Makin’ Tracks – Chasin’ A Mod Championship – DTD Exclusive

By BILL FOLEY

Usually you have months to sort out a track champion, but at the DIRTcar Nationals the Modified drivers from the Northeast and Canada ended up with just four days to determine who will be the champion and walk away with the treasured gold Gator.

After Friday night’s action, Tim McCreadie found himself atop the point standings with an 11 point edge over Danny Johnson 180-169 while third place Pat Ward settled in at 137.

Completing the top ten are Justin Haers and Jimmy Horton tied with 134, followed by Matt Sheppard (133), Max McLaughlin (129), Mike Mahaney (128), Larry Wight (125) and Ryan Watt (124).

Certainly TMac is in the driver’s seat and if he can start toward the front the driver whose known more know as a Lucas Oil Late Model contender than a Modified champion will take that Gator back to Watertown.

Starting position will be critical as all week as the winner has come from the two front rows. Fortunately the racing throughout the rest of the field has been solid.

Friday night after another “lets run the late model 50 lapper first” the Mods went last once again. The result was the worst race of the DIRTcar Nationals as it was a night for “bottom dwellers.” Get off the bottom and you went backwards.

One of the immediate victims was outside front row driver Larry Wight. He was outside and it wasn’t the place to be as by the time he could slide into line he was back in eighth. Everyone just rode around waiting for a mistake.

For Matt Sheppard, who dragged his Charlotte winning car out of the trailer, he got that break. Pole sitter Danny Johnson, who reportedly changed engines earlier in the day, led for 16 laps before Super Matt went inside of him and won.

In victory lane Sheppard said, “I just nailed it to the guard rail for the rest of the race”.

Meanwhile, “The Doctor,” coming off a third the night before, said, “I should have won the race and didn’t. I tried to pass a lapped car on the outside and it was a mistake.”

Oh well, you get those races once in a while it was just sad that with this tremendous field a follow the leader green to checker 30 lapper ruined the night. Not the driver’s fault, but now it is on to the final night where I am told the first feature of the night will be the 50-lap Modified event.

Pit Stops

Heats were challenging and exciting and it was hoped a preview of what was to come later on in the night…

The Doctor, Super Matt, TMac and TBone (Justin Haers) won the prelims…

Ryan Watt was in a redraw spot, but on the final turn on the final lap JoJo Watson powered past and by just hundredth’s of a second went to the draw…

A surprise saw 15-year-old Bohemia, N.Y. driver Dillon Steuer finish fourth to qualify for his first main-event down here. He didn’t fare so well in the feature…

Ryan Godown and Larry Wight won’t be exchanging Christmas cards as it got physical in turn two as the duo battled for the second redraw spot. Contact was made and Larry went up to second…

Godown was more than irritated and when driving his car through the infield toward the pits he gunned the motor, the car jerked and nearly hit two young ladies who were walking along the road. Fortunately, they saw him and jumped out of his way…

Max McLaughlin got second in his heat and that was a credit to the HBR team. Max was surgically removed from the race the night before and ended up in the front stretch wall. He said, “All the radius rods were gone, we lost a wheel, bumper, nose and bent the clip”.

However, it turned out to be a pretty good night with his best finish, a podium third…

Jimmy Phelps ran away in the last chance race…

Tim Fuller has struggled down here, but passed Billy VanInwegen coming out of four to get second to grab the final guaranteed starting spot in the feature…

Fans had to really enjoy the final Last Chance event as Tyler Siri and “The Big Show” Dave Rauscher put on one heck of a show. They raced lap after lap, side-by-side before the yellow came out with three laps left. Rauscher has been snakebit by restarts all week. Once again it happened as Chad Brachmann got him for second.

Twenty-nine cars started the feature with Billy Whittaker and Erik Rudolph getting in along with Rauscher by virtue of non-paid provisionals…

The feature went non-stop, but there was a yellow on the initial start when J.R. Heffner had a right front go down between one and two and pulled up to the outside. It necessitated a complete restart…

Phelps started 21st and was up to 12th by lap 7. Best run of the week for the Weedsport Speedway promoter…

Pat Ward did go from 16th to seventh and got most of his spots early with little hope of much movement in the later stages…

Sheppard started third and won, The Doctor second and started first, Mad Max third and started fourth. McCreadie started fifth and finished four, Haers one of the biggest movers from eighth starting spot to fifth. Ryan Godown from 10th to sixth and Ward was the one with apparently the most spots with 16th to seventh at the finish…

Well, the final night of the DIRTcar Nationals is upon us.

It is strange to see the Late Model fans pour out of the grandstands after their race. I would estimate at least 25% of the grandstands head to the parking lot before the Mods hit the speedway. However, there are lots of vacationers from snow and cold country as well as many, many transplanted folks who live down here but miss their big-blocks. Big-block fans were forced to watch the 50 lap Late Model events every night. I’ll be curious to see how many Mod fans leave before the Late Model main-event tonight. That is unless the Mods are moved to the final race again…

Let me say if you’ve never tried to do this give it a shot. Like any racing there are good nights and then some that don’t live up to the hype…

Comments or whatever else you have can be sent along to foley395@hotmail.com.