UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY MODIFIED REGULARS MAKE PRESENCE FELT WITH STRONG EFFORTS IN TIME TRIALS AT SUPER DIRT WEEK
VERNON, NY- When the final event of the 2016 season was completed this past Tuesday, the focus for drivers, crews, and fans alike shifted to the 45th running of Super DIRT Week. For the first time since the inception of the event, Super DIRT Week is being held at a different venue than the New York State Fairgrounds and with the 2016 version being held on the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario at the Oswego Speedway.
Despite the new location, a familiar name has claimed the pole for the Bud Light 300 which will be held this Sunday, October 9. Matt Sheppard, the 2016 Utica-Rome Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified track champion, bested a huge field of DIRTcar Big Block Modified competitors in time trials as he toured the now clay covered 5/8ths mile track in 22.783 seconds to gain the pole award. In DIRTcar 358-Modified time trials, Sheppard was fourth quick. Both efforts were good enough to guarantee starting spots in Saturday’s Riccelli-Northern Salute to the Troops 150 and Sunday’s Bud Light 300.
While Sheppard was grabbing headlines with pole winning effort for the Bud Light 300, other Utica-Rome Speedway Modified regulars were also making their presence felt. Third place point man Danny Varin raised a few eyebrows with his Bud Light 300 qualifying effort as he tripped the clock at 23.283 seconds, good enough for the fourth spot in Sunday’s main event.
Marc Johnson, sixth place in the final standings at the Vernon oval, timed fifth quick in 358-Modifieds time trials at 23.087 which was good enough to guarantee him a starting spot in Saturday’s main event. Johnson, doing double duty, was 12th quick in Bud Light 300 qualifying and will have to try and secure a starting spot through tonight’s Friday Night Lights Triple 30 qualifiers.
Runner-up in the Utica-Rome Speedway standings, Larry Wight was eighth fastest for the Big Block Modified time trials with a time of 23.281 while he was 13th quick in the 358-Modifieds with at 23.578. He will attempt to land starting spots for both main events in tonight’s qualifiers.
Alan Johnson is also doing double duty, timing 23rd in the Big Blocks (23.729) and 16th in his 358-Modified effort (23.420). He finished the season in the ninth spot in the final standings.
Fourth place point finisher Pat Ward is another driver assaulting the Oswego clay in both the Big Block and 358-Modifieds, with his best qualifying effort coming in the Riccelli-Northern Salute to the Troops qualifying where was 12th quick at 23.379 seconds. In Bud Light 300 time trials, Ward was 30th fastest at a time of 23.918. Like Wight, Alan Johnson and Ward will attempt to secure starting spots in the main events through tonight’s Friday Nights Lights program.