Dwayne Clay is closing in on his third points title in four years.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HARTFORD -- A serious commitment to succeed is the main reason that race-car driver Dwayne Clay of Warren is closing in on his second straight pure stock division points championship at Sharon Speedway, and his third such title in the last four years.
"My guys are really dedicated," said Clay. "We work on the car no less than 30 hours a week. Plus we work full time jobs. It's a lot of work and dedication."
Clay's team consists of brother Jimmy Clay and Dean Gillespie, both from Howland and Bob Bugansky, Paul Drotar and Chad Foster, all from Niles. Jimmy Clay serves as the crew chief while the others have various roles as crewmen.
"We have five full-time guys," he said. "I have others guys that help but these are the main guys.
"We run the 15 laps straight through with no pit stops. The car has to be well-prepared before we start."
Wife aids venture
Clay, a Howland High graduate who operates Clay's Trucking in Warren, said his wife, Debbie, has played an important role with the team. Debbie handles the business end of the venture.
"Me and my wife [Debbie] never go on vacation because of racing," he said. "We don't have any kids, and so all we do is the racing.
"I can't afford to run any other track, so Sharon has been our home track. As a result, I know it really well."
Has commanding lead
Clay, who drives a basic 1980 Camaro with an after-market body, has compiled 1,189 points for a commanding 197-point lead over Jason Reagle of Oil City, Pa., entering the second-to-last points race Saturday night. The final session will be held Aug. 24.
Holding third place is Dave Ferringer (977) of Cochranton, Pa., followed by Allan Hudzik (966) of Youngstown and Russ Kapalin (861) of Jefferson to complete the top five of an 83-driver field.
"We won in 1999, 2001 and hopefully this year," said Clay. "I think we have it pretty much wrapped up. All we have to do is show up."
Clay said he usually wins $300 for each 15-lap feature victory, and about the same amount if he captures the season's points championship.
"The main satisfaction is that we are achieving excellence," he said. "We want to be the best team out there."
The pure stock division is for basic cars but with after-market bodies. Cars must weigh from 2,800 to 3,200 pounds, and have engines from 355 to 408 cubic inches.
His 1980 Camaro -- he named it "007" -- weighs 2,800 pounds with a 355-cubic-inch engine that can produce about 370 horsepower, and has 8-inch racing tires. He said he averages about 70 mph for the 15-lap race.
"We are limited to what we can do with the motor," said Clay of the requirements for his pure stock division.
His car was built by Greg Cizmar of Cizmar Racing in Girard, while the engine was built by Shawn and Bob Minor of Minor's Performance in Lordstown.
"[Minor's Performance] has done all my engine work since I started racing five years ago," said Clay.
Pure stock car
He said a pure stock car is made by taking a "stock basic car and [making] it a racing car."
But, he pointed out, "Our 1980 Camaro is more like a race car than maybe some other car might be. It was basically built to be a race car. In a Camaro, you can take the uni-body out. The only thing that you use is the sub frame."
Regarding fuel, "We are using a higher grade of fuel and octane of gasoline. It's for racing cars."
Clay's main sponsor is H 'n' R Transport. His other sponsors are Girard Equipment, Porter's Auto Wrecking, Quality Auto Body, Woodruff Performance Carburetor.
Sharon Speedway's gates open at 4 p.m. Saturday with the first race at 7 p.m. Racing also is held in three other divisions -- 410 sprint cars, E-Modifieds and V-8 Modifieds.
The E-Modifieds leader is Carl McKinney of Cranberry Township, Pa., with a one-point edge over Tim Rhoades (966) of Meadville, Pa. Third is Richard Stiffler (936) of Niles followed by Jeff Rudrick (841) of Columbiana and Jim Dellinger (840) of Farmdale.
The V-8 Modifieds leader is Ron Smoker (1,167) of Hamburg, N.Y., trailed by Jim Rasey (1,068) of Southington, Alan Dellinger (1,023) of Niles and Jim Weller Jr. (945) of Hubbard.
For more information, call Sharon Speedway at 330-772-5481.