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A CLASSIC DOGFIGHT: Top Gun Sprint Cars Return To Volusia and The Kids School The Late Models

The return of the Top Gun Sprint Car Series, young guns claiming the late models, and fast paced action were the ingredients to what made tonight’s Top Gun Classic worth the wait.

 

Even though it doesn’t feel that long, the Top Gun Sprint Cars returned to the World’s Fastest Half Mile for their first of three races at the track for their 2022 campaign. Tonight, it was all the Danny Martin Jr show as he dominated the majority of the times he was out on track. He started the night out by winning his heat race with Brandon Grubaugh challenging at times. 

 

After an invert and starting 7th, Martin quickly made up ground and took the lead early in the program. From that point on, it was all eyes on him as he led over five seconds for the majority of the feature. Cautions and lap cars didn’t do him in either, as he led with Grubaugh behind him to take the Top Gun win. It’s his 6th win of the season, making his championship bid early in the 24 car.

 

  1. 24-Danny Martin Jr[7]; 2. G6-Brandon Grubaugh[6]; 3. 82-Garrett Green[8]; 4. 21B-Brandon McLain[4]; 5. 10TRB-Bob Martin[11]; 6. 6S-Robbie Smith[5]; 7. 26-Jeff Bye[1]; 8. 97B-Dustin Burtron[3]; 9. 14-Danny Jones[13]; 10. 67-Jacob McLain[9]; 11. 20-Frank Carlsson Jr[10]; 12. 13-Nathan Barouch[2]; 13. (DNF) 0X-Clint Weiss[12]; 14. (DNS) 32-Andrew Griffin; 15. (DNS) 12B-Bryan Eckley; 16. (DNS) 41-Matt Kurtz

 

In the 604 Late Models, it was looking to be David Clegg’s race throughout the majority of the night.. That was until Trey Mills had something to say about it.

 

Winning his heat, Mills was bound to start the night smooth. He had competition all around the 20 lap feature from Jackson Hise, Mark Fleischer and Clegg. But at the end, the fourteen year old driver took home the $1,000 check after getting past Clegg with a few laps to go.

 

  1. 14JR-Trey Mills[5]; 2. 07-David Clegg[2]; 3. 18B-Mark Fleischer[1]; 4. 388-Jackson Hise[9]; 5. 54T-Tuck Trentham[6]; 6. 51K-Mikey Kopka[4]; 7. 12-Robert Gast[13]; 8. 5-Dustin Carter[7]; 9. 51A-Larry Anderson[8]; 10. 721-Joe Kump[14]; 11. 10S-Steve Shead[11]; 12. 46C-Hamp Conley[10]; 13. (DNF) 15M-Chris Meyer[12]; 14. (DNF) 7-Jason Fitzgerald[3]

 

Mills wasn’t the only young gun to win in a late model tonight through all the chaos and excitement of the 602 Late Models. At the start of the feature, it was looking like it would be the night where Mikey Kopka would have all his gremlins sorted out and get home the win in the late models. However, Kole Platt and Jackson Hise challenged Kopka for the lead, with Platt leading the final few laps.

 

When a late race caution came out, Platt went slow on the throttle and opened the door for Hise. He took the lead going into turn one and didn’t look back the rest of the way. This marks Hise’s 2nd win at Volusia this season and could be some added momentum into the Gator Nationals.

 

  1. 388-Jackson Hise[6]; 2. 1A-Mikey Kopka[3]; 3. 44P-Kole Platt[9]; 4. M51-Mark Steube[2]; 5. 14JR-Trey Mills[4]; 6. 1AR-Travis Staats[8]; 7. 18-Austin Leamon[7]; 8. 31-Tim Swartz[1]; 9. 21D-Lenny Dallman[11]; 10. 99-Colton Blair[10]; 11. 12-Billy Gast[12]; 12. 3C-Cale Gilbert[15]; 13. (DNF) *69-Brad Fender Jr[14]; 14. (DNF) 18R-Bubba Roling[5]; 15. (DNF) 11-J R Gray[13]

 

The final two laps were nothing short of heart racing for Chris Olmstead and Timmy Hogan in the ¾ modifieds. Throughout the night, the two drivers swapped the lead through both their heat race and feature. Even with cautions being thrown almost every five laps for the chaos, it also made the show closer and exciting.

 

Coming into turn one with two to go, Timmy Hogan lost brakes and drove high into turn one, easily giving Olmstead the lead. All of a sudden after exiting turn two, Olmstead ran out of fuel and began sputtering. Hogan retook the lead and won. A closing Korbin Minchew finished second, so he will continue to lead the points.

 

  1. 26-Timmy Hogan[2]; 2. 23K-Korbin Minchew[3]; 3. 99-Wade Olmsted[7]; 4. 23L-Lawton Minchew[4]; 5. 32P-Jesse Powers[15]; 6. 26L-Colton Lane[14]; 7. 51-Dustin Peterson[6]; 8. 7-Chris Olmstead[1]; 9. 57-Nathyn Hwan[11]; 10. 0-CR Hill[16]; 11. (DNF) 21-Robert Fleming Jr[10]; 12. (DNF) 21J-Jeff Newton[12]; 13. (DNF) 72-Van Rayburn[8]; 14. (DNF) 67-Tad Olmsted[5]; 15. (DNF) 27-Steven Powers[9]; 16. (DNF) 10-Ethyn Hwan[13]

 

Finally, the Street Stocks was nothing but the Jimmy Wagner Show. The Reutimann Racing driver won his heat race earlier in the evening and was smooth the whole race. It’ll be a major gain if he continues to race for the Street Stock championship when November arrives.

 

  1. 17W-Jimmy Wagner[3]; 2. 17-Alan Peacock[1]; 3. 72-Bruce Griffin[9]; 4. Y7-Zach Yakaboski[4]; 5. 7R-Rick O’Steen[5]; 6. 11K-Kameron McGauley[10]; 7. 46F-Chuck Frater[7]; 8. 1-Patrick Thomas[6]; 9. 63-Chris Lawrence[15]; 10. 83F-Kody Fisher[14]; 11. 9-Gavin VanHoose[12]; 12. (DNF) 40-Clayton Ruth[8]; 13. (DNF) C5-Stephen Copeland[11]; 14. (DNF) 388-Walt Kahr[13]; 15. (DNF) 99-Rodney Wright[2]; 16. (DNS) B11-Buddy Higgins

 

The next race at the World’s Fastest Half Mile will be the Gator Nationals. Gates open at 4:00 with Hot Laps at 6:00. The racing will also be broadcasted live on DIRTVision. We’ll see you then!

 

Racers’ Memorial Cancelled, Mother Nature Wins The Day on Mother’s Day Weekend

Throughout the week, Volusia Speedway Park had been a place for bright, cloudless and warm sunny days. That was until Friday night, when a torrential downpour and a tornado warning put the race weekend in peril.

 

In the morning of race day, it looked as if the track wasn’t hit hard enough with rain and still raceable. At 10:30AM, a harder but less time consuming rainstorm passed through, meaning the end for the track’s chances of hosting the annual running of the Racers’ Memorial.

 

It is never doom and gloom though, as the World’s Fastest Half Mile will be hosting the Top Gun Sprint Car Series on May 14th. General admission is $20. Children aged 12 and under are free. Gates will open at 4:00 with Hot Laps at 6:00. Racing will follow opening ceremonies at 7:00. You can also watch all the coverage live on DIRTVision if you aren’t able to make it to the show.

LAST LAP GASPS: The Sunshine Showdown provides the excitement and suspense to end the month of April

The 2022 season continues to pack on great racing, wholesome stories and clear championship favorites as the month of April wraps up racing.

 

The clear winner of having the biggest comeback was Wyatt Gainey in the 602 Late Models. The young stud was wrecked out early of his heat, having him start from the rear. 

 

Once the features started, Gainey and his “Big Red” 8 car started picking off his opponents, making his way up to the top 5. He wasn’t satisfied though.

 

Cautions helped Gainey get closer to the leaders and made his way past the faster cars until he got to leader Jackson Hise with five to go. He slowly crept up on last week’s Work Force 25 winner and with one to go, he had a shot. 

 

A high side move in turns 3 and 4 was all that was needed for Gainey to spoil the party for Hise, who had led all but one lap. The one he didn’t lead? The last one.

 

He wouldn’t be the only Gainey to visit victory lane tonight though.

In the 604 Late Models, it began with chaos. The 03 of Morrie West flipped off turn 2 after making contact with the 131 of Matt Herlong. Thankfully, the driver was okay.

 

After the lengthy red flag to clean up the debris and tow the flipped 03, the feature was dominated by one man; Nevin Gainey.

 

The senior Gainey grabbed the lead from polesitter David Clegg and Brandon Wells early. The 17G showed its strength on the early portion of a run by launching like a Saturn V rocket while guys like Mikey Kopka, Wells, Joe Kump and Dustin Carter jostled around for positions inside the top 5.

 

Nevin Gainey took home the 604 win, and showed his emotion in victory lane. He was proud to have shared a moment like this with his son by being able to win on the same night Wyatt did.

In contrast to last week’s feature, the ¾ modifieds provided clean racing throughout the 15 lap feature. Though, another familiar face returned to victory lane again. That was the 23 of Korbin Minchew. 

 

The championship leader has now won three out of the four ¾ modifieds races this season. Minchew and his brother, Lawton, have given off a dynamic similar to Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton Jr. in Talladega Nights, with Korbin Minchew winning and Lawton finishing second in tonight’s feature.

The DIRTcar UMP Modifieds had some wild action with a finish that was a carbon copy of the 602 Late Models feature.

 

At the sound of the green flag waving, the man to set the pace was Dalton Lanich, who created a healthy gap from the field over the usual front running guys such as Eric Moon, Seth Geary, Dillon Buhr and Buzzie Reutimann.

 

It was all going Lanich’s way until a caution with two to go made the field bunch back up for a green-white-checkered finish. At the drop of the green, Seth Geary was all over Lanich’s back bumper until the last lap, where he made a banzai move by pulling a slide job in front of Lanich and winning the feature.

 

This marks the second win for Geary this season, and gives him the championship lead over Moon, and defending champion Garret Stewart.

The Thunder Stocks, yet again, provided an excellent show with a unfamiliar face in victory lane.

 

All throughout the night, it was a four horse race between Shaun Daugharty, Dalton Strehle, Josh Byrd and Mark Tovet. Tovet and Strehle paced the field for most of the night, with the four drivers exchanging positions in the top 3 for most of the night.

 

When it came down to the wire, it was all Tovet and Byrd battling it out for the feature win. Byrd showed his late race pace was fast and strong. However, Tovet’s defending skills were stronger. At the wave of the checkered, it was the 1SHOT machine of Mark Tovet taking the Thunder Stock feature win.

There will be a week off in racing next Saturday, but the next race at the World’s Fastest Half Mile will be the Racer’s Memorial on May 7th. Gates will open at 4:00, with Hot Laps at 6:00. Can’t make it? Watch all the action live on DIRTVision. We’ll see you in two weeks!

AN EGG-SCELLENT EVENING: The Full Moon Shines Bright On New Championship Hunters

This year’s running of the Work Force 25 included a full moon on the rise, which meant a series of cheers, surprises, and chaos to a classic Easter weekend race. Not only that, there are some new faces and continued leads in some of the championship standings as race three of the 18 race season comes to a close.

 

In the 602 Late Models, it was a young gun show as both Jackson Hise and Trynt Lloyd battled it out through the 20 lap feature. The duo faced many challenges to their front running skill, including Mikey Kopka and Mark Steube. In the end, it was Hise that edged out Lloyd. This now puts him right in the battle for the points lead with Lloyd, Steube and Brad Fender Jr.

The 3/4 modifieds has a new face in a championship, and he’s got a lot cooking in the pot. Young Korbin Minchew got the feature win after a race riddled with cautions and chaos. Along with that, the modifieds also gave the Volusia 2022 season it’s first big one. A five car wreck that included the Shaffer duo of Wray and Wryan, defending champion Wade Olmsted and Dustin Peterson cut the competition down to just two big front runners; Minchew and Timmy Hogan, last week’s feature winner. Hogan used up all the track he could to pass Minchew, but didn’t pan out in the end. Don’t be surprised at all if they battle for the championship like they did to each other respectfully tonight.

The 604 Late Models was a tough challenge, but included a win from Nevin Gainey that went wire to wire in the Work Force 25 Main Feature. He had challenges all throughout the 25 lap feature, with guys like Jeff Choquette, Derike Bennett, Trynt Lloyd, again, Mikey Kopka, and Dustin Carter all making up the front running crew of the night. Though the battle for the championship is still wide open at this point, there might be some clear favorites come the end of the next race, the Sunshine Showdown.

The Thunder Stocks keep on producing, and tonight did not disappoint whatsoever. At the drop of the green flag, polesitter Justin Reynolds and heat race 2 winner Patrick Thomas battled in the early portion of the 20 lap feature. In the midway portion, it became clear that the top 3 favorites would be Reynolds, Thomas and Bubba Roling come time to throw the checkered. All of a sudden with five laps to go, Josh Byrd came into the picture. What seemed like out of nowhere, Byrd had strong momentum to clear both Reynolds and Thomas as he set his sights on the leading car of Bubba Roling. With one lap to go, Byrd was on Roling’s bumper, went low, cleared him off of turn 4, and stole the win after coming into the picture so late in the race. In his interview, he described how long it has been since his last win, and hopes it can continue his fast-paced momentum towards a Thunder Stock championship. 

Surprisingly enough, tonight was the Street Stock’s first race of the 2022 Volusia season. However, the long awaited beginning was all worth the wait with how the race had played out. At the start, it was Alan Peacock gaining the early lead. As the race progressed, it became clear that Rodney Wright would be the one to gap the field and win. Donnie Ashford and Bruce Griffin were battling for 2nd for the majority of the race, which gave Wright a good gap. Then, Ashford cleared Griffin. He closed the gap quickly and with one to go, Ashford passed Wright to give him the first win in the 2022 season. All around great racing in this class could make it a highly contested championship fight come November.

The next race for Volusia Speedway Park will next Saturday, April 23rd at the Sunshine Showdown. Gates will open at 4:00, with Hot Laps at 6:00. Can’t make the race? Watch the broadcast of all the action live on DIRTVision. We’ll see you then!

TWO IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: The Big Dog 25 Shows A Series Of Two’s To Come

If your number was 2 in tonight’s running of the Big Dog 25, you probably came home a winner. This was the case for both Trynt Lloyd and Joe Belkey as they won in their respective divisions in a 2 car. Though, while they enjoyed a great night, let’s rundown everything that happened in tonight’s racing.

 

Trynt Lloyd was by far the driver of the night as he took both the 602 & 604 Late Model feature wins. He won the 602 heat, and led the field for most of the way in both races. It did come with challenges to his lead, as Jason Fitzgerald finished second in both late model features, Trey Mills, Donnie Chappell and Joe Kump proved to bring some healthy competition to the late model field. It will be fun to see who else will make it to victory lane as the season goes on.

 

It only took 2 features, but Garret Stewart has returned to his winning ways at Volusia in the DIRTcar UMP Modified. Starting from the pole after a redraw, he showed the field the whole way to rack in another feature win in his time at Volusia. Without a doubt, the run for a 6th consecutive championship has returned with a vengeance. The question will be if anyone else will be able to challenge him. Seth Geary has proven to be fast, but does he have better consistency than what Stewart brings each season?

 

The ¾ modifieds showed themselves to be great in competition, wherever it is through the field. At the start, the dynamic duo of the Minchew’s showed up and out, with Korbin and Lawton leading most of the first half. Then, a familiar face to ¾ victory lane, TImmy Hogan, spoiled the party for the duo, and went on to win. The Olmsted’s of Tad and Wade also came to fight, so they will be something to watch for next Saturday.

 

Lastly, Joe Belkey came up and showed his dominance in the Thunder Stocks again, blowing out the field to win his second of the two features this season, in a number 2 car. Coincidence? Perhaps, but what was not questionable was the sheer speed he had out on the track. Don’t be surprised if he racks up a ton more wins as the season progresses.

 

Next Saturday will be the Work Force 25 here at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Gates will open at 4:00, with Hot Laps kicking off at 6:00. Can’t make it? No problem, DIRTVision will broadcast all the action live with flag to flag coverage. We’ll see you then!

 

Torrential Rain Cancels Spring Fling

It wasn’t all sunny and fun as heavy showers, wet mud and saturated surfaces ended any chances of racing the April 2nd Spring Fling. Rains came rolling through the track late Thursday night, and is expected to continue receiving rain the rest of the weekend. Please stay safe for those in the area as the forecast for today and tomorrow shows more torrential rain to come.

It isn’t all doom and gloom though, as we will be back racing on April 9th for the Big Dog 25. Be sure to stop by or tune in on DIRTVision to see all the great action from the World’s Fastest Half Mile!

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!

 

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Volusia Speedway Park Brings New Additions & Competition

As the month of March begins to wind down, it’s finally time to get the local racing season started! Volusia Speedway Park will begin the 2022 season on March 26th with the 602 Late Models, 604 Late Models, DIRTcar UMP Modifieds, 3/4 Modifieds, Street Stocks and Thunder Stocks throughout the year. So to get you caught up on what you missed last year and what’s new this year, here is a rundown of everything you need to know before the first race.

 

Volusia on DIRTVision: For the first time in Volusia Speedway Park’s 54 year history, every race run at the track will be broadcasted live on DIRTVision. Volusia will be joining other iconic tracks such as Knoxville Raceway, Williams Grove Speedway & Millbridge Speedway as one of few premier dirt tracks across the country to have races streamed live from race to race. Whether you live locally, out of state, or across the pond in Australia, you can watch the racing from Volusia Speedway Park from anywhere, live on Saturday nights! Go to DIRTVision.com to see what options are best for you!

 

DIRTcar UMP Modifieds: If there was a definition for dominance in the 2021 UMP Modified division, it would show a picture of Garret Stewart. Almost every race last season saw him on the podium, or holding a trophy in his hand. Stewart has shown throughout the 51st DIRTcar Nationals that he hasn’t slowed down at all, and will look to show the same of what he showed last year.

 

602 Late Models: After a strong first half of the 2021 season that included 3 wins, last year’s track champion, Dustin Carter, will look to make it back to back championships with momentum on his side. However, 2020 track champion, Mikey Kopka, will be a great challenger to Carter after starting off 2021 with five podiums. Those being two wins and three second place finishes. The one key to winning this championship is consistency. Whoever makes it through the season without having many issues will have a great shot at winning the championship.

 

604 Late Models: Brandon Wells took home the championship last year after having a rough start with a DNF in the first race. With a trophy in hand and steering wheel in the other, you know he’ll be refreshed and ready for a second championship run.

 

3/4 Modifieds: Young Wade Olmsted showed that he’s got a lot of potential in his future when he won the 2021 championship, beating Timmy Hogan by a mere 21 points. This division is full of competition and drivers that have great potential to win the championship, and it could very well go down to the final race to determine who will be champion in 2022.

 

Street Stocks: Despite missing the first race of the season, Chris Lawrence pulled off the big comeback with six straight podiums and three wins to be able to win the championship. However, 3rd place in the standings, Bubba Christian, was a clear favorite to win the championship had he not missed 3 races throughout the season. It could be a dogfight between Lawrence and Christian for the 2022 championship.

 

Thunder Stocks: Even though Shaun Daugharty had a very slow start that included two DNF’s and one missed show, he fired on all fours when he needed to. A huge rebound that consisted of five wins and finishing in the top 3 at every race from the end of May until the season finale in November was what would earn him the track championship. It’ll be a storyline to see if Daugharty can bring more of the heat at the first race.

THE BIG GATOR: Jimmy Phelps conquers DIRTcar Nationals for first title, win

In 26 years with the Super DIRTcar Series, Jimmy Phelps has seen and experienced it all. But an occurrence Saturday night left him shocked and speechless.

He earned his first DIRTcar Nationals win – worth $6,000 – and claimed the 2022 Big Gator Championship after leading green to checkered in the 50-lap finale at Volusia Speedway Park.

“I got to be honest it’s kind of shocking,” Phelps said while throwing his arm in the air as if still unsure how he accomplished the massive feat. “We typically come down here to just run respectfully. We never really felt like we had a handle on this place. We unloaded really good and kept tweaking and getting better and better and better from there. It was fun.”

Phelps, of Baldwinsville, NY, was the most consistent driver throughout the five-day speed week at Volusia, finishing fourth, second, sixth, second and then the win.

Entering the night, he trailed his teammate Max McLaughlin – who won Friday night’s Feature – by five points in the Big Gator championship battle. But with the benefit of collecting points for his second Billy Whittaker Cars Fast Time Award of the week and Heat Race win, Phelps held a one-point lead over “Mad Max” before the Feature.

Another benefit, Phelps drew the pole in the Albany-Saratoga Speedway Redraw. He claimed it was what won him the race, but his precision and supersonic launches every restart didn’t hurt.

He gapped second-place Adam Pierson by more than two car lengths at the start of the 50-lap Feature, leaving the 2022 Rookie of the Year contender to fight off challenges from eight-time Series champion Matt Sheppard. He held off the veteran for several laps, but the low lane eventually prevailed for Sheppard.

By the time the reigning champion got to second, Phelps already had a straightaway lead on the field. Both ran low as rubber started to lay down. Sheppard cut a tenth into Phelps’s lead each lap but stalled out when he got about two car lengths behind the Heinke-Baldwin Racing #98H. Behind them, Mat Williamson and Larry Wight also got by Pierson to take over third and fourth, respectively.

Like drafting partners, the top-five stayed in line, sometimes closing, and sometimes losing ground on the driver in front of them. Phelps’s biggest optical through the halfway point was lap traffic. Maneuvering through the slower cars allowed Sheppard to close, at times enough where thoughts of attempting a pass could creep in mind.

A couple of cautions throughout the Feature allowed Phelps to avoid the slower cars for several laps after each restart, but the caution on Lap 10 changed the complexity of the race. Tire wear became a concern with Kyle Coffey being the first in a group of cars to blow a right rear. While some teams knew it was a possibility and gambled with softer compounds anyway, Phelps said concern set in due to the situation occurring sooner than he expected.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure I was comfortable going out on a hard tire because if it was wrong and I backed up I’d really pay the price,” Phelps said. “We figured we could get out front and if it did (rubber up) we’d be in the right spot to control the pace. I was really nervous when I started seeing tires blowing.

“We were able to back the field up, slow the pace down, try to take it easy on the tires. Try to avoid the lap cars. Just got really lucky with the redraw (starting upfront).”

By the end of the 50 laps, his right rear was bare of tread, looking more like an asphalt tire.

While Phelps was able to manage the wear, his closest competitors weren’t privy to the same fortune in their attempts to run him down. Both Sheppard and Williamson suffered blown right rears in the closing laps, allowing Wight and Stewart Friesen to sneak their way into podium spots before the checkered flag.

“I was sitting in a pretty good spot,” Wight said. “I could see all three of their tires. I saw Sheppard showing a patch of canvas there with about eight or nine to go, so I knew I didn’t have to worry about him. Then Williamson’s tire wasn’t much better… I just sat back and watched them and took advantage of the situation.”

All of Phelps’s Big Gator competitors suffered an issue in the final stages of the race with Williamson finishing seventh, Peter Britten 10th and McLaughlin 17th. However, all four, along with Friesen made history this week as the Super DIRTcar Series saw five straight different winners during DIRTcar Nationals for the first time in the 51 years of the event.

With a pair of new trophies and wealth of confidence going into the 2022 championship season – starting at Atomic Speedway, March 25-26 – this is a DIRTcar Nationals Phelps will cherish.

“It means a ton,” he said. “It’s something you come down here every year praying to get. This year we finally had the race team, the race car, a bunch of guys that work really hard and they gave us a car where it got me the confidence to stay upfront and do it all week. It’s tough. A lot of luck. You have to draw good and qualify well. We’ve been doing this a long time. I don’t know how many years we got left coming down here, so I’m glad we finally did it.”

UP NEXT
The Super DIRTcar Series starts its championship season during its debut at Atomic Speedway on March 25-26.

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

RESULTS
DIRTcar Nationals Feature #5 (50 Laps): 1. 98H-Jimmy Phelps[1]; 2. 99L-Larry Wight[16]; 3. 44-Stewart Friesen[17]; 4. 35M-Mike Mahaney[5]; 5. 8S-Rich Scagliotta[14]; 6. 54-Steve Bernard[28]; 7. 88-Mat Williamson[4]; 8. 25P-Michael Parent[24]; 9. 16X-Dan Creeden[21]; 10. 21A-Peter Britten[7]; 11. 3J-Marc Johnson[9]; 12. 19-Tim Fuller[19]; 13. 35LJ-LJ Lombardo[23]; 14. 111-Demetrios Drellos[8]; 15. 1K-Rick Laubach[10]; 16. 3H-Justin Haers[11]; 17. 8H-Max McLaughlin[6]; 18. 118-Jim Britt[25]; 19. 14-CG Morey[26]; 20. (DNF) 88D-Olden Dwyer[20]; 21. (DNF) 215P-Adam Pierson[2]; 22. (DNF) 2L-Jack Lehner[18]; 23. (DNF) 30W-Joseph Watson[15]; 24. (DNF) 23C-Kyle Coffey[12]; 25. (DNF) 9S-Matt Sheppard[3]; 26. (DNF) 12S-Darren Smith[22]; 27. (DNF) JS98-Rocky Warner[13]; 28. (DNF) 83-Brian Swartzlander[27]

UNDER PRESSURE: Williamson uses Super DIRT Week pressure to claim third DIRTcar Nationals victory

Mat Williamson felt the pressure of NAPA Super DIRT Week Thursday evening.

But that pressure had nothing to do with the October event. He and his Buzz Chew Racing team were 1,200 miles south of where it’s even held.

It was the third of five straight days of Super DIRTcar Series racing at Volusia Speedway Park during the 51st DIRTcar Nationals. And after back-to-back sixth-place finishes in the first two races, something needed to change. He knew it. His team knew. So, they treated Thursday’s event like it was the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at Super DIRT Week.

“Today, you would’ve sworn it was Oswego, Sunday morning, trying to decide what we were going to do for a 200-lap race,” Williamson said. “We took this one pretty seriously and hopefully it leads to some momentum going forward.

“Just because we haven’t lived up to the expectations of how we ran last year. I think we got through the middle of September to Charlotte, we didn’t run out of the top-five. Then, we had two six-place finishes. People expect things. We worked really hard over the winter to build this car, me and Spot. We tried some things we learned over the years and came here wanting to win. That’s kind of what we expected. If you don’t turn things around by Wednesday, you’re going to have a rough week.”

And a rough week he will no longer have.

Williamson drove like he was after his third NAPA Super DIRT Week title, wrestling with Stewart Friesen and Max McLaughlin for 30 laps, emerging the victor by the time the checkered flag was revealed.

His path to collecting a third golden gator trophy looks smooth on paper – qualifying fastest in his group, winning his Heat Race and drawing the #2 pill in the Albany-Saratoga Speedway Redraw – but when it came time for the Feature, Friesen and McLaughlin showed him no mercy.

The St. Catharines, Ontario driver raced side by side with fellow Canadian Stewart Friesen for the first two laps, neither showing an upper hand. On the third lap, Friesen threw an early Hail Mary into Turn 1, crossing in front of Williamson and stealing the lead by the exit of Turn 2. But the speed difference from their choice of line benefited Williamson. He crossed underneath Friesen down the backstretch and catapulted his Buzz Chew #88 back to the lead in Turn 3.

An early caution lined them back side by side for the restart, setting up a battle that would last the rest of the Feature. Williamson ran high, Friesen low, and the two raced side by side for more than 10 laps. The SRI Performance/Halmar International #44 would nose ahead of Williamson every time Friesen dove it into the corner, but Williamson was always stronger on the exit. Friesen tried another slide job with 17 laps to go, moving himself to the high lane and Williamson low, but Williamson still prevailed.

While they sparred, Max McLaughlin – from seventh – surprised them both, creating a three-car battle for the lead. He snuck underneath Friesen for second and then surprised Williamson with a run through the middle that helped him edge ahead of the #88 for a corner.

“Any time you’re racing with Stewie (Friesen) you know you have to be up on the wheel,” Williamson said. “He never gives up and he gives it his all. I thought that was him on the outside of me down the back straightaway there. I didn’t know that was Max. Max is still pretty young, and God damn, he’s putting together some good finishes down here. He’s going to be tough to beat this year.

“Them two, the race out front was pretty hectic. It kept me on my toes.”

With eight laps to go, Williamson put the final nail in the coffin, getting a run through Turns 1 and 2 that propelled him ahead of McLaughlin and allowed him to drive away.

“We were just really good on the bottom and through the black there in the middle. I don’t know, I might be a little too soft on the right rear. I don’t know,” a visually dejected McLaughlin said after the race. “Just got to get with these guys and see what we got. Late in the run when it started to rubber up there, I had such a good car at the start, but it started to latch down in (Turns) three and four and I couldn’t turn in a 40-acre field.”

Friesen ended up losing third with two laps to go when current 2022 DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator Championship points leader Peter Britten made sure to continue his streak of not finishing outside the podium. So far this week, Britten has finished second, first and third.

“We didn’t fire as well as I had hoped but we had all good cars in front of us,” Britten said. “Just held steady with them at the beginning and later on in the race I felt like they were getting worse, or I was getting better. Either way, I felt good. At the end, I saw those guys coming back to me. I just wish I had another 10 laps.”

Matt Sheppard also got Friesen in the final two laps, moving past him for fourth – his first top-five and top-10 of the week – and forcing Friesen to settle for fifth.

Britten currently holds a 24-point lead over Friesen in the Big Gator Championship points standings. However, Friesen will have to miss Friday’s race due to running the NASCAR Truck Series race at Daytona. The next driver in line is Williamson – 25 points behind Britten.

“The rest of the week is big,” Williamson said. “We’ve got two more big races here and we can leave with our heads held high because we’re going home with a gator. It’s pretty sweet. The rest of the week, the pressure is off.”

UP NEXT
The Super DIRTcar Series returns to Volusia Speedway Park for its fourth night of racing during the 51st DIRTcar Nationals on Friday, Feb. 18. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

RESULTS
DIRTcar Nationals Feature #3 (30 Laps): 1. 88-Mat Williamson[2]; 2. 8H-Max McLaughlin[7]; 3. 21A-Peter Britten[8]; 4. 9S-Matt Sheppard[6]; 5. 44-Stewart Friesen[1]; 6. 98H-Jimmy Phelps[10]; 7. 1K-Rich Laubach[4]; 8. 30W-Joseph Watson[5]; 9. 99L-Larry Wight[21]; 10. 16X-Dan Creeden[3]; 11. 8S-Rich Scagliotta[9]; 12. 23C-Kyle Coffey[16]; 13. 12S-Darren Smith[12]; 14. 19-Tim Fuller[15]; 15. 3H-Justin Haers[20]; 16. 111-Demetrios Drellos[13]; 17. 2L-Jack Lehner[14]; 18. 35M-Mike Mahaney[11]; 19. 14-CG Morey[25]; 20. 118-Jim Britt[19]; 21. 215P-Adam Pierson[18]; 22. 83-Brian Swartzlander[23]; 23. 25P-Michael Parent[22]; 24. 3J-Marc Johnson[26]; 25. JS98-Rocky Warner[24]; 26. (DNF) 37MD-Jeremiah Shingledecker[17]