Makin’ Tracks – Where Were the Fans? – DTD Exclusive

By BILL FOLEY

It was the biggest 358 Modified show of the year at the Fulton Speedway.

Forty-six drivers including the likes of Erick Rudolph, Larry Wight, Mat Williamson, Mike Mahaney, Chad Brachmann, Tim Sears Jr. and many others including up-and-comers packed the pits, provided five heat races, two consis and a 100 lap feature.

You would think that if the yellow hadn’t come out on lap 68 that Rudolph might have the win, but restarts proved to be the difference and Williamson celebrated in Fulton victory lane for the first time in his career.

It wasn’t a great 100 lapper, but it also wasn’t a really bad one. So I guess you could say it was just a race.




However, who saw the race?

Not many at all.

The Super DIRTcar Series packs ‘em in, but not so for the 358 series. It was similar the night before at Can-Am. An average crowd, but nothing like when the Empire Super Sprints come in.

Well, I really don’t know what drives the bus in attending a 358 series show. One side says, “They’re too slow and aren’t big-blocks” and the other note, “They really aren’t that much slower than the big-blocks.”

Promoters are willing to give these shows a spot on the schedule, but if it’s a money loser then maybe you won’t see it again.

The harsh reality of dirt racing at this time is the big-block motors are simply out of reach for teams that want to move up.

There is the ability to grow in a 358 as evidenced by drivers like Dave Marcuccilli, Todd Root, Tyler Trump, Tyler Thompson, Ronnie Davis III and more just on the local scene at Fulton.

That type of growth simply, for financial reasons, can’t happen for the big-block division.

Just last night in victory lane both first time Fulton winners Kyle Inman and A.J. Miller said they would be in a small-block soon.

Much to my amazement the 358 class is growing. Fulton made the controversial switch and last year settled for around 18 Mods a night. This year the average is around 24 and next year should be better.

Oh well it was a Thursday, the weather was good, there were some outstanding drivers on the track just a short distance from home and even if I hadn’t been announcing as a fan this would have been a “go to” event.

For the fans that showed up they saw a night of 46 Mods and 52 Sportsman put on a show.

Pit Stops

Pat Ward couldn’t catch a break and I was told a fan blade broke inflicting enough damage to cause him to stop without getting a lap in time trials.  He drove his way in from the back of the consi with a last lap, final turn pass of Kyle Dingwall…

Robbie Bellinger had the car in the pits, but engine problems kept him from competing…

Throughout the 100 lapper there were some interesting battles as Mike Mahaney, Danny Johnson and Dave Marcuccilli really went at it…

Larry Wight led first five laps, Erick Rudolph went on top five to 78 and Williamson the rest of the way…

At times the Doctor was driving with one hand on the gear shift below the seat and the other hand on the wheel…

Top three of Williamson, Rudolph and the Doctor was not overall surprising, but 358 rookie Marcuccilli came home fourth and for the second consecutive night Mike Mahaney was fifth…

Chad Brachmann made repairs after a broken water pump at Can Am and drove to sixth…

Regulars Todd Root, Bobby Herrington and Tim Sears were seventh, eighth and ninth while Chris Rabbe finished the top ten…

Justin Haers in the Root 11 from last year. He finished 12th…

There were 17 cars in the lead lap at the end, five down one and three down two laps…

Larry Wight pitted on lap 77 and came back for 14th. Tough week for 99L team. He is not defending his DIRTcar 358 Series Championship…

Chris Hile took the Jason Occhino 33 to 13th after starting 23rd. Jason was playing Chip Ganassi in the pits. He jokingly said, “I just need a bigger pit box”…

Among different faces from the night before at Can Am were Justin Haers, Larry Wight, Mark Dilario, Dale Planck, Jeremy Dygert, Jeff McGinnis, Joe Shield, Randy Shantel, Billy Shantel Jr., Nick Krause, A.J. Kingley and Glenn Forward…

Rocky Warner was a DNQ both nights in one of the Jason Simmons owned cars…

Jeremy Dygert put on one heck of a show and the 358 rookie very nearly drove himself into the show…

Heat winners included Wight, Rudolph, Sears, Harrington and Marcuccilli while consis went to Jordan McCreadie (who slowed in the final two laps of the main) and Jeff Sykes…

Sportsman Results

It was an open show with a draw so the main events were heads up…

Five quality heats lined up in the Sportsmen and there were some good ones as Eric Giguere edged out John Stickler by .066 of a second, Inman edged out a .2 of a second win over Corey Barker and Matt Steffanhagen was just .1 of a second better than Tyler Corcoran.

Mike Phelps rebounded by heavy damage on Saturday night to win his heat and eventually start on the pole of the main event where he finished second to Inman just 1.6 second behind…

Not much in the form of accidents, but Jessica Power, who won at Can Am the night before, went off in an ominous plume of smoke on the seventh lap. Motor problems usually aren’t an issue for the 52 team…

Greg Doust made an appearance in a former Ryan Watt Troyer. Greg has become good friends with Ryan and helps him at Super DIRT Week and is going to Eldora to assist…

Zach Sobotka started in the back of his heat and won it. He finished the night in fourth…

Brandon Ford started ninth in the first main and rallied for third with a spectacular run that saw him just about hitting the back straight wall at times…

Tyler Corcoran was fifth as his consistency continues to improve…

Bob Henry Jr. a solid fill in driver with a sixth from eleventh…

Addison Bowman came home seventh as he too continues to get better week to week…

Completing the to ten were Jim Spano, Doust and Chris Mackey…

Early stages of the second main saw Miller, Giguere, Austin Germinio and Matt Steffanhagen really putting on a show at the front of the field.

Eventually Miller, who is being mentored by Dale Planck, captured his first feature win and he was speechless.The driver of the 14j was overcome, but had driven a solid race. He started sixth so it wasn’t easy…

Giguere was one of the few invaders for the open show, but finished second 1.7 second behind Miller…

Solid third for Steffanhagen while multi time feature winner Matt Janczuk was fourth followed by Germinio…

Completing the top ten were Mike Button, Jack Gill, Barker, Dylan Zacharias and Tyler Murray…

Joe Gosek made his return to the Sportsman and seems to be getting comfortable. He ran fifth in his heat after starting up front and even leading for a while. In the feature he was around 14th when Steve Marshall got turned around and collected the 00. Joe finished 18th in the 26 car field and finished all 25 laps…

Jordan Bennett made his return in the 06W…

In heat action it was a sibling battle as it took a while for Dylan Zacharias to get past his sister Rachel…

I’m sure I missed something, but when your announcing, taking notes and then sitting down the write shortly after sunrise the next day you tend to leave a few things out. If I missed something you think should be in let me know at foley395@hotmail.com