AUDIO / RECAP: Rolling Wheels Super Dirt Week: Billy Decker Starts The Week Off With A Win!

Steven Ovens Audio, Featured, Northeast 0 Comments

Photo and Story by Steven Ovens

If you live in the Northeast and love DIRTcar Modified racing, you know that the Rolling Wheels Raceway has been one of the crown jewels on the DIRTcar circuit for nearly 40 years.  “The Fast Track” was established in 1976 and started out as a weekly track before joining DIRT Motorsports, then run by 1994 DIRT Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Glenn Donnelly.  What makes Rolling Wheels unique to race fans is that the speedway has been a ‘specials only’ facility on the DIRT circuit.

Oddly enough on this night the track, which used to feature ‘specials only’, now was running an event that contained only feature events.  The events run on this night were rained out from the Labor Day Stars ‘N Stripes 100.  All qualifying heats and 24 laps of the Super DIRTcar Modified 100-Lap affair had been written into the history books.

As the 100-Lap Modified feature took the green flag on Lap 24, Billy Decker and Dale Planck found themselves on the front row as the Stars ‘N Stripes 100 resumed.  Brett Hearn showed his muscle early and often, moving up to the 2nd position after only one lap had been completed.

The race was littered with caution flags, starting on Lap 26 as the outside pole sitter Planck spun after contact with another competitor in Turn 1.  On the Lap 29 restart Decker and Hearn waged war to claim the top spot and the clean air that would go along with it.  With so many caution flags, lapped cars were essentially a non-issue.

On Lap 30, Hearn dove under Decker in Turns 1 & 2 with a good run.  Hearn slid up the track ever so slightly, the two made contact, both cars continued unharmed and Hearn came away with the top spot.  He would set sail and run away unchallenged by Decker.  Prior to caution periods on Laps 31, 44, 49, 55, 64, 69, 81 and 84, ‘Brett The Jet’ was able to stretch his lead to ¾ of a straightaway.

The best battles were taking place behind the leaders.  Matt Sheppard, Billy Dunn and Justin Haers swapped positions countless times particularly on the restarts.  The car running in 4th place for a restart had the preferred high line and allowed these drivers to make some daring moves to try and snag a podium finish.

The scariest moment of the night came on Lap 84 involving ‘The Doctor’ Danny Johnson and Keith Flach.  Johnson, who had climbed to 5th after going to the back with a flat tire on Lap 31, had a left rear tire fall off his Atlas Paving #66 sending him into the wall.  After glancing off the wall the car went airborne and did a half turn before being hit by the Flach #43 machine.  Both cars were destroyed, however both drivers emerged from their vehicles unharmed.  A tip of the cap goes out to all of the safety system teams involved with the DIRTcar Modifieds as both of these cars were heavily damaged, yet the driver’s compartment was intact and remained protected.

But as the race wore on, tires started to let go and fuel mileage would be a factor due to the number of caution laps run.  Billy Dunn had a Right Rear sneaker let loose and go flat on Lap 86 dropping him from the 3rd position.  Dunn would return only to be involved in a tangle with the Tim Currier #10 in turns 3 & 4 on Lap 94.  This would set up a 6 lap dash for the win and a potentially commanding point lead for Hearn on the Super DIRTcar Series trail.

But on Lap 96, Brett the Jet ran out of jet fuel.  His Fox Shocks #20 slowed coming off Turn 2 and the entire field blew by.  A yellow was drawn out and shuffled the running order for a 4 lap battle to the finish. 

Decker and Sheppard battled each other for the win, with Billy Decker taking home the VP race fuels checkered flag.  Sheppard came home second with a strong performance by Justin Haers third, 2013 Outlaw 200 Champion Jimmy Phelps fourth and Chris Hile rounding out the Top 5.

“It’s been way too long.  We pride ourselves in these Super DIRTcar Series races,” said an elated Decker who did Victory Donuts in the Rolling Wheels infield before pulling into Victory Lane.

Decker talked about being lucky at the end, “You’ve got to put yourself in the position to be lucky at the end.”

Second place Sheppard commented on the importance of having momentum going into the rest of Super DIRT Week, “It’s definitely important.  We’ve been really good everywhere we have gone the last month or so.  Hopefully we can keep that going throughout the week.”

Third place Justin Haers also commented on having a strong run going into the rest of the week at the Syracuse Mile.  “If I could run the whole week like this we would be in good shape.”  Haers picked up a ride for all of the satellite shows this week at Weedsport Speedway and Brewerton Speedway.  Races he may not normally run as in years past he has focused on running the Big-Block Modified at Syracuse.

The Super DIRT Week Fall Festival of Speed travels over to the ‘Moody Mile’ at the New York State Fairgrounds on Wednesday for tech inspection and practice.  Then all of the 358 teams will head to the Weedsport Speedway for the track’s only race of 2013.

Race Chaser will provide it’s ‘Blowout the Budget Coverage’ of NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week all week long including a special feature on Thursday about the DIRT Motorsports Hall of Fame.

AUDIO BONUS!!!

Hear from winner Billy Decker!

Second Place Matt Shephard  

Third Place finisher Justin Haers    

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