After a night filled with money-hungry racing and Mother Nature joining the fun, the 2023 Volusia Speedway Park season opener was full of excitement.
After five Features, Dustin Carter, Chris Olmstead, Jimmy Wagner, Tommy Hill, and Chuck Frater went to Volusia Speedway Park Victory Lane for the first time in the 2023 season.
604 Late Models
Dustin Carter’s victory Saturday night marked a special moment for the Decatur, GA driver.
He scored his first Volusia 604 Late Model win after a 25-lap, $2,000 to win Feature and dedicated it to his close friend, Gary Terry, who passed away eight years ago on April 12.
“This one means a lot,” Carter said. “It’s been eight years since (Gary) passed, and we always do a Coors Light and a shot of Fireball, and I didn’t get a chance to yet because I wasn’t feeling to well, but I’ll make sure I get one in tonight. I’m gonna saver this one a little bit, and I gotta dedicate this one to (Gary).”
Carter started on the outside of the front row in the Feature and jumped to the lead off Turn 2 on the first lap. From that point on, Carter had to manage lap traffic, a two-lap shootout, and a closing Derike Bennett en route to being the first winner in the inaugural Volusia Month of Money.
“We didn’t get a good pill draw tonight,” Carter pointed out. “Started fifth (in the Heat Race), drove to second, and finally got lucky on the invert so we started outside pole. Good clean racing for everybody and I’m going to savor this one a lot.”
Jacksonville, FL’s Derike Bennett finished second after racing close behind Carter for all 25 laps. 2022 Volusia 604 Late Model champion Joe Kump completed the podium after starting the Feature in sixth place. Deland, FL’s Tuck Trentham finished fourth, giving him a well-earned top-five finish to start the season. Rounding out the top five in the Feature was Glen St. Mary, FL’s Brandon Wells.
604 Late Models Feature 25 Laps | 00:21:47.251
- 5-Dustin Carter; 2. 41-Derike Bennett; 3. 721-Joe Kump; 4. 54T-Tuck Trentham; 5. 39W-Brandon Wells; 6. 07-David Clegg; 7. 88F-DJ Farr Jr; 8. (DNF) 23K-Korbin Minchew; 9. (DNF) 3-Josh Sanford; 10. (DNF) 23L-Lawton Minchew; 11. (DNF) 15M-Chris Meyer; 12. (DNF) RP1-William Rose; 13. (DNF) 75-Sonny Thompson; 14. (DNF) 16-Brandon Dewitt; 15. (DNF) 42-Steven Stratton Sr; 16. (DNF) 30-Steven Stratton JR; 17. (DNF) 10-David Crews; 18. (DNS) 25C-Donnie Chappell
Chris Olmstead also saw his fight through adversities pay off Saturday night by winning his first points paying race.
The Deland, FL driver, who won his first race at last December’s Battle in Barberville, started the race in fourth. Slowly making up ground towards the lead, he battled with Orange City, FL’s Wade Olmsted for the top spot, eventually grabbing it after multiple laps of side-by-side action.
From that point on, Olmstead set sail with clear dirt ahead of him, besting Wade and a hard-charging Dustin Peterson to win the 3/4 Modified Feature.
“I really wanted to get this win with the first race in the books,” Olmstead said. “(I wanted) a good start in the points because it will be a long season and you have to grind it out.”
Seventeen cars made the trip to Volusia Speedway Park on Saturday, marking it as the most attended race in the division’s history.
“This class is really stout,” Olmstead said. “Before the first race, I was saying that we could have eight or nine drivers winning every week, and it was so much fun out there. Racing with Wade (Olmsted) was fun, and I could hear Dustin (Peterson) closing in the whole race. Thanks to Flying Hilbilly Racing, Tad and Wade (Olmsted), my wife for helping make all this come true and everyone that puts a part to make this happen.”
Peterson, from DeLeon Springs, FL, took home second place after making his way up the field from a ninth-place starting spot. Wade Olmsted grabbed third after fiercely competing with Olmstead and Peterson throughout the night. Port Orange, FL’s Jesse Powers was the hard charger of the Feature, going from last to fourth in the Feature. Orange City, FL’s Rusty Young completed the top five in what was an eventful Feature to kick off the 3/4 Modifieds season.
3/4 Modifieds Feature 15 Laps | 00:21:09.860
- 7-Chris Olmstead; 2. 51-Dustin Peterson; 3. 99-Wade Olmsted; 4. 32P-Jesse Powers; 5. 48-Rusty Young; 6. 26-Timmy Hogan; 7. 59-Nathyn Hwan; 8. 0-Matt Hodges; 9. 7T-Thomas Belkey; 10. 1-CR Hill; 11. (DNF) 88F-Aidan Foley; 12. (DNF) 26L-Colton Lane; 13. (DNF) 27-Steven Powers; 14. (DNF) 57-Ethyn Hwan; 15. (DNF) H1-Dalton Hopke; 16. (DNF) 3X-Scott Durlin; 17. (DNS) 14-Austin Culver; 18. (DNS) 67-Tad Olmsted
Pick Your Part Street Stocks
Saturday began a new era for the Street Stocks, with Pick Your Part joining as the title sponsor for the division in 2023.
Dade City, FL’s Jimmy Wagner led from the start to the finish of the 20-lap Feature, earning his second win at Volusia Speedway Park in 2023.
The driver of the #17W had an emotional Victory Lane, dedicating the win to a close friend who had passed away the day before.
“I had a good buddy of mine pass away yesterday,” Wagner said. “I told his son when I found out that I was going to win (this Feature) for him. I know he’s up there looking down, and I drove with a mission tonight.”
Second place went to Palatka, FL’s Jerrid Bennett, who stayed close behind Wagner throughout the Feature. Third place belonged to Miami, FL’s Bruce Griffin, the 2022 Volusia Pick Your Part Street Stocks champion. Completing the top five was Okeechobee, FL’s David McCormack, and Ft. Lauderdale, FL’s Rick O’Steen.
Pick Your Part Street Stocks Feature 20 Laps | 00:18:07.307
- 17W-Jimmy Wagner; 2. 12-Jerrid Bennett; 3. 72-Bruce Griffin; 4. 26M-David McCormack; 5. 7R-Rick O’Steen; 6. 34-Heath Dorn; 7. 63-Chris Lawrence; 8. (DNF) 44-Tim Powers; 9. (DNF) 17-Alan Peacock; 10. (DNF) 9-Gavin VanHoose; 11. (DNF) 94-Bubba Christian; 12. (DNF) 46-Chris Mathis; 13. (DNF) 119-Joe Belkey; 14. (DNS) Y7-Zach Yakaboski; 15. (DNS) 4-Adam Vogel
New season, new challengers. That would be the motto to describe the 20-lap Thunder Stocks Feature from Saturday night.
Tommy Hill, making his first start at Volusia Speedway Park, won his first Feature in exciting fashion.
Hill, hailing from Clewiston, FL, started from the outside of the front row, grabbing the lead by the end of the first lap. From then on, he had to fend off familiar faces like Tanner Thomas, Ron Adams, and Travis Staats to earn his place in Victory Lane.
“I’ve came here maybe 20 years,” Hill said. “Haven’t got a lot of laps here and a lot more heartbreak than anything else. Led laps, won Heats, but never a Feature. I’m four hours from (Volusia) and this (win) made it all worthwhile.”
Oviedo, FL’s Tanner Thomas finished a close second place after battling Hill for the top spot for the entire Feature. Thomas lurked behind, waiting for his prey to fumble. That would never come to be.
Daytona Beach, FL’s Adams finished third after having to fend for his position throughout the Feature. A podium will make a good start for a championship run if he continues to be a threat like he was on Saturday. Fourth went to Umatilla, FL’s Staats, who drove in his father, Charlie Staats’, #9AR Thunder Stock. Geneva, FL’s Charles King, made up the top five with his fifth-place finish.
Thunder Stocks Feature 20 Laps | 00:18:51.164
- 5H-Tommy Hill; 2. 1-Tanner Thomas; 3. 118-Ron Adams; 4. 9AR T-Travis Staats; 5. 38-Charles King; 6. 00-Shaun Daugharty; 7. 44X-Daniel Baldwin; 8. 20K-Kyle Peters; 9. 69-Derrick Wood; 10. 118S-Donald Springer; 11. 73-David Szczepanik; 12. 10S-Ronnie Scarberry; 13. 721-John Bennett; 14. 27-Jordan Strickland; 15. (DNF) 2-Dalton Strehle; 16. (DNF) 20-Justin Reynolds; 17. (DNF) 70D-Charlie Stone
The return of the Gladiators was worth the wait as the 15-lap Feature became a paint-trading brawl across the field.
In the end, St. Augustine, FL’s Chuck Frater returned to Victory Lane after competing for the win with Brandon Gaither and a hornets’ nest of Gladiators around him to the end.
“We just got this (Gladiator) together this week,” Frater said. “It was a lot of fun, we were getting together with (Gaither), so I was more upset with our new car being doored, but I don’t think he meant to do it on purpose. It was good, fun racing, and thanks to everyone that helps out with me and this team.”
The driver Frater mentioned, New Symrna Beach, FL’s Brandon Gaither, was the one that had him running for his money, racing side-by-side and tapping doors while fighting for the win. Gaither blew a tire on the last lap, but a third-place finish and his competitive efforts made the Gladiators Feature worth the return.
Finishing second was Pierson, FL’s Nathan Rhoades, who competed close by Frater and Gaither when the racing got close. Completing the night’s top five were Orange City, FL’s CJ Creech, and Hudson, FL’s Mike Budka Jr.
Gladiators Feature 15 Laps | 00:11:56.693
- 46-Chuck Frater; 2. 2-Nathan Rhoades; 3. 81X-Brandon Gaither; 4. 27-CJ Creech; 5. 64-Mike Budka Jr; 6. X11-James Strehle; 7. 96-Chris Ridley; 8. (DNF) 164-Dalton Strehle; 9. (DNF) 8-Earl Brown; 10. (DNS) 15H-Dustin Higdon
The next race at the World’s Fastest Half Mile will be the Month of Money – Race 3 on Saturday, April 22. It will feature 604 Late Models, 602 Late Models, 3/4 Modifieds, the Pick Your Part Street Stocks, and a $1,500 to win Thunder Stocks Feature. General Admission tickets start at $12, and kids 12 and under receive free admission. Gates will open at 4:00 PM, with Hot Laps at 6:00 PM. For more information on the next race and other events held at the track, visit VolusiaSpeedwayPark.com
Can’t make it to the track? You can also watch all the action live on DIRTVision. Coverage starts with Hot Laps at 6:00 PM. Head to their site at DIRTVision.com – on your mobile device or your TV.
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.