WEEDSPORT, N.Y. – Sept. 11, 2014 – Billy Decker is one of the most successful drivers in NAPA Super DIRT Week history. A four-time Syracuse 200 winner and a six-time Salute to the Troops 150 winner, Decker is looking to bounce back at this year’s event, Oct. 8-12 at the New York State Fairgrounds, after a rough campaign in 2013.
Decker, who is also challenging for his third Super DIRTcar Series season-long championship, took time out his busy race preparations to answer questions this week from fans and media:
Q: Has Super DIRT Week changed at all through the years or is it basically still the same?
A: It’s still Super DIRT Week, there’s no question about it.
Q: You’ve been on the pole of the Syracuse 200 seven times, how do you consistently put yourself up front year after year?
A: Show up with speed. That’s not being sarcastic, but that’s what we’ve managed to do in the past, show up with speed. Past history kind of guides us as to what you do and when you do it. It’s worked. Last year we underachieved and didn’t make the top six, but hopefully we can right the ship this year. The main thing is just show up with speed. Rely on past notes and approach and unload fast.
Q: What one facility gives you some help setup-wise when you go to the 1-mile New York State Fairgrounds oval in Syracuse, or is Syracuse a beast unto itself?
A: I don’t think there’s any one facility, but that being said probably Fonda given that it’s fairly flat and the turn entry is high speed may have a little bit to do with it. By and large, it’s by itself.
Q: Is Syracuse a physically demanding race, or is it more mentally exhausting?
A: A lot of it is relative to how your car is working. If your car is a handful, then you’re going to have a long day. If your car is driving nice then it’s OK.
Q: With teammate Larry Wight switching to Troyer chassis, do you have any desire to change, as well?
A: No, I think we’re just as successful with our Bicknell.
Q: Are you happy to be back as a Super DIRTcar Series regular this season?
A: Yes I am.
Q: In running with the tour, does it help get better prepared for NAPA Super DIRT Week?
A: I think the Super DIRTcar Series is the best series out there, and the more time we spend on Hoosier tires and the Super DIRTcar Series it plays into our strength.
Q: Is it an advantage to have two full-time teammates in Larry Wight and Pat Ward?
A: I don’t think we’ve taken full advantage of teammates, although we all know what each one of us is doing so if somebody gets rolling on something we can share that knowledge. That being said, I don’t think we have reaped very much benefit from it.
Q: How have you mentored Larry Wight?
A: He just watches and pays attention as much as anything, suggestions along the way. There’s not been a lot the last couple of years, he’s just maturing as a driver.
Q: Is winning at Syracuse the most satisfying victory you can have?
A: Syracuse, there’s something special about winning there.
Q: You’ve won several times at the Moody Mile, is each sweeter?
A: Each time is satisfying, but it’s really hard to replace that first time.
Q: You’re a successful racer, would you let your children become race drivers?
A: I’ve got two girls and I don’t think either one of them want to be race drivers.
Q: Other than yourself, who would your pick be to win Syracuse?
A: Tough question. Syracuse is so different. Being prepared to win is so critical, I really don’t know, I’ll dodge that one.
Q: Drivers seem to have a love-hate relationship with Syracuse…
A: You love it when you win, you hate it when you don’t. I don’t think you can have Super DIRT Week any other place. I don’t think it would be the same.
Q: How do you approach Syracuse and the championship?
A: Honestly, you prepare to succeed in both of them at the same time. As much as anything, you have to beat Syracuse, you have to be able to finish that race. To do either one of them, you have to prepare the same. I don’t think we do anything different. We go there to win the race and let the points take care of themselves.
Q: How ready are you after a tough NAPA Super DIRT Week last year?
A: I think there’s been very little effort put into our small block program for Syracuse. We’re working as best we can on our cars. We’ve done nothing as far as engines, so we’ve worked on our cars. Both cars are being changed. It’s still the same Big-Block car, we’re approaching it just a little bit different. As rough a year as we had last year, we’ve not been as good at Super DIRT Week the last couple of years as we need to be. We’re taking a little bit of a different swing at it this year.
Q: What’s your Super DIRT Week memory?
A: Off the racetrack, it’s just a good atmosphere for a race fan to be part of an event like that. As a racer, you like to be a part of big events. You go there and campers are lined up for a couple of days waiting to get in there, the infield is packed, there are just a lot of people around the fairgrounds. It’s a fun atmosphere to be in.
The Super DIRTcar Series and DIRTcar Racing in the Northeast Region is brought to fans by several sponsors and partners including Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels, Chevy Performance Parts, NAPA Auto Parts and Safety-Kleen. Contingency partners include the University of Northwestern Ohio, ASI, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix, ButlerBuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Edelbrock, Integra Shocks, Intercomp, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, MSD LLC, Fox Shocks, Racing Electronics, Superflow and Wrisco Industries.