Story By: JOE GRABIANOWSKI / DIRTCAR – WEEDSPORT, NY – It’s a simple fact that the best Big Block Modified racers in the world congregate every October during NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week at Oswego Speedway to celebrate the sport and its fans.
This year is no exception, with the 48th Annual Super DIRTcar Series Billy Whittaker Cars 200 set to cap off the thrilling event on Sunday, Oct. 13.
Thanks to several events on the Super DIRTcar Series tour, seven elite drivers have locked in their qualification for the 200-lap finale, with two more guaranteed starts still up for grabs in 2019. All Super DIRTcar Series races paying $10,000 or more to the winner come with a guaranteed starting spot at NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII.
Eight-time Super DIRTcar Series Champion Super Matt Sheppard wasted no time in obtaining his guarantee. Sheppard opened the season at Can-Am Speedway with a roof dance in La Fargeville, NY ahead of Mat Williamson and Billy Dunn. Sheppard, the only driver to win Sportsman, 358 Modified and Big Block Features during NAPA Super DIRT Week, is seeking his third Billy Whittaker Cars 200 crown.
Next up was Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario’s Stewart Friesen, who took the checkered flag in The Big Show XI at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. The No. 44 crossed the finish line first in dramatic fashion, as he nipped legendary driver and Big Show promoter six-time NAPA Super DIRT Week champion Brett Hearn in the final laps. Friesen is attempting to tie Hearn’s mark of six victories in the sport’s most prestigious event.
The North Country’s first qualifier took place at Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway where Lightning Larry Wight rode the rim to Victory Lane. Wight returns to Oswego Speedway as the defending NAPA Super DIRT Week Champion. Will he repeat and go back-to-back? Since the event shifted to Oswego in 2016, there has yet to be a repeat winner.
Weedsport Speedway’s Hall of Fame 100 saw Series rivals Sheppard and Ransomville Speedway Track Champion Erick Rudolph go head-to-head for the win. Sheppard bested Rudolph, but since Sheppard already had a guaranteed start, Rudolph became the recipient.
The next qualifier took place on the famous high-banked half-mile Eldora Speedway in Ohio. The Series put on a fantastic show in front of a tremendous crowd with Rudolph driving to the win. Billy Decker was on Rudolph’s tail across the finish line and gladly accepted the guaranteed start for himself and his Gypsum Racing team.
At the Orange County Fair Speedway, 69 drivers entered the $10,000-to-win Battle on the Midway 100 to kick off the speedway’s centennial celebration. Sheppard took his No. 9S to the front once again, but rookie racer The Ringoes Rocket Ryan Godown finished a career-best runner-up and secured his berth in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200.
For the 14th time in his career, Kenny Tremont Jr. was crowned Lebanon Valley Speedway’s Track Champion. He capped off the season with a $25,500 check and his sixth Mr. DIRT Track USA title. Tremont is looking to ride that wave of momentum into Oswego.
Fulton and Brewerton Speedway regular Jason Occhino and his red No. 33 have the distinction of being the first driver to enter NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII in the Big Block Modified division. He’s a dark horse in the 200, but he is well worth keeping an eye on.
Alan Johnson, a living legend of dirt track racing in the Northeast, will once again make an attempt to take home the $50,000 grand prize in Oswego. Johnson calls Land of Legends Raceway his home and finished third in track points, behind two of the best going right now, Sheppard and Rudolph. Johnson is a three-time winner in NAPA Super DIRT Week’s premier race, but he hasn’t won it since 2003.
Former NAPA Super DIRT Week Champion Machine Gun Billy Dunn is poised for another massive win. This time he’ll go for gold in the Graham Racing No. 49 Teo Pro Car. Dunn thrilled the massive crowd at Syracuse in 2013 for his lone NAPA Super DIRT Week 200-lap victory.
Then there’s Hearn and his 900-plus wins from Sussex, NJ. His six NAPA Super DIRT Week wins in the 200 remains untouched. Hearn took the Orange County Fair Speedway Championship this year. Now he looks to add another $50,000 NAPA Super DIRT Week Championship payday to the record books.
Stay tuned on social media as the entries pour in for the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 as well as the DIRTcar 358 Modified Salute the Troops 150, DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Chevy Performance 75, and the DIRTcar Pro Stock 50.
Billy Whittaker Cars 200 Guaranteed Starters as of Sept. 10, 2019
- Matt Sheppard – Can-Am Speedway
- Stewart Friesen – Albany-Saratoga Speedway
- Larry Wight – Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway
- Erick Rudolph* – Weedsport Speedway
- Billy Decker* – Eldora Speedway
- Ryan Godown* – Orange County Fair Speedway
- Kenny Tremont Jr. – Lebanon Valley Speedway
*Finished second to previously guaranteed starter