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Raabe Opens Sportsman Series Title Defense Saturday At Black Rock

Chris Raabe
Chris Raabe - Rick Young Photo

Weedsport, NYApril 7, 2010 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing Northeast PR Director

Only Russ Hefti has got it done in the past following the Sportsman trail while legendary drivers Brett Hearn, Jack Johnson, Bob McCreadie, Alan Johnson, Will Cagle and Danny Johnson have each pulled off the feat in Big-Block/Small-Block Modified racing over the last four decades.

And that is to earn Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championships in consecutive years of open-wheel racing on the Northeastern circuit.

While Western New York full-fender standout Pete Stefanski has captured the past four Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock titles, Canadian chauffeur Chris Raabe is on the verge of wearing the overall Sportsman crown for a third straight season. Something that has never been accomplished since the blueprints for DIRTcar Racing in the Northeast were first unveiled in 1976.

“Defending our title is obviously the ultimate goal, another 20 win season would be something nice to accomplish, too” remarked Raabe, as he prepared to open defense of his coveted championship this weekend in New York State. “We’ve managed to improve every year so at this stage we just don’t want to drop back.”

Raabe is back under the spotlight Saturday, April 10 when Black Rock Speedway hosts its traditional Mr. DIRTcar Series opener to kick off the 2010 Sportsman campaign. The popular Yates County 4/10-miler, located on Route 14A just outside the village of Dundee, N.Y., comes to life for round one of the 14-race tour with a $1,000 top prize waiting for the 30-lap feature winner.

Black Rock pit gates are slated to swing open at 9am followed by 9:15 inspection with practice beginning at 10:30 and the first qualifying heat taking the green flag at 1 o’clock. The main grandstands open for seating at 11 am.

Fresh off a five-win season of tour competition, Raabe is hoping for the same results in 2010. Yet new this year will be a joint effort with north country Modified mainstay Perry Francis, as former team owner Garry McColman recently turned over the operation to Chris and his father Mike in their record-setting pursuit.

“We’ve still got the same team intact and continue to do all the maintenance,” confirmed Raabe, 19, an honor student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where he is taking courses toward a Mechanical Engineering degree. “Garry will still be marketing us and traveling to a lot of events, only we’re sharing all the bills with Perry now. We used to help Perry’s nephew racing go-carts and last year at Super DIRT Week put this deal together, but we’re always looking (sponsorship).”

Francis’ brand new two-tone C&B Enterprises #01 Teo Pro Car entry will also carry backing from Sunrise Racing and Genesis Racing Shocks as Raabe searches for valuable points on tour as well as running both Mohawk Int’l Raceway (Fri.) and Cornwall Motor Speedway (Sun.) on a weekly basis. Team Raabe’s proven black Teo mount from last year will be saved for Saturday shows throughout the summer at Brockville Ontario Speedway.

“We’ve never run Cornwall or Mohawk for points so this will be a new challenge,” noted Raabe, who closed out the ’09 campaign leading the DIRTcar Sportsman ranks with 19 feature wins while claiming track high-point crowns at Can-Am Motorsports Park and Thunder Alley Speedpark. The ‘Teenage Tornado’ from Napanee, Ont. currently stands 12th all-time with 50 Sportsman wins, an even half-dozen tour triumphs scored the past two years. “I’m looking forward to getting back to Cornwall, its always been a favorite with the banking and multi-grooves.”

When Black Rock welcomes back the top DIRTcar Sportsman teams to wine country for the April opener, Raabe will looking to avenge past performances in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region. Failing to qualify in the 2008 tour lid-lifter, Raabe returned last spring and finished 9th after being relegated to using his guaranteed status to fall into 27th position on the 31-car starting grid.

“We’ve just never had any luck at Black Rock,” stated Raabe, who is ready to embark upon his sixth season in DIRTcar Northeast’s entry-level open-wheel class. He scored his first victory in 2005 at Brockville at the age of 14. “Poor draws, things breaking and having bad track position have all been factors in the outcome. The biggest thing is maintenance and we’ve worked hard over the winter so we’re looking forward to getting another chance.”

Also hungry to advance in his second opportunity traveling the Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series full-time will be 2009 runner-up Ryan Susice. The second-generation racer from Ransomville, NY. copped his inaugural series win last September at Canandaigua Speedway then returned to victory lane in October at both Fulton Speedway and Rolling Wheels Raceway during Super DIRT Week.

Joining Raabe and Susice on tour will be Top-5 runners from a year ago Justin Wright (4th) and Dan Wiesner (5th), both big movers in the final point standings. Piffard, N.Y. pilot Wright jumped five spots from the previous year with his first champ trail victory coming during the inaugural DIRTcar All-Star Weekend in July at Cayuga County fair Speedway. Central New Yorker Wiesner carved out fifth-place finishes in four tour events held at Canandaigua, Black Rock and Rolling Wheels Raceway Park to climb into fifth following a 12th-place tally on the final points chart in ’08.

For additional information, please contact Sportsman Series Competition Director Chip Burdick (315/778-3407; e-mail chip_burdick@yahoo.com) or DIRTcar NE Competition Director Joe Skotnicki (704/796-4566; jskotnicki@dirtcar.com) during normal business hours. In the meantime log into the homepage at www.dirtcar.com to find out more about the entire circuit, and for specific track information please contact the Black Rock Speedway office at 607/243-8686 or visit www.blackrockspeedway.com.

2010 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Schedule
*All events subject to change.
DAY-DATE TRACK LOCATION
Sat-Apr 10 Black Rock Speedway Dundee,NY
Sat-Apr 17 Can-Am Motorsports Park LaFargeville,NY
Sun-Jun 13 Cornwall Motor Speedway Cornwall,ONT
Wed-Jun 23 Mohawk International Raceway Akwesasne,NY
Sat-Jul 17 Cayuga County Fair Speedway Weedsport,NY
Fri-Sep 10 Ransomville Speedway Ransomville,NY
Sat-Sep 11 Merrittville Speedway Thorold,ONT
Sun-Sep 12 Humberstone Speedway Pt.Colborne,ONT
Sat-Sep 18 Canandaigua Speedway Canandaigua,NY
Sat-Sep 25 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park Elbridge,NY
Fri-Oct 1 Fulton Speedway Fulton,NY
Fri-Oct 8 Rolling Wheels Raceway Park Elbridge,NY
Sat-Oct 9 New York State Fairgrounds Syracuse,NY
Sat-Oct 16 Brockville Ontario Speedway Brockville,ONT

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.allstar100weekend.com and 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 the University of Northwestern Ohio www.unoh.com and Chizmark & Larson Insurance www.chizmarklarson.com, and contingency sponsors are Bicknell Racing Products www.bicknellracingproducts.com, Bilstein Shocks www.bilstein.com, KSE Racing Products www.kse-racing.com, Motorsports Safety Systems www.motorsportssafetysystems.com, MSD Ignition www.msdignition.com, Penske Shocks, www.penskeshocks.com, Racing Electronics www.racingelectronics.com, Vicci Racing Apparel www.vicci.com and Wrisco Industries www.wrisco.com

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