DIRT Notes: Track Crew Overcomes Weather At Syracuse

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Weather is always a factor at Super DIRT Week and 2010 held true to form — rain up until Thursday’s top-six qualifying, then sun and high winds that filled the air with billowing talcum powder-like dust.

Friday’s qualifying program drew a slew of negative comments from racers and fans.

World Racing Group Director of Events Roger Slack and the track crew worked through the night, scraping off the new clay and running the surface in, and it finally turned black and reasonably smooth without the dust.

By Sunday, the Syracuse of old had reappeared. As one driver put it, “the concrete came out of the turn-three hole that’s always there, but with the dust gone, you could see it and miss it, which is all you can ask for.”

Veterans, from pitsiders to winning drivers, agreed that the Syracuse surface has been “different” since adjusted for use by horsemen a few years ago and despite the track crew’s dedication, never rolls out as it once did.

Another factor is that with the traditional July 4 and Labor Day dates no longer on the schedule, it’s October before the track even gets used.

– DIRTcar officials proudly unveiled the logo for Super DIRT Week 2011, the 40th, with the XL designation said by ace announcer Shane Andrews to stand for Xtra Large as well as 40.

Former 200 winner Gary Balough, now 61, was on hand for Thursday’s media luncheon and tipped that he has a Hamke LM chassis on order as well as a Bicknell dirt car that he expects to “trick out” and test through next summer with an eye to winning another Syracuse 200.

He plans on driving, but if he’s not up to speed after years away from the sport, he has plans to install Dave Blaney, who came close to winning Syracuse on a number of occasions, in the seat.

Officials immediately began reviewing the rule book in hopes of heading off another “Batmobile” episode.

– World Racing Group is to be commended for its efforts to restore the event’s luster. This included television and radio ads across the Empire State beforehand, adding a demo for WoO sprint cars on Friday, a four-wide pace lap for the modifieds Sunday, a JumboTron to let fans see far-away corner action during the 200, and a much-improved fairgrounds traffic plan for competitors and spectators.

The best news for the competitors came Sunday when it was announced at the driver’s meeting that the much-dreaded double-file restart format would be dropped. Even single-file restarts can be dicey at Syracuse and nobody wanted to go double-file after the initial start.

– Rolling Wheels Raceway Park had a crowd so large for the WoO sprinters that the announcers spent the evening asking spectators to squeeze in tighter, with the URC/ESS sprint-car program the night before at Cayuga County Fair Speedway also a big hit.