The 2017 Super DIRTcar Series season has been somewhat of a bumpy road for Keith Flach, who is still on the hunt for his first points-counting victory. But the Ravena, NY driver is about to hit a certain race on the schedule that offers not just an opportunity to be in contention, but also snatch that first series win. As one might guess, it is an event with familiar surroundings as the SDS Big-Block Modifieds make their annual stop at the high-banked, half-mile Lebanon Valley Speedway (NY) for the $17,500-to-win Mr. Dirt Track USA 101.
The eastern New York dirt track is where Flach and his family have called Saturday nights home for years, and he is a firm believer in a home-track advantage.
“Anytime you can have a kind of home-track advantage for a series race, it definitely helps your confidence. It’s so difficult racing all those guys that any kind of edge can be a big help. Any track where someone runs weekly, you’re usually a little more pumped up,” Flach told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Flach notched his seventh career win at the “Valley of Speed” in the Big-Block division in July, and has remained consistent to maintain second place in the division points. While Flach admits that the No. 43 team’s extra-distance effort might not be up to par with their sprint race program on Saturday nights, he thinks that the ingredients are there for a big run Thursday night.
“I think anything’s possible, obviously, we’re running a longer distance race than we normally run. The Valley has a normal feature of 30 laps and we’re doing 101 on Thursday. We have the speed in the car in general, but the track is a going to be a little different because there is going to be less racing on it then a regular Saturday,” Flach explained. “They’re also starting a little bit later than normal, so the track will also be different with that. We’re capable, it’s just going to take some luck and some other stuff to fall into place on top of that, like the redraw.”
If Flach is able to take the checkered flag first Thursday night, he knows it would be a truly incredible accomplishment with the Mr. Dirt Track USA event being one of the top races on the SDS schedule. Of course, the extra-large pay day is also enticing.
“Any Series race would be a big deal to win, but this is one of the highest paying ones on the circuit, maybe the highest for a weekly track. Any would be great, but if we are able to get it at our home track in front of our home fans, it would be very special. Especially a place like Lebanon Valley where we got a lot of history there. I don’t think anyone in my family has won that kind of a race; it would be cool to do.”
Thursday also marks the beginning of the end of the 2017 season for Big-Block racing at Lebanon Valley, with the final track points event for the Big-Block Modifieds on Saturday night. Though Brett Hearn has already clinched his 12th track championship in the division, Flach is still under fire for second place from Kenny Tremont, Jr. and Andy Bachetti. Though having only one race remaining helps Flach’s efforts, he is disappointed that the LVS season is already coming to an end.
“It flew by a little bit more quickly than I would’ve expected, seems like the rainouts played a part in that. It’s a little bit sad to see the regular season be over here, but I’m excited to get to the races towards the end of the year and do some traveling.”
Beyond Thursday and Saturday, things will continue to be busy for Flach and the rest of the SDS field with 11 points races at 10 different venues still remaining, including the 46th edition of Super DIRT Week at Oswego Speedway in just over a month. While a strong performance Saturday would be great for momentum, Flach believes that it would not be the end of the world if things don’t go to plan.
“It would be a good shot in the arm because there is quite a bit of racing left; there’s another seven series races after tomorrow and before Super DIRT Week. We race Friday and Saturday, go to Weedsport on Monday night. Next weekend we go up to Granby and LeRPM. Still a lot left, so if something were to happen Thursday where we don’t have a run were expecting, we still got plenty of time to get some momentum for Super DIRT Week.”
While Super DIRT Week is still a number of events and weeks away, Flach is already starting to get geared up for the big week, and has some ideas of what to expect in its second year at the “Steel Palace.”
“Biggest thing up there is going to be to see with them putting the dirt down a little sooner, is if it will be in better shape, and I think it will be. We had a decent run up there last year all things considered before we dropped out. We got a nice notebook from last year, surface wise I think it will be the same, hopefully a little less rough. In the meantime, just need to be smooth and build some momentum before.”
Speed51.com will have Speed Central coverage of Mr. Dirt Track USA for those who are unable to be in attendance Thursday night.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA, RI & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Lebanon Valley Speedway