Race Weekend Central

This Day in Dirt: Cory Hedgecock Makes Waves With Outlaw Win at 411

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Capitalizing on Mike Marlar’s misfortune while leading, regional hot shoe Cory Hedgecock forced the hand of Dale McDowell, taking the lead with 10 laps to go and driving off to score his second career World of Outlaws late model win at the 411 Motor Speedway in Tennessee Thursday night (April 20).

The win marked Hedgecock’s fourth consecutive feature victory at 411 dating back to last November’s Leftover super late model race.


Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment(s): The season opener for the ASCS national sprint car tour was decided by inches, with a dominant Jason Martin narrowly escaping with the win at Jackson Motor Speedway in Mississippi after Seth Bergman ran him down on the high side in the closing laps, erasing almost all of a 0.4-second lead on the final circuit.

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

Maybe someone needs to screen The Mighty Ducks for Cory Hedgecock, namely, the scene that goes “score, don’t spike.” Hedgecock has clearly supplanted Jimmy Owens as the master of the Tennessee red dirt and from what social media had to say, there’s a strong contingent of fans that believe it was Owens, not Hedgecock, that triggered a heat-race spat between the two that led to a fireworks display during Dirtvision’s interviews.

Yes, it was a spicy exchange, but it came off awfully whiny for a driver that’s undefeated at 411 in 2023.

Ruben Morales’s comment that 411’s front-wheel-drive class were in fact “four-wheel-drive” vehicles was amusing.

What was not amusing was that DirtVision, between their booth announcer and their pit reporter, provided exactly zero updates about how Brandon Overton, one of the top qualifiers on the night, was relegated to the back of his heat race (the series Twitter page did clarify that Overton lost his starting spot due to a tire change after qualifying).

The layout at 411, where the infield is completely devoid of any competitors, may have contributed to this, but between knowing what’s happening to competitors and listening to Hedgecock play tough guy, I’d rather have Hannah Newhouse at tech telling me why Overton’s going to the rear.

For all the complaints about cancelations, ASCS winner Jason Martin really put it into perspective in victory lane at Jackson Thursday night, remarking that it cost his team $1,000 in fuel to travel to a race that paid $4,000 to win. It sucks for race fans to have tracks cancel races seemingly well in advance, but those type of finances can only endure so many hits in a season.

On that note, Thursday’s race at 411 marked the first time in more than two months that the WoO late model tour took a green flag. Based on current scheduling it will be 2.5 months between races for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series when they return to Delaware next week. Such a reality made for some laughable observations from the DirtVision crew at 411 on Thursday, trying to talk about drivers having momentum based on their Volusia results … from February.

Reality is, it may well be time for the late model ranks to take a page out of the sprint car playbook and follow what the World of Outlaws did this year. The WoO sprint cars not only contested Volusia at Speedweeks, they then returned a month later for a two-night “Bike Week” race event that drew a decent grandstand showing.

See also
This Day in Dirt: David Gravel Skunks Outlaw Field at Volusia for 3rd Win of 2023

Coupled with the observation that Hunt the Front’s debut race at All-Tech Raceway earlier this month demonstrated that Florida provides a resilient well that can be drawn from repeatedly, I’d make the case that Speedweeks needs to be made a non-points part of the late model schedule moving forward, with a plan for the tours to return in March for their points openers. Yes, 2023 has been particularly bad weather wise this spring, but let’s face it, two months between points does irreparable damage to momentum for any racing tour.

Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day

The hard charger of the WoO feature at 411 was Ricky Thornton Jr., who went from 16th to second over the course of 40 laps. It’s easy to forget given it’s been nearly two months since the series raced, but Thornton actually is the LOLMDS points leader and has continued to show strength, having won the $20,000 Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series opener at All-Tech earlier this month.

Dirt Racing’s Victims of the Night

Hedgecock got his shot at McDowell for the race win because Marlar slapped the wall on lap 30 of the 40-lap feature, mortally wounding his racecar that had driven off from the field at 411. 

Numbers Game


Number of dirt tracks that ran an oval-track program in the U.S. Thursday night.


The nation’s top car count Thursday night, the Seymour Showdown at 411.


The nation’s top purse Thursday night, paid to the Outlaws late model winner at 411 (Hedgecock)

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Monday morning (April 20) with coverage of the weekend in dirt, highlighted by the $50,000-to-win WoO late model show at the Talladega Short Track. Coverage can be found on DirtVision.

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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