Column By: CAN-AM SPEEDWAY – LAFARGEVILLE, NY – For the entirety of the 2021 racing season at Can-Am Speedway in Lafargeville, New York, there has been but two drivers who ended the night standing in the Bob Johnson Auto Group victory lane for the 358 Modified division; Billy Dunn or Tim Fuller.
On Wednesday, the pattern was broken as Dave Marcuccilli, driving his number m1 Bicknell machine took the checkered flag in the fifty-lap Whitesboro Plow Shop & Spring and Alignment DIRTcar 358 Modified feature race. It was a special midweek night of racing action for the speedway, which had endured three straight weeks with no racing due to weather and a scheduled hiatus for graduation week. The Empire Super Sprints were headlining the night with the Pabst Shootout, sponsored by Doldo Brothers, Inc. But those who have been following the growing rivalry between Watertown natives Dunn and Fuller, were very much interested to see the next chapter unfold in the 358 Modified war for supremacy.
From the very beginning, it looked like Billy Dunn in his Bicknell number 49 was going to, once again, drive to victory, after starting on the pole and jumping out to a commanding lead early. But the race wasn’t twenty-five laps, it was fifty, and by the midway point of the race Dunn’s car started to look like he was slowing a bit, sparks were coming out of the back as he braked for the corners and puffs of light-colored smoke were coming from somewhere in the car as he steered through each turn. Marcuccilli was right on his heels in second place, as they approached lapped traffic by lap twenty-five. Normally Dunn will lose his pursuers by weaving expertly through lapped cars, but the smoke and sparks seemed to indicate all was not well with the number 49 machine as Dunn parked in behind the lapped cars, following them around the track for a few laps.
Then in lap thirty Dunn slowed on the back straightaway, fully succumbing to the mechanical issues that appeared to have been building for several laps. At the same time, Kyle Inman in the number 20k pulled into the infield after blowing out a rear end and covering turn four and part of the front stretch with oil, eliciting a yellow-flag caution on the track.
This led to a bit of a surprise for Marcuccilli. “I didn’t really know what had happened with Dunn, I didn’t know he’d gone to the pits. I kept waiting for him to pull back by because the caution had come out right then and that would have put him back in the lead,” Marcuccilli said, in an interview with Doug Elkins after the race.
As the new leader, Marcuccilli wasted no time charging out ahead of the field to solidify his position. The track began to rubber up through turns one and two, which pretty much made it single file through those turns. And, whereas earlier in the race drivers could find different lanes through turns three and four, after Kyle Inman’s oil-releasing mishap, there wasn’t much room through those turns to pass either.
This development played out favorably for Marcuccilli as the caution brought the field back together and gave him a clear road ahead, void of lapped-traffic-entanglements for the rest of the race and making any kind of passing and advancement for drivers back in the field, like Tim Fuller, very difficult.
When lap fifty ticked off and the checkered flag waved, David Marcuccilli led second place Lance Willix by nearly half a track and a full eight seconds, with Tim Sears (62x), Erick Rudolph (25r) and Tim Fuller (19) rounding out the top five.
Marcuccilli gave the fans some free donuts after clearing tech, when he took his black, blue and fluorescent yellow m1 into the infield for a few tire-spinning twirls on the grass in celebration.
It was a dominating performance that introduced a new competitor into the Dunn/Fuller melee at Can-Am Speedway. Marcuccilli will have a chance to defend his victory at Can-Am on July 9th.