BARBERVILLE, Fla. — In the three Georgia-Florida Speedweeks events Dale McDowell entered this season before Thursday’s World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series race at Volusia Speedway Park, McDowell flew well under the radar. In fact, the Chickamauga, Ga., native had only managed to qualify for one of the three features.
Thursday, however, McDowell found his stride at just the right time. Charging to the front from his 15th starting position, McDowell took the lead from Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., with an inside pass on lap 43. He then led the final seven laps of the 50-lap feature, holding off a late rebuff from Sheppard to pick up a $10,000 victory.
Sheppard, who led 33 laps after passing Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., for the lead on lap 11, regrouped to make a final push after giving up the point. But his bid fell short, leaving the reigning tour champion to settle for second, his best finish in two series starts this season.
Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., finished third, while Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., placed fourth. Overall fast qualifier Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., completed the top five.
The win was the 11th of McDowell’s career on the national tour. His last World of Outlaws victory came less than two years ago — April 8, 2016 — at Duck River Raceway Park in Wheel, Tenn., a track he has plenty of experience on. But while McDowell is a perennial contender wherever he competes, historically his record during Georgia-Florida Speedweeks has been a bit underwhelming. His last victory during the three weeks of annual winter competition came in 2006 at East Bay Raceway in Gibsonton, Fla.
It’s been nearly two decades, however, since McDowell won at Volusia. Thursday’s victory, his third career win at the half-mile facility, was his first since winning a Hav-A-Tampa Racing Series-sanctioned race there on Feb. 13, 1999 — exactly 19 years, three days ago.
“It was up in the air if we were gonna come (to Speedweeks) or not,” McDowell said. “So we ended up deciding to come and it’s just awesome to be here in victory lane. Tonight, just everything worked out.”
McDowell said he jumped the cushion slightly during qualifying, which put him behind a bit. But he was able to overcome that hiccup thanks to a racy surface that promoted multiple racing grooves and aided his rally from the middle of the field.
“The groove would change around,” McDowell said. “When Scott (Bloomquist) chose the bottom (during a caution), I was able to get by those guys on the outside, and then I felt it leaving up there within two or three laps. So we had our next caution, I chose the bottom and was able to just kinda bide (my time).
“In a race like that, I think Brandon (Sheppard) would hit and miss (his mark). Everybody out there we was around, the lap times had to be all over the place and that’s what makes good racing. It makes a lot of passing. If the racetrack is really equal and the times are so close, then the racing isn’t as good. Conditions like tonight is what it’s all about. It’s what makes race fans happy. Obviously whoever wins is happy.”
While McDowell was methodically working his way forward, Sheppard paced the field comfortably at the front. Scheduled to start fifth, he was able to move up to the second row when Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., had to go to a back-up car. He took advantage right away, stalking Madden until he was able to zip by on lap 10. Sheppard turned back an outside challenge from McDowell following a lap-22 restart and by the halfway mark he’d built a .765-second advantage. He couldn’t keep the veteran in second forever, though.
“I restarted in the bottom there on one of those last restarts and had a good thing going there, but then I went to the top to try to hold them guys off,” said Sheppard. “I guess McDowell must have got around (Shane) Clanton and got a good run on that bottom there. When I went back down there, my tires had a lot of heat in them and it was hard to get it back underneath me, so I kinda lost my rhythm there and Dale got by me. When I got back going and got my tires back underneath me there at the end, I got back to Dale.
“But he did a really good job. I look up to him a lot. He’s taught me a lot. I went to his school when I was first starting racing. So if it’s anybody I’d want to run second to it’s him or one of them guys like that.”
The 10th-starting Davenport never threatened to take the lead. Even so, he continued a torrid start to the 2018 campaign with his 10th top-five finish in 12 Georgia-Florida Speedweeks starts for car owner Lance Landers. In his last six races, Davenport has three victories, a second, a third and a fifth-place finish.
“We was a little too tight to run the bottom there,” Davenport said. “We just kept waiting and waiting and waiting. It felt like I was still 12th or 15th with like 10 (laps) to go there. But we got rolling pretty good on the top.
“There at one point I thought our night ended. Chase (Junghans) passed me on the bottom there and moved up at the last second. I thought I was gonna be top there in the trailers. We finally got turned off the wall. We got minimal damage on the spoiler. Anyway, it was just another good run for our Crop Productions team. We had to change our car up a little bit today … but we battled back.”
Notes: McDowell won by 1.355 seconds. … Chris Madden led the first 10 laps from the pole. After Sheppard went by for the lead, Madden was still battling inside the top three before contact on lap 22 with Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., ended his night. The two got together at the exit of turn four and crashed on the front stretch, with Jameson’s car coming to a stop. Madden continued on, but retired before the field retook the green with heavy damage to the right rear of his new Barry Wright Race Cars-designed Icon. Jameson, feeling Madden was at fault, climbed from his car and tossed his steering wheel in Madden’s direction as the cars idled by under caution. … Scott Bloomquist was back in his 2-race-old car after turning the wheel over to protege Ricky Weiss on Wednesday; Weiss, of Headingley, Manitoba, didn’t make Wednesday’s show. Bloomquist was the overall fast qualifier and won his heat, but failed to lead a lap after starting fourth. … The race was slowed by two cautions on lap 22 for the Madden-Jameson tangle and on lap 34 when Richards pulled his overheating Donny Schatz-owned machine to the infield. Richards was forced to Schatz’s car after his Best Performance Motorsports car had mechanical trouble after winning his heat. … For the second race in a row, World of Outlaws officials allowed a number of emergency provisionals, as drivers, especially rookie hopefuls, struggled to make main events. The series started 32 cars on Wednesday and 30 on Thursday. … Floridian Kyle Bronson was involved in a hard crash in his heat race, leaving his Brandon Ford-sponsored Longhorn in a heap. The WoO rookie hopeful scratched for the evening due to heavy right-side damage. … Billy Moyer Jr.’s rough Speedweeks continued. Moyer Jr. managed just 12 laps and was the first retiree. … Mike Marlar struggle to find speed, making just 19 laps and finishing 29th.
Preliminary results and notes:
Heat 4 winner Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., is scheduled to start third in the 50-lap feature, but he will have to fall in at the rear of the field driving WoO sprint car star Donny Schatz’s XR1 Rocket because a broken balancer on his car’s engine at the end of the preliminary sidelined his Best Performance Motorsports machine. Richards’s crew chief, Randall Edwards, his father, Mark, and others scrambled in an attempt to fix the balancer problem, but the attempts were futile, forcing Richards to climb in Schatz’s mount and try to get comfortable in the seat. … Polesitter Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., registered his first-ever DIRTcar Nationals victory in 2017’s opener, but he’s actually won twice at Volusia including an October 2006 Gator 100 triumph. … Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., who starts fourth in the 50-lapper, has won at least once during the DIRTcar Nationals every year since 2011 except last year — because he wasn’t eligible to compete in the ’17 edition while under suspension from World Racing Group-affiliated events. … Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., scored his first preliminary victory of Speedweeks in Heat 2, holding off a late rush from Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. “We’ve struggled all week trying to get it turned into the corner,” said Jameson, who starts second in the feature. “We knocked the nose off last night and I think that figured our problem out.” … Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, fell back on a WoO points provisional to start the A-main after a dead battery prevented him from running his B-main. … Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., scratched from further action after damaging his car’s right-rear corner in a slap of the wall during his heat race. He made his second start in a new Black Diamond house car that he debuted on Wednesday; his team owner, Ronnie Stuckey, said EPJ would likely be back in the battle-tested machine he drove in his other Speedweeks competition. … Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla., was also a scratch from a B-main after a heat scramble thoroughly damaged the right side bodywork of his car. … Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., and Jeff Mathews of Apollo Beach, Fla., broke rearends during heat racing.
Row 1: Chris Madden, Jason Jameson
Row 2: Josh Richards, Scott Bloomquist
Row 3: Brandon Sheppard, Shane Clanton
Row 4: Brandon Overton, Michael Norris
Row 5: Brian Shirley, Jonathan Davenport
Row 6: Timothy Culp, Jimmy Owens
Row 7: Mike Maresca, Don O'Neal
Row 8: Dale McDowell, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 9: Chase Junghans, Tim McCreadie
Row 10: Tyler Erb, Rick Eckert
Row 11: Hudson O'Neal, Nick Hoffman
Row 12: Devin Moran, Chub Frank
Row 13: Morgan Bagley, Mike Marlar
Row 14: Brent Larson, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 15: Chris Ferguson, Rusty Schlenk
Tim McCreadie powered ahead of leader Nick Hoffman on lap six and led the final four laps to win the final B-main. Rick Eckert followed McCreadie by Hoffman into the second spot, where he finished with Hoffman settling for third.
Finish (top three transfer): Tim McCreadie, Rick Eckert, Nick Hoffman, Chris Ferguson, Mike Marlar, David Breazeale, Tyler Millwood, Joey Coulter, Tyler Bruening, Darrell Lanigan, Reid Millard, Billy Moyer Jr. Scratch: Mason Zeigler, Chub Frank, Kyle Bronson.
Chase Junghans inherited the lead when Austin Smith spun to avoid the spinning car of Colton Flinner on the final lap. Junghans went on to win ahead of Tyler Erb and Hudson O’Neal.
Finish (top three transfer): Chase Junghans, Tyler Erb, Hudson O’Neal, Morgan Bagley, Zack McMillan, Rusty Schlenk, Brent Larson, Donny Schatz, Boom Briggs, Blake Spencer, Dean Carpenter, Colton Flinner, Austin Smith. Scratch: Devin Moran, Earl Pearson Jr., Jeff Mathews.
(10 laps; top 3 transfer)
Row 1: Chase Junghan, Austin Smith
Row 2: Brent Larson, Zack McMillan
Row 3: Hudson O’Neal, Rusty Schlenk
Row 4: Devin Moran, Donny Schatz
Row 5: Tyler Erb, Morgan Bailey
Row 6: Dean Carpenter, Boom Briggs
Row 7: Earl Pearson Jr., Blake Spencer
Row 8: Jeff Mathews, Colton Flinner
Row 1: Nick Hoffman, Tim McCreadie
Row 2: Rick Eckert, Chris Ferguson
Row 3: David Breazeale, Tyler Millwood
Row 4: Mike Marlar, Darrell Lanigan
Row 5: Joey Coulter, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 6: Tyler Bruening, Reid Millard
Row 7: Mason Zeigler, Chub Frank
Row 8: Kyle Bronson
Charging into the lead ahead of Dennis Erb Jr. on the opening lap, polesitter Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., ran away with the fourth heat win. Richards won by 3.543 seconds ahead of third-starting Brandon Overton. Jimmy Owens took the third spot from Erb Jr., who held off a furious charge from Tim McCreadie over the final few circuits to pick up the final transfer spot. McCreadie, who won Wednesday’s fog-shortened main event, settled for fifth. Chub Frank brought out the only caution when he slowed on the backstretch and pulled into the pits.
Finish (top four transfer): Josh Richards, Brandon Overton, Jimmy Owens, Dennis Erb Jr., Tim McCreadie, Chris Ferguson, Tyler Millwood, Darrell Lanigan, Billy Moyer Jr., Reid Millard, Chub Frank.
Taking the lead on the opening lap, Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., cruised to a 1.687 victory in the third heat, his 45th career WoO heat win. Michael Norris survived a terrible first start to finish second, while Timothy Culp and Dale McDowell nabbed the final two transfer positions. Norris shoved the up the track at the exit of turn two on the initial start, collecting four other cars, including Rick Eckert, Kyle Bronson, Culp and Tyler Bruening. All managed to restart the race with the exception of Bronson. Norris managed to to keep his machine straight on the second start attempt and fell in behind Madden, chasing him to the finish.
Finish (top four transfer): Chris Madden, Michael Norris, Timothy Culp, Dale McDowell, Nick Hoffman, Rick Eckert, David Breazeale, Mike Marlar, Joey Coulter, Tyler Bruening, Mason Zeigler, Kyle Bronson.
Winning the second heat race, Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., held off Brandon Sheppard by .896 of a second. Polesitter and Monday’s DIRTcar Late Model feature winner Jonathan Davenport lost the lead to Jameson on the start an then gave way to Sheppard before settling for third. Don O’Neal finished fourth. Colton Flinner spun to draw the lone yellow.
Finish (top four transfer): Jason Jameson, Brandon Sheppard, Jonathan Davenport, Don O’Neal, Austin Smith, Zack McMillan, Rusty Schlenk, Donny Schatz, Morgan Bagley, Boom Briggs, Blake Spencer, Colton Flinner.
Overall fast qualifier Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., led all 10 laps to win the first heat. Contact between Brian Shirley and second-running Mike Maresca in turn two on the opening lap sent Maresca over the cushion as he lost about four positions. Shane Clanton rallied from seventh to grabbed the second spot from Shirley with a slider in turn four. Clanton finished second behind Bloomquist with Shirley third. Maresca bounced back to finish in the fourth and final transfer spot. The lone caution waved for Jeff Mathews on lap two.
Finish (top four transfer): Scott Bloomquist, Shane Clanton, Brian Shirley, Mike Maresca, Chase Junghans, Brent Larson, Hudson O’Neal, Devin Moran, Tyler Erb, Dean Carpenter, Earl Pearson Jr., Jeff Mathews.
After taking Wednesday night off to attend a ceremony honoring friend and business partner Randy Sweet, Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., returned to the seat of his Sweet-Bloomquist Race Car Thursday night at Volusia Speedway Park and promptly set the overall fast time among 47 cars. The 17th car on the track in the first group, Bloomquist toured the half-mile oval in 15.766 seconds. He’ll start from the pole in the first of four heats. Other heat race polesitters include Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., Chris Madden of Gray Court S.C., and Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va. Davenport was the second fastest in the first group at 15.881 seconds. Madden topped the second group with a mark of 15.983 seconds, while Richards was next at 15.992.
Gorgeous weather prevails for the second of four consecutive World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series programs at Volusia Speedway — party sunny skies and high temperatures reaching into the low 80s. … The talk of the pit area throughout Thursday was undoubtedly the status of New Waverly, Texas’s Tyler Erb, who was arrested several hours after the completion of Wednesday evening’s action for his involvement in an off-track altercation with fellow competitor Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., on the Volusia grounds. WoO officials suspended the 21-year-old Erb for two races, fined him $500 and put him on probation until the end of the year; he will race this evening and then serve his suspension. … Though the Erb-O’Neal incident wasn’t racing-related, Erb was, ironically, involved in a hard crash with Hudson’s father, Don, on lap 26 of the feature. After the elder O’Neal spun in turn four, Erb was unable to avoid him and made head-on contact. Both drivers were uninjured, but their cars were sidelined with heavy front-end damage, forcing both to bring out backup cars for Thursday’s competition. Erb’s machine is a brand-new XR1 Rocket that hasn’t previously turned a lap. … Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., registered his Speedweeks career-best third-place finish on Wednesday night driving an XR1 Rocket that he had only previously run last year at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. … Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., managed only a ninth-place finish in Wednesday’s fog-shortened A-main, but he felt he had a car capable of much more that a back-end top-10. “My race car was pretty good,” said Clanton, who is hoping to reach victory lane during the DIRTcar Nationals for the fourth consecutive year. “I went a little harder on right-rear tire, so if it had been 25 laps of green flag I think I could’ve won the race even from where I was.” … Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., switched cars for Thursday’s action after driveline trouble eliminated him early in Wednesday’s headliner. … Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and his Clint Bowyer Racing crew had to make repairs to the right-front suspension of his machine after he hopped the cushion and slapped the turn-two wall on lap 22 of Wednesday’s feature. … Among the drivers not entering Thursday’s program are Coleby Frye, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Stacy Boles, Jeff Beyers and Jason Fitzgerald, a Floridian who stayed up with his crewmen until nearly 3 a.m. to repair damage he sustained in a feature accident only to discover his engine had a terminal problem that will sideline him for the remainder of the week. … Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., is back in action after putting Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, in his car on Wednesday night while he attended a Living Legends dinner in Daytona Beach that honored his longtime friend and partner Randy Sweet. … A new addition to the pit area is Dean Carpenter of Coldwater, Miss.
(10 laps; top 4 transfer)
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Mike Maresca
Row 2: Chase Junghans, Brian Shirley
Row 3: Jeff Mathews, Brent Larson
Row 4: Shane Clanton, Tyler Erb
Row 5: Earl Pearson Jr., Dean Carpenter
Row 6: Hudson O’Neal, Devin Moran
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Jason Jameson
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Zack McMillan, Austin Smith
Row 4: Donny Schatz, Boom Briggs
Row 5: Morgan Bagley, Blake Spencer
Row 6: Rusty Schlenk, Colton Flinner
Row 1: Chris Madden, Timothy Culp
Row 2: Michael Norris, Rick Eckert
Row 3: Dale McDowell, Kyle Bronson
Row 4: Joey Coulter, Nick Hoffman
Row 5: Mike Marlar, Tyler Bruening
Row 6: David Breazeale, Mason Zeigler
Row 1: Josh Richards, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 2: Brandon Overton, Tim McCreadie
Row 3: Jimmy Owens, Tyler Millwood
Row 4: Chris Ferguson, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 5: Chub Frank, Darrell Lanigan
Row 6: Reid Millard
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.766
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.881
Mike Maresca (7mm), Potsdam, N.Y., 15.901
Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 15.998
Chase Junghans (18c), Manhattan, Kan., 16.180
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.182
Brian Shirley (22*), Chatham, Ill., 16.294
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.346
Jeff Mathews (33), Apollo Beach, Fla., 16.433
Zach McMillan (14Z), Gladewater, Texas, 16.480
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.486
Austin Smith (84), Rome, Ga., 16.494
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.512
Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 16.548
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 16.562
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.652
Earl Pearson Jr. (1P), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.702
Morgan Bagley (14M), Tyler, Texas, 16.774
Dean Carpenter (51), Coldwater, Miss., 17.007
Blake Spencer (6), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.139
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 17.166
Rusty Schlenk (cj1), McClure, Ohio, 17.306
Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 17.396
Colton Flinner (75), Allison Park, Pa., 17.833
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.983
Josh Richards (1R), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.992
Timothy Culp (C8), Prattsville, Ark., 16.104
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.115
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 16.223
Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., 16.265
Rick Eckert (7), York, Pa., 16.266
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.274
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.293
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.297
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 16.308
Tyler Millwood (31), Kingston, Ga., 16.310
Joey Coulter (2C), Miami Beach, Fla., 16.316
Chris Ferguson (22), Mt. Holley, N.C., 16.342
Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 16.345
Billy Moyer Jr. (21JR), Batesville, Ark., 16.464
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 16.504
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.680
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.754
Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., 16.882
David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 17.078
Reid Millard (14m), Jefferson City, Mo., 18.101
Mason Ziegler (25Z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 18.115
The second of four World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series programs to close the 47th annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park highlights Thursday’s action. A DIRTcar big-block modified feature held over by fog from Wednesday evening will kick off the card at 7:30 p.m. and then the regularly scheduled WoO/big-block modified doubleheader will get underway.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., was victorious in Wednesday’s fog-shortened WoO feature, which was declared official with 26 of 50 laps complete.
With 47 cars on hand, Thursday night’s WoO card includes split-group qualifying, four heat races, two B-mains and a 50-lap headliner paying $10,000 to win. The heat winners will redraw for positions 1-4 and the runners-up will pick for spots 5-8.
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.
5 p.m.: Grandstands open
5:30 p.m.: Fan pit pass gate opens
6 p.m.: Hot laps
- SDS Big Block Modifieds
- WoO Late Models
6:30 p.m.: Time trials
- SDS Big Block Modifieds
- WoO Late Models
7:20 p.m.: Opening ceremonies