Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2022 Winter Freeze at Screven

The Headline(s)

Ross Bailes won the super late model feature of the Winter Freeze Saturday, but Josh Adkins scored the biggest $18,000 payday of the annual Screven Motorsports Park event.

Our Feature Spotlights

2022 Winter Freeze (Sport Compact Dirt Racing Association)
Where: Screven Motorsports Park – Sylvania, Ga. (streamed on Flo Racing)
Winner’s Purse: $18,000

In a marathon event slowed by two red flags and a myriad of incidents, Josh Adkins passed Kyle Stark in turn 1 just inside of 20 laps to go to win the $18,000 SCDRA feature of Screven’s Winter Freeze program, scoring the nation’s largest payday to date in any class other than super late models.

A lot of carnage during the Winter Freeze SCDRA, 18,000 TO WIN at Screven Motor Speedway

Posted by Richard Barnes on Sunday, February 6, 2022

Defending SCDRA champion Josh Windham dominated much of the 100-lap event, leading the first two-thirds of the event before a turn 1 collision around lap 69 handed the lead to Stark. Stark led until Adkins made what would be the pass for the win a dozen or so laps later.

While the SCDRA feature was nothing short of a disaster (more on that later), the Southern All-Stars put on a frenzy of a late model show, with Ross Bailes taking the lead courtesy of a masterful four-wide pass for the lead on lap 12 that saw Bailes pinch both leaders Payton Freeman and Brent Dixon under a lapped car while rushing to the high side of turn 3. Bailes collected $10,000 for the win.

2022 Winter Nationals (Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series)
Where: All- Tech Raceway – Lake City, Fla. (streamed on MAVTV Plus)
Winner’s Purse: $15,000

2020 LOLMDS champion Jimmy Owens snapped a six-race streak of averaging finishes outside the top 15, successfully battling past defending series champion Tim McCreadie with seven laps to go to score his first win of 2022 at a track that’s historically been his best on the Georgia/Florida Speedweeks circuit.

For Owens, the win was noteworthy on two fronts. One, it came courtesy of another masterclass high-side move, this one coming through turns 3 and 4 as McCreadie battled his way through lapped traffic. Second, the win came behind the wheel of one of Owens’s old Rocket chassis; the team had been running a Longhorn this season after the chassis make dominated the super late scene a year ago.

Success Stories

It took nearly 15 hours to get from home in Virginia to East Bay Raceway Park this weekend, but credit to some of our local drivers for letting Florida know Virginia was present. Thursday night saw Linden, Va.’s Kyle Hardy pick up from a stellar 2021 campaign with a victory in the 604 late model division, while Waynesboro, Va.’s Logan Roberson inherited the feature win Friday after Doug Horton was disqualified in post-race tech. Both drivers scored top 10s in Saturday’s A-main.

That Devin Moran’s fourth-place finish Saturday at All-Tech was the worst he’s scored seven races into Speedweeks is about as good a success story as any driver could write. 

Floridian Joseph Joiner of Hunt the Front fame deservedly stole some accolades Saturday night with an eighth-place run on a treacherously slick All-Tech surface, doing all of that with what MAVTV described as a 15-year-old engine under the hood.

We had a heck of a night at All-Tech Raceway to finish out our Speedweeks trip with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt…

Posted by Hunt the Front on Saturday, February 5, 2022

Vexed, Villains & Victims

I don’t think it’s up for debate that Josh Windham had the fastest car in the SCDRA Winter Freeze field Saturday night, but from lap 69 on the No. 65 car couldn’t stay out of incidents. A turn 1 collision cost him the lead on lap 69. Lap 79 saw Windham make contact with Shannon Barnhill that dropped him from second to the back of the top five. Then came lap 81, where Windham made hard contact with Kevin McKenzie on the frontstretch, effectively ending his race.

Jacksonville, Fla.’s Mark Ruel Jr. spun out in lapped traffic while leading Saturday’s USCS Winter Heat sprint car event at Hendry County Motorsports Park Saturday night.

Tucson, Ariz.’s Jake O’Neil is at the top of the list for accomplished modified drivers the past few seasons, but he looked every bit a rookie in his return to super late model racing at All-Tech on Saturday, finishing 26th of 27 cars after spinning out twice in the opening 10 laps of the feature.

NASCAR Regulars

Former Cup Series regular Ken Schrader finished sixth in Saturday’s Winter Freeze Renegades of Dirt open-wheel modified feature at Screven.

Fanning the Flames

Let’s not mince words. The SCDRA headline event of Saturday’s Winter Freeze at Screven was AWFUL. For one, this was a 100-lap feature that was slowed by two red flags and 15 cautions. And considering for the first 70 laps of the event a caution flag resulted in a three-lap runoff, I’d wager that more of the feature was run under yellow than green when all was said and done.

Where did this go wrong? The race couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a race or an enduro. Starting 44 cars while running regular caution-flag rules was directly responsible for the race running nearly the entirety of its first half under yellow. The racing when it actually strung together a lap or two was good… there’s no reason a standard 24-car field couldn’t be utilized. 

And speaking as a viewer, my God was the commentary on Flo Racing’s broadcast grating. Using a late-model commentator that spoke in metaphors and apparently knew only two of the names in a 44-car field made it damn near impossible to understand what the PA was saying. That’s painful for an event whose stream lasted a few minutes short of two freaking hours.

I’ll openly admit it, I didn’t finish watching the Cabin Fever feature at Boyd’s Speedway from this past Saturday. It was on my to-do list Sunday evening, but watching the leader spin out and trigger a nine-car melee on lap 1 immediately after sitting through the marathon Winter Freeze SCDRA feature was yellow-fever overload. 

Prior to watching the Winter Freeze video replay, it felt like Saturday’s 4.6 Ford (aka Crown Vics) feature at Hendry County was the marathon of my weekend, with the back of the field continually taking turns spinning each other out. The track did have a time limit in place which is commendable. Hendry County ran a very efficient show, especially for a track that prides itself on its Southern location.

But sitting through that event got me wondering if a time limit is the best way to handle wreck-fests. Yes, a time limit means a feature will end, but even though the Crown Vics did finish inside their 30-minute clock, the marathon of pace laps every time the field had to be reset and scored really sucked the life out of the event. Maybe tracks need to explore having cautions shorten the race distance every time after the second yellow flies?

Enough ranting. There was nothing I was looking forward to more during my first trip to East Bay then catching laps from the backstretch hill near turn 3, and damn if that view didn’t deliver. There’s no shortage of dirt tracks across the country with excess dirt laying around… why not put it to similar use? There’s a reason Wake Forest football sells out “Deacon Hill” seating faster than any other ticket. Seating’s not just for grandstands!

My one knock on East Bay. Build the freaking sales tax into your concessions menu prices. There is NO reason I should ever get a bill for $23.92 at a snack bar. Speaking of bills, the track’s food was good, but pricey. 

Two notes about the clay at East Bay. One, I never appreciated how much sand was in it until getting hit in the face by it during Friday’s crate late model features. 

Two, it really does change from lap-to-lap. Case in point, Friday night’s second 604 B-main saw Cory Hedgecock make up tons of ground on the high side, leading Wil Herrington to go straight up top for the next B-mains opening laps… where he made no progress. When that gypsum plant demolishes East Bay, I hope they let some racer haul the clay out of there first. Tide or no tide, that clay deserves a home at another racetrack.

I was thoroughly impressed at just how many restroom facilities Hendry County Motorsports Park made available to patrons on Saturday night. I was thoroughly depressed that despite those facility investments, there were multiple fans opting to relieve themselves under the turn 4 grandstands instead. Track promoters do actually have a thankless job sometimes.

Numbers Game

5 – laps short the 602 sportsman feature at Easy Bay was cut on Friday after a rash of yellow flags dragged out what had otherwise been a smooth program.

$100 – Davie Franek’s winnings on Friday and Saturday night for winning the USCS dashes at Hendry County.

124 – cars that entered Saturday night’s Winter Freeze SCDRA marathon at Screven Saturday.

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 my first trip to Florida Speedweeks in two years four Stellas with a decent orange slice. Both East Bay and Hendry County were well worth the lengthy drives to pay a visit, making up for a lot of rainouts and an interminably long Winter Freeze as a weekend headliner.

Up Next: Speedweeks kicks into overdrive this week, with the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia kicking off on Monday and the LOLMDS beginning their week-long Winternationals residency at East Bay on Tuesday. Coverage can be found on DirtVision and MAVTV Plus, respectively.  

About the author

Senior Commentator at Frontstretch

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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