David Reutimann

ALL ANGLES: Volusia’s Reutimann Memorial Set to Host National, Regional, Local Stars

Nicely preps for title defense, Stewart looks to continue reign of weekly dominance

The national points season has concluded, but one of the biggest DIRTcar UMP Modified events on the calendar still remains.

The eighth annual Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial kicks off in one week’s time – Thu-Sat, Nov. 18-20 – at Volusia Speedway Park. The nation’s best UMP Modified drivers will flock to the half-mile oval to take part in a night of practice on Thursday, followed by two nights of racing on Friday and Saturday.

Drivers will Hot Lap/Qualify to get Friday’s program started, then be divided into four separate Showdown Features. These Showdowns will take a number of transfers into Saturday’s Feature, while everyone else will file into a Last Chance Showdown. Once Last Chance Showdowns are complete on Saturday night, Feature cars will take to the track for the 50-lap, $7,000-to-win finale, live on DIRTVision.

The event is run in memory of Emil Reutimann Jr., 56, father to Dale, 17, and crew member Gordon Stone, 16. Each were killed after a collision with a drunk driver, just south of Zephyrhills, FL, on Highway 301 while traveling to a race at Golden Gate Speedway in 1973.

When the race was founded in their remembrance in 2014, the depth of its reach and prestige in the DIRTcar UMP Modified world was only a fraction of where it stands today. The growing list of local, regional and national talent that attends every year has surprised even third-generation racing veteran David Reutimann.

“I never dreamed it could get this big,” he said of the event’s growing prestige. “It started off just as a local deal.”

Reutimann in Volusia Victory Lane after winning a Feature at the 50th DIRTcar Nationals (Josh James Photo)

Reutimann won the second and third editions of the event in 2015 and 2016, when it was held at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, FL. The race moved to Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and has now made its home at Volusia – right where Reutimann had always hoped it would.

“Out of all the dirt tracks that I’ve been to – and I’ve raced a lot of dirt for a lot of years – Volusia’s by far my favorite place,” Reutimann, of Sherrills Ford, NC, said. “I always wanted it to end up at Volusia. That was kinda my vision.”

Volusia is also a favorite to defending Reutimann Memorial winner Tyler Nicely. The track was covered with new dirt for the 2021 season, which suited him well for his victorious run on the second night of competition in the 50th DIRTcar Nationals in February.

“[DIRTcar Nationals] racetrack was perfect,” Nicely said. “It got slick every night we ran on it, so hopefully it’s like that and we can stay on top.”

He debuted a new Longhorn by Loenbro chassis in the event last year and made a statement win, holding off Justin Allgaier and Nick Hoffman to capture his first farm tractor trophy.

This year is more of the same for the driver from Owensboro, KY. He’ll take another new Longhorn with him to Barberville, looking to duplicate the success he found earlier this year at DIRTcar Nationals.

Nicely in Victory Lane on night #2 of the 50th DIRTcar Nationals (Jim DenHamer Photo)

“We learned, just like when we went to Speedweeks, we just had a handful of races in on that Longhorn,” Nicely said. “We ran on the podium every night except for two, I think. I feel like we’ve learned more about the racecar and I’ve gotten better with the racecar.”

While Nicely, Hoffman and Allgaier bring the national talent, the local stars shine just as bright. Garret Stewart has won all but five points Features over the last two seasons en route to dominating consecutive track championships.

Although he enters the event as the local favorite, he has yet to reach Victory Lane in the track’s marquee events. Armed with an Elite Chassis, built by Hoffman – the three-time and defending DIRTcar national champion – Stewart’s feeling more confident than ever this season.

“I’m excited to see what we got because I feel like we’ve made gains since the last time we went to Volusia,” Stewart, of Leesburg, FL, said. “[Hoffman’s] helped me a little more this year than in years past. Hopefully that pays off.”

With pre-entries on the list including Hoffman, Nicely, Chris Arnold, Kenny Wallace and Justin Haley, Stewart knows he’s going to need to bring his A-game if he wants to beat them.

“We can’t have any mistakes the whole weekend,” Stewart said. “You’re going to have to put together Qualifying, Heat Race and a Feature. You can’t have any missteps, because those guys don’t make mistakes.”

Stewart in Victory Lane after winning the Sunshine Showdown earlier this season (Dave Shank Photo)

$7,000, a unique custom trophy and a spot in the history books of one of Florida’s most prestigious dirt track races is at stake. Stewart will have home-track advantage and a legion of his local fanbase on his side as he chases what would be the biggest win of his career.

“Any big race at Volusia is awesome,” he said. “When you get national level guys, just to run well is exciting. But if we can win it, it would be huge for our program too.”

The on-track action begins with practice on Thursday, followed by racing on Friday and Saturday. If you can’t be at the track, stream every lap of Friday and Saturday live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.

The Dennis North Memorial

Saturday night was a night filled with first wins, great racing, and much more. The night celebrated the memory of Dennis North as well as the birthday of Buzzie Reutimann. Emotions always run high on race day, and this day would be no exception. From tears to cheers, we saw it all.

The 604 Late Models kicked off the night with a 20-lap feature event and $1000 on the line to the winner. The race was littered with cautions early as drivers sorted out positions on the track. Joe Kump started on the pole and led until lap five when Johnny Collins used the outside line to take the lead. Kump suffered a flat right rear tire and fell out of contention while Mikey Kopka moved up to second and Branden Wells to third. The race finished under a long green flag run and the order would stay the same with Collins grabbing the win.

The DIRTcar UMP Modifieds were also running for $1000-to-win on the night with fan favorite Garret Stewart starting deep in the field after suffering a flat right front in the heat race. Buzzie Reutimann started pole fresh off of his 80th birthday party with son David starting outside second row. David Reutimann quickly assumed the lead, never looking back and taking the win. Garret Stewart worked his through the field to finish second, and Seth Geary rounded out the top three.

The Street Stocks brought 19 cars to Volusia Speedway Park on Saturday night for what would turn out to be one for the history books. Chris Lawrance started pole and led flag-to-flag holding off early race challenges from David Showers Jr and later challenges from Tim Gay. With the win Lawrance joined an elite group of drivers able to claim a win at Volusia when it was asphalt as well as on the dirt. Gay took home second, Showers Jr third, and Bubba Christian rounded out the top four.

Wryan Shaffer and Korbin Minchew led the 15-car  ¾ Modified field to the green on Saturday night. Wade Olmsted quickly found his way from tenth to first, but a mid-race caution gave Timmy Hogan a shot at the lead and he made the most of it scoring his first win at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Olmsted held onto second, and Dustin Peterson brought home third.

The evening’s big event was the Dennis North Memorial, pulling in 36 entries. Tewnty-four cars took the green in the main event after a Last Chance Showdown sent 12 cars home. The 38-lap feature event was led almost exclusively by Joe Belkey, but with less than ten to go Scotty Kay Jr and Jason Garver stepped up the pressure, and with six laps to go they were three-wide off of turn four for the lead. Garver used the bottom line and Kay the top line to get to the front in a side-by-side battle that lasted until the checkered flag fell. When the dust settled Scotty Kay Jr became the first repeat winner of the event with Garver bringing home second. Belkey finished third and Kevin Durden fourth.

Our next event is Saturday, May 15th featuring the Top Gun Sprint Classic. Joining the sprints will be the Street Stocks, 602 Late Models, and 604 Late Models. Come out to Volusia Speedway Park for what is sure to be a great night of racing!

NEW FACES: Four First-Time DIRTcar Nationals Feature Winners Grace Volusia Victory Lane in Five-Feature Night

Logano 19th-to-3rd in impressive UMP Modified debut; Michael Jr. beats division’s best in stacked Feature

Five separate DIRTcar UMP Modified Features raced, four first-time winners went to Volusia Speedway Park Victory Lane on Friday night.

Night #4 of the 50th DIRTcar Nationals was all about appreciation for each and every one of the 96 UMP Modified drivers signed-in for competition; everyone got to form-up in the four-wide salute to the fans and race a 15-lap Feature for $700-to-win and a chance to stand in Victory Lane, front and center on the DIRTVision cameras.

Each race was lined up by the overall event points standings going into the evening, inverting both the top-10 starters in each race and the order the Features ran in. When all was said and done, four brand-new faces and one repeat winner from last year stood in Victory Lane, collecting their Volusia Gator trophies as DIRTcar Nationals Feature victors.

Feature #1 – David Reutimann

David Reutimann’s first DIRTcar Nationals victory came on Friday last year in the quad-Feature night, setting the stage for his second act as Friday night’s only repeat winner of the five Features contested.

“We’re not in the race we need to be in, but it’s a far cry from dropping out nine laps into the Feature because we were terrible last night,” Reutimann said in Victory Lane. “Track’s a little bit different; they’ve done a great job. Track’s got a little moisture in it, so it was fun.”

Reutimann started 15th on the grid and advanced through the field rapidly, using the wrecks and restarts to his advantage to gain his first chunks of position. By Lap 3, he had already cracked the top-five and was hot on the trail of the leaders.

Reutimann finally reached the back of leader Taylor Cook as they got the two-to-go signal, and that’s when he pulled the trigger. A great run down the backstretch set Reutimann up for the pass on the high side coming out of Turn 4, which he executed perfectly to take the lead and the eventual win for his second career Volusia Gator trophy.

Jim DenHamer Photo

Crossing the stripe third was none other than the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano, making his DIRTcar Nationals debut in a UMP Modified. Starting dead-last 19th place on the grid, Logano avoided multiple wrecks in front of him and made several clean passes under green-flag conditions to grab the final podium spot in what was a very impressive first competitive start in a UMP Modified.

“I only got one gear, and it was to go,” Logano told DIRTVision pit reporter Chase Raudman in his post-race interview. “It was a good time, I finished third, that’s great, and learned a little bit. Got a little bit of damage to fix, and we’ll come back at it tomorrow night.”

DIRTcar Feature #1 (15 Laps) 1. OOD-David Reutimann [15]; 2. 21-Taylor Cook [1]; 3. 15L-Joey Logano [19]; 4. OO-Buzzie Reutimann [17]; 5. 11-Jesse Rupe [2]; 6. 11Z-Zane Oedewaldt [18]; 7. 25P-Robert Poole [6]; 8. 62E-Kim Edington [8]; 9. 22J-John Baker [3]; 10. O2-Chris Cook [11]; 11. 89W-Rick Weitekamp [5]; 12. 4-Craig Shaw [13]; 13. 40-Shawn Reiss [16]; 14. 88B-Chris Bolyard [9]; 15. 27C-Billy Cevaal [12]; 16. M41-Steve Maisel [7]; 17. 27G-Jason Garver [4]; 18. 27-Tom Wakefield [10]; 19. 7F-Bryan Foy [14]

Feature #2 – Clay Harris

The first of four first-time Volusia Gator trophy winners went to Jupiter, FL’s own Clay Harris.

Harris, a notable 602 Late Model driver, wasted no time, getting right to work on leader Troy Johnson from his fourth-place starting spot in the early going. He got a good run on Johnson on Lap 5, completed the pass and cruised home for the win after a late restart, despite making an error in car setup.

“We tightened it up for the slick and it ended up being hammer-down,” Harris said in Victory Lane. “We had a little hiccup, but we recovered and [the car] was awesome tonight.”

Josh James Photo

DIRTcar Feature #2 (15 Laps) 1. 21J-Clay Harris [4]; 2. 2J-Troy Johnson [2]; 3. 12-John McClure [1]; 4. 57-Mark Grosvenor [12]; 5. 88S-Chris Smith [8]; 6. 11N-Gene Nicholas [5]; 7. 97-Mitch Thomas [7]; 8. 60-Shannon Fisk [3]; 9. 47-Collin Thirlby [15]; 10. 7+7-Jeff Solinger [9]; 11. 20-Tyler Hendrix [6]; 12. 9PG-Percy Gendreau [11]; 13. 6B-Dave Baldwin [13]; 14. O1-Earnie Woodard [19]; 15. 8-David Pinkerton [17]; 16. 59-Doug Stine [18]; 17. A1-Gary Bentley [14]; 18. 83-Brianna Robinson [16]; 19. 21D-Danny Schwartz [10]

Feature #3 – Chad Roush

The third UMP Modified Feature was mostly a game of attrition and staying out of trouble. Chad Roush did this the best out of his 18 other competitors.

While several wrecks took out multiple cars before a single lap was ever completed, Roush kept his nose clean up front and wasted zero time, making the pass to go from third to the lead on Lap 2.

A few restarts were thrown at him with high pressure behind from names like KC Burdette and Tony Anderson, but Roush held strong out front to pick up his first career DIRTcar Nationals victory.

“We gave one away a couple years ago down here, so I had to redeem myself,” Roush said in Victory Lane.

Jim DenHamer Photo

DIRTcar Feature #3 (15 Laps) 1. 32-Chad Roush [8]; 2. 44-KC Burdette [11]; 3. 176-Scotty Owens [16]; 4. 22T-Tony Anderson [6]; 5. 2A-Matt Altiers [10]; 6. 6-Ryan Fowler [19]; 7. 463-Daniel Sanchez [18]; 8. 15B-Dave Baker [7]; 9. 22K-Dale Kelley [3]; 10. Z1-Zac Oedewaldt [1]; 11. 33-Ken Mihalik [15]; 12. 114-Clayton Bryant [5]; 13. 72-Todd Neiheiser [12]; 14. 15-Joey Miller [2]; 15. 24-Travis Dickson [4]; 16. 8A-Austin Holcombe [9]; 17. 11M-Tyler Morehouse [14]; 18. 74-Mike Franklin [17]; 19. 81-Steve Axtell [13]

Feature #4 – Nick Allen

In what was easily the best race of the night for the lead, Nick Allen squared off with three-time NASCAR Truck Series champion Matt Crafton and came out on top in the end for his first career Volusia Gator trophy.

Allen pulled out to a comfortable lead from the outside pole in the early going but was quickly met by a challenge from seventh-starting Crafton, who was a rocket ship on the bottom.

Crafton pulled up alongside Allen and took the spot away for two consecutive laps as the field eclipsed half-way; their side-by-side battle bringing those in attendance to the edge of their seats. Allen then cracked the whip on the top side and wrestled the lead back, fending Crafton off in the final laps and crossing the stripe first to collect the $700 check.

“I knew [Crafton] was good around the bottom; I just couldn’t hold the bottom like he could,” Allen said. “I was just trying to carry a little more momentum through the middle.”

Josh James Photo

DIRTcar Feature #4 (15 Laps) 1. 21A-Nick Allen [2]; 2. 88-Matt Crafton [7]; 3. 67-Garret Stewart [1]; 4. 12L-Lucas Lee [11]; 5. 77-Ray Bollinger [5]; 6. 4T-Zeke McKenzie [4]; 7. 45H-Kyle Hammer [12]; 8. 99-Hunt Gossum [17]; 9. 6A-Ryan Ayers [10]; 10. 95-Michael Altobelli [15]; 11. 23-Ryan Cripe [16]; 12. 17T-Tyler Evans [18]; 13. 45-Johnny Broking [14]; 14. 7D-Brad DeYoung [13]; 15. 31G-Stephen Pedulla [19]; 16. T9-Ryan Thomas [9]; 17. 3L-Jeff Leka [8]; 18. 7T-Drake Troutman [6]; 19. 9-Ken Schrader [3]

Feature #5 – Richard Michael Jr.

With Strickler, Hoffman, Stremme, Nicely, Arpin, McKinney and Hughes all in the same Feature, Richard Michael Jr. knew he had to be on his A-game if he wanted to win his first Volusia Gator trophy from outside the front row Friday night.

When the green flag dropped on a re-do of the original start after polesitter Kyle Strickler hit the Turn 2 wall, taking him out of the race, Michael pulled that A-game right from out of his pocket and put it on full display, leading all 15 en route to his first DIRTcar Nationals victory in dominating fashion.

“This is probably the biggest one of my career,” Michael said in Victory Lane. “We used to come down here a lot; haven’t been down here in about eight years. Every time we came down here, we didn’t have any good equipment.”

Once he got the lead on the original restart, Michael took off and flat-out ran away with the win, pulling away from the stacked competition in his Elite Chassis, built by Nick Hoffman, who finished fourth.

“We just put this car together about a week and a half ago at Nick [Hoffman’s] place. I’ve just got to thank him; if it wasn’t for him, there’s no way we’d be in Victory Lane,” he said.

Jim DenHamer Photo

DIRTcar Feature #5 (15 Laps) 1. 17X-Richard Michael [2]; 2. 7-Justin Allgaier [4]; 3. 96M-Mike McKinney [3]; 4. 2-Nick Hoffman [10]; 5. 25-Tyler Nicely [9]; 6. OOEH-Steve Arpin [6]; 7. 5S-Curt Spalding [8]; 8. 18L-Michael Long [15]; 9. 12H-Jason Hughes [5]; 10. 25W-Allen Weisser [13]; 11. 49-Brian Ruhlman [17]; 12. 35-David Stremme [7]; 13. 11H-Spencer Hughes [19]; 14. K19-Will Krup [14]; 15. 36-Kenny Wallace [12]; 16. O5-Dave Wietholder [20]; 17. 51-Brandon Green [18]; 18. 80-Rich Dawson [16]; 19. 8S-Kyle Strickler [1]; 20. 11J-Justin Haley [11]

UP NEXT

The first of the two Gator Championship qualifying nights for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds hits the track Saturday night in Round #5 of the 50th DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. Half of the field in attendance will race while the other half will have the night off and return on Sunday for their qualifier night, all helping to determine a portion of Monday night’s starting field for the $5,000-to-win Gator Championship finale.

Catch all the action live on DIRTVision!

The 2020 Door Closer

Cool temperatures and hot racing were on tap for the final night of the 2020 season at Volusia Speedway Park. As always, the side-by-side racing was at its best and fans got everything they could ever want from a Saturday night show at the World’s Fastest Half Mile!

The Florida Late Models kicked off the feature events with David Clegg putting on an exhibition in his #07 Snow Brothers Chassis. Clegg pulled out to a big lead early and never looked back. Kunstbeck in the #11 contended for second early before falling back, leaving the #84 of Gray and the #721 of Kump to battle it out for the runner up position. Kump eventually secured the position with five to g,o but the night belonged to Clegg, who went on to win and bank a cool $1500 in winnings!

The DIRTcar UMP Modifieds were running for $1200, and 20 cars lined up to take their shot at the cash prize. Pole-sitter Eric Moon took the early lead, but after a caution on lap three David Reutimann made a quick pass in turn one to grab the lead. Seth Geary worked his way to second challenging Reutimann right to the end, but Reutimann held on to take the win and a nice pay day. Geary came home in second, and Garver brought the #27 home in third.

The Thunder Stocks were up next. Ron Adams led the early laps of this race, holding off early challenges from the #17 of Alan Peacock. As the laps ticked off Jason Garver worked his way up to challenge Adams, but the big mover of the night was Joe Belkey. The fifteenth place starting position isn’t normally where you look to find the eventual winner of a race, but by lap 7 Belkey was challenging Adams, and after a three-wide battle that included Garver, Belkey once and for all put his #112 Monte Carlo out front and cruised to a win and a $750 pay day. Garver held on for second ,and pole-sitter Joey Haslauer came back to finish third.

The ¾ mods were the fourth feature on the night. Pole-sitter Paul Shead has been hard to beat all year and after he jumped out front it looked as if the result would once again be the same, but Pat Vareika stormed up beside Shead on lap two to take the lead and pulled away to take the win. Shead held on for second, and young Mason Olmsted made a last-lap pass on the outside to take third from Tim Hogan.

Jimmy Wagner led the Street Stocks to the green flag, but Tuck Trentham led the first lap. A veteran of racing at Volusia Speedway Park, Trentham looked untouchable in the early laps, but a familiar name from earlier in the evening found his way to the front after a three-wide pass on the outside of turn four. Thunder Stock winner Joe Belkey put his #119 car out front and held off multiple challenges for the lead from Trentham to take the Street Stock win and bank another $750 on the night. Chris Lawrence used a late-race restart to move up to the second position, while Trentham brought his car home in third.

The Compact 4s were the final race of the night and the final race of the 2020 season. In an almost Cat in the Hat-like rhyme Todd Latour in his Compact 4 shut the door on the 2020 season. Leading every lap and gapping the field, Latour was never challenged, taking the win and $150.

With that the 2020 season has come to an end. We return to action in January for the DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals, followed by the legendary DIRTcar Nationals. Get your tickets now!