DUNDEE, N.Y. — Story and photos by Race Chaser Online New York Correspondent Steven Ovens — Friday night’s inaugural running of the ‘Seneca Lake Shootout’ is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated Dirt Modified races in the Finger Lakes this season as Big-Block and Small-Block teams alike prepare their machines for battle.
The new event started and named by Yates County Speedway promoter Dan Harpell will boast a 50-lap Modified feature paying $4,000 to the winner. It will be a shootout between both the Big-Block Modifieds fans are used to seeing on the Super DIRTcar Series as well as the 358-Modifieds (also known as Small-Blocks) that made Yates County Speedway home for decades. The event will also feature a $600 to win Street Stock race, a $500 to win 305 Sprint Car feature and a $400 to win 4-Cylinder feature.
The talk of the town this week has been the names that have made verbal commitments or posts on Social Media touting their intentions to attend the Shootout. One big name is 7-time 358-Modified track champion Steve Paine, who won all of his championships when the speedway was named ‘Black Rock Speedway’.
Paine was a dominant force and set the bar for the division through the late 90’s and early to mid 2000’s. When the 7x rolled into the pit area, you knew without a doubt ‘The Hurricane’ was going to factor into the win. The battles between Gil Tegg Jr/Paine and Charlie Donk/Paine will go down in the speedway’s history books.
Another driver with roots at the 4/10 mile clay oval is ‘Super Matt’ Sheppard. Sheppard confirmed on Monday night that his Heinke-Baldwin Racing, FX Caprara Chevy 9H Troyer would be in attendance to vie for the $4,000 top prize. Sheppard has won several modified shootouts over the last 2-3 seasons and will certainly play a big factor into Friday night’s feature.
Sheppard grew up racing full-fendered stock cars in the late 90’s in Dundee in a 4-Cylinder Stock. He would have success in that division before eventually being elevated to a Sportsman Modified, 358-Modified and now Big-Block Modified. Sheppard is also a 3-time Super DIRTcar Series champion and is currently leading the race to claim his 4th as the Series heads to Fonda Speedway this weekend. ‘Super Matt’ will look to pick up a ‘Super Win’ in the #SLShootout before heading to the Freedom 76’er Saturday and the series race at Fonda Sunday.
The only driver to pick up a Modified win in 2014 at Yates County Speedway is Vic Coffey driving the Sweeteners Plus 32c. Coffey methodically worked his way through the field and dominated the latter half of the event that night to pick up the win. Sources say that Coffey plans on returning to Yates County Friday night and will also play a role in the event sponsored by Suburban Propane.
Former 358-Modified track champion Billy Van Pelt will also be in attendance on Friday night in his Grant Hilfiger owned 78 car. Van Pelt and Hilfiger teamed up for the 2014 season and had a great deal of success. They picked up multiple wins and claimed the 2014 Woodhull Raceway Insinger Performance 370-Modified track championship. Van Pelt has raced anything he could fit his seat into this season racing Modifieds and Sportsman Modifieds at Woodhull, Ransomville and Freedom among others.
As of this post, it appears the only ‘Team Red’ car from the Gypsum Express stable that will be in attendance is that of the 42p driven by Pat Ward. Ward has attended several Modified shows in the past at Yates County and has run well. Race fans should expect no different on Friday night at the Shootout when Ward rolls into the Dundee, NY village limits.
Two drivers that factored into the win back in July was Ron Cartwright Jr and Tyler Siri. Both drivers ran up front and were factors in deciding the winner- up until a late race incident in Turns 1 & 2 set both drivers back. Both drivers plan to attend the Seneca Lake Shootout and it would be no surprise to see either of these drivers steal the thunder from the Super DIRTcar Series stars.
The local modified brigade, so eloquently named the “Yates County Rapid Transit Authority” by local race series promoter Gary Montgomery, will also bring 3 very competitive cars to the Seneca Lake Shootout Friday. Brady Fultz will have his Troyer Race Cars #70 ready to rumble for 4 G’s. Fultz started at the tail of the field in July and marched his way toward the front. If Brady can start toward the front this week, he could very easily be your dark-horse pick to win the race.
Derrick Podsiadlo in the Penn Yan Express Stop #21p will also be in attendance. “D-Pods” started on the pole and led the first half of the feature in July before a flat tire took him into the pits for service. Fellow Yates County resident Eric Fisher will also be in attendance in his Fisher’s Tree Service, Bull Hill Vineyards #37. Fisher had a very strong season at the Woodhull Raceway and raised the eyebrows of fellow competitors such as track champion Billy Van Pelt.
Race fans have called for the return of the Mighty Modifieds to Yates County all season long and this Friday night is their chance to prove to promoter Dan Harpell that they will support the division in 2015 if he chooses to add them to the weekly lineup. Race time is set for 7pm, as always more information is readily available at www.yatescountyspeedway.com or on Facebook by clicking HERE