Story By: JORDAN DELUCIA / DIRTCAR – FULTON, NY – One start for Jimmy Phelps in DIRTcar 358 Modified Series action in New York this year. One trip to DIRTcar OktoberFAST Victory Lane.
The Baldwinsville Bandit took to the high banks of the Fulton Speedway Thursday night and put on a clinic for everyone watching live from their homes on DIRTVision presented by Drydene, leading the final 35 laps of the 358 Modified Series presented by Bicknell Racing Products Feature to claim his first OktoberFAST win of the six-race stretch.
But one just wasn’t enough to satisfy the Baldwinsville, NY, driver. One hour later, he won again, putting his Heinke-Baldwin Racing #98H Big-Block Modified in Victory Lane with the Super DIRTcar Series presented by Billy Whittaker Cars. Truly, a night to remember.
“We didn’t have all those big shows, we didn’t have all these opportunities,” Phelps said of his season to this point with an eye to his back-to-back wins. “So, to be able to come in and get two real big wins right here tonight… hopefully it gets the ball rolling for the rest of the week.”
Phelps took the green in the 40-lap contest from outside the front row with Billy Decker to his inside. The two did battle 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 that point forward, it was all Phelps out front. He was never seriously challenged for the lead again. He was able to make his car work the best on the slick surface every lap, and it payed out a big $4,000 check in the end.
However, there was one hoop Phelps had to jump through. 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 kinda 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 [Decker] and Jimmy [Phelps]… just, luck didn’t fall our way,” Sears Jr. 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. Still, he did come away with a runner-up finish.
“It would have been nice to give it a shot. I don’t know if we were gonna have anything for him; [Phelps] fired really good too. But again, you always want that chance,” Decker said.
The DIRTcar OktoberFAST action continues Friday night from the Can-Am Speedway in LaFargeville, NY, with the 358 Modifieds and Sportsman alongside the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds.
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Feature (40 Laps) 1. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [$4,000]; 2. 91-Billy Decker [$2,500]; 3. 62X-Tim Sears [$1,500]; 4. 35-Mike Mahaney [$1,200]; 5. 1Z-Stewart Friesen [$1,000]; 6. 25-Erick Rudolph [$800]; 7. 9S-Matt Sheppard [$700]; 8. 42P-Pat Ward [$600]; 9. 3-Justin Haers [$550]; 10. 4-Andy Bachetti [$500]; 11. 215-Adam Pierson [$450]; 12. 19-Tim Fuller [$400]; 13. 98-Rocky Warner [$375]; 14. 6-Mat Williamson [$350]; 15. 3J-Marc Johnson [$325]; 16. 247-Michael Maresca [$300]; 17. 2RJ-Ronnie Johnson [$275]; 18. 99L-Larry Wight [$250]; 19. 49-Billy Dunn [$250]; 20. 3B-Chad Brachmann [$250]; 21. M1-David Marcuccilli [$250]; 22. 36-Ben Bushaw [$250]; 23. 9-Tyler Meeks [$250]; 24. 32R-Ronnie Davis [$250]; 25. 15-Todd Root [$250]; 26. 1X-Willy Decker [$250]; 27. 69-Tyler Boniface [$250]; 28. 20S-David Schilling [$250]; 29. 19M-Jessey Mueller [$250]; 30. 83-Danny Johnson [$250] Hard Charger: 247-Michael Maresca[+13