Last summer, New York Asphalt Modified ace Jimmy Zacharias set a new goal for himself going forward with his racing career: to become a winner on the dirt. After a series of Sportsman and Crate Modified races at multiple tracks late in 2016 and early in 2017, Zacharias found success for the first time, winning at Skyline Raceway Park this past Friday night.
Zacharias had thrown his name into the 602 Crate Modified division and managed to hold off defending track champion Andrew Smith to win Skyline’s 2017 opener.
“It went really well, a lot easier than I thought it was going to be having to hold off some good people that race there, the track champion from year’s past and last year, a good racer Andrew Smith, he finished second. To beat him at his home track and take my first win there was a huge accomplishment,” Zacharias told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
It is just the second time that Zacharias has competed at Skyline since taking up the dirt challenge last season. After struggling early on, he decided to make a change in the cars he was driving. That decision paid off on Friday night.
“I sold the car I bought, I actually ended up driving my brother’s car. He got one and I ended up driving it that night.”
Though Zacharias had been confident that victory on dirt would come in due time, he admitted that he thought it would not be quite this early.
“Honestly, I didn’t. I knew we had a good shot if we could get a break; we had a few races last year where if we got a break we’d have a good shot it, but I didn’t think it would come this quick and that easy.”
A multi-time track and state champion in Asphalt Modifieds in New York, Zacharias didn’t expect be super out of the gate in his Dirt Modified.
“At first it was a little frustrating to me, being used to winning a lot,” he admitted. “Then going to the dirt and starting all over, it took me a while to get used to knowing I wasn’t going to be dominant like I was on asphalt and win all the races that easily. Getting that win took a big boulder off my shoulders and showed I could actually do it.”
Naturally, he now finds himself leading the points in the Skyline 602 Crates and is already getting ready to go at it again this coming Friday. If the finishes and wins continue to come his way, he is prepared to stay and chase a championship all season.
“We’re going to go back to Skyline this Friday now that we’re leading the points after the first race, probably go the next couple of weeks, see how that goes. If it goes well, I might skip out on Spencer Speedway and run for a dirt championship.”
As for later on in his career, even if he becomes an ace on the dirt, Zacharias does not see himself getting off asphalt anytime soon.
“I don’t know if I’ll run all dirt. I’ll still run Chemung and some RoC races, including this year. We’re liking the dirt stuff, it’s time for a change, and it’s a good change so far.”
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/MoJo Photos