Syracuse Super Dirt Week


‘Happy Hour’ Highlights 1st Trackside Trip For Super DIRT Week XXXVI


Syracuse, NY – October 3, 2007 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast PR Director


Unlike a year ago when rain showers forced DIRTcar Racing NorthEast officials to cancel ‘Happy Hour’ practice, sunshine and warm temperatures greeted race teams as they took to the New York State Fairgrounds Mile for the first time during Super DIRT Week XXXVI. Customary technical inspections led off activities in the morning under the main grandstands and when the first green flag flew after 3:30 p.m., 79 cars were ready to make their mark on the Moody Mile during the 1-1/2 hour hot lap session.


Posting the fastest time during the afternoon was second-generation standout Ronnie Johnson from Duanesburg, N.Y. who circled the historic fairgrounds oval in a time of 31.785 sec. for an average speed of 113. 261 mph. By the time the final checkered flag flew just after 5 o’clock, 63 cars had cracked the 105 mph barrier, with both Billy Decker and Jimmy Phelps the lone drivers to rank among the top-25 with two different cars.


“My goal at Syracuse is always the same, to be the top one,” said Decker, a four-time Rite Aid 200 champion in the premier event on the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series. The Unadilla, N.Y. pilot is also the Big-Block track record-holder, touring the Syracuse Mile in a time of 28.348 sec. on Oct. 6, 2004 to establish the current world record Modified mark of 126.993 mph. “I think about Syracuse a lot, especially the past month when all the big events come up. Its not too hard to get motivated for this one race. Scott (Jeffery, crew chief) typically makes adjustments comparing last year’s note. This time we’ve only really made just one miniscule change since last year. Still, if you’re not moving forward you’re probably falling behind. Syracuse takes a lot of hands, it’s a true team event and preparation is big with a lot of effort involved. So we come here with only one thought … to win. Its what we’re here. It also helps make the winter a whole lot better.”


Second-fastest on the clocks in Wednesday warm-ups was Tim Fuller (31.889 sec.), who earned the pole for the first time in his career at Syracuse last October. The 2005 overall Mr. DIRTcar Modified champion was followed on the speed chart by Danny Johnson (31.904), Phelps (31.955), Chad Brachmann (31.961), Brett Hearn (31.985), Richie Tobias Jr. (32.036), Frenchmen David Hebert (32.049), Mitch Gibbs (32.099) and Bobby Varin (32.146). Defending race winner Johnson, Fuller, Hearn and Tobias are all past Rite Aid 200 champions.


“This is such a magic week, the only thing I really dread is all that it takes to prepare,” said Hearn, a five-time Rite Aid 200 winner, although his last trip to victory lane in the Salt City was made in 1995. The Sussex, N.J. ace is also a six-time fast timer on opening day and has captured an Advance Auto Parts Triple 20 qualifying heat 12 times since the format was introduced in 1989. “I like the way the draw is done for time trial order on Thursday morning but at the same time just one chance puts a lot more pressure on teams now.”


Ohio veteran Rex King was the first car to reach the track at 3:32 p.m. and the last car exited at 5:07 according to Gary Spaid, computer operations manager in charge of scoring and timing. The top 23 cars were timed within a second of each other with nearly every car faster than 100 mph. A number of cars logged an unusually large amount of time on the track, with Vince Vitale posting his best lap in his 64th trip around.


“I’m usually satisfied when I can survive through Sunday at Syracuse,” said current overall Hoosier Tire-Sunoco Race Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Modified points leader Fuller. “Although I will be kind of bummed out if we’re not in the top-six tomorrow. A lot can happen pretty fast around here so being around at the end is a victory in itself.”


Super DIRT Week XXXVI activity continues Thursday, Oct. 4 with Big-Block Modified and 358-Modified inspection. Big-block teams will draw for their time trial order at the infield tote board in the moring and practice is slated immediately after. The first hot laps for DIRTcar Futures is slated to begin prior to 12noon while the first Small-Block car hits the track for time trials at 1:45pm and Big-Blocks are clocked the next hour. In between, the customary Advance Auto Parts 'Media Day' press conference is scheduled in the infield media center beginning at 12:30 pm. In the evening trackside action moves over to Brewerton (NY) Speedway for a Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Series Championship event. Race time is 7:30pm.









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