November 3, 2012, CONCORD, NC – Brett Hearn came to Charlotte with a couple of goals in mind. The Super DIRTcar Series championship was within his reach, and one of very few holes in his resume needed to be filled.
While Brett the Jet has nothing to prove in a sport he has dominated for decades the Sussex, New Jersey, veteran hadn’t won at the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in more than 10 years – which means he had never won a World Finals event.
As one of dirt racing’s winningest drivers Hearn showed the emotion of a first-time victor emerging from his familiar #20 machine fist-pumping the air in celebration. Hearn overtook race leader Peter Britten late in the race in front of a jam-packed crowd, and after a couple brief challenges from Britten he was on his way to victory.
Britten led the 28-car field to the green flag flanked by Jimmy Phelps on the front row. Phelps, Hearn, and points leader Matt Sheppard all had a mathematical shot at the championship, and all three started in the top four positions.
Britten took the lead at the start, but the event was slowed by a massive pile-up on the opening lap. Stewart Friesen made contact with Matt Delorenzo entering turn three, and Delorenzo slid up and tagged the outside wall. Delorenzo rebounded off the wall, and he spun slowly across the track in front of nearly 20 modifieds at full speed.
Numerous cars sustained damage with Bob McGannon barrel-rolling in turn four. McGannon was uninjured, but his night ended early. Billy Decker’s car was damaged seriously enough that he also could not continue.
After one failed restart that saw Phelps fire early Britten quickly jumped to the top spot on the second attempt. Britten was chased by Phelps, Hearn and Sheppard with the popular Australian using the inside groove at both ends of the speedway.
Hearn immediately asserted himself on the outside groove moving to the runner-up position early in the 40-lap grind. Britten enjoyed a 10 car-length lead over Hearn, and while Hearn closed the distance Britten appeared to be strong enough to hold off the legend.
Hearn’s experience – and some ill-timed lapped traffic – proved otherwise. Britten spent the early laps pinned to the inside of the speedway, but when he approached slower cars he appeared to struggle looking for racing room.
Hearn had been exploring various lines on the race track, and he took advantage of slower traffic and jumped into the lead. His lead was short-lived as a yellow flag flew as Hearn moved to the front, and Britten was given his spot back for the restart.
Once again Britten proved he could hold off Hearn in clean air, and he led by eight car lengths as the crossed flags signified the race was half over. At the midway point Britten led Hearn, Sheppard, Phelps, and Tim McCreadie.
Early in the second half Britten began moving around on the speedway, and as the leaders approached slower traffic Britten was better prepared to find traction. Hearn stalked his young combatant, and with less than 10 laps to go he made his move.
Hearn powered around the outside of turns one and two as Britten attempted to drive under Adam Roberts to put him a lap down. Hearn’s momentum carried him around both Britten and the slower car.
Britten tried to keep pace with the new leader, but Hearn was too strong holding on for the victory.
Phelps drove home in the third spot followed by Sheppard and McCreadie. Carey Terrance finished sixth followed by Justin Haers, Danny Johnson, Stewart Friesen, and Rich Scagliotta.
“I’ve wanted to win this race for a couple of years,” said Hearn. “We finally got it done. It’s great to be in front of this many people.
“My guys Tommy and Michael and Matt have given me this fantastic race car. The car was under me really well.”
Britten was clearly disappointed missing out on the victory, but he put it in perspective on the victory stage.
“Brett Hearn has been racing modifieds for longer than I’ve been alive,” said Britten. “On one hand it’s disappointing because I was leading the race for so long, but we’re definitely pretty proud that’s for sure. “I’ve got to thank my crew guys Mike and Tracy who have been with me all year. It’s a really good car. We just weren’t quite good enough tonight. We may be young, but we’re coming. Big shout out to everyone back home – obviously mom back home. Unfortunately dad’s not with us anymore, but I’m sure he’s smiling upstairs.”
With his fourth place finish Sheppard secured his third straight Super DIRTcar Series championship. With his title he became the first driver to three-peat in series history.
In the final tally Sheppard beat Hearn by 45 points with Phelps another 22 markers behind him. Justin Haers finished fourth in the standings with Danny Johnson rounding out the top five.
SCORED FINISH – Super DIRTcar Series 40-lap feature November 3rd, 2012 – 1. 20 Brett Hearn; 2. 21a Peter Britten; 3. 98h Jimmy Phelps; 4. 9s Matt Sheppard; 5. 4* Tim McCreadie; 6. 66x Carey Terrance; 7. 3 Justin Haers; 8. 27j Danny Johnson; 9. 1j Stewart Friesen; 10. 8 Rich Scagliotta; 11. 747 Ryan Godown; 12. 74 Tim Fuller; 13. 85 Dan Vauter; 14. 49 Billy Dunn; 15. 71 Mike Bowman; 16. 48t Dave Rauscher; 17. 5* Tyler Siri; 18. 84 Gary Tomkins; 19. 63 Adam Roberts; 20. 10v Billy VanInwegen; 21. 56 Vince Vitale; 22. 97 Michel Chicoine; 23. 115 Kenny Tremont jr.; 24. 62s Tom Sears jr.; 25. 3d Matt Delorenzo; 26. 91 Billy Decker; 27. 8r Rob Bellinger; 28. 21m Bob McGannon
1. 2,439 0 9s Matt Sheppard
2. 2,394 -45 20 Brett Hearn
3. 2,372 -67 98h Jimmy Phelps
4. 2,193 -246 3 Justin Haers
5. 2,117 -322 27j Danny Johnson
6. 2,072 -367 49 Billy Dunn
7. 1,977 -462 21a Peter Britten
8. 1,898 -541 8 Rich Scagliotta
9. 1,826 -613 8r Rob Bellinger
10. 1,818 -621 84 Gary Tomkins
11. 1,699 -740 48t Dave Rauscher
12. 1,675 -764 56 Vince Vitale
13. 1,624 -815 5* Tyler Siri
14. 1,590 -849 10 Tim Currier
15. 1,495 -944 115 Kenny Tremont jr.