When Gary Lindberg departed for the most prestigious annual big-block Modified race, the Billy Whittaker Cars 200, the marquee event of NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVII at Oswego Speedway, the number of laps he had run in that type of car during his long career was zero.
That didn't stop the Ridgeway, Ont., driver, who competes locally in small-block 358 Modifieds at Ransomville, Merrittville and Humberstone speedways, from making a big positive impression.
Lindberg, 36, obtained a big-block car from fellow competitor Mike Bowman and a big-block engine from Darren Kendrick and decided to make his big-block debut at Oswego. The result in the 200 was a disappointing 34th place but that does not tell the whole story.
Lindberg did double duty at Oswego, also competing in the 358 Modified Camping World 150, Oct. 6, placing eighth.
On Friday (Oct. 5) of Super DIRT Week, after the first two days of practice were rained out, time trials were held to determine the top six starters for Oct. 7's Whittaker 200. Incredibly with just five warmup laps run earlier that Friday morning Lindberg time trialed a fantastic third out of 70 cars to lock himself into a prime starting spot.
Later Friday evening he won his qualifying race. In the Whittaker 200, Lindberg was running in the top 10 when he made his pit stop. Followg the pit stop, difficulties befell Lindberg that ended his day on lap 170.
"Oswego was the first time I was in a big-block Modified," Lindberg said. "It was weird to start in the biggest race of them all. I was second guessing myself for a while but we ended up giving it a shot.
Lindberg drives the No. 28Z.
"I went out and gave it my best effort in time trials but I didn't think I was going to get into the top six," Lindberg said. "In fact I even saw that when I pulled in, there was a No. 28 up on the scoreboard and I hadn't saw it before but I still wasn't convinced it was me until I looked over at Mat Williamson (fellow Canadian-based driver) and he gave me a big thumbs up."
Lindberg made a key discovery in the 358 Modified time trials that preceded the big-block Modified time trials that aided his big-block time trial effort. He added stagger to the big-block car.
The Whittaker 200 went from sweet to sour.
"After my pit stop in the Whittaker 200 I was still good," Lindberg said. "I made up some time on the outside but got shoved into the front stretch wall. I had to pit again with a bent axle. The car was good again and I went back out and got mud in the right rear tire. I had to pit again. I came back out again and I was at the back of the pack and there was an accident up ahead and I tried to avoid it but somebody piled into the back of me and that was it."
Lindberg cited his crew for their devoted Super DIRT Week efforts including his father Denny Lindberg and Fred Carleton, Tyler Barth, Andrew Muscat, Justin Hall, Dave Osborne and Dave DiPietro.
Emerling wins controversial Pierce Memorial
Patrick Emerling won the SST Modified Jim Pierce Memorial 100 Saturday at Wyoming County International Speedway in a race shrouded in controversy.
On a lap 39 restart, Emerling was leading with second place running Tony Hanbury to his outside. As the pair approached the first turn contact ensued with Hanbury careening hard into the outside wall. Though uninjured, Hanbury's race was done and Emerling was sent to the rear of the field by Wyoming County officials for his part in the incident.
From there, Emerling raced back through the field, eventually passing Andy Jankowiak late in the race for the win. It was Emerling's second consecutive victory in this event. He spoke about the controversial incident in Victory Lane.
"This is a bullring and I thought I gave (Hanbury) room," Emerling said. "He pinched me a little bit low but it's just bullring stuff. I was slipping and sliding up the track at little bit then I got to the end of the front stretch and I thought I gave him a bunch of room but I think we might have just touched a little bit.
"I was going straight and I was just about to turn into the corner and I felt something on my right rear and I almost got hooked right. Then I looked in my mirror and I saw Tony going into the wall. I have no idea what happened. I didn't turn right.
"If I did make a mistake that was a bad one on my part. I'm not here to wreck anyone."
Hanbury offered his version of the wreck.
"I was one of the fastest guys here," Hanbury said. "I think if I could have got a little jump on that start and got ahead of Patrick he wouldn't have been able to do anything with me. I think that led up to what happened.
"We played a little nerf bar tag on the restart and we came up off the corner I got a little tight after he got into me. We came down the front straightaway and he decided to turn right before he turned left and I took the whole right front off when I hit the wall.
"It's a racing deal. You know, what goes around, comes around and we'll be back next year."
The Pierce Memorial was part of the two-day "Shootout at the Bullring Weekend" at Wyoming County. Other weekend winners at Wyoming County were: Scott Wylie, NYSS Super Stocks; Zach Myers, WCIS Super Stocks; Jacob Gustafson, 4-Cylinders; Brian Hallett, 6-Cylinders; Terry Wilson, Vintage.