CONCORD, N.C. – Super DIRTcar Series kingpin Brett Hearn added another notch to his already-illustrious career Saturday afternoon by coming out on top of a caution-filled 40-lap feature at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
The eight-time series champion took advantage of misfortune for his modern-era counterpart Matt Sheppard, inheriting the race lead when Sheppard slowed from the top spot with a flat left-rear tire on lap 15.
Hearn never looked back after that, pacing the final 25 circuits en route to victory.
“It’s always hard to figure out where you’re really going to be good here,” said Hearn on the winner’s stage. “I found the bottom in (turns) three and four early, cruised by into second, and then when Matt had his tire issue … it was just up to me to figure out where I could make my car perform the best it possibly could.
“That was a long 40 laps,” he added. “I don’t usually swear out loud in my helmet, but I did a couple of times in that one.”
Saturday afternoon’s win was Hearn’s second of the season, his 128th in points-paying competition and his 140th overall with the Super DIRTcar Series.
It was also Hearn’s fourth win at Charlotte and first there since the World Finals opener in 2013.
“This is obviously a huge platform for us as big-block modified racers, to be here at Charlotte with the World of Outlaws sprint cars and late models,” pointed out Hearn. “This race weekend means a lot to win at, and I’ve been blessed to have done it four times now, so it’s a really cool feeling.”
Hearn had to deal with a hard-charging Tim McCreadie in the final laps, with McCreadie putting forth a huge effort in the bottom groove to close within a few car lengths of Hearn in the final laps.
However, the New York traveler could do nothing with the Sussex, N.J., veteran. Hearn held on for the victory by .303 of a second at the twin checkers and left McCreadie disappointed, but smiling over his runner-up effort.
While Hearn dominated the matinee portion of Saturday’s racing, the overarching story in the big-block modified event was a rash of caution flags.
Thirteen yellows meant that the 40-lap distance took 59 minutes to complete, with a rash of championship points implications in their wake.
Sheppard’s tire issue dropped him from the race lead all the way back to 27th, but the six-time and defending series champion put on a masterful charge through the pack to limit the damage against title rival Erick Rudolph.
By the 10 to go mark, Sheppard had marched his way back to ninth, eventually shooting from eighth to fourth on the final restart of the race with six laps left and overhauling Mike Maresca for the final spot on the podium coming back to the two to go signal.
Maresca finished fourth and Rudolph completed the top five, followed by Rich Scagliotta, Tim Fuller, Billy Decker, Peter Britten and Pat Ward.
All the attrition caused by the 13-caution marathon meant that only 14 of the 30 starters completed the entire feature distance.
Jessey Mueller started from the pole and led the first nine laps, but was eliminated with 11 to go and ended up 25th in the final rundown.
In regards to the championship fight, Sheppard will take a 60-point margin over Rudolph into the evening’s nightcap at the four-tenths-mile dirt oval.
Brett Hearn, Tim McCreadie, Matt Sheppard, Miek Maresca, Erick Rudolph, Rich Scagliotta, Tim Fuller, Billy Decker, Peter Britten, Pat Ward, Steve Bernard, Mat Williamson, Steve Feder, Tim Kerr, Danny Johnson, Adam Roberts, Max McLaughlin, Demetrios Drellos, Carey Terrence, Josh Hohenforst, Mike Mahaney, Yan Bussiere, Scott HitchenJimmy Phelps, Jessey Mueller, Chris Hile, Gary Lindberg, Keith Flach, Dave Rauscher, Tyler Siri.