Darrell Lanigan

BLUE COLLAR MAN: Erb grabs first DIRTcar Nationals Gator at Volusia

Dennis Erb Jr. wins at Volusia

NASCAR Cup Series Champion Alan Kulwicki once said, “In every aspect of life, have a game plan and do your best to achieve it.”

Dennis Erb Jr. knew he had to master Turns 1 and 2 if he wanted a gator. He wasted no time executing hisgame plan, thundering past Frank Heckenast Jr. in the middle of the Volusia Speedway Park surface.

It’s a lead he’d never relinquish—fending off challenges from Brandon Sheppard and Chase Junghans to score his first World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models win of 2022 Friday night at DIRTcar Nationals.

“I mean, we were able to get the lead and roll off through that middle on the start,” Erb said. “We kept going real good and had a good start. After that, the car was working good, and we just had to keep hitting our marks and keep the rest of them behind us.”

The path toward his 10th career Series triumph in his 250th start wasn’t clear for the Late Model veteran. Erb and defending champion Brandon Sheppard gave the fans at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” an epic battle for the lead around the Feature’s halfway point.

The reigning champion swung high while Erb held his ground on the bottom, gaining enough momentum to pull ahead as a caution came out on Lap 25.

“I saw him out there and started to get a little worried,” Erb said. “I started to try and carry a little more speed through [Turns} 1 and 2. I knew [Sheppard] was pretty much committed up there, so I knew if I could beat him on the bottom, we were in pretty good shape.”

Sheppard faded to fourth at the checkered flag. The four-time Series champion stated he stayed on the top side of the racetrack for too long after Erb pulled away.

“[Erb] was swinging out a little bit wider after he knew I was there,” Sheppard said. “I stayed out there a little bit too long after he got out there ahead of me. I should’ve moved down behind him and kept my left rear tire underneath me.

“Instead, I stayed a little too long, and then I overheated it. I was trying to move around, and it wasn’t as good. After a couple of guys got by me, I was able to get down there and cool my left rear tire off, and I drove back to them.”

Sheppard wasn’t the only driver who tried to dethrone Erb from the lead. Chase Junghans quickly closed on the top spot in the final laps but fell short.

The Manhattan, KS driver used patience early in the race before unleashing speed toward the end.

“I just bided my time and tried not to blow my tires off this thing and keep it under me,” Junghans said. “Those lap cars kind of got in the way at the end, but that’s how it goes. Luckily, we’re just up here getting interviewed.”

Once Junghans saw Sheppard’s line ahead of him, his decision to go to the outside paid off, leading to his first podium finish of the season.

“I saw Sheppard running the top, and I was like kind of pinching the corner on the bottom,” Junghans said. “So, I said screw it, I’ll go up there, and kind of follow him. I chose his line a little bit, but I’d kind of turn off the top and try to drive straight down the hill, and it seemed like that’s where I’d gain a bunch of ground.”

Three-time Series Champion Darrell Lanigan finished third for the second straight night. The Union, KY driver’s car came to life in the final 15 laps, leading him to another top three.

“We just gave it all we got,” Lanigan said. “We had a little bit of a chance there, and it was coming back to us a little bit. We just got up on the wheel and tried to make something happen.

“I just can’t run where I want to on the racetrack yet, and if we get our car right, I think we’ll be able to run up front.”

Dale McDowell, the leading World of Outlaws CASE Late Models winner in 2022, rounded out the top five.

Dennis Erb Jr.’s game plan worked to perfection Friday night, proving a good start can lead to glory on the racetrack. It’s a start that could position him toward a run at a championship at the end of the season.

UP NEXT: The battle for the “Big Gator” trophy ends Saturday night at Volusia Speedway Park in a 40 lap, $10,000-to-win finale. For Tickets: CLICK HERE. The Super DIRTcar Series will hand out a “Big Gator.”

Devin Moran leads the DIRTcar Nationals standings—37 points ahead of Chris Madden. McDowell and Sheppard are tied for third—54 points behind Moran.

Madden is currently the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models point leader—10 points ahead of Dale McDowell.

CASE Construction Feature (40 Laps): 1. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[2]; 2. 18-Chase Junghans[7]; 3. 29-Darrell Lanigan[4]; 4. 1-Brandon Sheppard[5]; 5. 17M-Dale McDowell[6]; 6. 44-Chris Madden[8]; 7. 16-Tyler Bruening[9]; 8. 71-Hudson O’Neal[17]; 9. 25-Shane Clanton[14]; 10. 9-Devin Moran[20]; 11. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr[1]; 12. 81E-Tanner English[11]; 13. 6-Nick Hoffman[22]; 14. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[18]; 15. 11-Gordy Gundaker[30]; 16. 157-Mike Marlar[13]; 17. 111V-Max Blair[21]; 18. 99B-Boom Briggs[26]; 19. 1R-Josh Richards[27]; 20. 45-Kyle Hammer[29]; 21. 89-Ashton Winger[10]; 22. 46-Earl Pearson Jr[16]; 23. 3S-Brian Shirley[23]; 24. 25B-Mike Benedum[15]; 25. B1-Brent Larson[28]; 26. 11H-Spencer Hughes[12]; 27. 10-Garrett Smith[24]; 28. 76-Brandon Overton[3]; 29. 33M-Michael Norris[19]; 30. 19R-Ryan Gustin[25] FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Gordy Gundaker [+15]

RETURN OF THE MAC: McDowell scores second World of Outlaws win of 2022 at Volusia

Dale McDowell wins at Volusia

Devin Moran grabs fourth straight podium finish, leads Big Gator points

Only one word describes Dale McDowell’s 2022 season—emotional.

Less than a month after the Chickamauga, GA driver opened the season with a win at Sunshine Nationals, he backed it up with another one Thursday night at Volusia Speedway Park.

McDowell outran Devin Moran and Darrell Lanigan in the final 10 laps to earn his first Gator trophy since 2018. Tears fell from the “Mac Daddy’s” eyes in Victory Lane, at a loss for words for his recent accomplishments—including his triumph against cancer.

“We came down here in January to see if we were worthy of coming back, and it’s been a dream come true,” McDowell said.

The veteran driver earned a $10,000 check and his 14th career World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series win, tying him for 14th all-time with Tim Fuller.

Despite his success in 2022, it’s a position McDowell never thought he’d be in after his off-track battle.

“I’ve been through a lot, and I have a lot of help behind me and support,” McDowell said. “It’s pretty emotional because I’ve been through a good bit, but I’m just happy to be here.”

While McDowell held the lead in the final 21 laps, Rookie of the Year contender Kyle Hammer led the first 19.

The Clinton, IL driver lost the lead to McDowell on a Lap 20 restart and dropped back to fifth before spinning in Turns 3 and 4, ending his night.

Even though he finished 27th, Hammer gained a boost of confidence racing against some of the top Late Model drivers in the country.

“We started really bad here in the beginning of the week,” Hammer said. “So, to be able to come where we were to here is just awesome for our team, a huge confidence booster.

“I feel like we actually know what we’re doing in the slick now.”

Devin Moran crossed the line second, earning his fourth DIRTcar Nationals podium. The “Mailman” leads the battle for a “Big Gator” trophy but wants a little gator to go with it. He stated he needed to start closer to the front to do that.

“We found some stuff in our Heat Race, and I felt like we were really, really good,” Moran said. “We’ll put that in our Qualifying setup tomorrow and hopefully start on the front row of the [Heat Race], and maybe we can start up front in one of these Features.

“We may not have passed the best car, but we’ve passed plenty of cars this week. We’ll just keep after it.”

Darrell Lanigan crossed the line third after starting 12th. The three-time Series champion stated he’s improving each night, especially in his ability to drive through the field.

“We’ve got our car close now,” Lanigan said. “It’s pretty balanced when we can drive in traffic.”

Chris Madden finished fourth, adding to his Series points lead—12 points ahead of McDowell. It’s the Gray Court, SC driver’s third top-five in four races. And 2021 World of Outlaws CASE Late Models Rookie of the Year Tyler Bruening rounded out the top five.

Dale McDowell’s 2022 season has been an emotional ride he never expected. “The Mac Daddy” is taking things one race at a time, embracing every win as it comes.

“I’m just completely blessed,” McDowell said.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models return to Volusia Speedway Park for another day of action at DIRTcar Nationals along with the Super DIRTcar Series. For Tickets: CLICK HERE.

CASE Construction Equipment Feature (40 Laps): 1. 17M-Dale McDowell[4]; 2. 9-Devin Moran[9]; 3. 29-Darrell Lanigan[12]; 4. 44-Chris Madden[3]; 5. 16-Tyler Bruening[18]; 6. 58-Mark Whitener[5]; 7. 89-Ashton Winger[14]; 8. 81E-Tanner English[13]; 9. 1-Brandon Sheppard[15]; 10. 40B-Kyle Bronson[23]; 11. 39-Tim McCreadie[11]; 12. 157-Mike Marlar[17]; 13. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[16]; 14. 111V-Max Blair[29]; 15. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[6]; 16. 25-Shane Clanton[20]; 17. 18-Chase Junghans[24]; 18. 11H-Spencer Hughes[21]; 19. B1-Brent Larson[27]; 20. 1R-Josh Richards[30]; 21. 99B-Boom Briggs[26]; 22. 46-Earl Pearson Jr[22]; 23. 11-Gordy Gundaker[28]; 24. 8-Kyle Strickler[7]; 25. 19R-Ryan Gustin[25]; 26. 10-Garrett Smith[10]; 27. 45-Kyle Hammer[2]; 28. 76N-Blair Nothdurft[8]; 29. 32-Chris Simpson[19]; 30. 76-Brandon Overton[1] FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER AWARD: Max Blair [+15]

SEXY SURVIVAL: Overton Holds on for Second Career DIRTcar Nationals win

Brandon Overton wins at Volusia Speedway Park

The Evans, GA driver passed Dale McDowell on a restart en route to his 19th career World of Outlaws Win

Brandon Overton’s clock was ticking Wednesday night.

As the laps wound down at Volusia Speedway Park, so did the life of the engine inside his Longhorn Chassis.

Luckily for “Big Sexy,” his clock didn’t strike midnight. The engine held up long enough to take the checkered flag for his second career DIRTcar Nationals win.

Overton wasn’t sure he’d make it to the end in the last few laps—holding his breath and hoping the engine stayed together. All of this while Devin Moran lurked behind him.

“I was looking, and I could see it smoking, and I knew it’s got to be over pretty soon,” Overton said. “I was just getting it so tight down there I was just holding it to the floor. I could tell it was dying; it was just muffling out.

“Hell, there ain’t nothing you can do; it’s already done its damage.”

Before the engine started to blow, Overton’s car came to life in the second half of the race. The Evans, GA driver, took advantage of a caution for then race-leader Kyle Strickler and powered around Dale McDowell for the top spot.

Overton put the car anywhere he wanted to, thanks to wholesale changes made to his Late Model throughout the week.

“We’ve changed everything on this thing every single night, every single Feature we’ve ran,” Overton said. “The new body rules and stuff kind of has us in a little box, and we just got to figure it out.

“I had a pretty good package with the way everything was, and it changed a little bit. We just have to keep working; that’s what makes this fun.”

The DIRTcar Nationals win is Overton’s 19th World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series triumph—tying him with Jimmy Owens. It’s a win that may not have happened without Kyle Strickler’s lousy luck.

The Mooresville, NC driver dropped out while leading with 25 laps to go. He stated it was a problem his team found on Tuesday—one they hoped to fix before the Feature.

“We had drivetrain issues [Tuesday],” Strickler said. “The yoke pulled off the rear end, but everything felt good today. I thought we had a really good car and broke a lower jackshaft in the rear-end.

“I’m not sure if it had to do with last night or not, but the car was good and it’s just part of it.”

Devin Moran continued his hot streak to start the season, scoring his third trip to the DIRTcar Nationals podium with a second-place finish.

The Dresden, OH driver stated he thought he had a shot at winning before he saw Overton’s engine start to expire.

“I felt like I was catching him before that,” Moran said. “I don’t know if it’s because his engine was getting worse and worse.

“I wasn’t going to slide him in Turns 3 and 4 because I knew I was too far back. But I wanted to at least run a different line if he did blow up.”

Moran’s consistency puts him on a path toward his second straight “Big Gator” trophy—as he leads the week-long standings on the strength of three podiums.

Reigning Series Champion Brandon Sheppard passed more cars than anyone Wednesday, earning the Fox Factory Hard Charger award. “The Rocket Shepp” crossed the line third after switching to a backup car and starting 25th.

After he didn’t qualify through his Heat Race, the Rocket1 Racing team decided to switch cars—one that paid off.

“My team just comes thru in tough times like we had today,” Sheppard said. “It was really just a mutual agreement to switch cars, and it worked out. All of our cars are good. We were just missing something on that other one.”

Hudson O’Neal finished fourth, his second top-five finish of the season. Three-time Series champion Darrell Lanigan rounded out the top five.

Brandon Overton didn’t only win a “Gator,” but a race against time. It shows the clock hasn’t struck midnight on Overton’s success against the best Dirt Late Model racing has to offer.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series returns to Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 17 for their second night of DIRTcar Nationals, along with the Super DIRTcar Series. For tickets to the event: CLICK HERE.

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

CASE Construction Feature (40 Laps): 1. 76-Brandon Overton[8]; 2. 9-Devin Moran[9]; 3. 1-Brandon Sheppard[25]; 4. 71-Hudson O’Neal[7]; 5. 29-Darrell Lanigan[4]; 6. 44-Chris Madden[2]; 7. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr[13]; 8. 1R-Josh Richards[27]; 9. 81E-Tanner English[18]; 10. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[6]; 11. 1T-Tyler Erb[23]; 12. 44B-Colten Burdette[15]; 13. 111V-Max Blair[20]; 14. 16-Tyler Bruening[21]; 15. B1-Brent Larson[12]; 16. 6S-Blake Spencer[22]; 17. 11-Gordy Gundaker[14]; 18. 99B-Boom Briggs[28]; 19. 14M-Morgan Bagley[29]; 20. 39-Tim McCreadie[11]; 21. 17M-Dale McDowell[5]; 22. 10-Garrett Smith[10]; 23. 45-Kyle Hammer[30]; 24. 89-Ashton Winger[16]; 25. 3S-Brian Shirley[17]; 26. 8-Kyle Strickler[1]; 27. 25-Shane Clanton[24]; 28. 157-Mike Marlar[3]; 29. 97-Cade Dillard[19]; 30. 19R-Ryan Gustin[26] Fox Factory Hard Charger Award: Brandon Sheppard [+22}.