As Volusia Speedway Park kicks the season into high gear after an exciting July 29 Summer Sizzler, the next stop on the trail for the local divisions is Saturday’s Back To School Night.
The field is sure to be electric when the cars take to the dirt, featuring the 602 Late Models, 3/4 Modifieds, DIRTcar UMP Modifieds, Thunder Stocks, and the Gladiators.
602 Late Models
The 2023 602 Late Model field has been diverse, yet competitive as Ormond Beach, FL’s Tim Swartz and Jacksonville, FL’s Adam Bennett share the points lead.
Swartz, who won December’s Battle In Barberville, is looking for more to solidify his position as the leader after two consecutive top-three finishes.
Bennett won the 2023 season opener for the 602 Late Models and will look to distance himself from the field on Saturday.
A newcomer that broke out in a big way is Jacksonville, FL’s Kale Van Sickle. The former Quarter Midget racer won in May’s Drifters Riverfront Bar & Grill Showdown, and the 13-year-old will be the rising star that the field needs to keep an eye on.
Quietly raising his stock in the 602 Late Models is Lithia, FL’s Austin Leamon. Now in his sophomore season, there has been no slump for Leamon, sitting third in points and continuing to get consistent results out of his machine. The first win for Leamon may be just around the corner.
Defending 602 Late Models champion Mark Steube is searching for his first win at Volusia in 2023, but he has continued to put pressure on the leaders, ready to pounce when the opportunity is presented.
DIRTcar UMP Modifieds
The Summer Sizzler saw drivers making significant moves in the points standings as the race toward September gets closer.
Starting at the top, new points leader Robert Gast earned his first win at the Summer Sizzler, coupled with consistent top-five finishes. He has a great chance to extend his lead in Back To School Night.
Running behind Gast is Jacksonville, FL’s Dillon Buhr. Buhr is always a threat to challenge for wins at Volusia and could end up in victory lane with the pace shown in 2023.
The championship defense has not been pretty for Buzzie Reutimann, who has been plagued with issues at every Volusia Speedway Park Feature in 2023. Reutimann won at Volusia Speedway Park this time last year en route to his 2022 championship win. Will 2023 show the same result?
Though he did not race at the Summer Sizzler, Bunnell, FL’s Dalton Lanich is one to look out for. He won the season opener on May 20, and is always on the hunt for wins in each race he is in.
Other drivers that have made significant improvements in 2023 include Interlachen, FL’s Josh Sanford, Jacksonville, FL’s Makayla Tyrrell, and Orange City, FL’s Wade Olmsted. These drivers have shown speed and improving results, and it is only a matter of time when one of these drivers reach Victory Lane.
It has been a long wait for the 3/4 Modifieds to get back on the racing trail, and they kick it up on Saturday with Back To School Night.
Points leader Jesse Powers has set lit it up on the track in 2023, winning the season opener and maintaining the points lead coming into Saturday’s race. The Port Orange, FL native is going to be a threat to win as the season progresses.
Close behind is a flurry of drivers looking for more success in 2023. Lake Helen, FL’s Timmy Hogan swept the Spring Showdown in March and is always challenging for the win at each race.
DeLeon Springs, FL’s Dustin Peterson picked up his first Feature win on May 20 and has steadily improved his performance at each race in 2023. Saturday could be a big chance for a second big win.
Other drivers to look for include Orange City, FL’s Rusty Young, Wade Olmsted and Tad Olmsted, and DeLand, FL’s Chris Olmstead.
Young sits second in points behind Powers, with consistency to show. Wade Olmsted and Tad are a dangerous father-son duo that could bag a Feature on Saturday. Chris Olmstead won the 3/4 Modifieds season opener and is ready to fight for his first track championship in 2023.
The championship in the Thunder Stocks has been one that many drivers have come out to compete for with the division seeing a diverse set of winners in 2023.
Once Oviedo, FL’s Tanner Thomas took the points lead after winning in May, he’s held steady with it, holding a 20-point gap to second-place’s Ron Adams, of Daytona Beach, FL.
Adams has shown consistency in each Feature he’s run, finishing second most recently at the Summer Sizzler. Adams is still looking for his first Volusia points win in the 2020s, and Saturday may be where lady luck shines on the driver of the #118.
Thomas’ father, Patrick Thomas, has come close to winning a Feature in 2023, and could make for a father-son championship fight if he wins on Saturday.
Summer Sizzler Feature winner Justin Reynolds is expected to be a frontrunner each race, with his #20 beginning to find the pace needed to win the championship.
Due to the rising heat index that has impacted the southeastern region of the United States, track officials have pushed Saturday’s gates and Hot Laps times forward by one hour to ensure the safety of drivers, teams, staff and fans. Gates will open at 5:00 p.m. (ET) with Hot Laps at 7:00 p.m.
Can’t make it to the track? Watch all the action live on DIRTVision – through your mobile phone or computer.
About Volusia Speedway Park
Volusia Speedway Park, The World’s Fastest Half Mile, is a 0.5-mile dirt track located in DeLeon Springs, Florida. VSP is home to the most prestigious dirt racing events, such as the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals, Germfree Southern Sprint Car Shootout, Sunshine Nationals, and the Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial. The track hosts weekly races year-round with divisions of Dirt Late Models, Modifieds & Stock Cars. The track also hosts dirt-karting races at the facility. For more information, visit VolusiaSpeedwayPark.com.