Tim McCreadie entered Super DIRT Week knowing that he would need to earn a top-six qualifying spot during Thursday’s time trials at Oswego Speedway (NY). The current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader did just that, but it wasn’t without a few bumps in the road along the way.
While Matt Sheppard earned the pole with a fast lap of 21.210 seconds around the 5/8-mile clay oval, it was McCreadie stealing the show and qualifying in the final locked-in position after a rollercoaster day.
“It was everything for us, for Sweeteners and this whole Modified program because that was what we had to do,” McCreadie told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I was pretty happy with the car yesterday and again this morning, and then we had just a couple things (go wrong).”
After jumping to the top spot on the practice charts Thursday morning, McCreadie’s No. 39 contacted the outside wall in turn three. The damage was sufficient enough that he required a tow back to the pit area.
McCreadie’s team immediately went to work attempting to diagnose a steering issue. As practice drew to an end, the team believed they had the problem fixed and sent McCreadie out for another run.
As he entered turn three, his car once again failed to turn as he entered the corner and ended up making even harder contact with the outside wall. Without a timed hot lap, McCreadie was placed in the final qualifying group for time trials.
“I don’t know if it’s just the way I’m driving it or the brake pedal or what we were doing with biases and pressures to the front (tires) if that did it or the steering box, but it never seemed like it would turn,” McCreadie explained. “We crashed twice and I don’t think I’ve ever done that.
“These guys here did everything after that. They had me just stay out of the way and they changed racks, front axles and all four shocks were a little tweaked. It’s amazing and they’re the reason we’re in the top six. I put us in that situation and they got me out of it.”
Knowing he needed to qualify in the top six due to his obligations the next two days with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series in Pittsburgh, McCreadie went out and turned a lap fast enough by eight-thousands of a second to lock himself into Sunday’s main event.
“I knew the first lap when I went into (turn) one that we were sixth on the board,” he stated. “I thought that we could get a little bit better and I really tried to concentrate. I thought I went through one and turn maybe as good as I had maybe all weekend and three and four I entered really good, and then I just didn’t really put the car in the rubber. The easiest part of the corner was the rubber and I just didn’t really do it. I kind of wheel spun all the way off of four, so the second lap just didn’t feel as good as the first. It just goes that way sometimes. I didn’t know it was that close, but we’ll take it.”
Leading the way during Thursday’s qualifying was Sheppard, who earned his second straight Super DIRT Week Big-Block Modified pole award at Oswego.
“The track started rubbering up in three and four, started locking down and you could definitely get on the gas a lot harder,” the polesitter said of his qualifying run. “This is a great day and we start on the front row Sunday, but obviously, we come here to try to win the race. Happy to sit on the pole but it’s really not all that important.”
Rick Laubach, Billy Decker, Keith Flach and Dom Buffalino completed the top five during Thursday’s qualifying.
For Buffalino, an underdog at this weekend’s event, qualifying in the top six is a win in itself.
“We didn’t come here planning on timing in the top six in Big Blocks, so to time fifth is pretty cool,” he said joyfully. “The car wasn’t even that good in practice and my crew chief changed a bunch of stuff. He said, ‘I’m not even telling you what I did. Just go out there.’ Which is fine, I don’t care. You’ve just got to drive it like nothing is different and if you drive it expecting one thing or the other you’re not going to be fast.
“Fifth is cool. I never thought I’d be taking pictures on the fronstretch after time trials, so I’m happy.”
When asked how it felt like to be locked into Sunday’s main event, Buffalino didn’t have an answer.
“I don’t really know how that feels yet. I don’t think it’s sunk in,” he stated. “I never really thought about it, but it’s cool to know we’re starting fifth and starting second in our heat race.”
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage of Thursday’s qualifying at Oswego by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos
Super DIRT Week Big-Block Modified Qualifying Results
Oswego Speedway (NY) – October 5, 2017
|9||115||Kenny Tremont Jr||21.858|
|29||28p||Eldon Payne Jr||22.511|