Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: The tight confines of South Dakota’s Huset’s Speedway kept Saturday night’s Silver Dollar Nationals tight (July 22), but in the end Brandon Sheppard led all 80 laps to score his biggest win since leaving the Rocket Chassis house team at the end of 2022.
Sheppard had company up front for nearly the entire feature in the form of Bobby Pierce and Ricky Thornton Jr., but the handful of caution flags that flew during the feature seem to fall right as the battle for the lead was about to get going.
The track crew at Huset’s Speedway did well dealing with a Friday rainout to rebound from Thursday’s rubber-down freight train race, as the track’s black dirt surface proved racy both in the sunlight for heat races and over the longer-distance feature.
Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: Shark Racing’s Logan Schuchart brought Jaws to the World of Outlaws Morgan Cup feature at Williams Grove Speedway, erasing a two-second lead in two laps to steal the win from Brad Sweet at the line Friday night (someone needs to set this last lap to the famous da-duh, da-dah da-dah da-duh score).
Schuchart, who made history earlier this month with his victory in the Eldora Million, brought some much-needed good news to a Shark Racing team that made headlines earlier in the weekend after longtime teammate Jacob Allen announced he would be taking a leave of absence from his Outlaws ride (more on that later).
Sprint cars seemed to be in mint form Friday night, as the Indiana Sprint Week at Gas-City I-69 Speedway in Indiana also saw a banger of a finish between Justin Grant and Robert Ballou that was decided by inches.
What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning
I was harshly critical of the Huset’s racing surface on Thursday, so credit where it’s due to the track crew, because the surface was not a storyline at all when the Silver Dollar Nationals really got going Saturday.
I’m still not sold that this extremely tight bullring is the right replacement for the much-larger I-80 Speedway where the Silver Dollar Nationals used to run, but the Lucas tour has already confirmed that the race will return in 2024 (per the Flo Racing telecast).
The folks at Huset’s know what they’re doing as far as promotions go, so we’ll have to see if the crowd grows at all next year … the reality is this show didn’t come anywhere close to matching what the High Bank Nationals drew for the Outlaws last month.
Has there ever been a month with more upheaval in Pennsylvania sprint car racing than July 2023? It was already a big enough headline that Anthony Macri left his family’s team days before the Eldora Million and missed that race and the Kings Royal as a result. Now this weekend, longtime WoO regular Allen has left his ride for personal reasons even in the midst of Shark Racing riding a wave of momentum with wins at Eldora and the Grove.
Sunday morning brought even more bombshells, with the longtime partnership of Lance Dewease and the Kreitz Racing No. 69K team coming to an end two years removed from a Williams Grove Speedway track championship.
Speculation is already running rampant that Dewease could end up running local Pennsylvania races in the Macri Motorsports No. 39M car, but regardless, what the hell is in the water in PA? And where does this go? Is Dewease going to get the Macri ride and maintain his form in Posse country? Is an Outlaws ride in the cards for Allen’s replacement, Landon Myers, if he runs well? This story is arguably bigger than the current tie for the points lead in the WoO standings, as there’s major implications for 2024 seats riding on these swaps.
I will die on the hill that it is a literal national treasure to hear Johnny Gibson call a sprint car race. But even the best have bad nights and Gibson had a rough one Friday night, seemingly unaware that Schuchart was challenging for the race win until well after he in fact took the checkered flag.
I will concede that Williams Grove is one of the hardest tracks to follow in person anywhere in America, as the old grandstands and infield hauler parking make it damn near impossible to see the entire racing surface. But there’s been several instances this season when it has become obvious that Gibson could benefit from a partner in the booth. Any commentator, no matter how good they are, can benefit from being able to take a breather as a feature race unfolds, especially when, as was with the Grove this weekend, long green runs were the story.
There’s a reason drivers aren’t left to their own devices in the motorsports industry, as Logan Seavey demonstrated with his take on a red-flag confrontation during the All-Star Circuit of Champions race at Spoon River Speedway Saturday night.
Why do officials stop these types of confrontation? Let me count the ways. For insurance reasons? To keep racing programs already plagued with push-start restarts from turning into marathons? To avoid establishing an expectation that drivers can take out their frustrations on a live track? I mean, it’s not like sprint car racing has no history of drivers confronting others turning tragic is it?
And yes, in this particular case, the cars in question were stopped on track, so maybe the safety argument isn’t the strongest in favor of officials allowing this type of confrontation to occur. So I’ll go back to another hill that I will absolutely die on with regard to dirt racing … there is NOTHING more laughable or unpalatable than watching people, be they drivers or crew, accost sprint car drivers strapped into a parked machine that can’t move.
On a positive note, the Volunteer Speedway’s latest issue with promotion/closing has come to a short end and apparently for the best. The super late models were not there for this weekly show and I’m not aware of the car count, but a weekly program finished by 10 p.m. is absolutely a victory for any short track.
Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Weekend
For all it’s flaws (and continued lack of catchfencing in turns 1 and 2), Williams Grove Speedway is indeed a special racetrack and a desirable win for sprint car racers. It was very cool to see Rico Abreu understand that in celebrating on Beer Hill Saturday night.
My only note here is that I hope that the “fan-provided beer” does not become a tradition. Because if it does, it’ll become something sponsored in no time, rather than the organic moment that it was this Saturday. Climbing the fence in turn 3 is plenty to reward those rowdy fans.
Dirt Racing’s Victim(s) of the Weekend
The sprint cars weren’t racing at Huset’s this weekend, but that didn’t stop Jesse Sobbing from trying to flip his car like a sprint. Fortunately, he was uninjured in this violent crash in the support late model race Saturday night.
Mitchel Moles had about as rough a start to Indiana Sprint Week as any driver, enduring hard wrecks both in qualifying at Gas City on Friday and again during the feature at Kokomo Speedway on Saturday.
Up Next: Frontstretch will be taking the week off from mid-week coverage but will be back on Monday morning (July 31) with coverage of the Prairie Dirt Classic from Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Illinois. Streaming coverage is available 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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