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Daily Dirt 10/04/2022 07:42:27

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January 21
Volusia Speedway Park,
Barberville, FL
Sanction: World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series (Sunshine Nationals) - $10,000
Information provided by: Todd Turner (last updated January 26, 2:49 pm)
McDowell makes winning return in Volusia opener
Sunshine Nationals
  1. Dale McDowell
  2. Dennis Erb Jr.
  3. Kyle Larson
  4. Chris Madden
  5. Hudson O'Neal
  6. Shane Clanton
  7. Brandon Sheppard
  8. Max Blair
  9. Tyler Bruening
  10. Chase Junghans
  11. Darrell Lanigan
  12. Cade Dillard
  13. Brent Larson
  14. Kyle Strickler
  15. Morgan Bagley
  16. Boom Briggs
  17. Gordy Gundaker
  18. Tanner English
  19. Josh Richards
  20. Chris Simpson
  21. Jimmy Mars
  22. Devin Moran
  23. Jimmy Owens
  24. Ashton Winger
  25. Ryan Gustin
  26. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  27. Kyle Hammer
presented by
Jacy Norgaard/jacynorgaardphotography.com
Dale McDowell takes the checkers for his 13th WoO victory.
What won the race: Making a triumphant return from prostate cancer surgery last fall, Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., dominated from flag-to-flag to capture Friday afternoon’s postponed 30-lap World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series season opener at Volusia Speedway Park. He beat Dennis Erb Jr. by 1.516 seconds following a green-white-checkered finish for the $10,000 top prize in the first of three Sunshine Nationals events.
Key notes: McDowell was never seriously challenged en route to his 13th career WoO victory. ... Erb overtook Chris Madden for second on lap 13 and turned back a late challenge from NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson to take the runner-up spot. ... Six caution flags slowed the A-main. ... The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series season begins with three consecutive nights of $10,000-to-win events in the Sunshine Nationals. ... WoO competitors return to Volusia on Feb. 16-19 for the DIRTcar Winternationals.
On the move: Hudson O'Neal of Martinsville, Ind., started 18th and finished fifth.
Winner's sponsors: McDowell’s Shane McDowell Racing Team Zero Race Car has a Clements Chevrolet engine and sponsorship from E-Z-Go, Cometic Gaskets, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, Connected Strategy Advisors, Fox Racing Shox, Waddell Transfer, ShearWorx, Shackelford Enterprizes, Spring Pro, Northeastern Fabrication and MSRMafia.com Marketing Services.
Points chase: Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., is the reigning World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series champion.
Current weather: Overcast, 64°F
Car count: 47
Fast qualifier: Kyle Hammer
Time: 16.046 seconds
Polesitter: Dale McDowell
Heat race winners: Dale McDowell, Chris Madden, Devin Moran, Brandon Sheppard
Consolation race winners: Cade Dillard, Hudson O'Neal
Provisional starters: Brent Larson, Boom Briggs, Chris Simpson, Gordy Gundaker, Kyle Hammer
Next series race: February 16, Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL) $10,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 21) — Winning Friday afternoon’s postponed 30-lap World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature at Volusia Speedway Park was far from a run-of-the-mill victory for Dale McDowell.

With the $10,000 triumph coming in his first start since undergoing season-ending prostate cancer surgery in late September, the 55-year-old veteran from Chickamauga, Ga., battled his emotions after dominating the first of three Sunshine Nationals events from flag-to-flag.

“I wanna be tough,” McDowell said, searching for the right words to describe the moment. “I realize you need to be tough … but very emotional. I need to thank the good Lord above for letting me come back and do what I love because four months ago I didn’t know what was gonna happen.”

McDowell, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last summer, was victorious in his last start of 2021 — a Sept. 25 Southern All Star Series event at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn. — before his scheduled surgery. Nearly four months out of the cockpit left him feeling at less than 100 percent physically upon his return to action Thursday at Volusia, but he showed no rust on his way to leading every lap off the pole position in Friday afternoon’s headliner, which was postponed from Thursday due to the late hour and rough track conditions.

Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., overtook Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., for second on lap 13 but never was able to offer McDowell a serious challenge. Even a final caution flag on lap 28 that erased McDowell’s edge of over 4 seconds had no impact as McDowell controlled the restart to beat Erb by 1.519 seconds driving his brother Shane’s Team Zero Race Car.

NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson of Elk Grove, Calif., marched forward from the 11th starting spot to finish third in the K&L Rumley Enterprises machine after his late bids to overtake Erb fell short. Madden settled for fourth after running second for much of the race’s first half while Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., was the A-main’s biggest mover with an advance from 18th to finish fifth.

McDowell had a long list of people to thank for his memorable return to competition from his health scare.

“Hat’s off to my brother (and) everybody who took care of me while we were sick and stood by us,” said McDowell, whose fourth career Late Model win at Volusia was his first since a WoO score on Feb. 15, 2018. “(Girlfriend) Tiffany at home, the kids. Shane and Sara (Shane’s wife) came down and took care of me while I was sick. And all the race fans that reached out … that was very important for the healing process.”

McDowell paused, and then added, “I just can’t tell you how ecstatic I am to be here.”

But while McDowell tamed the half-mile oval’s difficult track conditions while running alone in front, he admitted the 30-lap distance was long enough for him.

“I just gotta get some energy,” McDowell said when asked to look ahead to Friday’s regularly-scheduled racing program. “Boy, I’m beat, but I’ll get rested up for tonight and go again. Nothing’s better than a win.

“It’s funny. Last night (NASCAR Cup Series driver) Chase Elliott was texting me late and said, ‘I see you. You need to go get it.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I need to go get it, but it’s gonna be aggressive.’ The track was a little aggressive today, a lot of character to it, so that makes good racing for the fans (but) it makes us scratch our head a little bit.”

Erb, 49, rolled the inside lane around the speedway to perfection. He had nothing for McDowell, but he was satisfied with a season-opening outing that brought him a $1,000 bonus for being the highest-finishing WoO regular under the national tour’s new-for-2022 incentive program.

“To get a good start down here — we got seven races or so — we gotta make the best of it and come out of Florida with a good run in the points,” Erb said. “We just have to keep it up here for the rest of the week.”

The 29-year-old Larson came on strong during the race’s second half after finding a route that took him around the track’s roughest spots.

“I got into a good rhythm there where I could miss some of the holes,” said Larson, who made his first Dirt Late Model start of 2022. “And I think (Brandon) Sheppard and (Kyle) Strickler kind of missed it down there and I was able to get underneath them and then just barely edge Strickler out before one of the cautions fell. Then they got to wrecking on the restart (fourth-place Devin Moran spun on lap 19 to move Larson to fourth and set up his restart pass of Madden).

“I felt pretty good. I could get down the backstretch good. But the line I was running would just kill my exit off of four and then I’d lose my ground I’d make up on Dennis. What I was doing was working but making it hard to pass.

“Hopefully the track will get a little bit better (for Friday evening’s show),” he added. “I don’t think it will because it seems like the more laps we run on it the deeper we’re getting into the surface. It’s just really soft in spots. We’ll try to get our car a little bit better, a little bit smoother.”

Six caution flags slowed the race, starting with Ashton Winger’s spin off turn four on lap two.

Ryan Gustin triggered the race’s second caution, also on lap two, when his car snapped sideways in turn four just after he had moved into fifth place. He collected Josh Richards and Ricky Thornton Jr. and all three drivers involved headed to the pits for servicing.

Cautions also flew on lap 12 for Richards’s 360-degree spin off turn two; lap 19 when Chris Simpson slowed with mechanical trouble; the lap-19 restart when fourth-running Devin Moran spun after clipping the inside wall in turn two and collected Tanner English, Brent Larson and Morgan Bagley; and lap 28 when Richards’s rough race ended when he spun again off turn two and retired with a mangled nose on his Boom Briggs team car.

Notes: McDowell’s 13th career WoO victory was his first since April 28, 2018, at Smoky Mountain Speedway and tied him with Shannon Babb for 15th on the tour’s all-time win list. … The feature was originally scheduled for 40 laps but WoO officials cut it by 10 circuits before announcing its postponement the previous night. … McDowell took the checkered flag at 4:08 p.m. … On Thursday, Mark Whitener’s night ended upside down in turn one in the second consolation race. The Middleburg, Fla., standout was outside of Boom Briggs down the frontstretch on the first lap and ran out of room; his car rode the wall into turn one “like Lightning McQueen,” he said — catching some of the catch fence as it went — before rolling over twice. He climbed out of the Big Frog Motorsports Car sore but otherwise uninjured. ... Thursday’s WoO fast qualifier Kyle Hammer of Clinton, Ill., caught a break in time trials when the rookie took an extra circuit after his qualifying laps, a no-no according to the series rulebook. Because the rule wasn’t explicitly mentioned at the drivers' meeting, however, officials didn't issue the normal penalty of stripping a qualifier of their fastest lap. Hammer, however, broke a driveshaft and transmission while running fourth in his heat race; he made repairs for the consolation race but failed to transfer and didn’t use an emergency provisional.

Feature lineup

(30 laps)

Row 1: Dale McDowell, Devin Moran
Row 2: Chris Madden, Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Dennis Erb Jr., Kyle Strickler
Row 4: Josh Richards, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 5: Ryan Gustin, Shane Clanton
Row 6: Kyle Larson, Max Blair
Row 7: Chase Junghans, Tyler Bruening
Row 8: Jimmy Mars, Jimmy Owens
Row 9: Cade Dillard, Hudson O'Neal
Row 10: Tanner English, Darrell Lanigan
Row 11: Morgan Bagley, Ashton Winger
Row 12: Brent Larson, Boom Briggs
Row 13: Chris Simpson, Gordy Gundaker
Row 14: Kyle Hammer

Feature postponed

Facing difficult track conditions and a late-running program, officials postponed Thursday's opening Sunshine Nationals feature to 3 p.m. Friday. Preliminaries were completed by 1 a.m. with Dale McDowell on the pole position for the $10,000-to-win main event.

Grandstands open at 2:30 p.m. with three postponed features, including the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series opener, set for 3 p.m. Friday's regularly scheduled program is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.

Notes: Florida standout Mark Whitener's night ended upside down in turn one in the second consolation race. The Middleburg, Fla., driver was running outside of Boom Briggs down the frontstretch and ran out of room his his car riding the wall into turn one before going over. He climbed out of the Big Frog Motorsports Car apparently uninjured. ... Thursday's WoO fast qualifier Kyle Hammer of Clinton, Ill., caught a break in time trials when the rookie took an extra lap after his qualifying laps, a no-no according to the series rulebook. Because the rule wasn't explicitly mentioned at the drivers' meeting, officials didn't issue the normal penalty of stripping a qualifier of his fastest lap. Hammer, however, broke his driveshaft and transmission in both the heat and consolation races, ending his night early.

Consolation race results

(10 laps; top three transfer)

First consolation: Cade Dillard, Tanner English, Morgan Bagley, Daulton Wilson, Billy Franklin, Justin Hammett, Trey Mills, Kyle Hammer, Cody Overton, Deshawn Gingerich, Gordy Gundaker, Stacy Boles. Scratched: Jeff Mathews, Blake Spencer, Tyler Clem, Jacob Ulrich.

Second consolation: Hudson O'Neal, Darrell Lanigan, Ashton Winger, Boom Briggs, Chris Simpson, Logan Martin, Blair Nothdurft, Garrett Smith, Kyle Bronson, Mark Whitener, Brent Larson. Scratched: David Breazeale, Dan Stone, Ross Robinson, Brian Shirley.

Heat race results

(Eight laps; top four transfer)

First heat: Dale McDowell. Kyle Strickler, Ryan Gustin, Chase Junghans, Cade Dillard, Morgan Bagley, Cody Overton, Stacy Boles, Trey Mills, Deshawn Gingerich, Kyle Hammer. Scratched: Tyler Clem.

Second heat: Chris Madden, Dennis Erb Jr., Kyle Larson, Jimmy Mars, Gordy Gundaker, Tanner English, Daulton Wilson, Jeff Mathews, Billy Franklin, Blake Spencer, Justin Hammett. Scratched: Jacob Ulrich.

Third heat: Devin Moran, Josh Richards, Shane Clanton, Tyler Bruening, Hudson O'Neal, David Breazeale, Mark Whitener, Dan Stone, Brian Shirley, Blair Nothdurft, Garrett Smith, Ashton Winger.

Fourth heat: Brandon Sheppard, Ricky Thornton Jr., Max Blair, Jimmy Owens, Darrell Lanigan, Chris Simpson, Boom Briggs, Ross Robinson, Kyle Bronson, Logan Martin, Brent Larson.

Time trials

Group A
Driver (car no.), hometown

  1. Kyle Hammer (45), Clinton, Ill., 16.046
  2. Kyle Larson (6), Elk Grove, Calif., 16.051
  3. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.055
  4. Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 16.240
  5. Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., 16.335
  6. Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C., 16.344
  7. Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, 16.435
  8. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.482
  9. Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 16.506
  10. Tanner English (81E), Benton, Ky., 16.506
  11. Cody Overton (97), Evans, Ga., 16.577
  12. Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 16.600
  13. Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 16.788
  14. Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 16.819
  15. Stacy Boles (11B), Clinton, Tenn., 16.845
  16. Billy Franklin (17), Calera, Ala., 17.024
  17. Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 17.149
  18. Jeff Mathews (33), Apollo Beach, Fla., 17.315
  19. Trey Mills (14jr), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.407
  20. Justin Hammett (17), Zebulon, Ga., 17.605
  21. Deshawn Gingerich (0), Dover, Pa., 17.660
  22. Jacob Ulrich (22AD), Sand Springs, Okla., no time
  23. Tyler Clem (1A), St. Petersburg, Fla., no time
  24. Blake Spencer (6s), St. Augustine, Fla., no time

Group B

  1. Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 16.207
  2. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 16.224
  3. David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 16.381
  4. Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.450
  5. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.477
  6. Max Blair (111), Centerville, Pa., 16.494
  7. Mark Whitener (58), Middleburg, Fla., 16.512
  8. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.540
  9. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 16.652
  10. Darrell Lanigan (29v), Union, Ky., 16.655
  11. Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.700
  12. Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 16.730
  13. Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 16.732
  14. Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., 16.814
  15. Josh Richards (1R), Shinnston, W.Va., 16.825
  16. Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.858
  17. Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 16.860
  18. Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.911
  19. Ashton Winger (89), Hampton, Ga., 16.919
  20. Logan Martin (36), West Plains, Mo., 16.999
  21. Blair Nothdurft (76), Sioux Falls, S.D., 17.226
  22. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 17.299
  23. Garrett Smith (10), Eatonton, Ga., 17.489

Thursday's schedule

11 a.m.: Pits open; registration opens
4:15 p.m.: Crate Late Model drivers' meeting
4:30 p.m.: World of Outlaws drivers' meeting
5 p.m.: Grandstands open
5:30 p.m. - Hot laps
- 602 Crate Late Models
- World of Outlaws Late Models
- 604 Crate Late Models
Time trials
- 602 Crate Late Models
- World of Outlaws Late Models
- 604 Crate Late Models
Opening ceremonies
Heat races
- 602 Crate Late Models (6 laps)
- World of Outlaws Late Model (8 laps)
- 604 Crate Late Models (8 laps)
Consolation races
- 602 Crate Late Models (8 laps)
- World of Outlaws Late Models (10 laps)
- 604 Crate Late Models (10 laps)
Feature races
- 602 Crate Late Models (15 laps)
- World of Outlaws Late Models (40 laps)
- 604 Crate Late Models (25 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: McDowell, Moran
Row 2: Madden, Sheppard
Row 3: D. Erb, Strickler
Row 4: Richards, Thornton
Row 5: Gustin, Clanton
Row 6: K. Larson, Blair
Row 7: Junghans, Bruening
Row 8: Mars, Owens
Row 9: Dillard, O'Neal
Row 10: English, Lanigan
Row 11: Bagley, Winger
Row 12: B. Larson, Briggs
Row 13: Simpson, Gundaker
Row 14: Hammer

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