Kyle Hammer

GATOR SMOKE: Madden grabs DIRTcar Nationals win, Moran crowned Big Gator champion

Chris Madden wins at Volusia

Devin Moran wins “Big Gator” trophy by one point over Madden; earns second DIRTcar Nationals championship

Chris Madden knew he couldn’t play it safe Saturday night at Volusia Speedway Park. As the Gray Court, SC driver’s chances to win dwindled, he decided to seize an opportunity.

Madden ran fourth during the first 10 laps before taking a risk that led to reward. He thundered to the top of the Volusia clay, picking off Mike Marlar and Max Blair to get to second. That’s when he set his sights on leader Dale McDowell.

As the Chickamauga, GA driver moved to the middle to pass a slower car, “Smokey” dealt his final blow. Madden switched lanes through Turns 3 and 4, powering under McDowell to take control of the lead en route to winning the DIRTcar Nationals finale, while Devan Moran won the overall Big Gator Championship.

The choice to go to the outside was crucial in Madden’s 33rd career World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models triumph.

“It was very important,” Madden said. “I thought we messed up with an adjustment, and when they dropped the green flag, I couldn’t keep up, and I was like, oh boy, I’m in trouble.

“The racetrack finally slowed down enough to where we were pretty good and [McDowell], and they caught lap traffic, so I had nothing to lose but step out there, and we found the groove and happened to get by right in time.”

Madden’s second career DIRTcar Nationals victory is the culmination of a consistent week for him and his team. He’s now at the top of the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models point standings—16 points ahead of McDowell.

“We’ve had a great car all week,” Madden said. “I’ve made some bad calls on restarts, picking the wrong line, and took myself out of a couple of wins this week. Overall, we’ve had a great week, my guys worked their tail off doing a great job, and I appreciate them.”

Mike Marlar, the 2018 Series Champion, crossed the line second. The Winfield, TN campaigner sat third for most of the race, getting by Rookie of the Year contender Max Blair on the final lap.

“I had a good car; I just couldn’t do much about it there,” Marlar said. “[Blair] was just in my line. I kind of waited until I thought I could pass on tires, and the last couple of laps, I just drove it a lot harder and got him. But I probably never would’ve gotten Madden.”

McDowell finished third after leading early in the race. “The Mac Daddy” felt he was a sitting duck once he caught the back of the field.

“I didn’t know where to go, and I went to the middle,” McDowell said. “That’s where I should’ve been, but [lap cars] moved out a little bit so [Madden] and them shot by me. Some days are your days, and some days aren’t.”

Max Blair, the Rookie of the race, slipped to fourth on the final lap. Despite making a mistake at the end, the Viper Motorsports team is happy to get its first top five of the season.

“Anytime you run fourth with these guys, it’s something to be proud of,” Blair said. “It sucks a little bit when you run second the whole race and then give it away on the last lap and fall back to fourth. But, with how this week went and everything, fourth is a lot better than 18th.”

The Centerville, PA driver leads the chase for Rookie of the Year after six races—10 points ahead of Tanner English.

He isn’t the only rookie who grabbed their first top five, as Kyle Hammer finished fifth. It’s momentum the Clinton, IL driver can take moving forward, on top of leading 20 laps during Thursday’s DIRTcar Nationals Feature.

“This is one of the hardest tracks we’ll probably hit on the schedule,” Hammer said. “I mean, look at all these guys. Ryan Gustin dominates one night and misses the Feature the next. We led half the Feature and missed the next night and take a provisional.

“It shows [Volusia] is a hard track no matter who you are, so I feel like we’ve got a huge confidence booster going into the rest of the year.”

While Madden did everything possible to win the Big Gator title, Moran took it home for the second straight year. “The Mailman” did just enough to win the DIRTcar Nationals championship—besting Madden by one point.

Big Gator Trophy Celebration

Despite not finding Victory Lane, Moran still made his way to the podium four times at Volusia. It capped off the end to a successful Speedweeks for the Dresden, OH driver.

It’s pretty cool,” Moran said. “We wanted to win so bad here this week, and I felt we had the car too.

“To come out here and get the big gator two years in a row after not racing a whole lot is a lot of fun. I can’t thank Wylie [Moran’s brother and crew chief] enough.”

Chris Madden proved that taking a chance at the right time can pay off on the path to Victory. It’s risks like Madden’s that led to a reward—and a chance to contend for a World of Outlaws CASE Late Models title.

UP NEXT: The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet make their inaugural appearance at The Rev in Monroe, LA, March 11-12. FOR TICKETS, CLICK HERE.

CASE Construction Feature (40 Laps): 1. 44-Chris Madden[3]; 2. 157-Mike Marlar[5]; 3. 17M-Dale McDowell[1]; 4. 111V-Max Blair[2]; 5. 45-Kyle Hammer[7]; 6. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[6]; 7. 8-Kyle Strickler[4]; 8. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[9]; 9. 39-Tim McCreadie[11]; 10. 46-Earl Pearson Jr[8]; 11. 16-Tyler Bruening[17]; 12. 9-Devin Moran[20]; 13. 76-Brandon Overton[14]; 14. 11H-Spencer Hughes[12]; 15. 81E-Tanner English[22]; 16. 130-Chase Osterhoff[19]; 17. 97-Cade Dillard[23]; 18. 1-Brandon Sheppard[25]; 19. B1-Brent Larson[24]; 20. 40B-Kyle Bronson[13]; 21. 11-Gordy Gundaker[29]; 22. 99B-Boom Briggs[28]; 23. 1T-Tyler Erb[21]; 24. 1R-Josh Richards[27]; 25. 89-Ashton Winger[18]; 26. 33M-Michael Norris[16]; 27. 19R-Ryan Gustin[26]; 28. 32-Chris Simpson[10]; 29. 3S-Brian Shirley[15] FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Devin Moran [+8]

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]

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: World of Outlaws Late Models open 2022 season at Sunshine Nationals

The wait is finally over.

The World of Outlaws Late Models kick off their 2022 campaign in Florida, Jan. 20-22, as part of the Sunshine Nationals Late-Model-Palooza at Volusia Speedway Park.

Three nights of high-octane action will see The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet battle for a $10,000 top prize each Feature, giving one driver the chance to walk away with $30,000.

This year marks the Series’ second appearance during the massive Late Model weekend. Home state hero Kyle Bronson, of Brandon, FL, picked up the inaugural Sunshine Nationals win with the World of Outlaws.

Joining the Series at The World’s Fastest Half-Mile are the DIRTcar Pro Late Models and 602 Late Models.

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

Here are top storylines to what for this weekend:

The Drive for 5: The Sunshine Nationals mark the start of a potential historic journey for Brandon Sheppard, of New Berlin, IL. He’s two wins away from taking the top spot on the all-time wins list and a championship at the end of the season would make him the first driver in the history of the Series to reach five titles.

Sheppard won his third consecutive title in November – fourth overall – tying Josh Richards for the most Series championships all-time.

He’s had a ton of success as The World’s Fastest Half-Mile racking up six victories, including a clean sweep of DIRTcar Nationals in 2019. Sheppard was consistent on tracks a half-mile or larger in 2021 — scoring one win, five top-fives, and nine top-10s.

“The Rocket Shepp” is also coming in hot. He scored two wins in New Mexico earlier this month in his family-owned car.

Back with a Boom: Brandon Sheppard won’t be alone in the quest to claim the most World of Outlaws Late Model championships all-time. Josh Richards returns to the World of Outlaws Late Models full-time in 2022 behind the wheel of a car owned by fan-favorite Boom Briggs.

Like Sheppard, the Shinnston, WV driver has also found success at Volusia Speedway Park, winning five times at the Florida venue.

While “The Rocket Man” hasn’t been full-time with the Series since 2016, that hasn’t kept him out of Victory Lane. His last Series win came at the high-speed Bristol Motor Speedway half-mile last year.

Freshman Orientation: The 2022 World of Outlaws Late Models’ rookie class is one to keep an eye on this season with impressive resumes among them.

Six drivers have announced their plan to run for Rookie of the Year honors in 2022, all from different parts of the country.

Max Blair, from Centerville, PA, has the most World of Outlaws success out of the group, having already claimed three Series wins. However, Tanner English, from Benton, KY, is the only driver with an entire season of a national tour under his belt.

Joining them in the rookie battle will be Gary Dillon, from Wilson, NC, Gordy Gundaker, from St. Charles, MO, Jacob Ulrich, from Sand Springs, OK, and Kyle Hammer, from Clinton, IL.

As proven by last year’s Rookie of the Year, Tyler Bruening, a strong start to the season at Sunshine Nationals will go a long way to ending the season as the top rookie. While he didn’t pick up a win, his consistency catapulted him to third in points.

Volusia Tickler: No driver had more success at Volusia Speedway Park in 2021 than Kyle Strickler.

The Mooresville, NC driver won twice last season—the only driver to score multiple victories at The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.

In January 2021, the “Highside Tickler” held off Late Model legend Scott Bloomquist to score his first career win at Sunshine Nationals and backed it up with a win to open DIRTcar Nationals last February.

In five races on the half-mile oval, Strickler only finished out of the top-five once—a sixth on the final night of DIRTcar Nationals.

Yung Money Sunshine: Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson returns to the World of Outlaws Late Models at Sunshine Nationals behind the wheel of the K&L Rumley Enterprises car.

The Elk Grove, CA driver, won two of the four races he entered last season, scoring victories at Sharon Speedway and Fairbury Speedway.

“Yung Money” has made six starts with the Series, but Thursday will be his first at Volusia Speedway Park. In one appearance on a half-mile in 2021, Larson was battling for the win at Williams Grove Speedway before retiring late in the event.

WHEN AND WHERE

Jan. 20-22 – Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, FL

ABOUT THE TRACK

Volusia Speedway Park is a 1/2-mile oval
Online – https://volusiaspeedwaypark.com

Previous Volusia Speedway Park Winners
2021 – Kyle Bronson on Jan. 14, Kyle Strickler on Jan. 16, Kyle Strickler on Feb. 10, Devin Moran on Feb. 11, Brandon Overton on Feb. 12
2020 – Brandon Sheppard on Feb. 12, Jimmy Owens on Feb. 13, Feb. 14 & Feb. 15
2019 – Brandon Sheppard on Feb. 13, Feb. 14, Feb. 15 and Feb. 16
2018 – Tim McCreadie – Feb. 14; Dale McDowell – Feb. 15; Scott Bloomquist – Feb. 16; Brandon Sheppard – Feb. 17
2017- Shane Clanton on Feb. 24; Don O’Neal on Feb. 25
2016 – Josh Richards on Feb. 18, 19; Shane Clanton on Feb. 20
2015 – Shane Clanton on Feb. 19, 20, 21
2014 – Casey Roberts on Feb. 20; Kyle Bronson on Feb. 22
2013 – Scott Bloomquist on Feb. 21; Billy Moyer on Feb. 22; Darrell Lanigan on Feb. 23
2012 – Dennis Erb Jr. on Feb. 23; Billy Moyer on Feb. 25
2011 – Scott Bloomquist on Feb. 17; Scott Bloomquist on Feb. 19
2010 – Josh Richards on Feb. 11; Brady Smith on Feb. 13
2009 – Josh Richards on Feb. 12; Steve Francis on Feb. 14
2008 – Josh Richards on Feb. 14; Billy Moyer on Feb. 16
2007 – Josh Richards on Feb. 17
2006 – Earl Pearson Jr. on Feb. 16; Steve Francis on Feb. 18; Chris Madden on Oct. 14
2005 – Billy Moyer on Feb. 17; Tim McCreadie on Feb. 19; Scott Bloomquist on Oct. 29
2004 – Steve Francis on Feb. 3; Bart Hartman on Feb. 4; Shannon Babb on Feb. 6; Scott Bloomquist on Feb. 8

TRACK RECORDS

Volusia Speedway Park- 15.645 set by Tim McCreadie on Feb. 14, 2018

On the Internet
World of Outlaws Late Models Series
Twitter – Twitter.com/WoOLateModels – @WoOLateModels
Instagram – Instagram.com/WoOLateModels – @woolatemodels
Facebook – Facebook.com/WorldofOutlawsLateModelSeries
YouTube – Youtube.com/WorldofOutlaws
DIRTVision – DIRTVision.com – Platinum annual FAST PASS for $299 or monthly FAST PASS for $39/month

Around the Turn: The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet return to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, FL for DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 16-19. CLICK HERE for Tickets.