Column By: ROBERT SYMONDS / RACE PRO WEEKLY – DE LEON SPRINGS, FL – For the first time in 2019, after the rain out yesterday, the Super DIRTcar Series saw racing action at the Volusia Speedway Park for the DirtCar Nationals. Though the area saw some rain in the morning, the evening remained clear.
Stewart Friesen in the red Halmar International, DKM Fabrication Chassis set Quick Time overall in Time Trials with a 17.679. Grabbing their first checkered flags of the season was Larry Wight, Billy Decker, Matt Sheppard, and Rick Laubach. Also taking wins in the last chance qualifiers was Ryan Godown and Justin Haers.
In the Super DIRTcar Series Opener, it was an all Gypsum Racing front row with both Billy Decker and Larry Wight leading the field to the green but it was Lightning Larry Wight who was the drive to lead lap 1. On the top side, Wight held his own against his team mate but not for long.
Gypsum Wholesalers 91 ride of Billy Decker took the lead back from Wight on lap 3 as Wight had his hands full on the top groove. In the next few laps Wight slipped from the lead to nearly 6th place but the FX Caprara Chevy 99L gathered it back in and took his Bicknell Chassis to the bottom side of the speedway.
As Decker led laps, Matt Sheppard followed in his foot steps. Just after Sheppard made a bid for the top spot on lap 11, he develops an push like Wight had started experiencing on the top. This allowed Anthony Perrego to close in for 2nd though he would never make it there as the caution flag waved.
On the ensuing restart, Sheppard had time to now reset and it showed as he would be side by side on lap 13 for the lead with Decker in turns 1 and 2. Heading down the back stretch and into turn 3, Decker had the advantage by 2 car lengths. Decker moved to the bottom lane, at this point Sheppard was already committed to the bottom and on the slick track he had no where to go and Sheppard spins in turn 3 to draw a yellow.
During the cautions, wholesale pit stops were being made by Stewart Friesen, Matt Sheppard, Danny Johnson, Justin Haers to try and improve their cars for the latter part of the race. When we went back to green, Perrego tried to battle Decker for the lead on the middle groove but it was to no avail as Decker walked him down the back stretch.
Going from the top to the bottom, Wight made his way back up from his early race mistakes to retake 2nd on lap 16 and make a bid for the top spot but it wouldn’t go without its challenges. Billy Pauch also made his way back up the field as he had problems off the start, falling to 6th but he now was racing the top side making up ground quick on the top 2.
Pauch and Wight raced side by side for nearly 10 laps as Decker entered lap traffic. With few laps remaining, Pauch still ran the top but did not contend with Wight for 2nd. Slicing through lap cars, Decker was trying to maintain the lead but Wight had caught him. Last lap coming off turn 4, Wight made up 2 car lengths but was still a half car length short. Billy Decker would go to Victory Lane for the Super DirtCar Series 2019 season opener.
“We did have to move around a little out there,” Decker said to Blake Anderson in Victory Lane. “I could tell late when the lap cars started to get away that I needed to be on the bottom and keep the car straight but yet turn. It was tough.”
Decker finished ahead of his teammate Wight who was just a half car length off Decker at the line for the finish.
“I thought I saw Larry on the inside of me once and I knew I was giving up ground because he was close. I just needed to stay where I needed to be and I could have done a little bit better there towards the end but got ‘er done.”
DIRTcar Nationals – Super DIRTcar Series – Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Group 1- Stewart Friesen 17.679, Larry Wight 17.798, Peter Britten 17.927, Demetrois Drellos 17.963, Tim Fuller 18.147, Ryan Godown 18.157, Brett Hearn 18.166, Tyler Thompson 18.285, Joseph Watson 18.352, Cass Bennett 19.669
Group 2- Billy Decker 17.870, Anthony Perrego 18.033, Pat Ward 18.155, Mat Williamson 18.264, Scott Hitchen 18.267, Rich Scagliotta 18.358, Yan Bussiere 18.481, Mario Clair 18.517, Dave Allen 18.587, Kyle Sheldon 18.702
Group 3- Matt Sheppard 17.783, Will Thomas 17.845, Erick Rudolph 18.225, Jack Lehner 18.362, Jeremy Smith 18.386, Jim Britt 18.628, Russell Morseman 18.773, Kyle Coffey 18.843, Darwin Greene 18.910, Chris Ostrowsky 19.098
Group 4- Rick Laubach 17.813, Billy Pauch 17.892, Jessey Mueller 18.190, Tyler Siri 18.205, Danny Johnson 18.268, Justin Haers 18.345, Marc Johnson 18.668, Francois Bellemare 18.674, Dave Rauscher 18.676
Qualifying Heats – 8 laps – Top 5 Transfer To AMain
Heat 1- Larry Wight, Stewart Friesen, Peter Britten, Tim Fuller, Demetrios Drellos, Ryan Godown, Brett Hearn, Tyler Thompson, Joseph Watson, Cass Bennett
Heat 2- Billy Decker, Anthony Perrego, Mat Williamson, Pat Ward, Yan Bussiere, Scott Hitchen, Kyle Sheldon, Mario Clair, Dave Allen, Rich Scagliotta
Heat 3- Matt Sheppard, Erick Rudolph, Will Thomas, Jeremy Smith, Jim Britt, Jack Lehner, Darwin Greene, Russell Morseman, Kyle Coffey, Chris Ostrowsky
Heat 4- Rick Laubach, Billy Pauch, Jessey Mueller, Tyler Siri, Danny Johnson, Justin Haers, Marc Johnson, Dave Rauscher, Francois Bellemare
Last Chance Showdowns – 10 laps – Top 3 Transfer to AMain
LCS 1 – Ryan Godown, Brett Hearn, Mario Clair, Scott Hitchen, Tyler Thompson, Kyle Sheldon, Joseph Watson, Dave Allen
LCS 2- Justin Haers, Jack Lehner, Kyle Coffey, Dave Rauscher, Francois Bellemare, Darwin Greene, Russell Morseman, Chris Ostrowsky, Marc Johnson
AMain (30 Laps) – Billy Decker, Larry Wight Billy Pauch, Anthony Perrego, Pat Ward, Erick Rudolph, Matt Sheppard, Brett Hearn, Rick Laubach, Mat Williamson, Ryan Godown, Peter Britten, Demetrios Drellos, Jim Britt, Stewart Friesen, Danny Johnson, Jessey Mueller, Kyle Coffey, Jack Lehner, Mario Clair, Jeremy Smith, Tim Fuller, Justin Haers, Yan Bussiere, Tyler Siri (DNS)