BREWERTON, NY – June 20, 2010 – Vic Coffey knows much too well what it feels like to lose a race at Brewerton Speedway. Now heâ€™s ready to experience the more positive side of competition at the one-third-mile oval.
Just over eight months since seeing a victory in Brewertonâ€™s inaugural World of Outlaws Late Model Series event slip through his fingers in heartbreaking fashion, Coffey will return to the D-shaped track on Tuesday night (June 22) to take another shot at glory in the national tourâ€™s second annual â€˜Dirt Demon 50â€™ presented by NAPA.
â€œIâ€™ve had a lot of them close-but-no-cigar races there,â€ Coffey said of Brewerton Speedway, which he has called his Friday-night home for DIRTcar big-block Modified action at times in the past. â€œFor whatever reason, I canâ€™t seem to get a win there. Maybe this (Tuesday) will be the night we finally get things to go our way.â€
Coffey, 38, of Caledonia, N.Y., nearly got the Brewerton monkey off his back in last yearâ€™s 50-lapper, held on Sept. 2, 2009. The 2008 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year was the dominant force in the A-Main; he marched forward from the seventh starting spot to grab the lead from Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., on lap 13 and appeared headed to victory after fighting off a challenge from Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., another former DIRTcar big-block Modified regular at Brewerton.
Alas, a caution flag flew on lap 44, wiping out Coffeyâ€™s healthy advantage over Fuller. Fuller swept around the outside of Coffey on the restart to assume command as lap 45 was scored and never looked back, outrunning Coffey to win at the track Fullerâ€™s car owner, John Wight, had purchased earlier in the year.
Coffey settled for runner-up money â€“ a career-best WoO LMS finish, yes, but certainly a bitterly disappointing one. He still thinks about his full-fender near-miss on familiar turf, wondering if there was anything he should have done differently to repel Fullerâ€™s dramatic pass.
â€œIt was one of those deals where I kind of knew what (Fuller) was gonna do (on the restart),â€ recalled Coffey, the memory of the raceâ€™s final laps still burned into his mind. â€œI knew he was gonna roll the middle, but I didnâ€™t want to change what I was doing â€“ running the bottom â€“ because thatâ€™s what got me to the front and got me a big lead. The car was so good and just felt so good running down there.
â€œI kind of kick myself though â€“ should I have gone up there top the top and tried to block him? I donâ€™t really race like that and I donâ€™t know if it wouldâ€™ve been any different outcome if I did it. But winning a World of Outlaws show wouldâ€™ve been the biggest thing I couldâ€™ve done there, so yeah, that kinda still haunts me a little bit.
â€œYou know, if no caution comes out (for Austin Hubbardâ€™s broken driveshaft lying on the inside of the homestretch), itâ€™s a done deal â€“ we probably would have won,â€ he added. â€œBut thatâ€™s part of the game. Thereâ€™s nothing you can do about it now. Hopefully weâ€™ll be the ones that catch a break like that when we go back there this week.â€
Coffey undoubtedly is due to catch a break at Brewerton. Last yearâ€™s WoO LMS event was just the latest in a series of frustrating defeats there for the former tour regular and Sweeteners Plus Racing teammate of 2006 WoO LMS champion Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. On a least three occasions heâ€™s had victory snatched from his grasp in DIRTcar big-block and 358-Modified action.
â€œIâ€™ve been leading going away in a big-block and broke a pinion,â€ Coffey said of his tough Brewerton fate. â€œIn the 358 (Modified) race during Super DIRT Week a couple years ago, I was actually leading at lap 74 (of the scheduled 75-lapper), but we had like three green-white-checkered restarts because of cautions and (Gary) Tomkins slid by me on the last one and I ran second.
â€œAnd one time (DIRTcar superstar) Alan Johnson and I were in a photo finish. It was debatable â€“ a lot of people think I won, but the transponder showed him two-thousandths of a second ahead.
â€œIâ€™ve had a bunch of them close calls there,â€ he concluded, â€œbut I have no wins in the book.â€
Coffey brings plenty of confidence back to Brewerton, which drew a standing-room-only crowd for last yearâ€™s historic WoO LMS event. Heâ€™s coming off a week spent racing on the Appalachian Mountain Speedweek and a seventh-place finish in the WoO LMS â€˜Great Northern Tourâ€™ opener last Tuesday night at Can-Am Motorsports Park in Lafargeville, N.Y.; he didnâ€™t cross the border for this weekendâ€™s Outlaw events scheduled at Merrittville Speedway, Autodrome Drummond and Cornwall Motor Speedway.
â€œI feel good about our chances,â€ said Coffey, whose closest brush with victory on the WoO LMS actually came on April 17, 2009, at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway when he blew a right-rear tire while leading on the final lap. â€œI think what weâ€™re doing at these places we know â€“ like Can-Am and Brewerton â€“ seems to work, so I donâ€™t see why what we did last year (at Brewerton) wonâ€™t work again.
â€œI do think, though, that what we did last year tire-wise might not give us the advantage it did again. Like at Can-Am (on June 15) â€“ last year (the WoO LMS) guys didnâ€™t know what to do because it was their first time there and we made a tire choice that really worked, but this year they were on the deal a little better. I think youâ€™re gonna see that at Brewerton too.
â€œI donâ€™t see us having as dominant a car as we had last year,â€ he conceded, â€œbut I donâ€™t see any reason that we canâ€™t be right there again and, if we catch some breaks, win the race.â€
A star-studded field of WoO LMS drivers will battle with Coffey on Tues., June 22, at Brewerton, including former champions McCreadie (a multiple-time DIRTcar big-block and 358-Modified winner there and sixth-place finisher in last yearâ€™s â€˜Dirt Demon 50â€™), Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va. (eighth at Brewerton last year after pitting to change a flat tire), Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky. (seventh last year) and Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. (12th last year).
The field will also include Outlaw regulars Fuller (the hottest driver on the â€˜Great Northern Tourâ€™), Clanton (10th in last yearâ€™s event after leading laps 1-12), Rick Eckert of York, Pa. (third), Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. (fifth from 21st), Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio (13th), Brent Robinson of Smithfield, Va. (14th), Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga. (15th), rookie Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del. (20th) and rookie Jill George of Cedar Lake, Iowa (first visit to Brewerton).
Drivers expected to challenge the Outlaws include DIRTcar Modified regulars (Fullerâ€™s Gypsum Express teammates) Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y. (ninth last year) and Larry Wight of Baldwinsville, N.Y. (DNQ), Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa. (11th last year), Ricky Elliott of Seaford, Del., Rick â€˜Boomâ€™ Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa., Jeff Rine of Danville, Pa., DIRTcar 358-Modified veteran Peter Mantha Jr. of Gatineau, Que., Greg Oakes of Franklinville, N.Y., and April Farmer of Livingston, Tenn.
Advance tickets are on sale for Brewertonâ€™s mid-week program, which also includes competition for the Mod Lite division. Reserved seats in the top three rows of sections A-P are priced at $35, while adult general admission tickets will sell for $30 each and children ages 14-and-under will be admitted for $10. All pit passes are $40 and will only be sold on race day.
No blankets will be allowed down in the grandstand to save seats until the gates open at 4:30 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to start at 6:20 p.m., with WoO LMS time trials beginning at 6:40 p.m. and racing set for a 7:30 p.m. green flag.
More information on the â€˜Dirt Demon 50â€™ is available by logging on to www.brewertonspeedway.com or calling the track office at or the speedway hotline at 315-668-RACE.
Brewerton Speedway is located at 60 U.S. Route 11 in Brewerton, N.Y., just off Interstate 81. Free parking and overnight camping will be offered.