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Whoa, Nelly! The Kings Are Back! #FantasyDirt Primer for Super DIRTcar Series "King of the Big Blocks" from Bridgeport Motorsports Park

Whoa, Nelly! The Kings Are Back! #FantasyDirt Primer for Super DIRTcar Series "King of the Big Blocks" from Bridgeport Motorsports Park
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Hey there, Julian again with another Big Block #FantasyDirt Primer! Give me a follow, @WhoaNellyRacing, on Twitter!

The opening rounds of the 2023 Super DIRTcar Series season at Atomic and Can-Am were both nixed due to weather, so the campaign will kick off in New Jersey at Bridgeport Motorsports Park. Since the speedway was downsized to its current 3/8ths mile configuration, there have been three different winners of the King of the Big Blocks; Stewart Friesen, Tim Fuller, and Ryan Godown last year. However, and some of you may have seen the kerfuffle regarding the STSS race at Bridgeport earlier this year, Ryan Godown will not be in attendance.  This is massive news, because Godown is the absolute King of Bridgeport. Friesen will be kicking off his 2023 modified campaign at Utica-Rome and Fonda, but his status for Bridgeport is doubtful. Additionally, local hot shoes like Danny Bouc and Ryan Krachun will also be skipping this event, which opens the door for some other local drivers to step up.

Series: Super DIRTcar Series
Event: King of the Big Blocks, 75-laps & $7500-to-win
Track: Bridgeport Motorsports Park, 3/8ths mile banked oval

Group time trials, with A/B groups for 32-47 cars
4 8-lap heats, 5 qualify, Top 2 to redraw
8 redraw
24 qualify, with 4 Platinum provisionals based on 2022 points

2022 Points Top 15:
1. Matt Sheppard
2. Mat Williamson
3. Jimmy Phelps
4. Max McLaughlin
5. Peter Britten
6. Anthony Perrego (RoY)
7. Marc Johnson (Sunday Status: unknown)
8. Billy Decker (Sunday Status: not attending)
9. Adam Pierson
10. Jack Lehner
11. Tim Sears Jr.
12. Darren Smith
13. Kevin Root
14. Rich Scagliotta (Sunday Status: not attending)
15. Paul St-Sauveur (Retired)

Mat Williamson $21,500 (1): If your 1a and 1b in late models is Davenport and Overton, it’s Sheppard and Williamson in Northeast modifieds. Williamson has only contested 3 events at Bridgeport, all in the current configuration, and has finished inside the top 10 in each event, with a 4th coming last year. He’s off to another great start through 5 events, with two wins at Volusia, and not finishing worse than 6th. There isn’t a whole lot to say here, because Williamson has an extremely high floor and an extremely high ceiling. If you can work him into your lineup, go for it. Finally, when the top salaried driver is sitting at $21,500, as Dirt Draft has been doing more frequently, the downside value is lessened. It's much easier to swallow a non-victory if you got a $500 rebate on the salary to begin with.

Matt Sheppard $21,400 (2): Matt Sheppard comes in at the second highest salary slot, which I’m incredibly surprised by. He’s coming off of back-to-back victories in the Jake Marine Memorial ($8500) at Delaware and the STSS Hard Clay Open ($12000) at Orange County Fair Speedway, and a 2nd (from 14th) in Fonda’s Montgomery County Open on Saturday night. Now, couple that with the fact that he hasn’t finished worse than 8th through 8 events and you’ll understand why he’s called “Super” Matt. Here’s the caveat; Sheppard has never recorded a top 5 at Bridgeport in either its 5/8ths or 3/8ths configuration. In my opinion, this is somewhat irrelevant, because we’re talking about Matt Sheppard. Out of the 69 different tracks he’s raced at, he’s won at 50, recorded a top 5 at 63, and finished inside the top 10 at 67.

Mike Mahaney $21,000 (6): Mahaney has only made 11 starts at Bridgeport, with 1 top 5 and 5 top 10s, which isn’t exactly eye popping. However, he’s looking to close a good weekend in style, as he picked up the weekly victory at Albany-Saratoga on Friday and charged from 19th to 5th yesterday at Fonda. He has two career SDS wins, so he’s certainly capable of winning against this level of competition.

Larry Wight $20,800 (8): I highlighted Wight in the STSS Hard Clay Open Primer a couple weeks back and his salary this weekend does nothing to deter me from suggesting him again this week.

Billy Pauch Jr. $20,700 (10): “The Kid’s Kid” is off to a pretty solid start in 2023 after finishing 2022 in the hospital. Pauch Jr. has only finished outside of the top 10 twice in 7 outings and finished runner-up at Selinsgrove with the STSS. His 17th last weekend at Big Diamond was due to a mechanical failure while inside of the top 10. He’s not running Bridgeport weekly this season, but in 32 career starts at the new Bridgeport, he has won twice, posted 18 top 5s, and finished inside top 10 on a stout 26 occasions. In last year’s running of this event, he finished on the podium in 3rd. Billy Jr. will give you a pretty high floor to work with, and it is possible that the home state hot shoe could notch his first SDS victory this weekend.

Jeff Strunk $20,600 (11) - How about another old guy? Strunk is off to a pretty solid start this season, as he hasn’t finished worse than 9th through 6 events, with a highlight 6th at the STSS Ice Breaker and a 3rd at Grandview’s Money Maker. He’s not a regular on the New Jersey circuit, but he does hold 4 top 5s and 5 top 10s in 11 events at this version of Bridgeport. With 161 career victories, Strunk won’t have a problem taking on the touring drivers, so get him in your lineup.

Anthony Perrego $20,500 (12): Okay, here is a superstar budget pick for you. Perrego has had an absolutely awful start to the season, blowing three engines in three different cars at two different tracks, with one of those being Matt Sheppard’s backup car! If Perrego is metaphorically tumbling down a mountain, he was able to stop his fall last weekend at Big Diamond’s Money in the Mountains, where he notched an 8th place finish in a pretty solid field. Now, he has stopped the fall, but can he climb back up? Perrego has only run 3 races at the new Bridgeport, but hasn’t finished outside of the top 10 either. I had him on multiple rosters for OCFS, but switched him out at the last second, which saved me after his double engine blowout extravaganza. However, Perrego will probably be pretty cheap considering his recent spell of luck, so get him on your roster, because his 6th place finish in 2022 SDS points will probably grant him a provisional safety net if he decides to grenade another engine before the feature.

Matt Stangle $20,300 (14) - Stangle started off the season with only 1 top 10 in Florida. However, since he traveled back north, he’s rattled off 5 top 5s and 1 top 10 in 6 events, with a highlight 3rd coming at the STSS Ice Breaker. Being only 23 years old, his record at Bridgeport is quite good. He holds 1 win, 13 top 5s, and 26 top 10s in 44 contests. Stangle will be capable of running inside the top 5 and I'd argue that he has an outside chance of upsetting the big dogs of the SDS.

Chris Hile $19,900 (16): Hile was the 2021 SDS Rookie of the Year and won the big block championship at Brewerton last season. In 71 SDS starts, he holds 8 top 5s and 22 top 10s. There’s no provisional here, but Hile has a lot of upside for being a sub-$20,000 salary.

Mike Gular $19,600 (19): Okay, now here’s someone that I was kind of on the fence with, but I really like what I have been seeing as of late, especially at this salary. In 10 starts (how has he managed that with this weather?) this season, Gular has racked up 3 victories, 2 top 5s, and 5 top 10s. In April alone, he has racked up wins worth $7500 (Grandview), $4000 (Delaware), and a weekly show at Big Diamond on Friday night. He has never won at Bridgeport, but finished 8th in this event last year and ran 2nd in the Danny Serrano 100 to Ryan Godown. I’m a big fan of momentum, so give Gular a look, because he’s one of the hottest drivers on the scene right now.

Jimmy Horton $19,500 (20): New Jersey’s Jimmy Horton will be 67 in July, but he has been looking pretty darn quick this season. Now, his results do not show this, but Horton was absolutely laying the smack down on the field to the roar of the crowd at the OCFS Hard Clay Open a few weeks ago before he had an engine expire. Outside of two 8ths at Delaware and Georgetown, I’m not basing this suggestion on pure stats. While Horton dominated at the original Bridgeport, he has only run the new iteration sporadically. However, Horton proved that he still has some gas left in the tank and he’ll be racing in front of the hometown crowd, so he might be worth a roster spot if he’s looking sporty early on. Along with Gular, he’s probably the best option in this salary range.

Neal Williams $18,900 (25): Williams is a regular at Bridgeport, where he holds a record of 9 top 5s and 25 top 10s in 52 starts, including a 2nd to Joseph Watson in the season opener this year. On the former big track, he was victorious on 3 occasions. At just under $19,000, I think he provides a solid option, and gets my recommendation over some of the lower-end SDS regular salaries.

Kevin Root $18,700 (27): I’ll be honest with you, this is purely a provisional play. In 31 career starts, Root has never posted a top 10 with the SDS and his only career big block victory came at Land of Legends last year. However, that win did come against drivers like Tim Fuller, Erick Rudolph, Peter Britten, Matt Sheppard, Justin Haers, etc, and this will be his 3rd full season behind the wheel of a modified. He hasn’t raced this season, but if you need a cheap option with a possible provisional, take a gamble on Root in hopes that he can put together a solid night.

Ronnie Davis III $18,500 (29) - The Brewerton and Fulton regular will be jumping on the tour full-time for the first time, so there won’t be a provisional here (as far as I know). However, he has a lot of upside, considering he’s the 2021 Fulton 358 modified champion and is a strong runner at Brewerton in the big block. He’s never run at Bridgeport, but is worth a look if you’re in need of a low salary.

Bonus Content!: There are 4 drivers currently not listed on DirtDraft that I suspect will be in attendance today. I've highlighted them here in the event, as I suspect, they do roll into Bridgeport.

Duane Howard: Howard is nearly 60 and he’s out here driving the bus, picking up the kids, and taking them to school. In 6 starts this season, he has 3 victories, a 3rd, and a 10th. Oh, and Bridgeport is going to be his weekly home in 2023, so he has actually raced the one event that Bridgeport was able to sneak in this year, where he finished 3rd on a surface that resembled a First World War battlefield. Bridgeport is trying to work in a new surface during a very rainy spring, so hats off to them. Howard hasn’t contested the new Bridgeport very often, but the man was electric at the original, where rattled off 48 victories. The track is completely different now, so it’s pretty irrelevant, but maybe he just smells the air and gets locked in? Either way, he’s coming off of a $10,000 victory at Big Diamond’s Money in the Mountains, so he’s already locked in. Duane Howard is good and he looks really good this year, so jump on that hype train and ride it until the wheels fall off.

Joseph Watson: Joseph Watson holds the only modified victory at Bridgeport this season, which was the third of his career at the speedway (all in the current configuration). Through 4 events, Watson has posted a 13th, 20th, 1st, and 12th. He’s not exactly lighting the world on fire, but he has shown that he has a hold of the new surface, so consider Watson a budget option.

Jordan Watson: Jordan is the elder of the two Watson brothers, but comes into the event as the winless Watson brother in 2023. Much like Anthony Perrego, I wouldn’t really look too much into the numbers, because Watson has had some bad luck to the start the year. At the STSS South opener at Selinsgrove, Watson walked the field in his heat race and then promptly broke before the feature even started. Last weekend at Delaware, Watson led a good portion of the race, before carburetor issues allowed Mike Gular to steal victory from the Delaware modified ace. Even though he’s had bad luck, he still finished 2nd in that race, 6th at Bridgeport’s opener, and finished 3rd at Delaware’s Jake Marine Memorial, where he was in contention for the win. In 18 tries, he has never won at the new Bridgeport, but never disregard talent, especially at good salary slot.

Dillon Steuer: I was really big on Steuer for the STSS Hard Clay Open at OCFS, where he finished 4th in a stacked field. He followed that up with another 4th at Big Diamond’s Money in the Mountains. He has only had 11 starts at Bridgeport, with his only great run coming at last year’s Danny Serrano 100, where he came home 6th. I’m honestly not basing this selection on much other than the fact that I think Steuer is a real young talent and will have a breakout season. He shouldn’t have too big of a salary, so consider him a mid-range option.

Editor's Note: I want to express my gratitude to Julian for extending his knowledge and talents to my little DirtInfo project! Over that last couple of months Julian has been a fantastic sounding board for ideas, strategies, and improvements. DirtInfo is better because of Julian's friendship. I, unreservedly, recommend you give him a follow on Twitter! While you're there be sure to encourage him to keep writing for DirtInfo!