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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
“The Magic Man” won the opening race for the DIRTcar Pro Late Models at Sunshine Nationals
Less than 24 hours after sitting upside down in his Super Late Model, Mark Whitener climbed out of his DIRTcar Pro Late Model with a straw hat on his head and a smile on his face.
The Middleburg, FL driver found strength in his consistency and pure will to claim the first DIRTcar Pro Late Model Sunshine Nationals victory of the week Friday evening at Volusia Speedway Park – after the race was postponed from Thursday night.
Whitener “The Magic Man” said he was sore and battled brake issues in the final half of the 25-lap Feature, but knew he had a strong new Savage chassis underneath him.
“I knew I had a pretty good hot rod,” Whitener said. “This is a new car for us. Thanks to Jason Welshan at Savage (Chassis). That was scary in the Super last night. My hands are sore. I’m sore all over… but to be in Victory Lane for this Sunshine deal, it’s pretty much at home for us. Just appreciate everyone that puts this show on. Everybody is doing the best job they can.”
Shan Smith led the field to the initial green flag with Whitener in tow. The two paced ahead of the field in the early stage of the race, while Nevin Gainey made his way from fifth to third in the first two laps.
Smith held a strong command of the lead around the half-mile track until lap traffic became a hindrance. During an attempt to pass a group of slower cars around the outside, Smith was pushed out of the groove into a dirty lane, losing grip and allowing Whitener to sneak underneath him. The two raced side by side for a straightaway before Whitener launched ahead with the lead and never looked back.
“When I was leading and got to lap traffic, I should’ve just rode in behind those guys but I was afraid that Mark (Whitener) was going to dive out there to the outside and just drive around me and I’d get caught with my pants down. I just dive-bombed those guys around the outside and they kind of hung me out to dry when I was lapping them. That was the race.
“Basically, if you got off the bottom you were done. So, I want to thank all my guys for helping me and supporting me. We’ve been busting our butts like everyone else here.”
Whitener lost his rear brakes with 10 laps to go and had to readjust his approach to each corner but stayed committed to the bottom. Smith began to pull in Whitener, getting close enough to grab his bumper with eight laps to go. However, he hit a rut in Turn 2 and faded back into the clutches of Cory Hedgecock in third.
Three laps later disaster almost struck Whitener as a car slowed to a near stop in front of him to turn into the pit area, forcing him to lock his brakes and wrangle his car straight to avoid a collision. That allowed Smith and Hedgecock one last attempt at Whitener.
The “Magic Man” was in another dimension, however, needing only a corner to distance himself from his hunters again.
He drove away to claim a needed victory in a doubleheader day of racing around The World’s Fastest Half-Mile in which he’ll be pulling double duty with the DIRTcar Pro Late Models and World of Outlaws Late Models.
“I’d just like to thank everybody that is out here,” Whitener said. “All these fans and everybody that helps me on this car. Especially Jason Welshan at Savage Chassis. First night out and this thing was badass.”
The DIRTcar Pro Late Models return tonight for the second night of the Sunshine Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.
Tickets for the Sunshine Nationals are available at the track or by clicking HERE.
Chris Madden tops World of Outlaws Hot Laps, Daulton Wilson fastest with DIRTcar Pro Late Models
With an evening of practice in the books, a three-day Late Model-Palooza is now afoot at Volusia Speedway Park, Jan. 20-22.
The World of Outlaws Late Models, DIRTcar Pro Late Models and Volusia Late Models took to the World’s Fastest Half-Mile Wednesday evening to kick off the third annual DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals, setting up several storylines for an exciting weekend.
You can watch it all unfold Thursday-Saturday – tickets are available at the gate on race day. Hot Laps are scheduled for 5:30pm (ET) on Thursday and 5pm on Friday and Saturday. Or, if you can’t be at the track, watch all the action live with a DIRTVision FAST PASS subscription.
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Chris Madden didn’t wait long to show he’d be a force during the World of Outlaws season-opener at Sunshine Nationals.
After two practice sessions for the Series, he unofficially broke the track record laying down a 15.644 second lap — 0.001 seconds quicker than Tim McCreadie’s track record set on Valentine’s Day in 2018.
However, it doesn’t officially go into the record books as a new track record. Official times are only taken during Qualifying.
The Gray Court, SC driver stated he was happy with his first laps at Volusia, hoping to keep the momentum rolling for the first race of the season Thursday night.
“It’s really great,” Madden said. “We’ve been working the last part of the season, and we really got going well. We worked on a lot of stuff this winter, and we’re just happy to be here, and our Rocket Chassis is really fast.
“We tested at Brunswick, and we were really good there, and then we came here and tested. We couldn’t be any happier with our testing the way it is. We just hopefully can take that over to our racing.”
“Smokey” is searching for his second win at Volusia Speedway Park and first victory at the Florida venue since his triumph in the 2006 season finale.
Madden was more than a tenth-of-a-second faster than Ricky Thornton Jr., who was second. A total of 37 cars took advantage of the practice session.
The World of Outlaws Late Models will race three Features at Volusia Speedway Park this weekend, each paying $10,000-to-win.
World of Outlaws Late Models Practice Top-5
Chris Madden – 15.644
Ricky Thornton Jr. – 15.779
Devin Moran – 15.804
Boom Briggs – 15.936
Jimmy Mars – 15.997
DIRTcar Pro Late Models A strong group of 37 DIRTcar Pro Late Models also took to the track for several Hot Lap sessions of their own. Daulton Wilson, of Fayetteville, NC, topped the chart with a lap of 17.394 around the half-mile.
In the first two editions of the Sunshine Nationals, Pro Late Models have brought the highest car count of any division. With 57 total drivers already registered, that trend looks to continue this year. While Wilson acknowledged his tough opponents, he’s confident in he and his team’s abilities.
“It’s a big confidence booster for the whole weekend,” Wilson said. “We unloaded straight out of the gate with a new Eagle Crate motor, so to just go right out there and go quick, that was a good start to the week.”
Wilson’s one of a few drivers pulling double-duty this weekend, behind the wheel of a Pro Late Model with DIRTcar and a Super Late Model with the World of Outlaws. He said he’s still working out a few bugs with his Super, but has peace of mind knowing his Crate-engine car is fast already.
“I think we’ve got just as good of a chance as anybody in either one of them,” Wilson said. “I think it’s going to be really good to be getting twice as much time on the racetrack, even though it’s with a Crate and a Super, it’s still time on the track and getting laps around here.”
Other notable Pro Late Model talents in the field included Tennesseans Cory Hedgecock (8th-quick, 17.712) and defending Sunshine Nationals champion Mack McCarter (11th-quick, 17.829), in addition to Floridians Trynt Lloyd (2nd-quick, 17.481) and Donnie Chappell (7th-quick, 17.695).
The Pro Late Models race two preliminary shows on Thursday and Friday before the $10,000-to-win finale on Saturday night.
DIRTcar Pro Late Models Practice Top-5
Daulton Wilson (17.394)
Trynt Lloyd (17.481)
Winky McGee (17.566)
Ben Scott (17.652)
Sam Mars (17.660)
Volusia 602 Late Models A division familiar to the weekly Volusia racing crowd, the 602 Late Models saw 11 drivers take the opportunity for practice before the racing begins Thursday. Local drivers Tim Swartz (18.427) and Travis Staats (18.617) topped the charts.
A healthy field of 26 drivers have already checked-in to compete this weekend, all gunning for the $3,000 grand prize on Saturday night.
Whitener, Hedgecock, McCarter and more set to battle for $10,000 grand prize on Saturday
The first two editions of the DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals saw the Pro Late Models with the highest car count of any division on the card. That trend looks to continue this weekend as the best Crate-engine drivers in the nation gather at Volusia Speedway Park in search of one $10,000 grand prize.
A night of practice starts the on-track activity on Wednesday, Jan. 19, followed by two nights of preliminary racing action before the finale on Saturday night. The Pro (604) Late Models race for $1,500 on Thursday, $2,000 on Friday and the $10,000 check on Saturday, making this one of the most lucrative Crate Late Model races on the winter racing calendar.
All three nights of racing will be broadcast live on DIRTVision. Sign up for a FAST PASS subscription today and be on the lookout for the following drivers to make some noise this weekend.
Here are the drivers to watch and storylines to follow this weekend…
MAGIC SHOW – Mark Whitener, of Middleburg, FL, comes into the Sunshine Nationals as one of the most accomplished 604 Crate Late Model racers in the field. Last season, he won two Crate Racin’ USA Challenge Series events en route to the Series title, plus a $10,000 marquee victory in the RUSH-sanctioned Bill Emig Memorial event last summer.
Magic Man was a threat to win on both nights of Sunshine Nationals Pro Late Model competition last year, coming in third behind Michael Page and Mack McCarter in the Thursday night prelim before a sixth-place run in Saturday’s finale to cap off the weekend.
ON A MISSION – If there’s any driver coming to Volusia this weekend with a strong sense of vengeance, it’s Super Late Model veteran Michael Page.
Page, of Douglasville, GA, is one of only two Pro Late Model Feature winners in event history, breaking inaugural champion Kyle Bronson’s event win streak with a victory in the opening night last year. After a wash-out on Friday, Page took to the track for the Saturday finale and dominated to win the 30-lap event, or so it seemed at first. Upon a failed post-race engine inspection, Page was disqualified, handing the win over to runner-up Bronson.
This weekend, Page is projected to be in the Pro Late Model field once again, aiming to win the big show and avenge his lost championship from 2021.
MACK IS BACK – Mack McCarter, the 2021 Sunshine Nationals Pro Late Model champion from Gatlinburg, TN, returns to Volusia this weekend to defend his title just one year after denying Bronson of a repeat.
McCarter had an impressive showing against a 64-car field last year, finishing runner-up on both nights of competition. Over 55 total Feature laps, McCarter advanced 35 spots of position, going 19th-second on Thursday and 20th-second on Saturday. For his efforts, a shiny trophy for his cabinet after edging out Bronson for the title by five points.
CRATE MASTER – Two-time Crate Racin’ USA champion Cory Hedgecock joins the Pro Late Model field this weekend, looking for his first trip to Sunshine Nationals Victory Lane after winning big two weekends ago in Alabama.
Hedgecock, of Loudon, TN, has the early season momentum rolling with a win in the Crate Late Model portion of the annual Ice Bowl event at Talladega Short Track, defeating several Crate touring regulars he’ll encounter again this weekend.
Hedgecock’s Sunshine Nationals track record has been strong as well, coming home 8th in the 2020 finale, followed by a third-place to McCarter and Bronson last year.
TRIPLE THREAT – The cousin-trio of Jody, Jake and Dylan Knowles are all projected to be in attendance this weekend, chasing their first Sunshine Nationals victories.
Dylan was crowned champion of Crate Racin’ USA’s Winter Shootout Series in 2021. Jake finished third in Crate Racin’ points last year and ran second to Hedgecock at Talladega two weeks ago, while Jody ran two spots behind in fourth.
Jake and Jody have both made the Sunshine Nationals big show on Saturday night in both years they’ve competed. All three drivers made the finale last year as well; Jake topped the clan with a ninth-place finish.
McCarter goes 20th-to-second to win title by 5 points, Bronson collects another $10k for finale victory
Kyle Bronson’s dominance at Volusia Speedway Park’s Sunshine Nationals continued Saturday night with an unexpected win.
Michael Page was initially declared the winner of the DIRTcar Pro Late Model Feature, beating everyone to the checkered flag first, but faced a disqualification following a post-race technical inspection.
It was determined by DIRTcar and Crate Racin’ USA officials that Page’s car had a valve spring installation height infraction, nullifying his victory. Upon a passing inspection of Bronson’s engine, Bronson was awarded the $10,000 check and declared the Feature winner.
“Anytime you can make some money, it’s always good. You hate to win ‘em that way, but we all know how these deals are going in. You’ve got to be 100 percent right,” Bronson said.
Mack McCarter was determined the overall Sunshine Nationals mini-series champion of the Pro Late Model division after back-to-back second-place finishes, beating Bronson 140 to 135 points over the two contested races.
Bronson began his charge to the front from outside the third row, using the early caution flags to his advantage by doing some of his passing work on the restarts. By Lap 6, he had cracked the top-three and was hot on the trail of second-place Joseph Joiner and leader Page.
Bronson was able to get by Joiner on Lap 13, setting him up for a charge through lapped traffic in pursuit of Page, who was a few car-lengths ahead. Bronson was able to close the gap to just over .3 seconds before Page pulled away again, and a final yellow was displayed with just eight laps remaining.
When the checkered fell, Bronson was unable to get ahead of Page at the stripe, leaving him with a runner-up finish but only for a few hours. Page’s technical inspection wrapped up after midnight on Sunday; Bronson passed his and was declared the winner in the early morning hours.
This victory now makes four Feature wins in five starts for the Brandon, FL-native in Sunshine Nationals Pro Late Model competition after sweeping all three Features last year, and two total on the weekend after his World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series triumph Thursday night.
“We won $10,000, motor got torn down and was 100 percent right and everything passed. So, I’m more than happy with it. We won two races this week for $20,000 and it’s going to help us pay for Speedweeks a little bit,” Bronson said.
Outside of Victory Lane was another unsung hero, making his Sunshine Nationals and Volusia Speedway Park debut, and he did not disappoint. Twenty-seven-year-old Mack McCarter put on a dazzling display of passing on both nights in his first-ever appearance, coming all the way from 20th to cross the line in third Saturday. He was later awarded a second-place finish following Page’s disqualification.
McCarter, of Gatlinburg, TN, was awarded Hard Charger honors on both nights, passing 17 cars Thursday en route to his runner-up finish and 18 cars (17 on-track) Saturday. As impressive as the run was, he knew he may have had something for the leader had he started farther forward.
“Our racecar is really good when [the track] blows off and gets kinda dirty,” McCarter said. “We qualified really well but the invert put us behind in the Heat and we didn’t tighten-up enough. I think if we would have started up front, I would’ve had a good shot to run, and possibly have won.”
Overall, McCarter was pleased with his performance and that of his crew and car builder. Considering he made his first-ever laps on the track just two days prior, coming out of the weekend with two runner-up finishes and an overall mini-series title wasn’t too shabby.
“Just to come down here and run with these guys like Kyle Bronson, outrun him Thursday night and then finish behind him tonight, it just speaks volumes to where our team is,” McCarter said.
Persistent rain showers creating saturated grounds at Volusia Speedway Park have forced World of Outlaws, DIRTcar and track officials to cancel Friday’s event at the speedway. It will not be made up.
Those who purchased a ticket in advance to Friday’s event at Volusia will 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, CLICK HERE to be taken to the refund request page.
You have the option to exchange your Friday only ticket for a Saturday only ticket and your Friday only pit pass for a Saturday only pit pass at the Speedway gate on Saturday.
If you purchased a three-day pit pass, Friday only pit pass, or a Friday only ticket, you’ll need to mail your wrist band or ticket back to the office at 7575 West Winds Blvd. Concord, NC 28027. You must include all wrist bands and/or tickets and a return mailing address.
Fans can look forward to the Sunshine Nationals finale at Volusia Saturday, Jan. 16, featuring the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models, DIRTcar Late Models, 602 Late Models and Florida Late Models.
For the latest on the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models and DIRTcar, make sure to follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Also at www.WorldofOutlaws.com and DIRTcar.com.
McCarter soars from 19th-to-second, Bronson finishes fourth right after World of Outlaws win
The last time Kyle Bronson and Michael Page went head-to-head in DIRTcar Pro Late Model action at Volusia Speedway Park, Bronson got the upper-hand in a furious battle for the inaugural DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals finale victory. On Thursday night, it was Page’s turn to shine.
Page, of Douglasville, GA, led all 25 laps en route to his first victory in the event, snapping Bronson’s three-race win streak that be built in last year by sweeping the weekend and winning all three Pro Late Model Features and clinching the overall event championship.
A big move at the drop of the opening green flag really set Page out front quickly and gave him the advantage he needed over his competition. After redrawing sixth upon winning his Heat Race earlier in the evening, Page came out of Turn 4 considerably lower than the two cars in front of him on the original start and zoomed into third-place, full-bore into Turn 1. By the time he entered Turn 3, Page was the race leader.
The +5-spot differential in one lap made for quite an exciting sequence of passes, showing off the alive-and-well strength of a new power plant under the hood of 2003 MasterSbilt Race Cars chassis that Page used in his runner-up finish in this event last year.
“It’s a new motor, a Matt Bishop racing engine, a local guy around where we live, and that thing ran better than anything I’ve ever drove Crate-wise. And for an old MasterSbilt, that thing will get around the racetrack as good as anything,” Page told DIRTVision pit reporter Ruben Mireles in Victory Lane.
Beyond a few restarts in the second half of the race, not much else gave Page a serious challenge for the top spot. Bronson, however, was stopped just a bit short of his quest to continue his winning streak.
After winning the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series Feature just one hour before, Bronson hopped into his Pro Late Model and went from the pole but did not look as strong as he did with the Outlaws.
Bronson had faded back to sixth at one point but was able to rebound on the late restarts and lock up a fourth-place finish.
One of the race’s biggest highlights outside of the Page-Bronson storylines was the climb of young Tennessean Mack McCarter. He and his #51 came all the way from 19th to finish second in the Feature. McCarter had passed 15 cars in 10 laps and made the most of his time in the podium, even making up a little distance on leader Page in the closing circuits.
But there just was no catching Page and his #18x. His start was just too great, and the car was just too stable for any worthy challengers.
“I just tried to do something; to go where they couldn’t,” Page said. “The car just took off immediately. Sometimes doing whatever they don’t do is the right thing to do, but sometimes it’ll kick you in the butt. But it worked out tonight.”
Magic Man Mark Whitener crossed the stripe in third after a solid run inside the top-six the entire distance. Driving for Dale Mosley Racing this weekend, he really had a handle on his Pro Late Model ride, setting a new personal-best finish in the event.
The Sunshine Nationals action continues Friday night with more Pro Late Model, World of Outlaws, 602 Late Model and Florida Late Model action from Volusia Speedway Park on night #2 of the DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision!