BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 13) — Jimmy Owens has won races in nearly every corner of the United States. He’s accomplished most everything the sport has to offer, from crown jewel victories at the biggest of venues to national touring titles. There’s little that the Newport, Tenn., driver hasn’t done. But in all his years of trying, Owens had never won a DIRTcar Nationals feature at Volusia Speedway Park. Until Thursday.
Checking a major victory off his bucket list, Owens finally broke through at Florida’s famous D-shaped half-mile. He led all 40 laps from his outside front row starting position, beating Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., by 2.223 seconds for a $10,000 World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series-sanctioned DIRTcar Nationals triumph.
It was his first Georgia-Florida Speedweeks win since a Feb. 16, 2013 victory at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla., and gives the likable Tennessean six career Speedweeks victories.
“The car was phenomenal. Man this is awesome,” said Owens after climbing from his Ramirez Motorsports-backed Rocket XR1 in victory lane. “I’ve been coming down here for years and I don’t think I’ve ever won a Late Model race here, let alone, I don’t think I’ve ever won two heats in a week.”
Owens pulled away from polesitter Brandon Sheppard on the opening lap and was never seriously challenged. Fourth-starting McDowell grabbed second from Sheppard on a lap-10 restart, lost the spot to Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., on lap 22 and then regained the runner-up spot following a restart on lap 29. Richards, who started 12th, settled for third.
“We’ve actually been pretty decent,” said McDowell. “Not to come down here and test, we felt like we was a little bit behind the guys who came down here and tested.”
Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., moved forward 10 positions to finished fourth, while Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., slipped two spots and finished fifth.
Owens said his Speedweeks performance in recent years — especially at Volusia — could’ve been the result of his approach, admitting that occasionally when it came to February he simply phoned it in comparison to the rest of the season.
“It seems like forever (since the last Georgia-Florida Speedweeks victory),’” said Owens. “I’d just settled into a routine just thinking, ‘you know what, we’re gonna do what we can to get through here (Speedweeks) and run the best we can.’ I think I just finally give up on running good here (at Volusia).
“I was just like, ‘We’re gonna go (and) go through the motions of Speedweeks, see what we can come up with, maybe everybody’ll fall out and maybe we can win a race or something. You know, we had our act together tonight and we had a really good hot rod.”
Neither Richards nor McDowell were able to keep pace with Owens for very long. Owens enjoys leads of nearly 2 seconds or more each time the caution appeared in the second half of the race.
“I felt like it was gonna take a heck of a dadgum car to outrun me,” said “I told my guys, I said, ‘I don’t know that I’ve ever had a faster car and a better handling car. It was just flawless, especially in the feature. We was a little tight in the heats, but we just made some final adjustments there and come out pretty good.”
“I know the track was about to start locking down one way or the other and I was actually glad to see (the cautions) because I was fixing to have to start moving around through traffic and I didn’t know if it was time to just stay on the bottom or try to get around them guys, but, you know, we were fairly good enough to get around them.
“The last five (laps) definitely the corner was locked down. Then I didn’t have nothing to worry about ‘cause I could have pushed the car around there and they couldn’t have got around me. It was definitely a lot drier tonight than it was (Wednesday).”
McDowell was happy to see the cautions as well, in part because of the right rear tire he bolted to his Shane McDowell-owned Bloomquist Race Car.
“Tonight we had a soft right front (tire) on and Jimmy was the class of the field there,” said McDowell. “It looked like he was on cruise control. (I) lost the right front tire and it got a little soft and so the caution definitely helped me. I (would have) been in worse shape if the caution hadn’t come out. It was a good night for our EZGO hot rod, so we’ll see if we can work on it and see if we can get up here, at least in the top three, the rest of the week and I hope we get a win.”
Richards was equally optimistic after his best Volusia performance in three outings, matching his third-place finish from Wednesday.
“We’ve had a great car. I just can’t thank these guys (his crew) enough for not giving up,” Richards said. “I want to win bad again here in Florida, you know, we’ve been very successful here in the past. Our qualifying program has been a little bit off. It’s been putting us behind, but I feel like in the heat race and features we’ve had a great car the entire (Georgia-Florida) Speedweeks, through East Bay and everything. We’ve just had a lot of bad luck.
“We’ve had some speed if we can keep putting it together and get (a win) one of the next two nights it would mean a lot to win here again. I felt good enough that maybe we could just keep rolling to get in a rhythm because once we got bottled up (in traffic) I knew Dale and Jimmy they’re really phenomenal in this (track) condition. I wasn’t sure to pick the bottom or the outside, and I was like ‘maybe I can keep the right side (tires) where the track’s clean. You’re all at the mercy of the leader and Dale rolled me on that second start there and was able to get by and at the point you’re just following ‘em around. Jimmy and Dale, those guys did a great job, so we’ll keep digging.”
Notes: The win was Owens’s 16th career with the World of Outlaws. He’s now tied for 12th with Bear Lake, Pa.’s Chub Frank on the tour’s all-time win list.. … Owens won three World of Outlaws features last season with his last tour victory coming in the Nov. 9. 2019 Can-Am World Finals finale at the Dirt Track at Charlotte. … Two of Owens’s five previous Georgia-Florida Speedweeks wins came at East Bay in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series competition — 2011 and ’13 — while the other three came in UMP-sanctioned events at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga., in January 2008. … The race was slowed by four cautions: Blake Spencer of St. Augustine, Fla., spun on lap 10 for the first caution; Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., and Allen Weisser of Peoria, Ill., got together to draw a yellow on lap 29; Cade Dillard of Robeline, La., had a solo spin on the lap-29 restart for the third caution; and Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., slowed with a flat left front tire on lap 31 for the final yellow. … The 49th annual DIRTcar Nationals continues Friday with another $10,000-to-win World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series main event.
Preliminary notes and results
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Mike Marlar, Dale McDowell
Row 3: Kyle Bronson, Brian Shirley
Row 4: Kody Evans, Darrell Lanigan
Row 5: Donny Schatz, Shane Clanton
Row 6: Tim McCreadie, Josh Richards
Row 7: Chris Madden, Jonathan Davenport
Row 8: Tyler Erb, Allen Weisser
Row 9: Scott Bloomquist, Gregg Satterlee
Row 10: Mark Whitener, Chase Junghans
Row 11: Rick Eckert, Johnny Scott
Row 12: Ricky Weiss, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 13: Cade Dillard, Ashton Winger
Row 14: Boom Briggs, Matt Cosner
Row 15: Kyle Larson, Blake Spencer
Row 16: Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Brandon Sheppard starts from the pole position in the 40-lap feature as he chases what would be his seventh consecutive victory in DIRTcar Nationals WoO competition at Volusia. He won the finale in 2018, swept all four A-mains last year and claimed Wednesday’s checkered flag after Dennis Erb Jr. was stripped of his apparent triumph for failing to report to post-race tech. … Sheppard’s front-row mate, Jimmy Owens, has won Dirt Late Model events all over the country, but he’s never captured a feature at Volusia. … A notable heat-race effort was turned in by Kody Evans, who overtook Chris Madden en route to a runner-up finish that makes him the top WoO Rookie of the Year candidate in the feature’s starting lineup. … One night after contending for victory in the feature, Brandon Overton is a spectator for the headliner. He failed to recover in the B-main after dropping out of his heat race because a broken fan blade poked a hole in his car’s radiator. … WoO provisional starters are Cade Dillard and Ashton Winger with emergency provisionals going to Boom Briggs, Matt Cosner, Brent Larson, Blake Spencer and Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
(10 laps; top two transfer)
First consolation: Mark Whitener, Johnny Scott, Boom Briggs, Donnie Chappell, John Blankenship, Logan Martin, Brent Larson, Ken Monahan, Jeff Mathews, Mike Hammerle, Pearson Williams.
Second consolation: Chase Junghans, Ricky Weiss, Cade Dillard, Stormy Scott, Earl Pearson Jr., Tyler Millwood, Dan Stone, Kyle Lear, Steve Hucovski, Mason Zeigler, Ashton Winger.
Third consolation: Rick Eckert, Dennis Erb Jr., Blake Spencer, Justin Ratliff, Kyle Strickler, Parker Martin, Matt Cosner, Brandon Overton, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Blair Nothdurft.
Dale McDowell passed polesitter Boom Briggs on the first lap and led all eight circuits to win the first heat. Logan Martin brought out a caution on lap seven after getting into the turn four wall. On the restart, Briggs lost second and then fell out of a transfer spot when Kody Evans, Chris Madden and Donnie Chappell went by. … In the second heat, Jimmy Owens led flag-to-flag to win ahead of sprint car ace Donny Schatz. Tyler Erb, driving Blake Spencer’s backup car, finished third. … Outrunning Tim McCreadie by 1.151 seconds, Brian Shirley won the third heat. Scott Bloomquist moved by Cade Dillard on the final lap to grab the third and final transfer spot. ... In the fourth heat, Brandon Sheppard, a two-time DIRTcar Nationals win this week, got the jump on Darrell Lanigan and cruised to the win. … Mike Marlar slid ahead of polesitter Dennis Erb Jr. in turn two on lap three and rolled on to win the fifth heat. Erb Jr. faded to fifth as Shane Clanton, Allen Weisser and Blake Spencer also passed him. … In the sixth and final heat, Kyle Bronson and Josh Richards fired sliders at each other with Bronson taking the top spot on lap five and motoring to the win. Gregg Satterlee passed Rick Eckert for the final transfer spot. Brandon Overton slowed to bring out the caution on lap four.
Heat race results
(Eight laps; top three transfer)
First heat: Dale McDowell, Kody Evans, Chris Madden, Donnie Chappell, Boom Briggs, Brent Larson, Jeff Mathews Logan Martin, Ken Monahan.
Second heat: Jimmy Owens, Donny Schatz, Tyler Erb, Mark Whitener, Johnny Scott, Pearson Williams, John Blankenship, Michael Norris, Mike Hammerle.
Third heat: Brian Shirley, Tim McCreadie, Scott Bloomquist, Cade Dillard, Chase Junghans, Ricky Weiss, Stormy Scott, Dan Stone.
Fourth heat: Brandon Sheppard, Darrell Lanigan, Jonathan Davenport, Ashton Winger, Mason Zeigler, Tyler Millwood, Earl Pearson Jr., Kyle Lear, Steve Hucovski.
Fifth heat: Mike Marlar, Shane Clanton, Allen Weisser, Blake Spencer, Dennis Erb Jr., Kyle Strickler, Parker Martin, Blair Nothdurft.
Sixth heat: Kyle Bronson, Josh Richards, Gregg Satterlee, Rick Eckert, Justin Ratliff, Matt Cosner, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Brandon Overton.
Temperatures remain high (mid- to upper-80s) for Night 4 of the DIRTcar Nationals, but the skies have been a bit cloudier on Thursday. In fact, a few, brief drops of rain fell around 5 p.m. as a small cell of heavier precipitation skirted the track; the chance for steadier showers, however, doesn’t increase until after midnight and into the morning. … In the wake of a wild Wednesday evening program that included some testiness in the pit area, DIRTcar Racing director Sam Driggers addressed the drivers’ meeting with a stern statement warning teams to refrain from fighting. … The car count sits at 51 for the second straight night with just one difference: G.R. Smith of Cornelius, N.C., is sitting out the night while Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, is making his first start of the week in St. Augustine, Fla., driver Blake Spencer’s second car. … WoO Sprint Car star Donny Schatz of Fargo, N.D., is back in action after fixing the broken push rod in his car’s engine that sidelined him before heat races on Wednesday night. … WoO regular Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, is hoping to shake out of the doldrums plaguing his effort over the first three nights of competition; he’s had trouble adjusting his Bloomquist Race Car to the new “droop” rule instituted for the WoO and DIRTcar circuits to limit rear-deck height. “I’ve never been so good early and so bad late,” said Weiss, who has developed a habit of gaining strength the longer a race goes on. “Last night we went totally the wrong way (en route to a quiet 20th-place finish). It was a real handful.” … Fans and racers who arrived at Volusia around 3:30 p.m. were delayed as traffic backed up on Route 40 in both directions approaching the speedway due to a two-vehicle crash directly in front of the track. It appeared that the people involved escaped injury. ... Coming off a controversial ending to his bid for a career-first WoO victory on Wednesday, Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla., saw his Thursday get off to a rough start during hot laps when his car shut off due to apparent electrical trouble. …Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., appeared to log the overall fastest qualifying lap with his clocking of 16.443 seconds in Group 2, but his Barry Wright house car failed the post-qualifying "droop" rule check. His rear-deck height measured at 51-1/8 inches, exceeding the maximum allowance of 50-1/2 inches and earning him a three-position penalty in the time-trial results. As a result, he drops from a pole starting spot in a heat to the outside pole alongside Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., who became the top qualifier with Lanigan's demotion.
Time trial results (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.495
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.497
Brian Shirley (3S), Chatham, Ill., 16.500
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.545
Pearson Williams (2w), Dublin, Ga., 16.574
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.587
Chris Madden (OM), Gray Court, S.C., 16.624
Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 16.668
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.727
Kody Evans (4G), Camden, Ohio, 16.731
Tyler Erb (6T), New Waverly, Texas, 16.763
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 16.788
Logan Martin (36), West Plains, Mo., 16.835
Johnny Scott (1st), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.896
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 16.962
Donnie Chappell (25DC), Jacksonville, Fla., 17.006
Mark Whitener (5), Middleburg, Fla., 17.018
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 17.189
Jeff Mathews (33), Brandon, Fla., 17.224
John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 17.425
Ricky Weiss (7), Headingley, Manitoba, 17.444
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 17.449
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 17.543
Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 17.547
Ken Monahan (311), Lakeland, Fla., 19.279
Mike Hammerle (16H), St. Charles, Mo., no time
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.468
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.550
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 16.659
Darrell Lanigan (29v), Union, Ky., 16.443 (penalized three spots)
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 16.678
Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 16.692
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 16.747
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.758
Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., 16.763
Tyler Millwood (31), Kingston, Ga., 16.774
Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., 16.903
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.920
Ashton Winger (12), Hampton, Ga., 16.961
Blair Nothdurft (76N), Sioux Falls, S.D., 16.980
Justin Rattliff (16), Campbellsville, Ky., 17.075
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 17.080
Park Martin (6jr), Cochran, Ga., 17.119
Matt Cosner (66c), Ridgeley, W.Va., 17.123
Earl Pearson Jr. (1P), Jacksonville, Fla., 17.161
Allen Weisser (25w), Peoria, Ill., 17.201
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (21), Ocala, Fla., 17.361
Kyle Lear (000), Winchester, Va., 17.441
Blake Spencer (6), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.547
Rick Eckert (OE), York, Pa., 18.176
Steve Hucovski (15H), Corcoran, Minn., 18.944
After a tumultuous Wednesday night that included leaders Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla., and Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., crashing each other and apparent winner Dennis Erb Jr., of Carpentersville, Ill., being disqualified for not presenting his car to postface technical inspection, the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series is back in action Thursday, hoping for a calmer night — at least off the track — as the 49th annual DIRTcar Nationals streaks toward it finish. It’s the second of four nights for the tour at the high-speed Florida half-mile and drivers are again chasing a $10,000-to-win purse.
It’s the fifth race of 2020 for the national tour, which kicked off its season for the first time at Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park back in January. While Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., Ricky Weiss of Headingly, Manitoba, and Cade Dillard of Robeline, La., were winners at Vado, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., — who crossed the line second behind Erb on Tuesday — was officially Tuesday’s winner.
Both Sheppard and Watertown, N.Y.’s Tim McCreadie grabbed single DIRTcar wins earlier in the week, with Sheppard leading flag-to-flag Monday and McCreadie doing the same on Tuesday.
If 48 or more Late Models are signed in on Thursday 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 (Super DIRTcar Series)
4:50 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting (World of Outlaws)
5 p.m.: Grandstands open
5 p.m.: Fan pit pass gate opens
5:15 p.m.: Hot laps/qualifying
- SDS modified hot laps
- WoO Late Model hot laps
- WoO Late Model group qualifying
- SDS modified group qualifying
6:50 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
- SDS modified heats (8 laps)
- WoO Late Model heats (8 laps)
- SDS modified consolations (10 laps)
- WoO Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- SDS modified feature (30 laps)
- WoO Late Model feature (40 laps)