Stock car racing: Decker’s old Bicknells get the job done

The shiny new cars rolled out on the New York State Fairgrounds mile one after the other Thursday af

The shiny new cars rolled out on the New York State Fairgrounds mile one after the other Thursday afternoon, but when the dust had settled, Billy Decker had the pole for both the 40th annual SEF 200 and the Nationwide 150 in his pair of “ancient” Bicknells.

“We put these cars together in 2004, and we’re still using them here because they always work,” said Gypsum Express crew chief Scott Jeffries. “They’ve had some new parts as things wore out, but they’re still the same basic cars.”

“I surprised myself,” said Decker after holding his breath through the last big-block session, where a surprisingly fast Billy Dunn jumped into the exclusive “top six” locked in for Sunday’s SEF 200. “Dunn was faster than we were in the last warmup session, and I was worried about him. Believe me, I’d much rather go out and race than stand here and watch.”

Decker’s pole-winning lap of 29.927 seconds (120.293 mph), run midway through the third group to time, held up but barely, with Dunn cranking out a 29.936. Decker’s teammate, Pat Ward, claimed third with Tim McCreadie, 2010 SFS 200 winner Stewart Friesen and former winner Matt Sheppard also locking in to the first three rows of Sunday’s classic.

“We weren’t good in hot laps, but I never get going until time trials,” said Ward with a laugh. “Actually, I was more worried about tomorrow. I don’t like to race here at night. Dusty and dark are a bad comb­ination.”

“I’ve always had a car that raced good here,” said McCreadie. “I just never qualified well. I left some [speed] out there today, as well, but I’m happy not to be starting 15th or worse like usual.”

Fonda Speedway champion Ronnie Johnson sat on the frontstretch through two full sessions after turning the fast time in the first session, but he was slowly dropped through the ranking as the track got faster, ending up 12th. Lebanon Valley’s Andy Bachetti was 14th, with fellow Valley stars Donnie Corellis 17th and JR Heffner, Eddie Marshall and Kenny Tremont Jr. 19th through 21st. Keith Flach was 31st, with Bobby Varin and Brett Hearn 33rd and 34th.

In qualifying for the Nationwide 150, Decker’s lap of 31.517 (114.22 mph) topped Bachetti, Canadian David Hebert, Willy Decker, Matt Sheppard and Decker’s Gypsum Express teammate Larry Wight. Heffner barely missed the top six, being just .008 seconds slower than Wight.

“The car is consistent,” said Decker as he headed for his big block. “The track is gaining speed, and it would have been easy to overdrive it. Right now, it’s way better than it was two hours ago. By tomorrow, it should level off.”

“Yeah, the track was good for a change,” said Bachetti. “The car and the engine are awesome. Now, we have to do what we have to do on Saturday.”

McCreadie timed in ninth, with Johnson 10th, Varin 11th and Hearn 17th. Tremont did not take time

after losing an engine during practice.

Today’s Triple 20s for modifieds and Twin 20s for the 358s will go off at 7 p.m. under newly installed Musco lighting, with a supporting program of Futures races in all div­isions set for late afternoon.

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