sat-Mar 22 Hagerstown Speedway Weather-Cancelled
Thr-May 1 Virginia Motor Speedway Matt Sheppard(G)
Sun-May 4 Rolling Wheels Raceway Billy Decker(G)
Sun-May 4 Rolling Wheels Raceway Dale Planck(G)
Sun-May 25 Cayuga Co Fair Speedway D.Planck/Danny Johnson(P)
Sat-Jun 7 Fulton Speedway B.Decker/Brett Hearn(P)
Thr-Jul 3 Ransomville Speedway B.Decker/Robbie Krull(P)
Thr-Jul 10 Brockville Ont Speedway B.Decker/Jimmy Phelps(P)
Fri-Jul 11 Autodrome Granby Brett Hearn(G)
Sat-Jul 12 Autodrome Drummond D.Planck/Steve Paine(P)
Wed-Jul 16 Grandview Speedway B.Decker/Jeff Strunk(P)
Thr-Jul 17 Georgetown Speedway H.J. Bunting III(G)
Thr-Jul 31 Orange Co Fair Speedway B.Hearn/Chuck McKee(P)
Mon-Aug 4 Merrittville Speedway Jimmy Phelps(G)
Sat-Aug 9 Canandaigua Speedway B.Decker/Vic Coffey(P)
Sat-Aug 9 Canandaigua Speedway B.Decker/Justin Haers(P)
Fri-Aug 15 Brewerton Speedway B.Decker/Gary Tomkins(P)
Sat-Aug 16 Can-Am Motorsports Park Gary Tomkins(G)
Sun-Aug 17 Cornwall Motor Speedway G.Tomkins/Carey Terrance(P)
Sun-Aug 31 Cayuga Co Fair Speedway Alan Johnson(G)
Sun-Aug 31 Cayuga Co Fair Speedway B.Decker/Frankie Caprara(P)
Mon-Sep 1 Rolling Wheels Raceway B.Decker/Roy Bresnahan(P)
Sat-Sep 7 Lebanon Valley Speedway Andy Bachetti(G)
Fri-Sep 12 Lernerville Speedway Rain-Cancelled
Sat-Sep 20 Canandaigua Speedway A.Johnson/Tim Fuller(P)
Sat-Sep 27 Rolling Wheels Raceway A.Johnson/Vince Vitale(P)
Sun-Oct 12 New York State Fairgrounds Frank Cozze
Sun-Oct 19 Orange Co Fair Speedway Middletown,NY

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

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.