Like Sherman marching through Georgia, Billy Decker continued to devastate the competition at Super DIRT Week Friday night, leading both his 358-modified and big-block qualifiers flag-to-flag after turning fast time in 358 time trials earlier in the day.
Decker was joined in victory lane for the Triple 20s by fellow big-block winners Bobby Varin and Billy Dunn, while he shared the small-block spotlight with “The Doctor,” Danny Johnson.
The opening 358 qualifier saw 2011 Fonda Speedway champion Ronnie Johnson, who started outside fast-qualifier Decker in the front row, blast in behind him as they hit turn one. They ran that way to the checkered flag, despite three yellows that kept the field bunched up. Dunn was a distant third, with Ryan Godown, Jimmy Blewett and Stewart Friesen trailing. Brett Hearn ran in the top five until dropping out with two laps to go.
The second qualifier for today’s Gander Mountain 150 saw Danny Johnson and front-row companion Tim McCreadie run out to a comfortable lead, with Andy Bachetti and young Matt Williamson chasing them. They finished that way, with third-starting Tim Fuller settling for fifth, ahead of Wayne Jelley and Tim Sears Jr.
In big-block qualifying for Sunday’s VP Small Engines Fuel 200, Decker again blasted off from the pole, this time with fourth-starting Jimmy Phelps, who got a great start, in tow. Hearn ran third until breaking a rear wheel, putting third-starting Pat Ward back in third. He was trailed by Alan Johnson, Larry Wight and Vic Coffey.
“I had a good starting spot,” said Decker. “Now, we have to figure out how to get through turns three and four Sunday without destroying the car. It’s really rough out there.”
Varin, who also led flag-to-flag off the pole in round two, agreed.
“The car is working good, but they need two grooves in turns three and four,” he said. “If they don’t get the surface fixed, everyone will have driveline problems and there will be horrible attrition Sunday. There’s no way to miss the holes. I know, because when I got 10 car lengths out in front, I tried about six different lines, and there’s nothing any better there right now.”
Matt Sheppard trailed Varin the entire distance, with McCreadie claiming third ahead of two-time defending VP 200 winner Friesen, Fuller and Bob McGannon.
Dunn appeared set to run third in the nightcap behind race-long leader Garry Tomkins and Justin Haers chagned the outcome with four to go, Tomkins slowed abruptly, and Dunn pinned Haers behind him to shoot to the lead. Polesitter Peter Britten jumped to third in the scramble, with Bachetti, Ronnie Johnson and Dave Rauscher trailing.
Other Capital Region racers now qualified for Sunday’s Super DIRT Week finale include Donnie Corellis, Kenny Tremont Jr., Eddie Marshall, Bachetti and Keith Flach.
In 358-modified qualifying Friday afternoon, Decker again turned in the fast time to claim the pole for today’s Gander Mountain 150. His time of 31.702 seconds was actually quicker than his pole-winning time of 32.997 seconds in qualifying for Sunday’s 200.
Danny Johnson, Ronnie Johnson (in the Palmer’s Service Center No. 76A), McCreadie, Dunn and Fuller rounded out the locked-in top six qualifiers and will comprise the first three rows today.
“I like it,” said Decker when asked if he was happy with the sweep. “But the other guys are closing the gap. The track is less rough, and there’s less standing water inside turn one, so it was easier to time than yesterday. Now, we have to find out if it’ll take rubber or just get slippery.”
“This is a good race car,” said Johnson. “I think it’ll race really well [today], because it’s new and it feels better than our past cars. I’ve been fourth and fifth the last two years, and we’re hoping to improve on that.”
Today’s schedule features the Gander Mountain 150 at 1:30 p.m. with the 30-lap sportsman championship to follow.
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