MONEY MAKERS: Geary, Shead, Lloyd, Curtis Score Season-Opening Wins at Volusia

Volusia Speedway Park brought Florida race fans four action-packed Features to kick off the 2024 season and Month of Money.

The Saturday night spectacle featured more than 80 cars among four divisions – 604 Late Models, DIRTcar UMP Modifeds, 3/4 Modifieds and the new Crown Vic division.

Seth Geary (UMP Modified), Paul Shead (3/4 Modified), Trynt Lloyd (604 Late Model) and Zach Curtis (Crown Vic) walked away with the trophy, the big check and a strong start to their championship hopes.

Feature action started with the 20-lap DIRTcar UMP Modified Feature, boasting a 27-car field. Paul Shead led the way into the first turn, but his time alone out front was short lived when a multi-car incident in Turn 1 brought out the caution on the first lap.

However, when the race resumed, Shead didn’t waste time running away from the pack behind him again. And while he pulled ahead, Buzzie Reutimann moved into second and Bryan Bernhardt into third.

Reutimann kept Shead within a  1-second gap before getting his best chance to close further when another caution on Lap 6 tightened the field.

An accident on the restart negated any position changes, including Dalton Lanich’s epic leap from seventh to third. And when the race finally resumed, Reutimann’s hopes of victory faded once Bernhardt stole second and Seth Geary (who started sixth) also followed him by the No. 00 car to move into third.

Shead held a two-second lead by the halfway point, but Geary was on a march.

On Lap 11, Geary moved into second. On Lap 13, he cut Shead’s lead to a 1.3-second gap. On Lap 14, it was a 1-second gap. Then, another caution for a car slowing on track.

When the race resumed, Geary threw his car to the top of Turn 1, while Shead dug low. The high side momentum prevailed for Geary as he powered by Shead down the backstretch and cleared him for the lead.

With a clean track ahead, Geary, of Gibsonton, FL, drove away with the season-opening win.

“I got shoved up to the top one time and I stood in it, and it finally fired off and felt real good,” Geary said. “I kind of figured, we were good up there a year ago, let’s do it again. So, we went back up there.

“It’s been a long time coming. We went through hell the last year and a half. Rebuilt the race car, four or five times, between motors blowing and racing in general. It feels good to be back. It’s a huge, huge, lift off our shoulders. This is great.”

Results –
Feature (20 Laps): 1. 7G-Seth Geary[6]; 2. 80-Paul Shead[1]; 3. Z1-Zac Oedewaldt[13]; 4. 51-Dalton Lanich[15]; 5. 00-Buzzie Reutimann[3]; 6. B69-Bryan Bernhardt[7]; 7. 11Z-Zane Oedewaldt[2]; 8. 24B-Dillon Buhr[9]; 9. 07-Eric Moon[4]; 10. 6B-Dave Baldwin[12]; 11. 57-Fletcher Mason[20]; 12. 12-Robert Gast[5]; 13. 3S-Josh Sanford[16]; 14. 3D-Makayla Tyrrell[8]; 15. 1-Steve Stevenson[14]; 16. 15-Gator Hise[19]; 17. 16-Tony Campbell[22]; 18. M12-Chris Meyer[29]; 19. 34-Rob Giffen[21]; 20. (DNF) 1P-Mike Phillips[26]; 21. (DNF) 27G-Jason Garver[11]; 22. (DNF) 2-Joshua Kunstbeck[17]; 23. (DNF) 23-Jerol Stepp[27]; 24. (DNF) 66-Wade Olmsted[10]; 25. (DNF) 222-Cory Hupp[25]; 26. (DNF) 11P-Charlie Phillips[28]; 27. (DNF) 78-Raymond Rogers[18]; 28. (DNF) 34P-Jim Passino[23]; 29. (DNS) 52-Adam Hanas

Less than 20 minutes after suffering defeat in the DIRTcar UMP Modified division, Paul Shead got redemption with the 3/4 Modifieds.

He started eighth in the 15-lap Feature, but with a bit of luck and a fast car – provided to him by Timmy Hogan – Shead found himself in the right place at the right time.

Seth Zacharias and Patrick Vareika led the field to the green flag, and it only took a lap before they found themselves having to defend their positions from a hard charging Colton Lane.

Like a bullet out of a gun, Lane rocketed past the top two to take the lead by the second lap. And by the third, he was already ahead by 1.3 seconds.

A caution on Lap 5 slowed his trajectory and brought the field back to his bumper – a literal statement when the race resumed.

Lane had a slow restart, nearly losing the lead to Jesse Powers – who was on a march from his 16th starting position – before getting to the first turn. However, he played defense well enough and began to gap the field again by the exit of Turn 2.

Then, another caution. Another restart. And another slow start for Lane. This time, he couldn’t hold off Powers, who pulled even with him down the backstretch and took the lead going into Turn 3.

Soon after, Lane’s night ended when his engine blew.

Powers looked to have the win in hand until a caution with two laps to go. While the yellow flag wasn’t for him, he ended up stopping on track with an issue, unable to continue.

The new leader: DeLand, FL’s Paul Shead.

He pulled ahead of the field with ease on the restart and finally got to the checkered flag first.

“I thought I was going to be second twice there for a little bit,” Shead said. “Something happened there to [Powers]. Hate to see that happen, but I’ll take it.”

Results –
Feature (15 Laps): 1. 27-Paul Shead[8]; 2. 26-Timmy Hogan[3]; 3. 51-Dustin Peterson[5]; 4. 23-Seth Zacharias[1]; 5. 57-Ethyn Hwan[6]; 6. 32-Patrick Vareika[2]; 7. 55-Dustin Childers[10]; 8. 10-Robert Bowen[12]; 9. 48-Rusty Young[7]; 10. 3X-Scott Durlin[9]; 11. 00-Justin Woodrough[14]; 12. 117-Jesse Powers[16]; 13. 5-Chase Cooke[11]; 14. 1-CR Hill[15]; 15. 59-Samara Hwan[13]; 16. 26L-Colton Lane[4]; 17. 29-Nathyn Hwan[17]

With the Month of Money comes big checks, and for the 604 Late Models, that meant a $2,000 big check. A $2,000 check Trynt Lloyd made sure went home with him. No matter what was thrown at him during the 25-lap Feature.

The Jacksonville, FL driver started on the pole and almost lost it to Kole Platt on the initial start before it was called back. When the race officially started, he found himself having to fend off an aggressive Jason Garver.

Racing side by side through Turns 3 and 4, Garver slid up into the left side door of Lloyd’s No. 2, nearly spinning around. However, Lloyd put on a master class of car control, bringing it back straight, while maintaining the lead.

Three more cautions brought the field back to him, but each time he had something for them. When Garver tried to look low into the first turn, Lloyd closed the door. When Tim Swartz found a late race charge around the outside and tried to pass him for the lead on a restart, Lloyd again defended with ease.

His efforts kept him out front for all 25 laps and placed the $2,000 check in his hands.

“I ain’t touched [the car] all night,” he said. “It’s been fast ever since I unloaded it.” 

Results –
Feature (25 Laps): 1. 2-Trynt Lloyd[1]; 2. 31S-Tim Swartz[3]; 3. 74-Jason Garver[6]; 4. 54T-Tuck Trentham[12]; 5. 25C-Donnie Chappell[4]; 6. 67-Garret Stewart[16]; 7. 5-Dustin Carter[10]; 8. 44P-Kole Platt[2]; 9. 721-Joe Kump[14]; 10. 131-Matt Herlong[7]; 11. 28-Austin Leamon[18]; 12. 30-Steven Stratton JR[13]; 13. 1J-Jason Papp[15]; 14. 1A-Donnie Birdwell[25]; 15. 10S-Steve Shead[17]; 16. 12-Korbin Minchew[21]; 17. 71-Davy Cline[23]; 18. 9W-Thomas Warnick[24]; 19. (DNF) 41-Derike Bennett[8]; 20. (DNF) 17G-Nevin Gainey[5]; 21. (DNF) 119-Joe Belkey[9]; 22. (DNF) 51-Larry Anderson[20]; 23. (DNF) 75-Sonny Thompson[22]; 24. (DNF) 12D-Tim Dowling[19]; 25. (DNF) 07-David Clegg[26]; 26. (DNF) 23L-Lawton Minchew[11]

History was made at Volusia Speedway Park Saturday night with the Crown Vic division making its debut at “The World’s Fastest Half Mile.” And the new division didn’t disappoint.

When the green flag dropped, the top three cars – Dalton Strehle, Johnny Allen and Zach Curtis – were bumper to bumper to bumper, lap after lap. Allen would look under Strehle for the lead one corner, and then Curtis would get a run to the outside of Allen the next corner.

The three were like an accordion, gaining and losing distance on each other every lap.

By the halfway point of the 20-lap Feature, Allen got a strong enough run underneath Strehle to pull alongside him in Turns 1 and 2. That run continued down the backstretch and propelled him to the lead by Turn 3.

However, his luck ran out two laps later when his No. 98 car started leaking gasoline and took him out of the race. That moved Strehle back into the lead and Curtis to second.

The top two continued their close-counters battle until Curtis built enough of a run with five laps to go to take the lead.

Strehle fell out of the picture a couple laps later with a mechanical issue, allowing Curtis to run away with the historic victory.

“It feels great,” Curtis said. “I’ve been wanting to come here for a long time. I saw they put these cars on the schedule. I just started messing with these things last year. Been driving them for a bunch of different people and finally got my own.”

Results – Feature (20 Laps): 1. 63-Zach Curtis[4]; 2. 24K-Charles King[7]; 3. 73-Joseph Watson[1]; 4. 49-Jason Skovran[5]; 5. 44X-Joseph Baldwin[6]; 6. (DNF) 51-Chris Oncken[9]; 7. (DNF) 24S-Dalton Strehle[3]; 8. (DNF) 98-Johnny Allen[2]; 9. (DNF) 18-Josh Panetti[8]

UP NEXT: Volusia Speedway Park’s weekly racing schedule continues on Saturday, April 20, for the Month of Money Race #2.

If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every lap live on DIRTVision.