By MIKE MALLETT
As the old adage goes, ‘time flies when you are having fun.’ In what felt like the snap of a finger, Super DIRT Week XLVII is over. It was a week full of weather issues, full pit areas and grandstands and awesome racing. I can’t remember the last time I left Super DIRT Week as excited as I did after this year’s edition. It was a fun week.
With that said, here are my final thoughts from the 47th edition of Super DIRT Week.
On Track Action
I don’t remember ever seeing four better feature events at a weekend event. Every race came down to the final laps. Saturday’s Camping World RV 150 saw Peter Britten pass Stewart Friesen in the final 10 laps for the $20,000 win. The Sportsman Chevy Performance 75 was a thriller as Shane Pecore passed Robert Bublak on the final lap. C.D. Beauchamp passed Chuck Dumblewski in the final turn for the Pro Stock Championship 50. Larry Wight got the lead with roughly 30 laps to go and had to hold off multi-time winner Stewart Friesen to win the Billy Whittaker Cars 200.
To me what made these finishes sweeter, is that unlike The Mile, the track was racey and you could pass. It wasn’t a fuel mileage or tire wear race. It was about driver and car. You had three lanes for racing and it wasn’t uncommon on Saturday and Sunday to see three and four-wide action. If you had a good car you could get to the front. Pit strategy played a part, but Wight started 17th and won.
The grounds at Oswego were bursting at the seams. There were 70 big-block Modifieds, 69 small-blocks, 92 Sportsman and 41 Pro Stocks who took time. Even with a couple teams running their small-blocks against the big-blocks there were still over 250 cars in the pits. In all, 272 cars attempted to qualify for their respective features. That is impressive. The word is getting out that you can come with your regular Saturday night piece and be competitive. Mat Williamson finished in the top 10 in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 and didn’t even have a quick fill.
Now with all those cars come one issue, space. The pit area was JAMMED. DIRTcar did a great job moving cars in and out of the track. Cars were pitted from the top of the hill all the way down along turns three and four with several teams electing to unload their equipment down on Albany Street. Hopefully in the near future something can be done to add more room to the pit area up top because I have a feeling that we are going to see more and more cars as people realize they can get it done with their normal equipment.
The weather was typical for you call ‘Super DIRT Week’ weather meaning it was cold and wet. The rain cancelled the practices scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday with cars taking to the track for the first time on Friday. It then rained Saturday and Sunday morning delaying the start times. Keeping the track in decent shape was top priority and it worked. The track was in great on for the weekend. The track develop one significant hole in turn two, but it didn’t have an impact on the racing.
There were a plethora of strategies utilized in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200. Several drivers chose to pit two times, some pitted once and Jimmy Phelps even tried to win it the old way by conserving fuel and tires for 200 laps. He nearly pulled off a top 10 finish. If not for a late race red flag and yellow laps now counting he would have finished near the front. That wasn’t the case and he pitted with four laps to go.
There must have been 41 different strategies for the 41 different drivers in the race. Some elected to pit twice for tires. Other’s pitted one time for tires and fuel. There were so many different scenarios playing out. You never really had any idea who was going to pit and when.
On Saturday night the Win and You’re In feature at the Fulton only drew 13 cars. Mike Maresca went on to score the win in the event earning the 41st starting spot. He made it down from Oswego and ran the very same car he attempted to qualify for the 200. He was the only one to make it. He gave up his spot in the Last Chance Showdown and went to Fulton where he felt like he had a better shot. I know Mother Nature played a role in that, but I’d love to see them run first on the schedule during the day in order to get more cars to go to Fulton for the event. I was happy to see someone that tried to qualify and spent the week in the mud get the spot.
Two More Years
Brian Carter announced on Sunday afternoon that Super DIRT Week is returning for 2019 and 2020 to the Oswego Speedway. That is great news. As I said on Dirt Track Digest TV Live on Sunday night, I love this event at Oswego. It has the big event feel and it’s special. I love seeing the facility fill up throughout the week. By Sunday the place is jam packed. In my opinion, Oswego is the only place that could pull off this event. Is it perfect, no, but I don’t believe there is another place that I would enjoy as much as Oswego.