TALKING ‘BOUT PRACTICE: Late Model practice sets stage for Sunshine Nationals

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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.

(Jacy Norgaard Photo, 2021)

“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

  1. Chris Madden – 15.644
  2. Ricky Thornton Jr. – 15.779
  3. Devin Moran – 15.804
  4. Boom Briggs – 15.936
  5. 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.

One of Wilson’s two cars he’ll be driving this weekend.

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

  1. Daulton Wilson (17.394)
  2. Trynt Lloyd (17.481)
  3. Winky McGee (17.566)
  4. Ben Scott (17.652)
  5. 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.

Volusia 602 Late Models Top-5

  1. Tim Swartz (18.427)
  2. Travis Staats (18.617)
  3. Craig Montesi Jr. (18.651)
  4. Jordan Koehler (18.738)
  5. Dalton Jacobs (18.967)