UMP Modifieds

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!

 

Winning a Big Gator meant ‘more than you’ll know’ to Justin Allgaier

The NASCAR star shared his passion for racing at DIRTcar Nationals and why he cherishes his gator trophies most

Justin Allgaier occasionally peered into the Volusia Speedway Park pond hoping to see its resident gators during DIRTcar Nationals last year.

Each time, he found himself – the “Little Gator.”

However, there was another gator the NASCAR star was truly searching for. The golden gator; given only to those capable of winning during the historic DIRTcar Nationals event.

Allgaier had already claimed the unique trophy in 2016 with the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds – a prize he said he cherishes over every other trophy he’s collected.

“I’ve got the little gator that we won years ago sitting front and center in my trophy case,” he said. “It’s out in front of all the NASCAR wins. It’s out in front of everything I got because it means a lot to me.”

What he didn’t have yet was the Big Gator trophy. That prestigious life-size idol is reserved only to those who master the points battle for the week or win the biggest UMP Modified race of the event – the Gator Championship Feature.

Modified champion Nick Hoffman was on a path to conquer both last year but a rare slip by the multi-time gator winner allowed Allaiger the opportunity to slide into the lead. Hoffman tried desperately to run down Allaiger – driving a chassis built by Hoffman – but the “Little Gator” used all his might to finally earn a Big Gator trophy.

Its significance?

“More than you’ll know,” Allgaier said. “Obviously, the NASCAR side (driving for recent NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Dale Earnhardt Jr.), I love what I do, and I have great sponsors over there. I love the NASCAR side of things but there is nothing like coming out in front of you (dirt) fans. Everybody is watching at home on DIRTVision. Just putting it all out there with 30 of the best drivers in the world. I truly mean that.”

Justin Allgaier races his DIRTcar UMP Modified at Volusia Speedway Park

He’ll be back this year for the 51st edition of DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 7-12, to hunt for both gators again. Participating in the event is a privilege he cherishes, having visited Volusia as a fan long before he started his racing career. Even before the track had dirt on it.

When he turned from fan to driver at the half-mile track, he started in a Late Model before moving to a DIRTcar UMP Modified. He credited his years in dirt racing as a key to his success, which includes 16 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and the 2008 ARCA championship.

“This is an integral part of who I am as a racer,” Allgaier said. “It’s a huge part of who I am. It drives me to be a racer. I love what I do on Saturdays, and I love the NASCAR scene. It is so totally different than this. They’re both great in their own right. They’re so totally different. Dirt racing fans are incredible. They’re passionate. They love their sport. And rightly so, right? Whether it’s Late Model, Sprint Cars, Modifieds, just in general they love this sport so much. And it drives us. You put in hours. You put in time.”

And don’t think he finds dirt racing any less stressful than his NASCAR duties.

“I get more heartburn and sleepless nights coming here (to DIRTcar Nationals) than I’d like to admit,” Allgaier said. “You know, it’s so difficult to come down here. And so many things have to go right. But you look at guys like Nick (Hoffman) who come here year in and year out, they find their way to the box. They make no mistakes. They’re on their game. The amount of focus and discipline it takes to come here, when you have this many cars, it really is incredible to see the talent level here right now. It’s really amazing.

“I think a lot of NASCAR guys come back here because we truly believe it’s a huge test of our abilities. A test of the people around you. There’s just something different about it. This week is mentally draining. When you walk out of this place, you’re either pumped up and ready to come back next year or you’re so demoralized that you’re ready to come back next year so you can redeem yourself. It’s pretty awesome. It’s something that… yeah, there’s really no words that can describe it.”

If you venture to the gator pond this February, you may find the “Little Gator” again peering into its depths, searching. Always searching for a gator – green and gold.

For tickets to DIRTcar Nationals, click HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch the two weeks of the event live on DIRTVision – either online or with the DIRTVision App.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: UMP Modifieds Take on Volusia for Eighth Annual Reutimann Memorial

Hoffman, Nicely, Wallace and more battle Stewart and the local field in $7K-to-win spectacle

BARBERVILLE, FL – The biggest DIRTcar UMP Modified brawl on the fall calendar is finally here. The eighth annual Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial race boasts a bigger $7,000-to-win purse this year, and the stars will be out to come and chase it.

Thursday night kicks things off with a practice session for all divisions. Hot Lap/Qualifying and Showdown Features for the UMP Modifieds highlight Friday’s program alongside a full show for 602 Late Models and Thunder Stocks. Modified Last Chance Showdowns and the 50-lap Feature are on-tap for Saturday, while DIRTcar Pro (604) Late Models and Street Stocks support the show.

Driver pre-registration is still open at the link below, but will be closed on Wednesday evening. Upon arrival, teams are reminded that all upper pit parking spaces have been booked, but plenty of room is still available around the Gator Pond.

DRIVER PRE-REGISTRATION

All tickets will be sold at the gate on race day – $20 for single-day admission, $30 for both days. Kids 12-and-under are free. If you can’t be at the track, watch every lap of Friday and Saturday live with a FAST PASS subscription to DIRTVision presented by Drydene.

Here are the drivers to watch and storylines to follow this weekend…

TRACTOR HUNTING – The champ is here, and gunning for the gold. Or, in this case, the farm tractor trophy.

Hoffman holding his sixth career Big Gator trophy (Josh James Artwork)

Defending DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion Nick Hoffman, of Mooresville, NC, just clinched his third consecutive DIRTcar national championship after another dominating season that saw him capture 26 Feature wins in 49 starts. In February, Hoffman also clinched a sixth consecutive DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator trophy as champion of the UMP Modified division – the most by any one driver in the event’s 50-year history.

However, there is one trophy he’s never hoisted in the Sunshine State. Hoffman will take his Elite Chassis #2 southbound one final time this year in search of his first win in the event, one year after coming up two spots short of victory in the Saturday finale.

HOME TURF – Over the last two seasons as a UMP Modified regular at Volusia, Garret Stewart has lost a total of four points Features.

The 2020 & 2021 track champion from Leesburg, FL, has since become the local favorite and will lead the charge into the Reutimann Memorial on the back of seven Feature wins in ten regular season starts at the track in 2021. Volusia underwent a resurfacing at the beginning of the year, which 100+ UMP Modified drivers raced on at the 50th DIRTcar Nationals in February. Stewart has now been racing on the new dirt all season, and says those laps on it are going to pay off come Saturday.

Stewart (67) racing with Hoffman (2) at Bristol Motor Speedway in April (Josh James Artwork)

“I think we’ve actually gained on our car when it’s not so slick,” Stewart said. “So, I actually do think this year we have a little bit of help on our side just being on the race track seven or eight times throughout the year.”

FRIENDS IN SOUTHERN PLACES – It’s been another successful year behind the wheel for Matoaca, VA-driver Chris Arnold, who locked-up his first regional UMP Modified championship last weekend with the Southeast Dirt Modified Series. This weekend, he’ll have an extra resource on hand with him in the pit area – his car builder, David Reutimann.

Reutimann is the owner, founder and builder of Beak Built Chassis, which Arnold has been piloting for the past few seasons. David and father Buzzie, 80, of Zephyrhills, FL, will both be on the roster for the event – which David won in 2015 and 2016, when the event was held at East Bay Raceway Park.

Arnold in his DAI Motorsports #99W Beak Built Chassis at Bristol in April, where he finished third on Saturday (Josh James Artwork)

NO MORE MR. NICE GUY – Tyler Nicely entered the Reutimann Memorial and came to Volusia last year, driving a brand-new Longhorn by Loenbro, with one goal in mind. Win.

When the weekend was over, he had done just that, defeating Hoffman and NASCAR star Justin Allgaier for his first career tractor trophy. This year, his goal is exactly the same – win in a brand-new car, in preparation for Florida in February.

“We’ve got a whole year under our belt and we ran solid during Speedweeks,” Nicely said. “I’m excited to get back. We’ll have a new car, and the car I started running at the end of the year. We’ll practice on both Thursday night, see which one I feel like I’ve got the best shot at and hopefully bring another one of them tractor trophies back to Owensboro.”

Nicely will defend his Reutimann crown from 2020 this weekend (Josh James Artwork)

WILDCARD WINNER – Kenny Wallace brought his Elite Chassis #36 to Volusia last Saturday night, in preparation for this weekend, and won, defeating David Reutimann and Garret Stewart in the Wildcard 25 main event.

Wallace, of Arnold, MO, made his Reutimann Memorial debut last year and had a strong run in Saturday’s finale, driving all the way from 21st to finish 10th. He’ll be back on the roster for another try at the coveted farm tractor trophy and a $7,000 check this weekend.