Becomes youngest polesitter in history of prestigious Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series event at the New York State Fairgrounds
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Oct. 8, 2015 – Larry Wight lived up to his nickname during Thursday afternoon’s NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week Big-Block Modified qualifying at the New York State Fairgrounds.
The rising 22-year-old star known as ‘Lightning’ Larry was quickest in the 75-car time-trial session, ripping off a blazing lap of 29.154 seconds to earn the pole position for Sunday afternoon’s 44th annual Syracuse 200 that will serve as the final race on the historic Syracuse Mile.
Using a brand-new Teo-Pro/LJL-Kevlar engine combination fielded by his father John, Wight was fast right out of the gate in Thursday’s morning practice and backed it up when it counted. He was the last scheduled driver to qualify and clicked off the day’s top circuit on his second time around the one-mile oval to become the youngest polesitter in the long history of the prestigious NAPA Super DIRT Week Big-Block Modified headliner.
And after securing the pole, Wight mused that he could have gone even faster.
“I think I left a couple of tenths over in turn three just trying to make sure I hit my mark,” said Wight, who earned $1,000 from Pole Position Raceway for his effort. “The first lap I went in a little bit too hot and slid out of the bite and ended up wasting a lap, so the last lap I made sure I just kept the nose underneath me and probably left at least a 10th over there because of it.
“There’s definitely some changes we can make to make it a little more balanced, so I think we still got a lot of speed in it.
“This is definitely the fastest I’ve ever run here,” he added. “Normally it’s breaking up by now or it’s rough from the start, but the track crew did a phenomenal job this year to make sure the last year was memorable.”
Despite barely being into his 20s, Wight will make his eighth career start in the Syracuse 200 on Sunday. It will be the last race in the century-plus history of the Syracuse Mile, which will be razed by the State of New York as part of an extensive reconstruction of the Fairgrounds.
With his ever-improving comfort level racing on the big track, Wight is one driver who is sad to see the venerable facility hosting its final event this week.
“I’m definitely getting more comfortable here,” said Wight. “To be able to drive into turn one or even turn three without lifting, it definitely takes a little bit of courage, and I’ve been running here long enough now to be able to do it.
“Between myself and (Gypsum Racing teammates) Pat (Ward) and Billy (Decker), we’re able to put everything together and capitalize on all of our knowledge here. I’m a little more out of the box with some of my setups because I haven’t done them before or I’m just naive enough to try it, but sometimes – like today – it works.”
Wight’s dramatic conclusion to qualifying stole the pole position from three-time and defending Syracuse 200 champion Stewart Friesen of Sprakers, N.Y., who settled for the outside pole in Sunday’s race and a $750 prize from Dirt Track Digest. He turned a lap of 29.281 seconds in the Jeff Daley-owned Teo-Pro car that he steered to a $50,000 victory in last year’s event.
“I feel like it could’ve been better,” said Friesen, who has won the Syracuse 200 in three of the past four years. “I think we had a little bit more there. On the second lap I tried to hold it wide-open all the way through (turns) one and two and it just didn’t stick. I got up out of the rubber a little and got into the dust.
“The first lap was really, really good, so I figured I could hold it down a little bit farther and it didn’t really work.”
Carey Terrance of Hogansburg, N.Y., grabbed the third starting spot for the Syracuse 200 with his lap of 29.324 seconds. Locking into the positions 4-6, meanwhile, were 2013 event winner Billy Dunn of Watertown, N.Y. (29.353), Pat Ward of Genoa, N.Y. (29.629) and 2009 race champion Matt Sheppard of Waterloo, N.Y. (29.707).
The remainder of the 45-car starting field for the Syracuse 200 will be determined by the three 20-lap heat races on Friday afternoon, a non-qualifiers race and provisional starters. Heat race lineups will be posted Friday morning.
For more information on NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week, visit www.superdirtweekonline.com.
NAPA Super DIRT Week Big-Block Modified Syracuse 200 Qualifying Results
|43||62s||Tom Sears Jr.||31.296|
|46||M40||Mark Forte Jr||31.422|
|65||77h||Bob Hamm Jr.||32.685|
|67||13||Rick Reglaski Jr.||32.907|
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, Pole Position Raceway and Dig Safely New York. Contingency sponsors are ASI, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix, ButlerBuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Edelbrock, FX Caprara, Fox Shox, Impact Race Products, Intercomp, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, KSE Racing Products, Mobil 1, Motorsports Safety Systems, MSD Performance, Racing Electronics, Superflow, TNT Rescue and Wrisco Aluminum.