BARBERVILLE, FL – The launch of a new racing season is an occasion that unites us all.
It’s an event that presents us with a steady stream of furious action following months of wintertime doldrums in which we hibernated and waited.
The on-track action of USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship racing is a drama without comparison, punctuated by rhythms and movement that exhilarate the senses.
Unbounded by time, but by 30 laps from green to checkered flag that separate the fortunes between those who will experience the thrill of victory and those who will endure the agony of defeat.
The 2023 season begins in such fashion with a pair of non-points special events on back-to-back nights at Barberville, Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park on Monday, February 13 and Tuesday, February 14. Both nights feature events are 30 laps in length with the competitors vying for $5,000-to-win on Monday and $10,000-to-win on Tuesday.
Volusia, a longtime host of wintertime sprint car racing in the Sunshine State, welcomes USAC to its full-tilt half-mile dirt oval for the first time ever. However, several of the top contenders did compete at Volusia during two nights of Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Car activity in 2022.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) has shifted to the BGE-Dougherty Motorsports team for 2023. The 2019 USAC National Sprint Car champ captured a victory on the first night at Volusia a year ago, leading the final 24 laps en route to the win, then followed up with a 5th a single night later.
Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.), like Leary, has also experienced his share of success in Florida during February. He’s teamed up once again with the Chris Dyson Racing team with whom he won with at Volusia on night two in 2022.
The two past Volusia winners will join defending USAC National Sprint Car driving champion Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), who’ll attempt to become the first repeat series titlist since Brady Bacon in 2020-21. Grant returns to the fold under the TOPP Motorsports banner, which captured last season’s entrant crown.
Four-time USAC National Sprint Car titlist Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) will once again compete in all the points races for the venerable Hoffman Auto Racing / Dynamics, Inc. team. However, for Volusia’s non-points events, he’ll take the wheel of the Wedgewood Motorsports No. 98. Bacon experienced a mighty tumble on night one at Volusia last year but recovered to score a runner-up result the very next evening.
Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) ran inside the top-five on both nights at Volusia in 2022, lassoing a 5th and a 4th during the 2015 USAC champion’s two-night run. He can count himself among the past Florida winners in the field, having taken the season opener in Ocala during the 2016 campaign.
Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) finished last season with five podium results in his last seven feature starts to close things out. He was a substantial mover at Volusia in 2022, charging from his 16th starting position to tally an 8th. Meanwhile, Dustin Clark (Washington, Ind.), the 2019 USAC National Sprint Car top Rookie, earned a 9th at Volusia on night one.
Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) was among the USAC National Sprint Car circuit’s most successful Rookies in 2022, winning twice in spectacular fashion. His first career sprint car start without a wing came at Volusia last February where he finished 11th.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) and Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.) all attained their first Volusia sprint car experiences this weekend last year. Seavey, the 2018 USAC National Midget champ, scored a best of 15th while one-time USAC Sprint Car winner Westfall notched an 18th and 2020 USAC National Most Improved Driver Brandon Mattox collected 21st.
First-time Volusia participants include a talented crew of USAC National series feature winners. Perhaps the hottest driver to close out 2022 was Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) who aims for his first Florida win. Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) currently stands 10th all-time in career series wins with 39. Last season’s Rookie of the Year, Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), the 2022 series Rookie of the Year, won his first two career USAC Sprint Car features during Florida appearances.
Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.) has now taken over the wheel of the Baldwin-Fox Racing No. 5 after chalking up his first USAC win last September. KO Motorsports will sport a three-car lineup for 14-time series winner Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) in addition to two-time series winner Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) and Rookie of the Year contender Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.).
Making their forays to Volusia for the event include USAC experienced veterans Steve Irwin (Fenton, Mich.), Carson Garrett (Littleton, Colo.), Landon Simon (Tipp City, Ohio), Englishman Tom Harris (Banbury, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom), USAC East Coast Sprint Car winner Joey Amantea (Mount Pocono, Pa.), Hunter Maddox (Bedford, Ind.) and late model/modified standout Brian Ruhlman (Clark Lake, Mich.).
Eddie Tafoya Jr. (Chino Hills, Calif.) is a past USAC CRA Sprint Car Rookie of the Year and is making the long haul from his Golden State home to compete in the Sunshine State. He’s joined by midget racing guru Kyle Jones (Kennedale, Texas) who will be making his USAC National Sprint Car debut along with RUSH Sprint Car Series victor John Mollick (Toronto, Ohio) and six-time 2022 winged 358 Sprint Car winner Cameron Smith (Spring Grove, Pa.).
USAC racing at Volusia kicks off an entire week of National Sprint Car racing in the state of Florida, featuring five full racing events in a six-night span.
Volusia’s program presents a pair of USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car non-points special events on Monday-Tuesday, February 13-14 along with the DIRTcar Late Models.
On both nights at Volusia, the pits open at 1pm Eastern with the drivers meeting at 4:30, grandstands opening at 5pm and engine heat at 5pm followed by qualifying and racing. Monday’s program pays $5,000-to-win with the Tuesday’s feature victor bringing home $10,000.
Single-day tickets for USAC at Volusia are $35 for general admission, $45 for premium reserved and $18 for child reserved. Advance ticket packages are available for purchase at https://dirtcarnationals.com/tickets/.
USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship’s inaugural appearance at Barberville, Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park on February 13-14 will be streamed live in its entirety on DIRTvision.
USAC’s agreement with FloRacing stipulates that all points-paying National events throughout the season are streamed live on FloRacing. However, with DIRTvision streaming Volusia’s Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals USAC events, both nights of competition for the series will be considered “special events” and will not pay points toward the season-long series championship.
The remainder USAC’s AMSOIL National Sprint Car, NOS Energy Drink National Midget and Silver Crown points-paying race schedule in 2023 will be streamed live on FloRacing, including the February 16-17-18 Winter Dirt Games at Ocala, Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park – the first points-paying events of the USAC National Sprint Car season.
FLORIDA USAC NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS FEATURE WINS:
4-Brady Bacon, Bryan Clauson & Justin Grant
2-Emerson Axsom, Tyler Courtney, Larry Dickson, Tracy Hines & Kevin Thomas Jr.
1-Dave Darland, Darren Hagen, C.J. Leary, Thomas Meseraull, Pat O’Connor, Hunter Schuerenberg, Chase Stockon, Bob Sweikert, Rich Vogler, Chuck Weyant & Chris Windom
FLORIDA USAC SPRINT NON-POINTS FEATURE WINS: