The A-Main: Hometown hero “Big Sexy” Brandon Overton used a late-race charge on the high side of a racy Modoc Speedway to pass Dustin Mitchell with three laps to go to win Saturday night’s Xtreme DIRTcar Series finale before a track-record crowd in South Carolina.
After a great battle for the lead with Ross Bailes, “Big Sexy” @Boverton76 makes the winning pass with 3 laps to go to win tonight’s #Xtreme @DIRTcar_Racing Series finale @RacewayModoc!! pic.twitter.com/D7Sqdu6kuf
— Cole Perkins (@ColePerkins12) February 28, 2021
The win netted Overton a $7,000 paycheck.
The big money winner of the night, however, was Gray Court, S.C.’s Chris Madden, who finished sixth to secure his second consecutive series championship and the $15,000 that went along with the title. Madden made it interesting however, struggling in qualifying and taking the last transfer spot in his heat race. Starting 13th, it took a methodical charge from Madden to get up front and secure the points title.
— DIRTcar Racing (@DIRTcar_Racing) February 28, 2021
Of note, Winchester, Tennessee’s Christian Hanger had a banner day, winning both the fast time award and his heat race before giving up a top-five running position mid-race with a flat tire.
Hanover, Pa.’s Tim Wagaman opened the 2021 410 sprint car season in Pennsylvania with a $5,000 win in the annual Icebreaker race at Lincoln Speedway. Wagaman took the lead on a lap 6 restart and never looked back in the 30-lap feature.
Youth trumped experience in the $5,000 UMP modified finale of North Carolina Modified Speedweek at Fayetteville Motor Speedway, with 17-year-old Drake Troutman using the extreme high side to pass two veterans in Nick Hoffman and Matt Crafton on lap 12 and driving away to what ended up being a comfortable win on Saturday night.
Winners photo from yesterday of @RacingDrake.
— South East Dirt Modified Series (@SEDirtModSeries) February 28, 2021
Hoffman, who had been nearly untouchable in modified competition at Volusia during Florida Speedweeks, had won Wednesday night’s feature at Fayetteville.
Middleburg, Fla.’s Mark Whitener continues to scoop up trophies in 2021, this time taking the $2,589 Southern Clash Late Model tour win at Waycross Motor Speedway Saturday night. Ham Lake, Minn.’s Don Shaw scored his third consecutive win on the Southwest Dirt Racing Association late model tour at Arizona Speedway. Also of note at Arizona, Casa Grande, Ariz.’s Bo Partain won the IMCA SportMod feature, his nation-leading sixth feature win of 2021.
Drivers Who Accomplished Something
As mentioned above, Hanger showed strength in a stacked super late model feature at Modoc. What was more noteworthy was the composure he demonstrated on track; starting the feature from the pole, Hanger was under intense pressure starting with the first corner of the first lap. Despite the swarm he faced up front, Hanger held a steady wheel until a flat tire derailed the No. 29. It was a drastic departure from his tantrum at Boyd’s last month.
Partain. The trophy count grows.
CRUSA street stock driver Andy Stewart earned the redemption song away for this week. After being robbed of a win after being assessed a questionable restart penalty after the race was over at Lake View last week, Stewart proved untouchable up front at Modoc Saturday night, winning both his heat and the feature.
Drivers Who Accomplished Nothing
The flip count at Lincoln opened its tab in turn 1 on the first lap of the first heat race of 2021 after Royersford, Pa.’s Steve Buckwalter got out of shape, corrected into another car and rolled over. The No. 17 team did get the car repaired enough to start the feature before parking early.
Even the commentary booth was confused in what they had to say about this episode, so it’s presented as a hypothetical, but the No. 71 of John Whisnant pulled off the track early in a FWD heat at Modoc on Saturday night… as the track PA was bellowing that said driver needed to move his personal truck because it was blocking a thruway in the pit area. Coincidence? As the Modoc booth said, “FWDs are always interesting no matter where you are.”
Concord, Calif.’s Travis Day got sent to the rear of the Norcal Dwarf Car Association feature at Stockton Dirt Track Saturday afternoon for retaliating under green and spinning a car out in turn 4. Problem is, the car he retaliated against was not the car that had spun him early in the race, but a team car with the same paint scheme. Fail.
Two-time Truck Series champion Crafton took a mulligan in his UMP modified Thursday night at Fayetteville; qualifying 23rd in a 26-car field, Crafton was invisible in finishing 19th in the feature event. Saturday night, Crafton was anything but invisible, leading laps early in the feature event before fading to fifth in the closing laps.
Former Cup Series regular Ken Schrader won a heat race and finished second in the USCS Outlaw Modified Series opener at Hattiesburg Speedway Friday night.
Fanning the Flames
No debate about it, Double L Motorsports was the talk of the dirt late model scene off the track this week. What is debatable is which of its drivers was the bigger story, 2021 Wild West Shootout champion Jonathan Davenport… or 2019 Cup Series champion Kyle Busch? Busch made waves with the announcement this week that he would be contesting the super late model program of the Bristol Nationals as a teammate to Davenport.
— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) February 25, 2021
But Davenport had a large part to play in this story, as he will be racing alongside Busch at Bristol. That’s a huge deal, because it means that Davenport will be sacrificing his status as a series regular on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series to be at Bristol (the LOLMDS tour has races scheduled in Indiana and Ohio the same weekend). Given the on-track results Davenport has posted thus far in 2021, the decision would seem to make sense; Davenport booked three wins and over $50,000 in winnings by deciding to contest the WWS out in Arizona in January, yet struggled all over the state of Florida on the LOLMDS tour during Speedweeks. Still, giving up a provisional and guaranteed start money on the richest tour in super late model racing is a major sacrifice. DirtonDirt had an excellent interview with Davenport on the matter that’s worth a read.
The World of Outlaws tours are partying like it’s 2020 again, as they’ve juggled several weeks of their schedule in response to COVID restrictions leading them to cancel their tour swing out west. Instead, this coming weekend will see the sprint car tour head back to Florida, tackling Volusia Speedway Park for the third time in less than a month and returning to East Bay Raceway Park for the first time in nearly 40 years. Great tracks with loyal fan followings, but given that Speedmonth literally just ended, is this a case of going to the well one time too many? The racing at these tracks is likely to be good. Watching the grandstands as this experiment on saturation plays out could be just as entertaining.
It’s hard to read anything about the impacts of the ongoing impact of the COVID pandemic without it being chock full of opinion, so credit to Joseph Terrell for doing just that in breaking down the current impact of COVID restrictions on sprint car racing out west. Definitely learned something reading this one.
Dirt Track 101 time, ladies and gents. Today’s first lesson, how to speak dirt track, courtesy of the Stockton Dirt Track: “We’ve got Girl Scout Cookies for sale. Right next to the beer booth.”
Dirt racing fans may have been excited by this week’s news that defending USAC National Midget champion Chris Windom will make his Cup Series debut at the upcoming Bristol dirt race with Rick Ware Racing, but the talk on the Frontstretch staff chat was all about his NOS energy paint scheme.
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) February 23, 2021
Speaking as a dirt fan, yawn. I’ve never seen so much fawning over a paint scheme that’s run in more open-wheel races coast to coast than it isn’t.
I’ve spent the past few weeks in self-isolation in North Carolina after a potential office exposure, so a couple observations. One, judging from the crowds seen at both Modoc and Cherokee speedways this weekend in South Carolina, cabin fever is still packing the stands and pit areas in the South. Be it the Southern All-Stars, the Steel Block Late Models or the Red Clay 602 tour, over the last week it seems that every racing tour out there is still adding dates to capitalize; specifically, Southern All-Stars are on track for their largest slate of races since 2004 according to DirtonDirt. Two, gas prices are going up up up, be it diesel for haulers or regular 87 octane for my beloved Mustang. COVID has proven ineffective in stifling dirt racing. Could gas prices prove a forgotten enemy? Food for thought as a travel-starved populace starts venturing back out.
Even with COVID apparently cooling off (keep wearing the damn masks people, don’t screw this up), Mother Nature still had some tricks up her sleeve, with the season opener of the Blue Ridge Outlaw Late Model tour at Carolina Speedway tour postponed… because of fog. Part of me wants to say they reaped what they sowed after insisting on doing a four-wide salute (it’s overused, not every late model race is the King’s Royal). But running order is always going to be a controversy at the track. Schedule the late models too early, and no one sticks around to watch the smaller classes. Schedule them too late, and the fog takes over. Though I will say, the comments on this fan post about ticketing pose questions to be answered.
The 2021 racing season started with fans and competitors alike eager to kiss 2020 goodbye. The folks at Thunder Valley Raceway in Salem, Ind. may well be ready to kiss 2021 goodbye already. A week removed from postponing a scheduled enduro race due to low car count (and that’s an anomaly for dirt racing so far this year), weather this weekend left the track largely submerged.
All the best to the track crew in drying out and getting rolling this year.
23 – number of dirt tracks confirmed to host oval events this weekend
151 – largest car count of the weekend, seen at the Midwest Indoor Winter Nationals at the Southern Illinois Center in DuQuoin on Saturday night (count excludes entries from junior classes).
$7,000 – largest posted purse of the weekend, to win Saturday’s Xtreme DIRTcar Series finale at Modoc.
Where it Rated (on a scale of one to six cans with one a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic): We’ll give the weekend four cool Coors Lights (we’re going with Coors because according to the Stockton PA announcer, it goes best with Girl Scout Cookies). The DIRTcar finale at Modoc was a solid late model race, and that coupled with tracks from Pennsylvania (Lincoln) to South Carolina (Cherokee) to California (Stockton) running crisp programs without bogging down in too many classes or cautions, the weekend had plenty of racing with time to get outside. More please.
Up Next: Texas, take 3? Assuming the receding snow has not completely destroyed the infrastructure at racetracks across the Lone Star State, this weekend will again see dirt track racing centered in it. On the modified front, the USMTS modified tour will attempt again to contest two $10,000-to-win season openers at RPM Speedway in Crandall, Texas.
Late model fans have plenty to choose from, with DirtVision covering the World of Outlaws late models at Duck River Speedway in Lewisburg, Tenn., Flo Racing the Comp-Cams Late Model tour at Boothill Raceway in Greenwood, La. and Speed51 covering a $10,000 to win Southern All-Stars event at Cherokee Speedway.
Lastly, the World of Outlaws return to action on Dirtvision with a Florida doubleheader at East Bay Raceway Park and Volusia Speedway Park, while Flo Racing will cover the ASCS wingless sprints at Big O Speedway in Ennis, Texas and more 410 sprint action at Lincoln Speedway.