Race Weekend Central

Daytona to Dirt: Dirt Racer Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in Elite Company With Daytona 500 Win

From Daytona to Dirt was a relatively quick trip this week, as Frontstretch kept tabs on NASCAR’s past and present regulars and their dirt racing exploits.

Alex Bowman

The Cup Series regular shook off a disappointing week at Volusia with two improved showings in the sprint car ranks as the All-Star Circuit of Champions hit East Bay Raceway Park last Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 13-14). Bowman put together one of his career-best performances Monday night, setting fast time in qualifying and then winning the pole Dash en route to finishing sixth. 

Tuesday was a more workmanlike effort after a pre-race issue saw Bowman unable to start his heat race, but Bowman still transferred from the B-main and then improved from 22nd to 11th in the feature. Only Zeb Wise’s ridiculous 21st-fourth run passed more cars than Bowman on the night.

Stewart Friesen

The Truck Series regular easily won the first heat race of the Super DIRTcar Series season Wednesday night in his modified at Volusia Speedway Park and got off to a roaring start in the feature, going from sixth to third in only six laps. That was as far as Friesen would get though, as what the driver characterized as mistakes running the high side of the half-mile cost him too much track position to challenge race winner Max McLaughlin.

Thursday night saw Friesen playing catch up, as he was forced to start at the rear of his heat race after missing qualifying at Volusia due to Truck Series practice at Daytona. Friesen would win his Last Chance Showdown race Thursday night and improved from 20th to eighth in the feature, one of only two drivers in the field to improve by double-digit positions on the night.

Friesen’s last dirt race of the week came in the DIRTcar Nationals finale at Volusia Saturday night, where he finished eighth in the 50-lap feature. Friesen was a top-10 fixture all night long but stayed in the back of the top 10 the entire race, never threatening for the race win.

Kyle Larson

The Cup Series regular was a surprise entrant in the DIRTcar late model portion of Volusia’s Tuesday night race program.

By night’s end, he was proof positive of how big one mistake in super late model racing can be. Larson jumped the cushion late in his heat race Tuesday, losing the final transfer spot to Chris Madden and forced to win the second Last Chance Showdown race to qualify for Tuesday’s feature. 

Starting 20th, Larson managed to improve to 13th by the end of 25 laps. Had he bested Madden in the heat race, passing the same number of cars would have netted a top-10 finish.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The newly-crowned Daytona 500 champion didn’t wheel a dirt car this week, but there were a number of dirt racing nuggets to tie to Stenhouse’s biggest career win. For one, he does mark the first World of Outlaws team owner to win a Daytona 500 crown.

Further, the USAC sanction was quick to observe that Stenhouse joined some very elite company as a driver that had won in all three of their current national sanctions plus the Great American Race.

And lastly, it was a cool moment to see two dirt racers celebrating dirt-track style in victory lane at Daytona Sunday night. Congratulations to Stenhouse for representing dirt racing well this Speedweeks.

From Daytona to Dirt was a relatively quick trip this week, as Frontstretch kept tabs on NASCAR’s past and present regulars and their dirt racing exploits.

Alex Bowman

The Cup Series regular shook off a disappointing week at Volusia with two improved showings in the sprint car ranks as the All-Star Circuit of Champions hit East Bay Raceway Park last Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 13-14). Bowman put together one of his career-best performances Monday night, setting fast time in qualifying and then winning the pole Dash en route to finishing sixth. 

Tuesday was a more workmanlike effort after a pre-race issue saw Bowman unable to start his heat race, but Bowman still transferred from the B-main and then improved from 22nd to 11th in the feature. Only Zeb Wise’s ridiculous 21st-fourth run passed more cars than Bowman on the night.

Stewart Friesen

The Truck Series regular easily won the first heat race of the Super DIRTcar Series season Wednesday night in his modified at Volusia Speedway Park and got off to a roaring start in the feature, going from sixth to third in only six laps. That was as far as Friesen would get though, as what the driver characterized as mistakes running the high side of the half-mile cost him too much track position to challenge race winner Max McLaughlin.

Thursday night saw Friesen playing catch up, as he was forced to start at the rear of his heat race after missing qualifying at Volusia due to Truck Series practice at Daytona. Friesen would win his Last Chance Showdown race Thursday night and improved from 20th to eighth in the feature, one of only two drivers in the field to improve by double-digit positions on the night.

Friesen’s last dirt race of the week came in the DIRTcar Nationals finale at Volusia Saturday night, where he finished eighth in the 50-lap feature. Friesen was a top-10 fixture all night long but stayed in the back of the top 10 the entire race, never threatening for the race win.

Kyle Larson

The Cup Series regular was a surprise entrant in the DIRTcar late model portion of Volusia’s Tuesday night race program.

By night’s end, he was proof positive of how big one mistake in super late model racing can be. Larson jumped the cushion late in his heat race Tuesday, losing the final transfer spot to Chris Madden and forced to win the second Last Chance Showdown race to qualify for Tuesday’s feature. 

Starting 20th, Larson managed to improve to 13th by the end of 25 laps. Had he bested Madden in the heat race, passing the same number of cars would have netted a top-10 finish.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The newly-crowned Daytona 500 champion didn’t wheel a dirt car this week, but there were a number of dirt racing nuggets to tie to Stenhouse’s biggest career win. For one, he does mark the first World of Outlaws team owner this century to win a Daytona 500 crown.

Further, the USAC sanction was quick to observe that Stenhouse joined some very elite company as a driver that had won in all three of their current national sanctions plus the Great American Race.

And lastly, it was a cool moment to see two dirt racers celebrating dirt-track style in victory lane at Daytona Sunday night. Congratulations to Stenhouse for representing dirt racing well this Speedweeks.

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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Tom B

I would be very proud to be in that Group of only Five winners.

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