Preview and Predictions for Super DIRTcar Series for 2019 DIRTcar Nationals – DTD Exclusive

By MIKE MALLETT

On Tuesday night the Super DIRTcar Series big-block Modifieds kick-off the 2019 season at the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. The Modified have a long traditions of racing at the Volusia County oval that dates back to 1978 when Walt Breeding was the initial Florida series champion. Over the years they’ve raced at numerous facilities, but Volusia Speedway Park has become the main-event.

In 2019 a powerful contingent of Modifieds are expected to head to the Sunshine State for an opportunity to shake the rust off before action kicks off in the Northeast in in early March and April. Here is a breakdown of the DIRTcar Nationals for 2019.

Format

The Modifieds hit the track for the first time on Tuesday night for the first of four 30-lap main-events paying $2,000 to win before the Saturday night finale, a 50-lap affair, offers $5,000 to the winner.




Tuesday: Group qualifying in hot laps will determine heads up heat race lineups. There will be four eight-lap heats with five drivers qualifying from each heat. The 30-lap, $2,000 to win feature will start heads up based on heat race finishing order.

Two 10-lap Last Chance Showdowns are scheduled with three cars transferring from each setting up a 26 car field.

Wednesday-Friday: Group qualifying in hot laps will determine heads up heat race lineups. There will be four eight-lap heats with five qualifying from each heat. The 30-lap, $2,000 to win feature will have the top two drivers from each heat race redrawing for starting spots with the final three transfer drivers in the heat starting heads-ups in the main-event.

Two Last Chance Showdowns are scheduled for 10-laps with three cars transferring from each setting up a 26 car field.

Two provisional starters will be offered to the two highest in DIRTcar Nationals points.

Saturday: Group qualifying in hot laps will determine heads up heat race lineups. There will be four eight-lap heats, five qualifying from each heat. The 50-lap, $5,000 to win feature will have the top two drivers from each heat race redrawing with the final three transfer drivers starting heads-ups in the main-event.

Two Last Chance Showdowns are scheduled for 10-laps with three cars transferring from each setting up a 28 car field.

Two provisionals will be offered to the two highest in DIRTcar Nationals points.

Purses

Tuesday-Friday (30-laps): 1 $2,000 2 $1,200 3 $900 4 $800 5 $700 6 $650 7 $600 8 $550 9 $500 10 $450 11 $400 12 $375 13 $350 14 $325 15 $300 16 $275 17 $250 18 $225 19 $200 20 $200 21 $200 22 $200 23 $200 24 $200 25 $200 26 $200

Non-qualifiers: $50

Saturday (50-laps): 1 $5,000 2 $2,500 3 $1,500 4 $1,000 5 $800 6 $700 7 $650 8 $600 9 $550 10 $500 11 $475 12 $450 13 $425 14 $400 15 $375 16 $350 17 $325 18 $300 19 $275 20 $250 21 $225 22 $225 23 $225 24 $225 25 $225 26 $225 27 $225 28 $225

Non-qualifiers: $50

2018 Recap

Tyler Siri opened the week as the talk of the DIRTcar Nationals by capturing his first ever Super DIRTcar Series win and Florida win to kick-off the action after a Tuesday night rain-out. He captured his win on Thursday night after the feature was fogged out on Wednesday night.

Matt Sheppard picked up just one win during the week in the Friday night 30-lapper. He was able to beat out perennial Florida winner Danny Johnson.

Tim McCreadie earned two feature wins during the week while also picking his first ever Big Gator for being the DIRTcar Nationals Champion. His win on Saturday night was the most impressive in recent memory. McCreadie was forced to use a provisional starting spot to make the main-event. He then marched his way to the front from the 27th starting position to Victory Lane. He passed Stewart Friesen late in the go for the win and the title.

What to Watch

New/Old Combinations: There are several old and new combinations debuting at the DIRTcar Nationals in 2019. Mat Williamson, who will make his first ever full assault on the Super DIRTcar Series in 2019, is set to debut for the Buzz Chew Chevrolet team. Williamson has past Florida experience, but he has yet to find his way to victory lane…

Billy Decker is returning to Volusia Speedway Park with LJL Racing in 2019. Decker, a former Super DIRTcar Series Champion, has never won a title at the DIRTcar Nationals. He’ll be looking for his first as he gets reacquainted with his Gypsum teammates Pat Ward and Larry Wight…

Danny Johnson is making his first Florida visit while driving for the Ray Graham team. The Rochester, N.Y., driver showed speed once joining the team last year and won at Airborne Park Speedway…

New Drivers: There are a host of drivers looking to make their first starts at Volusia. If history is any indicator, it will take time for the likes of Jack Lehner, Demetrios Drellos and others to get a handle on the fast half-mile. It’s unlike any track the teams race on in the Northeast…

No Back-to-Back Champion: A new champion will be crowned in 2019 as Tim McCreadie is not running the big-block Modified. McCreadie was the dominant car in 2018 in winning two of the four main-events and finishing in the top five in the other two events…

Volusia Changes: For those that haven’t been to Volusia Speedway Park in a few years they will notice several changes to the facility. The catch fencing has been updated around the entire facility, new concrete walls are in place while the flagstand has been moved from turn four to the middle of the front straightway…

All-Time Winners

As of 2018, 140 Modified features have been run in the state of Florida at five different facilities. Brett Hearn leads everyone on the list with a total of 24 feature wins. Danny Johnson is second with 13 wins. Kenny Brightbill has nine, Doug Hoffman has eight while Matt Sheppard completes the top five with seven triumphs.

Feature Winner Predictions

Stewart Friesen: Although he has Camping World Truck Series commitments and that will dominate his week, expect Stewart Friesen to be a contender in every race he’s able to run. It’s likely the former DIRTcar Nationals champion finds his way to the front at Volusia and a DKM triumph occurs during the DIRTcar Nationals. He’s a six-time winner in the Sunshine State…

Brett Hearn: Hearn struggled last season at Volusia. Hearn brought a coil combination car which wasn’t the right setup for Volusia. The track is heavy, hammer down on a regular basis and that caused Hearn problems. Hearn is still one to always one to rely on to win at Volusia. He’s a 24-time race winner in Florida. He is someone you always have to expect to win in Florida…

Danny Johnson: Johnson trails only Hearn in feature wins in Florida. The Doctor is in a solid ride for the 2019 season. It’s one of best rides he’s been able to drive in recent memory. He is in the hunt in 2019 for wins as well as the Gator trophy. He’d be one that could find Victory Lane during the five nights of racing…

Matt Sheppard: Sheppard sits fifth on the all-time wins list with seven victories at the Volusia Speedway Park. Sheppard is usually able to clip off at least one win during the DIRTcar Nationals. You can expect the same during the 2018 edition of the event…

New Winners: Tyler Siri shocked everyone at the DIRTcar Nationals by capturing the opening round win in 2018. He became the 15th different driver to have just a single victory as part of Florida series history for the big-block Modifieds. He was the first driver since Neal Williams in 2015 to become a first-time winner. The chances of a driver that hasn’t reached victory lane getting the job done is very unlikely…

Past Champions

There have been 33 total Florida tour championships including those that have been run at the DIRTcar Nationals. Those 33 awarded titles have gone to 16 different drivers. Brett Hearn leads all drivers with eight career championships in Florida.

DIRTcar Nationals Championship Predictions

Picking a DIRTcar Nationals Champions is difficult. There has not been a back-to-back series champions since 2005 and 2006 when Brett Hearn was able to do the double. As stated, McCreadie was last year’s champ and he is not returning to the Modified ranks as he focuses on the Late Models meaning a new champion will be crowned in 2019.

Billy Decker: Of all the accolades Decker has, it’s a shock that he has never won a championship in Florida. For 2019 Decker is returning the LJL Racing stable. He’ll have quality equipment under him and it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Unadilla, N.Y., campaigner come out with a title…

Danny Johnson: Johnson was one good race away from winning the title in 2018 and with his new team last year he had speed all season long. He has to be on the odds on favorite joining our next pick. Johnson has always been good in Florida, he’ll be good again…

Matt Sheppard: Since 2010, Sheppard has won three of the nine titles. His last championship win came back in 2016 meaning this is his year. Based on his track record, 2019 seems like the year that Sheppard should capture the DIRTcar Nationals title…

The DIRTcar Nationals kicks off on Tuesday, February 12th for the Super DIRTcar Series big-block Modifieds with five nights of consecutive races. As always it will be in entertaining week with plenty of twist, turns and several surprises.