Story By: JOE GRABIANOWSKI / DIRTCAR – BREWERTON, NY – Neither demon nor hurricane can stop Mat Williamson. Not even a bad pill draw.
His dominance of the 49th NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week took another step up the ladder of awe Thursday night during the Hurricane Harvey 75 at Brewerton Speedway with the DIRTcar 358 Modifieds.
The luck of the draw may have plagued him to an 11th place starting position, but his drive and his mastery of the D-Shaped Dirt Demon, mixed with a bit of luck, earned him his third consecutive Feature win during NAPA Super DIRT Week – and fourth consecutive Feature win in a matter of six days.
“This is awesome,” Williamson said about his current stretch of victories. “My crew worked all day on this (#6M DIRTcar 358 Modified) while I was playing in the dirt at Oswego. I can’t thank them enough.”
His success started with the Outlaw 200 at Fulton Speedway on Saturday, where he became the first Canadian driver to win the event. Then, on Tuesday, he won the Super DIRTcar Series Demon 100 at Brewerton Speedway. He followed that up with a DIRTcar 358 Modified win at Weedsport Speedway for the NAPA Super DIRT Week Kickoff Party on Wednesday. And before making the trip to Brewerton Speedway Thursday evening, Williamson claimed the Low-E Insulation Outside Pole Award for the DIRTcar 358 Modified Salute to the Troops 150 at Oswego Speedway.
It’s a current wave of momentum and confidence that seems unstopped in its path to NAPA Super DIRT Week glory. Although, the Hurricane tried.
Williamson’s deflated body language said everything when he looked at his redraw pill. After setting the fastest time in his Time Trial group and dominating his Heat Race, luck told him he’d start 11th in the 75-lap Feature.
Tim Sears, Jr. drew the pole, but his time out front didn’t make a lap. Larry Wight, master the top line to move from fourth to the lead in the opening lap past Sears, Michael Maresca and Ryan Bartlett. From there, Wight made sure it would take catching lightning in a bottle to take the lead away from him.
His #99L Small Block could do what everyone couldn’t. While he was best around the top, when lap traffic became a factor, he could move wherever he needed and not lose speed. No matter who moved into the runner-up spot, they couldn’t catch the red Gypsum car.
The battles behind Wight helped him maintain his lead, as well. Maresca held second for most of the race, but pressure from 2021 Brewerton Speedway track champion Jimmy Phelps eventually got him and the #98H moved to the runner-up spot in the opening 30 laps. Williamson had made his way up to sixth at this point.
Maresca charged back at Phelps for second, but cautions hindered his challenges and subjected him to his rivals behind him. After a restart with less than 25 laps to go, a spark lit for Ronnie Davis III. He found something around the top of the track and began taking no prisoners. He passed Maresca for third on Lap 52 and then got by Phelps for second around the top on Lap 61.
Williamson steadily continued his own march, passing Maresca for fourth on Lap 58 and then found his way around Phelps for third on Lap 64. Even with his run and the momentum Davis had built, neither had another for Wight.
Until five laps to go.
Disaster for Wight. A change of fortune for Williamson. According to Wight, a lap car put him in the wall while he was trying to pass him and caused a part failure, taking him out of the race. That moved Davis into the lead and Williamson second. Luck gave him a bad pill draw, but it also gave him a shot at the win.
Williamson tried to take advantage of that on the restart by sneaking underneath Davis down the backstretch. But before the two could argue over who would lead by the flag stand, a caution came out. On the next restart, Davis made sure Williamson couldn’t get the same run and blocked low. A lap later, another caution for a three-car pileup in Turn 2.
That set up a four-lap dash to the finish. All Williamson needed. Davis got the jump ahead of the Canadian on the start and kept a car length distance between them the following two laps. Williamson, unwilling to settle, moved to the high line and found what he needed.
Off Turn 4 with the white flag in the air, Williamson built a head of steam off the corner and powered to the outside of Davis. He squeezed between the front stretch wall and Davis’s right side, to the point where the two made contact before entering Turn 1. It benefited Williamson as he darted ahead of Davis’s #32R machine and ran away with the win and another $4,000 check.
“We probably didn’t earn that one when Larry (Wight) broke there. I was probably a third-place car until that happened, but sometimes it is better to be lucky than good,” Williamson said.
“I got under Ronnie (Davis) there in (Turn) three and the caution came out. I just had no other options (but to run high). I knew I wasn’t good around the top in (Turns) one and two but had to be at the top in (Turns) three and four. I got underneath him in (Turn) one and made him think I was running the bottom. I think that’s why he tried to protect (Turns) three and four and fortunately, the cushion was out there to bang on.”
While there’s heartbreak in losing the lead on the last lap, Davis was still encouraged by his run.
“I really can’t complain finishing second to Mat (Williamson) who has won everything this week,” he said with a chuckle. “We had a great car. I don’t know if I would’ve had anything for Larry (Wight). He was pretty strong on the top there… I don’t know. I feel like when I should’ve went to the top I went to the bottom and when I should’ve gone to the bottom I went to the top. Ughh.”
Phelps around out the podium with Sears fourth and Maresca fifth.
Williamson wasn’t sure how he’d handle the pressure of being the defending Billy Whittaker Cars 200 champion this year. So far, he’s put himself on a seemingly unstoppable path to his first DIRTcar 358 Modified Salute to the Troops 150 win and another 200 title.
UP NEXT: The DIRTcar 358 Modifieds return to Oswego Speedway on Friday, Oct. 8, for another round of practice and Qualifying Heats to lock more drivers into Saturday’s main event.
Feature (75 Laps)
6m-Mat Williamson [$4,000]; 2. 32R-Ronnie Davis [$2,500]; 3. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [$1,500]; 4. 62X-Tim Sears [$1,200]; 5. 7MM-Michael Maresca [$1,000]; 6. 98W-Rocky Warner [$800]; 7. 215p-Adam Pierson [$700]; 8. 49-Billy Dunn [$600]; 9. 39B-Ryan Bartlett [$550]; 10. 42P-Pat Ward [$500]; 11. 21C-Taylor Caprara [$450]; 12. 3B-Chad Brachmann [$400]; 13. 11T-Jeff Taylor [$375]; 14. 28M-Jordan McCreadie [$350]; 15. 11C-Justin Chrisanti [$325]; 16. 36B-Ben Bushaw [$300]; 17. 34S-Rusty Smith [$275]; 18. 42W-Colton Wilson [$250]; 19. 55-Matt Woodruff [$250]; 20. 4M-Greg Martin [$250]; 21. 23L-Cameron Black [$250]; 22. 31W-Lance Willix [$250]; 23. 99L-Larry Wight [$250]; 24. 2-Roy Breshnahan [$250]; 25. 1M-Dave Marcuccilli [$250]; 26. 678-John Smith [$250]; 27. 66W-Derek Webb [$250]; 28. 15R-Todd Root [$250]; 29. 27Z-Dylan Zacharias [$250]; 30. 1S-Steve Lewis [$250]; Hard Charger Award: 215p-Adam Pierson[+13]