Super DIRT Week may be best known for its grand 200-lap feature for the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds, but it is also the greatest event of the year for plenty of other divisions in the Northeast. This includes Sportsman Modifieds, which are slated for a 75-lap feature at Oswego Speedway (NY) on Sunday, October 8 alongside the Big-Blocks.
All this coming after two days of qualifying at the “Steel Palace” Friday and Saturday, and three nights of racing across New York State Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It is a week that will put close to 100 Sportsman drivers to their limitations as they look to stay at the top.
One driver that has done just that throughout 2017 is Rocky Warner, who has accumulated more than 20 wins in DIRTcar-sanctioned Sportsman events. He is hoping that he can ride a wave of momentum into Super DIRT Week but knows that it will require even more effort.
“We had a couple outstanding weekends, but it’s a dog-eat-dog world. There’s a lot of competition in the Sportsman division. We all have the same motors. You can’t out-horsepower somebody, you got to go out, do your homework and get stuff done. It’s a track we only have notes from one year ago. Biggest thing is qualifying up front first, we’ll have close to 80 to 100 cars. I like the idea of being at Oswego; you don’t need a special car. You can go in with a regular deal and race. We’re hoping to go in with our best foot forward, that’s all we can hope for.”
Warner’s friend and fellow Sportsman competitor Dave Marcuccilli also comes in with a bit of momentum from one year ago, winning the Sportsman feature at Oswego. But he feels that in order to be successful all week, he will need to start from the ground up.
“I think we’re starting over again going back there, it’s a different year. We might bring back the same car from last year, I’m not sure. We’re kind of struggling with thoughts on that. Hopefully, we’re just as fast off the trailer as we were last year,” Marcuccilli said. “We got a lot of racing during the week. But we love that stuff, that’s part of it, we’re not sitting around and that’s what makes it fun. Adding a race at Brewerton is great, race in front of a lot of people, so it’s going to be a good time.”
While Marcuccilli feels that he will build a new notebook next week, he is coming into the week with the exact same approach, even with the dirt at Oswego having an extra two weeks on the pavement.
“I think we’re probably going to go in the same way we did last year. It’s a little bit of a different shaped track, but it’s still a short track, unlike going to the mile. I think we’re going to end up with the race track we expected last year, a little dry and slippery. But it’s the same as always, no matter what race track we go to. Just cross our T’s and dot our I’s and make sure our stuff is as good as it can be.”
Warner is excited to see what the extra prep time on the racing surface will yield in 2017.
“I feel a little more positive this year as far as the track surface being exactly what it needs to be. I think they did a good job last year, but I think it’s going to be even better this year,” he stated. “I’m looking forward to the surface being racy in a couple of grooves. We ran last year with a different chassis manufacturer so it’s going to be all new to us. I stress out about races like this; it’s the biggest, most prestigious race of the year. We try to take it up an extra notch and go through the car as best we can.”
One other reason that Warner is going in with a little extra gusto is that he is saying goodbye to the Sportsman ranks after 2017, continuing a transition into the 358 Small-Block Modifieds that began during the 2017 season. Adding a win at Oswego would be a great way to end his Sportsman career.
“We’re running some Modified races to try and get our feet wet. It’s hard to try to acknowledge that and focus on the Sportsman. I just want to finish off strong. We keep trying to maintain our Sportsman ranks and go and finish strong the way we have in year’s past and pick off a few big wins. Dirt Week is something on our bucket list, we’ve never won at the big track. Everything we do from now on is essentially our last time doing it in the Sportsman ranks. Looking forward to moving up and mix it up with the big guys someday.”
Be sure to follow coverage of the Sportsman, Small-Blocks, and Big-Blocks during Super DIRT Week on Speed51.com.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA, RI & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Duane Canfield / Speed51.com