Race Weekend Central

This Day in Dirt: Travis Pastrana Shocks at Volusia, Hudson O’Neal Breaks Through

Winning Moment: A breakthrough week for Rocket Chassis at East Bay Raceway Park continued Thursday (Feb. 9), with Hudson O’Neal, the new house team driver for the company, holding off Max Blair to win the first points-paying Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series feature of the week.

Said the driver post-race, “I feel like the world has been lifted off my shoulders.”

Dramatic Moment: For the second night in a row, Anthony Macri’s tail tank was the center of sprint car controversy at Volusia, this time after Macri made contact blocking Danny Dietrich to score the pole Dash win.

Dietrich and Macri are no strangers to run-ins back in Pennsylvania and all eyes should be tuned to these two for tomorrow’s rescheduled feature race.

In a Nutshell: A night that felt truly anti-climactic with the World of Outlaws getting rained out at Volusia.

What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning

It’s not irony that the season-opening feature for the WoO was rained out seconds after the four-wide salute occurred. It was the heavens weeping that instead of 2023 marking the return of “Sirius” as the kickoff music for the tour, instead we’re stuck with the same non-descript Whiskey Myers guitar riff. The most iconic intro in dirt racing remains in hiatus.

Of course, maybe that rainfall was just tears of joy after DIRTcar cut the length of the UMP modified support class races at Volusia from 20 laps to 15. That didn’t stop modifieds from wadding themselves up at every opportunity, but it did have the program moving at a better clip before the weather turned sour.

The Flo Racing booth’s comparison of David Schilling’s rout of a victory in the Short Track Super Series feature at All-Tech Raceway Thursday to Kyle Larson’s eradication of the LOLMDS field in 2021 was not out of place at all. Schilling was in another zip code even to the naked eye in scoring his first career STSS win. Anyone that laps Stewart Friesen in a center-drive modified is doing something very right.

Speaking of the naked eye, said feature marked my first visit to All-Tech Raceway. Fantastic facility. I’m going to weep the day East Bay Raceway Park is shut down, but knowing that the likely new home of the Winternationals is going to be All-Tech makes it easier to stomach. The racing surface is stellar and the grandstands there have East Bay beat in terms of sight lines.

Staying at All-Tech, let me preface this by saying the flagman for the STSS is one of the best I’ve seen in any form of dirt racing, period. The man is very obviously in control from the flagstand and his demonstrativeness on the stand absolutely adds to the race-day experience. Having said that, it irks me to no end to see the flagman giving the race leader updates on the margin between himself and the next car. 

I’m not alleging any impropriety here. The flagman was consistent with his calls and signals from heat race one to the checkered flag of the feature. But the flagman is supposed to be a race official, and providing a lead margin to a racecar driver without a spotter is decidedly beneficial to one competitor over another. A football referee doesn’t tell a running back that his tackler is closing on him, an umpire doesn’t signal a runner of how close a throw is coming, a flagman should’t be playing de facto spotter.

Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day

It’s not often that a race I’m streaming on my phone will distract me from being at the track in person, but that’s exactly what happened with the first modified feature from Volusia Thursday that saw X-Games veteran Travis Pastrana win at the DIRTcar Nationals in only his third career start in a dirt modified. 

In all seriousness, it means something in a modified when Nick Hoffman’s complimenting your driving, and Pastrana earned such a compliment over the course of this week. It has no bearing on his upcoming Daytona 500 effort, but Pastrana legitimized himself in front of a lot of dirt fans with this effort.

Dirt Racing’s Victim of the Night

Cory Eliason already got his Speedweeks off to a rough start with a flip that destroyed a brand-new racecar on Tuesday.

While Thursday was less destructive, it wasn’t less costly. Eliason was leading his sprint car heat race at Volusia on Thursday before his car slowed to a halt in turn 4, forcing Brent Marks to make a save of the week candidate to stay off Eliason’s crippled machine.

That result stuck Eliason in a B-main, which he was again leading… before mechanical gremlins bit again. Eliason failed to qualify for the WoO A-main.

Numbers Game

6

Dirt tracks that ran oval track racing programs Thursday night in the U.S.

130

Nation’s largest car count Thursday, the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia.

$10,000

The nation’s largest purse awarded Thursday night, to the winner of the LOLMDS feature at East Bay.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Saturday morning (Feb. 8) with continued coverage of the DIRTcar Nationals from Volusia Speedway Park, the late model Winternationals from East Bay Raceway Park and the Short Track Super Series Sunshine Swing at All-Tech Raceway. Streaming coverage can be found on DirtVision and Flo Racing, respectively.

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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