Race Weekend Central

This Day in Dirt: Dean Bowen Keeps Cody Overton at Bay, Wins to Open 2023 NC Speedweek

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Fair Bluff, N.C.’s Dean Bowen led all 20 laps of Wednesday night’s (Feb. 22) 602 late model feature at Fayetteville Motor Speedway, the opening event of North Carolina Speedweek, surviving a slew of mid-race restarts that saw him keep crate racing powerhouse Cody Overton at bay.

Bowen made a point to thank his wife in victory lane, stating she lets him keep racing while he’s getting old against kids that are “YOUNG!”

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: “Ice Cream Man” Parker Daniel spun out while part of a three-wide battle for the lead around the late model feature’s midpoint, an incident that took him from contention for the night and also marred the best chance any driver had at toppling polesitter Bowen for the victory.

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

Anyone that’s planning on visiting Fayetteville Motor Speedway over the course of North Carolina Speedweek is hoping and praying that the track widens out more than it did this Wednesday. Every single heat and feature race run by the 602 modifieds and late models were won from the pole Wednesday night.

Of course, I’d argue part of that is due to a race format that featured shockingly short five-lap heat races for both the late models and modifieds. Considering these are crate engine cars that frankly resemble restrictor-plate cars of old in terms of acceleration, five laps is barely enough to get the cars actually up to full race speed. 

Former Truck Series regular Austin Wayne Self raced in Wednesday’s modified feature at Fayetteville in a No. 23 car. That same feature was won by Buck Stevens, who was driving a No. 23 car painted in the AM Racing scheme that Self used to run in truck competition. Translation: the race-winning driver was misidentified during his victory lane interview. 

Buck Stevens takes 1st place in the 602 Mods🏁Winner, winner, chicken dinner 🙂 on night one ofNC Speedweek

Posted by Fayetteville Motor Speedway on Wednesday, February 22, 2023

For a more detailed look at how Self did (and another NASCAR regular in the field) be sure to check out our newest Monday feature next week, Daytona to Dirt.

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

It wasn’t nearly as desolate an experience as my sole visit to Kansas Speedway was in 2019, where it seemed there were more closed concession and souvenir stands for the Saturday night race than there were open ones, but it’s always a letdown to show up to a racetrack that’s open for business with a closed concession stand. Especially when the PA at Fayetteville is hyping up loaded nachos that those of us in the stands couldn’t actually go buy. Having a food truck parked on the concourse just isn’t the same. 

I do want/need to give kudos to the facility at Fayetteville for having ample bathrooms and trash cans both throughout the pits and in the grandstands. That should be a given in this industry, but it’s not. Fayetteville does this part of the program well. Shame there were such limited concession options to throw in them … OK, I’ll stop.

Dirt Racing’s Heroes of the Day

Hyndman, Pa.’s Drake Troutman was the only driver announced by the PA at Fayetteville as pulling double duty of any kind on the night and that nearly resulted in a double trip to victory lane. Troutman won the legends car feature Wednesday night, then immediately hopped into a 602 modified and ran second in that feature, an accomplishment notable on two fronts. 

Awesome start to NC speedweeks, always a fun time to come down here and race the Three Sixteen Motorsports LLC car and…

Posted by Drake "THE KID" Troutman Racing on Wednesday, February 22, 2023

One, moving forward in the running order at the front of the field proved a difficult task for all drivers this Wednesday. And second, Troutman actually got alongside eventual race winner Stevens, but sportingly backed out of what would have been a race-winning pass inside of five laps to go after making contact with Stevens’s car. 2023 has been a year of true sportsmanship from Troutman so far.

See also
This Day in Dirt: Drake Troutman Robbed at East Bay, Screven Freezes Up on Opening Night

Dirt Racing’s Victim of the Night

Parker’s misfortune in the 602 late model feature has already been documented, so this unfortunate honor falls to the legends car feature this Wednesday night. Seeing as this writer was looking at the opposite end of the track for both wrecks that marred said feature, this shoutout instead goes to hometown driver Tyler Sealey, who ended up getting booted from the third heat race of the evening after spinning on his own three times. Sealey to his credit did end up racing into the feature through the B-main.

Numbers Game


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


Nation’s largest car count Wednesday, the opening night of NC Speedweek at Fayetteville.


The nation’s largest purse awarded Wednesday night, to the winner of the 602 late model feature at Fayetteville.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Friday morning (Feb. 24) with continued coverage of North Carolina Speedweek as well as the opening night of Lincoln Speedway’s Icebreaker in Pennsylvania. Coverage can be found on Fayetteville Motor Speedway TV and Flo Racing, respectively.

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