Brad Sweet

GATOR CHASING: World of Outlaws Prepare for Season Opening DIRTcar Nationals

After an agonizing 96-day off-season, The Greatest Show on Dirt is ready to roar back to life.

For the 18th consecutive year, Barberville, FL’s Volusia Speedway Park will host the season opener for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series. Running alongside the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds, the Series will compete at the half-mile over three nights from Thursday, February 10 to Saturday, February 12.

The World of Outlaws serves as the headlining portion of the six-night “Sprint Week” at the 51st DIRTcar Nationals, which also includes a practice night on Monday, February 7, and then two nights of the All Star Circuit of Champions on Tuesday & Wednesday, February 8-9.

BUY TICKETS HERE

Volusia’s three-night affair marks the official kick-off to a near 90-race slate for the World of Outlaws, as Ted Johnson’s creation enters the 45th season of competition in 2022. The Series is scheduled to appear at 45 tracks in 24 states this year, and it all starts with the lone trip to Florida in February.

With 48 previous appearances dating back to a wingless debut in 1981, Volusia Speedway Park is set to become the 16th track in history to host 50+ World of Outlaws Sprint Car events next month. Over that span, 18 different drivers have graced Volusia victory lane with eight of them scoring multiple wins.

The biggest target heading into the new year is obviously Brad Sweet and Kasey Kahne Racing, who will chase their fourth consecutive championship in 2022. The Big Cat owns eight total DIRTcar Nationals victories with six of them under the World of Outlaws banner, meaning a victory next month would make Volusia the winningest track of his 74-win career.

One of Sweet’s toughest title contenders will be Donny Schatz aboard the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #15 as he chases an 11th Series championship. The Fargo, ND native eclipsed 300 wins last year, led the points over the final 40 races, and enters 2022 with newfound momentum following an off-season of change in the TSR camp. He’s won a whopping 21 DIRTcar Nationals races with 13 of them coming with the Outlaws, making Volusia one of seven tracks with double-digit wins for Schatz.

Year two combinations David Gravel & Big Game Motorsports and Carson Macedo & Jason Johnson Racing will be aiming high following a stellar debut season in 2021. Gravel, of Watertown, CT, is a former DIRTcar Nationals winner with the All Stars, but still chases his first World of Outlaws win in Volusia as he & Crew Chief Cody Jacobs hope to kickstart their championship bid on top. For Macedo, the Lemoore, CA native enters as the defending Volusia winner following an incredible 10th-to-1st drive last March with ace Phil Dietz on the wrenches.

Both Shark Racing boys are locked and loaded for their ninth season with The Greatest Show on Dirt this year. Logan Schuchart has a fresh new scheme on the #1S and enters next month as the defending DIRTcar Nationals champion with another Big Gator Championship on his mind. Meanwhile, fan-favorite Jacob Allen has a fresh outlook and will run the Bobby Allen throwback scheme for all of 2022.

A trip to Volusia means returning to the site of Sheldon Haudenschild’s first-career victory, which came during the 2018 DIRTcar Nationals. Since then, the Wooster, OH native has climbed up the charts with 22 career victories, leaving him exactly 50 shy of his now retired and Hall of Fame father Jac Haudenschild. Lil’ Haud is back for his fifth season with Stenhouse Jr. Marshall Racing, vying for his first double-digit win campaign with Kyle Ripper still calling the shots on the NOS Energy Drink #17.

Kasey Kahne, who will fulfill a lifelong dream of competing full-time with the World of Outlaws in 2022, debuts the Karavan Trailers, FuelMe #9 two weeks from now. Although he still pursues his first-career Outlaws victory, Kahne is a previous winner at Volusia’s DIRTcar Nationals with a 2002 All Stars victory. He’ll be among three Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contenders this season.

Joining Kahne in the Rooke of the Year race is 23-year-old Spencer Bayston of Lebanon, IN aboard the CJB Motorsports #5 and 18-year-old Noah Gass of Mounds, OK in the family-owned #20G.

Veterans Jason Sides of Bartlett, TN and Kraig Kinser of Bloomington, IN will both return full-time with the Series in 2022. The #7S and #11K round out the crop of nine full-timers with winning experience at the Volusia half-mile.

Sophomore runners James McFadden of Alice Springs, NT and Brock Zearfoss of Jonestown, PA are both back for a second swing at the full World of Outlaws season. McFadden enters a new situation driving the Roth Motorsports #83, while Zearfoss remains aboard the family-owned #3Z.

All 14 of these stars will be on hand at Volusia Speedway Park to open the grueling World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car schedule when The Greatest Show on Dirt takes over at DIRTcar Nationals on February 10-12.

Fans can BUY TICKETS HERE, or watch every lap LIVE on DIRTVision.

World of Outlaws, DIRTcar set to take over Florida Feb. 7-19 for DIRTcar Nationals

Sprint Cars, UMP Modifieds, Late Models and Big Block Modifieds stars return for Big Gator championships

In less than two months, more than a hundred of the best drivers in the world will venture to Volusia Speedway Park in search of eastern Florida’s rare golden gator.

However, the only way to capture it… win the 51st DIRTcar Nationals.

Four divisions of race cars, six series between them, will commune at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” Feb. 7-19, to compete in their own Big Gator championships with big checks and unique gator trophies on the line each race.

DIRTcar UMP Modifieds (Feb. 7-12)
With the 51st DIRTcar Nationals starting a day earlier in 2022, that presented the opportunity for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds to have a full week of non-stop action. They’ll kick off the event on Monday as part of their six straight days of racing action. The division’s traditional “All-Features” night will be on Thursday, Feb. 10, with split fields competing on Friday, Feb. 11. The Gator Championship will be on Saturday, Feb. 12.

Attracting more than 100 cars last year, the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds field includes superstars like multi-time champion Nick Hoffman, multi-time DIRTcar Nationals winner Kyle Strickler, and a plethora of current and former NASCAR stars like Justin Allgaier, Kenny Wallace, David Reutimann, David Stremme, Matt Crafton, Justin Haley and Kenny Schrader.

All Star Circuit of Champions (Feb. 8-9)
The two days of All Star Circuit of Champions racing will kick off the Sprint Car Big Gator Championship for the week, featuring the series’ regulars like 2021 All Star champion Tyler Courtney, Cory Eliason, Kevin Thomas Jr. and more, along with several World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series stars. The All Stars have competed during DIRTcar Nationals for 30 years with the first race in 1983.

For the past two years, the winner of the opening All Star race went on to win the overall Big Gator Championship. In 2020 that was Brad Sweet and in 2021 it was Logan Schuchart.

World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars (Feb. 10-12)
For the 17th consecutive year, the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series will commence its epic year-long season at Volusia Speedway Park during the DIRTcar Nationals. Bringing together the best Sprint Car drivers in the country, the three days of racing have produced some of the most exciting shows from late race passes to intense multi-car battles.

Three-time and defending World of Outlaws champion Brad Sweet, started his last two championship runs by winning the Outlaws’ opening night at Volusia. To do so again in 2022, he’ll have to compete against one of the most competitive fields of drivers in Series history, including 10-time Series champion Donny Schatz, 2021 championship rival David Gravel, 2021 Rookie of the Year James McFadden, 2021 Big Gator champion Logan Schuchart, rising young-guns Carson Macedo and Sheldon Haudenschild and many more.

Super DIRTcar Series (Feb. 14-19)
The most elite Big Block Modified drivers in the country will escape the cold of the northeast for six days of on-track action at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. It’ll be the 24th consecutive year the Series has ventured to Volusia. Monday, Feb. 14, will be a practice day for the drivers before the 2022 Super DIRTcar Series season starts on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

With the five races not serving as points events, it allows the field of drivers to run as hard as they want and throw caution to the wind. That produced three different winners in a row last year with NASCAR Truck Series star Stewart Friesen, Michael Maresca and 2021 Big Gator champion Max McLaughlin. Those drivers, along with eight-time and defending Series champion Matt Sheppard, 2019 Series champion Mat Williamson and Australia’s Peter Britten, will be vying for the iconic golden gator trophy again.

DIRTcar Late Models (Feb. 14-15)
Like the Sprint Cars, the chase for the Late Model Big Gator Championship will be split between two series – the DIRTcar Late Models and the World of Outlaws Late Models. However, fans will still get to see the same caliber of drivers between both series like four-time and defending World of Outlaws champion Brandon Sheppard, 2006 World of Outlaws champion Tim McCreadie, 2021 Summer Nationals champion Bobby Pierce, Florida’s Kyle Bronson, 2021 Big Gator champion Devin Moran, 2021 crown jewel king Brandon Overton and many more.

In 2021, McCreadie picked up his sixth DIRTcar Late Model victory at Volusia, while Pierce picked up his first. Overall, in the 19 years of the DIRTcar Late Models competing at Volusia, there have been 28 different winners.

World of Outlaws Late Models (Feb. 16-19)
Volusia Speedway Park will be the home for the World of Outlaws Late Models in January and February with the season-opening Sunshine Nationals, Jan. 20-22, and then four days of racing during the DIRTcar Nationals to wrap up the Late Model Big Gator Championship. The seven days of Florida racing will set the stage for the Series’ 2022 championship and showcase the stout 2022 class of drivers, including the exciting rookie contenders Max Blair and Kyle Hammer.

Brandon Sheppard tied Josh Richards for the most championships in 2021 when he picked up his fourth title. In 2022, he’ll be on the hunt to surpass that and beat Richards’s win record. Richards currently holds the most wins with 78 and Sheppard has 77. Volusia could see him break that record with Sheppard having won six World of Outlaws races in a row at the track from 2018 to 2020.

For tickets to the 2022 DIRTcar Nationals, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch the DIRTcar Nationals live on DIRTVision – either online or with the DIRTVision App.

TOP 50 DRIVERS: 50 years of elite DIRTcar Nationals drivers

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. In that time, hundreds of talented drivers have entered Volusia County, attempting to leave a winner. Many have. More are still trying.

From Sprint Cars to Late Models to Modifieds to Big Blocks, Volusia and the DIRTcar Nationals has served as one of the best time capsules for all of dirt racing. For the 50th year of the event, we went through the long list of drivers that have competed for the coveted DIRTcar Nationals championship title and picked 50 of the best to ever grace the clay surface.

These are the top-50 drivers of the DIRTcar Nationals in alphabetical order:

Steve Arpin

 

 

Dave Blaney

Scott Bloomquist

 

 

Kenny Brightbill

 

 

Clint Bowyer

 

 

Shane Clanton

 

 

Austin Dillon

 

Ty Dillon

 

 

Craig Dollansky

 

 

Rick Eckert

Steve Francis

 

Stewart Friesen

 

 

Tim Fuller

 

 

David Gravel

 

Brett Hearn

 

Doug Hoffman

 

 

Nick Hoffman

 

 

Jimmy Horton

 

 

Kenny Jacobs

 

Alan Johnson

 

Danny Johnson

 

 

Jack Johnson

 

 

Jared Landers

 

Steve Kinser

 

 

Darrell Lanigan

 

 

Danny Lasoski

 

 

Chris Madden

 

Tim McCreadie

 

Billy Moyer, Sr.

 

Don O’Neal

 

 

Jimmy Owens

 

Billy Pauch

 

 

Earl Pearson, Jr.

 

Daryn Pittman

 

Josh Richards

 

Brian Ruhlman

 

Joey Saldana

 

Donny Schatz

 

Kenny Schrader

 

Jeff Shepard

 

Brandon Sheppard

 

 

Matt Sheppard

 

David Stremme

 

Kyle Strickler

 

Brad Sweet

 

Sammy Swindell

 

Kenny Wallace

 

Pat Ward

 

 

Larry Wight

 

 

Doug Wolfgang

GATOR COLLECTOR: Kasey Kahne relishes Volusia success as owner, driver

Florida has been kind to Kasey Kahne.

You might recall his two wins at Daytona International Speedway – during a NASCAR Duel race in 2010 or his Xfinity Series win in 2014. But 20 miles East of the famed track is where the three-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion car owner has collected the most trophies in the sunshine state.

That track is Volusia Speedway Park, in Barberville, FL – which will host the 50th DIRTcar Nationals Feb. 2-13.

Kahne, the driver, has one win at the half-mile track in 2002 with the All Star Circuit of Champions. Kahne, the car owner, has six DIRTcar Nationals championships and 13 wins overall at Volusia – between drivers Brad Sweet, Daryn Pittman and Joey Saldana.

Kasey Kahne strapped in his car at Knoxville Raceway / Trent Gower photo

“I’ve always liked Volusia,” Kahne said. “I’ve always liked watching the racing there and driving when I’ve been able to race there. [Kasey Kahne Racing] has won a lot of races over the years down there. It’s fun to have a lot of gators (trophies) and be in Victory Lane down there. It’s a neat place to start the season for sure.”

The day after his win in 2002, Kahne made the overnight drive to North Carolina to test a then NASCAR Bush Series car at Rockingham Speedway in preparation to start his NASCAR career. Three years later, Kasey Kahne Racing was formed.

When he first started the team, while there were always aspirations for wins and championships, Kahne just wanted to provide his team with the best equipment he could and be there for them as an owner. That’s led to three World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championships and 185 Series victories.

“I always just wanted to watch the guys go and watch them win,” Kahne said. “Give them the best opportunity I could from an owner’s standpoint and see what they do with it. Over the last few years, they’ve done a lot. It’s been a lot of fun, whether I was watching on DIRTVision, which I did, I don’t know how many hundreds of races. Now, to be at more of them and watch their success, it feels good to be a part of that. Winning never seems to get old. We want to do a lot more of it from both teams.”

Both KKR cars – the #49 of Brad Sweet and the #9 of James McFadden – finish first and second in the 2020 DIRTcar Nationals points, respectively. For Sweet, Volusia Speedway Park has proved to be one of his best tracks in his tenure with the team. He has two DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator championships and seven wins overall at Volusia – five with the World of Outlaws.

“For whatever reason, it’s definitely one of my best tracks,” said Sweet, the two-time defending Series champion. “We’ve definitely struggled there in the past here and there. I think it says a lot about our guys and our race team that they bring a really fast car there every year. It’s the first week of the season and you can see the teams that haven’t meshed yet or aren’t as well prepared and the teams that have been together are going to come out of the box a little stronger. That’s going to give us an advantage. And for whatever reason, it’s been a good racetrack for me.”

The key to KKR’s success at the track stems from their offseason preparations. When the 2020 season ended, Kahne said the crew has been working in the shop all season long to get ready for 2021.

“I feel like our cars have always been good right out of the box at those types of tracks,” Kahne said. “Early in the years, our KKR cars have always been fast in the beginning of the season. For whatever reason. And I think our drivers have been good and I’ve always enjoyed racing at Volusia with Daryn and Brad and Joey.”

He’ll join Sweet on track this year at Volusia, he said, as he plans to drive the team’s #9 car when McFadden can’t.

Kasey Kahne gets to work on his #9 car / Trent Gower photo

Kahne initially had no plans to drive a Sprint Car last year, but no plans turned into one race. Then, one race turned into 11.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” Kahne said about stepping back behind the wheel. “It’s been good. Last year, I didn’t plan on doing it a whole lot but with COVID and how things worked out, I ended up doing a lot more races and liked it. I always liked being in a Sprint Car and being a part of that. I always enjoy working on the car and being with the teams and things like that. That’s been a lot of fun the last couple years, as well. We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success here recently. It’s fun to be part of it and traveling with the guys.”

After claiming another DIRTcar Nationals title and another World of Outlaws championship in 2020, Kahne is excited about the prospects of 2021 for his KKR team and kicking off the season strong at Volusia.

“I feel really good about where KKR is and where our engine program is,” he said. “I think we made some nice gains there late in the season, which will show at Volusia. I was talking with Brad and he’s ready to go. He’s always putting the work in and wants to win a lot this year. I like hearing that. The cars are coming together. The guys have been here nonstop since the season ended. Definitely, no one has backed down. It’s going to be a fun season.”

For tickets to the 50th DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, CLICK HERE.

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