FONDA, N.Y. — official release — Dave Dalesandro photo — With just five feature races left in the Super DIRTcar Series, Sunday’s racing at Fonda Speedway brought a dramatic points shakeup that will keep drivers battling to the very end.
Eight-time series champion Brett Hearn picked up the win Sunday, Sept. 21, and with it became the new Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified Series point leader.
“These races here after Labor Day are a little bit more meaningful,” the Sussex, N.J., driver reflected in Victory Lane Sunday night. “You could make up, or lose, a lot of points in one race, and I guess that’s what we did.”
Former point leader Matt Sheppard, of Waterloo, N.Y., is typically one to hold on until the very last lap, but a broken axle took out the FX Caprara Car Co. No. 9H just seven laps into the main event. Sheppard’s absence left Hearn, then second in points, and Billy Decker, third, battling for the advantage.
Sheppard started the race on the pole after winning a heat race and redrawing well. Decker, out of Sidney, N.Y., started on the outside front row and sped ahead to claim the lead at the conclusion of the first lap. Hearn, who started fourth on the grid, was also fast at the green, charging to third place in the first lap and second place in the second.
In lap 4, Hearn tried out the topside, and found enough speed there to pass Decker for the lead.
“Anytime the bottom’s that slick like that, you’ve got to go up there and look at it anyways,” Hearn said. “Billy was up there too; I saw him coming down off the cushion and left that outside lane open for me.”
In one small move, Decker gave up the lead, and wasn’t able to take it back the rest of the race.
“I think we were the second-best car there tonight,” said Decker, who wound up second. “We fired pretty good at the start of the race, rolled around the outside, and I said to myself, ‘man, that outside is really far out there in 3 and 4, let me try the bottom.’ We only had one shot and Brett drove around the outside.”
Sheppard brought the first caution of the race in lap 7, when he exited the track due to a broken rear axel. The team was not able to repair the damage and packed it in for the night.
The subsequent double-file restart was no match for Brett “the Jet” Hearn, who seemed to fly ahead of the rest of the field, and soon put some distance between his Madsen Overhead Doors No. 20 and the Gypsum Wholesalers No. 91 of Decker. By lap 18, Hearn had reached slower traffic, and even that was no obstacle for the defending series champion.
The yellow flag waved a second time in lap 20, and Jimmy Phelps, Keith Flach and Jim Davis took the opportunity to make a trip to the pits. All three returned under yellow.
Hearn again kept his lead off the restart, and by lap 41 had managed to put 6 cars between himself and runner-up Decker. Caution conditions slowed the pace again in lap 42 with Gary Tomkins slowed to a stop in the backstretch. At the halfway point, Hearn still had an ample lead over Decker with Pat Ward running third, Stewart Friesen fourth and Larry Wight fifth.
Caution would take over the track three more times, once in lap 59, again in lap 91 and a last time in lap 94. Each time, Hearn pulled ahead of the field and Decker kept second. A hard charging Danny Varin made his way up through the field, cracking the top-five by lap 60 and claiming third place from Ward by lap 85. However, he did not have enough momentum to challenge Decker and Hearn in the final laps. Bobby Varin finished fourth after starting 16 th and Ward finished fifth.
Although Sunday’s win was a pivotal victory for Hearn, the champion driver said he would have been pleased with any strong finish.
“I just kept thinking the whole race, ‘We gotta finish it, we gotta finish. We have to stay good for 100 laps,'” said Hearn, who finished second to Wight Saturday night at Fonda Speedway. “I’m just happy to finish this one off, and not have what happened to us last night. It’s a good win for us, it’s a great point night for us.”
While the win might have boosted him to the point lead, Decker was happy with a podium finish as the Super DIRTcar Series speeds to some of the biggest races of the season.
“I said yesterday that if we finished in the top three today, I’d take it,” Decker said. “I like coming to Fonda, I like the fans here, but it’s just been a thorn in our side for a long time. Ever since I wrecked that car in ’98 here, it’s been trouble for us.”
Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified Series Statistical Report; Fonda Speedway, Fonda, N.Y.; Sunday, September 21, 2014
A-Main (100 laps):
Pos.-(Starting Pos.)-No.-Driver/Hometown/Laps Completed/Reason Out, If Any
1. (4) 20 Brett Hearn / Sussex, N.J. / 100 ($6,000 won)
2. (2) 91 Billy Decker / Sidney, N.Y. / 100
3. (10) 93 Danny Varin / Sharon Springs, N.Y. / 100
4. (16) 1J Bobby Varin / Johnstown, N.Y. / 100
5. (3) 42P Pat Ward / Genoa, N.Y. / 100
6. (9) 16 A.J. Romano / Johnstown, N.Y. / 100
7. (7) 27J Danny Johnson / Rochester, N.Y. / 100
8. (5) 24 Jeremy Wilder / Fort Plain, N.Y. / 100
9. (13) 14J Alan Johnson / Middlesex, N.Y. / 100
10. (26) 3h Justin Haers / Phelps, N.Y. / 100
11. (21) 41 Jim Davis / Ballston Spa, N.Y. / 100
12. (6) 1 Darwin Greene / Susquehanna, Penn. / 100
13. (18) 21KW Korey Wilder / Fort Plain, N.Y. / 100
14. (14) 98H Jimmy Phelps / Baldwinsville, N.Y. / 100
15. (24) 3D Matt Delorenzo / Cropseyville, N.Y. / 100
16. (27) 10V Billy VanInwegen / Sparrowbush, N.Y. / 100
17. (30)14 Gary Tomkins / Clifton Springs, N.Y. / 100
18. (11) 21a Pete Britten / Brisbane, Queensland, Australia / 100
19. (15) 7z Erick Rudolph / Ransomville, N.Y. / 100
20. (19) 816 Jeff Rockefeller / Glenville, N.Y. / 98
21. (29) 43 Keith Flach / Ravena, N.Y. / 97
22. (22) 28 Chris Mackey / 97
23. (23) 8 Rich Scagliotta / Hillsborough, N.J. / 97
24. (8) 1wcg Stewart Friesen / Sprakers, N.Y. / 93 / Collision
25. (20) 3 Mark Kislowski / Ballston Lake, N.Y. / 89 / Mechanical
26. (12) 99L Larry Wight / Altmar, N.Y. / 58 / Drive shaft
27. (25) 21K Randy Chrysler / Lewiston, N.Y. / 58 / Mechanical
28. (28) 14G Brian Gleason / Hyde Park, N.Y. / 40 / Motor
29. (17) 33 Mike Mahaney / King Ferry, N.Y. / 19 / Rear end
30. (1) 9H Matt Sheppard / Waterloo, N.Y. / 7 / Broken axle
Did Not Qualify:
14 C.G. Morey / Rutland, Vt.
50J Justin Boehler / Amsterdam, N.Y.
34 Vinnie Sanganetti / Schoharie, N.Y.
71 Ron Holmes / Oneida, N.Y.
63 Adam Roberts / Watertown, N.Y.
711 Jamike Sowle / Fultonville, N.Y.
97 Rocky Warner / Gloversville, N.Y.
20C Craig Hanson / Tribes Hill, N.Y.
19 Jessey Mueller / Olmstedville, N.Y.
97T Josh Hohenforst / Gloversville, N.Y.
14 Ronnie George, Jr.
37 Justin Barber
36 Chuck Allen