To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Matt Sheppard will lead the Big-Block Modified field to the green flag Sunday for the Super DIRT Week main event at Oswego Speedway. Sheppard turned a fast lap of 22.783 seconds around the 5/8-mile speedway to claim his second career Super DIRT Week pole.
“It’s been a good week for us, the car has been superfast since we unloaded it,” Sheppard told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “So far so good; we’ll just try to get through the heat. Like I said, it’s nice going into Sunday starting on the pole. We’ve got a fast race car, but 300 laps is a long time, and anything can happen in 300 laps.”
With live pit stops, a track that is sure to change and the possibility of mechanical failures, Sheppard knows that it’s not a guarantee that the fastest race car will win the 300-lap race.
“I’d like to think we have all of the best components on this car and everything is taken care of,” he said. “It’s just going to be using our heads, and I hate to say it, but I think a lot of it is going to be luck.”
For Sheppard, the difference between winning Super DIRT Week and not winning Super DIRT Week will be the difference between an already phenomenal season and arguably one of the best seasons in Dirt Modified history.
“I’ve had a phenomenal, phenomenal season, but this is the biggest race of the year,” the current Super DIRTcar Series points leader said. “You could win this race and have a terrible season and it’d still be a good season. We’ll just have to see how it plays out.”
Tim McCreadie, Justin Haers, Danny Varin, Carey Terrence and Brett Hearn joined Sheppard as drivers locked into the Bud Light 300.
Race fans can find a full Trackside Now replay on Speed51.com by clicking here.
T-MAC TAKES ADVANTAGE OF HIS ONLY CHANCE
Tim McCreadie had no choice; he needed to qualify in the top six in order to compete in Sunday’s Super DIRT Week main event. That’s exactly what he did by qualifying second to Sheppard and locking himself into the big show.
While other drivers will have the opportunity to qualify through Friday night’s triple 20s, McCreadie didn’t have that luxury. Due to his plans to compete in a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, “T-Mac” would have been forced load up car No. 39 had he failed to time trial in the top six.
“For me it’s a big weight off my shoulders because it was either get a top six or go home because I can’t be here the rest of the week. I have to go run my Late Model stuff in Pittsburgh,” McCreadie said. “This was our only shot at running Sunday, so for our team, this is really rewarding right now.”
McCreadie, who already has a Chili Bowl Nationals victory and a World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship on his resume, now has sets his sights on joining his father Bob McCreadie as a Super DIRT Week Big-Block Modified winner.
“It would be amazing,” he said. “The race is the race and it’s cool that we’re here at Oswego; it’s actually unique a little bit. I said out there, there’s juice here right now. The whole atmosphere has a lot behind it; it’s pretty cool. It may not be a mile, but I think you’re going to see a lot of cool racing and some back and forth and just a neat event with passing; that’s the bonus.”
NOTHING LIKE ASPHALT FOR SITTERLY
Otto Sitterly has more laps around Oswego Speedway than any of the 60 plus drivers attempting to qualify for Sunday’s Super DIRT Week main event. But after qualifying 43rd on Thursday, the seven-time Supermodified champion admitted that racing on asphalt and racing on dirt are completely opposite.
“It’s really two totally different worlds,” Sitterly said. “I’ve talked to different guys and watched guys that are fast, where they’re running and stuff, and the line is completely different. Everything about it is completely different. We’re running five or six seconds slower than we normally do on a Saturday night.”
Despite the tough luck on the race track, Sitterly has enjoyed the new experience and believes that he has an opportunity for a solid race come Sunday.
“When I’m in the car I enjoy, but all the hours of working on the car we’re struggling,” he said. “We just had some mechanical glitches; it’s a new car and temporary new team. We didn’t get a lot of track time today, just having problems with the alternator and charging system. Late in the qualifying like that there’s no race track left for us guys. We’re not hanging our heads by any means. If we get in the race and it gets black and slick, I think that we could hold our own. We’re not going to win the race, but I think we could ride around there and get a good finish for the day if we could possibly get in.”
TREMONT MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME
One driver absent from Wednesday’s practice session was two-time Super DIRT Week runner-up Kenny Tremont. The 2016 Small Block champion at Lebanon Valley Speedway (NY) made his first laps around the transformed racing surface Thursday morning before time trialing 28th later in the day.
Besides being just a step behind the competition, Tremont is optimistic for what lies ahead.
“For me it’s just taken me a little bit of time to get acclimated to where I should be,” Tremont explained. “There’s a few holes and it’s dry and slick, so I think it’s more of an adjustment for me than it is the race car. We are tightening things up and we’re catching up with it. I didn’t come yesterday for the warmups so I think that hurt me a little bit, but we’re catching up now. We started in the cellar, but now we’re about halfway up the field as far as times go. I think with a little bit more time we’ll be a little further up, too.”
Like Sheppard, Tremont is also a believer that a driver won’t necessarily need the fastest car to win on Sunday afternoon.
“I think once you’re by qualifying you need to make the car bullet proof,” he stated. “I’m not sure it’s going to be an all-out speed event. I think just making sure that all the axels and gears don’t give you trouble, especially if there’s a few holes you’re going to run through. You’ve got to make that car bullet proof and make it finish.”
FULLER ON TOP OF THE SMALL BLOCKS
Tim Fuller received a phone call from car owners Randy and Bobby Slack just a few weeks ago, and on Thursday afternoon that phone call paid off when Fuller won the pole for Saturday night’s 358 Modified race.
Fuller turned in a fast lap of 22.829 seconds, which put the No. 3RS on the pole for the 150-lap race.
Billy Dunn, Brett Hearn, Matt Sheppard, Marc Johnson and Carey Terrance also locked themselves into the show with top-six qualifying runs.