SYRACUSE – Pete Stefanski made a mistake that kept him from participating in a Friday practice session during Pro Stock activity as part of NAPA Super DIRT Week XLI at the New York State Fairgrounds.
Stefanski, of North Tonawanda, the lone Western New Yorker in the 35-car Pro Stock field, made no mistakes Sunday as he emerged from an early battle with Rocky Warner of Gloversville and Chad Jesseo of Averill Park and dominated the race for his second career win in the Pro Stock 25. His first came in 2009.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Stefanski said. “To win one is great, to win two is awesome.”
Stefanski started in third Sunday and on lap four maneuvered into a daring pass that gave him the lead and he never looked back. Only a few cautions slowed Stefanski’s pace but he was perfect on restarts, pulling back out to a quick 10- to 15-car length advantage each time. He went on to the win over both Joey Ladouceur of Alexandria, Ont., and Warner by half a straightaway.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘don’t screw up and don’t jump over that little bit of cushion because I’m going to eat concrete pretty hard and pretty fast,’ ” Stefanski said. “I just tried staying smooth and got around there the best we could.”
Stefanski laughed about a miscue he made Friday when he forgot to put enough fuel into his car prior to a practice session.
“That was my mistake,” he said. “I underestimated the amount of fuel we had … but I made sure we had it filled right up to the bream for today’s big race. I wasn’t going to run out today.”
It’s been a while since a member of the McCreadie family of Watertown tasted victory at this event.
That is until Tim McCreadie, son of the retired and popular “Barefoot” Bob McCreadie, started fourth and went on to win The Gander Mountain 150 for the 358 Modifieds on Saturday. Mat Williamson of St. Catharines, Ont., overcame early adversity to place fifth.
McCreadie seemed destined to place second in the waning laps until leader Brett Hearn of Sussex, N.J., ran out of fuel with two laps remaining in the 150-lap contest.
Hearn would get redemption Sunday, winning the rain-shortened VP Small Engine Fuels 200 for the Modifieds for the sixth time. His last win came 17 years ago.
Tim McCreadie, 38, is a former Modified and 358 Modified driver. He last raced in Western New York when the World of Outlaws (WOO) Late Model Series visited Little Valley Speedway in August. McCreadie is a WOO regular.
Bob McCreadie won the 358 Modified Super DIRT Week feature race in 1984 and the Modified 200 in 1986. Tim hadn’t been able to win at Syracuse in either a Modified or 358 Modified until Saturday.
“This car has been good the three years that I’ve run it,” Tim McCreadie said. “I never knew what it’s like to win here until now. It’s a great feeling. It’s surreal. I’ve never won here and I was just a little kid when my dad won here. This doesn’t happen as often as you would like it to.”
Williamson, a regular 358 Modified campaigner at the Merrittville Speedway, was involved in an incident on lap 38 that brought out a caution and appeared to doom his day. He made a pit stop for repairs during that caution and recovered nicely.
“I was going around the lapped car of Rich Scagliotta on the back straightaway and I don’t know if he knew if I was there or not but he just kept coming up,” Williamson recalled. “I brushed the back straightaway wall and bent the right rear wheel and gave myself a right front flat. We were stuck in the pits and didn’t know whether we were down a lap or not. It was mass confusion.
“After that I was pretty upset and was on a mission to get to the front. It was good to finish up near the front. Near the end I knew we were good on fuel and that’s a mental aspect that you need to have here when you don’t have to worry about saving fuel and tires.”
Other local Gander Mountain 150 finishers were: Stewart Friesen (Niagara-On-The Lake, Ont.), 10th; Tommy Flannigan, (St. Catharines, Ont.), 29th; Vic Coffey (Caledonia), 37th.
Cody McPherson of St. Catharines finished a strong third in Sunday’s Sportsman 30 behind Warner and Mathieu Desjardins of Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. McPherson hounded Desjardins nearly the entire race but could not quite complete a pass.
Warner sailed by McPherson for second with two laps remaining and got by Desjardins on the last circuit.
Other local finishers were: James Henry, (Niagara Falls, N.Y.), sixth; Brad Rouse, (St. Catharines), seventh; Brandon Easey, (St. Catharines), 10th; Gary Lindberg, (Ridgeway, Ont.) 11th; Justin Sharp (St. Catharines), 21st; Adam Leslie (Port Colborne, Ont.), 24th; Jesse Cotriss, Medina, 26th; and Mike Williams, Tuscarora Nation, 27th.
Saturday’s rain canceled the two Sportsman 30 non-qualifier races, leaving Brett Martin (Burt), Allen Wills (Ransomville), Matt Farnham (Ransomville), Sandy Pembleton (Lewiston) and Sean Letts (Ransomville) without a second chance to make race.