By BILL FOLEY
OSWEGO, NY – The DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds will once again be in the spotlight during this year’s NAPA Auto Parts Super Dirt Week, and fans can look forward to a huge field vying for a starting berth in the Chevy Performance 75. Competitors from all DIRTcar regions will race for the glory that is bestowed on the winner of Sunday afternoon’s race.
Expect plenty of new faces in the field this year as five of last year’s top ten have moved on to the Small Block 358 Modified division. Runner up from 2017, Matt Farnham is no longer in a Sportsman, along with Ron Davis III (fourth last year), Rocky Warner (fifth), Tyler Trump (seventh) and Glenn Forward (10th), all of whom will no longer be contending for Sportsman honors.
Dave Marcuccilli, however, will be there to defend his title and would have to be considered one of this year’s favorites.
Nearly 300 drivers have earned points as the Sportsman Championship chase commenced in earnest at Fulton last weekend, and this week’s racing at Oswego, Utica-Rome, Weedsport and Brewerton should provide a much clearer picture when the points are tabulated at the end of the weekend.
In 2018 Sportsman Mr. DIRTcar and track points as of September 4 Martin Pelletier of the Drummond-Granby circuit held an eight-point lead over Marcuccilli as the 16 best finishes were tabulated. Tied for third are Cornwall Speedway’s Shane Pecore and Freedom Speedway Champ Brad Rouse, while Alan Fink and Brewerton title holder Kevin Root are tied for fifth.
Completing the top twenty are Humberstone’s Cody McPherson, Jonathan Ferguson, Jackson Gill, Brianna Ladouceur, Connor Cleveland, Zach Sobotka, Nick Krause, James Michael Friesen, Adam Leslie, Kyle Inman, Tristan Draper, Jessica Power, Chris Mackey and Matt Guererri.
In overall DIRTcar Sportsman points Rouse, Root and Pelletier have 2,000 points to lead the division overall. Right behind, by just 15 points, is McPherson, who was last year’s Hard Charger at Oswego, along with Pecore.
Completing the top 20 entering the chase for the crown are Inman (Freedom), Sobotka (Fulton), Gill (Fulton), Ladouceur (Mohawk), Alex Lajoie (Granby), J.M. Friesen (Merrittville), Matt Janczuk (Utica-Rome), Marcuccilli (Weedsport-Land of Legends), Nick Heywood (Airborne), Will Shields (Brewerton), Cedric Gauvreau (Mohawk), Fink (Fulton), Ryan Scott (Brockville), David Rogers (Can-Am) and Chad Edwards (Fonda).
Pelletier has been the hottest driver with 23 victories this year (RPM, Granby, Cornwall, Drummond and Mohawk), while Marcuccilli has chalked up 15 (Brewerton, Land of Legends, Weedsport, Can Am and Utica-Rome).
Double-digit feature winners also include Rouse with 13 (Freedom, Humberstone, Merrittville, Ransomville and Brighton) and Pecore with 10 (Cornwall, Fulton, Brockville, Can Am, Airborne and Mohawk).
With the Sportsman Modifieds divided into regions, many drivers remained relatively close to their home base.
In the North, Pelletier is the leader by 20 points over Pecore (462-442) and three wins to Pecore’s one. The top ten in the North included Pelletier, Pecore, Gauvreau, Lajoie, Ladouceur, Patrick Picotin, Adam Rozen, Heywood, Moise Page and Fredric Gamache.
Meanwhile, Root leads the Central Region 38 points ahead of Gill. The competition has been intense, resulting in nine races with no repeat winners. Celebrating on the podium during the season were Root, Marcuccilli, Fink, Taylor Caprara, Dave Constantino, Bob Henry Jr., Edwards and Pecore.
Following Root and Gill in the Central top ten are Sobotka, Tyler Thompson, Shields, Janczuk, Charlie Tibbetts Jr., Marcuccilli, Power and Rocco Leone.
The Western region had the latest start, running just four shows prior to NAPA Super DIRT Week. Rouse has a commanding 115 point lead over McPherson, winning three of the four events. Friesen took the fourth.
Completing the top ten in the West are Inman, J.M. Friesen, Justin Sharp, Power, Dan Ferguson, Jordan Cosco, Dave DiPietro and Tyler Puchalski.
Since 1997 many NAPA Super DIRT Week Sportsman Champions have cemented their names amongst the best in the Modified world, including Matt Sheppard (2000), Chad Brachmann (1999), Erick Rudolph (2008), Ryan Godown (2001) and even the likes of Sprint Car drivers Sam Reakes IV (2007) and Matt Billings (2009).
Among the other winners over the past 20-plus years are Jim Sorenson, Chris Kokosa, Tim Hindley, Kenny Stafford, John Ferrier, Ryan Susice, Neal Williams, Rocky Warner, Brad Rouse, Jimmy Spellmon, James Michael Friesen, Connor Cleveland and of course, Dave Marcuccilli.
Who will it be this year? Find out on Sunday, October 7.
Tickets for the 47th annual NAPA Super DIRT Week are available online or by calling 844-DIRT-TIX. Stay tuned to the Super DIRT Week, Super DIRTcar Series and DIRTcar Racing social media channels for the latest news on NAPA Super DIRT Week.