Volusia Speedway Park
Roberts tops Bloomquist for his first WoO victory
BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 20) — Casey Roberts wasn’t running at the finish of the three Dirt Late Model features that kicked off the 43rd annual DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment.
But when the checkered flag flew on the fourth race — Thursday’s 50-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series feature — the unheralded 36-year-old driver from Toccoa, Ga., was first across the finish line.
Roberts pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the DIRTcar Nationals by Summit, passing dirt-track legend Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., coming to the white flag to become the mid-winter motorsports meet’s third first-time winner in four events.
Refusing to concede after losing the lead to Bloomquist on lap 31, Roberts patiently stuck to the bottom of the half-mile oval and slipped ahead of Wednesday winner to gain command as lap 49 was scored. The Peach State racer then staved off a last-ditch bid by Bloomquist to score his first-ever WoO triumph by a mere. 0.185 of a second.
Roberts’s dramatic drive to a win worth $10,550 ignited the large Volusia crowd, which gave the consummate underdog a rousing welcome when he emerged from his Cushman Motorsports Capital Race Car in Victory Lane.
“I’m pretty much a no-name or whatever,” Roberts modestly said while standing on the homestretch stage following the race. “I guess everybody thinks it’s good to see guys like me win. “I’ll tell ‘ya, I’m just blessed to be here. It feels like it’s not even really happening.”
Bloomquist settled for runner-up money, falling short after leading laps 31-48. Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., charged forward for the second straight night, advancing from the 15th starting spot to place third. John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., and Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., finished fourth and fifth, respectively, after spending the final laps in a dogfight for position.
After winning his first career WoO heat race earlier in the program, Roberts started from the pole in the first of three scheduled 50-lappers for the national tour. But he was outgunned for the lead at the initial green flag by outside front-row starter Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., setting the stage for a difficult road to victory for the two-time Ultimate Super Late Model Series champion.
“We had a gameplan, me and (Capital Race Cars builder) Marshall (Green) and all the guys, and stuck to it,” said Roberts. “(Smith) got out front there and I just kept riding. I didn’t want to get my tires hot and tried to take care of my tires for the end.”
Eventually Roberts “started coming back” to Smith, and on lap 15 Roberts slid underneath Smith to take the lead. Roberts initially edged away from the pack, but after the race’s four caution flags flew in rapid-fire fashion — on laps 20, 22, 24 and 28 — he watched Bloomquist use the outside lane to sail into the top spot on lap 31.
On most occasions, a Bloomquist move into the lead during the second half of a race means the rest of the field is running for second. But this wasn’t a normal situation.
“Scott come up through there and gosh, whenever he passed us, I was like, ‘Dang, we might run second,’ ” said Roberts. “But I wasn’t gonna go down without a fight.”
The low-riding Roberts slowly inched toward Bloomquist’s 2-race-old Sweet Bloomquist car. He challenged Bloomquist on lap 43 only to fall several car lengths back on lap 45 while negotiating lapped traffic; moments later, Roberts broke free of slower cars and again closed in on Bloomquist.
On lap 48 Roberts surged to the inside of Bloomquist in turns one and two and stayed alongside the leader down the backstretch. After rounding turns three and four, Roberts was in the lead with the white flag flying, and less than 20 seconds later, the race was his.
“We definitely could drive and rotate around the bottom real nice,” said Roberts. “That was really the key to the win.”
Bloomquist, 50, conceded that Roberts’s mastery of the inside groove was the difference.
“I thought the racetrack would move up and you’d have to run the middle and all over it, but that bottom stayed a lot longer than I expected,” said Bloomquist, who started sixth. “He ran a great race. It looked like he just stuck to the bottom. Tonight, that’s where it was at.”
Outdueling a Hall of Famer like Bloomquist was an unforgettable accomplishment for Roberts, a low-key sort who displayed surprisingly little outward emotion after the race.
“To run with Scott like that, with as much as he’s done in our sport — it ranks definitely at the top of the wins that I have,” said Roberts, whose wife, Cathy, and children Brynn, 15, and Mason, 10, were unfortunately not in attendance at Volusia. “I can’t thank God enough for blessing me with all the fine people around me.”
Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., finished sixth and took over the WoO points lead for the first time in his young career. Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., faded to seventh after briefly challenging Roberts for second early in the distance. Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., rallied to finish eighth after being forced to the rear of the field on lap 24 by contact with Smith that sent him spinning in turn four. Rick Eckert of York, Pa., and Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., rounded out the top 10.
Wrapping around the lap-24 caution flag for Lanigan’s problem were slowdowns on lap 20 for third-starter Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., who stopped in turn three; lap 22 for Kyle Bronson of Tampa, Fla., who slowed after climbing the homestretch wall; and lap 28 for a turn-two spin by Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa.
The DIRTcar Nationals continue Friday and Saturday with WoO programs headlined by 50-lap, $10,000-to-win features.
43rd annual DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment: (1) Casey Roberts, (2) Scott Bloomquist (3) Dale McDowell, (4) John Blankenship, (5) Gregg Satterlee, (6) Brandon Sheppard, (7) Steve Francis, (8) Darrell Lanigan, (9) Rick Eckert, (10) Shane Clanton, (11) Billy Moyer, (12) Tim Fuller, (13) Don O’Neal, (14) Brady Smith, (15) Vic Coffey, (16) Eric Wells, (17) Mike Marlar, (18) Kenny Pettyjohn, (19) Ivedent Lloyd Jr., (20) Chub Frank, (21) Tim McCreadie, (22) Morgan Bagley, (23) Clint Smith, (24) Brian Shirley, (25) Kyle Bronson. Fast qualifier (among 45 cars): Moyer, 15.791 seconds. Heat race winners: Roberts, Satterlee, Bloomquist, Shirley. Consolation winners: Coffey, Eckert. Provisional starters: Fuller, Bagley, C. Smith.
Casey Roberts drew the pole among heat winners and runners-up while WoO points leader Brady Smith will start outside the front row. Brian Shirley and Steve Francis make up row two while Gregg Satterlee and Scott Bloomquist are on the third row. Kyle Bronson, making his first career WoO start, and Billy Moyer are in row four.
Eric Wells swept into the lead from outside the front row and led until a fifth-starting Rick Eckert overtook him on the final lap. Eckert used low-side passes to get to second by the third lap, then tracked down Wells for the victory. Wells settled for second while polesitter Kenny Pettyjohn got the third and final transfers spot over Tim Fuller. There were no cautions.
Finish: Rick Eckert, Eric Wells, Kenny Pettyjohn, Tim Fuller, Dan Stone, Chase Junghans, Clint Smith, Jeff Babcock, Jared Landers, Kenny Moreland, Jason Fitzgerald, Chad Hollenbeck, Chuck Julien, Boom Briggs.
Vic Coffey outdueled Shane Clanton early and won the first consolation. Clanton was a close second while Chub Frank got the final transfer spot in the third in the caution-free prelim.
Finish: Vic Coffey, Shane Clanton, Chub Frank, Morgan Bagley, Bobby Pierce, John Garvin Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Jimmy Owens, Jack Sullivan, Dennis Erb Jr., Eric Jacobsen, John Winge, Jeff Beyers, Mike Hammerle. Scratched:
Consolation race lineups
(12 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Vic Coffey
Row 2: Morgan Bagley, Bobby Pierce
Row 3: John Garvin Jr., Chub Frank
Row 4: Frank Heckenast Jr., Raymond Merrill
Row 5: Eric Jacobsen, Jeff Beyers
Row 6: Jack Sullivan, Jimmy Owens
Row 7: John Winge, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 8: Mike Hammerle
Row 1: Kenny Pettyjohn, Eric Wells
Row 2: Boom Briggs, Tim Fuller
Row 3: Rick Eckert, Chase Junghans
Row 4: Dan Stone, Clint Smith
Row 5: Jared Landers, Jason Fitzgerald
Row 6: Jeff Babcock, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 7: Kenny Merchant, Chuck Julien
Polesitter Brian Shirley won a two-lap, side-by-side duel with Mike Marlar at the outset and held on for a 10-lap victory. Marlar, holding the outside groove vs. Shirley's inside groove early, made a few inside challenges through midway, but WoO points leader Brady Smith took the second spot from Marlar amid a three-car breakaway. Further back in fourth with the final transfer spot was Tim McCreadie, who held off a flurry of challenges including fellow New Yorker Tim Fuller and Eric Wells, who overtook Fuller on the final lap.
Finish: Brian Shirley, Brady Smith, Mike Marlar, Tim McCreadie, Eric Wells, Tim Fuller, Chase Junghans, Clint Smith, Jason Fitzgerald, Chad Hollenbeck, Chuck Julien.
Polesitter Scott Bloomquist jumped into the early lead and cruised to a easy 10-lap victory. Bloomquist was a half-straight ahead of Steve Francis on the third lap and continued pulling away. The fourth-starting Francis got the second spot without a serious challenge while Darrell Lanigan and Dale McDowell got the other transfer spots. Tuesday's winner Kenny Pettyjohn was fifth in the caution-free heat.
Finish: Scott Bloomquist, Steve Francis, Darrell Lanigan, Dale McDowell, Kenny Pettyjohn, Boom Briggs, Rick Eckert, Dan Stone, Jared Landers, Jeff Babcock, Kenny Moreland.
Gregg Satterlee became the second straight winner from outside the front row, taking command early when polesitter Kyle Bronson slid high in turn two on the first lap. Bronson recovered and held the second spot the whole while Monday’s winner Ivedent Lloyd Jr. was the second home-state driver in the top three. Don O’Neal got the fourth and final transfer spot while Vic Coffey was further back in fifth in the caution-free race. Dennis Erb Jr. retired early to the outer pits and Jimmy Owens slowed late.
Finish: Gregg Satterlee, Kyle Bronson, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Don O’Neal, Vic Coffey, Bobby Pierce, Chub Frank, Raymond Merrill, Jeff Beyers, Jimmy Owens. Dennis Erb Jr.
Casey Roberts went around polesitter Billy Moyer entering turn one on the first lap and raced to victory in the first prelim. Moyer, who raced with right-rear quarterpanel damage, fell back to third briefly but finished second while Brandon Sheppard and John Blankenship, who overtook Shane Clanton on the final lap, got the other two transfer spots. A first-lap caution appeared when Frank Heckenast Jr. slipped up and stopped in turn two; it required a complete restart.
Finish: Casey Roberts, Billy Moyer, Brandon Sheppard, John Blankenship, Shane Clanton, Morgan Bagley, John Garvin Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Eric Jacobsen, Jack Sullivan, John Winge, Mike Hammerle.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Billy Moyer, Casey Roberts
Row 2: Brandon Sheppard, Shane Clanton
Row 3: John Blankenship, Morgan Bagley
Row 4: John Garvin Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 5: Jack Sullivan, Eric Jacobsen
Row 6: John Winge, Mike Hammerle
Row 1: Kyle Bronson, Gregg Satterlee
Row 2: Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Don O'Neal
Row 3: Jimmy Owens, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 4: Vic Coffey, Raymond Merrill
Row 5: Chub Frank, Bobby Pierce
Row 6: Jefff Beyers
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Boom Briggs, Steve Francis
Row 3: Dale McDowell, Kenny Moreland
Row 4: Kenny Pettyjohn, Rick Eckert
Row 5: Jared Landers, Jeff Babcock
Row 6: Dan Stone
Row 1: Brian Shirley, Mike Marlar
Row 2: Brady Smith, Tim Fuller
Row 3: Tim McCreadie, Jason Fitzgerald
Row 4: Chase Junghans, Clint Smith
Row 5: Eric Wells, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 6: Chuck Julien
Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., was fastest of 45 entrants Thursday at Volusia Speedway Park for the fourth round of Late Model action at the 43rd annual DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment.
Moyer's quick lap of 15.791 seconds in World of Outlaws Late Model Series qualifying at the half-mile track puts him on the pole position for the first heat race. Other heat race polesitters: Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla.; Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn.; and Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill.
Four 10-lap heat races will transfer four drivers apiece to the main event with a pair of 12-lap consolation races transferring three races each. The 50-lap feature pays $10,000-to-win.
Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., leads the series points heading into the fourth race of the season. … The WoO action follows three straight nights of UMP DIRTcar action with Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., winning along with first-time DIRTcar Nationals winners Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla., and Kenny Pettyjohn of Millsboro, Del. … The World of Outlaws opened the season a week earlier with three nights at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.; Smith, Brandon Sheppard and Darrell Lanigan grabbed victories. … Smith has a stretch of three straight top-three finishes in WoO action. … Attendance could be down with Volusia’s action going up against Daytona International Speedway’s Budweiser Duels, which moved to an evening start for the first time. … Kenny Moreland of Waldorf, Md., is the night’s only newcomer. … Jimmy Owens is competing in his Bloomquist Race Car on Thursday; he entered Tuesday’s action with a test drive in Darrell Lanigan’s Club 29 Race Car.
Time trials (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.791
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.947
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 15.962
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.003
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.040
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (21), Ocala, Fla., 16.077
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.145
John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 16.231
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.233
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.262
Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 16.276
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.340
John Garvin Jr. (J4), Sarver, Pa., 16.385
Vic Coffey (32c), Caledonia, N.Y., 16.420
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Orland Park, Ill., 16.426
Raymond Merrill (12m), Sallisaw, Okla., 16.462
Jack Sullivan (12m), Greenbrier, Ark., 16.473
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.507
Eric Jacobsen (5), Santa Cruz, Calif., 16.636
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 16.671
John Winge (17J), Sioux Falls S.D., 16.942
Jeff Beyers (27), Pana, Ill., 17.111
Mike Hammerle (16H), St. Charles, Mo., 18.056
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.880
Brian Shirley (81), Chatham, Ill., 15.934
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 16.093
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 16.101
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.119
Brady Smith (2), Solon Springs, Wis., 16.134
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 16.167
Tim Fuller (19), Watertown, N.Y., 16.168
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.200
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.233
Kenny Moreland (24), Waldorf, Md., 16.261
Jason Fitzgerald (1), Middleburg, Fla., 16.266
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 16.296
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 16.327
Clint Smith (44), Senoia, Ga., 16.373
Rick Eckert (24), York, Pa., 16.373
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 16.375
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 16.428
Jeff Babcock (1B), Wayne, Ohio, 16.432
Chad Hollenbeck (4DS), Kingsley, Pa., 16.494
Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 16.686
Chuck Julien (57), Apopka, Fla., 18.509
6 p.m.: WoO Late Model hot laps
6:30 p.m.: Big-block modified hot laps/time trials
7 p.m.: WoO Late Model time trials
7:20 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
7:30 p.m.: Four WoO Late Model heats (10 laps each; four advance)
8:10 p.m.: Four big-block modified heats (8 laps each; five advance)
8:50 p.m.: Two WoO Late Model consies (12 laps each; three advance)
9:20 p.m.: Two big-block modified consies (10 laps; three advance)
9:40 p.m.: WoO Late Model feature (50 laps)
10:10 p.m.: Big-block modified feature (30 laps)