This Day in Dirt: Tyler Nicely Breaks Through at East Bay, Flo Racing All Over the News

Winning Moment: Owensboro, Ky.’s Tyler Nicely held off three spirited charges from Tuesday Winternationals winner Drake Troutman to score the modified win at East Bay Raceway Park Thursday (Feb. 2), an emotional first win at the track for a longtime Winternationals competitor.

Nicely initially took the lead on lap 23 of the 30-lap feature with a high-side pass of Lucas Lee on an earlier restart.

Dramatic Moment: Thursday’s race was blown open on lap 22 when Lee capitalized on lapped traffic to steal the point from Denny Schwartz, who had led the opening 21 circuits from the pole. Schwartz ended up in the fence a lap later.

In a Nutshell: The features are getting longer and the big names are continuing to rise to the top of the Winternationals field at East Bay.

What They’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning

Another weekday race with the feature done before 10 p.m. and the track surface offering multiple racing grooves. When the biggest complaint dirt track Twitter can muster is the one below, things are going good.

The real news in dirt racing this Thursday came off the track, though Flo Racing was indeed at the center of it. First, the good news, the Kyle Larson Late Model Challenge that (at least as of its running last spring) marked the highest-viewed stream in Flo Racing history, will return to Volunteer Speedway this season.

As I’ve already had to answer this question more than once, yes, this is the same race that last April saw Volunteer Speedway packed to the rafters, only for the track to close a few weeks later citing financial troubles that at least hinted the track had not made money on their biggest crowd in decades. For the record, the track re-opened later in the summer.

Having said that, there is a new promoter in place at Volunteer for 2023, and all involved need to be hoping that this event proves workable. Flo Racing needs to promote the hell out of it to get the same viewer count back, Volunteer needs to pack the grandstands and the powerhouse late model teams need to make the haul. Because honestly, if a super late model race with a strong field of cars, a full grandstand and tens of thousands of eyeballs on streaming can’t break even, the sport is broken.

It was bound to happen. Lincoln Speedway in Pennsylvania, which had the entirety of its racing schedule in 2022 streamed on Flo Racing, announced Thursday that only 11 of the track’s races will be streamed in 2023, leaving a number of the track’s weekly sprint car races unstreamed. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASELincoln Speedway and FloRacing Ink Streaming Partnership For 11 Races in 2023Abbottstown, PA…

Posted by Lincoln Speedway on Thursday, February 2, 2023

Though the track made no official comment in this regard, the move is all but certainly tied to the perception that weekly streaming is keeping race fans on their couches at home rather than visiting the racetrack in person. And there’s a valid argument to be made there. Streaming will never replace the in-person experience, but streaming audiences also don’t buy t-shirts or concessions. Plus, streaming availability means on a day when the weather is either hot or potentially rainy, there’s an easy outlet for fans not to trek out.

It’s a double-edged sword though. It’s difficult to think of any spectator industry where making the product less accessible is a financial boon. There’s no getting around the fact that cutting full-season coverage comes off as a hostile tone towards fans that patronize the track. That’s no small matter for Lincoln Speedway, which is within driving distance of multiple big-league racetracks that also contest 410 sprint car racing. Unhappy race fans in Pennsylvania absolutely have other options. 

And there’s the economy to consider as well. Gas prices are not going down and inflation is very real. Taking a family of four to a weekly sprint car race is not an insignificant expense for many. And taking streaming away means that for the family that makes it out to the track once a month, they’re not simply not going to be seeing Lincoln Speedway on those other weekends.

Lincoln is a well-regarded racetrack and I can attest that the facility itself is top-notch. This is a racetrack that realistically can and should draw. Will cutting the cord pack the stands? This is a huge story to follow all year long.

Hero of the Day

Defending East Bay modified track champion Bryan Bernhardt drove like a man possessed Thursday night, going from seventh to second in the final B-main to earn the last spot in the starting feature lineup. From there, Bernhardt went on an absolute tear, going from 24th to third in the hardest charger performance of the Winternationals to date.

Victim of the Day

Schwartz had to be wishing Thursday was a 20-lap feature. Twenty-one laps led from the pole went out the window in a circuit and a half for the Illinoisan, who brought out two yellow flags on his own after losing the lead to Lee before calling it quits for the night.

Numbers Game

1

Dirt track that ran an oval track racing program Thursday night in the U.S.

58

Nation’s largest car count Thursday, the Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park. 

$1,500

Winner’s share of Thursday’s purse at East Bay.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Saturday morning (Feb. 4) with continued coverage of the UMP modified portion of the Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park, as well as the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at All-Tech Raceway and the opening night of the Winter Freeze at Screven Motor Speedway. Streaming coverage for all these events can be found on Flo Racing. 

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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Mike Kalasnik

Volunteer Speedway also has the 100k to win race at the end of March for the Super Late Models, so it will be a back to back big money race. No doubt it will be packed. I think the track owner (Vic Hill) was just burnt out and stretched thin when he promoted it. Im hopeful the new promoters can do well on their weekly events, but be smart and not go broke leasing out the track on these big events.

Interesting news about Lincoln Speedway. This will be a great test to see if in person attendance goes UP for the races they DONT stream. The track is about 2 hrs away from me, and Ill go occasionally, but I’d rather go to Port Royal or Grandview mostly.

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