Jamaica, VA — May 1, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series PR Director
*Al Goulder Photo
‘Super’ Matt Sheppard was just that Thursday night at Virginia Motor Speedway as the Central New York standout opened the 2008 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series with a narrow victory worth a whopping $10,000 in the 2nd Annual Paul Sawyer Memorial presented by Thurston Spring Service, Inc.
The second-generation driver from Waterloo, New York started fifth in the 30-car field, reeled in early pace-setter Duane Howard on lap 39, then held off the popular Pennsylvanian to capture the 60-lap ‘Thursday Thunder’ for Big-Block Modifieds at the immaculate Sawyer Family oval.
“I was having flashbacks of last year, it was almost the same scenario,” said a jubilant Sheppard, 25, who improved just one position from last year’s inaugural Advance Series race in the Old Dominion State, but it was the one that mattered most in the highly touted event. “Last year we got up to second and started catching Danny (Johnson, ’07 winner) and tonight I began wondering again.”
“I was getting a pretty good run off the bottom and could see Duane was real fast yet beginning to hang a little off the top. That’s when I thought I had a shot at this. And when I got by I just couldn’t believe it,” beamed Sheppard, 25, from VMS victory lane after holding off a last lap surge by Howard to score the thrilling victory, his first tour triumph since October at New Egypt (NJ) Speedway.
The 30-mile Modified main was slowed by eight caution periods with Sheppard outlasting Integra Shocks fast timer Howard by .83-seconds to claim his fifth career Advance Series triumph in dramatic fashion. Defending overall Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Champion Brett Hearn and tour regulars Steve Paine and Billy Decker filled out the front-five ahead of top-10 contenders Bert/KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Gary Tomkins, Jimmy Phelps, Larry Wight, Billy Pauch and Wade Hendrickson.
Young guns Josh Richards, who turned 20 in March, and Billy Pauch Jr., who turns 21 in June, filled out the front row after the traditional pre-race draw yet Richards used his track experience to gain control at the outset. Although making his first career start in a Big-Block Modified, the World of Outlaws Late Model star opened up a four car-length advantage on the initial circuit steering the back-up Madsen Motorsports no. 20r Wentworth Custom Homes/TEO entry with Pauch, Frankie Caprara and Howard charging next but not in line.
The first of eight yellow flags flew on lap four when third-generation driver Stewart Friesen slipped sideways in turn four, with the spinning no. 357 Norm Hansell-owned Bicknell machine scattering the pack directly behind him. Looking to sweep the night’s action, Howard, who posted fast time (18.056 sec.) in a new track record to earn the Integra Shocks quick qualifier award before claiming the first of five heats, bolted into second on the ensuing restart. He successfully completed his dash from a sixth-place start to the point on lap nine, ducking under Richards as the pair exited turn four.
Sheppard sat fifth on the grid when teammate Jeff Brownell Jr. slowed on the frontstretch as his own Bicknell mount went up in smoke to slow the field with 11 laps complete. Richards continued to shadow Howard yet the man on the move was eighth-place starter Dale Planck, who tucked into third ahead of Hearn on the restart — one that would leave a ‘black and blue’ mark on the scoresheet as it ultimately changed the complexion of the race.
Back under green flag conditions, Planck was in solid position to make a clean move into the runner-up spot yet contact from behind by Richards sent the black RezX Racing no. 77x Grow It Hydroseeding/TEO ride around betweens one and two and the back-up blue no. 20 slowing in the aftermath. Planck only lost his temper —bumping Hearn’s primary car under caution mistaking it for Richards— for a moment and both continued without losing a lap to the leader.
A fourth caution period quickly followed as a back straightaway jam-up resulted in Pennsylvanian Kevin Bates getting bounced off the outside retaining wall and into the teeth of the on-rushing pack. Kevin Bolland was the first to slam the Bates’ parked mount while Planck and Richards joined the melee in their crusade to remain contenders for the $10-grand top-prize.
A quarter way through the 60-lap affair, Howard had built up a seemingly comfortable margin over runner-up Hearn as Waterloo (NY) warriors Sheppard and Steve Paine jockeyed with Billy Pauch Sr. in the early stages. Pauch Jr., Billy Decker —relegated to a back row start following motor problems despite qualifying in his heat— Tim Fuller, Wade Hendrickson and 27th-place starter Alan Johnson traded paint in the top-10.
A lengthy green flag run allowed Howard to stretch out his lead but once the no. 4 BPG Racing/Troyer machine reached lapped cars it also allowed his nearest challengers to close the gap during the same span. Sheppard was the first to take advantage of the new traffic pattern, weaving his way under slower cars and then Hearn to steal away second on lap 27. A pair of slowdowns each of the next two laps —the first when Jimmy Horton IV stopped on the back chute and the second after Fuller lost a wheel between turns three and four— kept the frontrunners intact except for Decker, who had cracked the top-five just shy of the halfway point.
Another turn four tangle, once more involving Friesen and this time including veteran Alan Johnson and upstart Billy Dunn, forced out caution number seven with 31 laps in the books. Once the track was clean and ready for green a second half showdown was in sight and Sheppard was up to the task. First he sized up Howard on the straightaways then showed him his nose in the corners before forging the final lead change as the top two crossed the line nearly side-by-side to complete lap 39.
Sheppard opened up a commanding lead with 10 laps still to go as Howard, Hearn and Paine waged their own battle ahead of Decker further back. The final yellow flag unfurled on lap 56 as Friesen spun out for the last time low in turns three and four. After rallying all the way up to eighth, early race victim Planck suddenly veered to the infield pits yet regrouped in time to return trackside aboard the trusty Team Terrance ride.
With just a handful of circuits left to navigate, Sheppard was unable to shake Howard on the last restart and the lead duo kept the scorers reeling as the lap counter clicked down. Howard seemed to find a new groove with just two to go and managed to close within a car-length as the white flag flew. Chasing an unchartered line in turn one, Howard tried a slingshot maneuver down through turn two before a desperation move deep into turn three dropped him five car-lengths back as the checkered flag waved.
“I was a little too tight (after getting the lead) and I’d lose the nose once in a while but I can’t say enough about the team, this thing was just awesome tonight,” said Sheppard, following his second Big-Block win of the season after capturing the ’08 season-opener closer to home at Cayuga County Fair (NY) Speedway in April. It marked the first tour triumph for Sheppard driving for car owner Jeff Brownell in the no. 9s Advanced Lubrication Specialties-BPG Racing/Bicknell ride powered by a Finger Lakes motor.
“The competition here tonight was unreal, it was more than I thought it would be. I really have to thank the Sawyer Family for putting this event on, its about the biggest and best event we have all season. Being able to come down to a first class facility like this, to beat the best of the best and start the 2008 Series off with a win … I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Sheppard added.
Making a rare Advance Series appearance, Howard was the top feature finisher representing Pennsylvania as late arriving Rick Laubach (14th), Bates (28th) and Bolland (29th) were the only other Keystone State drivers to qualify for the main event.
“Matt just found the moisture there in (turn) four before I did,” assessed Howard, 44, who garnered his first Integra Shocks Fast Time Award last summer on home soil at Grandview (Pa.) Speedway and followed up Thursday with a career-best finish in an Advance Series event that earned him $6,000. “I was just trying to be smooth and hold my line but the car was starting to hang a little bit coming off four. I really didn’t think anybody would go around the bottom like that but (Matt) showed me, so we went down there and were just as fast. He just got to the spot before we did.”
“I wish we wouldn’t have had that last yellow because we were in lapped traffic and really finding something there to come off turn two. So I thought I might get him in traffic coming off the second corner with lapped cars being there. I just couldn’t get through turns three and four good enough to make a run on him here in turns one and two. But we have a strong race team, came here and raced with these guys, and made a good showing. Have to congratulate Matt, he’s a heck of a driver and it was a good race, he just beat us tonight. Also have to thank everybody on the crew for making the long drive down here and taking days off from work, it all paid off,” added Howard, the second in line among the top three all sporting sponsorship from Chad Sinon Motorsports.
Picking up almost right where he left off last season, reigning Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block points king Hearn settled for the show position yet still pocketed $3,500 for his night’s work. The ‘Corporate Jet’ finished second in the season-opener last spring at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway and secured runner-up laurels in October at Orange County Fair (NY) Speedway to lock up a record-tying sixth Mr. DIRTcar crown.
“The biggest problem we had, besides being a little bit undergeared getting off the bottom, was we got the air intake plugged on the hood scoop and that hurt the power, especially the second half of the race,” noted Hearn, 49, himself a seven-time opening day Advance Series winner, yet only one of those times earning Mr. DIRTcar accolades. “For awhile I was riding second thinking I was coming on. Duane’s been real tough with that car but I thought we were closing in on him a little bit. Then Matt got me in lapped traffic and track position ended up being real important the last 20 laps.”
The motor just flattens out (when plugged) and you can’t get off the corner the way you want to. Its just one of those deals but still a good way to start off the season in third. We were real competitive and won a heat race so all in all it was a good night,” figured Hearn, who stands atop the all-time Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series win list with 98 heading into Sunday’s twin-bill at Rolling Wheels featuring a pair of 50-lappers.
Five heats and a pair of Dig Safely New York Last Chance qualifiers were needed to sort out the 48 drivers registered in the return visit to Virginia Motor Speedway. Howard, Frankie Caprara, Planck, Hearn and Pauch Jr. copped preliminary events while Bolland and Wade Hendrickson topped the consolation round races.
In just three more days the Advance Auto Parts Big-Block Modifieds are back in action at DIRTcar Racing NorthEast charter member Rolling Wheels Raceway Park with the running of the 28th DIRT Challenge Cup set for Sunday, May 4. Each 50-lap main event pays $3,000 to win and offers valuable points towards the 33rd Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block Championship.
Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Race #1 – Bill Sawyer’s Virginia Motor Speedway, May 1, 2008 Paul Sawyer Memorial presented by Thurston Spring Service, Inc. Big-Block Modified Event Summary
FIN STR CAR# DRIVER
1 5 9s Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY ($10,000)
2 6 4 Duane Howard/Oley,PA
3 9 20 Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ
4 13 7x Steve Paine/Waterloo,NY
5 *12 91 Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY
6 24 84 Gary Tomkins/Clifton Springs,NY
7 17 98h Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY
8 10 99L Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY
9 14 1w Billy Pauch/Frenchtown,NJ
10 22 85 Wade Hendrickson/Lawrenceville,NJ
11 7 27j Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY
12 2 15x Billy Pauch Jr./Frenchtown,NJ
13 4 71 David VanHorn/Phillipsburg,NJ
14 25 14 Rick Laubach/Quakertown,PA
15 18 3 Justin Haers/Phelps,NY
16 3 fx1 Frankie Caprara/Watertown,NY
17 27 14j Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY
18 8 77x Dale Planck/Cortland,NY
19 1 20r Josh Richards/Shinnston,WV
20 29 99 Ryan Phelps/Fulton,NY
21 26 79 Mike Storms/Wantage,NJ
22 28 39w Steve Downs/Georgetown,DE
23 20 357 Stewart Friesen/Niagara-o-t-Lake,ONT
24 30 49 Billy Dunn/Watertown,NY
25 16 19 Tim Fuller/Edwards, NY
26 11 6 Pat O’Brien/Kingston,ONT
27 23 43 Jim Horton IV/Neshanic Station,NJ
28 15 42b Kevin Bates/Lake Ariel,PA
29 21 777 Kevin Bolland/New Brighton,PA
30 19 29 Jeff Brownell Jr./Waterloo,NY
DNS 31 29h Kenny Wallace/St.Louis,MO
*#91 Decker started in rear with back-up car.
LAP LEADERS: Richards (1-8), Howard (9-38), Sheppard (39-60).
CAUTIONS: 8 (lap 4, lap 12, lap 13, lap 13, lap 28, lap 29, lap 31, lap 56).
HEAT WINNERS: Howard, Caprara, Planck, Hearn, Pauch Jr.
DIG SAFELY NEW YORK LAST CHANCE RACE WINNERS: Bolland, Hendrickson.
BICKNELL RACING PRODUCTS WINNER AWARD: Matt Sheppard.
CRANE CAMS WINNER AWARD: Matt Sheppard.
RISLONE OIL STABILIZER & TREATMENT WINNER AWARD: Matt Sheppard.
BARS LEAKS RUNNER-UP AWARD: Duane Howard.
CRANE CAMS RUNNER-UP AWARD: Duane Howard.
SYRACUSE RITE AID 200 QUALIFIER: Matt Sheppard (G).
HALFWAY LEADER: Duane Howard.
BERT/KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER AWARD: Gary Tomkins.
HOLLEY HARD LUCK AWARD: Dale Planck.
PENSKE POWER POSITION AWARD (13th): David VanHorn.
INTEGRA SHOCKS FAST TIME AWARD: Duane Howard (18.056sec/99.690mph) *NEW TRACK RECORD.
TOTAL PURSE: $48,560.
CARS ENTERED: 48.
NEXT EVENT: Rolling Wheels Raceway Park “28th DIRT Challenge Cup” – May 4, 2008.
DID NOT QUALIFY(17)
5-Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ
8-Rich Scagliotta/Bound Brook,NJ
11j-Sean Beardsley/Central Square,NY
13-Greg Monica/North Bangor,NY
22-Rick Wegner/Monmouth Junction,NJ
40-Mark Forte,Sr./Blue Anchor,NJ
m40-Mark Forte,Jr./Blue Anchor,NJ
TIME MPH CAR# DRIVER
*1 18.056 99.690 4 Duane Howard/Oley,PA
*$100 Integra Shocks Fast Qualifier Award
2 18.110 99.393 91 Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY
3 18.217 98.809 77x Dale Planck/Cortland,NY
4 18.256 98.598 20r Josh Richards/Shinnston,WV
5 18.320 98.253 71 David VanHorn/Phillipsburg,NJ
6 18.376 97.954 19 Tim Fuller/Edwards, NY
7 18.405 97.800 98h Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY
8 18.468 97.466 3 Justin Haers/Phelps,NY
9 18.486 97.371 20 Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ
10 18.681 96.355 42b Kevin Bates/Lake Ariel,PA
11 18.711 96.200 14j Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY
12 18.715 96.180 fx1 Frankie Caprara/Watertown,NY
13 18.734 96.082 9s Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY
14 18.743 96.036 1w Billy Pauch/Frenchtown,NJ
15 18.772 95.887 15x Billy Pauch Jr./Frenchtown,NJ
16 18.778 95.857 6 Pat O’Brien/Kingston,ONT
17 18.830 95.592 27j Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY
18 18.841 95.536 7x Steve Paine/Waterloo,NY
19 18.870 95.390 29 Jeff Brownell Jr./Waterloo,NY
20 18.892 95.278 357 Stewart Friesen/Niagara-o-t-Lake,ONT
21 18.899 95.243 43 Jim Horton IV/Neshanic Station,NJ
22 18.922 95.127 49 Billy Dunn/Watertown,NY
23 18.927 95.102 99 Ryan Phelps/Fulton,NY
24 18.929 95.092 85 Wade Hendrickson/Lawrenceville,NJ
25 18.937 95.052 10 Kyle Strickler/Mooresville,NC
26 18.939 95.042 99L Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY
27 18.982 94.827 777 Kevin Bolland/New Brighton,PA
28 19.012 94.677 84 Gary Tomkins/Clifton Springs,NY
29 19.044 94.518 79 Mike Storms/Wantage,NJ
30 19.114 94.172 40 Mark Forte,Sr./Blue Anchor,NJ
31 19.117 94.157 hr2 Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ
32 19.126 94.113 56 Vince Vitale/Phoenix,NY
33 19.160 93.946 8 Rich Scagliotta/Bound Brook,NJ
34 19.188 93.809 39w Steve Downs/Georgetown,DE
35 19.214 93.682 7a Chic Cossaboone/Petersburg,NJ
36 19.216 93.672 37x Tom Scheetz/Boyertown,PA
37 19.241 93.550 29h Kenny Wallace/St.Louis,MO
38 19.266 93.429 14 Rick Laubach/Quakertown,PA
39 19.354 93.004 m40 Mark Forte,Jr./Blue Anchor,NJ
40 19.421 92.683 48too Dave Rauscher/Waterloo,NY
41 19.477 92.417 7j Joe Isabell/Pennellville,NY
42 19.503 92.293 22 Rick Wegner/Monmouth Junction,NJ
43 19.543 92.105 15 Brett Tonkin/Carbondale,PA
44 19.727 91.246 r2 Rusty Smith/Bethlehem,PA
45 19.801 90.904 11j Sean Beardsley/Central Square,NY
46 19.981 90.086 1 Darwin Greene/Susquehanna,PA
47 20.748 86.755 13 Greg Monica/North Bangor,NY
48 -NT- —– 30 Jamie Mills/Milford,DE
*NEW TRACK RECORD.
Heat Races (10 laps, top 4 finishers transferred to feature, top 2 went to re-draw)
#1: Howard, Wight, O’Brien, Fuller, Horton IV, Beardsley, Scheetz, Isabell, Horton, A.Johnson.
#2: Caprara, D.Johnson, Decker, J.Phelps, Bolland, Dunn, Vitale, Wallace, Greene, Wegner.
#3: Planck, Sheppard, Paine, Haers, Laubach, Tomkins, R.Phelps, Tonkin, Scagliotta, Mills (DNS).
#4: Hearn, Richards, Pauch, Brownell, Hendrickson, Storms, Forte Jr., Downs, Smith.
#5: Pauch Jr., VanHorn, Bates, Friesen, Forte, Rauscher, Monica, Cossaboone, Strickler (DNS).
Dig Safely New York Last Chance Races: (10 laps, top 4 finishers transferred to feature)
#1: Bolland, Horton IV, Laubach, A.Johnson, Beardsley, R.Phelps, Scheetz, Vitale, Horton, Dunn, Wegner, Wallace, Greene, Isabell (DNS).
#2: Hendrickson, Tomkins, Storms, Downs, Tonkin, Forte Jr., Rauscher, Cossaboone, Smith, Scagliotta, Monica, Forte, Strickler (DNS), Mills (DNS).
Provisonals: R.Phelps, Dunn.
Promoter’s Option: Wallace.
Advance Auto Parts Series Point Standings (Through May 1, 2008)
Rank No. Driver Total Series Diff Wins Top-5 Top-10 Starts
1 4 Duane Howard 105 105 0 0 1 1 1
2 9s Matt Sheppard 103 103 -2 1 1 1 1
3 20 Brett Hearn 95 95 -10 0 1 1 1
4 7x Steve Paine 86 86 -19 0 1 1 1
5 91 Billy Decker 81 81 -24 0 1 1 1
6 84 Gary Tomkins 76 76 -29 0 0 1 1
7 98h Jimmy Phelps 72 72 -33 0 0 1 1
8 99L Larry Wight 71 71 -34 0 0 1 1
9 1w Billy Pauch 66 66 -39 0 0 1 1
10 27J Danny Johnson 63 63 -42 0 0 0 1
11 15x Billy Pauch Jr. 63 63 -42 0 0 0 1
12 85 Wade Hendrickson 62 62 -43 0 0 1 1
13 71 David VanHorn Jr. 59 59 -46 0 0 0 1
14 FX1 Frankie Caprara 55 55 -50 0 0 0 1
15 14 Rick Laubach 54 54 -51 0 0 0 1
16 3 Justin Haers 52 52 -53 0 0 0 1
17 77x Dale Planck 51 51 -54 0 0 0 1
18 14J Alan Johnson 48 48 -57 0 0 0 1
19 20R Josh Richards 48 48 -57 0 0 0 1
20 99 Ryan Phelps 44 44 -61 0 0 0 1
21 79 Mike Storms 43 43 -62 0 0 0 1
22 39w Steve Downs 42 42 -63 0 0 0 1
23 357 Stewart Friesen 41 41 -64 0 0 0 1
24 6 Pat O’Brien 41 41 -64 0 0 0 1
25 42B Kevin Bates 41 41 -64 0 0 0 1
26 49 Billy Dunn 40 40 -65 0 0 0 1
27 19 Tim Fuller 40 40 -65 0 0 0 1
28 43 Jimmy Horton IV 40 40 -65 0 0 0 1
29 777 Kevin Bolland 40 40 -65 0 0 0 1
30 29 Jeff Brownell Jr. 40 40 -65 0 0 0 1
31 29H Kenny Wallace 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
32 56 Vince Vitale 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
33 7J Joe Isabell 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
34 HR2 Jimmy Horton 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
35 1 Darwin Greene 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
36 22 Rick Wegner Jr. 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
37 11j Sean Beardsley 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
38 37X Tom Scheetz Jr. 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
39 M40 Mark Forte Jr. 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
40 40 Mark Forte 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
41 48T Dave Rauscher 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
42 8 Rich Scagliotta 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
43 10 Kyle Strickler 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
44 15 Brett Tonkin 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
45 13 Greg Monica 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
46 7a Chic Cossaboone 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
47 30 Jamie Mills 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
48 R2 Rusty Smith 10 10 -95 0 0 0 0
Advance Auto Parts DIRTcar Modified Entries – May 1 (48)
CAR# DRIVER / HOMETOWN TEAM (Sponsor / Chassis / Engine)
1 Darwin Greene/Susquehanna,PA Greene Quality Bluestone-Big Diamond Tools-TJ’s NAPA/Bicknell/Jensen Tech
1w Billy Pauch/Frenchtown,NJ Will Brown’s Truck Repair-K&A Excavating/Bicknell/Larry Lombardo
fx1 Frankie Caprara/Watertown,NY F.X. Caprara Car Co.-Auto Value-JK Contracting/Troyer/Dan Bedell
r2 Rusty Smith/Bethlehem,PA Smith Excavating & Paving-Bourdeau Financial/TEO/David VanHorn,Sr.
3 Justin Haers/Phelps,NY Phelps Cement Products-SMV Motorsports-Jeff Jolly Masonry/Bicknell/Finger Lakes
4 Duane Howard/Oley,PA BPG Racing-Penske Shocks-Mavericks Motorcycle Club-Alex’s Lemonade/Troyer/Feil
5 Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ Lincoln Auto Body-Schmidt Racing/Troyer/Tischler
6 Pat O’Brien/Kingston,ONT 730 Truck Stop-Gypsum Logistics-Newells Garage/Bicknell/Enders
7a Chic Cossaboone/Petersburg,NJ Tuckahoe Turf Farms/Bicknell/Enders
7j Joe Isabell/Pennellville,NY JIR Motorsports-A&D Structures/Troyer/Morrison
7x Steve Paine/Waterloo,NY Tallmadge Tire-Swarthout Recycling-Instant Heat Wood Pellets/Troyer/Finger Lakes
8 Rich Scagliotta/Bound Brook,NJ Central Jersey Trailer & Hitch Depot-Adamsville Maintenance/Troyer/Feil
9s Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY Advanced Lubrication Specialties-BPG/Chad Sinon Motorsports/Bicknell/Finger Lakes
10 Kyle Strickler/Mooresville,NC Comp Cal-Magee’s Locksmiths-Fanslau Motorsports/Bicknell/Feil
11j Sean Beardsley/Central Square,NY JIR Motorsports-A&D Structures/Troyer/Morrison
13 Greg Monica/North Bangor,NY C&G Stables/TEO/Precision
14 Rick Laubach/Quakertown,PA Jerry Simons Builder-Alpha Mills-Reiley & Sterner Auto Sales/TEO/Enders
14j Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY Tri-State Roofing-Dirt Works-Cedar Ridge RV/TEO/Terry Vince
15 Brett Tonkin/Carbondale,PA Grimm Construction-G&G Towing/Bicknell/Wally Fiehl
15x Billy Pauch Jr./Frenchtown,NJ Carefree Bus Tours-Tabloid Graphics/Bicknell/Precision
19 Tim Fuller/Edwards, NY Street Wise Fight Wear-JL Motorsports-G&R Auto Parts/TEO/Enders
20 Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ Madsen Motorsports-Wentworth Custom Homes-Kruger-WLR/TEO/Enders
20r Josh Richards/Shinnston,WV Madsen Motorsports-Wentworth Custom Homes-Kruger-WLR/TEO/Enders
22 Rick Wegner/Monmouth Junction,NJ Ideal Auto Body-DamBest Race Carburetors/Bicknell/Burnett-Wegner
27j Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY JIR Motorsports-A&D Structures/Troyer/Morrison
29 Jeff Brownell Jr./Waterloo,NY Advanced Lubrication Specialties-Seneca Auto Sales/Bicknell/Finger Lakes
29h Kenny Wallace/St.Louis,MO Advanced Lubrication Specialties-Seneca Auto Sales/Bicknell/Finger Lakes
30 Jamie Mills/Milford,DE I.G.Burton Car Dealership-ReMax Realtor-L&W Ins./Bicknell/FingerLakes-DDE
37x Tom Scheetz/Boyertown,PA TNT Repairs-Jeff D’Ambrosio Dodge/Bicknell/Doug Meyers
39w Steve Downs/Georgetown,DE Wood’s General Contracting-Christian Bros. Concrete/Bicknell/Precision
40 Mark Forte,Sr./Blue Anchor,NJ Wildside Custom Trucks and Trailers-BSR Products/TEO/Finger Lakes
m40 Mark Forte,Jr./Blue Anchor,NJ Wildside Custom Trucks and Trailers-BSR Products/TEO/Finger Lakes
42b Kevin Bates/Lake Ariel,PA Blaise & Son Racing-Locklin’s Bottled Gas/Bicknell/Murray
43 Jim Horton IV/Neshanic Station,NJ Supreme Manufacturing-Metal Fab Pro Race Shop-Penske Shocks/TEO/Feil
48too Dave Rauscher/Waterloo,NY Magee Transportation Services-Monadnock Disposal Service/Bicknell/Morrison
49 Billy Dunn/Watertown,NY Number One Speed-American Traditions-Fast Lube Watertown/Bicknell/Finger Lakes
56 Vince Vitale/Phoenix,NY V & V Racing/Troyer/Enders
71 David VanHorn/Phillipsburg,NJ Harmony Sand&Gravel-Diamond Hart Ent.-Art’s Radiator/TEO/D.VanHorn,Sr.
77x Dale Planck/Cortland,NY RezX Racing-Grow It Hydroseeding-Action Race Parts-Teo Fab./TEO/Kevlar
79 Mike Storms/Wantage,NJ Mike Sparta Trucking-Skyline Construction-Four Star Transmissions/TEO/Enders
84 Gary Tomkins/Clifton Springs,NY Honeoye Auto Parts-Red Parker & Son Excavating/Bicknell/Mastin
85 Wade Hendrickson/Lawrenceville,NJ J&M Roofing & Building-Art Collins Trucking-Marine Stables/TEO/Finger Lakes
91 Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY Gypsum Wholesalers-Stadium Int’l-Quality Hardwoods/Bicknell/Enders
98h Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY Mohawk N.E.-New England Race Fuels-Joe Gibbs Racing Oil/Troyer/Finger Lakes
99 Ryan Phelps/Fulton,NY Big Red Towing-Dave Miller Auto Body/Bicknell/Enders
99L Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY Gypsum Express,Ltd./Bicknell/Enders
357 Stewart Friesen/Niagara-o-t-Lake,ONT Norm’s Save Station-Mari Al Auto Body/Bicknell/Doug Meyers
777 Kevin Bolland/New Brighton,PA Cintas-Northland Ford-Bolland Machine/Bicknell/Bolland
Wallace Only Watches In DIRTcar Big-Block Return: For a second straight year Kenny Wallace once again joined fellow Cup driver Kenny Schrader in competition on Thursday at VMS, continuing to focus much of his attention on qualifying for the Big-Block Modified main. Despite the promoter’s choice as a feature race add-on, it was all for naught as the St. Louis standout turned down the opportunity and sat on the sidelines for the main event. “The surface was still wet in warm-ups, we just need some time to get things straightened out,” remarked Wallace, prior to his qualifying attempt in the Brownell-owned Advanced Lubrication Specialties-Seneca Auto Sales/Bicknell mount carrying the number 29 with an ‘H’ alongside denoting his familiar ‘Hermanator’ moniker. Wallace placed 15th a year ago at VMS aboard a brand new H&H Motorsports no. 98 Mohawk Northeast-New England Race Fuels/Troyer entry teamed with Jimmy Phelps. On Thursday he placed eighth in the second heat and 12th in the first consi before calling it a night. “All cars are good cars, whether a Troyer or a Bicknell. We just need more seat time to make a go of it. Starting in the back of the pack tonight wouldn’t have been fair for the owners. I would’ve liked to do better for them tonight.”
Kid Rocket Has A Blast: The final rundown listed Big-Block Modified ‘rookie’ Josh Richards in 19th and the last car on the lead lap but as soon as the WoO LM touring star buckled into Brett Hearn’s back-up he became a veteran behind the wheel. While eventual runner-up Duane Howard is the new VMS record-holder for the Advance Series, Richards was the first to break the previous mark established by Tim Fuller last May. ‘Kid Rocket’ then proceeded to dice with his teammate Hearn in heat four before falling short by a mere bumper at the line. Come feature time, Richards had drawn the pole and led his first-ever laps in DIRTcar NorthEast’s premier Big-Block tour. Despite getting involved in a couple skirmishes along the way, the Shinnston, West Virginia pilot still completed the entire 60-lap distance. “The car felt good, definitely a lot different than what I’m used to with the Late Model but I really had a good time out there.”
Making The Field Of Dreams: Great qualifying heat race action was made possible by a superb red clay track surface throughout. Teenage sensation Larry Wight edged Canadian star Pat O’Brien low across the stripe on the final circuit to earn a draw spot (2nd) in the initial heat after race leader Alan Johnson broke on lap four. Frankie Caprara held off defending Sawyer Memorial winner Danny Johnson to claim the second qualifier and Dale Planck passed eventual feature winner Matt Sheppard with one lap to go to win heat three. Everybody had 20-20 vision in the fourth qualifier as Brett Hearn battled lap after lap with Josh Richards and the no. 20 Madsen Motorsports entries finished 1-2 ahead of Billy Pauch. Second and third-generation pilots dominated the final 10-lap race with Billy Pauch Jr. outlasting David VanHorn Jr. to help determine the top two-thirds of the feature line-up.
Ready, Set, No Go: With a list of 50 teams penciled in among pre-race entries, a solid field of 48 drivers from seven states and Canada ultimately signed in for ‘Thursday Thunder’ at Virginia. Among those initially registered for competition were Bob Sarkisian from New Jersey and Maryland chauffeur Chris Knopp. Sarkisian suffered motor trouble the previous weekend to squelch all his hopes while Knopp, who recently purchased the Bicknell ride from Jeff Rudalavage that was previously driven by Alan Johnson, wrecked the same car last Saturday. Lebanon Valley (NY) Speedway regular Wayne Jelley was also planning a trip south before a deal fell through to keep him at home working on his car for the regular weekend stint around the high banks.
Pot Holes: For the first time ever, the winner of the Advance Series opener is not the points leader heading into round two. Despite chasing Matt Sheppard under the checkered flag to finish second in the feature, Duane Howard tops the current chart after earning bonus points for setting fast time and winning his heat…..Continuing to suffer through mechanical woes in Dieter Schmidt’s no. 5 Lincoln Auto Body/Troyer entry, veteran Jimmy Horton had motor problems in warm-ups and picked up a ride Rusty Smith’s no. r2 Smith Excavating & Paving/TEO mount for Integra Shocks Time Trials. He was 31st quickest under the clocks before missing the field in the preliminary rounds…..44 years separated the oldest and youngest competitors in the field with Chic Cossaboone (59) from New Jersey failing in his bid to make the starting line-up while ‘Lightning’ Larry Wight (15) from Central New York made a wonderful Advance Series debut posting a solid eighth-place finish…..Chief of track prep, David Law, revealed that 500 loads of fresh clay were laid down over the winter months and the result was three new track records in the Late Model, Sportsman and Limited Stock classes that race regularly at VMS. The Advance Series speedsters followed suit with not only new Big-Block record-holder Duane Howard undermining the old mark, so did Josh Richards, Billy Decker and Dale Planck in that order…..While Tim Fuller, Billy Decker, Vic Coffey, Tim McCreadie and Kenny Wallace were the handful of drivers performing double-duty in Big-Blocks and Late Models last year, only Josh Richards ran both features this time around…..Brett Hearn’s back-up car driven by Richards was hauled down by Michael Storms, who finished 21st in the feature one lap down. Storms might have been more familiar 10 years ago to television viewers as he was a child actor who appeared in more than 30 commercials from the age of 3-10 years…..The JIR Motorsports team almost didn’t make it to the track after police stopped the transporter in search of a driver with a CDL. The proper paperwork was presented to the judge shortly after a trip to the courthouse and the hauler was cleared to continue its trek to the speedway…..Once at the track, drama continued to unfold in the face of first-string JIR pilot Danny Johnson. It was reported that a washer from the carburetor had fallen inside the motor and was only detected after a strange sound was heard once the engine was fired up…..Older brother Alan Johnson was looking to get back on track in Advance series competition, noting he will not only be chasing the overall Big-Block title in 2008, he may be the only driver following a three-race weekend on regular basis —- Brewerton (Fri.), Fulton (Sat.) and Cayuga County Fair (Sun.) speedways. “I’ll just keep running until something happens. Wallace (Stacey) supplied the motor but I paid for the rebuild. If that motor goes its any guess what I’ll do the rest of the week,” Johnson divulged…..Fresh off his Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified win the Saturday before at Merrittville (Ont.) Speedway, Dale Planck remarked, “The Big-Block Series is a little different, quite a few more drivers involved with good equipment. Hey, guys don’t travel this far without a good race car and high expectations”…..Last year Virginia was Billy Dunn’s first Advance Series race of the season after missing the Hagerstown lid-lifter, yet in 2008 its his first. “We just played catch up all year. A top-five finish in points this season might be stretching it but I’m confident we can be between 6th and 8th. I never expected to win last year but had a couple races in my grasp but just couldn’t hold on for the distance”…..Although finishing 14th in the feature, Pennsylvanian Rick Laubach still made out much better than a year ago when he wound up as the only driver out of 33 not to start the main event after suffering a blown engine. On Thursday he had similar luck just getting to the track as his hauler experienced a blown transmission prior to his arrival…..This year Jamie Mills was the lone man out, recording the 15th-best lap time in practice before quickly loading up with high oil pressure the culprit.
Get Out The Word First: RACEceiver is the Official Driver Communicator of DIRTcar Racing NorthEast. 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 www.raceceiver.com, call 866-301-7223, or look for their sales trailers at various events.
Tracks Know The Score: In DIRTcar Racing’s ongoing effort to assist every member track affiliate with presenting the best possible race programs, World Racing Group has teamed with AMB i.t. which continues to be recognized as the Official Timing System of DIRTcar NorthEast. AMB i.t. is the world’s leader in automatic race timing and scoring systems and WRG is proud to retain the company as a valued partner in the timing and scoring of all sanctioned events.
Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series race chasers are back in action closer to home at charter member tracks Rolling Wheels Raceway Park and Cayuga County Fair Speedway. Rolling Wheels hosts the 28th Annual DIRT Challenge Cup on May 4 before the month closes out at Cayuga County with the 17th Annual Hall of Fame 76 on May 25 of Memorial Day Weekend.
2008 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Schedule
*All events subject to change.
DAY-DATE TRACK WINNER/RITE AID 200 QUALIFIER
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
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 Fairgrounds 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.
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS MODIFIED SERIES SPONSORS
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.