||Fuller Hopes Hagerstown Speedway Will Treat Him Well Again This Saturday Night (May 15)
'Conococheague 50' On Tap At Half-Mile Oval For World of Outlaws Late Model Ser
HAGERSTOWN, MD - Hagerstown Speedway was very good to Tim Fuller in 2009. He's hoping the half-mile oval treats him just as well when he returns this Saturday night (May 15).
"Maybe a race at Hagerstown will be just what we need to get going," said Fuller, eyeing Saturday's World of Outlaws Late Model Series visit to the half-mile oval for the 29th annual 'Conococheague 50.' "Things have to start getting better for us, so why not at a track where we had some success last year?"
It's been a frustrating 2010 season so far for Fuller, who, despite entering this weekend's action in a relatively lofty tie for fourth in the WoO LMS points standings, hasn't had much to get excited about. Coming off a breakthrough '09 campaign that saw him win a career-high seven WoO LMS A-Mains – including the tour's August stop at Hagerstown – he's yet to lead even a single lap in the 12 events run this year.
Fuller, 42, of Watertown, N.Y., isn't scratching his head and searching for answers, though, as he heads back to Hagerstown, where he also won the Stanley Schetrompf Classic last year on an off-Outlaw weekend in late April. He has a pretty good read on the source of his struggles.
"We just can't qualify worth a damn," said Fuller, the 2007 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year after starring for more than a decade in the Northeast's DIRTcar big-block Modified ranks. "We've been putting ourselves in a hole almost every night. You're in big trouble with this group of drivers when you're always starting back in the pack like we are this year."
Indeed, Fuller's results in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials have been far from his liking; he's qualified 25th or worse seven times and inside the top 10 on a mere four occasions. Not surprisingly, he's started just three A-Mains from the eighth spot or better (including two front-row starts) and has already been forced to use four provisionals to gain entry to feature events.
Yes, Fuller does lead the DirtonDirt.com Hard Charger standings with 79 positions gained in A-Mains this season, but that stat reflects just how deep he's been starting. He might be moving forward with regularity, but certainly not far enough to contend for victories like he did during his amazing late-summer run in 2009 – a sizzling stretch that included his matching of a WoO LMS consecutive-win record when he scored his fourth straight triumph at Hagerstown.
Fuller has been a notoriously slow starter during his previous three seasons on the WoO LMS, but he doesn't feel that's an issue this year. He says he's never been more confident with his early-season setup and tire-choice decisions; his problem largely stems from a lack of power under the hood of his Gypsum Express Rocket cars. With his team owner, John Wight, starting an ambitious in-house engine program this year, finding the correct combination for dirt Late Model success has proven to be a work in progress.
"Our cars are great – we have nothing to complain about there," said Fuller, whose top finish this season is a fourth on March 26 at Battleground Speedway in Highlands, Texas. "But our motor program has to move up about 80 percent from where it is. We've been suffering a little in time trials because we just don't have the horsepower we need.
"Right now, I need tracks to be dry, black-slick, and then we're O.K. But during time trials, when the tracks are usually wet and heavy, that comes down to sheer horsepower. We're lacking in that department, so we get behind in qualifying and then we have to abuse our car trying to get to the front.
"The guys in the shop (led by the team's chief engine builder Kevin Lamphere) are working hard to get us on the right track," added Fuller. "But they've built big-block (Modified) motors for years, so they're learning these Late Model motors. They're going against guys who have been building Late Model motors for 25, 30 years, so it's not going to be easy."
Fuller is hopeful that a brand-new powerplant currently being assembled by the Gypsum Express Racing engine department will provide him the additional horses he's looking for. It's due to be completed in time for the WoO LMS events over Memorial Day weekend at Bedford (Pa.) Speedway (May 28) and West Virginia Motor Speedway (May 29-30), two big tracks where Fuller will need plenty of power.
"Hopefully the motor builder will have things taken care of here in a couple weeks and we can get back to our normal way," said Fuller, who won his seven A-Mains last year in an amazing 11-race span. "Fortunately, we've been lucky to get some top 10s (seven to date) and stay in the points battle while we've been struggling.
"That's the one good thing – you don't want to get such a big deficit early that you can't make it up when you do start running better. There's still a long way to go this season, and once we get our motors to where we need them, I think we'll be fine."
Fuller will face off with a talented array of WoO LMS stars, regional standouts and Hagerstown regulars in pursuit of Saturday night's $10,000 top prize. His Outlaw competition will include former champions Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va. (a WoO LMS winner at Hagerstown in 2007), Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. (current points leader and winner of two Outlaw shows at Hagerstown in 2005), Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky. (victorious at Hagerstown in May 2009) and Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. Other Outlaw travelers with WoO triumphs at Hagerstown include Rick Eckert of York, Pa. (swept a pair of races in 2004) and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga. (2006).
The field is also expected to include such names as Jason Covert of York Haven, Pa., who has finished as high as second in WoO LMS action at Hagerstown, D.J. Myers of Greencastle, Pa., Jeremy Miller of Gettysburg, Pa., Roy Deese Jr. of Laurel, Md., Andy Anderson of Bunker Hills, W.Va., Frankie Plessinger of Big Cove Tannery, Pa., and Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa.
Saturday's Conococheague 50, which also includes Pure Stock division racing, is scheduled to begin with hot laps at 7 p.m. with WoO LMS time trials and heat races to follow. Pit gates will open at 4 p.m. and the grandstand gates will be unlocked at 5 p.m.
General admission is $30 with children 12-and-under admitted free of charge. Reserved seats are available for $35 and pit passes will be $40.
Hagerstown Speedway is located on Route 40 just south of the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, four miles west of Interstate 81 Exit 6B.
For more information, visit www.hagerstownspeedway.com or call the track office at 301-582-0640.
The WoO LMS will arrive at Hagerstown after kicking off an East Coast doubleheader on Thurs., May 13, at Delaware International Speedway in Delmar.
Additional info on the WoO LMS is available by logging on to www.worldofoutlaws.com.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and Chizmark & Larson Insurance; in addition to contingency sponsors Eibach Springs, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pink Carburetors, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis and Wrisco Aluminum.