Weedsport, NY — April 13, 2009 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing Northeast PR Director
*Jim Clarke Photo
With his latest bid for a first-ever overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Championship thwarted by inclement weather at Can-Am Motorsports Park on two occasions last season, the sun was shining on top title contender Danny O’Brien all winter as he locked up a new sponsorship package.
Now steering the Kendrick Racing no. 7star Global Warranty/Bicknell ride, the second-generation standout from Kingston, Ontario will get another chance to shrug off those distant demons when the 2009 Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Series gets underway at Can-Am on Saturday, April 18.
“Mr. DIRTcar and Can-Am are about the only two titles that have given me grief over the years,” figured O’Brien, 41, who owns 12 track titles in the DIRTcar 358-Modified ranks and stands sixth all-time with118 Small-Block feature wins. “At this point in my career I’m pretty much going out to win races, I’ve learned time and again what ever happens after that is out of my control.”
“Two times I led the points at Can-Am going into the last night and came up short. Last year rain took out two tour shows near home and that was the difference. I’ve got one of the best deals this year, just need some luck as anything can happen in this sport,” remarked O’Brien, who finished runner-up aboard the Kendrick Racing no. 55 mount in last April’s tour lid-lifter at Merrittville Speedway to set the stage for this year’s all-out series assault.
With reigning Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified points king Pete Bicknell staying closer to home on Saturday to conduct the final day of the annual BRP Driving School & Chassis Seminar, O’Brien is the early season front-runner to capture the elusive overall crown. He’ll be after the $4,000 top prize that awaits the winner of the 27th tour opener, with a star-studded field of Small-Block stars set to challenge the best from the north country.
Can-Am pit gates are scheduled to open at 3:30 p.m., grandstand seating begins at 4 o’clock with racing starting at 6:00 p.m. Adult General Admission is $20, Students 10-14 yrs. are $5 each, while 9 and under are free (Canadian money at par). All members of the military can enter at half price with proper ID.
The Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Championship Series gets underway at Can-Am the same time many top Small-Block teams will start accumulating points at their weekly home tracks. In 2009, each driver must make six DIRTcar weekly event starts at a single track to earn maximum home track bonus points of 360, which will then be added to actual Series points after Labor Day to determine the newest champion.
Falling victim to rain twice last autumn, Can-Am leads off the 358-Modified Series in April for the first time ever. With 1000 Islands RV Centre and Stover Bus Lines also adorning a pair of 7star machines equipped with a potent Pat Morrison-prepared powerplants, O’Brien is hoping to make the most of it by matching his lone tour triumph scored at the LaFargeville, New York half-miler in September of 2007.
“I’ve always had just one car and one motor to try and make the best of things,” divulged O’Brien, who begins his 23rd season of Modified racing this month. “This is the first time I’ve started out with two complete cars and engines so I’m certainly excited to get the season going.”
“Never had a corporate partner like this before either, something which I’m really looking forward to seeing how the season will pan out. I know I’ll be at Merrittville the first three weeks, and after that Brockville will be the only full-time track. Then we’ll just pick and choose, try some set-ups at different places and have some fun this summer,” added O’Brien, whose older brother Pat O’Brien, a four-time Mr. DIRTcar 358 points champ, and younger brother Tim O’Brien are also slated to sign in Saturday at Can-Am.
Expected to join the O’Brien clan on opening day will be many of last year’s top traveling teams led by Chad Brachmann, Carey Terrance, Mark Smoke, Tommy Flannigan and ’07 Mr. DIRTcar Mario Clair. The list of leading newcomers is anchored by Mike Mahaney and Bobby Herrington, along with recent Sportsman graduates Mark D’Ilario, Mat Williamson, Mike Bowman and James Michael Friesen.
For additional information, please contact 358-Modified Series Director Gaston Salvas (450/655-5022 or 514/817-2270; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) or DIRTcar NE Director Cory Reed (cell 315/224-9009) at the Weedsport office (315/834-6606) during normal business hours. In the meantime, log into the homepage at www.dirtcar.com to find out more about the Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Series as well as the entire circuit.
Track information can be found at www.canammotorsports.com or by contacting General Manager Chip Burdick at 315/778-3407. Can-Am Motorsports Park is located off of NYS Route 411 and can be reached from the east or west by traveling the NYS Thruway to I-81 (Exit 36). Take I-81 North or South to Rt. 411 (Exit 49), then head west four miles.
Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified Championship Series Opening Day Top-5s
DATE TRACK FIRST – SECOND – THIRD – FOURTH – FIFTH
4/26/08 Merrittville Dale Planck – Danny O’Brien – Chad Brachmann – Todd Burley – Pete Bicknell
8/20/07 Drummond Brett Hearn – David Hebert – Kayle Robidoux – Mario Clair – Todd Stone
9/9/06 Lebanon Valley Andy Bachetti – Alan Johnson – JR Heffner – Brian McDonald – Kenny Tremont
8/1/05 Merrittville Alan Johnson – Brett Hearn – Pete Bicknell – Larry Lampman,Jr. – Matt Sheppard
4/2/04 Lowe’s Brett Hearn – Pat Ward – Richie Pratt,Jr. – Tim Fuller – Alan Johnson
4/4/03 Lowe’s Jack Johnson – Billy Decker – Alan Johnson – Tim Fuller – Mike Perrotte
6/19/02 Utica-Rome Danny Johnson – Jack Johnson – Vic Coffey – Jeff Trombley – Mitch Gibbs
5/13/01 Utica-Rome Danny Johnson – Pete Bicknell – Steve Paine – Tim Fuller – Brett Hearn
5/14/00 Utica-Rome Danny Johnson – Todd Burley – Ron Holmes – Pat Ward – Tim Clemons
6/30/99 Brockville Brett Hearn – Steve Paine – Luke Plante – Pat O’Brien – Tim Hindley
6/11/98 Orange County Kenny Tremont – Jeff Heotzler – Tim McCreadie – Andy Bachetti – Tom Hindley
5/21/97 Orange County Danny Johnson – Brett Hearn – Jeff Heotzler – Bobby Hayes,Jr. – Alan Johnson
5/22/96 Orange County Frank Cozze – Kenny Tremont – Alan Johnson – Frank Jashembowski – Jerry Higbie,Jr.
6/27/95 Accord Brett Hearn – Kenny Tremont – Danny Johnson – Rick Wilson – Pete Bicknell
6/30/94 Orange County Danny Johnson – Kenny Tremont – Frank Cozze – Pete Bicknell – Frank Jashembowski
6/29/93 Frogtown Kenny Tremont – Ovide Doiron – Tim Fuller – Doug Carlyle – Jimmy Hauser
9/6/92 Cornwall Rich Ricci,Jr. – Dave Heaslip – Tim Fuller – Laurent Ladouceur – Marcel LaFrance
9/1/91 Cornwall Pete Bicknell – Pat O’Brien – Laurent Ladouceur – Rick Wilson – Vince Quenneville,Jr.
9/2/90 Cornwalll Doug Carlyle – Ovide Doiron – Laurent Ladouceur – Danny O’Brien – Dave Camara
8/6/89 Cornwall Mark Hitchcock – Rick Wilson – Laurent Ladouceur – Sandy MacIntosh – Billy VanPelt
8/16/88 Frogtown Pat O’Brien – Bud Christmann – Danny O’Brien – Ovide Doiron – Dick Nephew
9/3/87 Woodhull Curt VanPelt – John Moravec – Doug Carlyle – Lance Yonge – Walt Mitchell
8/14/86 Edelweiss Marcel LaFrance – Jeff Heotzler – Robbie Green – Mal Lane – Doug Howard
7/3/85 NYS Fairgrounds Lin Hough – Pete Bicknell – Jimmy Horton – Jeff Heotzler – Robbie Green
7/3/84 NYS Fairgrounds Jimmy Horton – Richie Burgess – Jeff Heotzler – Glenn Smith – Ralph Heotzler
7/3/83 NYS Fairgrounds Pete Bicknell – Mike Ricci – Bobby Hearn – Tony Corcoran – Jeff Heotzler
DIRTcar Racing Northeast main office is located in Weedsport, New York on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds www.cayugacountyfairspeedway.com, home of the 2009 DIRTcar All-Star Weekend, July 17-19, featuring Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series events for Sportsman and Big-Block Modifieds in the richest short-track show of its kind in the nation — the $20,000-to-win Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series “DIRTcar All-Star 100” on Sunday, July 19.
Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket retailer of parts, accessories, batteries, and maintenance items in the United States, serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets As of April 19, 2008, the Company operated 3,291 stores in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Additional information about the Company, employment opportunities, customer services, and on-line shopping for parts and accessories can be found on the Company’s web site at www.advanceautoparts.com.
The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Advance Auto Parts, Hoosier Racing Tire www.hoosiertire.com and VP Racing Fuels www.vpracingfuels.com. Promotional partners include Rite Aid Corporation www.riteaid.com, Dig Safely New York www.digsafelynewyork.com and the University of Northwestern Ohio www.unoh.com and the contingency sponsors are Bars Leaks www.barsproducts.com, Bert Transmission www.berttransmission.com, Bicknell Racing Products www.bicknellracingproducts.com, Bilstein Shocks www.bilstein.com, Brodix Cylinder Heads www.brodix.com, Ferris Industries www.ferrisindustries.com, Integra Shocks www.integrashocksandsprings.com, Intercomp www.intercomp-racing.com, KSE Racing Products www.kse-racing.com, Motorsports Safety Systems www.motorsportssafetysystems.com, Penske Shocks, www.penskeshocks.com, Racing Electronics www.racingelectronics.com, Rislone Oil Stabilizer www.barsproducts.com and Wrisco Industries www.wrisco.com.