Story By: JOE GRABIANOWSKI / DIRTCAR – OSWEGO, NY – Less than 24 hours after a heated battle that nearly saw Billy Dunn and Mat Williamson met wheel and bumper, the two found themselves on the front row of the Salute to the Troops 150.
The six fastest drivers locked themselves into Saturday’s prestigious DIRTcar 358 Modified NAPA Super DIRT Week event during Thursday’s Time Trial session. Dunn earned the SRI Performance Pole Award (worth an extra $1,000), while Williamson earned the Low-E Insulation Outside Pole (worth an extra $750). Rounding out the top-six were Tim Sears, Jr. (third), Stewart Friesen (fourth), Billy Decker (fifth) and Rob Bellinger (sixth).
Along with claiming the pole for the 150-lap race, Dunn also broke the track record for the division at Oswego Speedway with a 20.688 sec. lap.
“It’s awesome,” Dunn said. “We haven’t time trialed very good here with the Small Blocks since the very first year at Oswego. We thought we were off a little bit in Hot Laps but the track kind of came to us. We didn’t dial ourselves out and just got a good lap in.”
His pole-winning lap came in the early stage of Time Trials, besting Williamson for the top spot after the Canadian was the first driver to break the previous track record – of 20.899 sec. set by Tim Fuller in 2018 – with his 20.821 sec. lap.
“I didn’t know what the track was going to do there at the end if it would take rubber or not, but it was pretty good,” Williamson said. “Billy [Dunn] laid down a really good lap. We’re just happy to be up here.”
Williamson has been on a hot streak this week for the 49th NAPA Super DIRT Week. He won the Super DIRTcar Series Demon 100 on Tuesday and then followed that up with a DIRTcar 358 Modified win Wednesday night at Weedsport Speedway. During the latter event, Williamson made a furious pass underneath Dunn with, as Williamson stated, “little care if it put him in the wall” due to the way Dunn raced him as a lap car while Williamson was racing for the lead.
The two drivers were all smiles, though, on the front stretch while celebrating their front row starting positions. However, their competitive natures have been on display all season with the two drivers, arguably, being the top-two in the DIRTcar 358 Modified division. The points don’t lie. Williamson claimed the Hoosier Tire Weekly Champion for the DIRTcar 358 Modifieds, while Dunn finished second.
For Dunn, he’ll take any edge he can get on his competition.
“Clean air at the front of the race, you can’t ask for anything better,” Dunn said. “A lot of stuff happens at the beginning. It’s easy to get caught up in an early wreck. We’ll try to win that Qualifier tomorrow night, settle into the race and get it done.”
Of the top-six drivers that locked in, four have won the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 (Dunn, Williamson, Friesen and Decker), and only one has claimed the Salute to the Troops 150 champion (Decker).
Decker is the defending champion of the event and made history last year by becoming the winningest driver of it with his seventh Salute to the Troops 150 title.
“The Gypsum Wholesaler car was really good, drivable,” said Decker, who bumped Danny Johnson out of the top-six with his late qualifying run. “That makes it easier on me. Pretty happy with those two laps. We’ll take it.
“It’s going to be exciting. It usually is. I look forward to getting it on Saturday night.”
LOCKED IN TOP-SIX:
1–Billy Dunn – 20.688
2–Mat Williamson – 20.821
3–Tim Sears, Jr. – 20.873
4–Stewart Friesen – 20.879
5–Billy Decker – 20.894
6–Rob Bellinger – 20.916