FULTON — On night three of DIRTcar OktoberFAST presented by DIRTVision, Jimmy Phelps was simply untouchable.
The Baldwinsville driver wheeled his Billy Whittaker Cars Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified and his HBR No. 98H Bicknell Racing DIRTcar 358 Modified to victory lane Thursday at Fulton Speedway.
He won the $7,500 top prize in the 60-lap Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified race and added the $4,000 first-place paycheck in the 40-lap 358 Modified race.
Big-Block Modified race
Phelps held off Mike Mahaney and Stewart Friesen at the checkered flag.
Mahaney made some aggressive moves early to put himself in a position to go after the lead, but he could not keep up with Phelps in traffic.
Friesen, in the No. 44, motored through the field in a hurry and got right up to Mahaney’s back bumper before settling for third.
It was a night of incredible numbers at Fulton as 235 cars in three divisions raced a total of 32 races.
Phelps drew the pole for both the Big-Block Modified and 358 Modified features, and he made the most of his starting spots.
“It was a great night for us. With the limited amount of racing, we’re just happy we get to race here,” Phelps said. “It was a perfect night for us.”
The final 52 laps of the 60-lap Big-Block feature were caution free. Phelps needed to weave his way through lapped traffic and stay in front of strong contenders. That’s when he made the move of the race.
“When you get held up in lapped traffic you know somebody is coming up. When I made it four-wide I had a run. I was down in the grip. I had to get down in front of those guys and just hope they let me in,” said Phelps. “Fortunately, it worked out. We put it all together.”
Mahaney had the best view of Phelps’ move. “Jimmy made some crazy moves through lapped traffic. I split through two cars and I thought that was pretty cool but Jimmy dropped low and made it four-wide out of turn 4 and I wasn’t going to clear them. He got a big split,” Mahaney said.
Friesen said he felt he was battling tire heat after catching up to Mahaney. “We were just playing the tires. Mahaney fired off and put the pressure on Phelps. I overheated the right rear tire a little bit. I kept putting around the yuke tires trying to save my stuff,” said Friesen.
Mat Williamson finished fourth, with Phoenix’s Larry Wight fifth. Completing the top 10 were Chris Hile, Rocky Warner, Erick Rudolph, Billy Decker, and Billy Dunn.
DIRTcar OktoberFAST was to continue Friday at Can-Am Speedway, today at Land of Legends Raceway, and close out Sunday at Weedsport Speedway.
The racing action can be seen on DIRTvision.com.
358 Modified feature
Phelps took the green flag in the 40-lap 358 Modified race from outside the front row with Billy Decker to his inside. The two battled for the first five laps before Phelps found the speed he needed on the low line to get a run underneath Decker into turn 3 and take the spot away from him at the exit of turn 4.
From there, Phelps was never seriously challenged. He made his car work the best on the slick surface every lap, and it paid out a big $4,000 check in the end.
Decker finished second and Tim Sears Jr. took third. Mike Mahaney and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top five.
Completing the top 10 were Erick Rudolph, Matt Sheppard, Pat Ward, Justin Haers, and Andy Bachetti.
There was one hoop Phelps had to jump through on his way to the win. A caution flag flew at the halfway point for a spinning Jessey Mueller in turn 2, and the field was restacked nose-to-tail.
“Those restarts, you just never know, because when you step on the gas after a couple of laps slow, you don’t really know what your tires did under the yellow. All it takes is to get them things spinning once and then he’s by you. So, I had to be careful there, but fortunately the car just took off and we were pretty good,” Phelps said about his approach to the restart.
Making the most of the restart was Tim Sears Jr., who went from sixth to third in one lap. Andy Bachetti and Mike Mahaney made some contact on the restart to Sears’ inside at the drop of the green, allowing him to drive by on the top. He then got a great run back on the bottom under Stewart Friesen for third and took it away as they crossed the stripe.
“We were really good. It’s just that once the cars get rolling, we kind of all even out, so you’ve got to get your spots off the starts and restarts. I was hoping for a few more so I could mix it up with Billy and Jimmy, just, luck didn’t fall our way,” Sears said.
Decker kept up the pressure all race long on Phelps but was unable to get the run he needed to make a serious bid for the lead.
Sportsman Modified feature
Oneida’s Matt Janczuk led the entire distance to win the 30-lap DIRTcar Sportsman Modified feature on Thursday during DIRTcar OktoberFAST at Fulton Speedway.
It was his second feature triumph during the weeklong OktoberFAST tour.
In last year’s Sportsman Shootout 50 at Fulton, Janczuk led nearly the entire race before faltering in the closing laps and placing second to Mike Maresca. On Thursday, Janczuk excelled all night and posted the $1,000 win.
He was fastest in group qualifying with a lap time of 18.930 seconds. He won his heat race, redrew the Penske Shocks Pole Award ($250), and then commanded all 30 laps of the feature to win the second OktoberFAST program of the week for the DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds presented by Racing Electronics.
Janczuk now has 10 career Sportsman Modified wins at Fulton’s three-eighths of a mile clay track.
There were 105 cars at the start of the night before qualifying events got the starting field down to 32.
In the main event, Janczuk kept the point on three restarts on his way to the checkered flag. Andrew Buff finished second, A.J. Miller third, Central Square’s Jeffrey Prentice fourth, and Brian Calabrese fifth.
The final caution flag might have been his saving grace. With lapped traffic holding him up, Janczuk’s lead dwindled to 1.600 seconds as Buff was on the prowl. The caution flew on lap 22 and pulled Janczuk out of traffic and put him into clean air with Buff forced to restart on his tail. Janczuk drove away to win by 1.978 seconds.
“This car has been awesome, and what a testament to this team,” Janczuk said. “I love Fulton Speedway so much. I wish the fans were here, but I’m sure they’re watching at home on DIRTVision. After losing last year late in the race, this feels great to get back. Andrew Buff is nobody to slouch on, so it got interesting there at the end.”
Completing the top 10 were Tyler Corcoran, Alan Fink, Jack Meeks, Kevin Root, and Payton Talbot.