Hearn Dominates I-96 Big-Block Romp


“Just when I thought there wasn’t a track ion the country I haven’t been to that I could get to run these Big-Block DIRT Modifieds and win the race, lo and behold, we got one here, first time ever seeing the track,” Hearn said. “I had such a good car at the beginning of the race. My main concern was whether it was going to be good at lap 80, lap 90.”

Sure enough, Hearn’s ride stood the test of endurance, staying as fast in lap 90 as it was in time trials. Hearn’s win also took him to the top of the Super DIRTcar Series Championship point standings. Before the race, he trailed Matt Sheppard by just two points.

Sheppard, nonetheless, was pleased with a second-place finish at the unfamiliar Midwestern track.

“The track threw us a little bit of a curve ball, but we had a good car tonight, happy to get second,” said Sheppard, who claimed victory the previous night at Merrittville Speedway. “It was a good week up here for us.”

“It was a good run for us. We definitely didn’t have anything for Brett. Even if our car was a little better, it would have been tough to pass him,” Sheppard continued. “The second time here you don’t really know what it’s going to do. Lots of places we go to it could look one way, and we pretty much know what’s going to happen in the feature. It’s just tough telling with a place you don’t come to – that nobody’s ever come to, just a couple of times.”

Sheppard pinpointed his weakness in tire choice. The JB Motorports 9s team, taking lessons from last year, set the car up with the same tires Danny Johnson used when he claimed victory at I-96 Speedway in 2012. In an unpleasant stroke of irony, Hearn’s tire setup was the same as Sheppard’s last year, and ended up being ideal for Tuesday’s track conditions.

“We learned a little something last year. We missed on tires, we ran on what Brett had, and this year we had what Danny ran on last year,” Sheppard said. “We had a good car tonight.”

Billy Dunn, of Watertown, N.Y., started ninth on the grid and worked his way up to third by the checkered flag. Baldwinsville, N.Y., native Jimmy Phelps also had a strong run, starting 13th and finishing fourth. Gary Tomkins, of Clifton Springs, N.Y., started 11th and came in fifth.

Rounding out the top ten are Dale Planck in sixth, Brian Swartzlander in seventh, Matt Billings in eighth, Danny Johnson in ninth, and Pete Britten in tenth.