Decker Claims Sixth Syracuse 358 Triumph
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Billy Decker won his sixth Nationwide Insurance 150 for 358 modifieds Saturday afternoon at Super DIRT Week, leading the apparent heir to his status as king of the New York State Fairgrounds mile, Stewart Friesen, to the checkers after a stirring green-white-checkered finish.
“We had a good day, because the car was really comfortable and lapped traffic wasn’t as bad as some years,” said Decker as he savored his $20,000 win. “Then Stewart got down inside us on that last restart. I didn’t think he could draw us on the frontstretch but he did and it got way dicier than I like to have it.”
Friesen got alongside Decker as they hit turn one but couldn’t hold the bottom line, had to lift and then slid out a groove, letting Decker escape with his fourth consecutive win and leaving the hard-charging Canadian with a $10,000 payday. Tim McCreadie, watching from third after an eventful day, finished there with Tim Fuller, Ronnie Johnson, Rick Laubach, Andy Bachetti, Larry Wight, Matt Billings and Matt Williamson trailing.
Fast-timer Decker led off the pole on the initial start and by lap 12 was lapping the tailenders with the seventh starting McCreadie in tow. The WoO LM kingpin caught the leader in traffic on lap 25 but couldn’t pass him, then seven laps later stopped in turn four, bringing a roar from the crowd.
“We kept getting under guys but then one lapped car let Billy go but wouldn’t give me a break and I finally got the left front knocked off,” explained McCreadie.
That brought the major point of contention for the afternoon, as McCreadie pitted with the pits still closed, got back on the track quickly and was in the lead pack when Decker and the other leaders completed their stops after the pits opened and rejoined the field.
“I probably should have been restarting about 15th,” said McCreadie. “But they said at the pit meeting that you could pit when it was closed with a flat. They talked about making me stop again, but didn’t in the end, so here we are. If they had, we would have gotten tires and been good either way.”
The caution was extended while the proper order was debated, with the race going red briefly on lap 41 before restarting with Martin Roy, who had not pitted, ahead of Decker, the first car out of the pits. Friesen, David Hebert and McCreadie were next in line. Decker then got his Gypsum Express Kevlar-fired Bicknell around Roy on lap 54 and sailed away.
Officials talked for many laps about making McCreadie do another stop before the end but finally gave that idea up, causing a debate that will likely rage well beyond Sunday’s Super DIRT Week finale. If his stop was legitimate he should have restarted behind Roy and if not, he was far ahead of where he belonged.
Friesen moved to second when Roy finally pitted on lap 73 and in the late 80-lap range drew right in on the leader only to have Decker again turn up the wick and drive away.
When the yellow flew for Willy Decker stalling on lap 123, the order was Decker, Friesen, McCreadie, Fuller and Jimmy Horton but that changed when Horton ran dry with five to go as the cars circled under yellow following Danny Johnson’s frontstretch stop and dash across traffic to the pits. That put Ronnie Johnson into the top five.
“We were decent but we ran out of fuel too,” said R.J. “The car was skipping for the last couple of laps but we made it.”
The crowd was up and screaming when Friesen took a final shot at the lead on the restart but it was not to be.
“We got a good run on him and gave it all we had,” said the 2010 winner of the SEF 200. “That’s all you can do!”
In Saturday’s preliminary action, Carey Terrance won the 358-modified Last Chance race over Jeremy Wilder, Jasmine Leveillee, Brian McDonald and Chris Raabe. Billy Dunn won the 20-mile Safety Kleen Shootout, besting Tremont, Wight, Hebert, Hearn, Jimmy Phelps, Decker, Matt Sheppard, Bachetti and Danny Johnson.
The afternoon ended with the crash-marred 30-lap Sportsman Championship, a race that saw New Jersey’s Neal Williams best Albany, N.Y., high school senior Bobby Hackel, Tim Sears, Jr. and James Henry.