Race Weekend Central

This Day in Dirt: Max McLaughlin Smokes 2023 Super DIRTcar Opener at Volusia

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Max McLaughlin led flag-to-flag to win the season opener for the Super DIRTcar Series at Volusia Speedway Park Wednesday night (Feb. 15), managing to keep Matt Sheppard’s trademark late-race charge in check.

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: The third late model feature Wednesday devolved into a blender of a running order five laps short of the finish, with a half-dozen cars including race leader Hudson O’Neal and second-place runner Blair Nothdurft forced to pit for flat tires.

The Volusia track crew did find debris in turn 1 that was suspected to be the cause of the rash of tire failures, a sharp piece of metal that had embedded itself in the high-side clay.

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

Tire shortages have not been an issue thus far in 2023, but that may change considering how many Hoosiers got slashed open in Volusia’s third late model feature. That rash of tire failures would make Cherokee Speedway blush.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Those are super late models packing a racetrack. 

Wednesday night’s program at Volusia saw two altered race formats in action with mixed results. Starting with the positive, the change to Super DIRTcar qualifying to run two larger groups as opposed to having heat race lineups qualify against each other is a definite boon for competition. Running qualifying among heat race participants goes a long way to ensuring a parade in said heat race.

The negative in all of this was seeing the DIRTcar late models run three feature races Wednesday night as opposed to the standard heat/last chance/feature format that’s run the last two nights. I understand why that format is used with the modifieds, where the car count is ridiculous and the cautions plentiful, but this honestly felt beneath the late models that run at the DIRTcar Nationals. The entire draw of this event is that it’s one of the most competitive fields to make of the entire season, and all Wednesday’s participation-trophy format did was water that down.

For those looking for a different type of storyline to follow Thursday night, keep tabs on Stewart Friesen. Friesen told DirtVision after Wednesday’s race that he intends to run the DIRTcar program at Volusia Thursday night, though Truck Series practice at Daytona is slated to run until 6 p.m. tomorrow night. I’d wager Friesen and his Halmar team are going to be doing a water truck dance tomorrow afternoon hoping for another session of extended pack laps as was seen tonight.

Of course, as Nick Hoffman observed, that might not be too tall an order for Friesen to hope for.

Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day

Yes, Tim McCreadie was one of three late model feature winners on the night, but I’m giving him the shoutout here for how he won the second feature on the night. McCreadie actually lost the lead near the midway point, with Daulton Wilson getting the jump on him and powering past on the high side.

But veteran savvy showed itself in two ways that saw McCreadie score his second win in as many nights. First, McCreadie’s ability to navigate lapped traffic better than Wilson is what landed him back in the race lead. Second, and more subtle, was watching McCreadie slow down to go faster, picking and choosing lines in the closing laps that had him able to keep a late-blitzing Devin Moran in check. Even without the caution flag that flew inside of two laps to go, the smart money was on McCreadie bringing the win home.

Dirt Racing’s Victim/Villain of the Night

Adam Pierson endured the hardest wreck of the night early in the second modified heat race, going for a tumble in turn 2 after getting clipped by Yan Bussiere

And while an honorable mention in this category could go to any of the fleet of drivers that lost decent finishes due to flat tires in the third late model feature, Ricky Thornton Jr. specifically gets the nod here because he lost two tires to said fiasco.

Numbers Game


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


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


The nation’s largest purse awarded Wednesday night, to the winner of each of the four features run at Volusia.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Friday morning (Feb. 17) with continued coverage of the DIRTcar Nationals from Volusia Speedway Park and the 360 Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park. 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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