Column By: TOBY LAGRANGE / RPW – OSWEGO, NY – They came, they saw and for one, they conquered. This paraphrase of a popular Julius Caesar phrase has different meanings for each competitor attempting to make history in last week’s 48th running of Super DIRT Week.
To some, it means just making the big show, to others it means just making it to the Oswego Speedway to turn some laps and to one, it means conquering all.
More than 40 DIRTcar Sportsman and Pro Stock drivers who call the Capital Region of New York State home during the season made the tow to the track known (for a week anyway) as the Clay Palace.
The fourth Super DIRT Week held along the shores of Lake Ontario would see record car counts and a huge crowd take over the City of Oswego. The final tally would see 103 DIRTcar Sportsman and 40 DIRTcar Pro Stocks take part in what is arguably still the biggest stage in all of the Northeast Dirt Modified racing.
Of the 40 DIRTcar Pro Stock entries for the Wilkins RV 50, more than half of them call the four tracks of New York’s Capital Region home. Of those 22 drivers, 19 would make the 50 lap event Sunday afternoon.
One driver though conquered them all and that was Josh Coonradt. Nicknamed “The Coon Dog” by Albany-Saratoga Speedway Announcer Danny Martin, the third-generation driver out of West Milton, New York had the field covered and claimed the Wilkins RV 50 victory.
“We restarted over and over again,” Coonradt said. “We had the best nipping at your heels, I kept seeing the 7Y (Rob Yetman) up there and Luke (Horning) was there in the beginning. I am just thankful that we made it here to race with the best of the best.”
All successful teams have a strategy coming in however sometimes that changes once the green flag drops. Such was the case for Coonradt.
“My strategy was to beat them into the corner and get to the bottom but once we started to get a few laps in I realized that the middle to the top was the place to be and the car kept getting better and better as we went there,” Coonradt continued.
In addition to winning the event, the 2019 Albany-Saratoga Speedway Track Champion and runner up at the Fonda Speedway set the second fastest time in time trials, locking him into the front row for the 50-lap championship event.
In all, four drivers from Team Capital Region finished inside the top five and eight inside the top ten.
Tony Markou sent a shockwave through the Oswego Speedway grounds when he turned the fastest time during time trials Friday afternoon. Markou, who has a leg injury, finished third in the final standings after spinning out and charging back through the field.
“Let’s talk about my screw up first, the spin out,” Markou said. “I don’t know if I over drove the corner or if I just got back in the throttle a little too quick but once it started coming around it was like ice and there was no saving it.”
“That was all on me, Markou continued. “To come back all the way from the back, to make my way through, a lot of that was just avoiding stuff and great moves because the car was sticking because these guys do such a great job on it, it was there when I needed it to be.”
Runner up in points to his father Jay at the Lebanon Valley Speedway, Jason Casey finished a strong fourth in the final rundown. The Connecticut driver finished third in the second qualifier Friday night after timing 16th quick earlier in the day.
After finishing fourth in the season long points battle at Albany-Saratoga, Scott Towslee came into Super DIRT Week for the first time looking for a good run. When the checkered flag waved Sunday afternoon he finished in the fifth position. He time 12th quick in time trials and finished third in the second qualifying event.
Other drivers making it into the Wilkins RV 50 were Rob Yetman (6th), Jay Corbin (7th), Steve LaRochelle (8th), Chris Crane (10th), Kim Duell (11th), Chuck Dumblewski (12th), Ken Gates (13th), Jay Casey (16th), Jason Meltz (17th), Frank Twing (23rd), Nick Stone (24th), Rick Duzlak (25th), Luke Horning (28th), Jay Fitzgerald (29th), Dean Charbonneau (30th).
Three drivers from the Capital Region did not make the show and they include Justin Knight, Hugh Page and Nick Hilt.