By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast PR Director
The Gater Racing News/Motorsports Expo 30 needed an extra day to complete but it was well worth the wait for go-cart graduate Jeremy wilder as the Fort Plain, New York driver went on to capture his first Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series victory Saturday to close out the Modified Sportsman portion of the 23rd Schneider Bros. Weekend at Fulton Speedway.
“This is awesome!,” beamed Wilder, 18, who not only scored his first career DIRTcar Sportsman win in his third season, it was his initial DIRTcar effort behind the wheel of a crate motor-powered car. The Fonda Speedway regular picked up three more wins at the Track of Champions in the ‘open’ division this season. “This is what they call the ‘Budget’ Sportsman (class) back home and a lot of these guys I’ve never even raced against.”
“I’ve never run (Fulton) before either but I’ve watched a lot of races here and helped out some guys here so its pretty awesome to win on a weekend like this. From the racing I did with these (crate) drivers they all seemed like really good guys. I just have to thank Burky, Jarett and my dad (Kelly), we were kinda short on help this weekend but it really paid off,” added Wilder, after making the successful maiden voyage in DIRTcar Racing for car owners Jeff and Jerry Jones. Enrolled in Business Administration as a freshman at Herkimer (NY) Community College, Wilder is now three of four in the Jones no. 20J Fuccillo Chevrolet-backed TEO Pro entry since teaming up in August. Wilder recently signed up a no. 22J Bicknell entry for DIRTcar 358-Modified competition during Super DIRT Week.
Wilder adjusted quickly against the new competition, finishing second in the first of seven qualifying heats on Friday before rain forced officials to re-schedule the 30-lap main event for Saturday morning. Heavy showers overnight further hampered the work of the Fulton grounds crew and pushed the Sportsman feature from 11 a.m. to the early afternoon with the first green flag finally flying at 1:50 p.m.
After the top-two heat race finishers re-drew, Wilder filed into third on the 32-car starting grid Saturday with only Western New York traveler Don Spatorico failing to return the second day. Canandaigua Speedway runner Dan Wiesner selected the pole yet his outside front row partner Mark D’Ilario, who made the haul east from Smithville, Ontario, jumped ahead early with Wilder moving past Wiesner for the runner-up slot with five laps complete.
Casey Williams slid off the track down the back chute forcing out the first yellow flag on lap seven, and turn four contact resulted in Billy Clark Jr. spinning his mount to require a second slowdown on the ensuing restart. Wilder needed just one more time around the smooth Fulton 3/8-miler to duck under D’Ilario exiting turn two and forge the final lead change before setting his sights on the $1,700 top prize.
Back-to-back caution periods kept the field in check as Holley Hard Luck Award recipient John Pietrowicz had a tire go down on lap 12 and Mike Entwistle, who was the odd man out in a four-wide front stretch skirmish, came to a stop in turn one with another flat left-rear tire on lap 13.
While Wilder opened up a commanding lead out front, 2008 DIRTcar Racing NorthEast top rookie contender Dave Marcuccilli was on the move. The Cayuga, New York pilot darted from fourth to second using the two mid-race cautions to his advantage and at the halfway point was followed by D’Ilario, two-time defending Fulton points champion Jeremy Pitcher and opening round heat winner Brandon Sweet who started 10th after the pre-race draw.
The order remained intact with Wilder extending his lead to eight car-lengths over Marcuccilli at the 20-lap mark, yet heavy traffic with still five to go cut the margin in half and offer a glimmer of hope. The outcome was clouded further when current Mr. DIRTcar Championship runner-up Wiesner suddenly broke on lap 28 and came to a stop in turn four to afford a last-chance bid for Wilder’s nearest challengers.
But back under green, Wilder erased any doubts as he cruised out to a five car-length victory over Marcuccilli, Pitcher and a hard-charging Alan Fink, with D’Ilario holding on to round out the front-five. With Wiesner falling out of the top-10 after the late-race mishap, despite finishing 19th teenager Chris Raabe was still able to pad his lead and the Napanee, Ontario speedster heads into Super DIRT Week with a 65-point advantage over Wiesner in the chase for the overall Mr. DIRTcar crown.
The next event in the Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series is slated for Can-Am Motorsports Park on Wednesday, October 8 as part of the Super DIRT Week XXXVII festivities.
Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Race #12 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Fulton Speedway, October 4, 2008 ‘Gater Racing News/Motorsports Expo 30’ Event Summary
FIN STR CAR# DRIVER
1 3 20j Jeremy Wilder/Fort Plain,NY($1,700)
2 6 m1 David Marcuccilli/Cayuga,NY
3 5 14 Jeremy Pitcher/Fulton,NY
4 11 17f Alan Fink/Pennellville,NY
5 2 08 Mark D’Ilario/Smithville,ONT
6 10 24 Brandon Sweet/Watertown,NY
7 4 17t Todd Town/Jordan,NY
8 18 38s Ryan Susice/Ransomville,NY
9 21 06j Jordan Bennett/Pennellville,NY
10 15 67g Eric Giguere/Waterloo,NY
11 20 26h Luke Carleton/Port Colborne,ONT
12 30 11jr. Justin Wright/Piffard,NY
13 24 777 Tyler McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT
14 32 52 James Friesen/St.Catharines,ONT
15 25 1x Casey Williams/Vernon,NY
16 7 4 Daryl Hilkert/Potter,NY
17 33 17d Tom Juhl/Weedsport,NY
18 12 74 Matt Billings/Brockville,ONT
19 17 01 Chris Raabe/Napanee,ONT
20 19 3k A.J. Kingsley/Fulton,NY
21 23 6 Mat Williamson/St.Catharines,ONT
22 26 83x Tim Sears Jr./Central Square,NY
23 28 99 Billy Clark Jr./Fulton,NY
24 31 99p Greg Panunte/Port Colborne,ONT
25 13 85 John Pietrowicz/Phoenix,NY
26 22 97 Steve Savoie/Acton Vale,QUE
27 9 19 Bob Buono/Dundee,NY
28 14 m93 Mike Entwistle/Locke,NY
29 16 17m Mark Olmstead Jr./Elbridge,NY
30 8 38 Jason Parkhurst/Oswego,NY
31 1 66 Dan Wiesner/Geneva,NY
32 27 71 Mike Bowman/St.Catharines,ONT
*DNS 29 5 Don Spatorico/Ransomville,NY
*Did not return after qualifying Friday.
DID NOT QUALIFY(38)
20-Sean McCarthy/Port Byron,NY
74x-Jim Evans Jr./Memphis,NY
84jr.-Claude Hutchings Jr./Saquoit,NY
LAP LEADERS: D’lario (1-7), Wilder (8-30).
CAUTIONS: 5 (lap 7, lap 7, lap 12, lap 13, lap 28).
HEAT WINNERS: Sweet, Town,Billings, Hilkert, Parkhurst, Marcuccilli, Fink.
CONSI WINNERS: Savoie, Williamson, T.McPherson, Williams.
SYRACUSE TOWN MECHANICAL 30 QUALIFIER: Jeremy Wilder.
HOLLEY HARD LUCK: John Pietrowicz.
CARS ENTERED: 71.
NEXT EVENT: Can-Am Motorsports Park – October 10, 2008.
Heat Races (8 laps, 3 transferred to feature, top 2 went to re-draw)
#1: Sweet, Wilder, Spano (DSQ), Giguere, Sears, Hagan, Gamble, Kane, T.Gould, Trapp.
#2: Town, Entwistle, Olmstead, Williamson, Dixon, Shumway, Brokaw, Wheeler, Hoogwerf, Evans.
#3: Billings, Wiesner, Raabe, T.McPherson, Tesoriero, M.Fowler, Conklin, Kapuscinski, S.Fowler, Carner.
#4: Hilkert, D’Ilario, Susice, Juhl, Gray, Bowman, Spatorico, Sellen, Garrison, Hulsizer.
#5: Parkhurst, Pitcher, Kingsley, Savoie, Williams, Friesen, Wright, C.McPherson, Kimball.
#6: Marcuccilli, Buono, Carleton, Newton, Panunte, Kline, McCarthy, Humphreys, Mulikin, Hutchings, G.Gould.
#7: Fink, Pietrowicz, Bennett, Clark, Townsend, Ferguson, Davis, Nickerson, Occhino, Schneider, McCready.
Consis (8 laps, 2 transferred to feature)
#1: Susice, Sears, Wright, Panunte, M.Fowler, Schneider, Dixon, Kapuscinski, Ferguson, Carner, Mulikin, Nickerson.
#2: Williamson, Bowman, Newton, Tesoriero, Hulsizer, Sellen, McCarthy, S.Fowler, Hutchings, T.Gould, Hoogwerf, Townsend, Spano (DNS).
#3: T.McPherson, Clark, Gray, Conklin, C.McPherson, Davis, Kane, G.Gould, Trapp, Friesen, Garrison (DNS).
#4: Williams, Spatorico, Juhl, Hagan, Kline, Wheeler, Shumway, Brokaw, Humphreys, Evans, Occhino, Gamble, Kimball, McCready (DNS).
Guarantees: Wright, Panunte, Friesen.