The DIRTcar Late Models concluded their 2023 Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals with a triple-header night of Feature racing on Wednesday.
Out of the three 20-lap, $5,000-to-win, Features, two new winners for the week emerged with Brandon Overton and Chris Madden, while Tim McCreadie claimed his second straight victory.
The 52 drivers in the field drew numbers to determine which Feature they would be in. Then, Qualifying and a redraw set the field for each.
Overton started the night by setting Quick Time for Feature #1 and Tim McCreadie set Quick Time for Feature #2. There was no change in the starting lineup after the re-draw for both Features. Then, Chris Madden set the quickest lap in Feature #3 but the #4 pill was drawn, inverting the top-four qualifiers.
Brandon Overton didn’t waste time launching ahead of the 18-car field when the first green flag of the night hit the air.
While he soared through the first corner, Bobby Pierce, who started third, lost grip going through Turn 1 and fell backwards. His misstep came at the benefit of Ashton Winger who went from fifth to second.
Overton’s charge was put on hold after two laps when a car spun in Turn 1, bringing out the first caution of the night. When the race resumed, Winger tried to give Overton a scare, staying on his bumper the first time back around but Overton put on his running shoes and pulled away.
There seemed to be no catching Overton until a caution on Lap 16, bringing the field back to his bumper. However, showing his experience as a two-time DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner, Overton, again, mastered the restart and gapped the field.
The Evans, GA driver claimed his third golden gator trophy and first of the week.
“We’ve had a fast car all week,” Overton said. “My crew, they’ve been busting their butt.
“We’ll take it. It’s awesome to get another win here at Volusia in front of this crowd.”
Feature #1 Results (20 Laps): 1. 76-Brandon Overton; 2. 12-Ashton Winger; 3. 111-Max Blair; 4. 32-Bobby Pierce; 5. 8-Brian Shirley; 6. B5-Brandon Sheppard; 7. 1ST-Johnny Scott; 8. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 9. 36-Logan Martin; 10. 130-Chase Osterhoff; 11. 99T-Dylan Thompson; 12. 14W-Dustin Walker; 13. 5-Mark Whitener; 14. 48-Colton Flinner; 15. 6S-Blake Spencer; 16. 96V-Tanner English; 17. 25-Shane Clanton; 18. 9-Nick Hoffman
After picking up his first golden gator trophy of the week Tuesday night, Tim McCreadie tried to pick up where he left off at the start of the second DIRTcar Late Model Feature of the night.
The multi-time national touring series Late Model champion was the first car into Turn 1, but Daulton Wilson had no interest in letting him run away with another win. Running the top lane of the track, Wilson worked his way around McCreadie for the lead off Turn 2 on Lap 2.
Wilson gapped McCreadie’s #39 Longhorn Chassis by a few car lengths before getting caught in lap traffic on Lap 9. While stuck behind Kyle Strickler, McCreadie mastered the bottom lane like he did Tuesday night and snuck under Wilson off Turn 4 to reclaim the lead.
The Watertown, NY driver pulled away from the pack until he found himself having to navigate heavy traffic with five laps to go. That allowed Wilson and third-place Devin Moran to put themselves within striking distance.
However, with Wilson and Moran wagging war for second in the closing laps, McCreadie was able to pull away without a challenge and score his second straight DIRTcar Nationals Feature win of the week, extending his Big Gator championship points lead.
“[Wilson] drove right by me and drove off and I thought, ‘damn,’ we’re going to run second,” McCreadie said. “Lap traffic kind of held him up and allowed me to get by. Then, they held me up and I figured he’d be right there. One lap car got me over the cushion. We were lucky after that.”
Feature 2 Results (20 Laps): 1. 39-Tim McCreadie; 2. 18D-Daulton Wilson; 3. 99-Devin Moran; 4. 25Z-Mason Zeigler; 5. 10-Mike Norris; 6. 89-Mike Spatola; 7. 99G-Hunt Gossum; 8. 114-Jordan Koehler; 9. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 10. 97-Cade Dillard; 11. 11B-Stacy Boles; 12. 15-Donny Schatz; 13. 17SS-Brenden Smith; 14. 8S-Kyle Strickler; 15. 12D-Doug Drown; 16. 25B-Mike Benedum; 17. 14G-Trevor Gundaker
Feature # 3
The theme of polesitters walking away with the win was thrown out the window in Feature #3 with a multitude of lead changes throughout the 20-lap race.
Blair Nothdurft stole the lead from Tyler Bruening on the first lap. Two laps later, Chris Madden also slid by Bruening to take second.
Brent Larson brought out the caution on Lap 4 and parked it for the night. When the race resumed, Madden tried to throw his #44 into the first turn under Nothdurft but nearly found himself at a 90-degree angle as he slid up the track. Nothdurft pulled ahead while Madden fell to sixth.
As Nothdurft led, Hudson O’Neal was making moves around the high side of the track, sliding across Bruening’s nose off Turn 4 to steal second on Lap 7. The Rocket1 Racing house car began its hunt for the lead and Madden was also finding his way forward again, moving into third on Lap 10.
Another caution flew on Lap 11 due to Ricky Thornton Jr. suffering a flat right rear.
Nothdurft chose the bottom lane upon his entry into Turn 1 on the restart and chose wrong. O’Neal threw his car against the cushion on the top lane and propelled himself ahead of the #76N car off Turn 2 to take the lead.
However, his moment of glory was short lived when another caution fell on Lap 15. Frank Heckenast Jr. suffered a flat right rear tire, and he wasn’t alone. Due to a piece of sharp debris on the track, he, along with O’Neal, Nothdurft, Thornton again, and Jimmy Owens, saw their chance at the win taken away by cut tires.
Their misfortune became Madden’s benefit as he inherited the lead. When the race resumed, he launched ahead of second-place Boom Briggs and pulled away by over two seconds to claim his first win of the week – fourth overall at DIRTcar Nationals.
“We had a great race car,” Madden said. “I screwed up there in (turns) one and two and jumped the cushion trying to go for the lead. But we had a great race car…
“It got really technical there at the end. It was really slick. There was a grip spot leaving (turn) four. My tires got a little hot there at the end. We got a little push. Overall, we’ll take this win and work on it and keep pushing.”
Feature 3 Results (20 Laps): 1. 44-Chris Madden; 2. 99B-Boom Briggs; 3. 1-Hudson O’Neal; 4. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 5. 18-Chase Junghans; 6. 20-Jimmy Owens; 7. 30-Todd Cooney; 8. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr; 9. 16-Tyler Bruening; 10. 76N-Blair Nothdurft; 11. B2-Brian Booze; 12. 22*-Payton Freeman; 13. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 14. 54-David Breazeale; 15. 40B-Kyle Bronson; 16. 17M-Dale McDowell; 17. B1-Brent Larson