SYRACUSE, NY – Oct. 9, 2013 – Brett Hearn wasn’t disappointed when the cancelation of ‘Happy Hour’ practice for the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds kept him off the New York State Fairgrounds one-mile oval on Wednesday afternoon.
That, of course, is a sure sign of the confidence the defending Syracuse 200 champion has in his machine for NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week XLII, which will kick off in earnest on Thursday after DIRTcar officials decided to call off Wednesday’s scheduled hot-lap session because the track surface remained too wet following heavy rain that fell over the weekend and into Monday.
“I’m alright with it,” Hearn said when asked about the loss of NAPA Super DIRT Week’s first practice. “I know that (DIRTcar Director of Series & Sanction) Joe (Skotnicki) likes to make sure that when we hit the track here it’s as good as they can get it, so, after all the rain here earlier in the week, giving the track another day to dry out should definitely help.
“And I’m in a good position because I’m bringing back a car that I know was really good last year. I’m not really concerned about running a lot of (practice) laps to find the ‘sweet spot.’ I just have to watch the track and make the right adjustments.”
Hearn, 55, of Sussex, N.J., will attempt to win the Syracuse 200 in consecutive years for the second time in his illustrious career driving the same Madsen Motorsports Teo-Pro car that he steered to victory in the rain-shortened 2012 event. It will be the third straight NAPA Super DIRT Week that he’s sat behind the wheel of the car.
“The first year we really struggled with this car,” said Hearn, who owns a record six Syracuse 200 triumphs but snapped a 17-year winless streak in the prestigious race in ‘12. “Then last year there was no practice on Wednesday (due to rain) and we were far from being good when we went out for qualifying. I was shocked that we timed fourth (fastest) with the big-block.
“We kept working on it and we finally worked out everything and got it right on race day. We’ve done our homework enough since then to where I’m pretty confident that we’ll be as good, if not better, this year.”
There is one new wrinkle in Hearn’s combination for this year’s Syracuse 200, however. He has switched his suspension package to Fox Shocks, a San Diego-based company that is attempting to transfer its success in off-road and motocross racing to dirt oval-track competition for the first time this season.
Hearn’s first outing using a full set of Fox Shocks came on Tuesday night at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in Elbridge, N.Y. He dominated the postponed Super DIRTcar Series ‘Stars & Stripes 100’ until an empty fuel tank ended his bid for victory just four laps short of the finish.
“I thought we were gonna bring a win back home for them,” Hearn said of his debut with Fox Shocks. “We probably should have – it was fast, really fast, but we ran out of gas.
“After last night, I gotta feel pretty good about the weekend (at Syracuse). Anytime you leave a race like last year where you were that good on race day and then you go back with some different stuff, yeah, you have to be a little bit worried. But I think there’s more to it than that. We did a lot of homework to make sure that we were in the same area we were last year with our stuff, so I’m not too concerned about making the change (to Fox).”
Hearn, who enters NAPA Super DIRT Week leading the Super DIRTcar Series points standings, knows it will be important to have a fast car from the first green flag on Thursday. Practice for big-block Modifieds is set to start at 9:30 a.m. – a half-hour earlier than originally scheduled – and Syracuse 200 time trials (locking in the top six qualifiers) are earmarked to commence at 2:45 p.m.
“You’ve got to come off the trailer fast – especially now with the way they’re gonna line up time trials based on practice speeds,” said Hearn, referencing the new format that will send drivers out for time trials from their hot-lap times (slowest-to-fastest). “We’re basically doing two sets of time trials tomorrow – one for our (qualifying) position because that’s important here, and one for the race itself.”
Thursday’s NAPA Super DIRT Week schedule also includes the 358-Modifieds. The division will practice from 11-11:55 a.m. and time-trial for the top-six starting spots in Saturday’s ‘Salute To The Troops 150’ beginning at 1:20 p.m.
For more information on NAPA Super DIRT Week, log on to www.SuperDIRTWeekOnline.com.
The Super DIRTcar Series and DIRTcar Racing in the Northeast Region is brought to fans by several sponsors and partners including Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels, Chevy Performance Parts, NAPA Auto Parts, and Safety-Kleen. Contingency sponsors are ASI, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix, ButlerBuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Edelbrock, Integra Shocks, Intercomp, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, MSD Performance, Penske Shocks, Racing Electronics, Superflow and Wrisco Industries. Super DIRT Week sponsors include: Beyea Headers, Draco Springs, Fast Shafts, Fluidampr, FK Rod Ends, Fox Shocks, Pro Fabrication and Turbostart. Lighting for Super DIRT Week is brought to you by Musco Lighting.