BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 14) — Jimmy Owens waited a long time to win his first career DIRTcar Nationals feature at Volusia Speedway Park. The Newport, Tenn., driver needed just 24 hours to win his second.
Taking the lead for good from Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla., on lap 19, Owens won Friday’s 40-lap World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series main event for a $10,000 triumph. While Owens took the lead from one Floridian midway through, he had to repel another Sunshine State driver late.
Owens outran 15th-starting Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla., by nearly a full second for his second DIRTcar Nationals victory in as many nights. Eighth-starting Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished third and fifth-starting Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., finished fourth. Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., completed the top five on a night when Mother Nature delayed the start of the program nearly three hours. Even so, the 40-lap main event was in the books by midnight.
It was well worth the wait for Owens, who started from the pole, but had to watch as Whitener shot to the lead on the opening lap on a track that featured a tricky cushion piled thick from more than two hours of steady, mostly drizzling — but occasionally heavy — rain. Track crews waited out the pesky system and then worked hard to whip the surface in shape.
Their effort was not lost on drivers, who used multiple grooves to battle up front.
“Hat’s off to World of Outlaws and Volusia County Speedway for hanging in there and getting us a race in,” said Owens. “It was demanding. I (knew) the high side was gonna be hard to beat and it looked like there was a little bit on the bottom. We could run the bottom, we could run the top a little bit, but I just (knew) the top was gonna be really hard to beat so we just stayed up yonder.
“When it’s like that, it’s so slick up to the cushion, it’s go for broke every lap. It’s hard to be conservative, because as soon as you be conservative then you jump the cushion. It’s about like driving a fork truck, you gotta learn how to drive with the ass-end of the car I guess.”
Owens, who had to fend off charges from Sheppard, Bronson and Ricky Weiss of Headingly, Manitoba, first had to deal with Whitener, who shot into the lead from the outside front row as they raced down the backstretch on the opening lap. Whitener paced the field for the first 14 laps but gave way to Owens as lap 15 was scored. Owens led laps 15 and 16 before Whitener surged back ahead to lead laps 17 and 18.
When Whitener jumped the cushion exiting turn four, Owens was there to pounce. He grabbed the lead and flashed under the flagstand just seconds before the first caution slowed the action. The heavy cushion proved to be Whitener’s undoing. On the restart, he was sucked into the thick layer of clay exiting turn two and couldn’t recover, falling all the way back to 10th.
Though he managed to climb back to sixth, the damage done to the front of his Barry Wright Race Cars ICON chassis — the run-ins with the cushion folded the nose of the machine under — was too much to overcome and Whitener retired during a lap 25 caution.
As Whitener faded, Weiss began to assert himself on the bottom. At the halfway mark, Owens was just ahead of Weiss, but three laps later — on a lap-23 restart — Sheppard grabbed the spot, while Bronson dispatched Weiss as well, dropping the Canadian to fourth with a run around the outside.
Bronson finally moved into second on a lap-25 restart, dropping Sheppard to third. He chased the leader futilely over the final 15 circuits, drawing close to Owens as they began to catch slower traffic. Bronson hoped the traffic would provide the opportunity he needed to secure his second career World of Outlaws win.
“Yeah my car was pretty good there. Jimmy was out in that clean air right round the top,” said Bronson. “He did everything he had to do, you know, he’s the best in the business. You know I kept thinking there when we had that late-race caution with five laps to go when he got screwed up behind the lapped car that I was gonna be able to slide him, but the caution saved the day.
“That’s about how my whole Speedweeks has been. But he did a damn good job. Like I said, he’s the best in the business.”
Lanigan agreed that the late caution may have hurt more than it helped. He managed to grab third on the restart to secure his second podium finish during this week’s DIRTcar Nationals, but felt like he possibly could’ve been better if the race stayed green. Lanigan, whose best finish is second on Wednesday, hasn’t finished worse than ninth in five races.
My car was really good around that bottom. It was good around he top too, but it’s kinda hard to pass a guy when you’re following him. I was trying to make that bottom work as good as I could. If that top had ever slowed down, we’d been right there to the front.”
Notes: Jimmy Owens picked up his 17th career World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model series win and his second career DIRTcar Nationals victory. … Owens moved into 11th on the WoO all-time win list, passing Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. … Twenty of the 26 starters finished the race, all on the lead lap. … Scott Bloomquist’s seventh-place finish was his best of this year’s DIRTcar Nationals. … The race was slowed by five cautions. … Logan Martin of West Plains, Mo., slowed on lap 19 to bring out the first yellow. … Michael Norris of Sarver, Pa., spun toward the outside wall and stopped in turn one on lap 23 to draw the second caution. … Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., slowed on lap 25 for the third caution. … The final caution waved on lap 35 when Tyler Erb of New Waverley, Texas, slowed before taking Blake Spencer’s backup car to the pit area. … The 49th annual DIRTcar Nationals concludes Saturday with another $10,000-to-win World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series main event.
Preliminary notes and results
Row 1: Jimmy Owens, Mark Whitener
Row 2: Chase Junghans, Michael Norris
Row 3: Brandon Sheppard, Chris Madden
Row 4: Ashton Winger, Darrell Lanigan
Row 5: Dennis Erb Jr., Brandon Overton
Row 6: Scott Bloomquist, Ricky Weiss
Row 7: Brian Shirley, Rick Eckert
Row 8: Kyle Bronson, Blake Spencer
Row 9: Josh Richards, Cade Dillard
Row 10: Tyler Erb, Logan Martin
Row 11: Matt Cosner, Kyle Strickler
Row 12: Boom Briggs, Kody Evans
Row 13: Brent Larson, Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Jimmy Owens took more than 50 starts to finally land his first-ever Dirt Late Model feature win at Volusia Speedway Park on Thursday. Could he have broken the checkered-flag dam with his score? His chances for a second straight triumph appear quite good after he nabbed the pole position for the 40-lap feature in the redraw, which was held at the WoO trailer in the pit area rather than on the stage in front of the crowd in order to save time. … Michael Norris rebounded from a Thursday DNQ to register a heat win over teammates Chris Madden and Scott Bloomquist and starts fourth in the feature. He assessed the post-rain track conditions thusly: “It’s really not that rough. It’s actually starting to slick off, but there’s gonna be a gnarly cushion. Tonight’s one of those nights where you know there’s gonna be a lot of crap torn up and I just want to bring mine home in once piece.” … Chase Junghans starts third after winning the fourth heat — his first heat victory of Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. “I haven’t won a heat since ‘Nam,” Junghans said. “It felt like a feature win.” … Ricky Weiss pulled out his backup car after his primary machine was sidelined by terminal engine trouble during hot laps. He starts 12th in the feature as he attempts to right his quiet week. … Ivedent Lloyd Jr. pulled off the track during his heat but not for a mechanical problem. “I sucked,” he said. “You can quote me on that.”
(10 laps; top three transfer)
First consolation: Josh Richards, Tyler Erb, Matt Cosner, Tyler Millwood, Allen Weisser, John Blankenship, Kody Evans, Brent Larson, Dan Stone, Jeff Mathews, Boom Briggs.
Second consolation: Cade Dillard, Logan Martin, Kyle Strickler, Blair Nothdurft, Pearson Williams, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Parker Martin, Steve Hucovski, Mike Hammerle, G.R. Smith.
Heat race recap
Thursday’s winner Jimmy Owens picked up where he left off — driving away from the field — en route to winning the first heat ahead of Darrel Lanigan and Dennis Erb Jr. … In the second heat, Michael Norris led flag-to-flag in outrunning Scott Bloomquist Racing teammates Chris Madden and Scott Bloomquist. Madden finished second, 0.599 of a second behind the winner. … Mark Whitener pulled ahead of Brandon Sheppard on the opening lap of the third heat and pulled away to win. With three cautions slowing the pace, Sheppard turned back repeated challenges from Brandon Overton to hang on to the runner-up spot. The three cautions, each for solo spins or slow downs, were thrown for G.R. Smith, Steve Hucovski and Blair Nothdurft. … In the fourth heat Chase Junghans cruised to a convincing victory, winning by 2.163 second ahead of rookie of the year contender Ashton Winger and last season’s rookie of the year winner Ricky Weiss.
Heat race results
(Eight laps; top four transfer)
First heat: Jimmy Owens, Darrell Lanigan, Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Shirley, Josh Richards, Boom Briggs, John Blankenship, Tyler Millwood, Kody Evans, Dan Stone.
Second heat: Michael Norris, Chris Madden, Scott Bloomquist, Kyle Bronson, Matt Cosner, Tyler Erb, Allen Weisser, Brent Larson, Jeff Mathews.
Third heat: Mark Whitener, Brandon Sheppard, Brandon Overton, Rick Eckert, Cade Dillard, Blair Nothdurft, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., G.R. Smith, Steve Hucovski.
Fourth heat: Chase Junghans, Ashton Winger, Ricky Weiss, Blake Spencer, Logan Martin, Kyle Strickler, Pearson Williams, Parker Martin, Mike Hammerle.
Mist and intermittent light rain moved over Volusia Speedway Park around 5 p.m., putting Friday’s program into a rain delay. Many teams either turned their cars around in preparation of loading up or trailered their machines outright when the precipitation picked up in intensity, but the mist came to a stop at about 7 p.m. — the scheduled start time for heat races — to allow the track-prep crew to begin working on the surface. As of 8:10 p.m., officials had directed teams to warm up their engines and begin making their way to the track for final packing and hot laps. … A total of 49 cars signed in for the evening's action with the departures from competition of Earl Pearson Jr., Justin Rattliff and Ken Monahan. … Back in action on Friday is G.R. Smith of Cornelius, N.C., whose Brodnax-Shaker Racing sat out Thursday’s program to give his three young crewmen — a fresh-faced trio ages 21, 16 and 14 years old that Smith affectionately calls his “Three Pack” — a break for their hard work throughout Speedweeks. The youngsters played miniature golf, shopped, hung out on the beach, swam in a pool and went out to eat with Smith and the rest of the J.C. Clary-owned team. … Michael Norris of Sarver, Pa., had a rough Thursday night, failing to qualify after his effort got off to an immediate rough start. He said a driveshaft vibration that developed during hot laps left him with a poor qualifying run — he was unable to change the driveshaft because all teams had to stay in the infield between practice and time trials — and he was unable to recover to transfer to the feature. ... Scott Bloomquist has switched to his older second car and changed its motor for Friday's show after deciding the new car he debuted at the start of the week is in need of more work. The Hall of Famer quickly got up to speed by registering the fastest lap in the first group of time trials, but he was penalized five positions for failing the post-qualifying "droop" test; his rear-deck height measured 52-1/2 inches, 2 inches above the maximum of 50-1/2 inches. ... With the track surface expected to be heavy and fast after rain that fell overnight and the additional light precipitation that delayed the start of action, several drivers decided to scratch from Friday's competition to save their equipment, including Tim McCreadie, Jonathan Davenport, Gregg Satterlee, Donny Schatz, Stormy and Johnny Scott, Dale McDowell, Mike Marlar and Shane Clanton.
With light rain pelting the area, Friday’s program is under a weather delay. Hot laps were scheduled to begin at 5:15 p.m., but at 6:10 p.m., no on-track action had begun. The weather system is supposed to move through by 6:30 p.m., but it will likely take some time to whip the track surface into shape.
Time trial results (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.002
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 16.002
Darrell Lanigan (29v), Union, Ky., 16.038
Chris Madden (0M), Gray Court, S.C., 16.062
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.064
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.861 (penalized five spots)
Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 16.132
Matt Cosner (66), Ridgeley, W.Va., 16.163
Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., 16.268
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 16.350
Tyler Millwood (31), Kingston, Ga., 16.391
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.514
John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 16.597
Tyler Erb (6T), New Waverly, Texas, 16.635
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.687
Allen Weisser (25w), Peoria, Ill., 16.730
Kody Evans (4G), Camden, Ohio, 16.758
Jeff Mathews (33), Brandon, Fla., 17.360
Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 17.588
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., scratched
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., scratched
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., scratched
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., scratched
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., scratched
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.042
Ashton Winger (12), Hampton, Ga., 16.255
Mark Whitener (5), Middleburg, Fla., 16.305
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 16.342
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 16.345
Blake Spencer (6), St. Augustine, Fla., 16.415
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (21), Ocala, Fla., 16.426
Ricky Weiss (7), Headingley, Manitoba, 16.427
Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 16.435
Logan Martin (36) West Plains, Mo., 16.488
Rick Eckert (2E), York, Pa., 16.504
Parker Martin (6jr), Cochran, Ga., 16.653
Blair Nothdurft (76n), Sioux Falls, S.D., 16.696
Pearson Williams (2w), Dublin, Ga., 16.737
G.R. Smith (89), Cornelius, N.C., 16.910
Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., 17.054
Steve Hucovski (15H), Corcoran, Minn., 17.106
Mike Hammerle (16H), St. Charles, Mo., no time
Kyle Lear (000), Winchester, Va., scratched
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., scratched
Donnie Chappell (25DC) Jacksonville, Fla., scratched
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., scratched
Johnny Scott (1st), Las Cruces, N.M., scratched
Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., scratched
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., scratched
The 49th annual DIRTcar Nationals streak toward conclusion with Friday’s 40-lap, $10,000-to-win main event at Volusia Speedway Park, the fifth of six nights for Late Models this week and third of four for the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series.
Through four races, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., has two victories, while Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., and Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., have one win apiece. Sheppard and Owens were the victors in World of Outlaws action, with Sheppard winning Wednesday and Owens — winning his first career DIRTcar Nationals feature — on Thursday.
Friday’s race is the sixth of 2020 for the national tour, which kicked off its season for the first time at Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park back in January. There has yet to be a repeat winner.
If 48 or more Late Models are signed in on Friday as expected, there will be group qualifying, six heats (transferring three from each), three consolations (transferring two each) and a 40-lap main event. Super DIRTcar Series big-block mods are on the card as well.
10 a.m.: Pit gate opens for team entry
1 p.m.: Pit pass sales begin
3 p.m.: Pit area secured; pit passes required after 3 p.m.
3 p.m.: Ticket sales open
4:40 p.m.: Grandstand, Fan Zone, midway area secured
4:45 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting (World of Outlaws)
4:50 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting (Super DIRTcar Series)
5 p.m.: Grandstands open
5 p.m.: Fan pit pass gate opens
5:15 p.m.: Hot laps/qualifying
- WoO Late Model hot laps
- WoO Late Model group qualifying
- SDS modified group qualifying
6:50 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
- WoO Late Model heats (8 laps)
- SDS modified heats (8 laps)
- WoO Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- SDS modified consolations (10 laps)
- WoO Late Model feature (40 laps)
- SDS modified feature (30 laps)