SWEDESBORO, NJ – 28 premier Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified drivers charged into 100 laps of the unknown at the newly reconfigured high-banked, Bridgeport Motorsports Park at outset of the ‘King of the Big Blocks’ 100.
Every driver in the field rose to the occasion and fought hard for the win but only the 5-time NAPA Super DIRT Week champion, Stewart Friesen, would be crowned ‘King of the Big Blocks.’ In Victory Lane, an emotional Stewart Friesen dedicated his win to the late Danny Serrano who passed away after working all Winter to prepare the new Bridgeport Motorsports Park for race season.
Friesen won his Heat Race to make it to the Redraw and randomly selected 9th. With 100 laps to run, there was plenty of time for the Halmar International no. 44 to make up the necessary ground.
The Gypsum Racing cars of Larry Wight and Billy Decker led the field to the green flag. The no. 99L took off and jetted out to an early lead while Ryan Godown, Chris Hile, and Mike Mahaney duked it out for the rest of the top 5.
The next 20 laps stayed green and Decker began reeling in Wight. Slowly but surely Wight started to fade. On lap 20, Wight relinquished the lead to Decker. At the same time, Friesen began making serious inroads to the top 5 passing both Mike Mahaney and Chris Hile in one fell swoop for 4th.
Everything changed on lap 25.
Decker, while running in the lead, suffered a flat tire and brought out the caution. Incredibly, Decker was able to fight through the field all the way back to second place.
“I didn’t expect to be on the podium but when it blew, sometimes getting a new tire early can win you the race,” said Decker. “By the looks of Friesen’s tire [in Victory Lane], we weren’t far off.”
On the restart, Friesen jumped to 2nd and then the lead, but suddenly the caution came out for Matt Sheppard and Mike Mahaney. Both went behind the wall before starting their charge to the front once again.
Friesen then outdueled Wight for the lead and drove off. Wight later retired from the race due to a mechanical failure.
At the halfway point, Friesen was leading but Matt Sheppard worked his way back up into the top 5. Sheppard finally caught up with Friesen with 12 laps to go and made the pass. Almost immediately the no. 9S slowed and brought the caution flag out. His night was over although he did receive a free Hoosier Racing Tire for redrawing position 12.
Friesen noted the Sheppard pass: “I figured the tire was shot because we started skatin’ pretty good. The car was getting upset in the bumps off of turn 2 a little bit. I tried to guard the bottom but Matt [Sheppard] got me on the top,” said Friesen. “I don’t know what happened but Danny Serrano was looking out for me tonight.”
Then it was Billy Decker’s turn to try and take down Friesen. He threw everything he had at him. “You have to hit it just right to get a run,” said Decker. “I was close but didn’t want to lay iron on him. I was trying. I didn’t come here to finish second.”
3rd place finisher Jimmy Phelps was very happy with the result.
“The car was a lot better than me all night. We didn’t qualify well and I don’t think it had anything to do with the car, “said Phelps. “It just took me a while to get used to this place. What a great, racy place.”
The no. 98H never went away and the Baldwinsville Bandit never gave up.
“It took me 50-60 laps to get to the top of turns 1 and 2 and the car could drive all over in 3 and 4. But I am happy. I wasn’t sure about halfway we had climbed up to 10th and then went back to 15th. Fortunately, the attrition helped us make it back in there.”
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PHOTO: Quinten Young
King of the Big Blocks 100 Feature results:
1) STEWART FRIESEN 2) Billy Decker 3) Jimmy Phelps 4) Andy Bachetti 5) Michael Maresca 6) Peter Britten 7) Tim Fuller 8) Billy Dunn 9) Mike Mahaney 10) Mat Williamson 11) Demetrios Drellos 12) Jessey Mueller 13) Dave Marcuccilli 14) Chris Hile 15) Jack Lehner 16) Brandon Grosso 17) Ryan Watt 18) Tyler Dippel 19) Marcus Dinkins 20) Erick Rudolph 21) Billy Pauch Jr. 22) Matt Sheppard 23) Ryan Godown 24) Rick Labauch 25) Larry Wight 26) Neal Williams 27) Chad Phelps 28) Ryan Krachun
Contingency sponsorship awards:
Billy Whittaker Cars $100 – Stewart Friesen
VP Racing Fuels $50 – Billy Decker
Cometic Gasket $50 – Chris Hile
Comp Cams $50 – Demetrios Drellos
Fox Racing Shocks $50 – Marcus Dinkins
ARP $50 – Peter Britten
DART $50 – Demetrios Drellos
Drydene $50 – Peter Britten
ASi Racewear $50 – Tim Fuller
Bicknell Racing Products $100 certificate – Stewart Friesen
OSWEGO, NY – As we all wait impatiently for the start of this year’s edition of the Super DIRTcar Series, I look back to when it all started. I was just a junior in college at SUNY Oswego.
There had been various modified racing series over the years. There were Challenge Cups and there were attempts to have team races representing tracks from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Canada with three members to each team. A novel concept.
However, none had them staying power of what has become the Super DIRTcar Series. But who are the legends, the men to beat, and the future stars of the series? Let’s start with the all-time Super DIRTcar Series Feature winners list.
Top 10 All-Time Super DIRTcar Series Feature Winners List (Points and Non-Points)
140 Brett Hearn 89 Danny Johnson 78 Matt Sheppard 70 Billy Decker 57 Alan Johnson 39 Bob McCreadie 32 Stewart Friesen 31 Jack Johnson 31 Tim Fuller 28 Jimmy Horton
I remember when the Schaefer Circle of Champions raced the what would become the first series shows back in 1972 at tracks like Five Mile Point, Rolling Wheels, Fonda, Flemington, Twin Valley, Orange County, Nazareth, East Windsor, Lebanon Valley, Weedsport, Merrittville and The Mile.
Winners included the likes of Buzzie and Wayne Reutimann along with Will Cagle, Kenny Brightbill, Dick Hansen, Don Beagell, Chuck Ciprich, Stan Ploski, and Bobby Rossell. These names were always at the top of the results in the race papers.
The Super DIRTcar Series has been the lone series that brought together the elite of Northeast Modified racing on a regular basis. For fans, it is treated to have so many of the legends of the tour still with us today and competing on a regular basis.
The winningest driver is Brett Hearn and although he has taken up a management role at Orange County, he hasn’t totally walked away from possibly running a Super DIRTcar Series show from time to time.
Whoever would have thought that Danny Johnson, who won his first tour race in 1983, would be second in the all-time win list and still be racing when the resumption of action commences in 2020.
Youthful compared to the guys he is surrounded by in the all-time win list, Matt Sheppard is third and he’s managed to achieve that climb in just 15 years.
The other still competitive drivers in the top 10 list of all-time winners include Billy Decker, Alan Johnson, Tim Fuller, Stewart Friesen, and Jimmy Horton.
Alan Johnson still finds time to hit the tour while The Sensational One Jimmy Horton is usually on the roster for NAPA Super DIRT Week and when the tour hits Orange County.
Tim Fuller has been running the tour on and off for years successfully. His win total would be far more substantial it not for his years following the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model tour.
There is no doubt that within the next 10 years The Doctor, Billy, Alan, Tomkins, Fuller, and Tremont will find other things to do other than sit in the cockpit of a Modified.
Okay, so maybe The Doctor will never quit, but you never know.
The Men to Beat
Obviously, Matt Sheppard has set the bar and after four consecutive years of winning the title will continue to be the man to beat.
Mat Williamson had the season of his life a year ago in capturing the Super DIRTcar Series title and the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at NAPA Super Dirt Week and he too is going to be around for a long time to come.
Others who will help maintain the high caliber of racing on the Series include Larry Wight and Erick Rudolph.
Stewart Friesen also should find his way to his share of SDS shows as he too is one helps the tour maintain its luster.
I think Peter Britten and Mike Mahaney will continue to be mainstays on the tour fielding strong entries year after year.
Teams change goals and aspirations. For some, the thrill of running on the tour and the prestige that comes with it is a dream or their ultimate goal in racing. They try it, for maybe a year or two, and say, “Well, I did it.” However, others are in for the long haul.
Jimmy Phelps is a driver that can get hot any minute and be a real threat on the tour.
Betting on Futures
How does it feel predicting the future Super DIRTcar Series stars? Let me use just one word…Unpredictable.
Certainly, Demetrios Drellos made his presence known last year as a rookie and getting his first tour win as even when I talked to him in February still couldn’t believe his team actually won in the very first year.
Jack Lehner is still quite young and he has a program that might allow him to be in this thing for the long run. He’s still learning and getting his feet wet. Jack made strides last year and he is one of the Young Ones.
Chris Hile, a regular in Central New York, has proven to be competitive the series races he selects to run. He is doing the tour for the first time this year and if he can adapt to some tracks he’s never seen he could be a contender. There is no reason why he couldn’t finish in the top ten in the point standings.
If anyone has followed Tim Sears Jr. they know just by watching him for one single night that this kid has talent. The team has received some assistance from John Wight over the years when they are in need, but he would be a tremendous addition to the series. He is the future of Big Block Modified racing and needs to find a ride.
There are a bunch of DIRTcar 358 drivers with the talent to make that step up if sponsors and support can be found including Davie Marcuccilli, Corey Wheeler, Kyle Dingwall, Ryan Arbuthnot, and Jordan McCready.
However, my base of operation is in Central New York so those are the drivers that stand out to me. Series talent comes from all parts of the Northeast and Canada.
It’s difficult to see what the future might hold especially in the crazy world we are currently surviving in. When the economy eventually bounces back, the sponsors and fans will be able to remain involved and the longest Big Block Modified series in the Northeast will continue to give fans their fill of the stars of racing.
There is no crystal ball, but in witnessing racing since the late 60’s I thoroughly understand that times change, drivers change, racing changes, but our sport and in this case the Super DIRTcar Series live on.
Billy Foley is a prolific writer for racing news website Dirt Track Digest and announcers weekly at Brewerton and Fulton Speedways.
BARBERVILLE, FL – When the sun rose and heated up the Florida air this morning, only 50 laps on The World’s Fastest Half-Mile were all that separated Gypsum Racing’s Larry Wight from his third DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford Big Gator Championship.
Wight needed to finish fifteenth or better to prevent teammate Billy Decker from taking it for himself. Fortunately for the No. 99L, Wight finished sixth sandwiched between Decker in fifth and his other teammate Pat Ward in
Championships are often won in the shop as well as the race track and the Gypsum Racing team knows that well.
“It’s a combination of good preparation, a good car, a good motor, and a phenomenal crew. Having a family to back that up and allow us to put in the hours and put in the time at the track and come down here,” noted Wight.
The Super DIRTcar Series pounded the Florida clay five nights in a row and the track was different every night, which created challenging and dynamic racing.
“The track threw us for a loop tonight. We didn’t think it would get as slick,” said Wight, of Phoenix, NY. “We thought the top would be a little bit better so we tried to get the car freed up versus last night. I guess we should have left it a little bit snugger.”
Wight hopes he can bring home momentum and race data to Can-Am Speedway to start another run at the Super DIRTcar Series championship.
Although it’s not the Big Gator, defending Super DIRTcar Series Mat Williamson is more than happy the Buzz Chew Racing team’s efforts were rewarded with two Gator wins, including tonight’s $5,000 grand prize.
The race for the Big Gator championship probably would have come down to Wight and Williamson had the No. 88 not suffered a broken left rear shock, which resulted in a 15th place finish for the defending Series champion.
“That Buzz Chew Chevrolet was pretty good. I think everyone in our pit area was disappointed with what happened Thursday night,” said Williamson, of St. Catharines, ON. “It just made us work harder and show everyone what we’re made of.”
Only Williamson and Wight found Victory Lane at this year’s DIRTcar Nationals. Williamson’s broken shock on Thursday and the Gypsum team’s dominance tipped the championship scales in Wight’s favor.
“That’s what championships are made of,” Williamson said. “Hats off to Larry [Wight] and his guys, they had a solid week. We tried our best and couldn’t beat them. It goes to show how good they are,” Williamson said.
The Buzz Chew Racing team struggled at the DIRTcar Nationals in 2019. They’ve been bound and determined to come back and succeed at Volusia. Bookending the week with wins and competing for the overall points title felt like redemption.
Runner up Jimmy Phelps and his HBR crew worked hard all week on their new Bicknell chassis and set up package.
“This is a new program for us with the chassis and coil-over suspension. We came down here with some stuff in mind that we wanted to play with,” said Phelps. “We got ourselves a little off track Wednesday and Thursday. It took until Thursday or me personally to figure out where I wanted to be on the race track. A top 5 last night and a podium tonight, we’re pretty happy with our progress.”
The Baldwinsville Bandit went on to say: “We learned a lot. We got beat by the hottest guy on dirt right now. There’s nothing to hang our heads about. We learned a ton that we can take back north with us.
Another driver with early-week woes was the seven-time Super DIRTcar Series champion Matt Sheppard. The driver from Waterloo, NY recorded finishes uncharacteristically down the order throughout the week but showed improvement every single night.
“We had a really good car tonight. We’ve been chasing this thing all week and we made a big stride tonight. We had a good car all night. Track position was very key,” said Sheppard.
And of course, there’s the part that no one from the northeast is looking forward to.
“Now we make the long trip home back to the snow.”
Brett Hearn knows the fast way around Volusia Speedway Park. In fact, The Jet holds the record for consecutive victories with 5 at the Florida oval. Tonight Hearn picked up 12 positions to finish eleventh from twenty-third.
Next up, the Series first points race takes place on Saturday, April 11 at Can-Am Speedway in Lafargville, NY for a $7,500-to-win 100-lap Feature.
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Jimmy Phelps grabbed his first Super DIRTcar Series win of 2019 just in the knick of time. Phelps battled it out with the heavy hitters of Big Block Modified racing to take the checkered flag. Erick Rudolph and Larry Wight rounded out the podium.
CONCORD, NC — Nov. 8, 2019 — High drama for the Super DIRTcar Series championship exploded on Friday in the Can-Am World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. While Mat Williamson and Matt Sheppard waged a battle for series supremacy that started during their Heat Races, Jimmy Phelps powered to his first Super DIRTcar Series victory of the season.
Sheppard and Williamson were tied for the Super DIRTcar Series championship lead entering Friday’s action in the closest championship bout in Series history. As luck would have it, Sheppard and Williamson were scheduled to start second and third in a Heat Race with vital points at stake long before the Feature was set. Then pole-sitter Brett Hearn was issued a penalty for a work area infraction, moving Williamson to the front row next to Sheppard. Williamson, eager to take the points lead going into the Feature, jumped the start and was sent back a row under yellow. Sheppard went on to win the race and Williamson took fourth, creating a three-point advantage for Sheppard.
Finally, when the green flag waved on 40-lap Feature, Sheppard was charging through the top 10 while Williamson was mired mid-pack. Then the luck swung back toward Williamson as Sheppard’s car suddenly veered sideways in front the pack in turns one and two. Max McLaughlin made contact, but it was just enough to straighten Sheppard out without doing too much damage.
Third-place running Larry Wight was behind Sheppard when “I suddenly had a full view of the side of the 9s!”
But that wasn’t all fate had in store for Sheppard. Entering the third turn Sheppard again struggled with his brakes and clipped the rear bumper of Wight.
“I wasn’t sure what was going on there, but I know I felt something in turn three when we were going to the bottom there,” Wight said of the contact.
The contact was enough to cut down the right front tire on Sheppard’s machine, forcing him to the work area.
Incredibly, Sheppard minimized the damage by clawing his way through the 38-car field to finish 10th, now trailing Williamson by 18 points headed into Saturday’s action.
As the championship stands, Williamson leads Sheppard by 18 points. If Sheppard wins Saturday’s Can-Am World Finals Feature, Williamson would need to finish third or better to win his first Super DIRTcar Series crown.
Williamson had his own trouble throughout the day. He felt he left points on the table in the Heat Race after being penalized for jumping the start alongside Sheppard.
“Today was tough,” said Williamson, of St. Catharines, Ontario. “We felt we got the raw end of the deal on the calls (the officials) made. But we got through it and stuck with it all day and now we can control our own destiny (Saturday).
“We’ll make some changes and we should be better.”
Meanwhile, Phelps and his HBR team had struggled for most of 2019. Despite always running in the top 10, it seemed as though they couldn’t break into Victory Lane. A recent chassis change has helped Phelps get back on track, and that was never more evident than on Friday night.
“It feels great on a lot of levels,” said Phelps, of Baldwinsville, NY. “We were shy on the results page for the season, and this is great, but it doesn’t make up for all the hard work and grief that the team went through all year. They haven’t seen the results that they deserve for how hard they worked. This really helps going into the off-season.”
The No. 98H looked right at home at the top of the field all night. While some attrition played into his hands, Phelps had a fast race car.
“You couldn’t ask for a better car on a better night on a better stage. We are very fortunate that we were able to do it,” Phelps noted.
The Baldwinsville Bandit described his race as he chased Billy Decker and took the lead:
“Our car rolled the bottom really well and that helped early with getting some track position. Each restart we got a couple spots. Once we got into clean air I was on par with Decker. It would have been interesting to know if we had enough to get by him. [Decker suffered a flat tire]”
Second-place Erick Rudolph, of Ransomville, NY, took a couple stabs at Phelps while he led, but the No. 98H was not to be denied a Can-Am World Finals victory.
Rudolph looked strong all race in his blue and white No. 25R. While he missed taking the win, he and his team were very happy with their result.
“Second is my best ever finish here,” Rudolph said. “I’m not sure I was ever even in the top five. We’ve been coming here for a while and just never really had the stuff. Tonight, we had the stuff and we had the chance and that’s a true testament to the team. I think Jimmy [Phelps] had the car to beat tonight and a couple contenders dropped out too. We put ourselves in a position to win and that’s all we can ask for.”
Larry Wight crossed the finish line third in his crimson Gypsum Racing Big Block Modified in what some might say was essentially a brand-new car or at least an experimental one for the team.
“We did a lot of changes to the car today,” Wight said. “We switched over from a bar car to a coil car. We were running around the pits trying to find all the parts to do it. I gotta thank Paul St-Sauveur. He gave us the last piece we needed for the left rear. We had a good car. We just need to fine tune it a little bit. We haven’t been on coils at all this year so now we are on the learning curve that everyone went through at the beginning of the year and doing it at the last race.”
Why the big change and why now?
“I got sick of following coil cars,” Wight said. “So, I finally bit the bullet and joined them. Jake and Brandon did a great job getting everything swapped over. It’s an untested car I’m happy we finished third.
Wight will be looking to improve by two positions in Saturday’s Feature.
For the sixth time this season, Decker picked up the Billy Whittaker Cars Fast-Time Award. He took advantage of his quick-time by staying out in front for the duration of his Heat Race. That put Decker in the Top 8 Redraw and he pulled the number one position. Unfortunately, Decker wound up cutting a tire in the Feature while leading and finished nineteenth.
The KSE Hard Charger of the race was Justin Haers for passing a mind-boggling 22 cars in the 40-lap Feature. Haers will be a force to reckoned with in Saturday’s Feature at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
There is one schedule update for Saturday. The event kicks off with Opening Ceremonies at 3:45 pm followed by Super DIRTcar Series Last Chance Showdowns.
If you can’t make it to the track, be sure to tune in for the conclusion of the 2019 Super DIRTcar Series Championship tomorrow at 4 PM! Watch live with our live streaming partner FloRacing to catch all the action and drama of the Championship battle.
DIRTcar Northeast’s Multi-Car Display Set to Wow Syracuse Motorsports Expo Crowds
CONCORD, NC – On March 9-10, 2019, DIRTcar Northeast is set to have a huge presence at the 33rd Annual Syracuse Motorsports Expo. Taking center stage are the Big-Block Modifieds of the Super DIRTcar Series. Officials will be on hand to answer questions and discuss your favorite DIRTcar Northeast racing moments. With the season about to begin, on Saturday, April 13 with a NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII Qualifier and $10,000 on the line at Can-Am Speedway, the buzz around the Super DIRTcar Series is palpable.