By DON SIMPSON
The 358s are back and the season opener for the DIRTcar 358 Modified division at the historic racetrack in Plattsburgh was a great success.
Twenty-six Modified teams answered the call to challenge to win the 30-lap Feature event.
In addition to the 358 Modifieds, there were four additional classes scheduled for that night. As a result, the pit area was full and the event drew a large crowd of spectators.
The return of the 358 Modifieds to Airborne Speedway had been highly anticipated by fans, and their recent appearance drew a significant number of spectators.
Veteran driver Lance Willix emerged as the triumphant driver, capturing the checkered flag in the highly anticipated first round of the “Be Cool Heating & Air Conditioning” DIRTcar 358 Modified series. The atmosphere was filled with excitement and the sound of engines as Willix’s years of experience, driving skills, and determination led him to a well-deserved victory in front of a thrilled crowd.
The first round of the Be Cool Heating & Air Conditioning DIRTcar 358-Modified race saw an impressive turnout as a field of 25 drivers took the green. You could feel the excitement building in the air as the racers’ machines hummed with power as they readied themselves in the pits to do battle on the track.
With this diverse lineup of talented drivers, each eager to etch their name in the history books, the setting was perfect for an exciting and intense competition. The crowd braced themselves for an unforgettable display of speed, strategy, and determination.
During the heat races, several drivers showed their ability to win, making it a riveting exhibition of skill and tenacity. Among the standout performers were Dave Hebert, Lance Willix, and Matt Woodruff, who set the bar high by winning their respective heat race events. But several other drivers were still in the hunt, as they were not far off the pace. Chris Raabe, Carey Terrance, and Steve Bernier all demonstrated they were exceptional and could overtake from behind and compete with the front runners.
As the competition intensified, it became clear that the race for the top spot would be fiercely contested, promising an exhilarating battle among these talented drivers and others vying for glory.
As the stage was set for the highly anticipated feature race, the air was thick with anticipation, and a full house of fans was eager to see the event unfold. The question on everyone’s mind was “Who would emerge victorious?” Would it be the formidable drivers who had already showcased their prowess, such as Lance Willix, David Hebert, or Matt Woodruff, setting the bar high with their heat race victories? Or would an unexpected dark horse from the back runners seize the opportunity to claim an astonishing triumph?
The excitement was palpable as the race was about to unfold, with the outcome hanging in the balance and the potential for an underdog to rise to the occasion, defying all expectations. The feature race promised to be a thrilling spectacle where anything could happen, leaving fans eagerly awaiting the answer to the ultimate question of who would ultimately claim the checkered flag.
With the drop of the green flag, Willix charged to the lead, spreading the distance from first to second on each lap. During the race, there were multiple incidents on the track that resulted in yellow flags being raised, causing the field to bunch up. However, every time the green flag was waved, Lance wasted no time in taking the lead once again.
In the final moments of the race, Chris Raabe and David Hebert made a strong push, but Lance managed to pull ahead in the last lap to secure his victory, crossing the finish line first and winning the checkered flag. Raabe secured second place, followed by Hebert in third. Carey Terrance and Todd Stone finished in fourth and fifth place respectively, to complete the top five.
1 #31 Lance Willox
2 #01 Chris Raabe
3 #ONE David Hebert
4 #66X: Carey Terrance
5 #1X: Todd Stone
This is his second win in the last week for Lance Willix, as he took home the victory at Can-Am Speedway the week before at their season opener.
It is the first time since 2019 that the 358 Modifieds have been added to the season roaster, as a championship division, and fans were out in droves for this first of seven rounds of the “Be Cool Heating & Air Conditioning” DIRTcar 358-Modified Series.
The season opener at Airborne Speedway proved to be an overwhelming success, leaving fans and participants alike exhilarated and hungry for more. Airborne Speedway’s public relations specialist and announcer
Robby Knowles said, “I was very pleased with the turnout for the first 358 Modified event of 2023. The 26-car field included some of the best-Modified drivers from Quebec, Ontario, Vermont, and New York. Lance Willix was dominant and took advantage of the great starting position he pulled during the redraw. Although Willix led every lap, battles throughout the field made for a very entertaining race. Drivers like Mike Mahaney, Todd Stone, and Carey Terrance were exciting to watch as they charged from deeper into the field. The grandstands and pits were packed for opening day and I’m hopeful that it’s a positive sign for the season. Mike Perrotte has done a great job putting an experienced staff together who show up to the track and work hard to create an exciting environment for drivers and fans.”
The night’s race was full of excitement – from the loud engines to the smell of race fuel in the air. It was a great display of the drivers’ remarkable skills. Lance Willix emerged victorious in the “Be Cool Heating & Air Conditioning” DIRTcar 358-Modified feature event, marking a perfect end to an unforgettable day.
On this night there were four additional class winners each of which raced a good event. In the J & S STEEL Sportsman Modified feature, Chris Cayeatook took home the win. In the Northern Blacktopping Limited Sportsman, it was Mike Arnold who stole the show. Shawn Duquette took the win in the Hartson Total Opening Renegade Feature, while in the Taylor Rental Mini Stock Feature Mat Lavalley
The 358 Modified season opener was exciting, setting the tone for a thrilling season in the “Be Cool Heating & Air Conditioning” DIRTcar 358-Modified series. Fans are eagerly anticipating the next round of this series at Airborne Speedway, which will be on May 27. Don’t miss out on this exciting event!
May 27 – Round Two
June 14 – Round Three, show up points SDCS
June 24 – Round Four
July 8 – Round Five
August 5 – Round Six, show up points
August 19 – Round Seven, final points night