By Adam Buchanan
Brett Hearn’s start to Super Dirt Week was a frustrating one. Leading in convincing fashion on Tuesday night the Jet ran out of fuel forcing him to pit and finished 9th when he was clearly the class of the field. Well Saturday afternoon Hearn’s luck turned around as he was able to keep just enough in the tank to take home the $20,000 Small Block Series Win.
40 358 Modified’s roared to life at the moody mile with the 76A Ronnie Johnson and the 01 of Chris Raabe leading the field to the green. Johnson would lead the pack to the stripe on lap one. Within the first couple of laps a few drives were testing the limits on the high side of the speedway. Tim Fuller and Tim McCredie would look to make moves into turns one and two but would shuffle back in line on corner exit. Billy Dunn was most impressive in the early going as he moved his way from 11th to the 5th.
Five laps in Johnson lead over Raabe, Marc Johnson, Carey Terrance, and Billy Dunn. Terrance and Dunn would drag race into turn one with Dunn taking the fourth spot away off the exit of turn two continuing his march to the front. Hearn and Fuller would battle mid pack from 14th and 17th respectively.
The two biggest movers early were Stewart Friesen and Chris Rabbe. Friesen moved from 10th to 6th using the top of the speedway primarily in turns one and two. Dunn was able to get a nose under Raabe getting into turn one and move up to the 2nd spot. Dunn at the time was setting the fastest times of the race.
Ten Laps in Johnson had a five car length lead over Dunn, Rabbe, M Johnson, and Terrance. Then leaders hit traffic on lap 13 with Johnson and Dunn splitting the lap cars down the backstretch.
Lap 20 Ronnie Johnson continued to lead over Dunn, Raabe, Marc Johnson, Stewart Friesen, Carey Terrance, Larry Wight, Mat Williamson, Erick Rudolph, and Willy Decker. Then trouble struck the #21 of Yan Bussiere two laps later, who was off the pace in turn number two. Bussiere who made it into the show through the first of two last chance qualifiers, suffered a left rear flat bringing out the first yellow of the afternoon. The leaders came to pit lane on lap 24 as well as Decker, Hearn and Tim McCreadie.
Early pit stops were a problem for a couple teams as Billy Decker and Tim McCreadie made contact on pit road. McCreadie would come back in to check over the car, add fuel, and change a right front tire. Chris Raabe pulled out of his pit stall with the gas can still in the fuel cell and dragging it around the cinder track forcing a second stop. Raabe who was running 3rd at the time of the pit stop, was forced to start from the rear due to leaving pit lane with equipment.
Restart lap 29 the 3J of Marc Johnson brought the field to the green with Erick Rudolph, Mat Williamson, Jeff Sykes, and Wayne Jelly running in the top 5 . Matt Billings moved up the high side of turn one and was able to make it stick to get by JR Heffner for position 30 laps in. Billings was the only car getting the outside line to work consistently because he was so good on corner exit.
Again the leaders began to spread out a bit until lap 37 when the leaders again hit lap traffic and Rudolph tried a bonsai move on entry into turn one, going deeper than anyone had all week and made it work taking the lead over M. Johnson. Mat Williamson, Kenny Tremont, Larry Wight, Jeff Sykes continued to run well inside the top 5
One Lap later the R70 Ryan Arbuthnot slowed into turn one with a left rear flat bring out caution number two, setting up the second round of pit stops.
Rudolph again stayed out with the rest of the top five pitting. M. Johnson went fuel only, Williamson changed a left rear Hoosier, Wight changed a right rear and Pat Ward also came in and changed both rear tires.
The following restart on lap 50 saw Rudolph back to the lead, the car really seemed to handle in clean air with Kenny Tremont, R. Johnson, Friesen, Hearn, Dunn, Donnie Corellis, B. Decker, Tim Fuller, Terrance running in the top 10. Tremont would reel in Rudolph once traffic came into play, applying pressure by looking to the inside on the straightaways but would just come up short on completing the pass. Erick feeling the pressure began to get a little more aggressive with the lap traffic taking a few more risks to try to increase his advantage.
Friesen had gotten by R. Johnson with the help of some lap traffic moving him into the 3rd position. Knowing that the top two have yet to hit pit lane Friesen was in good position to inherit the lead. The top three would stay Rudolph, Tremont, and Friesen, Willy Decker would slow way off the pace in turn two bringing out the yellow on lap 71. W. Decker would limp to pit road the crew would look over the rear end of the car before pulling the car behind the wall.
Rudolph and Tremont would use this opportunity to pit at the halfway mark. This would hand the lead to Stewart Friesen with R Johnson, Dunn, Hearn, and B. Decker Fuller, Terrance, Alain Boisvert, Tim Sears Jr., Jimmy Horton, and Andy Bachetti completing the top ten on the lap 78 restart.
Friesen would lead from 80-85 but yellow would come out again this time for Chris Raabe, whose day went from bad to worse as he would take the 01 behind the pit wall. The restart would see Friesen jump out to a monster lead and dominate from laps 89-97.
However trouble would find the leader on lap 98, Friesen would slow way off the pace and head to the pits giving Ronnie Johnson the lead back. Friesen’s motor would blow ending his chances for the win.
Billy Dunn’s car seemed to come to him around lap 100 and would start his assault toward the front. Dunn who benefited from Friesen’s motor issues would move into 2nd and now set his sights on the leader R. Johnson. Dunn would thrive on corner exit specifically off of turn two and with the help of traffic find himself on the back bumper of the leader. On lap 108 he would push R. Johnson down the backstretch and would try to set up the pass two laps later. He would pull to even terms but be unable to make it stick off the corner and drop a car length back to 2nd.
Dunn would regroup, and take another run at the lead on lap 118 and this time successfully complete the pass down backstretch. Ronnie Johnson who dropped to 2nd fell off the race pace and headed down to pit road with a flat left front tire.
With 25 laps to go Dunn would lead Hearn, Decker, Terrance, Fuller and Alain Boisvert. Dunn’s car would work anywhere he wanted to put it and was able to use lap cars to separate him self from 2nd place Brett Hearn and the rest of the field.
Lap 136 caution would again waive as the 66X of Carey Terrance slowed off of turn four, running 4th at the time. After he stopped just shy of the flag stand and was pushed to the pits, Terrance was able to refuel his car and head back out onto the speedway. The 115 of Kenny Tremont would visit the pits under yellow and change a Right Rear tire. Tim Sears Jr. would also run dry and have to be assisted to the pits for fuel, he was up to 8th before he ran out. With two teams already running dry there was a lot of chatter on the radio concerning the amount of fuel the teams had left, many drivers were asked to conserve fuel .
The field would restart on lap 141 and Dunn would immediately open up a 5 car length advantage over 2nd place Hearn. Two laps later Billy Decker would run out of fuel running in 3rd but be able to make it back to the pits for a splash and go. With 5 laps remaining Dunn would lead over, Hearn, Fuller, Boisvert, and Horton.
Dunn would continue to lead by about three car lengths but you could see Hearn closing ever so slowly. Then heart break set in, Dunn turns the car into turn one on the white flag lap, and starts to wiggle. He had emptied the tank one mile too soon, one circuit left and he ran out of fuel.
Hearn saw the wiggle and passed him on the outside into turn one. From there the Jet coasted the last three/fourths of a mile around the speedway crossing the checkers for the win. Brett Hearn wins leading only the last lap over Tim Fuller, Alain Boisvert, Jimmy Horton, and Matt Billings.
Hearn pit with Decker and most of the lead pack but in the end was able to save the most fuel. When asked how soon into the race did he start saving fuel Hearn said…
“I ran a pretty conservative pace most of the race because I knew it was going to be an issue, especially without that many yellows. So I ran conservative. Last year we had a less conservative strategy, and it took one away from us. This year turned it around and gave one back. I knew it was going to be close when Billy Decker ran out.”
Hearn was asked if he was trying to increase pressure to force Dunn to run out of gas…
“ I wanted to make him run harder than he wanted too. With 4 laps to go Brian said to me on the radio its up to you if you want to run him down, go give it a shot, go get him. I picked up the pace a little bit, reeled him back in and that was enough pressure for him to pick it up one more time and that’s all it took.”
This was Hearn’s 5th Small Block Mile Victory as he previously had won in 1986, 1989, 1990 and 2007. When asked how special number 5 was he replied…
“There all special, there’s so much effort by so many people, and people contributing to the team its very special.”
Runner-up Tim Fuller asked if he was content with 2nd place finish..
“Considering where we started (19th), Yea I’ll take a 2nd we all knew it was going to be tight on fuel issues and we conserved enough to make it.”
When asked how soon did he start to conserve fuel he said…
“When I pitted I started to save from then on. There were some lap cars that wouldn’t give so I had to run a little bit harder there than I wanted. It was early to pit and we made it”
Fuller was on point with his restarts throughout the day and he spoke to his cars performance…
“In the beginning you could roll to the outside but towards the end it just got so bad. The track was turning up and everyone is cutting to the inside toward those cinders so it just got bad and one lane.”
Third place finisher Alain Boisvert was extatic about his run today…
“It was a great run for us, we brought our Friday-night ride here with the engine we run every Friday, and it was just good stuff. The team prepared me a good car and it was lots of fun racing with those guys. To see Brett and Fuller and then me, we compare
‘Salute to the Troops’ DIRTcar 358-Modified Championship 150 Results
Finish Start Driver Laps Earnings
1 14 Brett Hearn 150 $20,000
2 19 Tim Fuller 150 $10,000
3 20 Alain Boisvert 150 $5,000
4 23 Jimmy Horton 150 $3,000
5 36 Matt Billings 150 $2,000
6 21 Andy Bachetti 150 $1,500
7 17 J.R. Heffner 150 $1,200
8 4 Marc Johnson 150 $1,000
9 28 Rick Laubach 150 $800
10 8 Tim McCreadie 150 $600
11 13 Erick Rudolph 150 $400
12 5 Larry Wight 150 $350
13 7 Mat Williamson 150 $320
14 22 Mario Clair 150 $310
15 29 Wayne Jelley 150 $290
16 16 Kenny Tremont Jr. 150 $280
17 18 Jeff Sykes 150 $270
18 30 Donnie Corellis 150 $260
19 25 Andrew Krause 150 $250
20 37 Bob McGannon 150 $250
21 15 Pat Ward 150 $250
22 31 Brian McDonald 150 $250
23 12 Tim Sears Jr. 150 $250
24 11 Billy Dunn 149 $250
25 3 Carey Terrance 149 $250
26 34 Chad Brachmann 149 $250
27 10 Billy Decker 149 $250
28 26 David Hebert 149 $250
29 24 Dale Planck 149 $250
30 39 Kevin Albert 147 $250
31 38 Darwin Greene 147 $250
32 35 Brandon Sweet 147 $250
33 27 Jimmy Blewett 145 $250
34 40 Clement Therrien 123 $250
35 1 Ronnie Johnson 121 $250
36 9 Stewart Friesen 97 $250
37 2 Chris Raabe 86 $250
38 6 Willy Decker 70 $250
39 32 Ryan Arbuthnot 41 $250
40 33 Yan Bussiere 21 $250
Time of Race: 1 hour, 53 mins., 52 secs.
Lap Leaders: R. Johnson (1-23); M. Johnson (24-37); Rudolph (38-73); Friesen (74-97);
R. Johnson (98-117); Dunn (118-149); Hearn (150)
Caution Flags: 5 for 27 laps
Pole Award: Ronnie Johnson ($750 – Pole Position Raceway)
Outside Pole Award: Chris Raabe ($500 – Midstate Golf Cart
Hard Charger: Matt Billings ($150 – Draco Springs)
Rookie of the Race: Andrew Krause ($100 Gift Card – JE Pistons)
Leader of Lap 51: Erick Rudolph ($500 – Sharon’s Toy)
Final Sharon’s Toy Compound Driver on Lead Lap: Bob McGannon ($500 – Sharon’s Toy)
Highest Finishing Member of New York State Stock Car Association: Brett Hearn ($250)
Best Appearing Car & Crew: Chris Raabe (Gater Racing News prize package)