The annual trip to Florida did not disappoint dirt-car fans in any way, as Stewart Friesen and Larry Wight collected championships with their respective tours.
Wight needed to post a finish of 15th or better in the 50-lap finale at Volusia Raceway Park in Barberville, Fla.’s to secure his third DIRTcar Nationals title. He ranked sixth, denying his Gypsum Racing teammate, Billy Decker, the crown.
The DIRTcar Nationals featured five Modified in as many five nights, beginning Feb. 11 and wrapping up Saturday.
Meanwhile, Friesen dominated the Short Track Super Series Sunshine Swing, winning two events and garnering the runner-up spot in the 50-lap finale at All-Tech Raceway in Lake City, Fla. Those races were held Feb. 6-8.
Grant Hilfiger won the Crate 602 Sportsman Championship with the STSS.
Here’s a rundown of what happened in Florida:
Mat Williamson and Wight were the only two winners through the DIRTcar Modified portion of the Nationals.
Williamson won the $5,000 finale over Jimmy Phelps and Matt Sheppard. Billy Dunn and Decker filled the top five ahead of Big Gator championship winner Wight.
Wight won the middle three races. In Friday night’s 30-lap main, he charged through the field to catch Decker. Decker was mired in traffic, and Wight was able to forge a race-winning pass with four laps to go. Decker settled for second ahead of Williamson, Anthony Perrego and Jimmy Phelps.
After that victory, Wight had won four of the last six DIRTcar Modified features contested at Volusia Speedway Park.
Thursday night, Wight rolled off from outside the front row, and powered to the lead quickly. Friesen chased moved to second from fifth in short order, and was poised to strike following a caution period on lap 12. The caution period was logged due to a broken shock on the Williamson machine, which ultimately served as the dividing line between Wight’s winning the week-long championship and Williamson coming up short.
Wight was able to win the battle when the green unfurled, holding on to best Friesen, Erick Rudolph, Mike Maresca and Brett Hearn. Sheppard, who set fast time in qualifying, was seventh overall.
Hearn started on the pole for the second 30-lap main of Nationals, but could not hold back Wight from winning his first feature of the week Wednesday night. Wight took the lead after starting outside the front row. A series of slowdowns bunched the order, with Friesen climbing to second. Wight was up to the task and held the lead, with Friesen even making a late-race, Hail Mary-type attempt in the first turn. He could not draw alongside — the groove had narrowed. Behind Wight and Friesen, Williamson, Hearn and Billy Dunn gobbled up the rest of the first five spots.
In the opener last Tuesday, Williamson was strong. He posted his first career DIRTcar Nationals win, holding off Rudolph and Perrego for the victory. Friesen and Wight filled the top five.
The Super DIRTcar Series returns to New York for its formal series opener April 11 at Can-Am Speedway. The 100-lapper pays $7,500 to the victor.
World of Outlaws
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series opened its 2020 season at Volusia, with Donny Schatz, Brad Sweet and Logan Schuchart earning feature victories Feb. 7-9. Sweet emerged from the action with the early points lead.
Jimmy Owens captured three straight World of Outlaws Late Model Series features Feb. 13-15. Brandon Sheppard took the checkers in the tour’s 2020 opener Feb. 12.
More Late Models
Tim McCreadie won a Super Late Model feature Feb. 11 at Volusia, racing under the DIRTcar Late Model sanction. Brandon Sheppard, who was riding a five-race win streak, placed second. The win was McCreadie’s third of the year, following successes Feb. 5 during the East Bay Raceway Park’s Winternationals and at Golden Isles in Georgia, both with the Lucas Oil Late Model Series.
Short Track Super Series
The Short Track Super Series was rained out at All-Tech Raceway on the first night. Officials then created a double program for night No. 2, with a break between the makeup and regularly scheduled action.
Friesen won the first leg of the program in convincing form, besting Williamson and Sheppard. Wight and Decker filled the top five.
Friesen prevailed by surviving a game of restarts, exchanging the top spot with Wight a couple of times. A single-file restart with four circuits to go was anticlimactic, with Williamson only able to watch Friesen’s No. 44 zoom away.
Michael Ballestero won the Sportsman 602 feature ahead of Hilfiger and Antonio Ballestero.
In the second round of racing, Friesen again relegated Williamson to second place with his STSS-record 18th and 19th feature triumphs. Perrego and Sheppard followed.
Antonio Ballestero won the second Sportsman main ahead of Hilfiger
Rudolph logged a $10,000 payday by winning the STSS Sunshine Swing finale. Andy Bachetti was out front early, but spun out on lap 15 while working slower traffic. Dunn took the lead on the restart; several drivers took the opportunity to pit for tires. Williamson grabbed the lead on lap 32 before Mike Gular went by him on lap 39. A caution period on lap 41 set up a final, nine-lap dash, and Rudolph drove past Sheppard and Gular. He survived the final restarts to win over Friesen, Gular, Billy Pauch Jr. and Sheppard.
Hilfiger won the Sportsman feature to cap his title run.
The Short Track Super Series returns to action March 6-7 in the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial at Georgetown (Del.) Speedway.
For more details, visit www.shortracksuperseries.com.
Swap Meet is Feb. 29
The annual demolition derby and motorsports swap meet will be held at Paradise Speedway on Hates Road Feb. 29.
Vendors include Catskill Fabrication and Ryan Ostrander, Jeffy’s Fab Farm and Jeff Schoeman, Rick Clarke and RNR Derby Supply, and GN Cores’ Gary Noe.
For more details, check out the swap meet social media feed.
Finger Lakes Speedworld will take over Fingerlakes Mall outside Auburn March 7-8.
The event will feature race cars of all sorts, including drag-racing cars, modifieds, sprint cars, several speedways, a display from the Northeast DIRT Modified Museum, and several vendors.
The event also includes an RC Demolition Derby both days, along with a pageant hosted by the Parlor City Dolls.
Setup is March 6 after mall hours.
For more details, visit Finger Lakes Speedworld on Facebook..
The 34th Syracuse Motorsports Exposition and Trade Show will be held March 14-15 at the Center of Progress Building on the New York State Fairgrounds campus in suburban Syracuse.
Dozens of racetracks, more than 100 cars, racing organizations and vendors will fill the building again this year. Displays will include sprint cars, modifieds, asphalt modifieds, go-karts, pro stocks, drag-racing rides and more. Schedules, merchandise and collector items will be available as well.
The expo started in 1986, occupying the Onondaga County War Memorial before eventually moving to the state fairgrounds.
Setup will be Friday, with show hours 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $13. There is no admission charge for children younger than 5.
Visit syracusemotorsportsexpo.com/ for more details.