BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 24) — Just a day after experiencing back-to-back DIRTcar Nationals rainouts, Volusia Speedway Park was struck by Mother Nature again. While Shane Clanton had the field pretty well covered Friday night, fog had the facility completely covered.
Clanton, of Zebulon, Ga., won the fog-shortened World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series event Friday, leading all 23 laps to earn $10,000 while topping Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. Rick Eckert of York, Pa., finished fourth, with Brian Shirley finishing fifth for his third straight top-five finish at Volusia.
The race, which was scheduled for 40 laps — it was originally a 50-lapper but series officials trimmed 10 laps off the total before the drivers meeting — was halted three laps past the halfway mark when heavy fog rolled into the area and blanketed the half-mile oval.
Unable to see after he ran out of tearoffs, Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, brought out a caution on lap 23 and the race was never restarted.
"I hate that Mother Nature brought this fog in, but it's pretty bad out there. It's one straightaway and you have to pull a tearoff cause it's like raining," said Clanton. "I hate it for the fans and hate they didn't get to see a full feature here, but I think we had the best car."
As the fog grew dense, officials radioed drivers asking about their visibility. Race officials asked drivers to respond with a thumbs up or thumbs down as they idled past the flagstand. Clanton, who had led since the drop of the green, gave a thumbs down, as did most of the drivers still running in the attrition-filled main event.
“This is something different for me,” Clanton saod. “I’ve had a lot of mud, and run out of tearoffs because of mud, but this is something totally different. It’s like water on our helmet and on the car and everything else. It’s a pretty strange situation.
“Just before that last caution, it got like where you couldn’t see nothing all the way through (turns) one and two. I was pulling a tearoff right before we went green and then I couldn’t see at the flagstand.”
From outside the front row, Clanton blasted past polesitter Steve Francis of Bowling Green, Ky., at the start, only to have the race slowed when Wells spun in turn four. Following a complete restart, Clanton assumed command once again. But five cautions waved in the first 21 laps slowing the pace.
Eventually drivers began to run out of tearoffs — in part due to the mucky race surface, but mostly due to the thick swath of fog that settled over the track.
“It wasn’t easy to race out there like that,” said McCreadie, whose third-place finish came after starting 10th. “At first I didn’t notice it. I thought (my helmet) was fogging on the inside. Just slowly as you went, you realized it’s dew on the shield and it’s almost like getting … it’s as bad a getting mudded up off the corners. Off the corners you get mudded up and pull a tearoff. By the time you get down to the end of the straightaway that thing’s fogged up.”
Rick Eckert started fourth and was seeking both his second Georgia-Florida Speedweeks win and second World of Outlaws victory of the young season. But after letting Wells get by him early, he lost the third spot to McCreadie while trying to clear his shield.
“It got to where it was just so hard to see,” said Eckert. “I lost one spot to McCreadie there … I just couldn’t see (turn) one. Until I got a tearoff ripped off I missed the corner. It was that way for everybody, but it was definitely not fun.”
The final yellow waved for Tyler Erb, who slowed on the back stretch and then pulled into the infield hoping for a helmet exchange. But as the fog grew even more dense, officials realized restarting the race would be hazardous at best. And while they would have liked to have completed the full distance, most drivers understood the decision to cut the race short.
“I couldn’t see hardly anything down the backstretch,” Wells said. “I was pulling a tearoff every lap. You know, it was treacherous getting into turn three there. It’s hard to see … trying to get tearoffs pulled off. I was dreading trying to run the rest of the race. I was kinda glad to see them do what they did.”
Notes: Six cautions slowed the race, the first on lap three when Dale McDowell and Donny Schatz got together. Francis brought out a yellow when he slowed on lap six. Points leader Chris Madden drew the third caution when he slowed with a broken drive shaft on lap seven. Don O’Neal coasted to a stop for the fourth yellow and Brandon Overton brought out the fifth caution on lap 21. … Ten laps into the race, Clanton led by a full second. … Clanton’s biggest challenge came on a lap-six restart when Wells was able to get up to his quarterpanel.
Preliminary results and notes:
Row 1: Steve Francis, Shane Clanton
Row 2: Tyler Erb, Rick Eckert
Row 3: Brian Shirley, Eric Wells
Row 4: Boom Briggs, Kyle Bronson
Row 5: Jason Fitzgerald, Tim McCreadie
Row 6: Don O’Neal, Donny Schatz
Row 7: Dale McDowell, Donald Bradsher
Row 8: Brandon Sheppard, Chub Frank
Row 9: Chris Madden, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 10: Rodney Sanders, Devin Moran
Row 11: Earl Pearson Jr., Morgan Bagley
Row 12: Chad Hollenbeck, Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Row 13: Brandon Overton, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 14: Joey Coulter, Frank Heckenast Jr.
WoO officials announced during the running of the companion DIRTcar big-block modified feature that the Late Model A-main has been shortened to 40 laps from its scheduled 50-lap distance. … Polesitter Steve Francis of Bowling Green, Ky., will seek to end a long absence from victory lane in both DIRTcar Nationals and WoO competition. His last DCN triumph came in the 2012 UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned opener, and his last WoO checkered flag was on June 24, 2010, at Cornwall (Ont.) Motor Speedway. … Outside polesitter Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., is looking to continue the great success he’s enjoyed at Volusia in recent years. His finishes of fourth and second in this week’s two events give him nine top-five and 12 top-10 runs in his last 13 DCN starts (including five wins over the last two years). … Michael Norris of Sarver, Pa., scratched for the night — and the rest of the DCN — after logging the fastest lap in the first qualifying group due to a broken rod in his car’s engine. He actually discovered terminal motor woes in the car he started the week in while warming it up in the pits on Friday afternoon — the damage the mount’s powerplant sustained in a Tuesday heat proved to be worse than he thought — so he pulled out his brand-new XR1 Rocket for qualifying and promptly registered a blazing circuit but broke as he completed it. … Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., was sidelined during heat action by a broken crankshaft. He said he’ll run his second car on Saturday night. … Hampered by motor issues from the start of the night, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., pulled his Clint Bowyer Racing car off the track one lap into his heat and was done for the evening. … G.R. Smith of Cornelius, N.C., was running second on the last lap of the fourth heat when his car shut off due to a broken ignition box.
Earl Pearson Jr. easily won the final B-main, leading all 10 laps. After a caution for Charles LaPlant slowed the field with two laps to go, Ivedent lloyd Jr. held off a last-lap charge from Tyler Bruening to gain the last transfer spot. Breuning was in position to steal the spot but jumped the cushion in turn three, allowing lloyd to get away.
Finish (top 2 transfer): Earl Pearson Jr., Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Tyler Bruening, Nick Hoffman, Frank Heckenast Jr., Hudson O'Neal, Dylan Thompson, Charles LaPlant, Mike Hammerle. Scratched: Dennis Franklin.
Devin Moran led all the way to win the second B-main. Chad Hollenbeck held off a fast-closing Chase Junghans to pick up a transfer spot. Austin Hubbard slowed on the opening lap and pulled to the pit area.
Finish (top 2 transfer): Devin Moran, Chad Hollenbeck, Chase Junghans, G.R. Smith, Jason Jameson, Brent Larson, Billy Moyer Jr. Austin Hubbard. Scratched: Brandon Overton.
Rodney Sanders shot into the lead from outside the front row on the opening lap, building a comfortable lead until the caution waved for a spin. On the restart, Morgan Bagley turned back a challenge from Kenny Pettyjohn to grab the final transfer position. Sanders won ahead of fellow Texan Bagley.
Finish (top 2 transfer): Rodney Sanders, Morgan Bagley, Kenny Pettyjohn, Joey Coulter, Ricky Weiss, Blake Spencer, Reid Millard, Coleby Frye. Scratched: Darrell Lanigan, Michael Norris, Wil Ingersoll.
(10 laps; top 2 transfer)
Row 1: Morgan Bagley, Rodney Sanders
Row 2: Kenny Pettyjohn, Ricky Weiss
Row 3: Blake Spencer, Coleby Frye
Row 4: Reid Millard, Joey Coulter
Row 5: Michael Norris, Darrell Lanigan
Row 6: Win Ingersoll
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Chad Hollenbeck
Row 2: Devin Moran, Jason Jameson
Row 3: Chase Junghans, Austin Hubbard
Row 4: Brent Larson, G.R. Smith
Row 5: Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 1: Earl Pearson Jr., Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Row 2: Frank Heckenast Jr., Tyler Bruening
Row 3: Nick Hoffman, Hudson O’Neal
Row 4: Dylan Thompson, Charle LaPlant
Row 5: Dennis Franklin, Mike Hammerle
Coming out on top of a two-car battle with sprint car ace Donny Schatz on the opening lap, Brian Shirley won his third heat of the week. Schatz fell in behind Shirley and cruised to a runner-up finish 1.769 seconds behind the winner, while Dennis Erb Jr. earned the final transfer spot. Ivedent Lloyd Jr. finished fourth.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Brian Shirley, Donny Schatz, Dennis Erb Jr., Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Tyler Bruening, Hudson O'Neal, Charles LaPlant, Mike Hammerle.
Eric Wells blasted into the lead at the start and was never challenged in winning the fifth heat race. Don O'Neal held off a hard-charging Chris Madden for second. Madden claimed the final transfer spot, with Earl Pearson Jr. finishing fourth.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Eric Wells, Don O'Neal, Chris Madden, Earl Pearson Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Nick Hoffman, Dylan Thompson, Dennis Franklin.
From the pole, overall fast qualifier Shane Clanton dominated the first seven laps of the fourth heat race. Clanton had a 3-second lead over G.R. Smith when Smith slowed on the front stretch to bring out the caution. Clanton won the heat over Tim McCreadie, who rallied back after pushing across the cushion on the first lap. Chub Frank took advantage of the caution to pass Jason Jameson for the final transfer spot on the last lap.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Shane Clanton, Tim McCreadie, Chub Frank, Chad Hollenbeck, Jason Jameson, Austin Hubbard, G.R. Smith, Billy Moyer Jr.
Out-dueling fellow front row starter Jason Fitzgerald on the opening lap, Rick Eckert went the distance to win the third heat. Fitzgerald trailed Eckert by .723 of a second at the finish, but managed to stay well ahead of the battle for third. Brandon Sheppard finished third, while Brandon Overton battled a ill-handling car to finish fourth.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Rick Eckert, Jason Fitzgerald, Brandon Sheppard, Brandon Overton, Devin Moran, Chase Junghans, Brent Larson.
Tyler Erb dominated the second heat race, winning by 4.662 seconds ahead of home-state driver Kyle Bronson. Bronson finished second, with Donald Bradsher emerging from an intense battle for third to claim the final transfer spot. Rodney Sanders was fourth. Darrell Lanigan pulled off after one lap.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Tyler Erb, Kyle Bronson, Donald Bradsher, Rodney Sanders, Ricky Weiss, Coleby Frye, Joey Coulter, Darrell Lanigan.
Steve Francis passed Boom Briggs in turn two after Briggs pushed up the track and went on to win the first heat race. Briggs held off Dale McDowell for second. McDowell claimed the final transfer spot. Francis, who started on the pole after overall fast qualifier Michael Norris scratched due to engine trouble, got the jump on Briggs on the first start, but Briggs took advantrage of a complete restart and from the outside front row beat Francis into turn one. Briggs led two laps before giving way to Franis.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Steve Francis, Boom Briggs, Dale McDowell, Morgan Bagley, Kenny Pettyjohn, Blake Spencer, Reid Millard. Scratched: Michael Norris, Will Ingersoll.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top 3 transfer)
Row 1: Michael Norris, Boom Briggs
Row 2: Steve Francis, Morgan Bagley
Row 3: Dale McDowell, Kenny Pettyjohn
Row 4: Blake Spencer, Reid Millard
Row 5: Win Ingersoll
Row 1: Tyler Erb, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Kyle Bronson, Ricky Weiss
Row 3: Donald Bradsher, Coleby Frye
Row 4: Joey Coulter, Rodney Sanders
Row 1: Rick Eckert, Jason Fitzgerald
Row 2: Brandon Sheppard, Chase Junghans
Row 3: Brent Larson, Brandon Overton
Row 4: Devin Moran
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Tim McCreadie
Row 2: Chad Hollenbeck, G.R. Smith
Row 3: Chub Frank, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 4: Austin Hubbard, Jason Jameson
Row 1: Eric Wells, Chris Madden
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 3: Dennis Franklin, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 4: Nick Hoffman, Dylan Thompson
Row 1: Brian Shirley, Donny Schatz
Row 2: Dennis Erb Jr., Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Row 3: Tyler Bruening, Hudson O’Neal
Row 4: Charles LaPlant, Mike Hammerle
Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., was the overall fastest qualifier in the 48-car session with a lap of 15.861 seconds, putting him on the pole for the fourth heat.
Michael Norris of Sarver, Pa., turned a circuit of 15.923 seconds in the first group to earn the pole for the evening’s first heat, but his car showed smoke as he completed his qualifying lap and he had to be pushed across the scales.
Other heat polesitters will be Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, Rick Eckert of York, Pa., Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., and Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill.
A sunny, warm day that saw temperatures approach 80 helped dry out the racetrack and pit area, which were left saturated from the heavy rain that washed out the Wednesday and Thursday programs. … A 48-car field is signed in for the first of what will now be two World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series events during the DIRTcar Nationals. … Drivers entered for the first time this week are five-time DCN winner Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., former Volusia track champion Win Ingersoll of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Dylan Thompson of Paducah, Ky. … Justin Rattliff of Campbellsville, Ky., unloaded his team’s second car and drew a qualifying number, but he later decided to withdraw from the evening’s competition. Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ky., who has driven a Rattliff machine this week, will race as scheduled. … After scratching from Tuesday night’s program due to a broken motor suffered during a heat race, Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla., has a backup motor in his machine and is ready for action. … Michael Norris of Sarver, Pa., was also a mechanical casualty on Tuesday night — a cracked valve cover knocked him out of a heat — but he’s repaired the problem so he can continue racing. … Kenny Pettyjohn of Millsboro, Del., will go to the post in an XR1 Rocket that he debuted on Tuesday night. Pettyjohn, who ran an older car in Speedweeks events before Volusia, didn’t enter Monday night’s program after having some pit-parking problems. His hauler sank into the soft ground in the upper-pit spot he first pulled into; after he was pulled out by heavy equipment, he decided to sit out the show and cook out in the parking lot. (He parked in the lower Gator Pond pit area on Tuesday.) … Friday’s program marked the first time entrants for a WoO event were subject to random testing for mind-altering drugs under the new World of Outlaws Substance Abuse Policy instituted for the 2017 season. Staff from the National Center for Drug Free Sport were on hand overseeing testing of 15 drivers who were randomly selected from Friday’s entry list. During the drivers' meeting, WoO director Tim Christman thanked the racers who cooperated with the testing and noted that a driver who fails to submit to a test when asked will be presumed guilty and subject to the penalties specified in the WoO rulebook.
After rain washed away back-to-back DIRTcar Nationals events — Wednesday night’s UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned finale and Thursday evening’s World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series opener — action finally resumes at Volusia Speedway Park with a Friday-night WoO/DIRTcar big-block modified doubleheader.
Friday night’s WoO card includes split-group qualifying, six heat races, three B-mains and a 50-lap headliner paying $10,000 to win. The heat victors will redraw for the top-six starting spots in the feature.
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 15.923
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 16.01
Rick Eckert (7), York, Pa., 16.201
Boom Briggs (99b), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.247
Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., 16.281
Jason Fitzgerald (7F), Middleburg, Fla., 16.296
Steve Francis (15), Bowling Green, Ky., 16.35
Kyle Bronson (40b), Brandon, Fla., 16.357
Rodney Sanders (20), Happy, Texas, 16.36
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 16.405
Morgan Bagley (14M), Tyler, Texas, 16.417
Ricky Weiss (7w), Headingley, Manitoba, 16.419
Chase Junghans (18c), Manhattan, Kan., 16.43
Dale McDowell (17M), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.463
Donald Bradsher (93), Burlington, N.C., 16.468
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.5
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 16.576
Coleby Frye (0v), Dover, Pa., 16.694
Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., 16.699
Blake Spencer (6), St. Augustine, Fla., 16.861
Joey Coulter (2c), Charlotte, N.C., 17.006
Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 17.115
Reid Millard (14), Jefferson City, Mo., 17.436
Win Ingersoll (35), Port St. Lucie, Fla., no time
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.861
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 15.862
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 15.952
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.956
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.978
Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 15.997
Chad Hollenbeck (4ds), Kingsley, Pa., 16.093
Don O'Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.167
Dennis Erb Jr. (28e), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.173
G.R. Smith (22*), Cornelius, N.C., 16.186
Earl Pearson Jr. (1P), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.27
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (21L), Ocala, Fla., 16.275
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.355
Dennis Franklin (2F), Gaffney, S.C., 16.463
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.484
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 16.501
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99Jr), Frankfort, Ill., 16.56
Hudson O'Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 16.565
Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 16.774
Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 16.826
Charles LaPlant (3c), East Prairie, Mo., 17.059
Jason Jameson (16), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 17.263
Dylan Thompson (99), Paducah, Ky., 17.554
Mike Hammerle (16H), St. Charles, Mo., 18.557
5 p.m.: Grandstands open
5:30 p.m.: Fan pit pass gate opens
6 p.m.: Hot laps
- World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models
6:30 p.m.: Time trials
- Super DIRTcar series Big-Block Modifieds (Timed hot laps/group qualifying)
- World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models
7:20 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
7:30 p.m.: Racing
- Super DIRTcar series Big-Block Modifieds heats
- World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models heats
- Super DIRTcar series Big-Block Modifieds last chance races
- World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models last chance races
- Super DIRTcar series Big-Block Modifieds A-Feature
- World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models A-Feature
- Super DIRTcar series Big-Block Modifieds Non-qualifiers race