By MIKE MALLETT
The sun has final set on the 2019 edition of the DIRTcar Nationals at the Volusia Speedway Park where Larry Wight picked up is second career Big Gator trophy as the week-long champion. It was a hard fought battle with defending Super DIRTcar Series champion Matt Sheppard. Wight came out on top by a mere six points.
Four different drivers made it to Victory Lane including Wight (his first career), Sheppard, Billy Decker and Stewart Friesen. When all was said and done a total of 39 different drivers attempted to qualify for the four nights of racing action. Here is a breakdown of the points, money won and the week for those that made the trek to Florida.
1 – Larry Wight – 228 points – $6,200
Larry Wight had an amazing week at the DIRTcar Nationals. The Phoenix, N.Y., driver earned his first ever win and nearly stole a second from Stewart Friesen on Saturday night. Besides the win, Wight had two second place efforts and his worst outing of the week was a ninth place on Thursday night. The consistency paid off with his second DIRTcar Nationals Championship and the Big Gator trophy.
2 – Matt Sheppard – 222 points – $4,450
When Matt Sheppard was good in Florida, he was really good. Sheppard posted a win and a second place finish to Larry Wight on Friday night. The other two nights of racing action he was just off. Sheppard had a pair of seventh place runs that put him second by just six points in the overall chase for another Big Gator.
3 – Anthony Perrego – 203 points – $2,950
Anthony Perrego debuted his No. 18 for the Ray Graham Racing team. The Montgomery, N.Y., driver was consistent all week long to finish third in the points. He had a pair of fourth place finishes and a pair of sixth place efforts which was good enough for him to sit third in the final points.
4 – Billy Decker – 195 points – $4,400
If Billy Decker didn’t have engines woes on Friday night we’d probably be talking about his first ever DIRTcar Nationals championship. The Unadilla, N.Y., driver had a win on opening night, an eighth on Thursday and a third on Saturday. His lone hiccup was the Friday night main when he finished 23rd after mechanical issues.
5 – Peter Britten – 193 points – $2,675
In all but one of the feature events Peter Britten was able to earn a top 10 finish which isn’t bad considering he’s gone back out on his own for the 2019 season. Britten earned finishes of 12th, third, fourth and eighth to conclude the DIRTcar Nationals.
6 – Pat Ward – 185 points – $2,525
Pat Ward’s worst run of the week came on Thursday night when the Genoa, N.Y., driver was relegated to a 12th place finish. Other than that he found himself in the top 10 in every other event. His best finish of the week was on Wednesday night when the completed the top five. He joined his LJL Racing teammates to make it three of the top five cars in the main-event.
7 – Brett Hearn – 171 points – $2,050
Brett Hearn is an eight-time Florida series champion. In 2019, things just didn’t go his way. He struggled for much the week even being forced to run a consolation event on Thursday night. Hearn’s best outing of the week was a pair of eighth place efforts. The other two nights of action he finished 10th.
8 – Billy Pauch – 171 points – $2,275
Billy Pauch came out of the box strong on opening night completing the podium behind Billy Decker and Larry Wight. That’s where his good week came to an end. He wasn’t terrible earning an eighth and a seventh the next two nights. Saturday night is where he had no luck finishing in 23rd.
9 – Erick Rudolph – 166 points – $2,175
Erick Rudolph was a two-time recipient of the KSE Hard Charger Award during the DIRTcar Nationals. His best finish came on Friday night when he finished in fifth. The night’s he won the hard charger award the Ransomville, N.Y., driver passed a total of 20 different cars to finish seventh and fifth respectively.
10 – Stewart Friesen – 158 points – $6,500
Stewart Friesen left Florida as the money won champion after capturing the 50-lap finale on Saturday night. Friesen also had a fourth place finish on Thursday night. He was off on Wednesday night placing in the 15th spot and he missed the Friday night portion of the event by virtue of competing with the NASCAR Truck Series.
11 – Justin Haers – 150 points – $2,000
Justin Haers had an up and down week. He had issues on opening night that saw him finish in 24th. The next night he won the Last Chance Showdown before charging up to finish in 11th. Friday night he finished 11th again before concluding the week with his best run in fourth.
12 – Jessey Mueller – 149 points – $1,700
Jessey Mueller’s best run of the DIRTcar Nationals came on Thursday evening. Mueller took his No. 19 to the front and led a bunch of laps before giving way. He finished sixth that night. The rest of the weekend he has finishes of 17th, 13th and 12th respectively.
13 – Mat Williamson – 148 points – $1,650
Mat Williamson made his debut for the Buzz Chew team. The best finish they mustered up during the week was a 10th place on two occasions. Williamson also drove to a 13th and 14th place finish in the other two mains.
14 – Danny Johnson – 140 points – $1,650
Danny Johnson was the only car during the DIRTcar Nationals to get upside down in the Modified division. Johnson took a hard tumble on Thursday night. He would finish 26th. He capped off the week on a high note with a fifth place finish Saturday evening.
15 – Rick Laubach – 124 points – $1,250
Rick Laubach opened the DIRTcar Nationals with a quality ninth place finish. He’d score another ninth place on Friday night. That would be the highlight of his week. In making three feature events, Laubach’s other finishes a 25th place run.
16 – Will Thomas – 118 points – $975
Will Thomas was the star of qualifying. He set fast time for his group multiple times while also winning several heat races. That’s where his luck would run out. He struggled when the track got slick. He best finish was a 14th.
17 – Demetrios Drellos – 115 points – $1,250
Demetrios Drellos made the show on each night of competition. Drellos earned three top 15 finishes during the DIRTcar Naitonals. The highlight of the week was a 13th on Wednesday night.
18 – Ryan Godown – 113 points – $1,125
Ryan Godown nearly broke into the top 10 on Thursday night with his No. 5. Unfortunately that was the highlight of the week for the Ringoes, N.J., driver. His week came to a conclusion on the business end of a wrecker after slamming the wall in turns one and two on Saturday night.
19 – Jim Britt – 110 points – $1,150
Jim Britt made his way into each nightcap for the Modifieds. Britt’s best run of the week was a 16th place finish. That came on Thursday night.
20 – Jack Lehner – 109 points – $1,075
Jack Lehner peaked at the right time during the DIRTcar Nationals. Lehner’s best run came Saturday night as he nearly cracked into the top 10 finishing in 11th. Not a bad effort in his first ever trip to Volusia.
21 – Kyle Coffey – 104 points – $1,100
Kyle Coffey managed to race his way into all four features during the DIRTcar Nationals in his first ever chance to race at Volusia Speedway Park. Coffey won a couple of Last Chance Showdowns while scoring a pair of 15th place finishes.
22 – Tim Fuller – 98 points – $975
It was a dismal week for the former Fonda Speedway track champion. Tim Fuller struggled for much of the week with his No. 19. The only bright side to the week for Fuller was that he made all four programs. The worst part was his best finish was a 13th place.
23 – Yan Bussiere – 75 points – $675
Yan Bussiere broke into the feature starting line-up on three different occasions. The Autodrome Drummond promoter finished in the 25th position on two different occasions. One of those came after a hard crash with Tim Fuller. His best run was a 21st.
24 – Darwin Greene – 68 points – $575
Darwin Greene’s best showing of the 2019 edition of the DIRTcar Nationals was on Friday night. The Susquehanna, Pa., driver finished in the 16th position in the 30-lap feature. His other start in the main resulted in a 24th place run.
25 – Kyle Sheldon – 67 points – $575
Kyle Sheldon cracked the starting field twice during the DIRTcar Nationals. His best finish came in the Saturday night finale where he finished in 18th. The Lebanon Valley Speedway regular also had a 24th place finish on Friday night.
26 – Scott Hitchens – 67 points – $525
Scott Hitchens had a couple of good outings in qualifying that earned him a pair of top 15 starting spots in the feature events. His luck wasn’t as good in the features. His best run of the week was a 21st place effort. He concluded the week with a 27th in the 50-lapper.
27 – Tyler Thompson – 65 points – $525
Tyler Thompson made his big-block Modified debut. The teenager was hoping to make at least one feature during the week. He ended up making two. His two feature goes resulted in a 21st and 20th place finish respectively.
28 – Tyler Siri – 64 points – $525
Tyler Siri was a surprise winner in 2018. His luck wasn’t nearly as good in 2019. Siri made two shows and was a Did Not Start in the opening event with issues. He made the 50-lap finale where he finished a disappointing 28th.
29 – Jeremy Smith – 63 points – $500
Jeremy Smith got into a pair of mains during the DIRTcar Nationals. He opened the week finish 22nd on Wednesday. As a result he earned a provisional for Thursday night’s feature where he finished 23rd. He did not make the features the rest of the weekend.
30 – Rich Scagliotta – 60 points – $500
Rich Scagliotta’s week got off to a rough start when he got into the wall his No. 8. From there things didn’t get much better. The New Jersey native broke into the feature field once. That was on final night where he finished 16th.
31 – Marc Johnson – 54 points – $350
Florida was not kind to Marc Johnson in his maiden voyage. Johnson was in the show on opening night only to have mechanical issues force him to drop out of the Last Chance Showdown. The result, only one feature event show all week. He ended up with a 20th place effort Thursday night.
32 – Mario Clair – 52 points – $350
Mario Clair, racing as a teammate to Francois Bellemare, only cracked the feature starting field once in four nights of racing. His only main-event start resulted in a 21st place finish.
33 – JoJo Watson – 51 points – $375
JoJo Watson had a tough week failing to make the main-event on all except for one night. The Delaware native’s best finish of the week was a 25th place finish on the final night of racing action.
34 – Francois Bellemare – 40 points – $200
Francois Bellemare was unable to crack into a feature line-up during the four nights of racing at Volusia Speedway Park. His best runs of the week were a pair of fifth place finishes in the Last Chance Showdown.
35 – Chris Ostrowsky – 40 points – $200
Three ninth place finishes in the Last Chance Showdown were the best that Chris Ostrowsky could muster. Those finishes weren’t good enough to allow him to make it into a single feature during the week.
36 – Russ Morseman – 40 points – $200
Russ Morseman had a tough week failing to crack a spot in a feature event. Morseman had three seventh place finishes in the Last Chance Showdown and a ninth on the final night.
37 – Dave Rauscher – 40 points – $200
The Big Show had a tough week at Volusia. Dave Rauscher failed to make a single feature event. His best chance of making the main-event came on Wednesday night when he finished fourth in the Last Chance Showdown.
38 – Cass Bennett – 30 points – $150
Cass Bennett skipped the Friday night event and he failed to make a feature event throughout the week. His best run of the four nights was a fifth place in the Last Chance Showdown.
39 – Dave Allen – 30 points – $150
It was a tough week for Dave Allen. He skipped the finale on Saturday night. The closest he came to making a show was a third place effort in the Last Chance Showdown causing him to miss by one spot.