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Daily Dirt 04/22/2021 08:26:49

Sponsor 743
December 15
The Dome at America's Center,
St. Louis, MO
Sanction: Unsanctioned special events (VP Racing Fuels Gateway Dirt Nationals) - $20,000
Information provided by: Staff reports (last updated December 16, 3:59 am)
Lanigan tops 97 qualifiers at Gateway Nationals
Heath Lawson/heathlawsonphotos.com
A look at the fifth-mile track hosting the Gateway Nationals.
Key notes: Every lap of Late Model and modified action is available on pay-per-view at DirtonDirt.com. Click "order live video" on the upper right of the website. ... The St. Louis event in the stadium that formerly hosted the St. Louis Rams is the first indoor race for Late Models since a 1982 event at the Pontiac Silverdome near Detroit, Mich. ... The fifth-mile oval was built a week ahead of the event on the floor of The Dome at America's Center. ... On-track is set to begin 3 p.m. each of the three days.
Who to watch: UMP DIRTcar Summernationals and UMP DIRTcar weekly champion Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill.
Car count: 97
Fast qualifier: Darrell Lanigan
Time: 10.687 seconds
Next series race: $5,000-to-win Late Model prelim on Friday; $20,000-to-win Late Model finale Saturday.
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Formats, lineups and results from the inaugural VP Racing Fuels Gateway Dirt Nationals presented by Karl Performance at The Dome at America's Center for unsanctioned Late Models and modifieds (results unofficial):

10:09 p.m. | Heat race explainer

Friday's eight-lap Late Model heat races will transfer only the winner to Friday's main event. The second through fifth finishers head for a B-main while finishers sixth through eighth heat for a C-main. Finishers ninth and beyond go to a D-main.

There'll be two B-, C- and D-mains apiece with the drivers from the odd heats (first, third, fifth, seventh) going to the first set of consies and drivers from the event heats (second, fourth, sixth, eighth) going to the second set.

Four drivers apiece transfer from C- and D-mains while six drivers apiece transfer from B-mains to fill the 20-car starting field for Friday's $5,000-to-win main event.

10 p.m. | Friday's heat lineups

First heat
Row 1: Darrell Lanigan, Joey Coulter
Row 2: Justin Kay, Matt Santel
Row 3: Scott Ward, Rob Toland
Row 4: Jeff Roth, Jimmy Sharpe Jr.
Row 5: Jeremy Sneed, Jason Zobrist
Row 6: Kevin Weaver, Jim Gray
Row 7: Dustin Reese
Second heat
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Jesse Stovall
Row 2: Nick Hoffman, Shannon Scott
Row 3: Greg Kimmons, Don O'Neal
Row 4: Payton Looney, Brandon Sheppard
Row 5: Derek Fetter, Bobby Pierce
Row 6: Dan Jacober, Chris Geisen
Third heat
Row 1: Casey Roberts, Chad Zobrist
Row 2: Michael Kloos, Dustin Griffin
Row 3: Mike Spatola, Rodney Melvin
Row 4: Jason Perry, Charles LaPlant
Row 5: Matt Taylor, Harrison Hall
Row 6: T.J. Markham, Michael Walker
Fourth heat
Row 1: Tim Senic, Jason Feger
Row 2: Austin Hubbard, Doug Glessner
Row 3: Cole Swibold, Scott Fitzpatrick
Row 4: Jason Suhre, Randy Timms
Row 5: Austin Theiss, Casey Montague
Row 6: Justin Russell, Nick Davis
Fifth heat
Row 1: Billy Moyer Jr., Ray Cook
Row 2: Scott Bell, Spencer Diercks
Row 3: Scott Lewis, Jeff Herzog
Row 4: Russ Ogletree, Zach McMillan
Row 5: Jay Elliott, Bryan Collins
Row 6: Reid Millard, Steve Beach
Sixth heat
Row 1: Chris Simpson, Bob Gardner
Row 2: Rusty Schlenk, Mike Schulte
Row 3: Steve Thorsten, Devin Moran
Row 4: Caleb Ashby, Timothy Culp
Row 5: Chris Fetter, Samuel Tolley
Row 6: Jon Driskill, Kevin Palmer
Seventh heat
Row 1: Jacob Magee, Daryn Klein
Row 2: Tony Jackson Jr., Gordy Gundaker
Row 3: Tanner English, Brant Kehrer
Row 4: Hunter Rasdon, Mark Voigt
Row 5: David Payne, Robbie Bauman
Row 6: Cody Holtkamp, Brandon Tibaldi
Eighth heat
Row 1: Kent Robinson, Shannon Babb
Row 2: Matt Bailey, Brian Shirley
Row 3: Ryan Unzicker, Austin Rettig
Row 4: Rick Salter, Kolby Vandenbergh
Row 5: Michael Luna, Mike Hammerle
Row 6: Ricky Mardis, Brian Mullins

9:54 p.m. | Lanigan quick time

With none of 97 qualifiers improving their times in the second round, Darrell Lanigan topped overall qualifying with his 10.687-second lap. Lanigan will start on the pole of Friday's first heat. The second round of modified heat follows with mod heat races thereafter. Late Model heat races are scheduled for Friday afternoon.

8:50 p.m. | Halfway through Round 2

Halfway through the second round, Nick Hoffman of Mooresville, N.C., has the quickest lap at 11.506 seconds. But with the track slickened off, that time doesn't improve Hoffman's first lap and, indeed, no driver among the first 50 qualifiers improved on a first-lap time.

8:08 p.m. | Second round Late Models

Late Models are rolling onto the arena floor for the second round of time trials after a lengthy first round for the modifieds that included a rollover accident (no injuries were reported). Rusty Schlenk drew the first qualifying spot for both rounds of time trials.

6:35 p.m. | More Round 1 qualifying notes

Billy Moyer Jr. was smiling broadly after his fifth-fastest lap in Round 1. “I think it’s gonna be good, gonna be a lot of fun,” he said of the track. “There’s some black (lane) showing off (turn) two, and that’s good. We need a little bit of that to get the track harder. No matter what, though, (track-prep head Kevin) Gundaker isn’t gonna let it suck. He’ll make this thing work.” … Shannon Babb is very familiar with fifth-mile Midwest bullrings, but he said this one “doesn’t remind me of anything” after timing 16th-fastest in Round 1. “It’s a good little racetrack, though,” he commented. “We’ll know more after the (modified) heat races, but I think it’ll clean up and widen out.” … Brandon Sheppard didn’t have an enjoyable first round of qualifying, timing 58th fastest with his family-owned Rocket machine. “I tried to run up higher than most guys did and there wasn’t very much grip,” said Sheppard, who threw up thick rooster-tails of dirt as he circled the extreme top of the track. “There was just a lot of fluff so it was hard to get ahold of it, but I didn’t have my car right either. We have to de-tune the motor a little bit.” … Bobby Pierce struggled even more than Sheppard in his first-round qualifying effort, ending up 74th-fastest in the results. “I’m so loose,” he said. “We gotta tighten up.” ... Some breaks for ventilation were required during time trials for the modified division with about 81 of 133 qualifiers complete by about 6:45 p.m.

6 p.m. | Round 1 qualifying notes

The first session of Dirt Late Model hot laps/time trials was completed in just over an hour, but officials took an extended break in the action before starting the first modified qualifying round to allow the fumes produced by the steady, hour-long stream of Dirt Late Model action to clear up. Officials also announced to competitors that no motors can be fired up in the pit area; the motors can only be started in the staging area. … The only notable problems experienced by drivers during the first round of time trials was some contact with the inside tractor tires in the corners and a few bent right-rear corners from slaps of the Jersey barriers off the turns. … After registering the second-fastest Round 1 qualifying lap, Scott Bloomquist immediately went to work making changes to his open-wheel modified. He’s pulling double-duty this weekend, chasing the mod feature’s $10,000 top prize in the same car he drove to a runner-up finish in a Wisconsin modified event in September. … Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., was the third-fastest qualifier in his first-ever appearance at a track in the Midwest. He said his car owner, Jim Cushman, wanted to make the trip, so they hauled to St. Louis and got off to a strong start on some entirely unfamiliar turf. “It’s a whole lot different from what I’m used to,” Roberts said of the small oval. “By the time you get on the gas, it’s time to get off of it.”

5:35 p.m. | Lanigan's thoughts

Darrell Lanigan had his doubts about his prospects for a successful effort in the first round of Gateway Dirt Nationals hot laps/time trials. But after turning a lap of 10.687 seconds around the fifth-mile oval that held up as the qualifying session’s fastest circuit, he realized he had nothing to worry about.

“We were the third car out (of 97), and I was actually a little leery about the third number,” said Lanigan, whose Clint Bowyer Racing No. 15 still sported the logo of departing primary sponsor Georgia Boot. “I was afraid it was gonna be a little slimy, but after we went out there, it actually worked out pretty good. We was just kind of right in the middle there and got around good.

“The track was really, really dirty when I was out there — it was really hard to steer — so you pretty much just had to steer with the ass-end of the car, but we cut a pretty good lap.”

Lanigan said the track’s layout reminded him “a whole lot of Belle-Clair (Speedway) without the wall inside,” but the surface is undoubtedly different.

“The track’s just kind of dirty,” Lanigan said. “The dirt’s real loose out there, so it’s gonna be interesting to see what happens when you put a bunch of cars out there.

“It’s a Supercross dirt, and if you ever watch those (motorcycle) guys, it’s always loose stuff,” he added. “They’re throwing up rooster-tails like we were out there. The way the dirt is, it’s not gonna be no hard, wet cushion. I think it’s just gonna be that way (a looser dirt) all night long.”

4:40 p.m. | Second round time trial order

Rusty Schlenk (24HR), Weston, Ohio
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga.
Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del.
Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C.
Samuel Tolley (8JR), Butler, Ind.
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill.
David Payne (7), Ward, Ark.
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark.
Tanner English (33), Benton, Ky.
Tony Jackson Jr. (26R), Lebanon, Mo.
Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C.
Chris Geisen (51x), Cottage Hills, Ill.
Bob Gardner (4G), East Peoria, Ill.
Michael Kloos (6k), Trenton, Ill.
Zach McMillan (14Z), Gladewater, Texas
Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill.
Cole Swibold (98S), Fairview, Ill.
Kolby Vandenbergh (15V), Ashland, Ill.
Chad Zobrist (78), Highland, Ill.
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa
Derek Fetter (32F), Troy, Mo.
Tim Senic (S2), Elkins, W.Va.
Robbie Bauman (30JR), Fairview, Ill.
Jim Gray (1G), Lynchburg, Tenn.
Scott Fitzpatrick (24F), Wheatland, Iowa
Greg Kimmons (27K), Pleasant Plains, Ill.
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill.
Rob Toland (39), Davenport, Iowa
Matt Santel (17x), New Memphis, Ill.
Dustin Reese (13R), East Grove, Ill.
Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo.
Matt Bailey (52), Highland, Ill.
Scott Bell (45), East Prairie, Mo.
Justin Russell (0X), Henley, Mo.
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn.
Michael Luna (18L), Baxter, Tenn.
Jason Zobrist (87), Highland, Ill.
Timothy Culp (c8), Prattsville, Ark.
Justin Kay (15k), Wheatland, Iowa
Hunter Rasdon (R5), Jonesboro, Ark.
Jason Suhre (4S), Highland, Ill.
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill.
Gordy Gundaker (11G), St. Charles, Mo.
Mark Voigt (30V), Marine, Ill.
Jacob Magee (10M), Caney, Kan.
Randy Timms (5T), Wheatland, Okla.
Charles LaPlant (3C), East Prairie, Mo.
Payton Looney (15X), Republic, Mo.
Brian Mullins (47), Cincinnati, Ohio
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill.
Shannon Scott (4X), Henryetta, Ohio
Joey Coulter (49c), Miami Beach, Fla.
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind.
Doug Glessner (17G), Boswell, Pa.
Scott Ward (37), Watertown, S.D.
Jeff Herzog (11H), Herculaneum, Mo.
Michael Walker (64), Lewisburg, Tenn.
T.J. Markham (21M), Sycamore, Ill.
Nick Davis (92), Delmar, Del.
Matt Taylor (44), Springfield, Ill.
Jimmy Sharpe Jr. (26jr), Vidalia, Ga.
Mike Hammerle (16H), St. Charles, Mo.
Casey Montague (01), Trey, Ill.
Bryan Collins (11Z), Elsberry, Mo.
Russ Ogletree (88r), Salem, Ala.
Steve Beach (10S), Eldon, Mo.
Brian Shirley (53S), Chatham, Ill.
Caleb Ashby (61), Cunningham, Tenn.
Dan Jacober (22), Highland, Ill.
Chris Fetter (15F), Troy, Mo.
Rodney Melvin (53M), Benton, Ill.
Jay Elliott (00E), Phenix City, Ala.
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill.
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky.
Harrison Hall (99J), Circleville, Ohio
Brant Kehrer (92), New Memphis, Ill.
Jon Driskill (88), Centertown, Mo.
Ricky Mardis (2M), West Lafayette, Ohio
Jason Perry (27), Payson, Ill.
Spencer Diercks (29), Davenport, Iowa
Reid Millard (14X), Jefferson City, Mo.
Steve Thorsten (7T), Milford, Ill.
Cody Holtkamp (23), Holts Summit, Mo.
Jesse Stovall (00), Billings, Mo.
Dustin Griffin (20), Camp Point, Ill.
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill.
Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind.
Jeff Roth (14R), Bentonville, Ark.
Jeremy Sneed (24S), Bluford, Ill.
Mike Schulte (27m), Summerfield, Ill.
Scott Lewis (99), Henderson, Colo.
Rick Salter (1S), Aviston, Ill.
Austin Theiss (7D), Hockley, Texas
Daryn Klein (10), Fairview Heights, Ill.
Brandon Tibaldi (17), Almo, Ky.
Kevin Palmer (12), Woodbine, Md.
Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio

4:24 p.m. | Lanigan tops first round

Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., was quickest of 97 qualifiers in the first round of time trials that took an hour or so to complete. Lanigan tripped the clock at 10.687 seconds on the fifth-mile oval. After the first round of modified time trials (135 cars), the Late Models will return to the track trying to improve on their first-round laps.

Only seven drivers cracked the 11-second barrier with Scott Bloomquist (10.889) of Mooresburg, Tenn., Casey Roberts (10.905) of Toccoa, Ga., and Tim Senic (10.923) of Elkins, W.Va., and Billy Moyer Jr. (10.932) of Batesville, Ark., joining Lanigan in the top five. Also below 11 seconds was Chris Simpson (10.968) of Oxford, Iowa, and a surprising Jacob Magee (10.992) of Caney, Kan.

4:12 p.m. | First round time trials

First round of time trials (unofficial):

  1. Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 10.687
  2. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 10.889
  3. Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 10.905
  4. Tim Senic (S2), Elkins, W.Va., 10.923
  5. Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 10.932
  6. Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 10.968
  7. Jacob Magee (10M), Caney, Kan., 10.992
  8. Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., 11.004
  9. Joey Coulter (49c), Miami Beach, Fla., 11.013
  10. Jesse Stovall (00), Billings, Mo., 11.035
  11. Chad Zobrist (78), Highland, Ill., 11.039
  12. Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 11.040
  13. Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C., 11.041
  14. Bob Gardner (4G), East Peoria, Ill., 11.048
  15. Daryn Klein (10), Fairview Heights, Ill., 11.054
  16. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 11.064
  17. Justin Kay (15k), Wheatland, Iowa, 11.065
  18. Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 11.087
  19. Michael Kloos (6k), Trenton, Ill., 11.100
  20. Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 11.115
  21. Scott Bell (45), East Prairie, Mo., 11.127
  22. Rusty Schlenk (24HR), Weston, Ohio, 11.133
  23. Tony Jackson Jr. (26R), Lebanon, Mo., 11.138
  24. Matt Bailey (52), Highland, Ill., 11.151
  25. Matt Santel (17x), New Memphis, Ill., 11.154
  26. Shannon Scott (4X), Henryetta, Ohio, 11.181
  27. Dustin Griffin (20), Camp Point, Ill., 11.184
  28. Doug Glessner (17G), Boswell, Pa., 11.185
  29. Spencer Diercks (29), Davenport, Iowa, 11.203
  30. Mike Schulte (27m), Summerfield, Ill., 11.247
  31. Gordy Gundaker (11G), St. Charles, Mo., 11.261
  32. Brian Shirley (53S), Chatham, Ill., 11.287
  33. Scott Ward (37), Watertown, S.D., 11.295
  34. Greg Kimmons (27K), Pleasant Plains, Ill., 11.297
  35. Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., 11.300
  36. Cole Swibold (98S), Fairview, Ill., 11.308
  37. Scott Lewis (99), Henderson, Colo., 11.312
  38. Steve Thorsten (7T), Milford, Ill., 11.327
  39. Tanner English (33), Benton, Ky., 11.331
  40. Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 11.338
  41. Rob Toland (39), Davenport, Iowa, 11.340
  42. Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 11.347
  43. Rodney Melvin (53M), Benton, Ill., 11.354
  44. Scott Fitzpatrick (24F), Wheatland, Iowa, 11.377
  45. Jeff Herzog (11H), Herculaneum, Mo., 11.399
  46. Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, 11.405
  47. Brant Kehrer (92), New Memphis, Ill., 11.409
  48. Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo., 11.416
  49. Jeff Roth (14R), Bentonville, Ark., 11.428
  50. Payton Looney (15X), Republic, Mo., 11.439
  51. Jason Perry (27), Payson, Ill., 11.440
  52. Jason Suhre (4S), Highland, Ill., 11.446
  53. Russ Ogletree (88r), Salem, Ala., 11.463
  54. Caleb Ashby (61), Cunningham, Tenn., 11.486
  55. Hunter Rasdon (R5), Jonesboro, Ark., 11.487
  56. Rick Salter (1S), Aviston, Ill., 11.506
  57. Jimmy Sharpe Jr. (26jr), Vidalia, Ga., 11.529
  58. Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 11.534
  59. Charles LaPlant (3C), East Prairie, Mo., 11.561
  60. Randy Timms (5T), Wheatland, Okla., 11.573
  61. Zach McMillan (14Z), Gladewater, Texas, 11.575
  62. Timothy Culp (c8), Prattsville, Ark., 11.596
  63. Mark Voigt (30V), Marine, Ill., 11.614
  64. Kolby Vandenbergh (15V), Ashland, Ill., 11.627
  65. Jeremy Sneed (24S), Bluford, Ill., 11.628
  66. Derek Fetter (32F), Troy, Mo., 11.647
  67. Matt Taylor (44), Springfield, Ill., 11.675
  68. Austin Theiss (7D), Hockley, Texas, 11.682
  69. Jay Elliott (00E), Phenix City, Ala., 11.686
  70. Chris Fetter (15F), Troy, Mo., 11.688
  71. David Payne (7), Ward, Ark., 11.704
  72. Michael Luna (18L), Baxter, Tenn., 11.710
  73. Jason Zobrist (87), Highland, Ill., 11.729
  74. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 11.753
  75. Harrison Hall (99J), Circleville, Ohio, 11.818
  76. Casey Montague (01), Trey, Ill., 11.832
  77. Bryan Collins (11Z), Elsberry, Mo., 11.854
  78. Samuel Tolley (8JR), Butler, Ind., 11.906
  79. Robbie Bauman (30JR), Fairview, Ill., 11.943
  80. Mike Hammerle (16H), St. Charles, Mo., 11.952
  81. Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 11.964
  82. Dan Jacober (22), Highland, Ill., 11.981
  83. T.J. Markham (21M), Sycamore, Ill., 11.985
  84. Justin Russell (0X), Henley, Mo., 12.016
  85. Reid Millard (14X), Jefferson City, Mo., 12.073
  86. Jon Driskill (88), Centertown, Mo., 12.084
  87. Cody Holtkamp (23), Holts Summit, Mo., 12.110
  88. Ricky Mardis (2M), West Lafayette, Ohio, 12.152
  89. Chris Geisen (51x), Cottage Hills, Ill., 12.166
  90. Jim Gray (1G), Lynchburg, Tenn., 12.166
  91. Michael Walker (64), Lewisburg, Tenn., 12.190
  92. Nick Davis (92), Delmas, Del., 12.357
  93. Steve Beach (10S), Eldon, Mo., 12.386
  94. Kevin Palmer (12), Woodbine, Md., 12.454
  95. Brandon Tibaldi (17), Almo, Ky., 12.509
  96. Brian Mullins (47), Cincinnati, Ohio, 12.988
  97. Dustin Reese (13R), East Grove, Ill., 13.063

3:10 p.m. | More pre-qualifying notes

Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., was punctual for Wednesday’s load-in of stacker haulers, but he nevertheless appeared to be the last driver to unload his machine on Thursday afternoon. … New GRT house car driver Timothy Culp of Prattsville, Ark., is pulling double-duty, adding action in a brand-new modified to his weekend itinerary. … Joey Coulter of Union Grove, N.C., has a special wrap on his XR1 Rocket car spotlighting the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the school from which he graduated last Saturday with a degree in operations management. His machine’s number for the weekend — 49ers — refers to UNCC’s nickname. … Nick Davis of Millsboro, Del., also has a unique scheme on his car for the weekend: a Christmas-themed wrap that includes a picture of the Grinch on his quarter-panels and snowflakes on his wheel covers. … Tony Jackson Jr. of Lebanon, Mo., will drive a new Pierce car fielded by Randy Roth of Bentonville, Ark. Jackson, whose first start in Roth’s car last month at Springfield (Mo.) Raceway was short-lived due to a blown engine, said it’s possible he might race for Roth next year in selected non-MARS DIRTcar Series events. … Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., is in the field to take his last shot at a feature win in 2016. He’s uncharacteristically winless this season. … Nick Hoffman of Mooresville, N.C., has a new body and wrap on his Jones Oil Company-sponsored XR1 Rocket, but it’s a standard scheme rather than the St. Louis Cardinals-themed look his car sported at September’s World 100. “I was joking that we should have done a ‘Thanks for leaving, St. Louis Rams!’ wrap for this race,” the native of Belleville, Ill., said, referring to last year’s departure of the Dome’s NFL team for Los Angeles.

2:40 p.m. | Pre-qualifying notes

The 97-car field of Dirt Late Models falls just a bit short of the division’s largest car count in 2016: the 108-car turnout for September’s World 100 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. … The finishing touches on the Dome’s fifth-mile oval were done this morning with the wiring of Whelen caution-light poles around the track and the running of the electronic scoring loop, which can be seen suspended in the air from the start-finish line to the officials’ tower. … If anyone is seeking a comparison of the Gateway Dirt Nationals to the last indoor Late Model race contested on a dirt track — the March 1982 Super Bowl of Dirt at Michigan’s Pontiac Silverdome — they can seek out the Dome’s track-construction overseer, Kevin Gundaker, and Dirt Late Model legend Donnie Moran. Both men competed in the rough-and-tumble Silverdome event. … Moran is on hand assisting the effort of his son Devin, who will drive a MasterSbilt car from his family’s stable that he last ran at the end of the 2015 season. The elder Moran is recovering from a procedure to scope the meniscus of his right knee that he underwent last week. … Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., also opted to bring an older model car to the Dome: a 2009-vintage Rocket machine that he said has been “sitting in the pool garage” at his father’s home since he last campaigned it in the 2012 World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. … Missing from the weekend’s action is Hall of Famer Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., who was entered in the event to race alongside his son, Billy Jr., but decided to stay home because he is sick with the dual effects of strep throat and the flu. … Rusty Schlenk of McClure, Ohio, was scheduled to drive Mark Dowdy’s Tennessee-based car this weekend, but as he was on road headed toward St. Louis on Tuesday he received a call from Dowdy that the machine was sidelined due to terminal engine trouble that developed when it was fired up in the shop. Schlenk was able to hastily arrange another ride in Missourian Ron McQuerry’s Rocket car.

2:16 p.m. | First look at track

Gateway Dirt Nationals officials maintained a sense of mystery about the fifth-mile dirt track by prohibiting team members from walking onto the Dome floor to check out the oval during the pit-area move-in on Wednesday and again Thursday morning.

Finally, at 12:15 p.m. Thursday, entered drivers were permitted to walk around the racetrack to get a real-world feel for the layout. An anxious herd of Dirt Late Model and open-wheel modified competitors gathered in the annex that links the Dome to the Convention Center halls that serve as the pit area and then quickly spread out around the track, carefully checking out every inch of the temporary oval.

Some drivers congregated together on the track surface to share their thoughts. Some wandered alone, feeling the catch fence and eyeballing the nooks and crannies of the track.

Veteran racer Ray Cook of Brasstown, N.C., who has a in-depth knowledge of track prep from his position as promoter of Tri-County Race Track in his hometown, stood between turns one and two and kneeled down to pick up a clod of dirt. He rolled it between his fingers, testing the pliability of the earth.

Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., was one of the last drivers to leave the track surface after taking his tour. His first impression? “It’s pretty small,” he said.

But Pierce, of course, knows a little bit about getting around little bullrings. He’s won big shows at both fifth-mile ovals in Illinois, Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville and Macon Speedway, and he thought the Dome’s track looked much like those facilities.

“The shape of the track reminds me a lot of Macon,” Pierce said. “The dirt reminds me a lot of Belleville and Highland (Ill.).

“It’s so wide, I think we’ll be able to race on it pretty good. I think they did a good job with it.”

2:14 p.m. | First-round time trial order

Rusty Schlenk (24HR), McClure, Ohio
Tanner English (33), Benton, Ky.
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky.
Charles LaPlant (3C), East Prairie, Mo.
Brant Kehrer (92), New Memphis, Ill.
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa
Russ Ogletree (88r), Salem, Ala.
Tony Jackson Jr. (26R), Lebanon, Mo.
Jay Elliott (00E), Phenix City, Ala.
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga.
Joey Coulter (49c), Miami Beach, Fla.
Jacob Magee (10M), Caney, Kan.
Jimmy Sharpe Jr. (26jr), Vidalia, Ga.
Jesse Stovall (00), Billings, Mo.
Mike Schulte (27m), Summerfield, Ill.
Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del.
Scott Fitzpatrick (24F), Wheatland, Iowa
Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind.
Justin Kay (15k), Wheatland, Iowa
Tim Senic (S2), Elkins, W.Va.
Dustin Reese (13R), East Grove, Ill.
Scott Ward (37), Watertown, S.D.
Scott Bell (45), East Prairie, Mo.
Scott Lewis (99), Henderson, Colo.
Rob Toland (39), Davenport, Iowa
Cole Swibold (98S), Fairview, Ill.
Matt Santel (17x), New Memphis, Ill.
Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C.
Jason Suhre (4S), Highland, Ill.
Daryn Klein (10), Fairview Heights, Ill.
Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill.
Chad Zobrist (78), Highland, Ill.
Brian Shirley (53S), Chatham, Ill.
Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C.
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark.
Doug Glessner (17G), Boswell, Pa.
Matt Bailey (52), Highland, Ill.
Steve Thorsten (7T), Milford, Ill.
Jeff Roth (14R), Bentonville, Ark.
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill.
Chris Geisen (51x), Cottage Hills, Ill.
Ricky Mardis (2M), West Lafayette, Ohio
David Payne (7), Ward, Ark.
Caleb Ashby (61), Cunningham, Tenn.
Kevin Palmer (12), Woodbine, Md.
Spencer Diercks (29), Davenport, Iowa
Dustin Griffin (20), Camp Point, Ill.
Bob Gardner (4G), East Peoria, Ill.
Michael Kloos (6k), Trenton, Ill.
Greg Kimmons (27K), Pleasant Plains, Ill.
Payton Looney (15X), Republic, Mo.
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn.
Mark Voigt (30V), Marine, Ill.
Michael Walker (64), Lewisburg, Tenn.
Rodney Melvin (53M), Benton, Ill.
Samuel Tolley (8JR), Butler, Ind.
Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo.
Jason Zobrist (87), Highland, Ill.
Gordy Gundaker (11G), St. Charles, Mo.
Zach McMillan (14Z), Gladewater, Texas
Jim Gray (1G), Lynchburg, Tenn.
Chris Fetter (15F), Troy, Mo.
Rick Salter (1S), Aviston, Ill.
Robbie Bauman (30JR), Fairview, Ill.
Casey Montague (01), Trey, Ill.
Bryan Collins (11Z), Elsberry, Mo.
Brandon Tibaldi (17), Almo, Ky.
Cody Holtkamp (23), Holts Summit, Mo.
Matt Taylor (44), Springfield, Ill.
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill.
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill.
Jeff Herzog (11H), Herculaneum, Mo.
Randy Timms (5T), Wheatland, Okla.
Austin Theiss (7D), Hockley, Texas
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill.
Nick Davis (92), Delmas, Del.
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill.
Michael Luna (18L), Baxter, Tenn.
Derek Fetter (32F), Troy, Mo.
Jason Perry (27), Payson, Ill.
Dan Jacober (22), Highland, Ill.
Jeremy Sneed (24S), Bluford, Ill.
Harrison Hall (99J), Circleville, Ohio
Kolby Vandenbergh (15V), Ashland, Ill.
Justin Russell (0X), Henley, Mo.
Mike Hammerle (16H), St. Charles, Mo.
Brian Mullins (47), Cincinnati, Ohio
Jon Driskill (88), Centertown, Mo.
Shannon Scott (4X), Henryetta, Ohio
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill.
Steve Beach (10S), Eldon, Mo.
Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio
Timothy Culp (c8), Prattsville, Ark.
Hunter Rasdon (R5), Jonesboro, Ark.
Reid Millard (14X), Jefferson City, Mo.
T.J. Markham (21M), Sycamore, Ill.
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind.

1:12 p.m. | Pay-per-view details

If you're looking for details about the DirtonDirt.com pay-per-view, the website is providing coverage of every lap of action at the Gateway Nationals. The program begins daily at 2:30 p.m. Find an answer to virtually every possible question at our frequently asked questions page.

1:07 p.m. | Drivers’ meeting

Drivers, competitors, media members and other onlookers are gathered in a convention meeting room for the pre-race drivers’ meeting with promoter Cody Sommer opening the meeting. It’s a rare drivers’ meeting with everyone leaving the clean concrete pit floor through a carpeted hall and into a meeting room lined with many rows of chairs and scores of others standing around the edges of the room. The Christmas carols playing throughout the convention center provides a strange juxtaposition for a dirt racing event.

Event format

LATE MODELS

Thursday time trials: Best times from two rounds of qualifying will transfer the quickest 100 drivers to Friday and Saturday action (next 20 quickest qualifiers compete in non-qualifiers’ race; other competitors are done for the weekend).

Thursday non-qualifier race: $1,000-to-win (top two finishers can pass up earnings to transfer to weekend action).

Friday prelims: Heat races and consolations transfer drivers into 25-lap feature; top eight finishers in Friday’s $5,000-to-win feature locked into redraw for first four rows of Saturday feature.

Saturday: Consolation races set remainder of feature field for $20,000-to-win finale.

MODIFIEDS

Thursday time trials: Best times from two rounds of qualifying will transfer the quickest 100 drivers to Friday and Saturday action (next 40 quickest qualifiers compete in non-qualifier races; other competitors are done for the weekend).

Thursday non-qualifier races: $750-to-win (top two finishers can pass up earnings to transfer to weekend action).

Thursday heat races: Among top 100 qualifiers with drivers transferring to Friday feature.

Friday consolation races: Set remainder of lineup for 20-lap feature; top eight finishers in Friday’s $5,000-to-win feature locked into redraw for first four rows of Saturday feature.

Saturday: Consolation races set remainder of feature field for $10,000-to-win finale.

Event schedule

Thursday
8 a.m.: Registration opens
8-10 a.m.: Late arrival parking.
10 a.m.: Pit gates open
1 p.m.: Drivers' meeting
3 p.m.: Qualifying
- Late Model round 1 time trials
- Modified round 1 time trials
- Late Model round 2 time trials
- Modified round 2 time trials
Preliminary races
- First modified non-qualifier ($750-to-win)
- Second modified non-qualifier ($750-to-win)
- Modified heat races (among top 100)
10 p.m. Registration closes
Midnight-2 a.m.: Pit stalls hall 1-3 reassigned to teams transferring to Friday and Saturday action.

Friday
11 a.m.: Registration opens
8 a.m.-noon: Completion of trailer parking.
1 p.m.: Pit gates open
3 p.m.: Hot laps
- Late Model heat races
- Modified consolations
- Late Model consolations
- $5,000-to-win modified feature (20 laps)
- $5,000-to-win Late Model feature (25 laps)

Saturday
11 a.m.: Registration opens
1 p.m.: Pit gates open
3 p.m.: Hot laps
- Late Model consolations
- Modified consolations
- Opening ceremonies
- $20,000-to-win Late Model feature (40 laps)
- $10,000-to-win modified feature

 
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