Barberville, FL (Monday, February 11, 2019) - NIGHT ONE of the DIRTcar Nationals was held Tuesday at Volusia Speedway Park with the over 90 UMP Modifieds checking in for competition. Clarklake, Michigan’s Brian Ruhlman led his qualifying group but it was David Stremme who out-timed the entire field with a 17.773 lap time. David Reutimann, Zeke McKenzie, Lucas Lee, Michael Long, Jason Beaulieu, Justin Haley, Michael Altobelli, Jr and David Stremme were all heat race winners. Perhaps one of the best races of the night came out of Last Chance Showdown number one, where Watervliet, Michigan’s Curt Spalding went from the back to the front to win after a last-lap three-wide pass for the win. Roy Bollinger, Will Krup and Austin Holcombe were also Last Chance winners. In the $1,000 to win main event, Lee and Reutimann led the 28 car field to the green flag. With eight laps to go former Tri-City Speedway (IL) track champion Michael Long took the top spot and went on to be the 47th different feature winner all-time in DIRTcar Nationals History.
On NIGHT TWO 95 DIRTcar UMP Modifieds welcomed in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars (ASCoC). Two drivers normally seen around the Michigan scene, stuck close to each other most of the night. Spalding set fast time in his group, with Claypool, Indiana’s McKenzie in second - the pair would flip during their heat race, with McKenzie picking up the win. Ruhlman set fast time again for his group and went on to collect a heat race win; Kyle Strickler set the overall fast time at an 18.437. A heated battle between Taylor Cook and three-time defending DIRTcar Nationals Champion Nick Hoffman came down to the final lap, when Cook used the bottom of the racetrack to pick up his first ever Nationals win. Ruhlman finished out the podium, with McKenzie coming home fifth and Spalding ninth. Heat race winners were Will Krup, McKenzie, Ruhlman, Cook, Long, Strickler, Hoffman and Stremme.
For the ASCoC, it only took Bixby, Oklahoma’s Shane Stewart eight laps to go from fifth to around race leader Daryn Pittman and once he was there he never looked back, picking up his first ever Gator Trophy. Pittman held on to second while David Gravel finished third; Donny Schatz made a huge charge coming from 22nd to finish fourth. Tony Stewart, Aaron Reutzel, Shane Stewart and Daryn Pittman collected heat race wins.
Both classes were back in action on Thursday for NIGHT THREE from Volusia Speedway Park. The DIRTcar UMP Modifieds had another impressive field, with continued growth over the first three nights, as they welcomed 102 teams. David Reutimann set an 18.631 second lap time for the overall fast time with Michigan’s Brian Ruhlman and Curt Spalding setting quick time in their groups and picking up heat race wins. Other heat race winners were Reutimann, Lucas Lee, Nick Hoffman, David Stremme, Tyler Evans and Michael Altobelli, Jr. In the $1,000 main event, Hoffman saw sweet redemption holding of a hard charge from Kyle Strickler to pick up his first feature win of 2019.
The final race of the five race sweep through Florida for the ASCoC went to “The Big Cat” Brad Sweet. Sweet, who started on the outside of row two, found himself shuffled back to fifth after the initial start. He found the front of the field, however, just after the halfway point, taking the lead on lap 16. Logan Schuchart came home second, with Daryn Pittman finishing the podium. Heat race wins went to Paul McMahan, Brad Sweet, Brock Zearfoss and Tony Stewart.
On Friday, NIGHT FOUR, the UMP Modified portion of the show featured the Quad-15s. However, because of the extremely high car counts throughout the week, the typically four 15-lap features were increased to five; renamed the Five-Star 15s. As a result, five first time feature winners claimed a Gator Trophy. Jesse Rupe, Brandon Green, Gordy Gundaker, Justin Haley and RC Whitwell all took home wins.
Volusia Speedway Park traded in the ASCoC for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series for their season opener. The largest Friday night crowd in DIRTcar Nationals history saw Daryn Pittman go to victory lane in a caution-free event. Pittman ran well all week with the ASCoC, finishing second on two separate occasions. On Friday though, he was able to run down Shane Stewart with five laps to go. The podium finish was Pittman, Stewart and Christopher Bell.
On NIGHT FIVE, Saturday, the racing was hot and heavy for the WoO NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, as Daryn Pittman and Christopher Bell waged a back-and-forth battle to the finish. Bell, a three-time Chili Bowl winner, led the first 18 laps before Pittman slid to the front on lap 19. The racing wasn’t done yet though, as Bell dove back in front a lap later, before the two exchanged slidejobs on laps 26 and 27. Pittman regained the lead on lap 28, holding off Bell for his second caution-free win in a row - Bell finished second, with Donny Schatz rounding out the podium.
For the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds, rain washed out both nights (Saturday and Sunday) of qualifying racing for the DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator Championship. Racing will continue Monday, with the Drivers Meeting at 3:30pm, and cars on track at 5:00pm for Hot Laps. Then, Saturday’s Big Gator Qualifiers will go off, before Hot Laps/Group Qualifying for the Sunday Qualifiers. From there, DIRTcar Late Models take the track for Qualifying before the normal Schedule of Events for Monday is in place.