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.
An entire family of reptilian gold is headed back to Mooresville, NC, after yet another dominating DIRTcar UMP Modified performance at Volusia Speedway Park from the now seven-time DIRTcar Nationals champion, Nick Hoffman.
Hoffman scored the win in Saturday’s Gator Championship Feature, the fourth of his career, giving him his seventh-straight Big Gator trophy as points champion of the division. No other driver has won more than two.
Starting sixth, Hoffman had some work to do to get to the lead. Outside polesitter Kyle Strickler maintained the top spot through the first 11 laps before Hoffman caught him in traffic and blasted by on the bottom out of Turn 2.
“I got aero-tight a couple of times behind him, and then in lapped traffic too, when we were racing through,” Hoffman said of his chase with Strickler. “I just had to bide my time and slow down. I didn’t want to wear my tires out. We were killing tires earlier, so I didn’t know, being later in the night, how bad tires wear was going to be of an issue.”
From that point forward, it was all Hoffman’s race to lose. He was never seriously challenged for the lead again.
Meanwhile, the battle for second was heating up behind him. Strickler held second for a restart on Lap 13, but Will Krup made the most of the bottom lane that Strickler have him have at the drop of the green, swiping the spot away with a horsepower move down low.
Krup’s time in second wouldn’t last, however, as Strickler got another chance on a restart at the halfway point. He ripped around the top groove and was able to carry enough momentum to get back around Krup on Lap 16.
Looking back, Krup said he should’ve done more to miss a small patch in Turn 1 that upset the car, costing him some speed.
“I clipped it a couple times off that restart once I got around him, and [Strickler] was able to roll back around me,” Krup said. “After that, I just kinda fell in line and tried to bring home a strong third-place finish.”
Strickler gave it all he had to catch Hoffman in the final 10 laps but was unable to make up the gap. Hoffman’s lead was as large as four seconds at one point, further showcasing his dominance on the half-mile tracks.
“Any of the places like this here or Eldora – those big places that you can just momentum and make speed through the corner – I feel like that’s where my car is the best and it’s where I’m the best,” Hoffman said.
After redrawing the sixth spot on the starting grid, Hoffman knew he was not going to be denied of his fourth Gator Championship Feature win.
“Even with Kyle starting on the front row, I felt like my racecar was that good,” he said. “I had no doubt in my mind that my racecar was plenty good enough to do this deal from sixth.”
Strickler crossed the line in second with a car he said he could handle, but just needed more speed.
“We went a completely different direction for the Feature, and I got the feel I needed on the front-end, but we just weren’t stuck enough in the rear of the car,” Strickler said.
Despite his relentless efforts to catch Strickler, Krup came up just a bit short. However, the podium finish goes down in the record books as one of his best-ever finishes in the Gator Championship at Volusia.
“At the end of the race, I felt like I had a decent chance at [Strickler],” Krup said. “We kinda got in lapped traffic, but I couldn’t get around him. All-in-all, still a good run.”
THURSDAY MAKEUP FEATURES Saturday’s program began with ten, 15-lap makeup Features from Thursday night’s postponed program.
Feature 1 – Rob Pitcher
Feature 2 – Jonathan Taylor
Feature 3 – Michael Altobelli
Feature 4 – David Stremme
Feature 5 – Justin Allgaier
Feature 6 – Nick Hoffman
Feature 7 – Jason Garver
Feature 8 – Billy Green
Feature 9 – Tony Anderson
Feature 10 – Rich Michael Jr.
UP NEXT The UMP Modified portion of the 51st DIRTcar Nationals is complete, but DIRTcar Racing isn’t done at Volusia just yet. The event breaks on Sunday but will return to action on Monday with the DIRTcar Late Models alongside the debut of the Xtreme Outlaw Series Non-Wing Sprint Cars.
Buy a ticket to watch it in person or stream every lap live on DIRTVision.
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.
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
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
Volusia Speedway Park- 15.645 set by Tim McCreadie on Feb. 14, 2018
First DIRTcar Nationals win for Hughes while Strickler remains unbothered by injury
A new single-day record car count 96 DIRTcar UMP Modifieds signed-in to compete Thursday night at Volusia Speedway Park for Round #3 of the 50th DIRTcar Nationals and graced those in attendance with another double-shot of Feature racing action.
Jason Hughes, the Dirt Modified veteran from Westville, OK, made the move early on Wednesday night winner Tyler Nicely to hoist the gator trophy as a first-time DIRTcar Nationals winner in Feature #1. Kyle Strickler, with a bandaged-up finger and all, caught David Stremme in the thick of lapped traffic and made the move to win Feature #2.
Feature #1 – Jason Hughes
Dirt Modified racing and chassis-building veteran Jason Hughes had made multiple DIRTcar Nationals appearances with the UMP Modifieds in his career but had never been able to reach Victory Lane. Until Thursday night.
“I’m pretty happy, we finally got us a gator,” Hughes said. “I felt like we got one stolen from us last year, and to come back and get one this year is pretty good.”
Hughes started his journey to Victory Lane from the fourth position and wasted no time going forward, reaching the runner-up spot inside of the first five laps. Tyler Nicely, Feature #1 winner from Wednesday night, led the opening laps and looked to be the one to beat until an early caution flag stacked up the field with Hughes right on his tail.
The green flag waived and Nicely got a solid start, as did Hughes. They raced close for three corners before Nicely made a rare slip-up out of the groove in Turn 4, opening the door for Hughes down low to take the spot.
“[Nicely] got in there tight and shoved across the corner and I got turned underneath him, and that was what got us out front,” Hughes said.
Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, came back at Hughes to his inside just a few laps later but was unsuccessful. Hughes put it on cruise control after a few more restarts and took the checkered flag for his first time at Volusia, Nicely coming in right behind.
Steve Arpin, of Fort Frances, ON, bagged his first podium finish of the week and his first at DIRTcar Nationals since his championship year in 2007 with a third-place run Thursday night. Fellow Longhorn by Loenbro chassis driver Mike McKinney was scheduled to start third and was penalized to the tail for a late arrival to staging, but overcame the fault and made it all the way back up to eighth by the checkered flag.
Kyle Strickler went from the hospital, back to the track, from the Last Chance Showdown to the Feature and from 23rd to third in the Feature on Wednesday for one of the wildest nights in DIRTcar Nationals history. He backed that up Thursday night with his ninth career Feature win in the event, holding off longtime competitor Nick Hoffman in the process.
Fellow notable DIRTcar Nationals frontrunner David Stremme brought it home right behind them. Stremme, Hoffman and Strickler have become among the brightest faces of the UMP Modified division over the past few years, which Strickler made it a point to acknowledge in his Victory Lane interview on DIRTVision.
“These three cars here on the front-stretch here, we come down here and this Speedweeks means so much to us. We know who we’ve gotta outrun when we get here, and we all work really hard,” Strickler said.
Stremme kicked off the 20-lap Feature by jumping out to the lead in the opening laps, looking very strong and keeping Strickler and Hoffman at bay behind him. That was, until he hit lapped traffic.
Just past the halfway point, Stremme dove deep into a field of slower traffic, which gave Strickler and Hoffman the opportunity they needed to slip by. Which, they did, when Stremme got pinched a bit by a lapped car out of Turn 2 on Lap 13. Strickler got a great run out of the corner and drove firmly into Turns 3-4, sliding up in front of Stremme to complete the pass as they crossed the stripe.
“I was adjusting my driving style, and when we caught lapped traffic, it’s so tough when you’re the leader. So, that helped us out a bunch, and I think the track started coming our way too,” Strickler said.
Hoffman went with him one lap later to secure the second spot. A final restart appeared with 5 laps remaining but did not affect the running order; Strickler was just too smooth for anyone to catch.
The DIRTcar UMP Modified action continues Friday night at Volusia Speedway Park with one of the pit area’s favorite nights of the year – everybody runs a Feature! A total of five Feature races for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds is preliminarily scheduled for competition, lined up by points totals after the already completed Features. Catch all the action on DIRTVision!
Strickler bags podium finish out of Last Chance Showdown after hospital visit just hours before
A grand total of 94 DIRTcar UMP Modifieds packed Volusia Speedway Park’s pit area Wednesday for night #2 of competition at the 50th DIRTcar Nationals, prompting a format change that called for two separate, 20-lap Features before the night was out.
Volusia’s reigning Reutimann Memorial winner Tyler Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, took advantage of another slick and smooth racing surface to grab the win in the first Feature, while the five-time and defending DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion Nick Hoffman, of Mooresville, NC, did the same to score the victory in Feature #2.
Feature #1 – Tyler Nicely
Tyler Nicely seems to be picking up right where he left off at Volusia last November.
His then-brand-new Longhorn by Loenbro chassis powered him to his first career victory in the track’s marquee event, the Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial, in November of last year. Less than three months have passed and he’s already back in Victory Lane. This time, making the pass for the lead on Lucas Lee and holding off another star-studded cast of competitors for his fourth career win in the event.
“All Speedweeks I’ve been trying to get this win; I’m glad it’s on this stage at Volusia,” Nicely said. “It’s always nice to win it with a bunch of cars, standing on this stage and getting a gator.”
Nicely’s been in action since the opening round of the Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park two weeks ago and hadn’t been able to find Victory Lane through those five starts plus another last weekend at North Florida Speedway. But after a third-place finish in Tuesday night’s opener, Nicely cashed out with his momentum and advanced two spots higher to collect the $1,000 victory Wednesday night.
Nicely started on the outside of the front row and immediately went to work on polesitter Lucas Lee, catching him in open track and making the pass to his inside on Lap 5.
From there on out, it Nicely’s race to lose. Nobody seemed to have anything for the race leader by the end of 20 circuits as he crossed to collect the checkers. However, if there had been just one more caution later in the race, he may have had a familiar foe knocking on his door.
Kyle Strickler, of Mooresville, NC, may have gone though one of the most bizarre, painful, yet most successful runs to the front in DIRTcar Nationals history Wednesday night.
Earlier in the evening, Strickler was taken in an ambulance to a nearby hospital after severely cutting his left middle finger in the pit area while operating the lift his team uses to raise their car up.
“When I was in the ambulance after almost cutting my finger off, they told me, ‘it’s a hard no on you racing tonight,’ because that was the first question I asked them,” Strickler said. “We ended up going to the hospital, getting it stitched up and making it back here in time.”
Indeed, he did get back to the track on time. But only to tag the tail of Last Chance Showdown #1, where he snagged the final transfer spot into the first Feature. This set him up for a 23rd-place starting spot in that event, where he drove all the way back to finish third, making for what will surely be one of the most memorable nights of his career.
Nick Hoffman has often preferred the slicker, slower racing surfaces at the big tracks like Volusia. That certainly showed again Wednesday night, as he took full advantage of it in collecting his 19th career DIRTcar Nationals Feature win.
Compared to the Feature event previous, Hoffman wasted even less time in moving to the front, making the pass on polesitter David Stremme on Lap 3. From there on out, nobody had anything for the two-time and defending UMP Modified national points champion as he crossed the stripe for the win.
He makes it look so simple on the DIRTVision cameras, but sometimes, much of the battle is won before the race even starts in the pit area. Like Tuesday night, it came down to a tire selection to help Hoffman pick up the win.
“I knew it was probably gonna latch-up there in the second Feature, so I went with the hard tire again tonight,” Hoffman said. “Once it started to latch-up, I got really tight and just couldn’t maneuver quite like I needed to.”
Hoffman’s Elite Chassis had yet another good showing with himself and Justin Allgaier finishing 1st and 3rd, respectively.
“I know every nook and cranny on that racecar, so that really helps. Just running my own chassis for the last eight years; we’ve got a really good balance, obviously, at this place. It just suits my style, momentum racing, and when it gets dead slick like this, it’s really where I’m the best,” Hoffman said.
The DIRTcar UMP Modified action continues Thursday night from Volusia Speedway Park’s 50th DIRTcar Nationals with Round #3 of racing. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision!