FULTON, N.Y. – Jimmy Phelps was simply untouchable Thursday night at Fulton Speedway.
Phelps wheeled his Billy Whittaker Cars Super DIRTcar Series big-block modified and his HBR No. 98H Bicknell Racing DIRTcar 358 modified to victory lane Thursday during DIRTcar OktoberFAST, earning $12,500 for his efforts across the two classes.
Mike Mahaney was the best of the rest in the big-block modified race. Mahaney made some aggressive moves early to put himself in a position to go after the lead. He was a serious threat to Phelps, but he could not keep up with him in traffic.
After a difficult OktoberFAST opener for Stewart Friesen, the Canadian driver was able to complete the podium. The No. 44 climbed up through the field in a hurry and got right up to Mahaney’s back bumper.
The night wasn’t easy for Phelps. He drew the No. 63 for both of his qualifying groups in the big-block and 358 modifieds. He still managed to win his heat races, which put him in the redraw for both events. As luck would have it, he drew the pole for both features.
“It was a great night for us. With the limited amount of racing, we’re just happy we get to race here,” Phelps said. “It was a perfect night for us.
“We found a new baseline and we got ourselves back on track everywhere we went. We came to a few practice nights and for whatever reason, it was excellent here,” noted Phelps. “We knew three weeks ago that we had to come back to Fulton with that package. This car is just really good.”
The final 52 laps of the 60-lap feature were non-stop without a caution. Phelps caught up with a very strong pack of big blocks racing side by side in front of him. That’s when he made the move of the race.
“When you get held up in lapped traffic you know somebody is coming up. When I made it four-wide I had a run. I was down in the grip. I had to get down in front of those guys and just hope they let me in,” said Phelps. “Fortunately, it worked out. We put it all together.”
Second place finisher Mahaney had the best view of Phelps’ move.
“Jimmy made some crazy moves through lapped traffic. I split through two cars and I thought that was pretty cool but Jimmy dropped low and made it four-wide out of turn four and I wasn’t going to clear them. He got a big split,” Mahaney said laughing.
Friesen was filling Mahaney’s mirror for the second half of the race. Friesen felt he was battling tire heat after catching up to the No. 35.
“We were just playing the tires. Mahaney fired off and put the pressure on Phelps. I overheated the right rear tire a little bit. I kept putting around the yuke tires trying to save my stuff,” said Friesen. “I would get the left rear in the bite off of turn four but then I was slipping the right rear and ended up sealing it up a little bit. That was it.”
In the 358 modified feature that was run earlier in the evening, Phelps led the final 35 laps of the 40-lap feature to claim his first win of the night.
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 three and take the spot away from him at the exit of turn four.
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 two, 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,” Phelps said. “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.”
Billy Decker was second to Phelps in the 358 modified feature, followed by Tim Sears, Mahaney and Friesen.
Big-Block Modifieds: Jimmy Phelps, Mike Mahaney, Stewart Friesen, Mat Williamson, Larry Wight, Chris Hile, Rocky Warner, Erick Rudolph, Billy Decker, Billy Dunn, Jack Lehner, Tom Sears, Tim Sears, Matt Sheppard, Tim Fuller, Peter Britten, Max McLaughlin, Billy VanInwegen, David Marcuccilli, Chad Phelps, Jessey Mueller, Demetrios Drellos, Todd Root, Marcus Dinkins, Tyler Trump, Andy Bachetti, Brett Hearn.
358 Modifieds: Jimmy Phelps, Billy Decker, Tim Sears, Mike Mahaney, Stewart Friesen, Erick Rudolph, Matt Sheppard, Pat Ward, Justin Haers, Andy Bachetti, Adam Pierson, Tim Fuller, Rocky Warner, Mat Williamson, Marc Johnson, Michael Maresca, Ronnie Johnson, Larry Wight, Billy Dunn, Chad Brachmann, David Marcuccilli, Ben Bushaw, Tyler Meeks, Ronnie Davis, Todd Root, Willy Decker, Tyler Boniface, David Schilling, Jessey Mueller, Danny Johnson.