SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) – Billy Dunn experienced the highs and lows of the famed Moody Mile at the New York State Fairgrounds.
A day after suffering a crushing, last-lap defeat when he ran out of gas while leading a 358-Modified race on the tricky mile-long dirt track, Dunn won the 42nd annual Syracuse 200 big-block Modified Classic on Sunday, using fuel strategy and a good dose of luck. It was the first Super DIRTcar Series big-block Modified victory for the 29-year-old Dunn, of Watertown, N.Y.
With several drivers running short of fuel in the caution-filled final laps of a race that was extended by new rules mandating that the last 25 laps be run under green-flag conditions, Dunn kept gaining positions and finally assumed command for good on lap 197 when polesitter Stewart Friesen ran out of gas.
Dunn won by 8.875 seconds ahead of 20-year-old Larry Wight, of Phoenix, N.Y., and Ryan Godown, of Ringoes, N.J., finished third.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and dreaming of this,” said Dunn, who was just three months old when his parents brought him to Super DIRT Week for the first time in 1984. “This is awesome. Every one of my heroes has won this race, and now I’m on that list with them. It’s pretty special.”
Dunn’s best finish in seven previous Syracuse 200 starts was an eighth in 2008.
Dunn, who started 16th, pitted on lap 83 with virtually the entire field. But while many drivers committed to going the distance from there and hoping that late-race cautions wouldn’t push their fuel windows past their limits, Dunn opted for a more conservative approach and pitted again under caution on lap 163. He pitted again four laps later for fuel just to make sure, restarted 18th on lap 170, and was able to surge to the front as the leaders tried to conserve fuel.
Tim McCreadie’s chance of winning the race for the third time in four years ended when he had to pit on lap 191 for fuel. McCreadie, also of Watertown, finished 13th, and Friesen was 20th.
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