With temps soaring into the high 90’s, and well over 100 cars in the pits, the appropriately named “Summer Sizzler” was setting up to be one hot show. After several weeks of rain across the south the racers were finally able to take the track and get some laps in under a postcard worthy Florida sky.
The 602 Late Models kicked of the first of six features. David Showers Jr would be the early leader but on lap eight his left rear tire filed for separation from the race car in turn two leaving Showers Jr sidelined for the remainder of the race. When the green flag dropped again it would be all Dustin Carter as he would lead the rest of the race and take the first checkered flag of the night. Travis Staats and Austin Leamon rounded out the top three.
The DIRTcar UMP Mods were up next with 22 cars taking the green flag. Paul Shead would lead the first lap, but a hard charging Jeff Matthews would take the lead on lap 2 with Garrett Stewart and Dillon Buhr following him to the front. The order would remain the same thru several cautions and restarts but as the laps wound down Stewart would begin to challenge Matthews on the outside more each lap. A late race caution would set up a two lap showdown for the win and when the dust settled a pass off the top of turn four on the final lap would put Stewart in victory lane with Matthews settling for second and Buhr crossing the line in third.
The third feature event of the night was the $1000 to win 604 Late Model Race. 28 cars took the green flag and as expected it was full of action. Johnny Collins started pole and wasted no time going to the front. Throughout the race Jason Garver and Jeff Matthews would battle for second but nobody had anything for Collins as he cruised to the win with Matthews taking second and Garver coming home in third.
The ¾ Mods would be the fourth class to run their feature. This race was all Patrick Vareika as he would lead unchallenged flag to flag. Wade Olmsted trailed a close second and last race feature winner Jesse Powers would round out the top three.
Up next were the Street Stocks with Chris Lawrance in the hunt for his 100th feature win, but he would have his hands full with a great field of Street Stocks. Starting on the second row Lawrance would find his way to the front early and once there he was determined to hold on to it. In the late stages of the race he simply drove away scoring that illusive 100th win. Thomas Hill would finish second and Bruce Giffin was third.
The final feature of the night would be the Thunderstocks. Twenty cars took the green flag and the battle the lead seen three wide racing for several laps before Jason Garver was eventually able to get the lead. Garver had also raced a late model and a modified on the night, but he showed no signs of being tired as he would go on to win the feature. Shaun Daugharty ran a close second and Eddie Gainey would finish third.
Our next race will be August 14th. Make your plans to join us for the Blazing Guns 30! See you soon at Volusia Speedway Park!
Persistent rains and ongoing thunderstorm warnings throughout the weekend have forced Volusia Speedway Park officials to postpone this weekend’s BAD FAST 50. The track is working to reschedule the event and will announce the new date soon.
Meanwhile, racing continues on Saturday, April 24, when the Work Force 30 spotlights the 602 Late Models with a 30-lap, $1,000-to-win Feature. Also racing are the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds, Street Stocks, Compact 4s, and Thunder Stocks.
With the spin of a wrench Phil Dietz took Carson Macedo from an uneasy feeling to the best car in the field on Friday night.
The revered crew chief at Jason Johnson Racing went to work after a mediocre preliminary performance and sent the Lemoore, CA native on track with what he called “one of the best cars I’ve ever driven in my life.”
Macedo masterfully picked his way from tenth-t0-first and executed a late-race pass to steal the win from Sam Hafertepe Jr. with four laps remaining at Volusia Speedway Park. A confidence booster and chemistry builder for a driver and team that know their potential can reach championship heights in 2021 with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.
“It’s not every night that your car is that dominant,” Macedo mentioned of his Kistler powered Maxim #41. “I mean that thing was just perfect to drive. Phil [Dietz], Clyde [Knipp], and Nate [Repetz] were incredible tonight. You know, I felt really balanced and great all through DIRTcar Nationals last month, but early tonight I just didn’t feel good. Phil and the guys made a lot of changes for the feature and nailed it. I could go anywhere I wanted. I’m so happy to get a win for this team, these sponsors, a lot of really great people involved.”
At the start of Friday’s 30-lap, $10,000-to-win feature, it was Sam Hafertepe Jr. of Sunnyvale, TX and David Gravel of Watertown, CT pacing the field. Hafertepe, who won his second DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash of the season to claim pole position, bolted away and controlled the opening 11 laps. The first stoppage was a surprise when points leader Logan Schuchart stopped in turn four following contact with Gio Scelzi amidst a top five battle.
Macedo made his biggest move on that first restart, advancing four spots in one lap with a great fire off the high side of the half-mile. The next restart, however, spelled trouble when the #41 had to line up on the low line. Restarting with 17 laps remaining, Macedo surprised himself and quickly took third from Sheldon Haudenschild, and then set his sights on Hafertepe and Gravel out front.
“Hafertepe chose the outside and I was stuck on the bottom, which made me nervous,” Macedo noted on the final restart. “I was on the top every restart prior to that and the bottom wasn’t getting great starts. I didn’t really get a good start, but it was fairly decent and let me sneak back into the top groove in front of Donny. I got that run on Sheldon because he went low, and I was able to slide by him real quick. I felt like my car was as good as those guys, if not better once I got to third. I just needed traffic to move around a bit and capitalize.”
And capitalize he did. With heavy lap traffic in play, Macedo reeled in the lead duo and made it a three-way war with seven laps left. The #15H, #2 and #41 ran bumper-t0-bumper-to-bumper with the win on the line.
Macedo slid by Gravel for second on the 24th lap and two laps later, he was sliding Hafertepe for the top spot. His massive turn one slider with four laps to go was a thing of beauty, sweeping through the middle and clearing Hafertepe with ease to steal the top spot in the waning circuits.
The final four laps went by like a breeze as the 24-year-old pilot drove off into the Florida night with a 2.167-second advantage at the checkered flag. Friday’s feature victory marked the seventh of Macedo’s World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series career, and his first of the 2021 season.
Albeit only three of 80+ races are complete, Macedo still achieved a milestone by moving atop the World of Outlaws championships standings for the first time in his career. Something he knows is useless in the middle of March, but deep down means a lot to a California kid chasing his dreams.
“It doesn’t mean anything because we’re so early in the year it just doesn’t matter yet,” Macedo said on the points lead. “For me, personally, inside my own head, it’s really cool. My goal in this sport is to be a World of Outlaws champion. In order to do that, at some point you gotta lead the points. You have to clear those milestones and hit those accomplishments to get there, right? We have a team capable of winning it this year. I know it’s too early to think of that though, we’re just gonna do our best every night and let the cards fell where they fall.
Settling for a second-place finish after leading the opening 25 laps was Sam Hafertepe Jr. aboard the Townline Variety #15H. A tough pill to swallow for a driver that’s hungry to end his nine-year winless drought with the Outlaws, but it’s the latest sign that his operation is as good as ever. Friday’s runner-up result is Hafertepe’s best Series finish since a third-place finish at Lernerville’s Silver Cup in 2013.
“We’ve made leaps and bounds compared to what we came here with in February,” Hafertepe commented on the progression of his program. “To be right here right now is like a win to us. We’ll keep building and look to get better.”
Rounding out the podium with a last-lap pass to finish third was Fresno, CA’s Gio Scelzi aboard the KCP Racing #18. It was his first night with trusted crew chief and friend Bernie Stuebgen of Indy Race Parts in the KCP camp and their revived relationship already appears to be paying dividends again.
“It’s huge, it’s like getting the band back together,” Scelzi said on working with Stuebgen again, who he won his first two Outlaw races with. “I’m feeling comfortable and confident with myself. If we keep running like this, the wins will come eventually.”
Closing out the top ten at Volusia Speedway Park was Donny Schatz in the Tony Stewart Racing #15, David Gravel in the Big Game Motorsports #2, Sheldon Haudenschild in the Stenhouse Jr. Marshall Racing #17, Cory Eliason in the Rudeen Racing #26, Parker Price-Miller in the PPM Racing #19, Logan Schuchart in the Shark Racing #1S, and Aaron Reutzel in the Roth Motorsports #83.
UP NEXT – On Saturday, March 6, the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series ends a 38-year absence from Tampa’s East Bay Raceway Park. If needed, a Sunday rain date is scheduled to complete the show. You can BUY TICKETS HERE.
WITH THE HELP OF A FLORIDA COUPLE, MORAN MADE THE TRIP TO FLORIDA FOR A CAREER WEEK
A trip to Volusia Speedway Park for the 50th DIRTcar Nationals wasn’t initially on Devin Moran’s 2021 itinerary. His new gator-wide smile signified his joy of that change.
Moran, 26, of Dresden, OH, claimed his first DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator championship on Saturday after an impressive display of consistency through the five rounds of Late Model races. If it wasn’t for a broken driveshaft on Wednesday, he could’ve finished on the podium in each event – he had finishes of third, second, 31st, first (his first Volusia win) and second.
“It’s pretty cool,” Moran said about claiming his first Big Gator title. “It’s pretty unexpected, to be honest. At the start of the week, we weren’t even planning on coming down here. Then to run top three even night, except for that one DNF, which I think we had a shot to win, it just gives us a lot of confidence… To start out the year the way we have, it’s been a lot of fun and like I said, it gives us a lot of confidence.”
If it wasn’t for Florida-residents Terry and Marry Ann Wright – who have been friends with Moran’s car owner for a while – Moran and his team would’ve skipped the prestigious event. They’ve been trying to get the team to come down for a couple of years and this year helped make it affordable for them, Moran said.
Bobby Pierce was his closest competitor in the championship hunt going into the final race – before Saturday’s event was canceled due to rain. He entered the night only nine points behind Moran and was on track to cut into that lead after setting Slick Woody’s Quick Time and starting on the outside pole of the Feature.
However, as fate would have it, he suffered a motor issue and the team was unable to get a new one in before the Feature started. Pierce hoped in Reid Millard’s car for the Feature but pulled in early and was unable to finish, unofficially handing the Big Gator championship to Moran who finished second that night. He earned his first golden gator trophy the night before.
Defending Big Gator champion and three-time defending World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series champion Brandon Sheppard finished second in over Big Gator points.
“Like I said, it’s so unexpected,” Moran said. “First of all, with us not coming and then winning the whole week. It sucks with what happened with Bobby that he had to change motors and couldn’t… It’s a bummer that he couldn’t race. But we had a really consistent fast car all week. It’s a special thing to take home this gator with as unexpected as it was.”
The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series, on Friday, March 5, will return to Duck River Raceway Park in Lewisburg, TN.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.
Lemoore, California’s Carson Macedo was perfect on Thursday night at Volusia Speedway Park, helping the All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 close out the inaugural Sugarlands Shine Southern Tour presented by Elliott’s Custom Trailers and Carts with a non-stop, wire-to-wire victory. The DIRTcar Nationals win, scoring Macedo a $6,000 top prize, bumped his All Star win total to seven over the course of his young career, each of which accomplished at different facilities.
“This team did an amazing job tonight and I’m super thrilled with how things are going,” Carson Macedo said, driver of the Jason Johnson Racing No. 41. “We were able to put ourselves in great positions during the entire program and we really executed. I’m just super grateful to be a part of this race team. To come out of the box and win the second night out is pretty incredible.”
Starting 13th on the DIRTcar Nationals main event grid, Shark Racing’s Logan Schuchart was far from an odds-on favorite, but the Hanover, Pennsylvania-native accomplished the near-impossible on Wednesday night at Volusia Speedway Park and charged 12 positions to claim the Sugarlands Shine Southern Tour presented by Elliott’s Custom Trailers and Carts victory against the All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1. Impressive enough, Schuchart outdueled ten-time World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion, Donny Schatz, in the process, driving by the familiar No. 15 on lap 23 of 25.
Bumping his All Star victory count to two, Schuchart earned $6,000 for his efforts. Schatz held on to finish second, followed by Brad Sweet, David Gravel, and full-time All Star, Brent Marks.
“Dirt racing in Florida is going to be bigger and better than ever at the start of 2022,” said Brian Carter, World of Outlaws and DIRTcar CEO. “Demonstrating our commitment to our fans and drivers, we’ve coordinated with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series so there is no overlap of events, allowing fans to enjoy the best Late Model drivers in the world battle throughout Florida on a weekly basis from January to February.
“Then, that will lead into the always action-packed DIRTcar Nationals at the beginning of February where the best Sprint Car, Late Model, Modified and Big Block drivers will compete for the must-have golden gator trophies.”
The 2021 Sunshine Nationals set a high bar for the World of Outlaws Late Model season, producing two eye-widening events and a first-time winner. And this year’s 50th DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 2-13, has again attracted the top race car drivers in the world, including two-time defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion Brad Sweet , Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Kenny Wallace, three-time defending World of Outlaws Late Model champion Brandon Sheppard and 2019 Super DIRTcar Series champion Mat Williamson.
Tickets for this year’s 50th DIRTcar Nationals are available now at VolusiaSpeedwayPark.com. Ticket’s for 2022’s Sunshine Nationals and DIRTcar Nationals will be available there at a later date.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. In that time, hundreds of talented drivers have entered Volusia County, attempting to leave a winner. Many have. More are still trying.
From Sprint Cars to Late Models to Modifieds to Big Blocks, Volusia and the DIRTcar Nationals has served as one of the best time capsules for all of dirt racing. For the 50th year of the event, we went through the long list of drivers that have competed for the coveted DIRTcar Nationals championship title and picked 50 of the best to ever grace the clay surface.
These are the top-50 drivers of the DIRTcar Nationals in alphabetical order: