Decker Conquers Salute To The Troops 150

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Billy Decker won Saturday's Salute to the Troops 100 for 358 modifieds at Oswego Speedway. (Dave Dalesandro Photo)
Billy Decker won Saturday's Salute to the Troops 100 for 358 modifieds at Oswego Speedway. (Dave Dalesandro Photo)

OSWEGO, N.Y. – Billy Decker had multiple wins in both the big blocks and small block features when Super DIRT Week was held at the Syracuse mile, but hadn’t cracked victory lane since the races moved to Oswego Speedway.

That is, until Saturday night in the rain delayed Salute to the Troops 150.

Decker put his Gypsum Express No. 91 atop the scoreboard with a late-race restart blast around the outside of division point leader Eric Rudolph, who seemed to have the $20,000 win in hand, and then drove unchallenged to victory lane.

“It’s damned good to be here,” Decker told the chilled crowd. “I’m ecstatic. We backed up my teammate Larry Wight’s big block win last year and I have to thank him. I learned that restart move from Larry when he drove around me and ran away on an earlier restart. We freed the car up our pit stop and made a winner out of that baby.”

Rudolph was second ahead of race long challenger Wight, with Tim Fuller and Mat Williamson rounding out the top five. The second five included Anthony Perrego, Ryan Susice, Billy Dunn, Justin Haers and Steve Bernier, who from 31st after winning a Last Chance qualifier.

Fast timer Jimmy Phelps led early on but by the time Mike Maresca drew the first yellow, second starting Rudolph had taken command. On the restart Williamson, up from fifth, shot to second and began a lengthy war with Rudolph. They ran that way through a number of cautions, with Rudolph, better in traffic, giving up his advantage with each yellow.

Williamson finally got the lead on lap 37, after which the duo swapped the point back and forth for a few laps until Wight caught them in traffic. Wight edged by Williamson and when the next yellow flew on lap 55, it was Rudolph, Wight, Williamson and Decker in the first two rows for the restart.

Wight then drove around Rudolph on the restart with Decker shooting to third.  The high flying Wight was still in command when a yellow on lap 92 sent the entire field to the pits for their stop, with time allowed for adjustments as well as tires and fuel.

Wight continued to lead when the race went green again but when he caught the tailenders on lap 108, Rudolph pounced on him in traffic and drove away, leaving Wight to fend off the challenges of his teammate.

Decker finally prevailed on lap 127 and when the yellow waved again seven laps later, he was ready to challenge Rudolph on the restart.  His rim ride through turns three and four paid off and once he got the lead, he was golden.

Decker had to endure restarts with 10 to go and one to go, but since DIRTcar rules put the field single file, he easily held the lead to the checkers.

“I think my tires got cold on that last restart but the car was dialed in,” offered Rudolph, who padded his point lead.  “The race was a lot of fun. Our big block is up and down but this small block has been exceptional all year.”

“We’re probably the only car on torsion bars, with everyone else using coil springs,” said Wight. “It was good at times but when the track got really black we struggled. I’m happy for Billy, now maybe we’ll get a look at their notes.”

Bernier and Jordan McCreadie won the Last Chance Qualifiers that completed the field, with the start pushed to late afternoon by heavy morning rain.