RPW Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS JR. / RPW – BARBERVILLE, FL – Larry Wight has made a name for himself driving a car on the ragged edge and within an inch of its life for over a decade now. The driver of the 99L’s 2020 DIRTcar Nationals got kicked off the prior evening with a top five for the Phoenix, NY driver.
Wight’s abilities shined in the off season at The Chili Bowl, again having a solid year in Tulsa. However, this is the proper start of his 2020 season and his win Wednesday night showed that there’s a real possibility of a repeat DIRTcar Nationals Big Block Modified champion.
“The car still felt glued to the race track, even up top. I thought it was rubbering up the top of (turns) three and four. I could kinda see that dullness in the track. Once I got to the lapped cars I realized the cars were locked down on the bottom. I think I saw (Matt) Sheppard try one lap around the top and he lost like three more spots. That was the real indicator I needed to get down to the bottom.”
The 2020 season will look different for Wight than it has in the past. With a family comes new priorities and goals both on and off the track. Brewerton will be Wight’s Friday night home, however Saturdays are now going to revolve around a myriad of different tracks and series at times.
“We’re going to be running the Super DIRT Series and STSS series. That’s going to take up a lot of our efforts so we’re going to take Saturdays off. We’ll hit the big shows at Fulton, go out to Canandaigua for a couple shows, head up to Fonda to get a set up for their big race and focus on some of the bigger money shows and try to relax and spend a Saturday night with the family a little bit, that’d be nice. We’ve been running Friday, Saturday and most times Sunday for about 12 to 13 years now.”
The change in schedule to accommodate family life doesn’t change the will to win of the driver of the No. 99L Gypsum Express sponsored chauffeur, in fact it may be the very thing needed to keep his focus on one goal. For now that goal is his second gator trophy in as many years as champion of the DIRTcar Nationals.
Though Wight’s 2020 season looks vastly different, the Super DIRTcar Series rule book may look a bit different as well this year with the ban on four-link suspensions. Wight seems perplexed by the rule, as he is currently constructing one such machine for STSS competition.
“I think it’s a crazy rule. Four-link’s have been in these cars for 25 plus years. It’s something where they’re (DIRTcar) afraid it will raise cost. From what we’ve seen, it seems like if it has a Bicknell part number on it the rule goes through no problem. There’s a lot of people making decisions for our series that I don’t feel are the correct people to make that decision. I think it needs to be in the racer and the car owner’s, the guy’s who actually spend the money and follow the series.
Wight explained his frustration with the four-link suspension further saying, “I run a four-link car for Gary Simpson on the Deyo stuff and I’m actually in the process of building one myself for the North series and I think it takes a lot of the ingenuity away and handcuffs the chassis builders that are trying to catch up to Bicknell to come out with something a little bit better. To have everyone with the same cookie cutter car, you might as well call it the DIRT IROC Series and that’s not what this class is all about.”
The final three nights of thew Volusia DIRTcar Nationals will once again feature the World of Outlaws Late Models and Super DIRTcar Series, culminating in the final two champions being crowned. With Thursday’s win, Wight will at least be taking the satisfaction of a race win home to Phoenix, NY. The only question that remains is who will take home the Gator championship trophy. Wight seems to think that Lightning can strike twice.