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Volusia Speedway Park

Pettyjohn earns $7,000 for first Volusia victory

February 18, 2014, 4:15 pm
From series and staff reports
Kenny Pettyjohn takes the checkers. (thesportswire.net)
Kenny Pettyjohn takes the checkers. (thesportswire.net)

BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 18) — Kenny Pettyjohn was almost at a loss for words after driving away from a star-studded field to capture Tuesday’s 30-lap UMP DIRTcar feature during the 43rd DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment at Volusia Speedway Park. | Complete Speedweeks coverage

A 46-year-old veteran from Millsboro, Del., who has been slinging cars around dirt tracks for nearly 30 years, Pettyjohn was victorious for the first time in more than a decade’s worth of February trips to the sprawling half-mile oval outside Daytona Beach.

“Shoot, I can’t believe I’m standing here,” Pettyjohn said after emerging from his Rocket Chassis in Victory Lane. “I think this tops every race that I ever won in my life. To a lot of these guys this wouldn’t be that big a deal, but for me this took a lifetime.”

Pettyjohn became the first driver from Delaware to win a Dirt Late Model feature during the long history of the DIRTcar Nationals by Summit. He achieved the milestone with a powerful performance that saw him swap the lead twice with Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., before gaining command for good on lap three.

A caution flag on lap 20 barely slowed Pettyjohn, who pulled away following the restart to defeat the red-hot Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis. — a driver who has finished no worse than third with his new Rocket mount in his Sunshine State starts over the past five nights — by 1.075 seconds.

Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., overtook Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., for third on lap 28 and finished in the show position driving the Rocket Chassis house car. Clanton, who advanced from the seventh starting spot to second by lap eight, settled for a fourth-place finish and eighth-starter Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., completed the top five.

Pettyjohn, who started from the outside pole, was never seriously challenged after wrestling the lead from Briggs. He simply hit the setup perfectly for the fast track.

“Matt Barnes (of Rocket Chassis) came over and told me a couple things before the race and I think that put us right on time,” said Pettyjohn, who won the 2013 dirt Late Model championship at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway. “The car was really good — it was good everywhere to be honest.”

The caution flag on lap 20 — for a two-car incident on the inside of the backstretch involving Morgan Bagley of Tyler, Texas, and Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y. — did provide a moment of pause for Pettyjohn. It not only wiped out his near straightaway edge but also gave him a flashback to the one feature at Volusia that slipped through his fingers.

“We ran second here years ago,” said Pettyjohn, recalling his previous career-best Volusia finish on Feb. 12, 2002. “Don O’Neal passed me (for the lead) on lap 21, and tonight we had a caution on lap 21 (the lap counter was turned back to 20 for the restart). That was pretty an unnerving feeling I had there.”

But Pettyjohn’s Clements-powered No. 38 had plenty of speed left to keep him in front.

“Really, it’s just a relief to win down here,” said Pettyjohn, who has enjoyed much of his dirt Late Model success at Delaware International Speedway in Delmar, Del. “And to win on a national stage like this is a pretty big deal to me. It’s not about the money. It’s not about any of that. Hey, I’ve spent my whole life doing this, so it’s a relief.”

Pettyjohn, whose career-high payday remains the $9,800 he earned for a runner-up finish at Natural Bridge (Va.) Speedway, spoke the truth when he said the victory was about more than the first-place prize. In fact, the $7,000 he collected was earmarked for a cause bigger than him.

“We’re donating every dollar we make on this Speedweeks trip (to Georgia and Florida) to the Wounded Warriors (Project),” said Pettyjohn, referring to the charity that benefits wounded American soldiers. “When we get home, my car owner (Brian Donley of Abingdon, Md.) will cut a check and send it to the Wounded Warriors Project. With this win, I think we’re over $11,500 now for the trip.”

The UMP DIRTcar portion of the DIRTcar Nationals concludes Wednesday with a 40-lap finale paying $10,000 to win while the first of three straight World of Outlaws Late Model Series programs starts Thursday.

43rd annual DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment: (1) Kenny Pettyjohn, (2) Brady Smith, (3) Brandon Sheppard, (4) Shane Clanton, (5) Scott Bloomquist, (6) Billy Moyer, (7) John Blankenship, (8) Steve Francis, (9) Eric Wells, (10) Bobby Pierce, (11) Gregg Satterlee, (12) Jeff Babcock, (13) Chad Hollenbeck, (14) Brian Shirley, (15) Mike Marlar, (16) Rick Eckert, (17) Morgan Bagley, (18) Vic Coffey, (19) Tim McCreadie, (20) Casey Roberts, (21) Frank Heckenast Jr. (22) Boom Briggs, (23) Jimmy Owens, Scratched: Kyle Bronson. Fast qualifier (among 40 cars): Owens, 16.050 seconds. Heat race winners: Briggs, Pettyjohn, Marlar, B. Smith. Consolation winners: Wells, Owens.

Preliminary results:

Second consolation

Polesitter Jimmy Owens drove Darrell Lanigan's Club 29 Race Car to victory in the second consy. The night's fast qualifier took the checkers more than a half-straight ahead of Rick Eckert while Vic Coffey was third in the caution-free event. Frank Heckenast Jr. got the final transfer spot ahead of Don O'Neal.

Finish: Jimmy Owens, Rick Eckert, Vic Coffey, Frank Heckenast Jr., Don O'Neal, John Garvin Jr., Jeff Beyers, Chub Frank, Dennis Erb Jr., Chase Junghans.

First consolation

Eric Wells led all the way in the first consy to transfer to the main event with runner-up Gregg Satterlee. Morgan Bagley and Chad Hollenbeck got the two final transfer spots in a race with just six cars running at the finish. A lap-two caution appeared when Raymond Merrill spun in turn four with Stacy Boles and Eric Jacobsen coming together in trying to avoid him. An onrushing Chad White slid into the Boles-Jacobsen tangle with the rear of his car bounding into the air briefly, slamming back to the racing surfae to damage his car's rear end. Jacobsen, White and Boles were eliminated.

Finish: Eric Wells, Gregg Satterlee, Morgan Bagley, Chad Hollenbeck, Raymond Merrill, Mike Hammerle, Dan Stone, Stacy Boles, Eric Jacobsen, Chad White, Tyler Bruening, John Winge.

Fourth heat

Monday's feature runner-up Brady Smith cruised to a victory in the final heat. His former chassis builder Scott Bloomquist was nearly a straightaway behind in second while Bobby Pierce and Tim McCreadie were further back in the final transfer spots. Chub Frank checked up and spun in turn two on the first start. Dennis Erb Jr. retired on the fourth lap.

Finish: Brady Smith, Scott Bloomquist, Bobby Pierce, Tim McCreadie, Vic Coffey, Rick Eckert, Don O'Neal, Chub Frank, Dennis Erb Jr.

Third heat

Polesitter Mike Marlar roared to victory in the third heat, leading Shane Clanton by a half-straight after four laps and cruising to the win. Billy Moyer was behind Clanotn in third while home-stater Kyle Bronson for the fourth transfer spot ahead of fast qualifier Jimmy Owens in Darrell Lanigan's car.

Finish: Mike Marlar, Shane Clanton, Billy Moyer, Kyle Bronson, Jimmy Owens, Frank Heckenast Jr., John Garvin Jr., Chase Junghans, Jeff Beyers.

Second heat

Polesitter Kenny Pettyjohn led all the way with the surface even faster than it was Monday night. Brandon Sheppard finished second while Steve Francis was a distant third. Casey Roberts got the fourth and final transfer spot ahead of Morgan Bagley. The first start was called back by officials.

Finish: Kenny Pettyjohn, Brandon Sheppard, Steve Francis, Casey Roberts, Morgan Bagley, Chad Hollenbeck, Stacy Boles, Dan Stone, Eric Jacobsen.

First heat

Outside front-row starter Boom Briggs led all the way, keeping runner-up John Blankenship in check the second half of the eight-lap prelim. Brian Shirley took the third spot from Jeff Babcock on the last lap as the top four transferred to the main event. Tyler Bruening, the group's fast qualifier, was sixth.

Finish: Boom Briggs, John Blankenship, Brian Shirley, Jeff Babcock, Eric Wells, Tyler Bruening, Greg Satterlee, Raymond Merrill, Chad White, Mike Hammerle.

Heat race lineups

(Eight laps; top four transfer)
First heat
Row 1: Jeff Babcock, Boom Briggs
Row 2: John Blankenship, Tyler Bruening
Row 3: Eric Wells, Brian Shirley
Row 4: Gregg Satterlee, Chad White
Row 5: Raymond Merrill, Mike Hammerle
Second heat
Row 1: Kenny Pettyjohn, Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Casey Roberts, Steve Francis
Row 3: Stacy Boles, Morgan Bagley
Row 4: Eric Jacobsen, Dan Stone
Row 5: Chad Hollenbeck, John Winge
Third heat
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Billy Moyer
Row 2: Shane Clanton, Jimmy Owens
Row 3: Frank Heckenast Jr., Kyle Bronson
Row 4: John Garvin Jr., Chase Junghans
Row 5: Jeff Beyers
Fourth heat
Row 1: Brady Smith, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Tim McCreadie, Vic Coffey
Row 3: Bobby Pierce, Rick Eckert
Row 4: Don O’Neal, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 5: Chub Frank

Qualifying

Making a guest appearance in Darrell Lanigan’s Club 29 Race Car, Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., was fastest among 38 qualifiers Tuesday at Volusia Speedway Park for the second round of UMP DIRTcar Late Model racing at the 43rd annual DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment.

Owens tripped the clock at 16.050 seconds on the half-mile track and will start fourth in his heat race via the four-car inversion. Unofficial heat race polesitters: Jeff Babcock of Wayne, Ohio; Kenny Pettyjohn of Millsboro, Del.; Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn.; and Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis.

The $7,000-to-win event continues with four eight-lap heat races, two 10-lap consolation races and a 30-lap main event.

Pre-race notes

Jimmy Owens parked his own Bloomquist Race Car to drive Darrell Lanigan’s machine. … Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla., won Monday’s opening event, earning $7,000 for his first-ever Super Late Model victory during Florida Speedweeks. Lloyd is expected to take a few days off before rejoining the action Thursday. … Entered drivers who didn’t race Monday: Owens, Don O’Neal, Steve Francis and Raymond Merrill. … John Winge stopped after time trials with mechanical problems. … Several drivers are taking the night off, including Jack Sullivan, who is vacating the seat of the No. 12m for sponsor Merrill. Former Dirt Track World Champion Wendell Wallace is crewing for the team and may drive on Wednesday. … Besides Sullivan, among other drivers who raced Monday not in action Tuesday are David Gibson Jr., and Jason Fitzgerald. … Another UMP DIRTcar event is scheduled for Wednesday with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series taking over for Thursday-Saturday’s action. The final four features pay $10,000-to-win.

Time trials (unofficial)

First group
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.411
John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 16.487
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.510
Jeff Babcock (1B), Wayne, Ohio, 16.592
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 16.667
Brian Shirley (81), Chatham, Ill., 16.709
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.881
Chad White (20), Benton Harbor, Mich., 17.229
Raymond Merrill (12m), Sallisaw, Okla., 17.447
Mike Hammerle (16H), St. Charles, Mo., 18.665
Second group
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 16.227
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 16.271
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.369
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 16.408
Stacy Boles (11B), Clinton, Tenn., 16.630
Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 16.632
Eric Jacobsen (5), Santa Cruz, Calif., 16.667
Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 16.816
Chad Hollenbeck (4DS), Kingsley, Pa., 16.992
John Winge (17J), Sioux Falls S.D., 17.661
Third group
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.050
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.104
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 16.131
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 16.151
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Orland Park, Ill., 16.213
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 16.220
John Garvin Jr. (J4), Sarver, Pa., 16.537
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 16.540
Jeff Beyers (27), Pana, Ill., 17.007
Fourth group
Vic Coffey (32c), Caledonia, N.Y., 16.052
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.082
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.145
Brady Smith (2), Solon Springs, Wis., 16.169
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 16.184
Rick Eckert (24), York, Pa., 16.273
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.375
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.385
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.663

Feature lineup

Row 1: Briggs, Pettyjohn
Row 2: Marlar, B. Smith
Row 3: Blankenship, Sheppard
Row 4: Clanton, Bloomquist
Row 5: Shirley, Francis
Row 6: Moyer, Pierce
Row 7: Babcock, Roberts
Row 8: Bronson, McCreadie
Row 9: Wells, Owens
Row 10: Satterlee, Eckert
Row 11: Bagley, Coffey
Row 12: Hollenbeck, Heckenast

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