Weedsport, NY — December 5, 2009 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing Northeast PR Director
The stars aligned once more for open-wheel standout Chris Raabe as the talented 18 year-old from Napanee, Ontario successfully defended his overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship, becoming just the second driver to accomplish the feat in 20 seasons. By October, DIRTcar Northeast’s youngest champion in 34 years had set fast time in Xtreme Lubricants qualifying on two occasions and registered a tour-best 10 top-5 finishes to capture the coveted crown for owner Garry McColman in his no. 01 Scott Industrial Services-Kingston RV Centre-TyRoute Communication/TEO entry. The ‘Teenage Tornado’ ended 2009 atop the win chart for a second straight year with 19 victories accounted for at six different tracks to increase his DIRTcar career count to an even 50, also netting a pair of individual track titles at Can-Am and Thunder Alley.
First-year series follower Ryan Susice copped his inaugural series win in September at Canandaigua Speedway then returned to victory lane in October at Fulton Speedway and Rolling Wheels Raceway during Super DIRT Week, yet the 19 year-old from Ransomville, N.Y. was still forced to settle for runner-up honors in his career year traveling the DIRTcar Northeast circuit. Recording 14 Top-10 finishes in 16 series shows after falling short qualifying for the Black Rock Speedway opener, Susice rallied to finish 45 points back in the final Mr. DIRTcar standings collecting a pair of Xtreme Lubricants Fast Time awards. Racking up a dozen feature wins in ’09 aboard the potent Investor’s Service Company no. K38 Phipac Packaging/Bicknell machine, the second-generation pilot garnered track titles at both Canandaigua and Ransomville speedways.
Among the most highly touted full-fender drivers to make a successful transition into the open-wheel ranks, Jipp Ortiz is another second-generation star from Ransomville able to grab some spotlight after a solid 3rd-place showing in the overall Hoosier-VP Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship. Entering the season with all seven weekend victories registered at Ransomville Speedway, Jipper piled up a handful of front-five finishes and four more in the Top-10 while adding an Xtreme Lubricants Fast Time at Rolling Wheels on the Labor day. A three-time Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock titlist during the new millennium, Ortiz has quickly become just as adept steering his familiar blue Pizza Logs No. 0 Bicknell mount around the Northeast Sportsman circuit, adding a pair of victories on tour for the first time at Canandaigua and Rolling Wheels to complement two more regular season checkered flags in ’09 at Can-Am Motorsports Park and RWR.
A solid slate of series shows and weekend stops at Cayuga County Fair and Ransomville speedways provided plenty of experience for Piffard, N.Y. pilot Justin Wright as he moved up five spots to reach 4th-place in the year-end Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman rankings. Among his total of 11 Top-10 tour tallies in 17 outings, Wright made his first cmap trail victory a memorable one as it came during the inaugural DIRTcar All-Star Weekend Championship in July at Cayuga County, eventually ending the 2009 campaign third in track points at both Cayuga Co. (3 wins) and Ransomville (2 wins) wheeling the Mercer Milling Company no. 19W Yager Bros. Trucking/Bicknell ride into the winner’s circle at both sites.
Central New York chauffeur Dan Wiesner was another big mover in the points chase, rounding out the final Top-5 aboard his Monroe Wheelchair Racing no. 66 Safety Awareness Solutions/Troyer car after filing in 12th just one year ago. The Canandaigua Speedway mainstay carved out fifth-place finishes in four tour events at Canandaigua, Black Rock and Rolling Wheels, with the Geneva, N.Y. racer taking two checkered flags at the Ontario County Fairgrounds’ ‘Land of Legends’ oval during the summer.
The second of five first-time winners on tour this season, B.J. Willard emerged as a double threat in 2009 as the third-generation driver from St. Catharines, Ont. ranked sixth on the Mr. DIRTcar chart and contended weekly at Humberstone Speedway where he finished 3rd in points with two feature wins. Adding four Top-10 tour finishes in his 16 events strapped into the CAA Niagara Battery Assist no. 77jr. Speck Trucking/Bicknell mount, Willard continued a family tradition with his inaugural series victory taken at Merrittville Speedway — where his father Bill Sr. was a top runner as was his aunt Tammy, the only female to win a Modified main at the Thorold, Ont. oval; grandfather Alan was also a top- flight racer in the track’s early days.
Kicking off the ’09 Sportsman Series with a fine 4th-place finish at Black Rock Speedway in New York’s Southern Tier, Adam Turner stuck around long enough to make the starting grid in all 17 shows that culminated on his home soil at Brockville Ontario Speedway where he figured fifth in the track standings. The personable Picton, Ont. pilot added two more Top-10 feature finishes north of the border at Cornwall Motor Speedway and Humberstone Speedway, helping carry the Paul Turner Auto Repair no. 92 Bicknell Team driver to seventh on the final points chart.
Following a near career-ending accident in the September series showdown at Canandaigua Speedway, Canadian chauffeur Greg Panunte missed a handful of late-season events yet still finished eighth in his bid for the elusive Mr. DIRTcar points crown. Runner-up last season steering the Gaston’s Auto Sales no. 99P Montgomery Gas, Heating & Cooling-Brian’s Tire Repair/Bicknell machine, the Port Colborne, Ont. veteran netted two Xtreme Lubricants Fast Time awards and posted four Top-5 feature finishes while winning eight weekly shows at Humberstone (5) and Merrittville (3) —finishing 2nd in points at both— to improve his DIRTcar NE count to 41 since 1995.
First-year tour traveler Mark Chiddy followed in the tire tracks of fellow Western New York drivers and ended his maiden voyage 9th in the overall Hoosier-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship, qualifying for 16 extra-distance events along the way. An 8th-place best series showing was logged at Cayuga County during the inaugural All-Star Weekend while the Boston, N.Y. racer chased points throughout the summer at both Canandaigua (14th) and Ransomville (17th) speedways.
Beginning the year with high hopes accompanied by an opening round victory in the ‘Rock Launcher 75’ at Black Rock Speedway, Sammy Reakes IV faded just as quickly with just one more Top-5 finish registered in the 10 events the Palermo, N.Y. pilot was able to qualify for during the remainder of the season. Closing out the Top-10 in overall Mr. DIRTcar points, Reakes earned an Xtreme Lubricants Fast Time award at Cornwall behind the wheel of his no. 17K Whittaker’s Trophy Auto Sales/Bicknell ride, crossing the line fourth in the ‘Fourth of July’ special held at Brewerton Speedway just two days prior his departure for Canada.
Mirroring his 11th-place finish from last year in the overall points hunt, Eric Giguere notched his only front-five at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park (3rd) on Labor Day wheeling the Safety Awareness Solutions no. 67G WB Automotive/TEO mount for a second straight year around the DIRTcar NE circuit. The Canandaigua Speedway regular from Waterloo, N.Y. added two more Top-10 tour tallies at Brewerton (7th) and Ransomville (7th) over the summer, making the starting field in 11 of the 17 events that offered champ trail points in 2009.
Recognized behind the wheel of the Clarence Henry Coach no. 24 Powis Excavating Bicknell car, Brandon Sweet also qualified for 11 Series shows with three Top-10 finishes to help the Watertown, N.Y. driver salvage the final point fund payoff spot of 12th in the ’09 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman standings. A solid front-runner at Can-Am (3 wins, 4th pts.) and Thunder Alley (2 wins, 2nd pts.) throughout the season, Sweet posted a tour best finish in the runner-up slot at Cornwall in July, sandwiched between a 9th-place at Can-Am in April and 6th at Rolling Wheels in September.
Black Rock Speedway leads off the 2010 Mr. DIRTcar Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Championship with the first round of the 21st Annual Sportsman Series slated for Saturday, April 10.
2009 Overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Point Standings (FINAL)
Rank No. Driver Total Series Bonus Diff Wins Top-5 Top-10 Starts
1 01 Chris Raabe 1651 1291 360 0 5 10 12 17
2 38k Ryan Susice 1606 1246 360 -45 3 9 14 16
3 0 Jipp Ortiz 1494 1134 360 -157 2 5 9 17
4 11Jr Justin Wright 1434 1074 360 -217 1 5 11 17
5 66 Dan Wiesner 1316 956 360 -335 0 4 7 17
6 77Jr B.J. Willard 1282 922 360 -369 1 1 4 16
7 92 Adam Turner 1249 889 360 -402 0 1 3 17
8 99p Greg Panunte 1243 883 360 -408 0 4 7 12
9 54 Mark Chiddy 1156 796 360 -495 0 0 1 16
10 17K Sammy Reakes IV 1096 736 360 -555 1 2 5 11
11 67G Eric Giguere 1042 682 360 -609 0 1 3 11
12 24x Brandon Sweet 1040 680 360 -611 0 1 3 11
13 M1 Dave Marcuccilli 994 634 360 -657 0 3 3 10
14 74 Matt Billings 993 633 360 -658 1 3 4 10
15 29g Steve Gray 903 543 360 -748 0 3 4 7
16 83x Tim Sears Jr 810 450 360 -841 1 2 2 7
17 5 Don Spatorico 807 447 360 -844 1 3 4 6
18 28 Alan Fink 794 434 360 -857 0 0 4 7
19 38s Luke Whitteker 792 432 360 -859 0 0 2 8
20 55 Matt Hulsizer 752 392 360 -899 0 2 3 5
21 26h Luke Carleton 731 431 300 -920 0 0 3 7
22 777 Tyler McPherson 726 366 360 -925 0 3 4 5
23 17D Tom Juhl Jr. 714 354 360 -937 0 2 4 5
24 20x Kevin Ridley 700 340 360 -951 0 0 0 5
25 62 Rick Bellante 699 339 360 -952 0 0 0 5
DIRTcar Racing Northeast main office is located in Weedsport, New York on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds, home of DIRTcar All-Star Weekend in July. DIRTcar Northeast’s crown jewel event —Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse runs annually in October featuring Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship Series events for Big-Block Modified, 358-Modified, Sportsman and Pro Stock divisions. Ticket and schedule information is available by contacting the Weedsport office (315/834-6606) during the day or logging into www.superdirtweekonline.com anytime.
The Big-Block Super DIRTcar Series is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors 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.