(HOLDEN BEACH, N.C.) — Two series events at Woodhull Raceway in Short Track Super Series history. Two races stolen away by STSS outsiders- but that all ends tonight in my completely biased opinion.
Though I cannot be there to witness what is expected to be the best race yet in the STSS third stop to the third-mile Steuben County oval, I do think that it will be a Woodhull weekly competitor who shows the fast way around “New York’s Toughest Bullring.” The addition of new clay, not even two weeks ago, should give a small advantage to the weekly competitors trying to defend home turf. But there’s more to it than just getting to know the freshened surface, in fact, I have ten reasons why a Woodhull car will win.
Here are my top ten reasons why:
10. 2016’s STSS race
I don’t think we need any more proof than what we saw last season, when the STSS visited for the second time in series history. Woodhull regulars Grant Hilfiger and Donnie Lawson led nearly the entire event, ultimately filling out two of the three podium spots. But they didn’t stand atop the podium, as Ryan Godown benefited from Andy Bachetti showing him the outside lane just before Bachetti would jump the cushion and spin his car.
9. The ‘Water Wagon’ Coming In Hot
One driver at Woodhull who participates on a fairly consistent basis is Dundee, NY’s Brady Fultz. Fultz already has a win at Woodhull this season, coming back on Saturday May 13. A win in 2017 pairs quite nicely with two victories for the family-owned No. 70 last season. Fultz carries momentum into tonight’s STSS fifty-three-lap event with finishes of sixth, third and third in his last three Woodhull starts. Can he improve his next Woodhull finish tonight? The numbers show that he’s trending that way.
8. A ‘sneaky good’ pick- Art Goodier
It’s likely that if you don’t follow Woodhull Raceway often, you may not have heard the name Art Goodier. But Woodhull followers know that this driver has been incredibly consistent, he just hasn’t broken into the win column yet. But he has been consistent, finishing in the top five seven times this season. That includes finishing in the runner up position in the last two straight weekly shows at Woodhull. Watch the No. 1G tonight…
7. Mike Bills returns to Woodhull tonight
The guy everyone thought would dethrone Billy Van Pelt last season as track champion hasn’t raced in the Modifieds yet this season. But tonight ‘The Maniac’ Mike Bills returns behind the wheel of Herbie Wright’s yellow No. 88 machine. A potent ride with a ‘nice stove’ under the hood, will give Bills what he needs to make his first Modified start of the year count in a big way. His lack of laps this season might put him at a disadvantage to the casual fan, but his great track record in 2016 makes him a solid dark horse pick tonight.
6. ‘B-Mart’ & Doolittle- the ‘little’ teams that could
Two drivers that have an outside shot tonight, if they can qualify and make the redraw, are two weekly competitors operating with much smaller budgets than most. Brandon Martin in the Davis-owned No. 60j will try and muscle his Ford-powered mount to the front. ‘B-Mart’ picked up his first career Modified win just a few weeks ago and has a great chance to make a big splash tonight on a big stage. Doolittle, has yet to break into Victory Lane, but is one of the feel-good stories of the year at Woodhull. This team doesn’t operate on a big budget, has no sponsors, and have solidly finished top five four times- including a best finish of second on July 22. Doolittle has been stout in his ‘Little HigFab That Could,’ and will be fun to watch tonight if you like pulling for the little guys.
5. Kenny Peoples Jr. could turn season around tonight
2017 hasn’t been a season to write home about for Kenny Peoples Jr. He didn’t get his No. 5k on track until several weeks into the season, had some good runs turn sour for this reason or that reason. But there’s a big reason why he lands in the five spot on this list. Peoples tends to rise up, when the spotlight is bright and the stage is big. When his team or family needs a win, Peoples has stepped up time and time again. Woodhull fans all remember his march to victory in the very first Jake Davis Memorial King of the Ring (named after his late nephew). But a win in the STSS race tonight, would be huge for his team. Nobody races with more heart than the driver of the Peoples Bakery No. 5k and could be a guy to watch tonight.
4. Russell Morseman could shock STSS tour
Russell Morseman is one driver that could shock the Short Track Super Series tonight if things fall his way in the draw and qualifying. Morseman has been fast of late in weekly competition at Woodhull, and was one small mistake from another competitor away from winning his first ever Modified feature a few weeks ago. With all of the bad luck behind him, this is a driver who could take the place of Hilfiger and Lawson from one year ago. Morseman would like nothing more than to win tonight in memory of a friend and crew member who he recently lost.
3. ‘The Highside Hustler’ Climbs Aboard Herbie’s Big Block
Dillon Groover is locked in a tight battle with Van Pelt and Lawson for the Woodhull weekly track championship in 2017. But tonight, Groover steps into Herbie Wright’s Big Block for the STSS event. Groover’s stock at Woodhull is on the rise with multiple wins in 2017, but the unknown for him tonight is the Big Block power under the hood of the primarily blue machine he will race tonight. Groover’s team has been fast with their 370 Modified, but with the big dogs coming into town, some teams are gravitating toward Big Block power. If the outside lane is fast, watch out for Groover’s No. 88 to make his way to the front.
2. ‘The Deuce’ is primed to snap his STSS hex
There is no other driver who has been as dominant in recent years in Modified competition as Billy Van Pelt’s No. 2 machine. Paired again with Kevin Chilson’s team in 2017, Van Pelt has ripped off three victories and has only finished outside the top five three times. With his win last Saturday, Van Pelt took back the point lead in weekly competition and certainly has momentum on his side. But, the reason he falls to number two on our list for tonight’s show- he has hit snake eyes every time the STSS has come to town. Getting mixed up in jingles ahead of him have swept away Van Pelt’s chances at taking home the only race he has yet to win in his career at Woodhull. If he can show the speed he’s had all year and keep his nose clean, I think Van Pelt will be a factor in determining the winner tonight.
1. ‘King Donnie’ Lawson will show 2016 was no fluke
Donnie Lawson can now be called ‘King Donnie’ after his first win in the Jake Davis Memorial King of the Ring about a month ago. But last season proved that an outsider who follows the STSS, can’t just come into our house and steal everyone’s lunch money without a fight. Lawson was nearly flawless in last season’s STSS event, battling semi-weekly competitor Grant Hilfiger tooth and nail for the lead. I know that a lot of things have to go right in order for a driver to run the way Lawson did last season, but there’s no reason why he can’t repeat that performance. The Lawson-family-owned No. 11 has been quick all year, including a pair of wins and the King of the Ring title. They’ve also had a lot of bad luck, but that will be shed tonight. Lawson will compete in the Modifieds and the Grit Racing Series Crate Sportsman, and if you are a betting man- place your bets times two on number eleven. The ‘Flying School Teacher’ proved he can more than hang with the best the STSS has to offer, and claims the number one spot on my list for tonight.
Enjoy the races tonight, and make sure to support NAPA Auto Parts in Addison, NY and Corning, NY; Two Rivers Timber/Instant Heat Wood Pellets & Maple City Dodge for making this epic event possible.
The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Race Chaser Online, the Performance Motorsports Network, Scorpion Radio Group, their sponsors or other contributors.
About the Writer
Steven Ovens is the Northeast Dirt Correspondent for Race Chaser Online and the creator and host of the Turn 5 Live dirt track racing radio show, airing at 7:30 p.m. Eastern every Tuesday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Ovens has spent his lifetime in the sport of dirt track racing, growing up in the garages of the Kerrick and Ovens families. He spent 11 years behind the wheel between go-karts and 4 Cylinder Mini Stocks which brings a unique perspective to his dirt track editorials.
The 31-year-old has a career in the growing health care business world, and is also entering his second season as the full-time announcer and media director for Woodhull Raceway in Woodhull, N.Y.
In addition, Ovens was formerly the announcer and media director for Outlaw Speedway (formerly Black Rock Speedway) in Dundee, N.Y., serving in that capacity in both 2015 and 2016.
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