Warner gets off to strong start
Rocky Warner got his season off to a flying start. The Flying Squirrel hit the opening-week trifecta, claiming sportsman victories at Albany-Saratoga, Fonda and Utica-Rome speedways, respectively, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
However, this weekend he will have a shot at a different trifecta as Glen Ridge Motorsports Park is scheduled to open Friday; the Super DIRT Series kicks off Saturday at Fulton and then back to Utica-Rome.
“My guys put a lot of work into this and are in the shop all the time, especially with two different teams. It has been real hectic,” Warner said. “We ran six nights out of nine so it has been kind of stressful already. I hope we get a system down, a rhythm going and have everything work out.”
The defending Glen Ridge and Fonda Speedway track champion is driving for two teams this season, the familiar No. 79 West End Auto Sales ride and the Jake Spraker-owned No. 1J.
“We are going to cut back on the traveling with that deal [No. 79],” Warner said. “Ray [car owner Ray Sefrin] works a lot, so he doesn’t get a chance to travel and have a good time with us. With his cars, we have cut back to Glen Ridge on Friday and Fonda on Saturday. Then we have a deal with Jake Spraker to drive the 1J on Sundays at Utica-Rome and do the traveling series and the big money shows.”
Warner has had a successful career at both Fonda and Glen Ridge, winning track championships in the street stock, pro stock and sportsman divisions along the way, but he looks at the task of defending his 602 sportsman title at Fonda as a daunting task.
“I think it will be tough,” he said. “Fonda is one of those places where the competition is so great, you can win a championship one year and the next year have a better year and only finish fifth in points. The competition here is probably, bar none, the best around. It is a real stout field and the guys who run here usually only run at Fonda, so when they get a good setup in the car, they keep it. It is hard to beat. You don’t take anything for granted, especially here. We are going to do the best we can and if we repeat, we will be happy with that. We just want to win races, and if we win races, then hopefully the points will come to us.”
Warner traveled to several tracks last season and picked up victories all along the DIRT circuit.
Of course, having an invader at a track win often leads to the theory that if you are winning, you must be doing something extra special to the car or engine.
It was not uncommon to hear that his engine was tore down after a victory and nothing was found out of line. He just outdrove the field for the win.
“Honestly, I look at it as a positive thing for the sport,” Warner said. “The thing is, doing the tech is going to draw bigger fields and get more cars in here. If you don’t have tech, you are going to lose cars. You are going to get four or five guys who want to cheat, but you are going to lose 10 because they don’t want to race against it. The biggest thing is you have to do the tech and the tear downs. I have obliged with anybody who has asked for me to be torn down. We have always done what they have asked and not put up a fight about it. It is about the sport and keeping the class growing.”
Outside of his success at the local tracks, Warner has found success on the mile at the Syracuse Fairgrounds during Super DIRT Week.
With the anticipation that this may be the final SDW at the fairgrounds, the Flying Squirrel is looking for the honor of another victory there.
“We will be there, especially if this is the last one,” he said. “Syracuse is a cool place. We won three years in a row and almost four, but we got wrecked last year. It is the place with the most prestige. It is like Fonda, the prestige of the place just makes it extra special. Everybody and their grandmother from all over the country goes to watch at Syracuse, so if you can win there, you are going good.”
Of course with success in a support division, fans want to know why drivers don’t move up and take a shot at the big money in the premiere modified class.
“We would like to go racing modifieds, but the cost of racing a sportsman compared to a modified is two different ball games,” he said. “We are definitely still having fun. When we stop having fun it is time to look for something else to do.”
GRMP ready to go
After a three-week wait from its original opening day, Glen Ridge Motorsports Park is ready to drop the green flag on its season Friday.
A few of the changes that are being made or reinstated are the Delaware-style restarts for all events, rookie 602 sportsman winners will have a choice of a cash award or taking part in the 602 sportsman feature.
The Ridge will feature the Cousins Construction LLC, modifieds, the A-Verdi Storage Container 602 sportsman, rookie sportsman and four-cylinder cruisers. The Xcel 600 modifieds are being added at this time as a number of teams have shown an interest in running weekly.
General admission for regular race nights will be adult (15 and older) $10, youth (9 to 14) $5, children 5 and younger free with adult admission.
All children younger than age 14 must be supervised by an adult.
Racing action will begin at 7:30 p.m. for regular Friday night programs.