Being the fastest Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified qualifier at the New York State Fairgrounds is a prestigious accomplishment. Being named the recipient of the award during the final appearance at the “Moody Mile” makes it even more special.
Larry Wight, from nearby Baldwinsville, New York, was the fastest in Thursday morning practice, which meant he would be the final driver to go out to qualify. After the first time-trial lap, it did not appear that he could beat the quick time set by defending race winner Stewart Friesen. Then, after crossing the start-finish the second time, the No. 99 shot to the top of the charts with a time of 29.154 seconds for his first pole at the “Moody Mile”.
“The first lap I just missed my mark and I knew that I wasted a lap, so I kind of tried to make sure I could at least get down the frontstretch to be able to lay down a good second lap,” Wight told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It’s huge for us. To go into the record books as the last one to do it means a lot. To show up here with a new car and be fast right out of the box makes it a lot easier on us.”
It has been a team effort for the 23 year-old driver, who has honestly only won a handful of Big Block Modified races in his brief career.
“Dan Neal (crew chief) has been busting his hump trying to get this thing together,” said Wight, who beat 74 other cars for the pole. “We’ve really been putting in a lot of hours. Bobby Hearn (from TEO ProCars) did some special stuff for us to make sure it would be top notch; Kevin Lanphear in our engine shop making sure we had a stellar piece. We have Dave Reedy on our side with Penske Shocks watching the track for us and making sure that we’re right on top of it.”
While one fast lap is impressive, competitors will have to be consistent for 200 circuits on Sunday. Wight remained confident in the potential for his performance the remainder of the weekend.
“I think we can do it,” Wight said. “It would be nice to get the trifecta if we can get the heats in tomorrow and everything.”
Friesen came up one spot short in qualifying, but is pleased with the performance of his racecar.
“It’s really good; it’s very comfortable,” Friesen noted. “We put up a very good time there on the first lap and then tried to hold it wide open off of four and got it right out of the groove in the second lap. As the tires get more heat in them it should get better and better.”
Although he has won the big event three times in the last five years, Friesen would like nothing more than to win the “Finale at the Fairgrounds”.
“It would be amazing and something that is totally wild,” Friesen described. “It’s just an awesome event with so much history, and it’s really a shame that we’re losing it. We’re going to try our hardest to win it.”
A total of six drivers locked themselves in for Sunday’s feature. Hogansburg, New York’s Carey Terrance turned in an extraordinary run with the third-fastest time, while 358 Modified fast qualifier and 2013 winner Billy Dunn was fourth. Pat Ward, in a tribute scheme to his father, and last year’s fast-qualifier Matt Sheppard rounded out the cars in the show for Sunday.
The 44th running of NAPA Super DIRT Week continues with the Hurricane 100 for 358 Modifieds Thursday night at Brewerton Speedway with $10,000 on the line. Friday at the fairgrounds will include Sportsman Modified and USAC Silver Crown time trials as well as 358 Modified Twin 20s and Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified Triple 20s to set more of the starting field.
By Aaron Creed, speed51.com New York / Pennsylvania Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified Qualifying Results (Top 6 Locked In):
|14||115||Ken Tremont Jr||30.256|
|35||28p||Eldon Payne Jr||30.950|
|43||62s||Tom Sears Jr.||31.296|
|45||M40||Mark Forte Jr||31.422|
|60||3A||Kevin Albert Jr||32.083|
|64||77||Bob Hamm Jr||32.685|
|75||1H||Justin Haers||No Transponder|