Race Weekend Central

This Day in Dirt: Austen Becerra Wins Latest Chapter of Florida Dirt Racing’s NeverEnding Story

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Carthage, Ill.’s Austen Becerra made mincemeat of the top five after an early-race restart, blasting by polesitter Andrew Moreno on lap 7 of the 25-lap opener of the Clash on the Coast and never looking back en route to victory lane at Northwest Florida Speedway in the Florida Panhandle Monday night (Feb. 27).

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: While Becerra made the modified feature academic, the fourth modified heat race at Northwest Florida came down to a literal wire, with Pace, Fla.’s Jason Barnhill besting Drew Janssen by 0.037 seconds (screenshot taken from IMCA TV).

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

I’m not going to lie, watching the street stock feature that preceded the modified main event at Northwest Florida and hearing constant tire squeal as the cars squabbled over the bottom groove had me worried we were in for a parade feature. Fortunately, that wasn’t even close to being the case, as the modifieds had two distinct grooves to race on for nearly the entirety of their feature. This was the first race I’ve ever watched in any capacity from Northwest Florida Speedway and after Monday, it won’t be the last.

IMCA TV’s business model is different from a lot of others in that it relies on PPV revenue and the back gate (i.e. pit passes) as the means to make money, but if it works, it works. And drawing 58 modifieds and a field of drivers from more than a dozen states on a Monday that falls outside the traditional Speedweeks is making it work. If IMCA racing wants to be the MAC football of dirt and give us stuff to watch on the weeknights, bring it on. Though a monthly live subscription instead of individual PPVs would be nice.

Speaking of those traditional Speedweeks calendar dates, I joked in the weekend summary column that it’s like Florida/Georgia Speedweeks never ended. Well, after seeing this as the first Tweet on my thread when I logged on for the evening’s races, maybe it’s not a joke after all.

Getting out of Florida, DirtonDirt’s folks made an astute observation this week that Brandon Overton, the nation’s leading late model money winner in 2021 and one of the most dominant “outlaw” contenders in the sport, has updated his team schedule to race all Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events through the Show-Me 100 Memorial Day weekend.

Translation? The driver who is no stranger to victory lane at Eldora is keeping his options open to run the full LOLMDS tour, owing to their new playoff format deciding the series “title” at Eldora in October.

Really torn on that whole development. It’s going to be fun to see a driver as talented as Overton have to adapt to points racing and facing elite competition every race night. It sucks it took Lucas’s bastardized championship format to make it happen.

Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day

I’m taking the cop out for this shoutout and naming Becerra the hero of the day because it was his authoritative move to the race lead early that established the upper groove at Northwest Florida as viable. Having that happen as early as it did, especially after a street stock feature that was a race to the bottom groove, ultimately made the headline event worth watching.

Dirt Racing’s Victim of the Night

There were bigger wrecks in Monday’s race program at Northwest Florida than Bradenton, Fla.’s Jordan Miller endured in the second modified B-main. But in terms of having nowhere to go and enduring a nasty hit because of that, Miller truly was a victim this Monday after Rick Barregarye went spinning.

Numbers Game


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


Nation’s largest car count Monday night, the Clash at the Coast at Northwest Florida (this does not include the Stinger class, whose race results were not posted at the time of this writing)


The nation’s largest purse awarded Monday night, to the winner of the Clash on the Coast IMCA modified feature at Northwest Florida.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Wednesday morning (Feb. 29) with continued coverage of the second night of the Clash at the Coast from Northwest Florida Speedway. Streaming can be found on IMCA TV.

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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