Sunday, April 26 - It was a beautiful day in the Northeast with the temperatures soaring into the 90’s. This is not good if you are staging a dirt track race starting in the late afternoon. The Big Diamond track preparers tried their best to dig up the track and let the water soak in but the lack of humidity did not help the soaking process. I think the big problem with the track surface at Big Diamond is the lack of quality clay and if you don’t have something good to start with then it is almost impossible to produce stellar results. Enough said.
The action got underway early at 5:50 with the time trials. We really like the DIRTcar procedure of running four or five cars at the same time in three lap timed runs. It cuts down on the time factor of individual time trials and the boredom of such. By 6:08 the time trial process was completed for the 38 car field with Tim Fuller, the Lucas Oil Late Model Series winner the night before at Hagerstown, recording the fast time in his new ride in the #74. It was already dusty during time trials. The track crew worked the track the remainder of the evening but to no avail as the dust returned in quick order once the work was done. Anyhow what followed was four qualifying heats with the top three finishers entering the draw to determine the top 12 starting positions for tonight’s first Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar series race of 2009. A few of the heats were interesting with Brett Hearn, Duane Howard, Time Fuller and Alan Johnson winning them. The starting time for racing was exactly at the advertised starting time of 6:30 with heat action completed by 7:01. The two consies quickly followed and all qualifying was completed by 7:45.
What was left to run was the Spring Fever 75 which took the green flag at 8:09. I would like to tell you that it was a great race but that would be lying. By this time the track was black, slick and one grooved and local favorite, Duane Howard, took advantage of his first starting position and checked out on the field in his Chad Sinon Troyer # 4. He held the point through five caution periods and streaked under the checkered flag at 8:51 for his first ever Super DIRTcar win. Trailing Howard to the line was Jeff Brownell Jr., in his best Super DIRTcar finish, and he started third on the grid. Brownell has impressed us as we have now seen him twice this year, here and in Florida, and he has finished in the top five in both races. Brownell also has won the first two race of the year at the Glen Ridge Speedway near Fonda, NY. Trailing the top two at the finish was fifth starter, Brett Hearn, with cousins Jimmy Phelps (2nd starter) and Ryan Phelps(6th starter) rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Billy Pauch Jr. (13th), Danny Johnson(8th), Alan Johnson (11th), Gary Tomkins (12th) and Frankie Caprara (14th). As you can see there was little passing and the show was lackluster. Well, after 23 shows I guess you are going to get a dud once in a while.
The track did not hold up but that was expected and no big surprise but we thought maybe the surface would not lockdown and there might be two grooves or more to race on. Well I guess not tonight.
In closing I would like to pass along our condolences to the family of Doug Mattison. Back in the 80’s Pat and I along with Kerry Meitzler, the current track promoter at Kutztown, and his wife made a New York excursion and one of the tracks we stopped at was the Canandaigua Speedway. That night we had all been impressed by the hard driving of a guy by the name of Doug Mattison. We were staying nearby so after the races we ventured into the pit area and came across the #91. Kerry loves to talk and so did Doug!!! We all must have spent hours chatting about everything in racing and by the end of the evening when we bid farewell we had all the problems of the entire racing world solved. Most importantly we had made a new friend and what a jewel of a friend he was. That one evening spent with Doug will forever be cherished and he will sorely be missed by everyone. From what I understand talking to other racing people who know Doug better than us he had the same effect on everyone. Such a person is a rarity and should hold a special place in your heart. The Penn Yan flyer has moved on to a better place. Rest in peace, our friend, Rest in Peace!!!