PRO STOCK FLEXING: Casey, Carter on Front Row; Horning, Playford win Qualifying Heats

The stage is set for an exciting DIRTcar Pro Stock 50 after Thursday’s Time Trials and Qualifying Heats saw triumphs from drivers who’ve yet to win the prestigious race.

Jay Casey was the first to celebrate, earning the SRI Performance/Stock Car Steel Pole Award, followed by DIRTcar CEO Brian Carter grabbing the Fratto Curbing Outside Pole Award. Then, Luke Horning and Shane Playford ended the night as Qualifying Heat winners.

None of them have won the DIRTcar Pro Stock 50 before, and that stat continues through the other top six qualifiers: Jason Casey (third), Shane Playford (fourth), Devon Camenga (fifth) and Johnny Rivers Jr. (sixth). The coveted race has seen five different winners in its last five events and is shaping up to see a potential sixth consecutive different winner.

“It’s great,” Casey said about his 25.490 second pole winning effort. “We put a lot of effort into this and here we are.

“The last (lap), I put it in pretty hard in Turn 3 and came out of (Turn) 4 pretty high, but it had grip up there and the car went pretty good.”

He ended up second in the first Qualifying Heat behind Horning. It was a sign of what he expects to see from the 50-lap race, saying “We’re going to battle. Anyone of these guys can do it.”

His previous career-best start was sixth last year, but then went on to finish 19th. In nine Super DIRT Week starts (four at Syracuse, five at Oswego), Casey has one top-10 finish – an eighth at Oswego Speedway in 2018.

Casey’s son, Jason Casey, will start behind him in third – another career-best performance.

“I was kind of hoping I was going to stay in second, the front row, but following him to the green is going to be good,” Jason Casey said. “I’m excited. Hopefully we can keep both cars up there.”

Luke Horning wins
Luke Horning wins Qualifying Heat #1 (Michael Fry Photo)

Jason was sitting second on the leaderboard until Carter’s last lap of the day. The “Texas Tornado” picked up a few tenths in his second qualifying lap and won the outside pole for Saturday’s Feature. It’s a career-best effort and his first time starting in the top six.

“Oh my God, it means the world to me,” Carter said. “I have a fast race car and I’m going to keep gaining on it. It is a really important event to me and important to these guys. It’s a great group of drivers that I’m friends with and we’re going to have a good time on Saturday.”

When the night moved into the Qualifying Heats, Horning and Playford took their turn to celebrate.

In the first 10-lap Heat, Jay Casey took the lead early, but Horning wasn’t letting him get away. It only took two laps for “Cousin Luke” to sneak under the #322 machine and dart to the lead. Horning led the rest with Casey finishing second and Camenga third.

Thursday’s track conditions are what he’s hoping to see Saturday.

“It was a lot of fun,” Horning said. “I like a track like this. I don’t think the lap times were quick, but I like it when the track is slow like this. It slows down the cars, you have to finesse… We were able to roll the middle, get some bite and move to the top if we had to. It was a very even racetrack and that’s what we need, a wide racetrack.”

Horning will start seventh in Saturday’s Feature – where he’d already qualified earlier in the day.

Carter was set to start on the pole of the second Qualifying Heat but elected to start at the rear. That helped Playford start pole and pull away with the lead at the start of the race. He led all 10 laps but had Pete Stefanski breathing down his neck every corner.

“I think most of it was me watching the TV and seeing he was there,” Playford said. “I don’t think I made one good lap. I knew he was going to be there. It was fun.

“I saw Luke running the bottom in the first one. Obviously, seen what he did. I assumed once I got the lead, if I could stay on the bottom and not wash out too bad, I could keep it.”

Shane Playford wins
Shane Playford wins Qualifying Heat #2 (Michael Fry Photo)

Stefanski, the two-time DIRTcar Pro Stock champion, had to settle for second, but will start eighth in Saturday’s Feature. He was the first to show early speed this week, setting the overall fast time in Wednesday’s practice.

And while Stefanski has already picked up a couple Super DIRT Week titles, he’s yet to win one at Oswego Speedway.

Chad Jeseo, who finished third in the second Qualifying Heat, is the only driver in the field with a DIRTcar Pro Stock 50 title at Oswego (2021).

Is a sixth different champion on the horizon? Find out Saturday, Oct. 7, at 4pm (ET). For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.

DIRTcar Pro Stock Time Trial Results:
Qualifying (2 Laps): 1. 322-Jay Casey, 00:25.490[6]; 2. 6C-Brian Carter, 00:25.619[16]; 3. 324-Jason Casey, 00:25.671[10]; 4. 6-Shane Playford, 00:25.748[4]; 5. 110-Devon Camenga, 00:25.773[9]; 6. 14J-Johnny Rivers Jr, 00:25.827[12]; 7. 2H-Luke Horning, 00:25.832[7]; 8. 2-Pete Stefanski, 00:25.917[11]; 9. 09J-Shawn Perez Jr, 00:25.931[1]; 10. 55-David Stickles, 00:25.939[3]; 11. 76K-Kyle Hoard, 00:26.039[14]; 12. 25-Chad Jeseo, 00:26.083[15]; 13. 7D-Chucky Dumblewski, 00:26.240[2]; 14. 4-Dean Charbonneau, 00:26.408[13]; 15. 7C-Caden Dumblewski, 00:26.515[5]; 16. 57-Charles Mcspirit, 00:29.355[8]

DIRTcar Pro Stock Qualifying Heats Results:
Heat 1 (10 Laps): 1. 2H-Luke Horning[4]; 2. 322-Jay Casey[1]; 3. 110-Devon Camenga[3]; 4. 324-Jason Casey[2]; 5. 09J-Shawn Perez Jr[5]; 6. 76K-Kyle Hoard[6]; 7. 7D-Chucky Dumblewski[7]; 8. 7C-Caden Dumblewski[8]

Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1. 6-Shane Playford[2]; 2. 2-Pete Stefanski[4]; 3. 25-Chad Jeseo[6]; 4. 4-Dean Charbonneau[7]; 5. 55-David Stickles[5]; 6. 57-Charles Mcspirit[8]; 7. 6C-Brian Carter[1]; 8. (DNS) 14J-Johnny Rivers Jr