The Super DIRTcar Series returns to action on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Volusia Speedway Park kicking off five straight days of Big Block Modified action. The Series helps ring in 50 years of prestigious DIRTcar Nationals history with expanded purses and a brand new racing surface.
The Big Blocks start with a four-pack of 30-lap Features worth $4,000-to-win to set up a $5,000-to-win 50-lap Feature finale. The purse has also been expanded to increase the amount to start each Feature to $300 Tuesday through Friday and $350 on Saturday.
Plus, the World’s Fastest Half-Mile now has a brand new surface, which has been raced on already by the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models and has received high praise from the racers.
Three-time Big Gator champion and seven-time Super DIRTcar Series champion Matt Sheppard, from Waterloo, NY, knows not to haul south with any assumptions about Volusia from one year to the next. He’s ready to add to his eight-win DIRTcar Nationals victory count.
“Volusia is certainly another animal compared to most of the tracks we’ve been to,” Sheppard said. “I’ve been going to Volusia for a long time now. It’s tough. It’s a tough place to get figured out from year to year. It seems like you go one year and you think you’ve got a handle on it. You go back the next year and everything changes. I don’t know what it is about the place but there are definitely certain guys that run really well down there and certain guys that seem to struggle. I think I’ve had it a little bit of both ways. Last year was one of the years I struggled. Hopefully, we can turn that around this year.”
Sheppard earned a place in the DIRTcar Nationals Top 50 Drivers list, which included drivers from the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series, DIRTcar UMP Modifieds, and Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds.
Despite coming from various racing backgrounds all premier dirt racers want a Big Gator of their own to take home, signifying they won the championship of their division.
“The Big Gators are in my basement with a bunch of my other trophies. I kept a few of the little gators but everyone loves them so I gave a few of them away to fans and crew members,” Sheppard said. “I’ve got a trophy shelf across the top of my shop and there is a Big Gator up there along with one of the stuffed animal gators. Whenever kids come over to my house they are always intrigued by the big bronze gator on the floor.”
That’s one crowded trophy shelf. It never hurts to have a Big Gator to keep the rest in line.
You can watch Matt Sheppard and the stars of the Super DIRTcar Series at the DIRTcar Nationals Feb. 9-13 at Volusia Speedway Park. Get your tickets at DIRTcarNationals.com.
If you can’t make it to the speedway be sure to sign up for DIRTVision and watch all the action live and in HD. Be sure to get the all-new DIRTVision Platinum FAST PASS Annual Subscription which includes all Super DIRTcar Series races plus all NAPA Super DIRT Week events, World of Outlaws, and DIRTcar Racing plus weekly racing from Knoxville, Williams Grove, Jacksonville, and more.
Elite Chassis and Lethal Chassis have been among the most successful brands in recent UMP Modified history — accounting for 48 percent of all Feature wins recorded by the top-10 drivers in 2020 national points. But in 2021, a new challenger will look to end their reign.
October 2020 brought forth the formation of Longhorn Modifieds by Loenbro Motorsports into the DIRTcar realm, featuring the 2007 DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion Steve Arpin and Longhorn Chassis proprietor Justin Labonte joining forces to start the production of Loenbro-unique chassis from within their shop in China Grove, NC. The brand immediately recruited several big-name drivers to their lineup, including a few of Elite’s biggest names.
Longhorn by Loenbro made its first on-track appearance in the Drydene World Short Track Championship at The Dirt Track at Charlotte with 8-time DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner Kyle Strickler at the controls. A $4,000 Feature win Saturday night verified the brand’s projected competitiveness and gave a glimpse into the future of the battle forming between Elite and Longhorn.
Two-time and defending Summit Racing Equipment American Modified Series champion Tyler Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, took the checkered flag in last November’s Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial at Volusia, besting Elite Chassis owner/fabricator Nick Hoffman and NASCAR regular Justin Allgaier in a 50-lap, $5,000-to-win throwdown. Hoffman and Allgaier drove their Elite Chassis to a 2-3 finish Saturday’s night main event, but could not catch Nicely, a former Elite pilot, making his debut in a brand-new Longhorn by Loenbro.
Their next heavyweight bout went down the very next weekend at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, TN, where Nicely took his Loenbro Longhorn to Victory Lane on Friday night with Allgaier and Hoffman again finishing 2-3. But Saturday night was Hoffman’s turn to get one for Elite, besting Nicely over 25 laps to keep the friendly rivalry going.
While their competitiveness was on full display in the fall of last season, the Loenbro Longhorns will face some decorated Elite and Lethal drivers at Volusia come February.
Hoffman, the two-time and defending DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion, has left Volusia in each of the last five DIRTcar Nationals with the Big Gator trophy and a total of 16 Feature wins in the event since his first in 2012. His triumph in 2020 kicked off one of the most dominant seasons in Elite’s history, featuring four of the top 10 drivers in DIRTcar UMP Modified national points standings at season’s end driving Elite Chassis – himself, Mike McKinney, Will Krup and Hunt Gossum. All four combined for 61 total Feature victories in DIRTcar-sanctioned competition.
Former NASCAR veteran David Stremme founded Lethal Chassis in 2014, serving several big names in the UMP Modified community that always bring tough competition into the state of Florida.
Stremme himself has two career DIRTcar Nationals Feature wins. Spencer Hughes pulled off a thrilling victory in last year’s Gator Championship on Monday night, passing Jason Hughes (no relation) on the final lap to bag the $5,000 prize. NASCAR Xfinity Series star Justin Haley scored his first DIRTcar Nationals victory in 2019, as did Michigan’s Curt Spalding last year. Floridian Modified veteran Devin Dixon and North Carolina’s Austin Holcombe are also projected to join Lethal’s roster at Volusia in 2021.
The 50th DIRTcar Nationals will feature a stacked lineup from Elite, including the regulars Hoffman, Allgaier and Krup. Kenny Wallace, who switched to Elite last fall, makes his first Elite starts at Volusia this year. Garret Stewart, Volusia’s winningest driver in 2020, and Kyle Hammer, the Illinoisan making his first trip south for Florida Speedweeks this year, also bring Elites for 2021.
Longhorn by Loenbro will also bring a stellar lineup to Volusia in February, including Nicely and Strickler. Arpin will make his return to the seat of a UMP Modified for the first time since 2008, alongside Floridian Modified veteran Jeff Mathews. Plainfield, IL-wheelman Mike McKinney will also be making his very first trip south to compete at the 50th DIRTcar Nationals behind the wheel of a Longhorn after spending all eight of his first UMP Modified seasons with Elite, finishing second only to Hoffman in 2020 national points.
The rosters for each side are set. Every driver knows the score. When the teams pull into Volusia to compete for seven-straight nights, the gloves will come off in search of dirt racing’s most prized trophies. There’s no telling what kind of history will be made in the 50th edition of DIRTcar Nationals when the ironmen hit the track.
Don’t miss the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds in action at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 2-8. Tickets are on sale now at DIRTcarNationals.com or by calling 844-DIRT-TIX. If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live from the comfort of your home with a Platinum Fast Pass subscription to DIRTVision!
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.
With a fairly significant football game taking place that Sunday night, DIRTcar and Volusia officials will open the grandstands at 1pm before going into Hot Laps at 2pm and racing at 3pm, ensuring fans can have the best of both worlds if they choose.
The Outlaws — known as The Greatest Show on Dirt — will race in a $10,000-to-win Feature while the UMP Modifieds will be racing for a chance to qualify for The Gator Championship the following night at Volusia.
For the remainder of the event from Tuesday, Feb. 2, to Saturday, Feb. 6, and Monday, Feb. 8, to Saturday, Feb. 13, fans can enter the grandstands at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile dirt track nightly at 5pm(ET) with opening ceremonies and racing at 6:50pm.
While the best way to catch all of the action is in the track’s practically brand-new grandstands, the racing will also air around the world on DIRTVision as part of the broadcast giant’s Fast Pass.
FULL SUNDAY SCHEDULE 10:00am – Pit Pass sales begin & Will Call opens
10:45am – Pit areas secured, credentials & Pit Passes required
1:00pm – Grandstand gates open & Fan Pit Pass booth opens in Midway
2:00pm – Hot Laps followed by Qualifying
3:00pm – Opening Ceremonies, followed by Racing
FULL DIRTCAR NATIONALS SCHEDULE Tuesday, Feb. 2 – DIRTcar UMP Modifieds/Sprint Car Hot Laps
Wednesday, Feb. 3 – Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars presented by Mobil 1/DIRTcar UMP Modifieds
Thursday, Feb. 4 – Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars presented by Mobil 1/DIRTcar UMP Modifieds
Friday, Feb. 5 – World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars/DIRTcar UMP Modifieds
Saturday, Feb. 6 – World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars/DIRTcar UMP Modifieds
Sunday, Feb. 7 – World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars/DIRTcar UMP Modifieds (EARLY START TIME OF 3 PM ON SUNDAY ONLY)
When the stout field rolls into Volusia Speedway Park Feb. 2-8 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the event, one hand will point to the division’s future stars while the other reaches back on the history books. Some of the division’s most exciting points chases and storylines have been produced over the past 15 years, featuring a slew of instantly recognizable names.
The 2007 DIRTcar Nationals was headlined with the success of one young Canadian, who ushered in a new level of dominance not previously seen in DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified history. Twenty-three-year-old Steve Arpin, of Fort Frances, ON, brought his Larry Shaw Race Cars #00 into the facility and made his mark on history, winning an incredible five consecutive Features in seven nights to earn his first DIRTcar Nationals championship. It seemed as though Arpin would hold this record forever, until one man sparked a legacy of his own the following year.
When Arpin was seriously injured at Volusia in February 2008, the door swung open for another driver to step up to the plate. Jared Landers, of Batesville, AR, won two Features that year, setting him up for a memorable run in 2009 where he won five non-consecutive Features over seven nights of racing, tying Arpin’s record and crowning him DIRTcar Nationals champion for the first time in his career.
The next four years didn’t see quite the level of dominance brought on by Arpin and Landers but was made up for with a diverse group of Feature winners and champions.
Present-day Late Model veteran Dave Hess Jr., of Waterford, PA, won two Features en route to his Golden Eagle trophy in 2010, one year before Emporia, KS’s own Clint Bowyer led the charge of NASCAR-driven success at the event.
Bowyer won three Features on his way to a Golden Eagle in 2011, paving the way for fellow Richard Childress Racing teammates Ty and Austin Dillon’s three newly styled Big Gator championship trophies, collected from 2012-2015. The brothers won a combined 12 DIRTcar Nationals Features over that period, missing out on only the 2013 points championship to another NASCAR legend, Kenny Schrader.
While Austin hoisted his first Big Gator in 2015 with Ty finishing just 10 points behind in third, one driver stood between them in the points that year.
Belleville, IL-born Nick Hoffman, now residing in Mooresville, NC, has since been the one man to beat when it comes to the UMP Modifieds at the DIRTcar Nationals. He and his blue/orange Elite Chassis #2 have been tearing up Volusia in February for the past five years, winning 13 Features and five consecutive Big Gator trophies from 2016-2020.
Armed with his second consecutive DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals championship and DIRTcar UMP Modified national championship honors that 2020 brought him, 2021 is looking brighter than ever for the reigning Big Gator champion to repeat at Volusia.
Of course, several big-name contenders in the division will be gunning for their right to hoist the Big Gator trophy as well, including former NASCAR stars David Stremme, Kenny Wallace and 2020 Reutimann Memorial winner Tyler Nicely.
Tickets for the 50th annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 2-13, are on sale now at DIRTcarNationals.com. If you can’t make it to the track, be sure to tune into DIRTVision to watch all the action live from the comfort of your home!
Previous UMP Modified Feature Winners February 10, 2020 – Spencer Hughes
February 9, 2020 – Kyle Strickler
February 8, 2020 – Nick Hoffman
February 7, 2020 – Curt Spalding, Jason Beaulieu, Christian Thomas, David Reutimann
February 6, 2020 – Nick Hoffman
February 5, 2020 – Kyle Strickler
February 4, 2020 – Michael Long
February 11th, 2019 — Kyle Strickler
February 11th, 2019 — Kyle Strickler
February 11th, 2019 —Lucas Lee
February 8th, 2019 — R.C. Whitwell, Justin Haley, Gordy Gundaker, Brandon Green, Jesse Rupe
February 7th, 2019 — Nick Hoffman
February 6th, 2019 — Taylor Cook
February 5th, 2019 — Michael Long
February 11th, 2018 — Kyle Strickler
February 10th, 2018 — Tyler Nicely
February 9th, 2018 — Kyle Strickler, Tyler Nicely, Frank Paladino, Larry Mott
February 8th, 2018 — Nick Hoffman
February 7th, 2018 — Nick Hoffman
February 6th, 2018 — David Stremme
February 21st, 2017 — Jacob Hawkins, Jonathan Taylor, J.E. Stalder
February 20th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2017 — Will Krup
February 17th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 16th, 2017 — Brian Ruhlman
February 15th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 14th, 2017 — Jacob Hawkins
February 16th, 2016 — Derrick Ramey, Justin Allgaier, Ray Bollinger
February 15th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 14th, 2016 — Brian Ruhlman
February 13th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 12th, 2016 — Trent Young
February 11th, 2016 — Tyler Nicely
February 10th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 9th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 16th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 15th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 14th, 2015 — Nick Hoffman
February 13th, 2015 — Ty Dillon
February 12th, 2015 — David Stremme
February 11th, 2015 — Kyle Strickler
February 10th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 18th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 18th, 2014 — Joel Ortberg
February 17th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 16th, 2014 — Austin Dillon
February 15th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 14th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 13th, 2014 — Kyle Bronson
February 11th, 2014 — Kyle Strickler
February 19th, 2013 — Ty Dillon
February 19th, 2013 — Jacob Poel
February 19th, 2013 — Jason Zimmer
February 18th, 2013 — Ken Schrader
February 17th, 2013 — Matt Westfall
February 16th, 2013 — Jacob Poel
February 15th, 2013 — Nick Hoffman
February 12th, 2013 — Rodney Sanders
February 21st, 2012 — Austin Dillon
February 21st, 2012 — Mike Wedelstadt
February 21st, 2012 — Tyler Carpenter
February 20th, 2012 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 18th, 2012 — Chad Kinder
February 17th, 2012 — Ty Dillon
February 16th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 15th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 14th, 2012 — Dale Mathison
February 15th, 2011 — Ty Dillon
February 15th, 2011 — Kenny Schrader
February 15th, 2011 — Austin Dillon
February 14th, 2011 — Ty Dillon
February 13th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 12th, 2011 — Richie Tosh
February 11th, 2011 — Ryan Gustin
February 10th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 9th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 8th, 2011 — Austin Dillon
February 8th, 2010 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2010 — Austin Dillon
February 6th, 2010 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 4th, 2010 — David McWilliams
February 3rd, 2010 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 10th, 2009 — Austin Dillon
February 9th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 8th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2009 — Randy Hall
February 6th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 5th, 2009 — Austin Dillon
February 4th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 3rd, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 11th, 2008 — Dave Groves
February 10th, 2008 — Tim Hancock
February 9th, 2008 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 8th, 2008 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2008 — Jared Landers
February 6th, 2008 — Scott Drake
February 5th, 2008 — Jesse Stovall
February 12th, 2007 — Joey Kramer
February 11th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 10th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 9th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 8th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 7th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 6th, 2007 — Kenny Wallace
February 12th, 2006 – Joey Kramer
February 10th, 2006 – Duke Whiseant
February 9th, 2006 – Duke Whiseant
February 8th, 2006 – Chad Ohnsted
February 7th, 2006 – Craig Thatcher
February 6th, 2006 – Blake Jetvig
February 14th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 13th, 2005 – Craig Thatcher
February 12th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 11th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 10th, 2005 – Craig Thatcher
February 9th, 2005 – Steve Arpin
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.
Late Models have long been part of the action at Volusia Speedway Park, and will continue to play a large role in 2021 when the 50th anniversary of DIRTcar Nationals takes center stage from February 2-13.
It all started in 1968 when Benny Corbin bought the property and opened “Barberville Speedway” as a quarter-mile oval. Over the years, several transformations saw the track converted to a 3/8th-mile track, then half-mile, and even paved at one time for NASCAR competition.
Since switching to the current half-mile configuration, the Barberville, FL destination has truly become a national phenomenon known for high-speed and high-action. It’s that intensity which will be fully on display when the DIRTcar UMP Late Models (Feb. 8-9) and World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series (Feb. 10-13) headline six straight nights alongside the Super DIRTcar Series to close out DIRTcar Nationals.
Before The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet were revived in 2004, Volusia welcomed a handful of different sanctioning bodies to carry the late model load at DIRTcar Nationals.
In the 1980’s, the Stars Late Model Series led the way with icons like Larry Moore, Jeff Purvis, Freddy Smith, Larry Phillips, and more, nabbing victories. Another noteworthy winner came in 1985 when a young 27-year-old buck from Batesville, AR strolled into Volusia victory lane. His name was Billy Moyer; He would become the winningest late model driver in DIRTcar Nationals history with 15 W’s to his credit.
The Northern All Stars, ALMS, and Hav-A-Tampa came into play during the 1990’s and ushered in the next generation. Eventual legends such as Rick Eckert, Chub Frank, Jimmy Mars, Dale McDowell, Earl Pearson Jr., and more, topped features. In 1994, Scott Bloomquist took a big bite out of Volusia with back-to-back triumphs. A telling sign for Black Sunshine’s success in Barberville, who is a winner of 12 different DIRTcar Nationals races.
A new millennium began in 2000 and it became all about the DIRTcar UMP Late Models. Moyer and Bloomquist kept on winning, while others like Don O’Neal, Tim McCreadie, and Josh Richards hit their marks.
In 2004, the World of Outlaws Late Models restarted and instantly made an impact. A set of four winners in four nights kickstarted the Outlaws/Volusia relationship, which is now the most visited track in Series history.
A pair of DIRTcar triumphs and an additional World of Outlaws win in 2005 made Tim McCreadie the first man to collect three wins in a single Late Model week. In 2008, Moyer did it himself. At that point, the records were only beginning.
Shane Clanton took it a step further in 2015, sweeping the weekend by winning all three World of Outlaws Late Model shows at the half-mile and walking away with the glorious Big Gator championship. There’s no topping that, right? Think again.
In 2019, Brandon Sheppard did the unthinkable and brought a family of FIVE gators back to New Berlin, IL. The Rocket1 Racing driver swept all four World of Outlaws Late Model features, cashing in on four little gators to go along with his first-career Big Gator.
B-Shepp won his sixth consecutive Volusia race with the Outlaws to open last year’s DIRTcar Nationals, but from there the whole show was The O-Show with Jimmy Owens going back-to-back-to-back to end the week.
Since 2005, no man has tamed more DIRTcar Nationals titles than Josh Richards, who has used unrivaled consistency and ten victories to lay claim to four crowns. Moyer has three in his own right, while Sheppard and Clanton each have a pair.
Since the trophy switch in 2012, only six men have won the big golden gator:
– Brandon Sheppard (2019 & 2020)
– Shane Clanton (2015 & 2017)
– Josh Richards (2013 & 2016)
– Chris Madden (2018)
– Scott Bloomquist (2014)
– Dennis Erb Jr. (2012)
It hasn’t just been the veterans at Volusia, as eight first-time winners have also tasted their first bite of World of Outlaws Late Model glory at the DIRTcar Nationals.
In less than 50 days, we’ll write the next chapter in the milestone 50th year of DIRTcar Nationals. Late Model Week (Feb. 8-13) will be highlighted by two nights of the DIRTcar UMP Late Models on Monday-Tuesday, followed by a Wednesday-Saturday slate full of World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models.
For tickets to the Feb. 2-13 50th DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, BUY HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.
Previous World of Outlaws Winners at DIRTcar Nationals:
2020: Brandon Sheppard / Jimmy Owens / Jimmy Owens / Jimmy Owens
2019: Brandon Sheppard / Brandon Sheppard / Brandon Sheppard / Brandon Sheppard
2018: Tim McCreadie / Dale McDowell / Scott Bloomquist / Brandon Sheppard
2017: Shane Clanton / Don O’Neal
2016: Josh Richards / Josh Richards / Shane Clanton
2015: Shane Clanton / Shane Clanton / Shane Clanton
2014: Casey Roberts / Kyle Bronson
2013: Scott Bloomquist / Billy Moyer Sr. / Darrell Lanigan
2012: Dennis Erb Jr. / Billy Moyer Sr.
2011: Scott Bloomquist / Scott Bloomquist
2010: Josh Richards / Brady Smith
2009: Josh Richards / Steve Francis
2008: Josh Richards / Billy Moyer Sr.
2007: Josh Richards
2006: Earl Pearson Jr. / Steve Francis
2005: Billy Moyer Sr. / Tim McCreadie
2004: Steve Francis / Bart Hartman / Shannon Babb / Scott Bloomquist
Previous UMP Late Model Winners at DIRTcar Nationals: 2020: Brandon Sheppard / Tim McCreadie
2019: Mike Marlar
2018: Jonathan Davenport
2017: Chris Madden / Brandon Sheppard
2016: Billy Moyer Jr. / Josh Richards / Scott Bloomquist
2015: Scott Bloomquist
2014: Ivedent Lloyd Jr. / Kenny Pettyjohn / Scott Bloomquist
2013: Josh Richards / Josh Richards / Tim McCreadie
2012: Steve Francis / Billy Moyer Sr. / Scott Bloomquist / John Blankenship
2011: Billy Moyer Sr. / Don O’Neal / Jimmy Mars / Billy Moyer Sr.
2010: Darrell Lanigan
2009: Darren Miller / Earl Pearson Jr. / Dan Schlieper / Josh Richards
2008: Billy Moyer Sr. / Billy Moyer Sr. / Clint Smith
2007: Earl Pearson Jr. / Shannon Babb / Darrell Lanigan
2006: Chub Frank / Darren Miller / Rick Eckert
2005: Rick Eckert / Tim McCreadie / Tim McCreadie / Billy Moyer Sr.
2004: Tim McCreadie / Don O’Neal / Rick Eckert / Greg Johnson / Jackie Boggs
2003: Don O’Neal / Don O’Neal / Brian Birkhofer / Scott Bloomquist / Earl Pearson Jr. / Don O’Neal
2002: Don O’Neal / Don O’Neal / Joe Izzo / Rick Eckert / Chub Frank
2001: Rick Eckert / Chub Frank / Donnie Moran
1998: Tom Izzo Jr. / Ronnie Johnson / Dale McDowell / David Gibson / Bart Hartman
1997: Billy Moyer Sr. / Billy Moyer Sr.
1996: Pat Doar / Jack Boggs / Billy Moyer Sr. / Billy Moyer Sr. / Steve Cornelius
Other Late Model Winners at DIRTcar Nationals:
2001: Rick Eckert / Davey Johnson / Matt Miller
2000: Donnie Barnhart / Jimmy Mars / Mike Duvall / Rick Aukland / Rick Aukland
1999: Wendell Wallace / Dale McDowell / Rick Eckert / Rick Aukland / Chub Frank / Ray Tucker
1997: Earl Pearson Jr.
1994: Jeff Smith / Ronnie Johnson / Scott Bloomquist / Scott Bloomquist
1985: Jeff Purvis / Freddy Smith / Larry Phillips / Larry Moore
1982: Larry Moore
1981: Larry Moore
Owens Three-Peats, Williamson Picks Up Second Win at Volusia Speedway Park
Wight in Super DIRTcar Series, Sheppard in Late Model claim DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator titles
BARBERVILLE, FL — Feb. 15, 2020 — For the third consecutive night, Jimmy Owens captured the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series main event at Volusia Speedway Park’s DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford.
After a series of drivers battled for the lead early in the Feature on Saturday night, it was Kyle Bronson who emerged to set a blistering pace on the top side of the half-mile dirt oval. Owens managed to keep up with Bronson, and with 11 to go in traffic slid to the lead exiting Turn 4 and pulled away. Ricky Weiss followed Owens a couple laps later as Bronson’s machine just couldn’t maintain its momentum.
Owens, who had never won at Volusia until this week, finishes the DIRTcar Nationals on a three-race win streak.
“We set the car up for late in the race,” said Owens, of Newport, Tenn. “We were debating on changing it, not changing it. We had it jacked up and down two or three times and finally we just said let’s go with what we started with. It worked, we just bided our time and used patience and I knew once the track slicked off it would come to us.”
Weiss was second with Bronson, Darrell Lanigan and Brandon Sheppard rounding out the top five. For Sheppard, it was just enough to claim his second DIRTcar Nationals Late Model Week Big Gator Championship in as many years.
“It’s been a great speed weeks for us,” said Sheppard, of New Berlin, Ill. “We’ve been fast every night, we’ve been in contention every night. I wish we had a few more nights left. I think we got the car a little bit better tonight for Feature time, and in the Feature there it was about the best I’ve felt in the past couple of days. It’s good to leave here knowing that we got the car a little bit better before we left. … We’re definitely fortunate to get this Gator Championship, it feels really good.”
In the Super DIRTcar Series finale at Volusia, Mat Williamson charged to his second victory of the week, bookending the event with his win on Tuesday night. Williamson jumped out front on the initial start, held off Jimmy Phelps on a restart with 17 laps down and cruised to victory over Phelps, Matt Sheppard, Billy Dunn and Billy Decker.
Larry Wight, who won three consecutive Features during the week, finished sixth on Saturday night, good enough to clinch his third Big Gator Trophy (2015, 2019, 2020) as the Super DIRTcar Series champion at the DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford.
“I think it’s a combination of good preparation, good car, good motor and a phenomenal crew, and having the family to back all that up and allow us to put in the hours and time at the track to come down here,” said Wight, of Phoenix, N.Y, who has won four of the past seven Super DIRTcar Series races going back to 2019. “The track kind of threw us for a loop tonight, we didn’t think it was going to get as slick. We thought the top would be better, so we tried to get the car freed up versus [Friday] night. I guess we should have left it just left it a little bit snugger.”
Larry Wight and his daughter, Audrey, celebrate Wight’s third Super DIRTcar Series win in a row. (Joe Grabianowski photo)
Wight Scores Third Consecutive Super DIRTcar Series Gator at DIRTcar Nationals
Owens goes back-to-back at Volusia World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models Features
BARBERVILLE, FL — Feb. 14, 2020 — For the third consecutive night, Larry Wight put on a thrill show at the DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford, winning his third Gator Trophy of the week in the Super DIRTcar Series Feature at Volusia Speedway Park.
After winning from the front row the past two nights, Wight launched from the seventh position Friday and worked his way toward the front while teammate Billy Decker showed the way for the first 26 laps. Then with four to go, Decker would not budge off the bottom of the track and got pinned behind Kyle Coffey, who was trying everything he could to stay on the lead lap. Wight jumped top side and blasted around Decker and into the lead, powering away for his third win of the week.
“He got stuck behind the lapped cars, I have to make sure I give Kyle Coffey a beer for that one,” said Wight, of Phoenix, N.Y. “[Decker] didn’t move up in time and we were able to get the top. I thought after I messed up the first time going after it Billy would have taken the top away from me, but he left me just enough room so I could enter above the cushion and cut down, luckily the car turned just enough for it.”
In the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series main event, Jimmy Owens went back-to-back, winning the second Volusia Feature of his career in as many nights. It wasn’t easy, though, as Kyle Bronson surged forward from 15th to overtake Owens in heavy traffic just as the caution waved with five to go.
The field was reset with Owens, of Newport, Tenn., back in front, giving him a clear track to hold off Bronson to the checkered flag. Darrell Lanigan raced from eighth to third with Brandon Sheppard and Brandon Overton rounding out the top five.
2020 VOLUSIA SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED: Before racing began on Friday night, Volusia Speedway Park track officials announced the track’s full 2020 schedule, beginning with Bike Week events on March 8 and running through the Corbin 75 on Dec. 5. A full schedule of events is posted at https://dirtcar.com/vsp/schedule/2020-schedule-flyer/.
Jimmy Owens shows off the first Gator Trophy of his career after winning on Thursday night. (Jim DenHamer photo)
Owens Finally Adds Volusia DIRTcar Nationals Gator to Trophy Case
For second consecutive night, Wight dominates Super DIRTcar Series
BARBERVILLE, FL — Feb. 13, 2020 — Jimmy Owens has won almost 600 races in his career, including nearly every big Dirt Late Model race out there, but it took until Thursday night for him to earn his first Gator Trophy at Volusia Speedway Park’s DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford.
Owens, of Newport, Tenn., dominated the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series main event, leading all 40 laps while behind him a furious battle was on to challenge him. A caution with 9 laps to go set up a shootout to the finish, but Owens was so strong he simply pulled away. A who’s who of star racers chased Owens to the checkered flag, with Dale McDowell second followed by Josh Richards, Jonathan Davenport and Mike Marlar.
“I tell you we’ve been close all week, we’ve been steadily getting better each night here,” Owens said. “This car was just phenomenal tonight. I’ve been coming down here for years and I don’t think I’ve ever won a Late Model race, let alone I don’t think I’ve won two heats in a week.”
For the second consecutive night, Larry Wight held off Stewart Friesen to capture the Super DIRTcar Series Feature. Wight started on the outside of the front row and quickly took command of the 30-lap race on the high side of the track. With only one caution Wight, of Phoenix, N.Y., held Friesen and the rest of the field at bay to win his third Gator Trophy and second in as many days.
“This car has just been on a rail,” Wight said. “We put the same setup in as [Wednesday] night and it was still glued to the track. Hopefully we can keep it going for the rest of the week. The car is good enough to where I don’t even need to run the cushion. Any time you’ve got Stewie right behind you, you definitely don’t want to see a restart. He’s a phenomenal restarter and he’s usually able to make stuff happen. The farther I can keep him behind me the better.”