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National notebook

Notes: McCowan caps rookie title at home

October 26, 2023, 11:40 am
From series, track, staff and other reports
Dillon McCowan (heathlawsonphotos.com)
Dillon McCowan (heathlawsonphotos.com)

It seems fitting for Dillon McCowan that the final Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association race of the season, following a schedule adjustment, will be at his home track of Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo.

The Urbana, Mo., driver has clinched MLRA Rookie of the Year honors after a stellar first full season in Super Late Models. He’s third overall in points, behind Chad Simpson and Chris Simpson and set to receive recognition as top rookie at Saturday’s recently added season finale.

Lucas Oil Speedway and the MLRA added the $10,000-to-win event after the schedules series championship weekend was rained out earlier this month at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill.

“When I saw that, I was pretty happy,” the 19-year-old McCowan said. “We’ve been kind of trying to figure where we’re gonna try to race at the end of the year and when they said that race was gonna be at Lucas, I was happy to get back over there in front of all the fans and my family can come over there.”

McCowan has some momentum on his side coming into the one-day show after picking up his first career Late Model touring series feature win. That came last weekend on the Comp Cams Series at Super Bee Speedway in Chatham, La.

“That was definitely a fun race. There was some stiff competition down with Tyler Stevens, Billy Moyer and Billy Moyer Jr., and quite a few other good drivers and teams,” McCowan said. “We started back in sixth and were able to rally to the front and just maintained once we got into the lead and hold on for 40 laps.

“That track is super fun. We had only raced there once before and that was in a modified. I was excited to get back down there and give it a run.”

McCowan said the first touring-series victory checked off a goal he hoped to accomplish before the conclusion of the season.

“It didn’t really matter what series it was with,” he said. “To do it with Comp Cams and beat the guys that were there, and to achieve one of my goals, it was definitely a big accomplishment for me and my team. We were pretty stoked about it.”

This weekend, he will realize another goal with the top rookie honors on the MLRA circuit. He called his first full Late Model season everything he expected, and then some, with a sixth-place run in Lucas Oil Speedway's Show-Me 100 back in May as one of the top moments.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do and what I’ve dreamed off since I was a little kid,” he said of driving the Late Model against top competition. “I’ve definitely learned a lot from the guys I’ve raced with. It’s been a big learning experience for me and hopefully we can take this momentum into next year.” — Lyndal Scranton

Troutman-Bragg partnership

Up-and-coming driver Drake Troutman of Hyndman, Pa., is is joining forces with Texas-based Chris Bragg Racing to run next month’s World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, N.C., as well as January’s Wild West Shootout at Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park.

The 18-year-old Troutman will temporarily park his own equipment and climb behind the wheel of the Bragg’s Clements Racing Engine-powered Longhorn Chassis sponsored by Wheeler Fleet Solutions, Cliff’s Goodyear Auto Service, RFI Resources, Finishline Outdoors and Contractor’s Support Group.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for me. I feel like my career so far has been like the chapters of a book, and the chapters just keep getting better, and this situation is definitely the case,” Troutman said. “Chris and I decided we’d team up for the World Finals at Charlotte and then the Wild West Shootout at Vado and evaluate potential future opportunities from there. We’ve got some great folks supporting us, and hopefully we can go out and make some noise.”

Bragg, who spent most of the season fielding a Super Late Model for Bakersfield, Calif., driver Ethan Dotson, is looking forward to the partnership.

“I’ve only known Drake this year, but he’s been nothing but super easy to talk to and he’s a consummate business professional,” Bragg said in a team release. “I think with the success my small team has had and his success we should be in good shape going forward. He’s already accomplished a lot and really wants to make this the best that it can be. I’m looking forward to it.

“We are going to race what makes sense for us as a team, both logistically and financially. My No. 1 thing is we don’t go to just show up. We leave the shop every time being 100 percent prepared and with the intention to win.”

Troutman has 20 victories and 48 top-five finishes across multiple divisions, including six Super Late Model victories. His richest victories came with $10,000 paydays on July 9 at Brushcreek Motorsports Complex in Peebles, Ohio, and July 25 at Davenport (Iowa) Speedway in MARS Championship Series competition. — Ben Shelton

Hoffman’s achievements

Nick Hoffman will officially achieve one goal for the season when he enters Nov. 1-4’s World of Outlaws World Finals, while still having to battle for another. The Mooresville, N.C., driver will claim the Germfree Rookie of the Year honors — a prize worth $10,000 — at The Dirt Track Charlotte in Concord, N.C., after a stellar first season with Tye Twarog Racing on the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series. He’d also like to cap off his impressive rookie season with a top-five finish in series points and perhaps another victory or two.

“To be in control of my own destiny, being more hands-on, and keeping the team in North Carolina made a big difference,” Hoffman said. “(The season) went pretty smooth. I would’ve liked to get more wins than just one, but to get one, I feel like it leads into next year really well. Our car has been fast, and that’s all you can hope for.

“We’re still in a pretty good hunt for a top-five in the championship standings. Going into Charlotte, that’s our main focus is trying to get to the top-five.”

Hoffman, whose first career WoO victory came May 23 at Stateline Speedway in Busti, N.Y., sits sixth in points heading into the tour’s finale weekend, just 10 points shy of fourth-place Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla. There’s only a 42-point spread between fourth and ninth in the tour points with a $32,000 difference in the points fund. The driver finishing fourth earns $75,000 in postseason cash while ninth place is worth $43,000.

Hoffman knows the competition will be tough at Charlotte with a pair of $10,000-to-win races and $25,000-to-win finale up for grabs.

“We’re going to have all of the heavy hitters there from all forms of Late Model racing,” Hoffman said. “That makes it difficult. In an Outlaw race, it’s a little easier to drive from 20th to say 15th. Now that you have all of those guys, it’s going to be tough to get a top-five or compete for a win.

“If you put yourself behind at the beginning of the night, it’s so much harder to dig out of that hole for a guy on this weekend than it is anywhere else. You just have to look at it and try and finish ahead of those guys. It’s going to really come down to those qualifying laps more than anything. Charlotte is a place I really enjoy, and I was able to make some laps earlier this week and felt really good. So, I look for a decent run there.”

Hoffman plays it straight in grading in first national touring season.

“I’m pretty hard on myself, so I’d say (this season’s) right around a C,” Hoffman said. “We won some non-Outlaw races throughout the year, and to win one (series) race was pretty cool. I feel like for next year, I’ll definitely be more focused on winning races and getting top three in points. I was able to get to second at one point there and got close to (points leader) Bobby (Pierce), and then it went to shambles during the summer.

“For me, it’s just staying on top of it and not having issues. And me as a driver not making as many mistakes. That’s what it’s going to take. Bobby hasn’t made any mistakes all year and will obviously be crowned a champion. It’s fun to race on this (series) and I’m excited to do it again next year.” — Mike Warren

Odds and ends

Longtime Ohio dirt racer Art Ball of Tiffin, who received a Lifetime Achievement award from the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2019, died Oct. 20 at the age of 85. The driver of the No. 01 at Ohio tracks in Fremont, Attica and McCutchenville competed in several divisions while winning 201 races and 30 track championships. He won his last feature at age 76. … Glen Ridge Motorsports Park in Fultonville, N.Y., scheduled for its first season of RUSH-sanctioned Crate Late Models in 2024, has scheduled a Nov. 4 informational meeting. The meeting is scheduled for noon at the Classic Muscle Parts in Galway, N.Y. … Bi-weekly racing is planned in 2024 for the Speedway at Horsepower Park, a half-mile oval owned by Kaila Savage and Paul Strong and promoted by Ben Kilcrease. The former Antioch Speedway is scheduled to host two events on the Ultimate Southeast Super Late Model Series. … Announcer John McConnell has been named promoter of the Caltagarone family-owned Hummingbird Speedway in Reynoldsville, Pa., for the 2024 season. … Matt Lux of Franklin, Pa., announced his retirement after 29 years of racing. The 2020 Thunder Mountain Speedway champion was a three-time Super Late Model winner in 2023 at Marion Center (Pa.) Raceway. Among other tracks, Lux recorded victories at Challenger Raceway, Lernerville Speedway, Latrobe Speedway, Tri-City Raceway Park and Mercer Raceway Park. … Former Late Model racer Dwaine Hanson of Lakefield, Minn., died on Oct. 12 at the age of 72 after a long battle with cancer. Hanson, who raced for more than 50 years, most of it in the modified division, was runner-up of 1982’s Gopher State 50 at the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatonna, Minn. His last modified victory came Aug. 18 in Fairmont, Minn. … West Virginia Motor Speedway in Mineral Wells, W.Va., has been listed for sale by PMC Realty for $1.2 million. … Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway is mourning the passing of Pam Crawford, a longtime scorer at the track who died Oct. 6 at the age of 66. She was also an official with Springfield Speedway and the Midwest Open Wheel Association. … Ken Rogers of KR Promoters has stepped down as promoter of the Donnie Powers-owned ArkLaTex Speedway in Vivian, La. … New clay has been added at Independence (Iowa) Motor Speedway in a joint project by the Buchanan County Fair Association and Greater Iowa Promotions.

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