Late Models

FIRST NIGHT FUN: Opening Night Proves That 2022 Is Not The Same

If anything about tonight’s Opening Night Special at Volusia showed anything, it’s that nothing is over until it’s actually over, and that there are going to be some wide open championship battles throughout the season. Every winning driver had to grind each lap, and it surely made the night a great one to watch.

 

Hands down, the driver of the night was one, Joe Belkey. He not only won the 602 Late Model feature, but the Thunder Stock feature as well. He had to battle with Donnie Chappell in the early stages until his night was done due to a mechanical failure. From that point on, he was able to have a smooth ride the rest of the way en route to the win. In the Thunder Stocks, it was an uphill climb as he started dead last in the feature. Battling with defending champion Shaun Daugharty & Justin Reynolds, Belkey made his presence known. Not only that, tonight’s performance showed that it will not be surprising if he’s in the hunt for a championship in November.

 

In the 3/4 Modifieds, it almost became an endurance race as there were multiple cautions in the first few laps. After the final caution on lap 5 went green to checkered, it became a battle between brothers as Korbin & Lawton Minchew battled for the win. Defending champion, Wade Olmsted, made his way through the field. He would only to finish second to the eventual winner, Korbin Minchew.

 

The 604 Late Models was the Joe Kump Show, leading every lap of the night. Even though he commanded the field doesn’t mean there weren’t challenges to his lead. The defining two drivers in the battle for the win was Jeff Choquette and Donnie Chappell, with them both faltering at the end.

 

Finally, the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds showed that this could be the year a driver can tip Garret Stewart off the top step as champion. Seth Geary led all but one lap, while the rest of the field were jostling all around for position and space. Hunter Gustafson stayed on Geary’s trail throughout the race, while Stewart finished third to him in a close finish. Many drivers battled to try and earn a podium spot, or even top 5. In the end, it was Eric Moon and 80 year-old Buzzie Reutimann who took the remaining spots to secure a top 5 finish.

 

Volusia Speedway Park’s next race is the Spring Fling next Saturday on April 2nd. Gates will open at 4:00, and will be broadcasted live on DIRTVision. We’ll see you then! Below are photos by Dave Shank. We hope you enjoy!

 

GATOR SMOKE: Madden grabs DIRTcar Nationals win, Moran crowned Big Gator champion

Chris Madden wins at Volusia

Devin Moran wins “Big Gator” trophy by one point over Madden; earns second DIRTcar Nationals championship

Chris Madden knew he couldn’t play it safe Saturday night at Volusia Speedway Park. As the Gray Court, SC driver’s chances to win dwindled, he decided to seize an opportunity.

Madden ran fourth during the first 10 laps before taking a risk that led to reward. He thundered to the top of the Volusia clay, picking off Mike Marlar and Max Blair to get to second. That’s when he set his sights on leader Dale McDowell.

As the Chickamauga, GA driver moved to the middle to pass a slower car, “Smokey” dealt his final blow. Madden switched lanes through Turns 3 and 4, powering under McDowell to take control of the lead en route to winning the DIRTcar Nationals finale, while Devan Moran won the overall Big Gator Championship.

The choice to go to the outside was crucial in Madden’s 33rd career World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models triumph.

“It was very important,” Madden said. “I thought we messed up with an adjustment, and when they dropped the green flag, I couldn’t keep up, and I was like, oh boy, I’m in trouble.

“The racetrack finally slowed down enough to where we were pretty good and [McDowell], and they caught lap traffic, so I had nothing to lose but step out there, and we found the groove and happened to get by right in time.”

Madden’s second career DIRTcar Nationals victory is the culmination of a consistent week for him and his team. He’s now at the top of the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models point standings—16 points ahead of McDowell.

“We’ve had a great car all week,” Madden said. “I’ve made some bad calls on restarts, picking the wrong line, and took myself out of a couple of wins this week. Overall, we’ve had a great week, my guys worked their tail off doing a great job, and I appreciate them.”

Mike Marlar, the 2018 Series Champion, crossed the line second. The Winfield, TN campaigner sat third for most of the race, getting by Rookie of the Year contender Max Blair on the final lap.

“I had a good car; I just couldn’t do much about it there,” Marlar said. “[Blair] was just in my line. I kind of waited until I thought I could pass on tires, and the last couple of laps, I just drove it a lot harder and got him. But I probably never would’ve gotten Madden.”

McDowell finished third after leading early in the race. “The Mac Daddy” felt he was a sitting duck once he caught the back of the field.

“I didn’t know where to go, and I went to the middle,” McDowell said. “That’s where I should’ve been, but [lap cars] moved out a little bit so [Madden] and them shot by me. Some days are your days, and some days aren’t.”

Max Blair, the Rookie of the race, slipped to fourth on the final lap. Despite making a mistake at the end, the Viper Motorsports team is happy to get its first top five of the season.

“Anytime you run fourth with these guys, it’s something to be proud of,” Blair said. “It sucks a little bit when you run second the whole race and then give it away on the last lap and fall back to fourth. But, with how this week went and everything, fourth is a lot better than 18th.”

The Centerville, PA driver leads the chase for Rookie of the Year after six races—10 points ahead of Tanner English.

He isn’t the only rookie who grabbed their first top five, as Kyle Hammer finished fifth. It’s momentum the Clinton, IL driver can take moving forward, on top of leading 20 laps during Thursday’s DIRTcar Nationals Feature.

“This is one of the hardest tracks we’ll probably hit on the schedule,” Hammer said. “I mean, look at all these guys. Ryan Gustin dominates one night and misses the Feature the next. We led half the Feature and missed the next night and take a provisional.

“It shows [Volusia] is a hard track no matter who you are, so I feel like we’ve got a huge confidence booster going into the rest of the year.”

While Madden did everything possible to win the Big Gator title, Moran took it home for the second straight year. “The Mailman” did just enough to win the DIRTcar Nationals championship—besting Madden by one point.

Big Gator Trophy Celebration

Despite not finding Victory Lane, Moran still made his way to the podium four times at Volusia. It capped off the end to a successful Speedweeks for the Dresden, OH driver.

It’s pretty cool,” Moran said. “We wanted to win so bad here this week, and I felt we had the car too.

“To come out here and get the big gator two years in a row after not racing a whole lot is a lot of fun. I can’t thank Wylie [Moran’s brother and crew chief] enough.”

Chris Madden proved that taking a chance at the right time can pay off on the path to Victory. It’s risks like Madden’s that led to a reward—and a chance to contend for a World of Outlaws CASE Late Models title.

UP NEXT: The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet make their inaugural appearance at The Rev in Monroe, LA, March 11-12. FOR TICKETS, CLICK HERE.

CASE Construction Feature (40 Laps): 1. 44-Chris Madden[3]; 2. 157-Mike Marlar[5]; 3. 17M-Dale McDowell[1]; 4. 111V-Max Blair[2]; 5. 45-Kyle Hammer[7]; 6. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[6]; 7. 8-Kyle Strickler[4]; 8. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[9]; 9. 39-Tim McCreadie[11]; 10. 46-Earl Pearson Jr[8]; 11. 16-Tyler Bruening[17]; 12. 9-Devin Moran[20]; 13. 76-Brandon Overton[14]; 14. 11H-Spencer Hughes[12]; 15. 81E-Tanner English[22]; 16. 130-Chase Osterhoff[19]; 17. 97-Cade Dillard[23]; 18. 1-Brandon Sheppard[25]; 19. B1-Brent Larson[24]; 20. 40B-Kyle Bronson[13]; 21. 11-Gordy Gundaker[29]; 22. 99B-Boom Briggs[28]; 23. 1T-Tyler Erb[21]; 24. 1R-Josh Richards[27]; 25. 89-Ashton Winger[18]; 26. 33M-Michael Norris[16]; 27. 19R-Ryan Gustin[26]; 28. 32-Chris Simpson[10]; 29. 3S-Brian Shirley[15] FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Devin Moran [+8]

BLUE COLLAR MAN: Erb grabs first DIRTcar Nationals Gator at Volusia

Dennis Erb Jr. wins at Volusia

NASCAR Cup Series Champion Alan Kulwicki once said, “In every aspect of life, have a game plan and do your best to achieve it.”

Dennis Erb Jr. knew he had to master Turns 1 and 2 if he wanted a gator. He wasted no time executing hisgame plan, thundering past Frank Heckenast Jr. in the middle of the Volusia Speedway Park surface.

It’s a lead he’d never relinquish—fending off challenges from Brandon Sheppard and Chase Junghans to score his first World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models win of 2022 Friday night at DIRTcar Nationals.

“I mean, we were able to get the lead and roll off through that middle on the start,” Erb said. “We kept going real good and had a good start. After that, the car was working good, and we just had to keep hitting our marks and keep the rest of them behind us.”

The path toward his 10th career Series triumph in his 250th start wasn’t clear for the Late Model veteran. Erb and defending champion Brandon Sheppard gave the fans at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” an epic battle for the lead around the Feature’s halfway point.

The reigning champion swung high while Erb held his ground on the bottom, gaining enough momentum to pull ahead as a caution came out on Lap 25.

“I saw him out there and started to get a little worried,” Erb said. “I started to try and carry a little more speed through [Turns} 1 and 2. I knew [Sheppard] was pretty much committed up there, so I knew if I could beat him on the bottom, we were in pretty good shape.”

Sheppard faded to fourth at the checkered flag. The four-time Series champion stated he stayed on the top side of the racetrack for too long after Erb pulled away.

“[Erb] was swinging out a little bit wider after he knew I was there,” Sheppard said. “I stayed out there a little bit too long after he got out there ahead of me. I should’ve moved down behind him and kept my left rear tire underneath me.

“Instead, I stayed a little too long, and then I overheated it. I was trying to move around, and it wasn’t as good. After a couple of guys got by me, I was able to get down there and cool my left rear tire off, and I drove back to them.”

Sheppard wasn’t the only driver who tried to dethrone Erb from the lead. Chase Junghans quickly closed on the top spot in the final laps but fell short.

The Manhattan, KS driver used patience early in the race before unleashing speed toward the end.

“I just bided my time and tried not to blow my tires off this thing and keep it under me,” Junghans said. “Those lap cars kind of got in the way at the end, but that’s how it goes. Luckily, we’re just up here getting interviewed.”

Once Junghans saw Sheppard’s line ahead of him, his decision to go to the outside paid off, leading to his first podium finish of the season.

“I saw Sheppard running the top, and I was like kind of pinching the corner on the bottom,” Junghans said. “So, I said screw it, I’ll go up there, and kind of follow him. I chose his line a little bit, but I’d kind of turn off the top and try to drive straight down the hill, and it seemed like that’s where I’d gain a bunch of ground.”

Three-time Series Champion Darrell Lanigan finished third for the second straight night. The Union, KY driver’s car came to life in the final 15 laps, leading him to another top three.

“We just gave it all we got,” Lanigan said. “We had a little bit of a chance there, and it was coming back to us a little bit. We just got up on the wheel and tried to make something happen.

“I just can’t run where I want to on the racetrack yet, and if we get our car right, I think we’ll be able to run up front.”

Dale McDowell, the leading World of Outlaws CASE Late Models winner in 2022, rounded out the top five.

Dennis Erb Jr.’s game plan worked to perfection Friday night, proving a good start can lead to glory on the racetrack. It’s a start that could position him toward a run at a championship at the end of the season.

UP NEXT: The battle for the “Big Gator” trophy ends Saturday night at Volusia Speedway Park in a 40 lap, $10,000-to-win finale. For Tickets: CLICK HERE. The Super DIRTcar Series will hand out a “Big Gator.”

Devin Moran leads the DIRTcar Nationals standings—37 points ahead of Chris Madden. McDowell and Sheppard are tied for third—54 points behind Moran.

Madden is currently the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models point leader—10 points ahead of Dale McDowell.

CASE Construction Feature (40 Laps): 1. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[2]; 2. 18-Chase Junghans[7]; 3. 29-Darrell Lanigan[4]; 4. 1-Brandon Sheppard[5]; 5. 17M-Dale McDowell[6]; 6. 44-Chris Madden[8]; 7. 16-Tyler Bruening[9]; 8. 71-Hudson O’Neal[17]; 9. 25-Shane Clanton[14]; 10. 9-Devin Moran[20]; 11. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr[1]; 12. 81E-Tanner English[11]; 13. 6-Nick Hoffman[22]; 14. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[18]; 15. 11-Gordy Gundaker[30]; 16. 157-Mike Marlar[13]; 17. 111V-Max Blair[21]; 18. 99B-Boom Briggs[26]; 19. 1R-Josh Richards[27]; 20. 45-Kyle Hammer[29]; 21. 89-Ashton Winger[10]; 22. 46-Earl Pearson Jr[16]; 23. 3S-Brian Shirley[23]; 24. 25B-Mike Benedum[15]; 25. B1-Brent Larson[28]; 26. 11H-Spencer Hughes[12]; 27. 10-Garrett Smith[24]; 28. 76-Brandon Overton[3]; 29. 33M-Michael Norris[19]; 30. 19R-Ryan Gustin[25] FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Gordy Gundaker [+15]

RETURN OF THE MAC: McDowell scores second World of Outlaws win of 2022 at Volusia

Dale McDowell wins at Volusia

Devin Moran grabs fourth straight podium finish, leads Big Gator points

Only one word describes Dale McDowell’s 2022 season—emotional.

Less than a month after the Chickamauga, GA driver opened the season with a win at Sunshine Nationals, he backed it up with another one Thursday night at Volusia Speedway Park.

McDowell outran Devin Moran and Darrell Lanigan in the final 10 laps to earn his first Gator trophy since 2018. Tears fell from the “Mac Daddy’s” eyes in Victory Lane, at a loss for words for his recent accomplishments—including his triumph against cancer.

“We came down here in January to see if we were worthy of coming back, and it’s been a dream come true,” McDowell said.

The veteran driver earned a $10,000 check and his 14th career World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series win, tying him for 14th all-time with Tim Fuller.

Despite his success in 2022, it’s a position McDowell never thought he’d be in after his off-track battle.

“I’ve been through a lot, and I have a lot of help behind me and support,” McDowell said. “It’s pretty emotional because I’ve been through a good bit, but I’m just happy to be here.”

While McDowell held the lead in the final 21 laps, Rookie of the Year contender Kyle Hammer led the first 19.

The Clinton, IL driver lost the lead to McDowell on a Lap 20 restart and dropped back to fifth before spinning in Turns 3 and 4, ending his night.

Even though he finished 27th, Hammer gained a boost of confidence racing against some of the top Late Model drivers in the country.

“We started really bad here in the beginning of the week,” Hammer said. “So, to be able to come where we were to here is just awesome for our team, a huge confidence booster.

“I feel like we actually know what we’re doing in the slick now.”

Devin Moran crossed the line second, earning his fourth DIRTcar Nationals podium. The “Mailman” leads the battle for a “Big Gator” trophy but wants a little gator to go with it. He stated he needed to start closer to the front to do that.

“We found some stuff in our Heat Race, and I felt like we were really, really good,” Moran said. “We’ll put that in our Qualifying setup tomorrow and hopefully start on the front row of the [Heat Race], and maybe we can start up front in one of these Features.

“We may not have passed the best car, but we’ve passed plenty of cars this week. We’ll just keep after it.”

Darrell Lanigan crossed the line third after starting 12th. The three-time Series champion stated he’s improving each night, especially in his ability to drive through the field.

“We’ve got our car close now,” Lanigan said. “It’s pretty balanced when we can drive in traffic.”

Chris Madden finished fourth, adding to his Series points lead—12 points ahead of McDowell. It’s the Gray Court, SC driver’s third top-five in four races. And 2021 World of Outlaws CASE Late Models Rookie of the Year Tyler Bruening rounded out the top five.

Dale McDowell’s 2022 season has been an emotional ride he never expected. “The Mac Daddy” is taking things one race at a time, embracing every win as it comes.

“I’m just completely blessed,” McDowell said.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models return to Volusia Speedway Park for another day of action at DIRTcar Nationals along with the Super DIRTcar Series. For Tickets: CLICK HERE.

CASE Construction Equipment Feature (40 Laps): 1. 17M-Dale McDowell[4]; 2. 9-Devin Moran[9]; 3. 29-Darrell Lanigan[12]; 4. 44-Chris Madden[3]; 5. 16-Tyler Bruening[18]; 6. 58-Mark Whitener[5]; 7. 89-Ashton Winger[14]; 8. 81E-Tanner English[13]; 9. 1-Brandon Sheppard[15]; 10. 40B-Kyle Bronson[23]; 11. 39-Tim McCreadie[11]; 12. 157-Mike Marlar[17]; 13. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[16]; 14. 111V-Max Blair[29]; 15. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[6]; 16. 25-Shane Clanton[20]; 17. 18-Chase Junghans[24]; 18. 11H-Spencer Hughes[21]; 19. B1-Brent Larson[27]; 20. 1R-Josh Richards[30]; 21. 99B-Boom Briggs[26]; 22. 46-Earl Pearson Jr[22]; 23. 11-Gordy Gundaker[28]; 24. 8-Kyle Strickler[7]; 25. 19R-Ryan Gustin[25]; 26. 10-Garrett Smith[10]; 27. 45-Kyle Hammer[2]; 28. 76N-Blair Nothdurft[8]; 29. 32-Chris Simpson[19]; 30. 76-Brandon Overton[1] FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER AWARD: Max Blair [+15]

SEXY SURVIVAL: Overton Holds on for Second Career DIRTcar Nationals win

Brandon Overton wins at Volusia Speedway Park

The Evans, GA driver passed Dale McDowell on a restart en route to his 19th career World of Outlaws Win

Brandon Overton’s clock was ticking Wednesday night.

As the laps wound down at Volusia Speedway Park, so did the life of the engine inside his Longhorn Chassis.

Luckily for “Big Sexy,” his clock didn’t strike midnight. The engine held up long enough to take the checkered flag for his second career DIRTcar Nationals win.

Overton wasn’t sure he’d make it to the end in the last few laps—holding his breath and hoping the engine stayed together. All of this while Devin Moran lurked behind him.

“I was looking, and I could see it smoking, and I knew it’s got to be over pretty soon,” Overton said. “I was just getting it so tight down there I was just holding it to the floor. I could tell it was dying; it was just muffling out.

“Hell, there ain’t nothing you can do; it’s already done its damage.”

Before the engine started to blow, Overton’s car came to life in the second half of the race. The Evans, GA driver, took advantage of a caution for then race-leader Kyle Strickler and powered around Dale McDowell for the top spot.

Overton put the car anywhere he wanted to, thanks to wholesale changes made to his Late Model throughout the week.

“We’ve changed everything on this thing every single night, every single Feature we’ve ran,” Overton said. “The new body rules and stuff kind of has us in a little box, and we just got to figure it out.

“I had a pretty good package with the way everything was, and it changed a little bit. We just have to keep working; that’s what makes this fun.”

The DIRTcar Nationals win is Overton’s 19th World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series triumph—tying him with Jimmy Owens. It’s a win that may not have happened without Kyle Strickler’s lousy luck.

The Mooresville, NC driver dropped out while leading with 25 laps to go. He stated it was a problem his team found on Tuesday—one they hoped to fix before the Feature.

“We had drivetrain issues [Tuesday],” Strickler said. “The yoke pulled off the rear end, but everything felt good today. I thought we had a really good car and broke a lower jackshaft in the rear-end.

“I’m not sure if it had to do with last night or not, but the car was good and it’s just part of it.”

Devin Moran continued his hot streak to start the season, scoring his third trip to the DIRTcar Nationals podium with a second-place finish.

The Dresden, OH driver stated he thought he had a shot at winning before he saw Overton’s engine start to expire.

“I felt like I was catching him before that,” Moran said. “I don’t know if it’s because his engine was getting worse and worse.

“I wasn’t going to slide him in Turns 3 and 4 because I knew I was too far back. But I wanted to at least run a different line if he did blow up.”

Moran’s consistency puts him on a path toward his second straight “Big Gator” trophy—as he leads the week-long standings on the strength of three podiums.

Reigning Series Champion Brandon Sheppard passed more cars than anyone Wednesday, earning the Fox Factory Hard Charger award. “The Rocket Shepp” crossed the line third after switching to a backup car and starting 25th.

After he didn’t qualify through his Heat Race, the Rocket1 Racing team decided to switch cars—one that paid off.

“My team just comes thru in tough times like we had today,” Sheppard said. “It was really just a mutual agreement to switch cars, and it worked out. All of our cars are good. We were just missing something on that other one.”

Hudson O’Neal finished fourth, his second top-five finish of the season. Three-time Series champion Darrell Lanigan rounded out the top five.

Brandon Overton didn’t only win a “Gator,” but a race against time. It shows the clock hasn’t struck midnight on Overton’s success against the best Dirt Late Model racing has to offer.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series returns to Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 17 for their second night of DIRTcar Nationals, along with the Super DIRTcar Series. For tickets to the event: CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App.

CASE Construction Feature (40 Laps): 1. 76-Brandon Overton[8]; 2. 9-Devin Moran[9]; 3. 1-Brandon Sheppard[25]; 4. 71-Hudson O’Neal[7]; 5. 29-Darrell Lanigan[4]; 6. 44-Chris Madden[2]; 7. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr[13]; 8. 1R-Josh Richards[27]; 9. 81E-Tanner English[18]; 10. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[6]; 11. 1T-Tyler Erb[23]; 12. 44B-Colten Burdette[15]; 13. 111V-Max Blair[20]; 14. 16-Tyler Bruening[21]; 15. B1-Brent Larson[12]; 16. 6S-Blake Spencer[22]; 17. 11-Gordy Gundaker[14]; 18. 99B-Boom Briggs[28]; 19. 14M-Morgan Bagley[29]; 20. 39-Tim McCreadie[11]; 21. 17M-Dale McDowell[5]; 22. 10-Garrett Smith[10]; 23. 45-Kyle Hammer[30]; 24. 89-Ashton Winger[16]; 25. 3S-Brian Shirley[17]; 26. 8-Kyle Strickler[1]; 27. 25-Shane Clanton[24]; 28. 157-Mike Marlar[3]; 29. 97-Cade Dillard[19]; 30. 19R-Ryan Gustin[26] Fox Factory Hard Charger Award: Brandon Sheppard [+22}.

REDEMPTION RUN: Thornton Scores First DIRTcar Nationals Win in Dominant Fashion

Ricky Thornton Jr. Wins at Volusia Speedway Park

The Chandler, AZ driver, led all 30 laps en route to his first Volusia Speedway Park Victory

A year ago, Ricky Thornton Jr. seemed destined for his first DIRTcar Nationals win—until heartbreak struck. He lost the lead on a late-race restart, spoiling his chances for victory.

History didn’t have a chance to repeat itself Monday night. The Chandler, AZ driver took advantage of a caution-free Feature, leading all 30-laps to score his first DIRTcar Nationals win at Volusia Speedway Park.

Thornton jumped to the roof of his car in Victory Lane, raising two fists into the Florida sky and letting out a joyful scream—knowing he got his redemption and the $7,000 paycheck.

“I felt like we almost had one last year, and we gave it away there late in the race,” Thornton said. “This is pretty awesome.”

While Thornton dominated the event, he knew he had to be sharp at the start of the race. “RTJ” lined up next to Brandon Overton, who won the last DIRTcar Nationals Feature in 2021.

Thornton powered ahead of Overton on the outside lane, grabbing a lead he’d never relinquish off Turn 2. The outside was where Thornton wanted to go, allowing him to set his own pace in the early stages of the Feature.

“I actually preferred starting on the outside; that way, I could run into [Turn 1] as hard as I wanted,” Thornton said. “It worked out for us; I got a really good start and got out in front of [Overton].

“I was trying to distance myself as much as I could; that way, once we did get to traffic and I had to slow down, they wouldn’t get by me. The top never really slowed down all the way, so it’s pretty awesome.”

As Thornton drove away from the field, Chris Madden charged from his eighth starting position to finish second. The Gray Court, SC campaigner, took the opposite approach from Thornton, using the bottom en route to a runner-up finish.

Madden felt he could’ve had a shot at the win if he had a better starting position.

“We needed to start closer to the front,” Madden said. “We qualified good tonight, inverted back, and then started, I think eighth there.

“We had a really good racecar tonight. I’m really proud of my guys; I’m proud of our finish; I’m proud of our car and what we learned tonight. It was a great racetrack, and we had a fun race.”

Defending DIRTcar Nationals champion Devin Moran crossed the line third—his 13th straight top-10 finish in 2022.

The Dresden, OH driver felt he wasn’t good enough on the outside to contend with both Thornton and Madden.

“Ricky was checked out pretty good, and I think Chris [Madden] was a little better than us,” Moran said. “We were probably a third-place car, we were too tight to run the top, and we just need to work on it a little bit and get it ready for tomorrow.”

Pole-sitter Brandon Overton finished fourth, and Dale McDowell rounded out the top five.

Ricky Thornton Jr. didn’t back down from a second chance at winning his first Gator—giving him DIRTcar Nationals redemption. It’s a momentum that keeps his eyes on a larger prize—a “Big Gator” trophy on his mantle.

The quest for a “Big Gator” continues Tuesday night at Volusia Speedway Park as the Late Models return for their second night of action at DIRTcar Nationals. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

The Super DIRTcar Series and the Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Cars presented by Low-E Insulation will also join the racing card.

If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App.

Feature (30 Laps): 1. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[2]; 2. 44-Chris Madden[8]; 3. 9-Devin Moran[6]; 4. 76-Brandon Overton[1]; 5. 17M-Dale McDowell[4]; 6. 16-Tyler Bruening[7]; 7. 1-Brandon Sheppard[3]; 8. 157-Mike Marlar[12]; 9. 25-Shane Clanton[11]; 10. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[13]; 11. 32-Chris Simpson[10]; 12. 29-Darrell Lanigan[5]; 13. 19R-Ryan Gustin[14]; 14. 18D-Daulton Wilson[17]; 15. 40B-Kyle Bronson[15]; 16. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr[9]; 17. 89-Ashton Winger[24]; 18. 58-Mark Whitener[18]; 19. 36-Logan Martin[21]; 20. 11-Spencer Hughes[16]; 21. 14M-Morgan Bagley[22]; 22. 31-Tyler Millwood[19]; 23. 97-Cody Overton[23]; 24. 11B-Stacy Boles[20]

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: World of Outlaws CASE Late Models prepare to Gator Hunt at Volusia Speedway Park

The field rolls to green at Volusia Speedway Park

The yearly quest for a “Big Gator” is on at Volusia Speedway Park as the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models make their second trip to the Florida this season for the 51st DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 16-19.

On Wednesday, Feb. 16, the World of Outlaws return for the first of four DIRTcar Nationals 40-lap, $10,000-to-win Features, during the week. The held over 30-lap, $10,000-to-win Feature from January’s Sunshine Nationals will run at the end of Wednesday’s event. The DIRTcar Nationals Features will continue Feb. 17-19.

Also, before The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet take center stage, two nights of DIRTcar Late Model action kick off the week with a pair of 30-lap, $7,000-to-win Features Feb. 14-15.

Drivers will accumulate points on all six nights to determine who adds a “Big Gator” trophy to their mantle. Wednesday’s Sunshine Nationals Feature won’t count toward the Big Gator Championship

The Super DIRTcar Series will join the Late Models all week, along with the debut of the Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Cars presented by Low-E Insulation on Feb. 14-15.

If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App

Here are some of the storylines to keep an eye on entering DIRTcar Nationals:

Sheppard Rolls in Hot: Four-time and defending Series champion Brandon Sheppard is already off to a hot start in 2022. In January, he opened the season with two wins at the Wild West Shootout and backed it up with four wins across Florida.

The “Rocket Shepp” is also no stranger to Victory Lane at Volusia, winning eight DIRTcar Nationals Features since 2017. Despite those wins, he’s hoping to rebound after his best finish was sixth at the Florida venue in 2021.

He opened the 2022 season with a seventh-place finish at Sunshine Nationals and hopes to keep up that consistency during the seven-race week.

A World of Outlaws win at DIRTcar Nationals could give him a piece of World of Outlaws history, tying him with Josh Richards for most Series wins (78).

Skyline’s the Limit: Skyline Motorsports has double the odds of walking away with a “Big Gator” at this year’s DIRTcar Nationals.

Shane Clanton won the week-long chase in 2015, winning four out of five Features. The “Georgia Bulldog” has six DIRTcar Nationals victories and scored a top-10 when the Series visited Volusia in January.

Meanwhile, his teammate, 2021 World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year Tyler Bruening, has been consistent at The World’s Fastest Half-Mile. The Decorah, IA driver, has four straight top-10’s at Volusia, including three in 2021 which kicked off his third-place points finish.

Bruening is still trying to find Victory Lane with the World of Outlaws for the first time. He’s found success on tracks a half-mile or larger, grabbing three top-fives and nine top-10s in 2021.

Erb is the Word: Brandon Sheppard isn’t the only Illinois driver who’s had a fast start to 2022. Dennis Erb Jr. also enjoys the Florida sun, especially after his second-place finish in the season opener at Sunshine Nationals.

The Carpentersville, IL driver backed it up with a Florida Speedweeks victory earlier this month, showing he’ll be a contender among the best dirt Late Model racing has to offer.

While he’s yet to win a Feature at DIRTcar Nationals, he’s scored two top-fives, and three top-10s in his last three races at The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.

If Erb, flanked by 2021 Crew Chief of the Year Heather Lyne, can keep his consistency going at Volusia, it could put him in a position to contend for his first World of Outlaws CASE Late Models championship.

Viper Strike: The 2022 World of Outlaws Rookie Class has six drivers vying to be at the top of the list. But after one Feature, Max Blair stands above the rest.

In January, Blair opened the season with an eighth-place finish—nine spots ahead of the next highest finishing rookie Gordy Gundaker.

The Centerville, PA driver leads the Rookie of the Year standings heading into DIRTcar Nationals—18 points ahead of Gundaker and 20 points ahead of Tanner English.

While Blair has the early jump on his competition, five World of Outlaws Features are up for grabs at Volusia, and any of the six rookies could take advantage into The Rev in March.

Heat Seeking Mailman: When the quest for the “Big Gator” begins on Monday, Devin Moran is looking to go back-to-back.

The Dresden, OH driver has entered 13 races in 2022, grabbing three wins and eight top-fives. He’s only finished outside the top-10 once.

While “The Mailman” finished 22nd in the season opener at Volusia Speedway Park during Sunshine Nationals, he was in the top-five when bad luck sidelined him during the 30-lap Feature.

Moran has found success on half-mile tracks in the past—winning a Feature at DIRTcar Nationals in 2021 and backing it up with a victory at Bristol Motor Speedway last April.

Return of the Mac: Dale McDowell opened his 2022 season in style, winning the season opener at Sunshine Nationals just four months after being diagnosed with cancer.

The “Mac Daddy” will be back for DIRTcar Nationals and has a great chance to build off his victory.

In his last 10 races at Volusia Speedway Park, McDowell has a win, three top-fives, and five top-10s. The Chickamauga, GA driver is searching for his fourth DIRTcar Nationals win—his last coming in 2018.

He’ll also start on the outside pole of the held over 30-lap Feature from Sunshine Nationals.

Georgia Gator Hunt: Brandon Overton has accomplished a lot in his dirt Late Model career, including a 2021 season that may go unmatched.

But there’s one thing missing from “Big Sexy’s” trophy case—a Big Gator.

Overton’s success on a half-mile track in 2021 is one for the record books, winning both Dirt Late Model Dream’s and the 51st World 100 at Eldora Speedway. He also grabbed his first DIRTcar National Feature win last season.

WHEN AND WHERE

Feb. 16-19 – Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, FL

ABOUT THE TRACK

Volusia Speedway Park is a half-mile oval
Online – https://volusiaspeedwaypark.com

Previous Volusia Speedway Park Winners

2022- Dale McDowell on Jan. 21
2021 – Kyle Bronson on Jan. 14, Kyle Strickler on Jan. 16, Kyle Strickler on Feb. 10, Devin Moran on Feb. 11, Brandon Overton on Feb. 12
2020 – Brandon Sheppard on Feb. 12, Jimmy Owens on Feb. 13, Feb. 14 & Feb. 15
2019 – Brandon Sheppard on Feb. 13, Feb. 14, Feb. 15 and Feb. 16
2018 – Tim McCreadie – Feb. 14; Dale McDowell – Feb. 15; Scott Bloomquist – Feb. 16; Brandon Sheppard – Feb. 17
2017- Shane Clanton on Feb. 24; Don O’Neal on Feb. 25
2016 – Josh Richards on Feb. 18, 19; Shane Clanton on Feb. 20
2015 – Shane Clanton on Feb. 19, 20, 21
2014 – Casey Roberts on Feb. 20; Kyle Bronson on Feb. 22
2013 – Scott Bloomquist on Feb. 21; Billy Moyer on Feb. 22; Darrell Lanigan on Feb. 23
2012 – Dennis Erb Jr. on Feb. 23; Billy Moyer on Feb. 25
2011 – Scott Bloomquist on Feb. 17; Scott Bloomquist on Feb. 19
2010 – Josh Richards on Feb. 11; Brady Smith on Feb. 13
2009 – Josh Richards on Feb. 12; Steve Francis on Feb. 14
2008 – Josh Richards on Feb. 14; Billy Moyer on Feb. 16
2007 – Josh Richards on Feb. 17
2006 – Earl Pearson Jr. on Feb. 16; Steve Francis on Feb. 18; Chris Madden on Oct. 14
2005 – Billy Moyer on Feb. 17; Tim McCreadie on Feb. 19; Scott Bloomquist on Oct. 29
2004 – Steve Francis on Feb. 3; Bart Hartman on Feb. 4; Shannon Babb on Feb. 6; Scott Bloomquist on Feb. 8

 

TRACK RECORDS

Volusia Speedway Park- 15.645 set by Tim McCreadie on Feb. 14, 2018

On the Internet
World of Outlaws CASE Late Models Series
Twitter – Twitter.com/WoOLateModels – @WoOLateModels
Instagram – Instagram.com/WoOLateModels – @woolatemodels
Facebook – Facebook.com/WorldofOutlawsLateModelSeries
YouTube – Youtube.com/WorldofOutlaws
DIRTVision – DIRTVision.com – Platinum annual FAST PASS for $299 or monthly FAST PASS for $39/month

Around the Turn: The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet make their first appearance at The Rev in Monroe, LA March 11-12. CLICK HERE for Tickets.

Feature Winners: (1 Driver)
Rank- Driver- Hometown-Wins

  1. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, GA- 1

Heat Race Winners (6 Drivers)
Rank- Driver- Hometown-Wins

  1. Dale McDowell-Chickamauga, GA-2
    Chris Madden-Gray Court, SC-2
  2. Brandon Sheppard- New Berlin, IL-1
    Devin Moran-Dresden, OH-1
    Ashton Winger, Hampton, GA-1
    Ross Robinson, Georgetown, DE-1

Last Chance Showdown Winners (4 Drivers)
Rank- Driver- Hometown-Wins

  1. Cade Dillard-Robeline, LA-1
    Hudson O’Neal- Martinsville, IN-1
    Max Blair, Centerville, PA-1
    Logan Martin, Plains, MO-1

Podium Finishes (3 Drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – Podiums

  1. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, GA-1
    Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-1
    Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA-1

Fox Factory Hard Charger Award Winners (1 Drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – H.C.

  1. Hudson O’Neal, Martinsville, IN-1

Slick Woody’s Quick Time Award Winners (1 Drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – QTs

  1. Kyle Hammer, Clinton, IL-1
    Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, GA-1

2022 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule & Winners

No./ Day, Date / Track / Location / Winner (Total Wins)
1. Thursday, Jan. 20 / Volusia Speedway Park/Barberville, FL / Dale McDowell (1)
2. Thursday, Jan. 21/Volusia Speedway Park/Barberville, FL/

FIVE IN FLORIDA: DIRTcar Nationals brings World of Outlaws Late Models back to Florida for five-Feature week

4-wide at Sunshine Nationals

Sunshine and palm trees await the World of Outlaws Late Models as they gear up for their second appearance at Volusia Speedway Park in 2022.

Gator hunting for The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet goes from Feb. 16-19, but not before handling unfinished business.

The week kicks off with the 30-lap, $10,000-to-win Feature, postponed from Sunshine Nationals, on Wednesday afternoon. After that is complete, Qualifying begins for the first (of four) 40-lap, $10,000-to-win DIRTcar Nationals Features, in the quest for a “Big Gator” trophy.

Drivers will accumulate points through the four World of Outlaws Features and the two DIRTcar Late Model Features on Feb. 14-15 to determine a weeklong points champion. The Sunshine Nationals make up Feature during Wednesday’s program will not count toward the weekly total.

Last month, Dale McDowell, of Chickamauga, GA, opened the 2022 season with a heartwarming victory during Sunshine Nationals in his first race after beating cancer for four months. The “Mac Daddy” dominated the event, leading all 30-laps and holds the points lead entering DIRTcar Nationals. He also has a chance to go back-to-back, as he’ll start second in the held over Feature from Sunshine.

Dale McDowell wins at Sunshine Nationals

Atop the list of drivers McDowell will have to fend off is defending DIRTcar Nationals champion Devin Moran, who also picked up a DIRTcar Nationals Feature win last year. The Dresden, OH driver held off challenges from Bobby Pierce, putting together a consistent week to win his first “Big Gator” trophy.

While those drivers are hungry to find Victory Lane again, the World of Outlaws regulars will likely have something to say about it.

Four-time Series champions Brandon Sheppard and Josh Richards lead the World of Outlaws’ charge, hoping to escape the Florida sun with the points lead. They’re also on the cusp of history, as Richards leads Sheppard 78-77 in the race for most World of Outlaws wins.

Even though all eyes are on Sheppard and Richards in the epic battle for Series supremacy, a mix of veterans and rookies will try to keep them at bay.

Dennis Erb Jr. and Chris Madden are coming off top-five finishes in the season opener and hope to keep that momentum rolling into February. Max Blair, who leads the race for Rookie of the Year, is also off to a hot start with an eighth-place finish.

Tyler Bruening

Another driver to keep an eye on is 2021 World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year Tyler Bruening, who scored his fourth straight top-10 at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” in January.

Don’t miss out on the World of Outlaws Late Models as they make their final appearance at Volusia, Feb. 16-19, and hunt for the iconic Big Gator trophy. For DIRTcar Nationals tickets: CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App.

Rain Showers Force Cancellation of Saturday’s Portion of Sunshine Nationals at Volusia

The Postponed World of Outlaws and DIRTcar Pro Late Model Features from Friday Move to DIRTcar Nationals

Persistent rain showers creating saturated grounds, on top of the heavy rain from Friday night, and a forecast calling for more rain at Volusia Speedway Park have forced World of Outlaws, DIRTcar, and track officials to cancel Saturday’s entire program at the speedway.

The postponed World of Outlaws Feature from Friday night will be made up on Wednesday, Feb. 16, during DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia.

The DIRTcar Pro Late Model Feature will also be made up at DIRTcar Nationals on Monday, Feb. 7. Volusia Speedway Park officials will determine a date to make up the 602 Late Model Feature.

Fans who bought a ticket to Friday’s Feature events can bring their ticket stub from that event to DIRTcar Nationals and receive $10 off a DIRTcar Nationals ticket for Wednesday, Feb. 16 only.

Those who purchased a ticket in advance to Saturday’s event can request a face value refund by clicking here, or receive a face value credit to their MyDirtTickets.com account to be used towards any World of Outlaws event available at WorldofOutlaws.com/tix. If a credit to your account does not work for you, then you have until February 21 to request a refund. If this does not work for you, e-mail tickets@dirtcar.com.

Any wristbands from Saturday’s event can be mailed to our office in Concord, NC for a refund. Please include Name and address. Tickets will only be refunded for Saturday.

The World of Outlaws Late Model 2022 season continues during DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 16-19. For tickets to the event, click HERE.

For the latest on the DIRTcar Racing, make sure to follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Rain Showers Force Postponement of Friday’s Sunshine Nationals Features at Volusia

Persistent heavy rain showers creating saturated grounds at Volusia Speedway Park have forced World of Outlaws Late Model Series, DIRTcar and track officials to postpone Friday’s portion of Sunshine Nationals to Saturday.

Friday’s World of Outlaws Late Model, DIRTcar Pro Late Model and 602 Late Model Features will run Saturday afternoon, starting at 1:30pm.

Following the three afternoon Features, the grandstands will be cleared to prepare for the original Saturday portion of the program and tickets for that event will be on sale at the track. Saturday’s program is tentatively scheduled to resume at 3pm after the short break, starting with World of Outlaws Hot Laps.

Follow DIRTcar Racing on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates and content from the DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals.