By CAMDEN PROUD
It appears Mat Williamson has carried the momentum from what has been a career season into NAPA Super DIRT Week. The St. Catherines, Ontario driver started on the pole for last night’s DIRTcar 358 Modified Series 100-lap ‘Tuesday Tailgate’ at the Utica-Rome Speedway and never looked backed, earning a cool $4,000 for the victory with his family No. 6m.
“We’ve had a really good year and I’m glad to start Super DIRT Week the right way,” said Williamson from victory lane. “I can’t thank all my guys enough for giving me such a fast hot rod. We started on the pole and kept our wits about us for 100-laps to get a win. I plan to hit all the satellite stuff this week, so we want to carry this into Weedsport and Brewerton.”
For Williamson, it was his nineteenth overall win on the year, with the victories split between the Paul Wendt / John Cocco No. 6, the Buzz Chew No. 88, family No. 6m and of course the Behrent No. 3 ride, which he won $100,000 with at the Orange County Fair Speedway’s Centennial event in August. It also marked his third win on the 358 Super DIRT Series in 2019.
At the drop of the green, Williamson was able to beat outside polesitter Jordan McCreadie off the front row to take the early advantage. It would be Williamson and McCreadie out front for thirty straight laps. The field was slowed three times in that period; first on lap 4 for Ronnie Davis III, second on lap 14 for Ryan Bartlett, and lastly on lap 30 for Lance Willix.
Following the lap 30 yellow, three contenders; Pat Ward, Ronnie Johnson, and Davis all went pitside. This also was when McCreadie’s bid for the lead went south, as a bad restart sent him all the way back to tenth.
Moving forward, however, was a rather impressive Alan Therrien, who had made early moves past Ward, Ryan Arbuthnot, Rusty Smith, and AJ Miller to get to third. It was a rare Utica-Rome appearance for the 39a team, but Alan was surely making the most of it.
When the yellow flag came back out for a Chad Brachmann spin on lap 36, Mike Mahaney; who had slowly crept through the field from eleventh, got around ninth starting Larry Wight and into third on the ensuing restart. Seconds prior to Mahaney’s move, Wight used a power pass to go around both Arbuthnot and eighth starting Rudolph and into the top five.
For sixteen laps, Mahaney stalked Therrien for second; finally making his way by on lap 52, but he didn’t stay there long. Greg Martin slowed on lap 54, bringing out another yellow. This gave Lightning Larry the opportunity he had hoped for. Wight would again used the high side to work around Mahaney for runner-up on the restart with nearly the full second half of the event to go.
In the open track, Williamson was gone, but Wight did have two cracks at him on restarts which he was able to use to his full advantage. At one point, Wight was able to pull neck and neck with Williamson, but the No. 6m proved far too strong for Larry or anyone else to keep pace.
On lap 81, Wight’s strong night went up in a puff of smoke as it appeared an expired power plant brought the No. 99L pitside with nineteen laps remaining. This handed second to Mahaney, but hot on his heels were Rudolph and Arbuthnot, as this duo made quick work of Therrien, who now ran fifth.
Just as Williamson found heavy traffic with fifteen laps to go, Rudolph used the low lane to get under Mahaney for second, but by this point it was too little, too late. Even in traffic, Rudolph; who has been dominant at Utica-Rome this season, had nothing for the race leader.
Williamson walked away with the win over Rudolph, Mahaney, Arbuthnot, and Therrien in the top five. Rounding out the top ten were a couple former Sportsman stars; Dave Marcuccilli and Rocky Warner, followed by Brachmann, Smith, and Yan Bussiere.
DIRTcar 358 Modified Pre-Game 100 Results: 1. MAT WILLIAMSON ($4,000), 2. Erick Rudolph, 3. Mike Mahaney, 4. Ryan Arbuthnot, 5. Alan Therrien, 6. Dave Marcuccilli, 7. Rocky Warner, 8. Chad Brachmann, 9. Rusty Smith, 10. Yan Bussiere, 11. Kyle Dingwall, 12. Greg Martin, 13. Ryan Bartlett, 14. Michael Parent, 15. AJ Miller, 16. Gary Lindberg, 17. Larry Wight, 18. Alex Therrien, 19. Bobby Varin, 20. Jordan McCreadie, 21. LJ Lombardo, 22. Kyle Inman, 23. Matt Janczuk, 24. Ronnie Johnson, 25. Ronnie Davis III, 26. Pat Ward, 27. Lance Willix, 28. Corey Wheeler, 29. Billy Whittaker, 30. Fred Carleton.
Tuesday Tailagate Takeaways –
40 cars rolled into Utica-Rome Speedway on Tuesday evening continuing a year of strong car counts for the DIRTcar 358 Modified Series…
The Tuesday Tailgate is the first of four 358 Super DIRTcar Series events this week with other shows Wednesday at Weedsport, Thursday at Brewerton, and Saturday at Oswego…
Wight, Williamson, Ward, and Arbuthnot were heat race winners…
Bobby Varin and Corey Wheeler won last chance showdowns…
Notable DNQ’s included Brett Hearn and Glenn Forward…