OSWEGO, N.Y. – Old pros Billy Decker and Jimmy Phelps shared honors in Thursday afternoon’s sun-baked time trial session during Super DIRT Week at Oswego Speedway.
Decker’s best lap of 20.316 seconds around the five-eighths-mile asphalt oval put him first among nearly three dozen drivers who topped the old track record on the dirt covered asphalt, giving him the pole for Sunday’s Billy Whittaker Cars 200 for the Super DIRTcar Series big-block modifieds.
“We hit the track at the right time with a good car,” said Decker of his Gypsum Express Bicknell fired by a Kevlar powerplant. “Hopefully things stay this way all day Sunday. We feel we’ve got something after a lot of hard work. The track has been like this for a couple of years. It gets slick, makes a swing and then comes back slick again. But you never know for sure until late Sunday.”
Decker was joined in the locked in top six by Matt Sheppard, Mat Williamson, Tim Fuller, Anthony Perrego and Justin Haers.
“We’re happy with that,” offered Sheppard. “We’ve had a good hot rod since we got here, but 200 laps is a long ways and the track will change a lot before it’s over.”
“We’ve been good in practice too,” added Williamson. “It paid off timing but we have to wait until Sunday to find out how good we really are.”
Phelps bested some 82 challengers to snare the top spot for Saturday’s Salute to the Troops 150 for 358 modifieds with a lap of 20.948 seconds.
The small blocks went first and the track got progressively faster as cars that were slower in practice made their runs under a blazing sun, laying down a solid coat of rubber.
Phelps, fast in the morning, got his shot at the $1,000 pole in the beginning of group five with Erick Rudolph, the pre-qualifying favorite, coming out at the end of the same group.
Rudolph was close but ended up second, with Tim Fuller, Dave Marccuccilli, Mat Williamson and Todd Root rounding out the top six locked in for Saturday’s feature.
The six small block groups were split into three segments each for group qualifying, making for a very speedy program as compared to the old days with single car runs on the Syracuse mile. For the big blocks, the 78 car field was also split into six groups, though the final grouping had only four cars.
Like the small blocks, Decker went out in the last segment of group five, then had to wait out the final four to be assured of the pole, something he was an odds on favorite to win each year when the race was won on the Syracuse mile.