By MIKE MALLETT
The 2018 DIRTcar Nationals for the Super DIRTcar Series Modifieds has come to a close. This years edition was definitely filled with surprises. Tim McCreadie came home with his first Big Gator for winning the week-long title while Tyler Siri earned his first ever win at Volusia Speedway Park. Here’s a recap of the points, money won and some a racing shot of each driver from the four events the teams were able to get in with a rain-out on Tuesday night.
1. Tim MCreadie – 240 points – $9,000
Tim McCreadie was the star of the show driving from 27th to the win in Saturday night’s main-event for the Super DIRTcar Series Modifieds. The Watertown, N.Y., driver was unstoppable. He never finished outside the top five for the week earning a pair of wins and leading the money won category. He also became the first driver in the modern era to win a Gator trophy in two different divisions as he also won a World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model main-event for a little Gator. It was an impressive week for T-Mac.
2. Danny Johnson – 198 points – $3,275
Johnson came into the final night of racing only 11 points behind McCreadie as he chased his fifth DIRTcar Nationals championship. Unfortunately, the Rochester, N.Y., driver struggled in the finale with McCreadie putting him a lap down in the closing stages of the 50-lap feature. Johnson didn’t pick up a win during the week but he was in the top five on three separate occasions with a second and third place finish. In the finale he finished in 15th.
3. Mike Mahaney – 185 points – $3,000
Mahaney has best run of the week in the best paying show of the four night affair. Mahaney drove a solid race to finish in third behind McCreadie and Stewart Friesen to up his money won total. The King Ferry, N.Y., driver also had finishes of fifth, 10th and 13th to finish third in the points standings at the conclusion of the DIRTcar Nationals.
4. Matt Sheppard – 183 points – $3,550
Matt Sheppard did not have a week that meets his high expectations for himself. Sheppard had mechanical issues take him out of the first feature where he finished an uncharacteristic 25th. He rebounded in the second main of the night to finish in sixth. He righted the ship on Friday night with a win before wrapping up the week with a sixth place effort in the final race. He had advanced to spot on the podium before losing ground late.
5. Pat Ward – 171 points – $2,125
Ward’s best finish of the week was a fifth place finish in the opener but the Genoa, N.Y., pilot hovered around the top five or top ten all week long. Other than his fifth place run he had a seventh, 11th and 13th. He was a consistent for a driver who hasn’t competed in the Sunshine State the last few seasons.
6. Max McLaughlin – 170 points – $2,225
McLaughlin had his fair share of highs and lows on the week. The youngster had a week-long best of third on Friday night. Had the initial start been called back it might have been a win. That run came the night after he found himself sitting on the frontstretch with a destroyed front end to go along with 27th place finish. During the other two nights of action McLaughlin finished sixth and in the finale he was 11th.
7. Ryan Watt – 165 points – $1,950
Watt, a first time Florida entrant, wanted to leave the state with four top ten finishes. He came up one spot short in Friday night’s feature of making that goal. He finished ninth in the opener, eighth in Thursday’s action and finished off the week with a ninth in the 50-lap race. Watt showed speed all week in the Jeff Brown owned No. 9, but had some flat tires and other mishaps force him to race from the back on several occasions.
8. Ryan Godown – 164 points – $2,150
Godown made the trek to Volusia Speedway Park behind the wheel of the Dieter Schmidt owned No. 5. Godown got better as the week went on. He made all of the main-events but on two occasions he was forced to come through the consolations. His week turned around during the final two races where he finished sixth and then fifth in the finale.
9. Jimmy Horton – 158 points – $1,975
Horton had a pretty good week going before the Saturday portion. The Neshanic Station, N.J., driver made multiple redraws and had a week-long best finish of third behind Siri and McCreadie. Unfortunately the good week came to an end in the last race. Horton was running in the top five when something let go on his Halmar International No. 43 causing him to coast to a stop in turn one.
10. Justin Haers – 156 points – $1,925
If there is one driver leaving Florida that results don’t match the on track speed it’s Haers. His No. 3 Bicknell was on point all week long but the racing gods simply didn’t smile on him. He was leading a feature only to have an oil line break causing flames to shoot from under his car. He pulled in and was done for that event. He was fast the rest of the week as well in qualifying and the heats only to have something derail him in the feature. He had two top five finishes along with two finishes in the twenty’s.
11. Billy Pauch – 155 points – $2,100
Pauch got the wall early in the week which bent the rear of his Bicknell way out of line. Pauch and the team straightened the car the best they could to give him a shot to compete in the rest of the events. The Frenchtown, N.J., driver held his own by having a week best finish of fourth on Saturday night.
12. Stewart Friesen – 151 points – $3,900
Friesen missed a race on Friday night to compete with the Camping World Truck Series at the Daytona International Speedway. Like so many others, he also had his share of issues. In the fogged out make-up feature it looked like Friesen was going to take the win only to have the right rear tire explode with a handful of laps to go. Then, on Saturday night, he watched as McCreadie tracked him down and passed him in the closing laps. He had two seconds on the week, both of them came to McCreadie. It’s nothing to hang your head about but Friesen has high expectations for himself and the team. He was dejected at Saturday night’s runner-up finish.
13. Larry Wight – 145 points – $1,600
Wight simply had no luck throughout the four nights of racing. Usually the curb on top of the race track is Wight’s friend but during the week it was not. On multiple occasions his No. 99L ran up by the wall only to have the car hop the cushion and catch the concrete. His best finish of the week was an eighth place run in four features.
14. Billy Decker – 134 points – $1,475
It was a tough week for Decker and his Jeremy Smith Racing team. Decker struggled to get things going early in the week. In talking with the car owner Smith, they were trying several different things to try and find speed for Decker in his No. 91. He finally made the redraw on the last night. He was consistent in the 50-lap feature to come home in ninth.
15. Tyler Siri – 134 points – $2,625
I don’t know if the smile ever left Siri’s face after earning the win in the first 30-lap feature of the week. The Outlaw Speedway promoter pulled the upset over stout field to earn his first Gator. He did so by beating McCreadie which was no small task during the week. He didn’t fare as well in the other features as he finished outside the top 20 each time. Regardless, he still got to go home with a Gator.
16. JR Heffner – 122 points – $1,300
Heffner’s best finish of the week was an eighth place effort, his only top ten. Heffner did have the heat race pass of the week where he pulled slide job late to get by Friesen to grab a spot in the redraw. Other than his lone top ten, the Lebanon Valley Speedway regular finished 14th, 21st and 23rd.
17. Brett Hearn – 117 points – $1,200
Hearn came into the event with high hopes after successful test while en route to Volusia Speedway Park. That’s where the success ended. The team was testing out a different style car but the heavy track conditions are not what the car was designed for. Eventually Hearn made a change, but his luck did not. His best finish of the week was a 12th place run.
18. H.J. Bunting – 117 points – $1,275
Bunting made the redraw on one occasion during the week with his best finish being an eighth place effort. The Milford, Pa., driver started strong but had some tough luck as the week went on. He finished 18th in the 50-lap week ending race.
19. Joseph (JoJo) Watson – 109 points – $825
Like Bunting, Watson made the redraw on one occasion during the week. He finished 12th in the opener then struggled from there on out. He finished 25th, 21st and 19th respectively in the next three features.
20. Erick Rudolph – 105 points – $925
Rudolph had one finish inside the top 15. The Ransomville, N.Y., campaigner finished 14th in the final 50-lap feature of the week. Rudolph, the BRP Modified Champion struggled to find speed on the extremely tacky surface during the week. He had finishes of 16th, 18th and 24th to go with his top 15 effort.
21. Billy VanInwegen – 104 points – $1,050
VanInwegen made three out of the four feature events during the DIRTcar Nationals. The team struggled with carburetor issues early in the week. Their best finish was a 10th place effort.
22. Brett Kressley – 98 points – $1,025
Kressley found himself in some consolation races but the first-time Florida driver made up ground all week long. He improved throughout the week with his best finish of the DIRTcar Nationals being a ninth place run.
23. Jimmy Phelps – 94 points – $800
It was a struggle for Phelps during the DIRTcar Nationals. Phelps and company were forced to use multiple provisionals to make the shows at Volusia. Their best effort on the week was a 18th place finish in the finale.
24. Tim Fuller – 89 points – $950
Like Phelps, Fuller struggled for much of the week. The driver of the St. Lawrence Radiology No. 19 was off his game. He had one top ten finish all week long which came on Saturday night. He finished in the seventh position.
25. Jessey Mueller – 85 points – $775
Mueller made a trio of features at Volusia. The Northern New York campaigner’s best finish during the DIRTcar Nationals was a 16th.
26. Billy Whittaker – 79 points – $375
The “Part-Timer” couldn’t get things going at Volusia relying on provisional starting spots for much of the week. He best effort came on Saturday where he finished in the 20th position.
27. Jim Britt – 79 points – $725
Jim Britt’s best effort of the week was a 20th. The Pennsylvania driver and Bridgeport Speedway regular had speed at times. Unfortunately his week came to an end on Saturday with a severe damage to the front end in the first turn.
28. Jim Rasey – 76 points – $750
Rasey, a regular on the Western Pa/Eastern Ohio circuit scored a week long best 12th on Saturday night. He also made the feature on Wednesday night where he finished in the 26th position.
29. Yan Bussiere – 72 points – $750
Bussiere had an outstanding run on Saturday in the finale. It was his best finish of the week. He came home eighth. Other than that he was unable to make any other shows.
30. Jeremy Smith – 66 points – $500
Like Decker, Smith had a tough week as the crew tried multiple things to get speed in his No. 46. He made two features during the week with his best run a 20th place effort.
31. Rex King Jr. – 65 points – $700
King Jr., had his weekend come to an end on Saturday with a destroyed race car. The Bristolville, Ohio, driver hit the cushion wrong a rolled his car in turn one in his consolation. ‘Cooters’ best run was an 18th place effort.
32. Chad Brachmann – 62 points – $525
Brachmann had mechanical woes slow his efforts all week long as he drove a Rick Regalski owned mount. The Merrittville Speedway champion made two features. His best finish was 25th.
33. Rick Laubach – 56 points – $350
Things just never got going for ‘Scooby.’ He had mechanical efforts sideline him on multiple occasions. The former three-time Florida winner made one show where he finished 20th. He withdrew on Saturday due to a family situation that needed his attention.
34. Dillion Steuer – 52 points – $350
Steuer, a teenager from Bohemia, N.Y., made one feature during his DIRTcar Nationals visit. He put on an impressive drive in the heat race to go from the back into a transfer position by rim-riding all the way around the speedway. In that feature he ended up with a 28th place finish.
35. J.F. Corriveau – 50 points – $200
Corriveau also only made on feature all week, the 50-lap race on Saturday. The Quebec pilot finished in the 25th spot in that main-event.
36. Dave Rauscher – 50 points – $200
If it wasn’t for late cautions and restarts Rauscher would have made the show on multiple nights. He had one feature go and he brought it home in the 27th position.
37. Darwin Greene – 40 points – $200
Greene, who owns one Gator trophy via a non-qualifiers feature win, failed to make a feature while in Florida. The closest he came to making the show was a sixth in the Last Chance Showdown.
38. Rick Regalski – 40 points – $200
Slippery Rock, Pa., driver Regalski also failed to make a main-event in Florida. He was close a couple of times but lost spots late to regulate him to the consolations. He best consi finish was a sixth.
39. Kyle Sheldon – 40 points – $200
Sheldon did not make any show during the four night affair. The team struggled with some mechanical woes which sidelined their efforts at times. His best finish was an eighth in the consolation.
40. Jamie Mills – 40 points – $200
Mills only competed in three events forgoing the finale. Mills failed to qualify after having some struggles during the week. His best effort was a 10th in the Last Chance Showdown.
41. Francois Bellemare – 40 points – $200
Bellemare just missed qualifying for the main-event on Friday night by a handful of spots. Other than that fourth place run the Quebec driver found himself in the middle of multiple consolation races.
42. Russ Morseman – 40 points – $200
Morseman did not make a feature during the week while struggling through various issues with his No. 44. The Addison, N.Y., driver’s best finish was eighth in the Last Chance Showdown which he achieved on multiple occasions.
43. Scott Hitchens – 40 points – $200
Hitchens was close to qualifying for the feature twice during the week losing spots late in heat races to put him in the consolation. The Delaware driver ended up missing qualifying through a consolation twice by only a couple of positions.
44. Kevin Poitras – 30 points – $150
Poitras had a tough week and ended up not racing on the final night. Poitras’ best run of the week was a pair of 10th place finishes in the consolation.
45. Ralph McBride – 10 points – $50
McBride only attempted to qualify for one feature. The Valencia, Pa., driver got into town on Saturday night for one shot at making the main-event. He came up short as he finished ninth in the Last Chance Showdown.