Column: Memorial Day Weekend Brings Doubleheader & Big Prizes For Super DIRTcar Series
Column By: MICHELINA FRISS / DIRTCAR – WEEDSPORT, NY – A massive Memorial Day weekend awaits the Super DIRTcar Series with two 100-lap Features and a Super DIRT Week 51 guaranteed starting spot on the line.
First up will be a return to Weedsport Speedway for a $7,500-to-win, 100-lap, showcase on Sunday, May 28. Then, they’ll head east to compete at Lebanon Valley Speedway in a $13,500-to-win, 100-lap spectacular – also the first Super DIRT Week Qualifier of the year.
Here are the top storylines to follow:
DOUBLE DIGITS: Nine-time and defending Series champion Matt Sheppard will be on the hunt for his first win of the championship season as the Memorial Day Weekend competition commences. After his victory in the All-Star Showcase at Weedsport Speedway on Sat., May 21, he is guaranteed to start no worse than 13th.
The Waterloo, NY driver finished fourth, third and second, respectively, at the three Weedsport events last year. He’ll look for a spot better on Sunday and notch his ninth career Series win at the track.
Lebanon Valley Speedway was a different story last year, though. Sheppard finished 14th and sixth, respectively, in the two events.
KEEP IT GOING: 2022 Series runner-up Mat Williamson is currently on a hot streak, capturing victories in six of the last eight Series matchups dating back to last season. He currently sits at the top of the leaderboard after winning the first race of the points-paying season at Bridgeport Motorsports Park.
The St. Catharines, ON driver has one career victory at Weedsport Speedway back in May 2021 but failed to land on the podium during last season’s three Series contentions. He will look to improve on last season’s fourth-place finish at the King of the Spring 100 at Lebanon Valley Speedway and notch his first career victory at the track.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Heinke-Baldwin Racing tandem Jimmy Phelps and Max McLaughlin, who call Weedsport Speedway home, have had many significant career moments at the Central New York track. Phelps captured his first points-paying Series victory in almost three years at the track last August while McLaughlin captured his first career Series victory there in October 2020.
Beyond his victory, Phelps finished eighth and sixth during last season’s two additional Series races at Weedsport. For McLaughlin, Weedsport was a challenge throughout the year, finishing sixth, 19th and 16th. He’ll be poised to turn that around and find his way back to Victory Lane at his home track.
Lebanon Valley Speedway has been more of a challenge for both drivers with neither finding their way into the top five last year. Both will also be looking for their first Series win at the facility.
NEW YEAR, NEW DRIVER: Darren Smith has had an early surge in his sophomore season on the Super DIRTcar Series tour.
The Binghamton, NY native logged his first career Quick Time Award during the first points-paying matchup of the championship season at Bridgeport Motorsports Park. Later in the evening, he continued with his momentum by leading 59 of 100 laps of the Feature, before finishing in fifth – his first career top five with the Series.
Having yet finished inside the top 10 at Weedsport Speedway and Lebanon Valley Speedway in Series competition, he’ll be poised to keep his early season momentum going and score two more career best finishes.
LOCAL COMPETITION: Lebanon Valley Speedway has helped breed several Big Block Modified talents that will be ready to take on the Series stars on their home turf. Andy Bachetti, the five-time and defending Big Block Modified track champion from Sheffield, MA, will be one of the top contenders ready to take on the challenge. With 61 career Big Block Modified victories at the track, Bachetti is no stranger to the 5/8-mile oval. Last September, Bachetti cruised to a hefty $25,500 payday, the second highest in Series competition, when he repeated as the Mr. DIRT Track USA champion.
Kenny Tremont, a local legend with 14 Big Block track championships, has seven Series wins at his home track, dating back to 1998.
Marc Johnson, a former full-time Series driver, finished second during the King of Spring event, and Keith Flach finished second during the Mr. DIRT Track USA event.
LJ Lombardo scored the win during last year’s King of Spring, putting his name in the headlines as the first Super DIRT Week Qualifier winner of 2022 with his first Super DIRTcar Series victory.