OSWEGO, N.Y. — Mat Williamson was disappointed when he ran second to Stewart Friesen in Saturday night’s 358 modified race after winning everything else all week.
He made up for it Sunday afternoon with his second consecutive victory in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 to close out Super DIRT Week.
The $50,000 score came at the expense of a bevy of former winners of DIRT modified racing’s most prestigious event, with Billy Decker, Matt Sheppard, Friesen and Larry Wight chasing him to the checkers.
It looked for most of the race as if popular Australian transplant Peter Britten might go the distance on a tank of fuel and pull off a surprising win but before he could find out, a tangle with Tyler Dippel sent him pitside and gave the lead to Williamson.
“I feel bad for Peter, because he got totally body slammed down there” said Williamson. “Right now, I’m speechless. We kept our heads down all week, got some new Integra shocks to handle the rough track conditions and then worked all night to make sure the car would survive on this track.”
Polesitter Britten bested front row companion Jimmy Phelps on the break but the first of some16 yellows flew immediately when billowing dust reduced driver’s vision and Jack Lehner hit something in the confusion.
But after that, Britten controlled a race run in bit and spurts, with cars suffering flat tires and broken right-rear shocks from running through the substantial holes at both ends of the speedway.
The track peeled up and was thrown off in chunks until after halfway, by which time it finally stabilized, but the holes were still there. With most caution periods a standard four laps, it was hard for anyone but Britten to build up any momentum.
Williamson, who started seventh, was content to ride and stay out of trouble, running easily in the top five and then pitting on lap 40 under yellow for fuel along with Dippel, Sheppard and a handful of others.
With Britten continuing to run out front, Dippel, Sheppard and Williamson made their way steadily back through the field as others pitted or their cars broke and at halfway Britten was trailed by Phelps, Wight, Dippel, Friesen and Williamson.
Phelps went pitside with a flat tire on lap 114, Wight pitted under yellow on lap 125 and Friesen spun in traffic on a lap-134 restart to shuffle the field ahead of the fleet Canadian.
When a yellow flag was called on lap 145 for debris from a car shedding parts, the order was Britten, Dippel and Williamson. Even with a single-file restart, Dippel managed to get down inside the leader as they bounced through turn one, then at the other end he drove in full bore, bounced through another hole and blasted Britten, sending him into the outside wall and then the pits.
Williamson took advantage of the confusion, shooting underneath to the lead with Decker and Sheppard in tow. Dippel managed to get back in the mix and positions changed a few times behind Williamson and Decker but the frantic pace seemed to calm until Tim Sears Jr. coasted to a halt on the backstretch with five laps to go.
Friesen led Wight under Dippel on the restart, causing him to get out of the groove and lose his momentum and the finish was set.
The second five consisted of Carey Terrance, Rocky Warner, Dippel, Mike Gular and Phelps.
“I just tried to keep the wheels on it,” offered Decker. “I had a good car, but we didn’t have quite enough for Mat. We could gain some but then you’d hit the holes wrong and give it all back.”
As for Sheppard, he “felt I had a shot at Billy but not Mat. I didn’t need that last yellow but there was nothing you could do the way the track was today. The car held together and that’s all you can ask for.”
A handful of cars made one or two laps and parked in the infield to avoid the expected mayhem from a rough track.
Huge spots were down to the asphalt underneath by mid-race, with one entering turn one the size of a pickup truck. Other places were as bad and it was a miracle that as many cars finished as did.
For the record, Williamson’s Buzz Chew owned mount was a Bicknell powered by a Billy the Kid engine.