By beginning the DIRTcar Nationals a day earlier than previous years, it creates for a break between the two weeks of racing for a day of rest on Sunday, Feb. 13, before action runs through Feb. 19.
The new dates will create an exciting opportunity for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds. Following three nights of racing to kick off the event, the division’s traditional “All-Features” night will now be on Thursday, Feb. 10 with split fields competing on Friday, Feb. 11, and the Gator Championship on Saturday, Feb. 12. The All Star Circuit of Champions will join the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds on Tuesday and Wednesday before the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars take the green flag on their season Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
DIRTcar Late Models power up the second week of racing on Monday, Feb. 14, along with a Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified hot lap night, followed Tuesday, Feb. 15, with DIRTcar Late Models and the Super DIRTcar Series. Then beginning Wednesday, Feb. 16, World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models and Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds drive the event to the checkered flag through Saturday, Feb. 19.
The grandstands at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile dirt track near Daytona Beach open nightly at 5 p.m. with opening ceremonies and racing at 6:50 p.m.
While the best way to catch all the action is in the track’s massive grandstands, the racing will also air around the world on DIRTVision as part of the broadcast giant’s Fast Pass subscription.
You might recall his two wins at Daytona International Speedway – during a NASCAR Duel race in 2010 or his Xfinity Series win in 2014. But 20 miles East of the famed track is where the three-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion car owner has collected the most trophies in the sunshine state.
That track is Volusia Speedway Park, in Barberville, FL – which will host the 50th DIRTcar Nationals Feb. 2-13.
Kahne, the driver, has one win at the half-mile track in 2002 with the All Star Circuit of Champions. Kahne, the car owner, has six DIRTcar Nationals championships and 13 wins overall at Volusia – between drivers Brad Sweet, Daryn Pittman and Joey Saldana.
“I’ve always liked Volusia,” Kahne said. “I’ve always liked watching the racing there and driving when I’ve been able to race there. [Kasey Kahne Racing] has won a lot of races over the years down there. It’s fun to have a lot of gators (trophies) and be in Victory Lane down there. It’s a neat place to start the season for sure.”
The day after his win in 2002, Kahne made the overnight drive to North Carolina to test a then NASCAR Bush Series car at Rockingham Speedway in preparation to start his NASCAR career. Three years later, Kasey Kahne Racing was formed.
When he first started the team, while there were always aspirations for wins and championships, Kahne just wanted to provide his team with the best equipment he could and be there for them as an owner. That’s led to three World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championships and 185 Series victories.
“I always just wanted to watch the guys go and watch them win,” Kahne said. “Give them the best opportunity I could from an owner’s standpoint and see what they do with it. Over the last few years, they’ve done a lot. It’s been a lot of fun, whether I was watching on DIRTVision, which I did, I don’t know how many hundreds of races. Now, to be at more of them and watch their success, it feels good to be a part of that. Winning never seems to get old. We want to do a lot more of it from both teams.”
Both KKR cars – the #49 of Brad Sweet and the #9 of James McFadden – finish first and second in the 2020 DIRTcar Nationals points, respectively. For Sweet, Volusia Speedway Park has proved to be one of his best tracks in his tenure with the team. He has two DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator championships and seven wins overall at Volusia – five with the World of Outlaws.
“For whatever reason, it’s definitely one of my best tracks,” said Sweet, the two-time defending Series champion. “We’ve definitely struggled there in the past here and there. I think it says a lot about our guys and our race team that they bring a really fast car there every year. It’s the first week of the season and you can see the teams that haven’t meshed yet or aren’t as well prepared and the teams that have been together are going to come out of the box a little stronger. That’s going to give us an advantage. And for whatever reason, it’s been a good racetrack for me.”
The key to KKR’s success at the track stems from their offseason preparations. When the 2020 season ended, Kahne said the crew has been working in the shop all season long to get ready for 2021.
“I feel like our cars have always been good right out of the box at those types of tracks,” Kahne said. “Early in the years, our KKR cars have always been fast in the beginning of the season. For whatever reason. And I think our drivers have been good and I’ve always enjoyed racing at Volusia with Daryn and Brad and Joey.”
He’ll join Sweet on track this year at Volusia, he said, as he plans to drive the team’s #9 car when McFadden can’t.
Kahne initially had no plans to drive a Sprint Car last year, but no plans turned into one race. Then, one race turned into 11.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” Kahne said about stepping back behind the wheel. “It’s been good. Last year, I didn’t plan on doing it a whole lot but with COVID and how things worked out, I ended up doing a lot more races and liked it. I always liked being in a Sprint Car and being a part of that. I always enjoy working on the car and being with the teams and things like that. That’s been a lot of fun the last couple years, as well. We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success here recently. It’s fun to be part of it and traveling with the guys.”
After claiming another DIRTcar Nationals title and another World of Outlaws championship in 2020, Kahne is excited about the prospects of 2021 for his KKR team and kicking off the season strong at Volusia.
“I feel really good about where KKR is and where our engine program is,” he said. “I think we made some nice gains there late in the season, which will show at Volusia. I was talking with Brad and he’s ready to go. He’s always putting the work in and wants to win a lot this year. I like hearing that. The cars are coming together. The guys have been here nonstop since the season ended. Definitely, no one has backed down. It’s going to be a fun season.”
For tickets to the 50th DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.
Danny Lasoski and Jerry Russell unleashed an unstoppable apex predator at Volusia Speedway Park in 2000.
They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should… In all honesty, they didn’t care.
The pair – Lasoski, a soon to be champion, and Russell, who recently started Eagle Chassis – engineered a car that made the rule book sweat. The frame was offset to the right, the cage was taller, the A-frame was moved back, the engine was off-center, the body was aero-focused and there were a few other features Russell said he’s “not at liberty to talk about.”
By the words of the rule book – or lack thereof – at the time, the car was legal.
“You have to understand, back in the day there was no weight rule,” Lasoski said. “What you brought to the racetrack was what you raced. Everybody was completely anal about being light. When the 1,200-pound rule came into effect (meaning all cars had to weigh a minimum of 1,200 pounds) I said, ‘If it’s going to be 1,200 pounds then I’m going to make sure it benefits me.’
“I like to go gray with everything. Even back in the day because (World of Outlaws founder) Ted Johnson was always on my ass about it. I was always trying to get an advantage. Every time I would come to Florida each year, I’d work all year to get an advantage. With this car, it was like, ‘Hey, man, we’ve got a clean sheet of paper. Let’s put a car together that is so obscene and so out of the box that you would never think to do that we know they’re going to scream to high heaven about doing it, but there is nothing in the rule book that says you can’t do it.’
Russell started Eagle Chassis in 1998 after spending about 10 years at Maxim Chassis. Lasoski, a long-time friend, was one of his first customers. When Lasoski teamed with Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing for the first time in 2000 to bring a car to Florida for eight nights, he and Russell concocted the idea for their mad creation.
Their first four nights with the car were at Volusia Speedway Park during the DIRTcar Nationals with the All Star Circuit of Champions. On night one, he dominated and won. Night two, he dominated and won. Night three, he dominated and won. Night four… yeah, he won.
“It was the best handling car I ever had,” said Lasoski, who has 19 wins in total at Volusia. “I couldn’t do anything wrong. That’s how superior it was. We raced against a lot of good guys.”
As expected, though, the car didn’t avoid controversy. They had to cut body panels off the first night and throughout the week, according to Russell.
“It really and truly wasn’t the body. We were just hiding other things in it that they couldn’t see,” Russell said.
After Volusia, Lasoski continued his dominance in the unique #20 car during four nights of racing at East Bay Raceway Park. He won three of the four events and finished third in the one event he didn’t win. According to Russell, the reason they didn’t win the one race was due to an engine issue.
At the end of the eight nights in Florida, Lasoski returned to his full-time World of Outlaws ride with Roth Motorsports and Russell hung the car in the ceiling of his shop. He didn’t have room on the ground for it, but mainly he didn’t want people looking at it.
Some people still tried to copy the car to Russell’s amusement. He knew they didn’t know what they were trying to copy, he said.
The car stayed in Russell’s ceiling for the rest of 2000 and the majority of 2001. They brought it back done for the last handful of World of Outlaws races in 2001 as Lasoski competed for his first championship with TSR.
“I took it back down, put a new body on it and he actually finished the last six or eight races with that car and ended up winning the points championship with it (beating Mark Kinser by 30 points),” Russell said. “It was a good car.
“It was more of a head game than anything. That’s why we took it out of the ceiling and put a body on it. Then, after he won the points championship, we brought it back and hung it in the ceiling again for another eight years or so.”
The car now resides as an iconic artifact in Tony Stewart’s car collection. Russell gifted Stewart the car since it brought him his first World of Outlaws championship as an owner.
By today’s standards, the car is far from legal. However, life found a way for it to live on. Elements of the car, such as the taller cage and more aero-focused body, became common-place throughout the years.