By BILL FOLEY
Tim McCreadie came to win the $20,000 finale on Saturday night in the Late Model portion of the final event of the 2023 DIRTcar Nationals at the Volusia Speedway Park.
T-Mac made history as he became the first Late Model and Modified driver to capture the championship gater at week’s end of the tough series.
With a fourth place finish he wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the accomplishment.
The team is regrouping a bit this year with some personnel changes and culmination of weeks of racing certainly showed this team is ready to gel. Prior to the night, Tim said, “We’ve had some changes this year. Our crew chief Phil decided to go off the road and J.C. took a different position. It really isn’t tough on me as I’m not in the shop everyday, but this gives the guys a chance to gel.”
Before hitting the track, Tim said about the Late Model gator, “I don’t worry about it. It would be cool. We are trying to shake the cobwebs off. I’ve never won a Late Model gator championship as we never have run all of the races here.”
Afterwards he said, “It’s okay. It’s nice. We don’t come in here trying to win a trophy . We are trying to win races, but at the end of the day and tomorrow when we are sitting on the beach it will be alright we have this keepsake we can hang on to for a few years, but it’s not what we wanted.”
In being able to accomplish the feat in two divisions, Tim said, “It’s nice to know I’ve been able to be successful in many different cars. It’s taken me to a lot of cool places in life and a lot of different divisions. I have been pretty much successful in all of them.. It’s almost amazing that I’m not racing on Sunday. I don’t know why.”
Not a lot of guys like to venture out and try something different, but my whole career has been “let’s try to do something, have some fun with it and see if I am good enough to overcome another type of racing.”
He was in control for much of the 50 laps feature and as the last ten laps wound down he fell to fourth place behind 23rd starting Hudson O’Neal, Donnie Moran and Ricky Thornton Jr.
Standing outside of the Paylor Motorsports hauler, Tim talked with Dirt Track Digest about the way the race unfolded.
Looking back he said, “I just kind of got a little tight midrace and just caught traffic at the wrong time. It was double file in front of me and I tried to get under the lapped car(Tanner English) outside of two. He should have known who it was at that point, he fired back in three and got past Owens and they ran side by side. I missed the bottom the next lap because he missed the bottom and parked me. My only chance was to drive around them both. Running into three I thought he was cutting left, but he just sat there and I was up his ass.”
Continuing he explained, “I got beside English and I thought he would cut me a break and let me back down in there, but he didn’t.”
When asked if this type of racing was common in the Late Model style of racing, Tim said, “Not for him (Tanner) he’s a good little racer. It’s normal for a few of these other guys out here and it’s not normal for Jimmy Owens.”
Timmy being Timmy he told the fans from the stage, “Congratulations to Hudson, the 99 and the 20. Everyone is out here working their tails off. It’s been a grueling month.
As always the appreciative Watertown, N.Y., driver thanked everyone involved with the race team including all of those at Paylor Motorsports, owners Donald and Gena Bradsher, Longhorn Chassis, Bilstein Shocks and Cornett Power.
After chasing the Lucas Oil Florida Tour which started at Golden Isles in Georgia and then shifted south to Bubba, All-Tech and East Bay and then heading into World of Outlaw country at Volusia, Tim McCreadie and his team will head home for a short break to analyze the first several weeks of the 2023 season and then go in pursuit of a possible third straight Lucas Oil crown, under a very different format, this year.
Consistency is critical in any series and if Tim McCreadie can match the consistency he showed at Volusia with continuous up front finishes he will once again be tough wherever he goes during the upcoming season.