OSWEGO, N.Y. – With rain falling steadily at Oswego Speedway Saturday morning, officials and teams turned to the usual Super DIRT Week routine – wait it out, dry the track and get the show in.
With rain predicted to stop mid or late morning, optimism was high that the program would be completed in time for fans to catch the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series race at nearby Fulton Speedway Saturday night.
– Saturday’s Last Chance race for the big-block modifieds will feature a number of big names and former winners of the big-block classic, among them Alan Johnson, Frank Cozze, Steve Paine, Ryan Godown, Danny Johnson and J.R. Heffner. With nine to qualify, none had major worries barring crashes or mechanical problems.
– The field for the 358 modified Last Chance was much more pedestrian, with all the big guns having made the show either through time trials or the Friday Night Lights program.
– Fans, media and racers alike were all impressed with the Friday Night Lights program. Though it was dragged out a bit by the unavoidable load in-load out process where teams have to move their gear and cars in every time the division to be run changes, the racing was superb.
Three wide passes and late-race lead changes were the norm and press box hangers on were asking if anyone could still remember Syracuse. The best line went to longtime Oswego Speedway promoter Dick O’Brien, who suggested, “We have to get this race back to Syracuse and get rid of all this passing!”
Traditionally, the short distance qualifiers on the New York State Fairgrounds mile were freight train events, with the fast cars up front and everyone dropping into single file and riding it out. The Oswego action was exactly the opposite of that.
– One car that had observers shaking their head was the Ed Munger No. 93 wheeled by versatile racer Danny Varin, son of longtime dirt modified kingpin Bobby Varin. Munger’s PMC chassis has a torsion bar on one side in the rear and a coil spring on the other and while unorthodox, for the second year in a row it was among the fastest on the track. Varin marched from seventh to second in his 30-lap heat and was the only one to gain on leader Matt Sheppard through the event.
– So far, Sheppard appears to be the class of the big-block field, having turned fast time Thursday before winning his heat by a full straightaway. His worst run was second in his small block qualifier after a brilliant move to get the lead in traffic by Peter Britten that delighted the crowd.
– One big change at Super DIRT Week 2017 was in the control center announcing staff, with longtime voice Joe Marotta replaced by Tim Baltz on Thursday. For Friday’s action, Baltz was joined by Dan Martin and Mike Mallett, with Shane Andrews set to work the feature programs.
We can remember when Marotta was a relative rookie working with the great Jack Burgess, who Marotta remembered at the start of every feature by repeating Burgess,’ “you gotta have a favorite – get up and wave,” routine on the pace lap.