Login |
Watch LIVE at | Events | FAQ | Archives
Sponsor 258
Sponsor 717


All Late Models. All the Time.

Your soruce for dirt late model news, photos and video

  • Join us on Twitter Join us on Facebook
Sponsor 525


Sponsor 743

DirtonDirt.com exclusive

Breakouts, newcomers and comebacks for 2023

December 6, 2023, 7:36 am
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor
Clockwise from top: Jason Walls; Heath Lawson; Tyler Carr
Clockwise from top: Jason Walls; Heath Lawson; Tyler Carr

As part of its ongoing Best of 2023 coverage, DirtonDirt.com hands out awards to worthy Dirt Late Model drivers. We rank the top breakout drivers, top newcomers, most improved drivers and comeback drivers for the past season. This season’s honorees (top-fives listed alphabetically; Best of 2023 coverage index):

Breakout drivers

Tyler Emory, King George, Va.: The second-year Late Model racer shocks regional veterans by capturing the title on spring's revived Appalachian Mountain Speedweek, then adds a championship on the season-long Jay's Automotive United Late Model Series. The 31-year-old logged five Super Late Model victories overall including two apiece on each circuit for the Cameron-Mann racing operation.

Nick Hoffman, Mooresville, N.C.: In his first fully-focused season in Super Late Models, the longtime modified champion impresses on the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series with Tye Twarog Motorsports, posting a fifth-place finish in points with his first series victory and 13 top-fives in 38 full-field starts. Overall the 31-year-old racer tallied four victories including two on the first-year XR Workin' Man Series.

Devin McLean, Mount Vernon, Ill.: The 23-year-old piles up 12 Crate Late Model victories en route to a second-place finish in DIRTcar's division points. Highlighting his winningest-ever season was a Labor Day weekend with a $3,000 victory a Kankakee County Speedway in Kankakee, Ill., and a $5,000 payday at Fairbury (Ill.) Speedway as he snapped the 19-race winning streak of four-time DIRTcar champ Jose Parga. He was in the top five for all 23 of his feature starts and only twice finished worse than third.

Trey Mills, St. Augustine, Fla.: The 15-year-old jumps from home-state Crate racer to competitive Super Late Model driver on a regional tour with a fifth-place finish in points on the first-year Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series. Mills posted four top-five finishes in 18 starts and was among the nation's youngest Super Late Model winners of the season in securing a $5,000 payday in a series event at Whynot Motorsports Park that featured eight lead changes among three drivers. His season included 14 top-five finishes overall and an early-season Crate victory at Golden Isles Speedway Park.

Drake Troutman, Hyndman, Pa.: The third-generation 18-year-old standout runs up front nearly everywhere he goes, collecting six Super Late Model victories overall among six tracks in three states. He scored $10,000 triumphs at Ohio's Brushcreek Motorsports Complex and in MARS Championship Series action at Davenport (Iowa) Speedway. He also contended in several DIRTcar Summer Nationals events, scoring three top-five finishes on the series.

Honorable mention: Corbett, Ore.’s Collen Winebarger (11 victories among six tracks, including series-leading three on I-5 Series and Duel in the Desert sweep).

Top newcomers

Ethan Dotson, Bakersfield, Calif.: The West Coast modified standout makes the jump to Late Models with team owner Chris Bragg (before shifting to the Coltman Farms team late in the season) with a challenging schedule and three victories in touring competition. The 24-year-old scores a pair of Comp Cams Super Dirt Series victories then adds a season-richest $9,700 triumph on the Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, Ala.

Mike Harrison, Highland, Ill.: The eight-time DIRTcar modified champ gets his first legitimate shot at Late Models and makes the most of it in Steve Lampley's No. 33, scoring high-profile victories on the MARS Championship Series and DIRTcar Summer Nationals. The 48-year-old standout finished fourth in MARS points with seven top-five finishes in 16 tour features.

Michael Leach, Sun River, Mont.: The 21-year-old who started the season working as a fabricator at Longhorn Chassis in North Carolina adds Late Models to his modified racing and tallies an impressive six home-state victories in the division while winning the track championship at Belgrade's Gallatin Speedway. He also fares well in late-season Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway specials, finishing sixth in the Topless Nationals and third in the Fall Classic.

Dillon McCowan, Urbana, Mo.: The 19-year-old acquits himself well in a jump to Super Late Model racing, landing Rookie of the Year honors on the Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association. Overall the redhead collects five Super victories among three tracks, including a $5,000 Comp Cams Super Dirt Series triumph at Louisiana's Super Bee Speedway. The third-place finisher in MLRA points also posts a solid sixth-place finish in his first Show-Me 100 start.

Tyler Peterson, Hickson, N.D.: The country's winningest first-year Late Model driver blazes to WISSOTA's points championship with 23 victories, including three with the Structural Buildings WISSOTA Challenge Series and five on the Northern LateModel Racing Association. He makes a successful jump from his successful modified division but doesn't leave that behind in tallying 17 victories, including a Late Model-modified sweep at the WISSOTA 100.

Honorable mention: Shawano, Wis.’s Jarrid Curtin (three USRA victories and Tomahawk title); Price, Utah's Kade Dimick (five victories at home-state tracks); Watertown, S.D.’s Jayson Good (three victories at three tracks); Adrian, Mich.'s Carter Murday (four Oakshade victories; runner-up in Summer Nationals at Butler); Hermantown, Minn.'s Cade Nelson (four victories en route to USRA Limited title; Cedar Lake champ); Batavia, Ohio’s Adam Stricker (Florence Spring 50 runner-up; fifth in WoO's visit to Brownstown); Lincoln, Neb.’s Cade Richards (five victories among three tracks); LaCoste, Texas's Ryan Doyon (eight victories en route to I-37 title); Bloomington, Ind.’s Jordan Wever (two Crate victories; third in Ultimate Heart of America event at Paragon); Clinton's Anthony White Jr. (two Limited victories at Wartburg, including $12,037 Dylan Kennedy Memorial).

Comeback drivers

Ashley Anderson, Elk Mound, Wis.: A successful Late Model driver the first dozen years of the century, he spent more than 10 seasons in modifieds before making a triumphant full-fendered return to secure his fifth career Late Model title at Red Cedar Speedway. Anderson scores three home-track victories and finishes a career-best second in the track's Red Clay Classic. He had 14 top-fives in 22 starts overall. He previously won Red Cedar titles in 2003, '06 and '09-10 and his last Late Model feature victory before 2023 came Aug. 19, 2011, at Red Cedar.

Nick Deal, Walnut, Iowa: Mostly idle since a six-victory season in 2020, the 31-year-old returns with a flourish and another six-victory season, splitting his success between Crawford County Speedway and his home track, Shelby County Speedway, to be among IMCA's winningest drivers. He came from his 10th starting spot to win Crawford County's Fall Bash, capping his comeback season.

Bricen James, Albany, Ore.: Back in Late Models regularly after running as a teenager in 2015-17, the 25-year-old shines, capturing the championship on the revived Coors Light I-5 Silver Bullet Series and racing to 11 feature victories among five tracks overall. He wins twice on the I-5 circuit and scores non-series victories at Cottage Grove and Willamette paying more than $4,000 apiece along with an Early Thaw triumph at Central Arizona to herald his return.

Donald McIntosh, Dawsonville, Ga.: After making limited starts since Blount Motorsports folded in 2021, the 30-year-old connects with Mount Airy, N.C.-based Billy Hicks Racing at midseason and scores a $7,500 victory in the Ultimate Southeast finale among 11 top-five finishes. He makes his first North-South 100 (with a dazzling last-lap pass in a consolation) and posts runner-up finishes in Carolina Clash action at Lancaster and Mid-East/Workin' Man competition at Cherokee.

Kyle Moore, Mansfield, Ohio: His Late Model dreams detoured by tight finances a few years after his 2015 Hilltop Speedway title in his rookie season, the 36-year-old retreated (and dominated) in street stocks before a return to Super Late Models in 2023 for three victories between Hilltop and Wayne County, where he scores a division-richest $5,000 payday in the DIRTcar Summer Nationals finale.

Honorable mention: West Palm Beach, Fla.'s Christian Augspurger (Hendry County victory his first in 11 seasons); West Portsmouth, Ohio’s Ben Adkins (two Portsmouth Limited victories); Huron, S.D.'s Brian Diede (Miller Central champ after four-year Late Model layoff); Keith Jackson ($4,000 Lee Stultz Memorial victory at Winchester); Sheridan, Mich.'s Jeff Kohn (Crystal victory after 10-year layoff); Ronnie Mayle (Ohio Valley champ and two victories after recovering from injuries suffered in 2022 wreck); New London, Wis.'s Terry Casey (Dirt Kings runner-up finish at Shawano for former Lucas Oil regular); Steve Sheppard Jr. (two Farmer City victories for Brandon's dad); Phenix City, Ala.'s Montana Dudley ($5,000 East Alabama Crate victory after six-year layoff).

Most Improved

Jerid Bisson, Muskegon, Mich.: Winless in his 2022 rookie season, he races to nine victories in 19 Crate Late Model starts at his hometown Thunderbird Raceway en route to the division's track title. The second-year driver finished outside the top five in a single feature at a track where only one other competitor had more than 10 top-fives.

Kye Blight, Katanning, Western Australia: Making most of the opportunity to field fellow Aussie Paul Stubber's car in the DIRTcar Summer Nationals and many other events, the young driver from Down Under posts seven top-five finishes in 47 feature starts. Frequently among the fastest qualifiers, he finished fourth in Summer Nationals points with four top-fives and 10 top-10s in 22 feature starts.

Kevin Burdick, Proctor, Minn.: The second-year Late Model driver, a single-race winner in his 2022 rookie campaign, scatters eight 2023 victories among four tracks and finished fourth in WISSOTA's weekly points. He had 28 top-five finishes in 52 feature starts overall and posted track championships at Halvor Lines Speedway in Proctor, Minn., and Grand Rapids (Minn.) Speedway, where he finished second to Jeff Massingill in WISSOTA Challenge tour action.

Derrick Stewart, Ainsworth, Iowa: Winless in the Late Model division entering the season, Stewart captures a Hoker Trucking Series victory at C.J. Speedway, then adds a victory on the Malvern Bank tour at Clay County Fair Speedway and another Hoker trumph at C.J. The second-year Late Model driver scored a single top-five finish in his 2022 rookie season before clicking in 2023 with 15 top-fives in 39 starts overall. He finished sixth in Hoker Trucking points.

Ricky Thornton Jr., Chandler, Ariz.: How does a standout national driver get on the Most Improved list? By turning in an otherworldly season and leaving his Lucas Oil Series foes helpless while he posts a record-setting season of 19 full-field victories. The Indiana resident who'd racked up huge victory totals in other divisions does it in Late Models with a whopping 34 triumphs overall and four paydays of $50,000 or better, including a sweep of the Knoxville Nationals.

Honorable mention: Blairsville, Ga.'s Tucker Anderson (six Limited victories among three tracks); Rich Fountain, Mo.’s Matt Becker (five Callaway victories); Chatham, Ontario’s C.J. Field (six victories en route to Southern Ontario title); Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s C.J. Horn (seven victories with 34 and Lee County titles); Hendricks, Minn.’s Charlie Olsen (five Limited victories at three tracks; Red Cedar champ); Greenwell Springs, La.'s Brady Walton (eight Crate victories and Baton Rouge title).

Sponsor 1249
Sponsor 728
©2006-Present FloSports, Inc. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Cookie Preferences / Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information