Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2021 PVP Platinum Batteries Shootout at Outagamie

The Headline(s)

A snoozer in South Dakota and Aaron Reutzel’s royal gaffe spells an ugly midweek for sprint car racing, and the “Thriller” Cade Dillard wins a PVP Platinum Batteries Showdown late model race at Outagamie that was anything but.

Our Feature Spotlights

Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021

Spotlight: 2021 Bull Haulers Brawl
Where: Huset’s Speedway – Brandon, S.D. (streamed on Flo Racing)
Why We Chose It: At $10,000 to win, Sunday’s highest-paying dirt race.

Grand Forks, N.D.’s Matt Dobmeier led flag-to-flag to win the 410 sprint car finale at Huset’s Speedway Sunday night, cruising to a $10,000 win in a race plagued with on-track incidents.

The flags likely benefitted Dobmeier, as they kept his No. 13 out of lapped traffic in the race’s closing laps. It was a rough night for the track points leaders as well, with current leader Justin Henderson bowing out with issues on lap 7 and current runner-up Carson McCarl jumping the cushion and triggering a three-car red flag on lap 22 of the 25-lap feature.

Perhaps most notable was the car count; despite a rich $10,000-to-win purse, none of the All-Star Circuit of Champions entries that were in Knoxville Saturday night made the trip up north, leaving the feature four cars short of a full field.

Monday, Aug. 2, 2021

Spotlight: 2021 Phil Oviatt Memorial Race
Where: Clay County Fair Speedway – Spencer, Iowa (streamed on Advantage Racing TV)
Why We Chose It: The nation’s only live-streamed dirt race on Monday night.

Tom Berry Jr. got alongside the leader mid-race and Kelly Shryock got alongside him with five laps to go, but current USMTS modified tour points leader Jake O’Neil pulled his best Ricky Thornton Jr. impression, hopping in an IMCA stock car and stealing a $5,000 payday at the Clay County Clash program Monday night.

O’Neil’s win came on a nearly picture-perfect racing surface amidst arguably the strongest field of IMCA stock cars assembled in 2021.


Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021

Spotlight: 2021 PVP Platinum Battery Showdown (World of Outlaws Late Models)
Where: Outagamie Speedway – Seymour, Wis. (streamed on DirtVision)
Why We Chose It: At $10,000-to-win, Tuesday’s highest-paying dirt race.

Brandon Overton finally figured out that the high-side was the right side of Outagamie on Tuesday night, but not before losing the lead twice, first to Ryan Gustin and then to eventual race winner Cade Dillard, who scored his second WoO late model win of the season in comfortable fashion Tuesday night.

Overton, who led the opening two laps from the pole, was quickly passed by Gustin using the high line of the track. Gustin led until lap 12, when he spun out while leading the race in turn 3. That handed the point back to Overton, who again led for a handful of laps before Dillard stormed by using the same high line that Gustin did previously.

In a microcosm of the 2021 season, Chris Madden showed strength all night long and finished on the podium in third, only to lose ground to defending series champion and current points leader Brandon Sheppard… who finished second.

Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021

Spotlight: Super DIRTcar Series Twin 60s
Where: Land of Legends Speedway – Canandaigua, N.Y. (streamed on DirtVision)
Why We Chose It: At $7,500-to-win, Wednesday’s highest-paying dirt race.

“Batman” Peter Britten gave immediate return to his new Pepsi sponsorship, overtaking Tim Fuller on a lap 8 restart and driving away from the field in a feature that went green the final 50-plus laps, easily dicing through lapped traffic to win by more than nine seconds. The win was Britten’s first series triumph in 2021.

Stewart Friesen brought out the race’s only yellow flag on lap 8 with a flat right-front tire, but battled back to finish seventh at feature’s end. He also would make up for that in the night’s second feature, besting Mike Mahaney on lap 13 and driving away for an easy win that was never in doubt.

The second 60-lap feature was marred by a nasty Big One on the opening lap that saw three modifieds barrel roll on the frontstretch. Fortunately, all drivers involved walked away from the melee.

Success Stories

Humboldt, S.D.’s Dan Jensen, the 1999 track champion, won Sunday’s late model street stock feature at Huset’s, marking his first feature win at the track since 2010.

If Kyle Larson has taught us anything over the last year, it’s that special talents can jump from discipline to discipline and win regardless. O’Neil’s victory Monday at Clay County demonstrated just that. Not only is he leading the points on the nation’s premier modified tour, his win Monday came courtesy of picture-perfect driving on the track’s middle lane in a car that was not the fastest on track.

Friesen finished first and seventh in the pair of Super DIRTcar features at Land of Legends. Batting .500 every week is going to produce gaudy numbers as much as he’s racing. The win marked Friesen’s first big-block win at the track since 2005.

Vexed, Villains & Victims

Gustin finished fourth in Tuesday’s WoO late model race at Outagamie, which had to make spinning from the lead on lap 12 all the more painful. The way Dillard checked out to win the event once up front, Gustin likely lost a feature win courtesy of that spin.

The only driver at Outagamie with harder luck than Gustin was Hortonville, Wis.’s Travis VanStraten, whose IMCA stock car ended up on its roof on the first lap of his feature Tuesday night after getting absolutely drilled in the driver’s door by Eric Mihalik, who had nowhere to go running down the backstretch.

Outagamie Speedway. August 3 2021. Stockcar Feature wreck in slow motion.

Outagamie Speedway. August 3 2021. Stockcar Feature wreck in slow motion.

Posted by Mike's Video on Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Good to see both drivers walk (or in VanStraten’s case crawl) away from this one.

Lockport, N.Y.’s Garrison Krentz blew an engine during hot laps at Land of Legends Wednesday night, which according to the driver was their last engine and a failure that may park the team for the remainder of the 2021 season. Enough said.

Fanning the Flames

Judging from Twitter, this one may have been better off in the Villains section. Current World of Outlaws rookie points leader Aaron Reutzel has been suspended for a month from competition after admitting to painting an illegal chassis and transferring a chassis inspection sticker to facilitate using an illegal vehicle in competition.

The story is remarkable if nothing else for how brazen a case of cheating this is. The real question I had reading this was… does anyone seriously believe the driver did all of this himself without the Roth Motorsports team, who has been racing sprint cars for a very long time, even raising an eyebrow? Parking the driver but not reducing the size of the WoO field by a car for that month seems awful convenient.

Reutzel’s replacement in the No. 83 starting this weekend at Ken Schrader’s I-55 track will be Kokomo, Ind.’s Parker Price-Miller. The irony that the beneficiary of a major penalty is a driver nicknamed “The Law Firm.”

Anyone that used to read my NASCAR editions of Thinkin’ knows I’ve always been perplexed why racetracks in our northern ranks feel the need to play the Canadian national anthem during pre-race ceremonies. Land of Lakes Speedway has been taking that a step further, playing the American, Canadian and Australian national anthems… to reflect the drivers in the field for the evening. That’s a practice that I can get behind, especially seeing as I don’t watch Formula 1 and wouldn’t have to sit through an hour-long pre-race to accommodate this.

Want to know how serious the parts and tire shortages gripping the short-track racing industry are? The Super DIRTcar Series, arguably the top level of modified racing in the Northeast, had their event at Thunder Mountain Speedway in New York canceled on less than a week’s notice, citing said shortages as the reason. The actual rationale is likely more complicated than that (rules disparities meant a number of local regulars would have been unable to compete, and Wednesday’s program at Land of Legends was going to feature 120 laps of racing to make up for a rained-out feature last month), but that’s still a major-league race to get yanked so late in the game.

Sunday was an ugly night for car counts across race disciplines; only 17 super late models showed up for the Southern Nationals rescheduled finale at Volunteer Speedway, while as previously mentioned Huset’s was four sprints short of a full field despite offering a WoO-caliber purse.

Volunteer gets a pass to some degree for being a rescheduled race on a tour that already had its points race decided, but the situation at Huset’s was dire. Yes, the Knoxville Nationals aren’t too far away. Yes, the haul from Knoxville to Huset’s isn’t short. Yes, there are concerns about engine rebuild options even in big-league sprint car racing, but I can’t help but feel the promoter at Huset’s got done dirty here. Big money that few seemed to want.

Having said that, the only thing uglier Sunday than the car count at Huset’s was the sorry excuse for a four-wide salute that the 410 field gave before their feature. I’ve seen gridlock on the Capital Beltway more organized.

The shortest offseason in sports continues to get shorter, with the Xtreme DIRTcar Series winter tour announcing an expanded 2021-2022 schedule that will go eight races across six tracks in the Southeast. Pray for a mild winter.

Numbers Game

3 – red-flag count in Sunday’s racing program at Huset’s.

39 – big block modifieds enter at Land of Legends Wednesday night.

1,000 – points Reutzel was penalized for running an illegal chassis in WoO competition.

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 midweek two lousy lukewarm Bud Lights from a county fair tent. Pretty much every feature I watched this midweek was led flag-to-flag.

Up Next: Another weekend, another $50,000-to-win program for the WoO late models. This weekend, the series takes up a three-night residency at the Cedar Lake Speedway in Wisconsin, culminating with another major-money finale in the USA Nationals. Coverage will be available on DirtVision. Note, the DirtVision app “upgraded” (not from where I’m sitting) this week, so get your logins checked and worked out before Saturday night.

About the author

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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