OCALA, FL – Six past Bubba Raceway Park Winter Dirt Games feature winners are ready to fire off for the start of the 2022 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season when the cavalcade of cars, drivers, teams and fans converge on the 3/8-mile D-shaped dirt track on February 17-18-19 in Ocala, Fla.
Two $5,000-to-win events begin the festivities with 30-lap features on Thursday and Friday night with Saturday night’s 35-lap finale offering a $10,000 top prize.
A dedicated practice night for Sprint Cars is scheduled for Wednesday night, February 16, from 7-10 pm ET.
Forty-two (42) USAC Sprint Cars are projected to compete in the three-night event, representing 12 different states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.
The importance of Winter Dirt Games can’t be understated. It’s routinely been a harbinger of series champions, with a feature winner at Ocala going on to win the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car title that same year on six occasions: Bryan Clauson (2013), Brady Bacon (2014), Robert Ballou (2015), Tyler Courtney (2018), C.J. Leary (2019) and Brady Bacon (2020).
THE PAST WINNERS:
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) seeks more Winter Dirt Games fortune in 2022 after capturing the victory on the final night of the event in 2021 at Ocala after previous triumphs there in both 2017 and 2019. The 2020 USAC Silver Crown king rolls in with four consecutive WDG Sprint Car top-five finishes, tops among all drivers. He also returns this season to TOPP Motorsports for the fifth consecutive season, which is the longest continuous full-time driver/entrant tandem with the series entering 2022.
Four-time and defending series champion Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) heads the field in terms of previous USAC National Sprint Car feature victories at Ocala with four. He swept both nights of Winter Dirt Games in 2020 after previous triumphs in 2014 and 2015, all in the seat of the famed Dynamics, Inc. No. 69.
Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) is one of four drivers in this year’s field to have competed in the very first Winter Dirt Games feature at Ocala in 2011, along with Grant, Shane Cottle and Brady Short. Ballou has nabbed a pair of wins at Ocala, first in his USAC championship season of 2015 and again in 2016, while also notching an additional one at East Bay in 2015. Ballou also holds multiple track records at Ocala, setting the 8-lap mark in 2019 at 1:50.92 and the 12-lap standard of 2:52.77 in 2013.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) is one of seven USAC National champions in this year’s Ocala USAC Sprint field along with Grant, Bacon, Ballou, Tanner Thorson, Buddy Kofoid and Logan Seavey. Leary, the 2019 titlist, led the way to victory in the 2019 WDG closer and enters with nine-straight WDG top-ten finishes dating back to 2018.
Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) has knocked out both a USAC National Sprint Car and USAC National Midget feature win at Ocala in his career, notching the midget victory in 2021 and the sprint win on the final lap of the final night in 2016. With the sprint car, he hasn’t appeared at WDG since 2017. He’s also recorded a 3rd in both 2016 and 2017 and has finished inside the top-five in all five of his Ocala sprint car starts.
Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind) won the 2018 Winter Dirt Games opener, one of his 11 career top-five finishes at Ocala over the years, which includes runner-up finishes in 2015 (twice), a 4th in 2013, 2016, 2019 (twice) and 2020, plus a 5th in 2014.
LOOKING TO BREAK THE ICE AT WDG:
Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.), the 2021 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, has already tasted victory at Ocala with USAC, but it came in the Midgets, in the WDG opener in 2020. Thorson’s two sprint car starts at Ocala have brought about a 4th and a 6th, both in 2021. The 2016 USAC National Midget champion also owns the track record in a Midget at Ocala and his Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports team has been victorious there with the sprint car, with Leary, in 2019.
Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) will make his second Winter Dirt Games USAC Sprint appearance for the relaunch of the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports team. The 2021 USAC National Midget champion won the midget opener season opener that year at Ocala, and a week later, in the sprint car, he finished 8th and a career best 3rd.
Thus far, Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) has only raced sprint cars at Ocala in the even-numbered years in his career. He debuted in 2018, then left Ocala in 2020 with his best USAC Sprint Car performance at the track, finishing 3rd. In 2022, he’s back to start his first bid for a USAC National Sprint Car championship, driving for Baldwin-Fox Racing, a combo in which both sides are looking for win number one at Ocala.
Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) has been a Rock Steady performer at Ocala, finishing 2nd in both 2016 and 2020 as well as 3rd in 2016 (twice) and again in 2021. Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.), the 2020 USAC National Most Improved Driver, finished a best of 12th at Ocala in 2020, the same as Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.), who was 12th in both 2018 and 2020.
Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) led a race-high 21 laps on the second night of the 2021 WDG at Ocala before, ultimately, finishing 7th in his first weekend of action at the track. He’d later go on to win the 2021 USAC National Most Improved Driver award for his stout season.
Carson Short (Marion, Ill.) owns the one-lap track record for USAC National Sprint Cars at Ocala with a time of 13.398 seconds, set in 2019. The one-time series winner will make his return to WDG for the first time since 2020 and owns nine top-ten finishes at the track but is looking to slide into the top-five for the first time this year.
Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) has been a steady presence at Winter Dirt Games throughout the past decade. The versatile past NAMARS Midget champion and Eldora late model titlist took 14th at Ocala with the USAC Sprint Cars back in 2020 for his best performance so far.
For Chad Boespflug (Hanford, Calif.), it’s been a longtime coming as the 2016 USAC National Most Improved Driver returns to WDG for the first time since 2019. One of just 40 drivers to make at least 200 career USAC National Sprint Car starts, Boespflug finished as the runner-up at Ocala in 2017, was 3rd in 2018, 4th in 2017 and 2019, and 5th in 2016.
Brady Short (Bedford, Ind.) aims to make his first WDG start since 2016 and has tallied finishes of 3rd and 4th in 2010. Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.), meanwhile, is shooting for his first start in the event since 2017 after grabbing a pair of 4th place results in both 2010 and 2014.
Three years since his last WDG appearance, Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) is back in action, finishing 7th in his most recent start with the series at Ocala in 2019. Shane Cockrum and Zach Daum both made their most recent Winter Dirt Games stop in 2015. Cockrum (Benton, Ill.) finished in the 8th position on night one while Daum (Pocahontas, Ill.) positioned 7th one night later.
Steve Irwin (Fenton, Mich.) corralled one previous WDG start, a 21st in 2011. Dallas Hewitt (Troy, Ohio) last visited in 2017, but recorded his best result with a 15th in 2013. Landon Simon (Tipp City, Ohio) last traveled to the Sunshine State in 2018, but his best results of the bunch came in years prior in 2013, 2016 and 2017 where he finished 15th each time.
MAKING THEIR NAMES:
Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.) the 2020 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, has graduated from high school and is hitting the full USAC series tour for the first time in his young career. He came in 13th during his Ocala debut in 2021, but he’s been gaining speed and experience over the past couple of years and is primed for a breakthrough in 2022.
Briggs Danner (Allentown, Pa.) made his USAC National Sprint Car debut at Ocala in 2021, finishing 21st, but throughout the year, quickly made his name known with sterling performances in National series competition while finishing up a nine-win Rookie of the Year season with the USAC Rapid Tire East Coast Sprint Cars.
Cole Bodine (Rossville, Ind.) also made his Ocala debut in 2021, finishing 22nd. The USAC National Midget veteran is fairly new to the sprint car wars but will be one to watch as he goes full-time with the USAC trail in the coming year.
An early season accident and subsequent injury derailed Carson Garrett (Littleton, Colo.) and his progress as a first-year sprint car driver in 2021. Prior to the injury, he finished 23rd in his first and lone Ocala appearance. Returning later in the year, Garrett picked up speed and became a solid frontrunner with the Midwest Sprint Car Series where he was named Rookie of the Year.
Reigning USAC Wholesale Batteries Midwest Wingless Racing Association champion Kory Schudy (Battlefield, Mo.) has routinely been a solid citizen during Winter Dirt Games over the past few seasons, bested with a 14th place performance in his most recent start in 2021.
Dennis Gile (Phoenix, Ariz.), a former Canadian Football League quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and a member of the New England Patriots training camp roster, will return to Winter Dirt Games this year for the first time since 2020 where he turned a pair of solid performances, led by a 10th on night two.
WINTER DIRT GAMES DEBUTS:
Drivers looking for their first career Winter Dirt Games sprint car starts include a heavily talented bunch with heavy right feet. Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) finished 5th and 7th in two midget starts there a year ago and will pilot a Clauson Marshall Newman sprinter, which won two-in-a-row with Tyler Courtney in 2018.
Alex Bright (Collegeville, Pa.) chimes in as the defending USAC East Coast Sprint Car titlist with a whopping 11 wins during the year. He’s joined by fellow USAC regional series champion Charles Davis Jr., the 2018 Southwest Sprint Car champ who finished top-five twice with the National series in 2021.
Wesley Smith (Nixa, Mo.) is a frequent winner with the USAC Midwest Wingless Racing Association. Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.), meanwhile, make his USAC National Sprint Car debut after earning Rookie of the Year honors at the Turkey Night Grand Prix last November. Alex Banales (Lafayette, Ind.) and Kyle Shipley (Sun City, Ariz.), each of whom have previous USAC Sprint Car feature starting experience, will both be making their WDG debuts.
Three-time TBARA Sprint Car champ, and the lone Floridian in the field, Shane Butler (Bushnell, Fla.) seeks his first career WDG and USAC National Sprint Car feature start, as do Jack Hoyer (Frankfort, Ind.), Braxton Cummings (Bedford, Ind.), Jackson Slone (Noblesville, Ind.) and Josh Turner (Hanover, Mich.).
THE HISTORY, THE MYSTIQUE:
USAC racing and the “Sunshine State” have a history that dates back to the club’s origins in 1956. In fact, the first three USAC Sprint Car races ever held took place in Florida in February of 1956. Bob Sweikert won the first such event at Southland Speedway in West Palm Beach, followed by Chuck Weyant at Jacksonville Speedway and Pat O’Connor at Medley Speedway in Miami.
The inaugural Winter Dirt Games took place at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla. The series debut at Bubba Raceway Park arrived in 2011. Both events were won by Damion Gardner, the all-time leader in Winter Dirt Games wins with five.
Over the first two nights of USAC Sprint Car events at Ocala, total points will be calculated, which will “lock-in” the top-five in total combined points into Saturday night’s feature event and formulate the lineups for Saturday’s finale. The program on Saturday night will have no qualifying, and will instead consist of three qualifying races, each 10 laps in length, lined up “straight-up” based on points from the first two nights. If either Thursday or Friday’s events are rained out, Saturday will then revert to the traditional format.
Winter Dirt Games XIII begins with the 2022 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget openers on Feb. 11-12 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. A dedicated practice night on Feb. 10 will precede the two nights of racing from 7-10pm ET. Grandstand admission is free for practice. Pit passes are $20 apiece.
The second half of WDG brings on the beginning of the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season Feb. 17-18-19 at Bubba Raceway Park. A practice night on Feb. 16 will precede the three nights of racing from 7-10pm ET. Grandstand admission is free for practice. Pit passes are $20 apiece.
On race days, pits open at 4pm ET, front gates open at 5pm and cars on track at 6pm with qualifying and racing immediately following.
For Thursday and Friday’s USAC Sprint Car events, adult general admission tickets are $30 with kids age 11 and under are free with pit passes $40 apiece. On Saturday, adult general admission tickets are $35 with kids age 11 and under are free with pit passes $45 apiece. Race day tickets will be available at the gate on race day. No pre-order is necessary.
Each and every night of Winter Dirt Games XIII can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3frPoW6.
PROBABLE ENTRIES: USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CARS
0 STEVE IRWIN/Fenton, MI (Flying Zero Racing)
2B CHAD BOESPFLUG/Hanford, CA (2B Racing)
3R KYLE CUMMINS/Princeton, IN (Rock Steady Racing)
4 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (TOPP Motorsports)
4x JOSH TURNER/Hanover, MI (Josh Turner Racing)
5 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Baldwin-Fox Racing)
5D ZACH DAUM/Pocahontas, IL (Daum Motorsports)
5G BRIGGS DANNER/Allentown, PA (Heffner Racing Enterprises South)
5m JASON McDOUGAL/Broken Arrow, OK (KO Motorsports)
5s CHASE STOCKON/Fort Branch, IN (KO Motorsports)
5x ALEX BANALES/Lafayette, IN (Baldwin-Fox Racing)
6 MARIO CLOUSER/Auburn, IL (Eberhardt-Zirzow Racing)
12 ROBERT BALLOU/Rocklin, CA (Ballou Motorsports)
13 DENNIS GILE/Phoenix, AZ (Gene Gile Racing)
13m MITCHEL MOLES/Raisin City, CA (Gene Gile Racing)
14 JADON ROGERS/Worthington, IN (Tim Engler/Kyle Rogers)
15 CARSON GARRETT/Littleton, CO (BGE Dougherty Motorsports)
16 JACKSON SLONE/Noblesville, IN (Josh Slone)
17GP KYLE SHIPLEY/Sun City, AZ (Michael Dutcher Motorsports)
18 SHANE BUTLER/Bushnell, FL (Butler Motorsports)
19AZ TANNER THORSON/Minden, NV (Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports)
20 ALEX BRIGHT/Collegeville, PA (Hummer Motorsports)
20D THOMAS MESERAULL/San Jose, CA (Chris Dyson Racing)
21 DALLAS HEWITT/Troy, OH (Jennifer Hewitt)
21AZ JAKE SWANSON/Anaheim, CA (Team AZ Racing)
21x CARSON SHORT/Marion, IL (RCM Motorsports)
24 LANDON SIMON/Tipp City, OH (Landon Simon Racing)
28 BRANDON MATTOX/Terre Haute, IN (Brandon Mattox Racing)
28K KORY SCHUDY/Battlefield, MO (Jon Sawyer)
33m MATT WESTFALL/Pleasant Hill, OH (Ray Marshall Motorsports)
39 SHANE COTTLE/Kansas, IL (Tim Hogue)
44 WESLEY SMITH/Nixa, MO (Bryan Smith)
47 CHARLES DAVIS JR./Buckeye, AZ (Davis Race Team)
47BC EMERSON AXSOM/Franklin, IN (Clauson Marshall Newman Racing)
57B COLE BODINE/Rossville, IN (DCT Racing)
57c JACK HOYER/Frankfort, IN (DCT Racing)
61m BRADY SHORT/Bedford, IN (Randy Edwards)
66 SHANE COCKRUM/Benton, IL (Amati Racing)
67 BUDDY KOFOID/Penngrove, CA (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
69 BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK (Dynamics, Inc.)
71 BRAXTON CUMMINGS/Bedford, IN (Bub & Amanda Cummings)
77m C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (Michael Motorsports)