Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: USAC regular Brady Bacon pulled a theft of a slide job on Sheldon Haudenschild to score a shocking World of Outlaws victory at Tri-State Speedway in Indiana Saturday night (April 29).
David Gravel won the series’ visit to Tri-City Speedway in Illinois on Friday night.
Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: Midwestern veteran Shannon Babb scored a much-needed win on the MARS late model tour Saturday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Illinois, prevailing by mere car lengths over Brandon Sheppard after lapped traffic slowed down Sheppard’s charge on the low side of the track.
Babb washed up the track on several occasions during the closing laps to allow Sheppard back into contention before lapped traffic on the low groove prevented Sheppard from capitalizing on late momentum.
Sheppard scored a long overdue first win with his newly-formed race team Sunday night with the MARS tour at Red Hill Raceway in Illinois.
What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning
Mother Nature again laid waste to dirt races aplenty from coast to coast this weekend, but the most notable cancelation came Saturday night at 105 Speedway in Texas, which opted to cancel its weekly racing program owing to an ongoing manhunt by law enforcement officials seeking to apprehend Francisco Orepesa, the Mexican national suspected of a quintuple murder in nearby Cleveland, Texas.
Credit to the folks at 105 for absolutely making the right call here. Opting not to bring in hundreds of vehicles and potentially thousands of people into what essentially was a crime scene was a welcome demonstration of responsibility and perspective. That the track had to limit Facebook comments on their posts regarding the cancelation was telling though. If we’ve learned anything about the racing community the last few years it’s that many lose any sense of responsibility or perspective when their fun is put in jeopardy.
Leading up to this weekend, the biggest story relating to on-track drama came in the WoO ranks, with driver James McFadden and the Roth Motorsports No. 83 team both found to have doctored tires used in competition on tour this season. The Outlaws came down hard on the team, suspending driver and team for four races, disqualified from their race results at I-55 Raceway last Friday and fined $8,200. The team appealed the decision, which allowed them to compete in both tour races this weekend.
It’ll be illuminating to see how the World Racing Group handles an appeal, given how ridiculous NASCAR’s appeals process was proven to be by Hendrick Motorsports’ penalties that ended up anything but penalties. But WRG already sent a damn strong message with penalties that actually had teeth. Four-race suspensions for driver and team and an actual disqualification are a major slap in the face to a stalwart WoO operation.
On that note though, remember this is the same Roth Motorsports operation that Aaron Reutzel was driving for in 2021 when he was busted for running an illegal chassis, a scandal that saw the driver lose the Roth ride. Reutzel absolutely came out the villain in that story, but where there’s smoke?
For the second consecutive season, Kasey Kahne has fallen off the WoO tour early, announcing Thursday that he would be returning home for undisclosed reasons.
That’s a major name for the tour to lose, though fortunately this does not seem to be injury-related after Kahne’s wreck in the High Limit Racing Series event at 34 Raceway Tuesday night. Case in point, Kahne ran with the Outlaws this weekend and announced Saturday that he would be making a guest appearance with the SRX tour at Berlin Raceway later this summer.
After watching Matt Sheppard make winning at Utica-Rome Speedway look almost easy Friday night, it’s time for fans of any Northeast modified driver not named Sheppard to panic. “Superman” has not lost a beat from his ridiculously dominant 2021.
Fortunately there was some good news at Texas to close out the weekend, as Sunday afternoon hinted that the shuttered Superbowl Speedway may be returning to action in the near future.
It’s a rare bird to see a closed track come back from the dead, so rejoice micro sprint racing fans in the Lone Star State.
Dirt Racing’s Heroes of the Weekend
This was truly a weekend for drivers crossing disciplines to shine. As mentioned above, Bacon scoring a WoO win was a big deal, both for the driver and for the ranks of the wingless sprint car drivers moonlighting in the winged ranks (defending USAC sprint car champion Justin Grant qualified for his first WoO A-main Saturday night as well).
Also worth noting Friday night was seeing IMCA modified standout Ethan Dotson score his first career win a super late model, capitalizing on Kyle Beard’s early-race trip to the work area to dominate and win the annual Cow Patty race at Old No. 1 Speedway in Arkansas.
Dotson made a point in victory lane to thank his car owners for taking a rare chance on a California modified driver to race a super late model, and fortunately for those in the IMCA ranks he’s proven to be a fully capable wheelman thus far in 2023.
Dirt Racing’s Villain/Victims of the Weekend
If there was a villain on the night, it was Tony Jackson Jr. Or he attempted to be at least. Following contact with Logan Martin during the MLRA late model race at Lake Ozark Speedway Saturday, Jackson had to be blocked by an official’s ATV to prevent him from going after Martin’s stopped car during a caution period.
MyRacePass’s Jack Cofer provided some additional context as to what led to the dispute, but regardless of whether Jackson had reason to be upset or not, walking on a live racetrack to confront a driver strapped into this machine is an intolerable move. It creates a hazard for all drivers on track that are always battling limited visibility in a low-profile racecar in a dusty environment. And there’s no tactic more low-brow than trying to confront someone that literally can’t move.
The most spectacular wreck of the weekend went to Cole Perine at Skyline Speedway in Ohio, who somehow sent a super late model flying into low-Earth orbit.
Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Thursday morning with coverage of the High Limit Racing Series from Kokomo Speedway in Indiana and micro sprint racing at Millbridge. Coverage can be found on Flo Racing and DirtVision, respectively.
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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