July 10, 2024 | By Mike Warren, Super DIRTcar Series PR

Jimmy Phelps Wins The Natural 77 Honoring Dale Planck at Thunder Mountain

Photo by Emily Schwanke

CENTERLISLE, N.Y. — On a night honoring his long-time friend Dale Planck, Jimmy Phelps made his triumphant return to Super DIRTcar Series Victory Lane.

The “Baldwinsville Bandit” passed Mat Williamson on Lap 23 and led the rest of the way to win the Natural 77 Tuesday at Thunder Mountain Speedway.

“This is amazing,” Phelps said. “Dale and Brandon have done an amazing job with our race team. It was a tough loss. This is definitely dedicated to him, Leslie, Brandon, Steve, and the entire Planck family.

“I’m really proud to be up here.”

Mat Williamson, the SRI Performance and Stock Car Steel Pole Award Winner, led the field to the green flag in the 77-lap Feature with Tim Sears Jr. to his outside.

The two raced side-by-side for the first two laps before Sears nosed ahead of Williamson to lead Lap 3.

Sears led the next seven laps until Williamson’s momentum on the inside lane carried him ahead of the no. 83X on Lap 10. “Timmer” tried to stay with Williamson on the top for three more laps, but his momentum started slipping away, allowing Phelps to take over second.

Williamson, searching for his third straight Super DIRTcar Series win, led the field into lap traffic with Phelps on his back bumper.

The St. Catharines, ON driver stayed on the bottom for a few laps before trying to pass Byron Worthing, a lap car, on the outside on Lap 23.

That opened the door for Phelps, who dove under the No. 88 in Turns 1 and 2 to take the lead.

As Phelps continued battling in lap traffic, Williamson fell to third, losing the runner-up spot to Matt Sheppard, who stayed patient behind Phelps for the next 30 Laps.

However, on Lap 53, Sheppard saw an opportunity to try and win the race. With two cars in front of Phelps, Sheppard swung to the outside of Turns 1 and 2. But moving off the bottom cost him two positions, as Williamson and Sears passed him on the inside.

From there, Phelps went unchallenged to win the $7,700 prize—his 22nd Super DIRTcar Series triumph and first since August of 2022.

Phelps said he knew he had to keep his nose clean in the race's closing stages.

“When [Sears] started rolling the top pretty good, and then when he started backing up, you knew it was either one of two things,” Phelps said. “Either the tires were getting too hot, and he was fading, or the bottom was starting to latch-up. We started using more throttle every lap and knew it was starting to lock down a little bit.

“[Williamson] got to the outside of the lap car and just kind of got hung up there, and it worked for us. Then it narrowed up even more, and we just had to protect.”

Williamson settled for second, keeping his six-race podium streak alive in the 2024 championship season. He also extended his points lead over Sheppard to 18.

“Hats off to Jimmy and the guys,” Williamson said.  “That was a patient race on his part to follow the lap cars as long as they did. I’m getting older, but not old enough to be smart enough to stay on the bottom.

“As dejected as we all are standing here to run second, tonight’s a damn good night. Two years ago, we would’ve been tickled to death to run second. I think just starting on the pole made it a little bit crappier than what it would’ve been if we started seventh or eighth.”

Sears crossed the line third, earning his best Super DIRTcar Series finish of the season. The Hastings, NY driver said he needed to get to the bottom sooner when leading.

“I feel like I might’ve been clear of [Williamson], but I kept seeing his nose, so I wasn’t sure how much room I had,” Sears said. “I didn’t think the track was going to get that good around the bottom, so I felt like I was going to be good cleaning off the middle.”

Sheppard finished fourth, and Jack Lehner rounded out the top five.

UP NEXT: The Super DIRTcar Series returns to Weedsport Speedway in Weedsport, NY, on Sunday, July 14, for the Hall of Fame 100. It’s also the season's second Super DIRT Week Qualifier, as one driver will earn a guaranteed spot in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200.

If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision, either online or with the DIRTVision app.

The Natural 77 (77 Laps): 1. 98H-Jimmy Phelps[3]; 2. 88-Mat Williamson[1]; 3. 83X-Tim Sears Jr[2]; 4. 9S-Matt Sheppard[7]; 5. 2-Jack Lehner[4]; 6. 22-Brandon Walters[8]; 7. 91D-Billy Decker[6]; 8. 4-Anthony Perrego[13]; 9. 35-Mike Mahaney[11]; 10. 99L-Larry Wight[15]; 11. 77Z-Zachary Payne[14]; 12. 90JR-Felix Roy[19]; 13. 101-Billy Pauch Jr[23]; 14. 12-Darren Smith[17]; 15. 21A-Peter Britten[10]; 16. 14-CG Morey[21]; 17. 27J-Danny Johnson[28]; 18. 70A-Alex Payne[25]; 19. 77X-Jimmy Zacharias[20]; 20. 26R-Corey Cormier[18]; 21. 28M-Matt Meade[9]; 22. 28-Michael Trautschold[24]; 23. 63-Bryon Worthing[16]; 24. 4V-Billy VanInwegen Jr[22]; 25. 15X-Justin Stone[26]; 26. 121-William Shields[12]; 27. 51-Cody Higbie[5]; 28. 27JR-Daniel Johnson[27]


Contingency Awards:
JAM Performance Fastest Hot Lap Award: Tim Sears Jr. ($100)
Billy Whittaker Cars Quick Time Award: Cody Higbie ($100)
VP Racing Fuels Award: Anthony Perrego ($50)
ARP Bolts Award: Matt Sheppard ($50)
ASI Racewear Award: Larry Wight ($50)
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Award: Jimmy Phelps ($50)
Cometic Gasket Award: Felix Roy $50
Comp Cams Award: Larry Wight ($50)
DIG Racing Products: Mike Mahaney ($50)
Fox Factory Award: Tim Sears Jr. ($50)
MSD Award:  Jack Lehner ($50)
Swift Springs Award: Anthony Perrego ($50)
Weld Racing Wheels Award: Mat Williamson ($50)
Hoosier Racing Tire Award: Brandon Walters (Free Tire)
SRI Performance/Stock Car Steel Pole Award: Mat Williamson ($100)

Post-race Tech: Rear ends and Right Front Shocks were checked on top five. All cars passed.

Videos

Track Talk Live

Track Talk Live

Mostly Motorsports Live

Track Talk Live

Mostly Motorsports Live

Track Talk Live

Mostly Motorsports Live

Track Talk Live

More Videos

Our Partners