Disqualification Allows Warner to Bring Spraker First Super DIRT Week Triumph – DTD Exclusive

By MIKE MALLETT

Rocky Warner knows what it’s like to be a Syracuse winner. Entering the Finale at the Fairgrounds he had earned three triumphs on the famed ‘Moody Mile’ at the New York State Fairgrounds. He won the Pro Stock events in 2010 and 2011 before winning his first Sportsman title in 2012. On Sunday it seemed as if the Gloversville, N.Y., pilot came up one spot short of claiming his fourth overall and his first with car owner Jake Spraker.

That changed suddenly Tuesday afternoon when James Michael Friesen, the apparent feature winner, was disqualified “for violating DIRTcar Rule 15.1, which prohibits alterations to the Chevrolet Performance engine, including tampering with seals.”

Unlike years past, this disqualification forced Friesen to surrender the win, the money and the trophy. Those belong to the rightful winners now, Warner and Sparker.

“It’s not the way we wanted to do it obviously, we wanted to be the first one across the line,” said Warner when reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon. “Being the first legal car is the most important. It means a lot. It’s been a dream season for us. We’ve won a bunch of races (27), some championships and some big races. Syracuse can make or break you sometimes. Even if we didn’t win it our season is still a success, but saying we won it puts the exclamation mark on the end of it. It’s the last one. We go down as the winner of the last one and the only two-time winner. We also get to say we’ve won four times.”

For Spraker, he’s been going to Syracuse one way or another since the early 1980’s. He went for the first time as a car owner in 1984 with driver Ray Dalmata. He’s owned Pro Stocks, Sportsman and Modifieds over the years. Bobby Varin got Spraker his best ever finish in 2005 as he finished in the fifth position of the 200 after leading almost 20 laps of the main event. That was until Warner earned him the victory Sunday.

“I’ve never won Syracuse, I always wanted to you know,” said the soft-spoken Spraker. “So this is pretty special.”

The only tough part for both Warner and Spraker is that they lost out on their time in the spotlight on the big stage. With the win coming two days later, they’ll miss out on the chance to hold the trophy and the big check in front of the capacity crowd that filled the grandstands on Sunday afternoon.

“That’s the thing, I’ve won it before,” Warner stated. “I know the excitement of it. We don’t just do this for ourselves, we do it for our fans, our sponsors and all the people around us. To not to be able to celebrate the moment with them stinks. For me it’s satisfying to know we won but to not be able celebrate with all of them makes it different. It would have been great because there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. It was filled right up to the front row and we would have liked to celebrate in front of them, but by looking at the shares and likes on Facebook, we hit most of them anyways.”

Spraker backed up that statement as well.

“It would have been a lot better if we got to celebrate in front of all the fans and stuff, but two days later is better than nothing,” he said. “It’s still pretty cool.”

One thing that Warner made sure to mention was how happy he was to have DIRTcar take a tough stance on cheating. Warner, who has been teched multiple times and found legal each time, has seen other events where drivers have lost points and money, but not the win and the trophy. This time Friesen was put last with everyone being bumped up.

“I have to say thank you to DIRTcar for doing what I believe is the right thing from the get go and moving us up,” stated Warner. “When someone blatantly cheats like that, it’s tough you know what I mean. To not move the next guy up allows them to keep doing what they are doing without any repercussions. When they finally did it this year I think it’s going to be an eye opener for a lot of competitors. If you are going to cheat and you get caught you shouldn’t get anything. You don’t get the win, the trophy or anything out of it. We’ve gone and shown that you can be legal and still win races.”

Warner and Spraker have little time to celebrate as there are still races yet to be run. They’ll now turn their attention to those as they look to add to their impressive win totals.