By BILL FOLEY

Okay, so let’s quit complaining about Syracuse. It’s over. It’s gone. Time to get over it.

Little did anyone think that the replacement for Syracuse would actually turn out as great at this past weekend really was.

Sure Jimmy Phelps was in the lead the majority time with the do-or-die green-to-checker strategy. It almost worked. At 179 it was the last time the 98H would be in the lead, but he ran second for the next 17 laps only to run out of fuel with four laps to go to finish what had to be a heartbreaking 22nd.

In the early going, as expected, another favorite Erick Rudolph was making his presence felt and though eventually finished seventh he did have the lead for a while.




Matt Sheppard appeared to make a brilliant move with his pit stop, much earlier than the eventual winner. For a while it was almost certain he was going to be celebrating. Getting dinged in the multi-car “most of them drove away” tangle late in the race put him behind the eight ball as sparks poured out of the right rear of his car as he pitted. He came back for 13th.

I really don’t think most of the prognosticators were picking Larry Wight to win. He’s been close, in fact third a year ago, but there just wasn’t a lot of talk around him winning.

He started in 17th, by lap 15 was ninth, by lap 27 was fifth and went from fifth to third on the 50th. The 99L sat in second for three laps beginning at 63 and took the lead on the 67th. Then went back to second with a little move on up and drop one down until on the 126th lap he pitted.

It was back to 31st and then he went to the “Larry Lane” again picking up 19 spots in 12 laps.

He reached he top ten at 146, eighth at 152, seventh at 154, sixth at 167 and then it got real.

On 169 he went from sixth to fourth and one lap later third. He rested in second for just one lap before taking the lead with 20 to go.

Then in the end there was Stewart Friesen looming in his rear view mirror, if he had a rear view mirror. There was no buffer between them and it was an edge of your seat final laps as Larry won his first Billy Whittaker Cars 200.

It was a race that was simply crazy. Pit stops, cars using the Oswego steel as a bounce off cushion, multi-lane racing, track changing conditions, numerous yellows, nearly 30 cars on the lead lap, heartbreak and disappointment.

Notes

Ryan Godown was second with 22 laps to go after starting well back in the field. He was threatening to pull off a major stunner if Phelps ran out. Only problem is that around 192 smoke started pouring out of the 5. He dropped out with two laps to go with a blown engine and instead of a second place finish there he was in 30th…

Robbie Bellinger was first car out, on lap 70, with ignition problems…

Billy VanInwegen was sure fun to watch as he started in 40th and worked his way into the top ten only to have mechanical woes KO him on the 148th lap. The steering box broke, but coming from a wrecked car on Friday, to getting in when Tim McCreadie stayed with his late model team in Western Pennsy, the regular Sprint car driver drove it like a sprint car at times as he was up to tenth. He exited the race on the 148th lap and was only the fourth car out…

If you didn’t like watching Ryan Watt run against the wall then you don’t like racing. The Pennsy-Jersey follower made the commitment to come up and try something different in being part of SDW. He worked hard all day long before being the third car out at 109…

Nick Webb had one of the heaviest hits of the day as he pounded the turn two steel on lap 89 and tore up the right front…

Brett Hearn finished 26th and he definitely was the hard luck driver of the entire SDW. On Thursday he lost one of his small-blocks in a hot lap end over end crash at Brewerton and at Oswego he had mechanical problems and finished 16th after running up front in the last chance race. He was stopped by officials as fluid was pouring from the car. He was a provisional. He got as high as 15th on the day. It just wasn’t to be for him this weekend…

Alan Johnson was one of the last cars in the field in qualifying as Mike Mahaney threatened to take away the third spot in the final last chance race. Alan started 35th and worked his way up to seventh at one point. However, he was a DNF…

Gary Lindberg in his first big-block show qualified up front in the top six. The money he won on Friday went to purchase radios for Sunday’s event. He ran in top six for the first 50 or so laps…

Mahaney started 40th. He drove a tremendous race in the last chance as he got locked up with Jessey Mueller in the first turn and went to the rear. He came back and sat one spot out of the top three. Sunday he drove to a 12th place finish…

Marc Johnson started 28th. He does most of his racing in the eastern end of the state along with Utica-Rome. He went from ninth to fifth in the last eight laps and seventh to fifth in the last two. Great under the radar run…

The Payne crew built a new big-block for Billy Decker in just a couple of days. In tech the graphics weren’t even on the car. Come race day he was 18th on the starting grid, but moved into the top ten with 72 laps to go and consistently drove forward. He was as high as third before finishing fourth…

Rudolph was strong and even led for a while. He pitted on 141 and with the traffic really had to fight his way back. He didn’t get back to the top ten until 197 when he was in ninth, but he did pick up two spots in the final two laps for a seventh. He was among the pre-race favorites…

Kenny Tremont Jr., is one of the legends of SDW and Northeast Modified racing was in his 38th 200 and came home 11th. It was a solid effort for the team. He is simply one of the classiest drivers in Modified racing…

Keith Flach started outside the front row, but despite running well early three pit stops slowed his progress and it was a 14th place finish…

Great field of BB in the pits and not qualifying were Louie Jackson Jr., Brandon Walters, Greg Atkins, Joseph Watson, Francois Bellemare, Rusty Smith, Dave Allen, Jim Britt, Tom Keyes, Billy Pauch Jr., Rich Laubach, Josh Hohenforst, Jessey Mueller, Yan Bussiere, Butch Tittle, Brian Swarthout, Jeff Daugherty, Kody Graham, Aaron Jacobs, Alissa Cody, Rusty Smith (the other one), Eldon Payne Jr., Mike Trautschold, Roy Brenahan, Brian Whittemore, Ryan Bartlett, Corey Wheeler, Steve Bernard, Randy Green, Brian McDonald and Bobby Herrington (who entered, but ran only 358)…

Though yellows dominated the race the 200 was still a pretty darn good event and to know that DIRTcar signed a year contract extension means that Super Dirt Week has found a real “racing” home for the next two years…

Some folks wanted Syracuse and I guess they got it with the mud, but race fans want racing and they got more than they could have ever imagined.

Who ever thought that I’d be thinking “I can’t wait for Super DIRT Week at the Oswego Speedway to arrive again.”

I grew up with Supermodified racing and spent the majority of my life there as a fan, writer and infield announcer.

I never thought I would see the day that clay would cover the surface, but I’m not a purist as it’s a historic speedway, nationally known, and a great home for two of the greatest events in short track racing the Oswego International Classic and Super DIRT Week’s Billy Whittaker Cars 200.

As always for me SDW was an experience. I had the opportunity, as always, to work with a great group of Dirt Track Digest writers, videographers and photographers to bring the up to the minute action through DTD.

However, I’d also like to thank DIRTcar for having me on board to cover the Sportsman. Only blip is my feature story on the main-event got spammed and it came out a couple days later. May thanks to Chris, Joe and Jordan for the courtesies.

And if you live in Oswego and get the Palladium Times it was fun to write the Wight and Britten winning stories as well as the prelims and time trial stories for those feature events.

I must be crazy, but at least it keeps me young.

Okay, so I had a notebook and a half of notes. If I’ve left something out you think your fans or other fans might want to know send along a note to foley395@hotmail.com.

If I didn’t mention something it wasn’t because it wasn’t important. I simply didn’t write it because there was just so much to write about. I still need to follow up with a 358 and Sportsman column, but I just need to find time.