Story By MIKE WARREN / DIRTCAR – WEEDSPORT, NY – Andrew Buff’s 2023 season will be significant in his racing career as he looks ahead to racing 358 Modifieds in 2024.
The Latham, NY driver left nothing on the table in 2023, earning his first DIRTcar Sportsman Series Championship—the division’s highest honor.
Buff’s consistency led him to the title with three wins, six top-fives, and seven top-10s in nine starts. But that was only part of his story.
His chase for the DIRTcar Sportsman championship began in July during a Central Region event at Land of Legends Raceway. That night, he dominated the Feature, earning his first win at the Canandaigua, NY oval—a place he struggled at.
Then, he did it again at Land of Legends one month later to kick off the DIRTcar Sportsman championship trail. Buff said he credits both wins as essential points on his rise to the top of the standings.
“It goes to show you how much hard work we put in,” Buff said. “And how good our program is. That’s a track I’ve struggled at for years and kind of dreaded going to. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to win because of how unsuccessful we’ve been there. We were able to do that this year the two times we went. Those were a couple of the biggest races of the year with us.”
That summer momentum propelled him to the DIRTcar Sportsman championship. But those weren’t his only accolades in 2023. He also earned a track championship at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Fulton Speedway, and Glen Ridge Motorsports Park. His performance at those three tracks clinched him the Hoosier Tire Weekly Sportsman championship and helped him get 13 wins at the end of the year.
The stout group of accomplishments is something that hasn’t set in yet, Buff said.
“It’s a lot to do in a year,” Buff said. “I was extremely successful with that, and I have a lot of great people behind me that stay on top of our whole program that helped us get up front.”
Of his three track titles, the one at Albany-Saratoga earned him redemption. A year after finishing second to Tim Hartman Jr., who clinched his third straight title in 2022, Buff returned and finished ahead of Hartman by 23 points—a milestone he accomplished in his final chance.
“It’s 15 minutes up the road from my house, so it’s kind of in our backyard,” Buff said. “I’m glad to be able to do that and do that in our last year in Sportsman.”
Albany-Saratoga was also the venue where he started the next phase of his career. During the track’s annual Malta Massive Weekend, Buff ran a DIRTcar 358 Modified for the first time. And while he didn’t qualify for the Feature, it was only a blemish on the road to success.
A week later, Buff returned in his 358 Modified during the Outlaw 200—Fulton’s most prestigious event, allowing him to race against some of the best drivers in the Northeast.
“I always kept looking at it like you’re in the same car,” Buff said. “The motor definitely reacts different, and it changes a lot. We took it to Fulton and qualified for the (Outlaw 200) and were probably 11th or 12th at the halfway break and wrecked out shortly after that.”
That Outlaw 200 start, along with attempting to qualify at Super DIRT Week were just a taste of what to expect from Buff. He plans on moving up to the 358 Modifieds full-time in 2024, racing weekly at Fulton and Glen Ridge, along with following the DIRTcar 358 Modified Series. He’ll also aim to earn a spot in his first DIRTcar 358 Modified 150 during Super DIRT Week (Oct. 7-12).
With more seat time, Buff hopes he can achieve the same success with the 358 as in the Sportsman.
“We’re looking forward to (next year),” Buff said. “It’s definitely going to be a big jump, and I’m excited.”