BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Entering Saturday's 51st annual DIRTcar Nationals finale without a victory, time was running out on Chris Madden at Volusia Speedway Park.
But the 46-year-old Gray Court, S.C., driver's timing couldn't have been better at the D-shaped half-mile as he took command at a key moment and led the rest of the 40-lap World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series main event.
"It was just timing, you know?" said Madden, who swept under polesitter Dale McDowell on the 13th lap exiting turn four and raced to a $10,000 payday that solidified his series points lead. "We've had a great car all week. You know, I've made some bad calls on restarts, picking the wrong line, and I took myself out a couple of wins this week. But overall, we've had a great week and my guys worked their tails off and they've done a great job and I appreciate 'em."
Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., finished 1.261 seconds behind Madden at the checkers after taking the second spot on the final lap while Chickamauga, Ga.'s McDowell, Thursday's winner at Volusia, settled for third after leading the first 12 laps. Max Blair of Centerville, Pa., held the second spot most of the race but slipped back to fourth at the finish, edging fellow WoO rookie candidate Kyle Hammer of Clinton, Ill.
Madden, who captured his second career DIRTcar Nationals victory and first since the 2017 opener, started third in the 29-car field but wasn't initially confident of his chances on a reworked track surface.
"I thought we had messed up there," Madden said. "We made an adjustment (on the car before the race) and they dropped a green flag and I can't keep up. I was like, 'Oh boy, I'm in trouble.' But the racetrack finally slowed down enough to where we were pretty good and Dale and them caught lapped traffic.
"We had nothing to lose but step out there and we found a groove and happened to get by right in time, you know, before (the surface) started rubbering. So it was a big deal to do the move at that point."
Madden went to the outside to grab the second spot from Blair and experimented with that groove on McDowell before dropping back to the bottom for the winning pass. McDowell said he was a "sitting duck" in trying to figure out which groove he should pick while leading.
"I didn't know where to go," McDowell said. "I went to the middle and that's where I should've been, but (the slower cars) kind of moved out a little bit, and when I moved out a little bit, Chris and them shot by me. And then a couple laps later, (the track) single-laned. Some days are your days and some days aren't."
Marlar, who was battling Madden for the third spot early in the race, took some credit for Madden's success.
"We were actually really good tonight, but Chris was good, too," Marlar said. "Early in the race, he was a little better. I think I got him motivated. I passed him and (then) he moved out and passed the leaders. So it was fun race while it lasted and congratulations to (Madden) and a fun week."
While Madden captured the finale, Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, made a 20th-to-12th charge that was good enough for the week-long DIRTcar Nationals title. In picking up the Gator Championship trophy for the second straight season, Moran edged Madden in the miniseries points.
Three cautions slowed the action, the first on the 18th lap when Brian Shirley stopped atop turn four. Another yellow fell on lap 26 for a slowing Chris Simpson and finally on lap 32 when Ryan Gustin slowed and pulled to the infield pits.
Notes: Chris Madden has 33 career WoO victories. ... His previous WoO victory came May 22, 2021, at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway. ... The DIRTcar Nationals had six winners in six races (and a seventh different winner in the Sunshine Nationals makeup. ... Officials took breaks before the Late Model consolation races and again before the Late Model feature to rework the racing surface. ... Brandon Sheppard, whose Rocket Chassis house car team rarely takes provisional starting spots, started with his second provisional of the week. He finished 18th.
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Max Blair
Row 2: Chris Madden, Kyle Strickler
Row 3: Mike Marlar, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 4: Kyle Hammer, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 5: Dennis Erb Jr., Chris Simpson
Row 6: Tim McCreadie, Spencer Hughes
Row 7: Kyle Bronson, Brandon Overton
Row 8: Brian Shirley, Michael Norris
Row 9: Tyler Bruening, Ashton Winger
Row 10: Chase Osterhoff, Devin Moran
Row 11: Tyler Erb, Tanner English
Row 12: Cade Dillard, Brent Larson
Row 13: Brandon Sheppard, Ryan Gustin
Row 14: Josh Richards, Boom Briggs
Row 15: Gordy Gundaker
Consolation race results
(10 laps; top two transfer)
First consolation: Chase Osterhoff, Tanner English, Tyler Millwood, Mike Benedum, Donny Schatz, Blair Nothdurft, Garrett Mosely, Deshawn Gingerich, Dan Stone, Jacob Ulrich. Scratched: Garrett Smith, Jason Miller, Blake Spencer, Morgan Bagley.
Second consolation: Devin Moran, Cade Dillard, Darrell Lanigan, Frank Heckenast Jr., Shane Clanton, Josh Richards, Stacy Boles, Cody Overton, Ryan Gustin, Gordy Gundaker, Reid Millard. Scratched: Nick Hoffman, Mark Whitener.
Third consolation: Tyler Erb, Brent Larson, Brandon Sheppard, Logan Martin, Dylan Thompson, Colten Burdette, Todd Cooney, Boom Briggs, Daulton Wilson, Trey Mills. Scratched: Hudson O'Neal, Chase Junghans.
Heat race results
(Eight laps; top three transfer)
First heat: Ricky Thornton Jr., Kyle Hammer, Kyle Bronson, Chase Osterhoff, Donny Schatz, Tyler Millwood, Blair Nothdurft, Deshawn Gingerich, Jason Miller, Jacob Ulrich.
Second heat: Chris Madden, Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Shirley, Tanner English, Garrett Smith, Mike Benedum, Garrett Mosley, Dan Stone, Blake Spencer. Scratched: Morgan Bagley.
Third heat: Mike Marlar, Tim McCreadie, Tyler Bruening, Josh Richards, Cade Dillard, Darrell Lanigan, Gordy Gundaker, Reid Millard. Scratched: Mark Whitener.
Fourth heat: Max Blair, Earl Pearson Jr., Brandon Overton, Devin Moran, Frank Heckenast Jr., Shane Clanton, Ryan Gustin, Nick Hoffman, Stacy Boles, Cody Overton.
Fifth heat: Kyle Strickler, Chris Simpson, Michael Norris, Tyler Erb, Brent Larson, Trey Mills, Hudson O’Neal, Boom Briggs, Chase Junghans.
Sixth heat: Dale McDowell, Spencer Hughes, Ashton Winger, Brandon Sheppard, Logan Martin, Todd Cooney, Colten Burdette, Dylan Thompson, Daulton Wilson.
- Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 16.958
- Garrett Smith (10), Eatonton, Ga., 16.996
- Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 17.022
- Kyle Hammer (45), Clinton, Ill., 17.048
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 17.059
- Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 17.139
- Blair Nothdurft (76), Sioux Falls, S.D., 17.143
- Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 17.213
- Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 17.215
- Tyler Millwood (31), Kingston, Ga., 17.355
- Garrett Mosley (38), Lawley, Fla., 17.358
- Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 17.366
- Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 17.370
- Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 17.374
- Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., 17.391
- Jason Miller (94), Winchester, Va., 17.433
- Tanner English (81E), Benton, Ky., 17.441
- Gordy Gundaker (11G), St. Charles, Mo., 17.451
- Chase Osterhoff (130), Kankakee, Ill., 17.489
- Morgan Bagley (14m), Gladewater, Texas, 17.512
- Mike Benedum (25), Salem, W.Va., 17.551
- Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 17.569
- Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 17.641
- Blake Spencer (6S), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.669
- Mark Whitener (58), Middleburg, Fla., 17.675
- DeShawn Gingerich (0g), Dover, Pa., 18.015
- Dan Stone (2d), Thompson, Pa., 18.151
- Reid Millard (14R), Jefferson City, Mo., 18.969
- Jacob Ulrich (22AD), Sand Springs, Okla., 19.208
- Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.922
- Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., 17.023
- Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 17.115
- Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 17.202
- Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 17.235
- Spencer Hughes (11H), Meridian, Miss., 17.267
- Max Blair (111V), Centerville, Pa., 17.295
- Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 17.297
- Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 17.324
- Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 17.353
- Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 17.403
- Ashton Winger (89), Hampton, Ga., 17.409
- Earl Pearson Jr. (46), Jacksonville, Fla., 17.413
- Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 17.425
- Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C., 17.464
- Ryan Gustin (19R), Marshalltown, Iowa, 17.497
- Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 17.555
- Logan Martin (36), West Plains, Mo., 17.610
- Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 17.613
- Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 17.657
- Todd Cooney (30), Des Moines, Iowa, 17.665
- Cody Overton (97), Evans, Ga., 17.670
- Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 17.690
- Colten Burdette (44), Parkersburg, W.Va., 17.867
- Nick Hoffman (6), Mooresville, N.C., 17.924
- Trey Mills (14), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.931
- Dylan Thompson (99), Paducah, Ky., 18.005
- Stacy Boles (11B), Clinton, Tenn., 18.066
10 a.m. - Pit gates open
3 p.m. - Pit areas secured
3:30 p.m. - Draw opens
4:45 p.m. - Late Model drivers' meeting
5 p.m. - Grandstands open
5:30 p.m. - On-track activity
- Big-block modified hot laps
- Super Late Model hot laps
- Big-block modified time trials
- Super Late Model time trials
- Big-block modified heats (8 laps)
- Super Late Model heats (8 laps)
- Big-block modified consolations (10 laps)
- Super Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- Big-block modified main event (50 laps)
- Super Late Model main event (40 laps)