Race Weekend Central

This Day in Dirt: Chad Simpson, Ross Robinson Score Super Late Wins as Neuman Goes Home

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Brandon Sheppard and Ryan Gustin both couldn’t maintain their leads over Chad Simpson, who prevailed to win a wild Lucas Oil MLRA feature at the Davenport Speedway in Iowa Thursday night (April 13).

Both Sheppard and Gustin ran down Simpson during green-flag runs but found late-race trouble; Sheppard cut down a tire while leading with around 10 laps to go, while Gustin drove off the berm in turn 2 during the closing laps battling for the point.

Super late models were the story of the night and continued their prominence in 2023 in more locations than one, with home-state ringer Ross Robinson besting Bryan Bernheisel late to win at Georgetown Speedway in Delaware.

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment(s): Pretty much all 50 laps of Thursday’s late model feature at Davenport. The quarter-mile black dirt track has been as close to a sure thing as super late model racing has since it was reconfigured.

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

No need to re-invent the wheel, Davenport Speedway can be summed up as follows.

I will say this about the Davenport facility though … for as great as the quarter-mile is, the TrackChaser in me is pained to see the track’s old half-mile configuration just sitting there as a parking lot for track prep equipment. Would love to see some big-time programs at the facility run one night on the short track and one on the big one.

I know that crate engines and crate racing in general serve a purpose in terms of cost savings and driver development, but damn if they don’t sound underwhelming when they’re on the same ticket as the full-throated super lates. Though even all that engine noise couldn’t hide the background static in the Georgetown Speedway audio system.

Off the track today, wingless sprint car racing took another hit with the news that Jason McDougal is hanging up his helmet. The driver who made headlines in 2021 with his record-tying I-D run in the Chili Bowl Nationals is not going too far, but is opting to focus instead on the chassis construction side of sprint car racing.

In better news for sprint car racing, Jake Neuman was released from the hospital following his vicious crash at Lakeside Tuesday night.

We would like to let you all know that Jake has been released and we are headed home!! Jim and I again cannot thank you…

Posted by Jake Neuman Racing on Thursday, April 13, 2023

For more on the Neuman story, I’d encourage fans to check out today’s Dirtrackr Daily show from Justin Fiedler, who did an excellent piece analyzing the apparent mechanical failure that led to Neuman’s accident on Tuesday.

Lastly, for those Trackchasers that read this column, sad news this evening that Allan Brown, the longtime author of the National Speedway Directory as well The History of America’s Speedways, has passed away. There are few sources of information on American racetracks that can hold a candle to History in terms of comprehensiveness.

Dirt Racing’s Heroes of the Day

In retrospect to Tuesday’s column, I missed out not giving Carson Macedo a shoutout for going 22nd to second in the High Limit feature at Lakeside, so tonight we’re going to make sure the hard chargers get some love. Winchester, Va.’s Trever Feathers and Festus, Mo.’s Jeff Herzog took such honors, going plus-seven at Georgetown and plus-16 at Davenport, respectively.

See also
This Day in Dirt: Jake Neuman Injury, Disastrous Effort by Flo Racing Sees High Limit Opener Roll Snake Eyes

The biggest charger of the night though was Maryland’s Austin Hubbard, who went from 21st to third in the RUSH crate late model feature at Georgetown.

Dirt Racing’s Victims of the Night

Sheppard’s long overdue first win with his reformed family racing team seemed destined to happen until his blown tire late in the going at Davenport. Under green-flag conditions the No. B5 was in a league of its own this evening.

Former ARCA winner Ryan Unzicker saw his heat race win at Davenport nullified after he failed the droop check in tech, forcing him to a B-main were he came up one spot short of a transfer into the feature.

The only flip that I saw on the evening at the time of this writing came from Brainerd, Minn.’s Aaron Johnson, who got tipped on his side during an opening-lap pileup in the IMCA modified feature at Marshalltown. Johnson was uninjured.

Numbers Game


Dirt tracks that ran oval-track racing programs in the U.S. Thursday night (per MyRacePass, Race Monitor and Speedhive)


The nation’s largest car count Thursday night, the opening night of the King of the High Banks at Marshalltown.


The nation’s largest purse Thursday night, awarded to the winner of the MLRA late model feature at Davenport (Simpson)

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Monday morning (April 17) with coverage of dirt racing Friday through Sunday across the United States, highlighted by the scheduled $100,000-to-win season opener for the XR Super Series at Volunteer Speedway. Coverage can be found on RaceXR.

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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