DUNIGAN TEAM PREPARES FOR ONSLAUGHT OF ISMA TITLE Oswego, NY -- Last year the Dunigan supermodified race team lost its beloved leader. The race season was not an easy one as everyone coped with Paul Sr.'s absence in his or her own way. This...
DUNIGAN TEAM PREPARES FOR ONSLAUGHT OF ISMA TITLE
Oswego, NY -- Last year the Dunigan supermodified race team lost its beloved leader. The race season was not an easy one as everyone coped with Paul Sr.'s absence in his or her own way. This season the team has regrouped and it is prepared to embark on the 2005 ISMA Lucas Oil/Helping Hands of America season. Paul Dunigan Jr., who took over the reins of the team last year, says they are ahead of schedule and ready to go.
"We have three contract cars running full time in ISMA for 2005," said Paul Dunigan Jr. "The drivers will be Russ (Wood) and Pat (Abold) again, with Jonathan (Jon) McKennedy joining us full time. Our goal is just to finish the year and do a little bit better than we did last year."
Finishing a bit better than a second and third place finish in the 2004 point standings, means one thing. They are going for the one-two spots. And, Paul Jr. says they are almost ready to go as the calendar turns to May. "We're ahead of schedule with the cars which is scary." commented Paul, recently, from his Tower News in Lowell, Mass. "We're usually working up until the last minute. If we had to race tomorrow, Jonathan's car is ready. Same thing with Russell's car. Pat's car is up on jack stands and they are just putting the body on it today. They'll be putting some finishing touches on the body and putting the motor in it. We're a couple weeks away with that car. Then we'll get it lettered up and we'll be all set."
Although there are no new supers in the Dunigan garage, the three that will compete have been rebuilt and redone by master mechanic Brian Allegresso. "There are no new cars this year but everything is rebuilt and redone. Brian rebuilt the independent car, -basically the front end - that Pat drove last year and Jonathan is going to drive that car as the number 79. The new 29 we had last year with Russell in it that came out at Stafford will still be the 29 and the old 29 that Russell crashed at Jennerstown is now the new 26 which Pat will drive."
While Wood and Abold are household names in the supermodified race community, McKennedy is just beginning. Jon, who turned 18 on April 5, has a long list of credentials despite his age. He comes from the small block supers where he had tallied 10 feature wins through 2004, finishing second in the 350 point standings. He also has experience in tiger sprints, stock cars and indoor racing. At the age of 14 he won 5 stock car events at Hudson Speedway! Last season he drove a limited ISMA schedule as a part of the Dunigan team with his best finish a sixth place at Seekonk. In addition to his full winged super schedule in 2005, Jon plans on competing in a few NASCAR Modified Tour events.
The heavy hitters of the team are Wood and Abold of course. Russ Wood stands first on the all-time ISMA win list with 46 features (not including 2 non-point wins) and Abold has 14 (plus 2 non-pointers). Abold, who just rejoined the full-time supermodified racing wars in 2004 made a run at the title, battling the Perley-Miller team, ultimately finishing second. Pat, with one feature win last season, plans on upping the ante in 2005. "We are one very determined race team," said Pat. "I'll be driving a newly rebuilt, different car and I'd like to see some more wins." Pat will also be assisting in his son Jeffrey's Ford Focus career. "I'll help Jeffrey with his car which we'll run at Oswego, Adirondack and Seekonk. There are no conflicts with ISMA in that regard."
Russ Wood is also chomping at the bit after a long winter. Wood received a leg injury during the off-season after a fall on his tow truck. The injury tore up his shin, which had been grafted after a serious accident at Orange County Speedway some years ago. "I tore a big chunk out of my leg," said Russ. "But with little feeling there I worked all day on it and then had to have it re-grafted. I was out for six to eight weeks and I didn't like that at all."
With almost a quarter century of supermodified racing behind him, Russ is "looking forward to unseating Perley and Miller. There will be some competition from Pat who is in my old car," said Russ. "There are a lot of wins on that old car."
Russ' son Russ Jr. is 12 and is just getting interested in racing himself. "He likes to race the go karts," said Russ Sr., "but he likes coming with me to the track, so we do the karts just when we're at home."
Russ summed up the attitude toward the upcoming ISMA season by saying, "Last year losing Paul was hard. It hurt the team I think. Our morale wasn't there. It kind of took the wind out of our sails. I mean it wasn't a bad year, but I think we have regrouped. I think we'll have a better year. The uncertainties are gone. We have come together and we are ready to go."
The potent Dunigan race team is backed by a slew of loyal sponsors including Power Mist, Sweet Mfg., Glenn Shanks Oil, Downey Paving, Hoosier Tire East, Woody's Repair/Towing, Tower News, Landmark Video, Canzano Graphics, Stuart's Automotive, Fearon's Auto, McKennedy Bros. Masonry, A&P Auto, Dracut Sewer and Martel Welding.
Look out! The Dunigan team is more ready than ever if that's possible. They are anticipating the chase for the ISMA Lucas Oil/Helping Hands of America title - three times over. The ISMA season opens on May 28 at Waterford (CT) Speedbowl; a new venue for the powerful winged supermodifieds and everyone involved.