Race Weekend Central

Daytona to Dirt: Chase Briscoe Strong in Tulsa, Sheldon Creed Wins Millbridge

Say hello to our newest feature for 2023, which will keep tabs on NASCAR’s past and present regulars and their dirt racing exploits.

Alex Bowman

The Hendrick Motorsports Cup Series regular was originally scheduled to run his Chili Bowl qualifier race on Monday night (Jan. 9), but opted to run later in the week after receiving a promoter’s invitation to the Race of Champions, also on Monday. Bowman ran an uneventful race and finished 12th.

Chase Briscoe

Cup Series regular Briscoe had a successful Monday night at the Chili Bowl Nationals in a number of ways, scoring a top-five finish in the Race of Champions after being given a promoter’s provisional and locking into the A-main preliminary based on his heat race and qualifier passing points.

Briscoe also had a strong showing in Monday’s qualifier feature, moving forward from 12th to fifth over the course of 30 laps. The end result? Briscoe dodged much of the alphabet soup and will start in one of Saturday’s B-mains.

Matt Crafton

The three-time Truck Series champion spent the week at the Cocopah Speedway in Arizona contesting the modified portion of the IMCA Winter Nationals, though fans would be forgiven if they were unaware of that. Crafton had a very quiet showing at Cocopah, qualifying for only one of the four A-mains that were raced.

Crafton’s opening night Wednesday was over before it began, as he was forced to jump the cushion to avoid contact with a slow car in the first corner on the first lap of his heat race. That left him buried in his B-main, never to contend for a transfer spot. The No. 88 ran stronger on Thursday, but an awkward exchange with Paul Stone with seven laps to go in his B-main saw Crafton drift backwards away from a transfer spot.

Friday was Crafton’s breakthrough night, squeaking into the A-main after narrowly holding off Tumwater, Wash.’s Tyson Blood in his B-main. That A-main didn’t go well though, as the No. 88 was lapped mid-race, then got tagged in turn 4 by Tanner Black to bring out the only yellow flag of the feature. It wasn’t clear from the replays whether Crafton’s flat tire that was observed after he pulled off track was a result of the wreck or the reason he was running slow in turn 4 before Black tagged him.

Crafton again failed to qualify for the A-main Saturday.

Sheldon Creed

Xfinity Series regular Creed got off to a rousing start in 2023, winning both his heat race and the wingless micro sprint feature at Millbridge Speedway Saturday afternoon. 

Creed, who has been a de facto regular at Millbridge in recent years, told DirtVision in victory lane that his Xfinity Series sponsor (Whelen Engineering) would be throwing some money towards his micro racing efforts during the 2023 season and indicated he may take his micro on the road for some traveling races.

Hailie Deegan

The Truck Series regular proved racy in her wingless micro sprint at Millbridge Saturday, finishing second in her heat race and running in the top five for much of Saturday’s feature race. That all came undone inside of 10 laps to go when Deegan was collected in a spin between the second-place runner and a lapped car that left her with nowhere to go.

Deegan would spin out a second time on her own accord with three laps to go, eventually finishing 13th.

Tanner Gray

The Truck Series regular scored some real style points in his wingless micro heat race at Millbridge on Saturday, taking the heat win in dramatic fashion on the high side after recovering from a mid-race incident that saw Gray get tagged and spun entering turn 1.

Unfortunately, that dramatic heat win would be the last Gray would be heard from, as he finished a distant 19th in the feature event.

Kyle Larson

Racing late models at the Wild West Shootout for the first time after very publicly announcing he would not contest the 2023 Chili Bowl, Larson opened his Shootout with a heat race win Friday. Larson started third in the A-main but immediately dropped a like rock, falling as far back as ninth in the running order.

The 40-lap feature, which was stopped only once for an incident on track, saw Larson rebound during the later laps to score a fifth-place finish. Still, it was a disappointing run on a night that saw Longhorn Chassis prove utterly dominant.

Saturday saw Larson fast again, though he wasn’t able to win his heat race. Starting on the pole, Larson hit ruts in turn 1 the wrong way on each of the first two laps, allowing Garrett Alberson to get ahead of him and take the heat victory. Still, Larson started up front for Saturday’s feature, and ended up part of a thrilling duel for the win with Jonathan Davenport that will go down as a race of the year candidate.

See also
This Weekend in Dirt: Jonathan Davenport Bests Kyle Larson in Instant Classic at Vado

Kenny Wallace

Along with Crafton, former Cup Series regular Wallace was present at Cocopah Speedway for the opening four nights of the IMCA Winter Nationals, going 2 for 4 in qualifying for A-mains.

Opening night on Wednesday saw Wallace lead laps in his heat race, but one slip over the cushion sent him into a B-main due to a lack of passing points. Wallace was unable to improve from his fourth-place start.

Thursday saw Wallace enjoy his best evening of the Winter Nationals to date, qualifying for the A-main and finishing 11th after a brief mid-race stint in the top 10. 

Wallace also qualified for Friday’s feature after leading seven laps in his B-main, but was lapped mid-race and never a factor. 

Saturday night again saw Wallace miss out on the A-main, failing to transfer from a B-main after losing the lead in his heat race coming to the white flag.

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.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via