SYRACUSE, NY – Oct. 7, 2011 – By Kevin Kovac/DIRTcar Racing P.R. – Gypsum Express Racing teammates Billy Decker and Pat Ward joined rising youngster Billy Dunn as victors in Friday night’s Big-Block Modified Triple 20-lap heat races for the SEF 200 Presented by Ferris & Snapper at the New York State Fairgrounds.
The three Big-Block events closed out a historic racing card at the Syracuse Mile, which for the first time in the history of Super DIRT Week played host to an evening heat-race program. Three portable Musco light towers were positioned in the infield of the massive oval to illuminate the speedway at a level never before seen by fans and competitors.
Decker, 46, kicked off the Triple 20s with a dominating performance. Returning to the track one day after setting fast time in Thursday’s qualifying session to earn the pole position for Sunday’s SEF 200, the veteran driver led from start-to-finish add a $4,000 heat triumph to his ever-growing Super DIRT Week ledger.
“We got a pretty good package,” Decker said of his Gypsum Wholesalers Bicknell/Kevlar combination. “I feel honored, lucky and fortunate. Hopefully we can carry it over to Sunday’s race now.”
The victory gave Decker 10 career Big-Block heat-race victories during Super DIRT Week. He’s won a combined 14 Big-Block and 358-Modified heats, putting him behind only Brett Hearn of Sussex, N.J. (21 heat wins) in the record book.
The triumph also kept Decker perfect at the Mile during Super DIRT Week XL. He was fastest in time trials for the SEF 200 and the 358-Modified Nationwide Insurance 150 and won heats in both divisions. He’s won the SEF 200 four times and the Nationwide Insurance 150 on five occasions.
Justin Haers of Phelps, N.Y., chased Decker throughout the distance but settled for second, 1.607 seconds behind at the finish. Jimmy Phelps of Baldwinsville, N.Y., placed third, followed by Jimmy Horton of Neshanic Station, N.J., and J.R. Heffner of Pittsfield, Mass.
The 27-year-old Dunn was the evening’s pleasant surprise. He scored his first-ever Super DIRT Week heat-race win after leading the entire distance of the second 20-lapper.
“This is a little more than I expected so far, but I knew we had it in us,” said Dunn, a Super DIRTcar Series regular who turned heads on Thursday by registering the second-fastest lap in time trials to secure the outside-pole starting spot for Sunday’s SEF 200. “This (Bicknell) car was good to start the race last year; I passed a bunch of cars but had some mechanical trouble. We set it up exactly the same and it’s been good all week.
“Now we’ll see what we can do in the big race. It’s a long race, but we’ve been good all week so we’re confident.”
Two-time SEF 200 winner Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., crossed the finish line second, 1.721 seconds behind Dunn. Defending SEF 200 champion Stewart Friesen of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., placed third, followed by Rick Laubach of Richlandtown, Pa., and Donnie Corellis of Averill Park, N.Y.
Ward, 54, controlled the evening’s finale, becoming the third driver to parlay a pole position start into a $4,000 triumph. He beat Matt Sheppard of Waterloo, N.Y., to the checkered flag by 1.896 seconds.
“The car handled good and the motor’s strong – it was pretty clear sailing,” said Ward, who recorded his second career Big-Block heat-race win during Super DIRT Week. “We were real good last year (in the SEF 200) and I ran it out of gas, and now it’s driving good again. We just got to figure out strategy now for Sunday.”
Ronnie Johnson of Duanesburg, N.Y., finished third, followed by Larry Wight of Phoenix, N.Y. – the third member of the Gypsum Express team – Martin Roy of Napierville, Que.
Several contenders ran into trouble during the Triple 20s – none worse than Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who started second in the first heat but didn’t complete a lap. A malfunction in the right-front corner of his Sweeteners Plus car sent him careering straight into the turn-one wall moments after the green flag.
McCreadie escaped the accident uninjured, but his car was heavily damaged. He does not have a backup, however, so his team was planning to return to their shop to repair the crashed machine for Sunday’s SEF 200, which McCreadie is scheduled to start from the fourth spot.
Hearn and Andy Bachetti of Great Barrington, Mass., finished their heats with smoke blowing from their cars, but both managed to transfer to the SEF 200. Hearn finished seventh in the first heat and Bachetti limped to a 10th-place finish in the second 20-lapper.
Former SEF 200 winners Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., Kenny Tremont of West Sand Lake, N.Y., and Danny Johnson of Rochester, N.Y., failed to transfer into the event through a heat race. Both Fuller and Tremont lost power and retired from the third heat, while Johnson finished one lap down in the first prelim and missed the cut by two spots.
NASCAR Modified star Ted Christopher of Plainville, Mass., who is making his first-ever appearance at the Syracuse Mile and just his second career start in a dirt Modified, completed just one lap of the third heat before slamming the wall off turn two.
The top-10 finishers in each heat race who hadn’t locked themselves into the SEF 200 through Thursday’s time trials moved on to the $50,000-to-win headliner.
A Non-Qualifiers’ Race offering at least four more berths in the SEF 200 will be run on Sunday.
For more information on Super DIRT Week XL, visit www.SuperDirtWeekOnline.com.
Finish of DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Twin 20 No. 1 (top 10 non-qualified cars transfer to SEF 200): 1. Billy Decker***, 2. Justin Haers, 3. Jimmy Phelps, 4. Jimmy Horton, 5. J.R. Heffner, 6. Tony Steiner, 7. Brett Hearn, 8. Vince Vitale, 9. Mike Perrotte, 10. Michael Storms, 11. Keith Flach, 12. Tom Sears Jr., 13. Danny Johnson, 14. Eldon Payne, 15. Adam Bartemy, 16. Aaron Bartemy, 17. Jean Coissonneault, 18. Tim Currier, 19. Tim McCreadie***
Finish of DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Twin 20 No. 2 (top 10 non-qualified cars transfer to SEF 200): 1. Billy Dunn***, 2. Vic Coffey, 3. Stewart Friesen***, 4. Rick Laubach, 5. Donnie Corellis, 6. Ryan Godown, 7. Eddie Marshall, 8. David Hebert, 9. Brian Swarthout, 10. Andy Bachetti, 11. Mark Flach Jr., 12. Billy Vaninwegen, 13. Roy Bresnahan, 14. Brian Murphy, 15. Dan Humes, 16. Darwin Greene, 17. Mario Clair (DNS) Wayne Jelley, Travis Braun, Patrick Dupree
Finish of DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Twin 20 No. 3 (top 10 non-qualified cars transfer to SEF 200): 1. Pat Ward, 2. Matt Sheppard, 3. Ronnie Johnson, 4. Larry Wight, 5. Martin Roy, 6. Steve Hulsizer, 7. Bobby Varin, 8. Pete Britten, 9. Bob McGannon, 10. Rob Bellinger, 11. Mike O’Brien, 12. Rich Scagliotta, 13. Dave Rauscher, 14. Aaron Jacobs, 15. Greg Atkins, 16. Kevin Bates, 17. Kenny Tremont, 18. Jasmin Leveillee, 19. Tim Fuller, 20. Jeremiah Shingledecker, 21. Ted Christopher (DNS) Billy Pauch, Chuck Hossfeld
***-denotes drivers who were already locked into SEF 200 starting field through Thursday’s time trials
Decker & Bachetti Divide 358-Modified Twin 20 Heat Races For Nationwide Insurance 150
Small-Block Teams Lead Off Friday Night Program Under The Lights At Syracuse Mile SYRACUSE, NY – Oct. 7, 2011 – By Kevin Kovac/DIRTcar Racing P.R. – Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y., and Andy Bachetti of Great Barrington, Mass., scored victories in Friday night’s historic DIRTcar 358-Modified Twin 20 heat races during Super DIRT Week XL at the New York State Fairgrounds.
The small-block qualifiers led off the first heat-race program run under the lights in the history of the October classic at the Moody Mile. Three portable Musco light towers were positioned in the infield of the massive oval to illuminate the speedway at a level never before seen by fans and competitors.
Both Decker and Bachetti – the top-two qualifiers in Thursday’s time trials for the Nationwide Insurance 150 on Saturday (Oct. 8) – raced to $1,000 heat-race triumphs from pole-position starts. Their routes to the checkered flags were significantly different, however.
Decker, 46, was outgunned for the lead at the initial green flag of the first 20-lapper by Matt Sheppard of Waterloo, N.Y., who appeared headed to victory as the race wound down. But Sheppard rolled to a stop on lap 17 with his car’s engine silent, bringing out a caution flag that tightened the field and left Decker in the top spot for good.
“I just got out-drug down that frontstretch,” Decker said of his slow start. “We didn’t have a lot of gear (to beat Sheppard), but this Gypsum Wholesalers is good, particularly in clean air.”
Decker controlled the restart following Sheppard’s misfortune, beating Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., to the finish line by 1.393 seconds. It was Decker’s fourth career win in a 358-Modified heat race during Super DIRT Week.
A five-time winner of the Nationwide Insurance 150, Decker will shoot for an unprecedented fourth straight win in the event when the green flag flies on Saturday at 2 p.m. He currently shares the race’s consecutive win record with Pete Bicknell, who strung together three victories in a row from 1998-2000.
J.R. Heffner of Pittsfield, Mass., finished third in the first 20-lapper, two seconds behind McCreadie’s 4-Star Racing machine. Brett Hearn of Sussex, N.J., placed fourth and Bobby Varin of Sharon Springs, N.Y., was fifth.
Bachetti, 35, dominated the second heat, roaring off the pole position to lead the entire distance behind the wheel of Steve Hough’s Teo-Pro car. He was never seriously challenged en route to a commanding victory margin of 3.854 seconds over Willy Decker of Vernon, N.Y.
“The car’s awesome and this Pat Morrison motor is just incredible,” said Bachetti, whose career-best finish in the Nationwide Insurance 150 is a third in 2000. “I can’t say enough about our package. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”
Stewart Friesen of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., made the heat’s biggest charge, advancing from the ninth starting spot to finish third. Ronnie Johnson of Duanesburg, N.Y., placed fourth and Jimmy Horton of Neshanic Station, N.J., completed the top five.
The top-15 finishers in each heat race who hadn’t locked themselves into the Nationwide Insurance 150 through Thursday’s time trials moved on to the $20,000-to-win main event.
Both races were slowed by opening-lap accidents. In the first heat former Nationwide Insurance 150 winner Wayne Jelley of Pittsfield, Mass., slowed between turns one and two and was hit by several cars, including Chuck Hossfeld of Ransomville, N.Y. The second 20-lapper saw several cars get together in turn three with Jimmy Blewett of Howell Twp., N.J. – like Hossfeld, an asphalt Modified standout attempting to qualify a 358-Modified at the Syracuse Mile for the first time – suffering damage that forced safety crews to cradle his car back to the pit area.
For more information on Super DIRT Week XL, log on to www.SuperDirtWeekOnline.com.
Finish of DIRTcar 358-Modified Twin 20 No. 1 (top 15 non-qualified cars transfer to Nationwide Insurance 150): 1. Billy Decker***, 2. Tim McCreadie, 3. J.R. Heffner, 4. Brett Hearn, 5. Bobby Varin, 6. Mat Williamson, 7. Mario Clair, 8. Pat Ward, 9. Brandon Sweet, 10. Rich Scagliotta, 11. Roy Bresnahan, 12. Tony Steiner, 13. Tommy Flannigan, 14. Brian Swarthout, 15. Kenny Tremont, 16. Greg Atkins, 17. Adam Bartemy, 18. Jeremy Wilder, 19. Matt Sheppard***, 20. Travis Braun, 21. Craig Reyell, 22. Carey Terrance, 23. Chad Brachmann, 24. David Hebert***, 25. Wayne Jelley, 26. Chuck Hossfeld, 27. Dave Rauscher
Finish of DIRTcar 358-Modified Twin 20 No. 2 (top 15 non-qualified cars transfer to Nationwide Insurance 150): 1. Andy Bachetti***, 2. Willy Decker***, 3. Stewart Friesen, 4. Ronnie Johnson, 5. Jimmy Horton, 6. Danny Johnson, 7. Ryan Godown, 8. Tim Fuller, 9. Rick Laubach, 10. Martin Roy, 11. Vic Coffey, 12. Patrick Dupree, 13. Steve Hulsizer, 14. Jeff Sykes, 15. Matt Billings, 16. Jean Boissonneault, 17. Aaron Bartemy, 18. Lance Willix II, 19. Henry Maier, 20. Jasmin Leveillee, 21. Mike Perrotte, 22. C.G. Morey, 23. Aaron Jacobs, 24. Todd Burley, 25. Brian McDonald, 26. Jimmy Blewett, 27. Chris Raabe, 28. Larry Wight***
***-denotes drivers who were already locked into Nationwide Insurance 150 starting field through Thursday’s time trials