Race Weekend Central

This Weekend in Dirt: Dale McDowell Dominates Volunteer, All-Star Sprints Wow Attica

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: The battle of the race was between Mike Marlar and Hudson O’Neal, and it was for second. Dale McDowell utterly dominated the season opener for the XR Super Series at Volunteer Speedway in Tennessee, leading all 100 laps en route to the first six-figure payday of his lengthy career since 2014.

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment(s): Attica Raceway Park’s month of rainouts finally abated this weekend for the All-Star Circuit of Champions tour and resulted in two A-list features. Friday night saw home-state driver Craig Mintz prevail over Zeb Wise in a photo finish.

Saturday night was drama of a different type, with Brent Marks finally scoring his first win of 2023 with a dramatic run from 20th to first after being forced to transfer into the feature through a B-main. 

Also worth noting, the USAC national sprint car series returned to action this weekend following the death of competitor Justin Owen at Lawrenceburg last week. Friday’s feature at Bloomington Speedway in Indiana suffered from a wet, narrow track as a result of late rainfall, but Saturday’s finish between Justin Grant and Kevin Thomas Jr. at Tri-State (Ind.) was an absolute gem.

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

Yes, it’s completely unfair to call out Jonathan Davenport after he won hard charger honors Saturday night at Volunteer, going from 23rd to eighth over 100 laps. But Davenport’s the top dog in super late model racing and for him to be a complete non-factor in the season’s richest race to date was the shocker of the dirt racing weekend. Race fans would be forgiven for mistaking Nutrient Ag Solutions packages for milk cartons this weekend, as the Fast 49 was all but missing.

The gamble taken on by the XR Super Series to delay their season opener to run one week after the Kyle Larson Late Model Challenge at the same track paid off, with a strong field of super late models and absolutely jammed grandstands on Saturday night (April 15). This was not a NASCAR sellout, the frontstretch at Bulls Gap was packed to the rafters.

Last year’s Eldora Million was remarkable not only for its purse, but how clean the 100-lap race was run despite it being contested for literally life-changing money for dirt late model drivers. Fast forward to Saturday night, and another rich, 100-lap feature proved to be a squeaky clean and competitive affair. True professionals race these machines.

That the Spring Thaw was a clean race didn’t surprise me. That the USAC West Coast midgets put on as clean a show as they did at Merced Speedway out in California on Saturday was. Add this tour to required weekend viewing.

Last year I wrote that Brady Bacon should just be given the deed to Grandview Speedway after he won his fifth of the last six at the track during the USAC Eastern Storm. Kentucky’s Florence Speedway may as well do the same thing to Josh Rice, who unsurprisingly won the track’s annual Spring 50 late model race.

The Riverside International Speedway in Arkansas boasted on the track Facebook page of how they were able to complete their entire four-class program, to include two classes of sprint cars that require push starts, in 2.5 hours Saturday night to avoid incoming rainfall. Job well done. Now do it every weekend. This should absolutely be the standard, not the exception, for weekly short-track racing.

Thank God the racing at Attica was as good as it was this weekend, because listening to Panic at the Disco as the pre-feature music Saturday made me about as soft as I’ve ever been listening to sprint car engines.

We’re barely a week removed from the unwelcome news that Boyd’s Speedway is gone for good and yet dirt racing is suffering another closure. The Dallas County Speedway in Missouri is the latest victim, with the promoters opting to close the facility for good after a final race scheduled for April 28. Please get out there and support your local venues, as 2023 has been a bloodbath for the dirt track ranks.

Dirt Racing’s Heroes of the Weekend

The obvious shoutout here goes to Marks, as going 20th to first in a 410 sprint car at any track in the country is a major accomplishment these days.

But let’s get off the radar a bit. Californian Andy Forsberg scored his 200th career feature win by taking the trophy in 360 sprint car competition at the Placerville Speedway Saturday.

Saturday night at Placerville Speedway, Andy Forsberg charged form 8th to score his 70th career win at the track and his 200th career feature event victory!Video- CaliDirtTv

Posted by Placerville Speedway on Sunday, April 16, 2023

The Iron-Man may have been the name of the World of Outlaws program this weekend, but the literal iron-man was Floridian Jason Garver, who attempted to race in five different classes at All-Tech Raceway on the same night.

Update Last Night's Results! We didn't make it 5 wins in one night. Won Modified 27 Ole Whitey 🏁2nd 602 01…

Posted by Garver Motorsports on Sunday, April 16, 2023

Dirt Racing’s Villains/Victims of the Weekend

The Outlaws certainly had a villain this weekend, as Carson Macedo absolutely took out David Gravel two-thirds of the way through Friday’s feature at I-55 Raceway in Missouri.

Macedo’s misstep proved costly, with Gravel’s 10th-place finish as a result of the contact allowing Brad Sweet to gain on both drivers in the series points. To his credit, Macedo did apologize after Friday’s race.

Jadon Rogers endured the first flip USAC’s wingless sprint cars have endured since Owen’s passing at Lawrenceburg during qualifying at Bloomington Friday, though fortunately this one was of far less consequence.

But the worst wreck of the weekend came in a small package. Mike Wolfe had to make a speedy exit from his mini late model at Swainsboro Raceway in Georgia on Saturday after his car caught fire after coming to a rest.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Wednesday morning (April 19) with coverage of the Flo Racing Night in America season opener from Eldora Speedway. Coverage can be found, well, figure it out.

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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