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Chris Madden Grabs A Gator
BARBERVILLE, FL- February 20, 2017- On the seventh day of the 46th annual DIRTcar Nationals, 43 Late Models migrated to Volusia Speedway Park to test their luck at the 'World's Fastest Half-Mile'. The season opening swing through Georgia and Florida continues and drivers are hoping to leave the track with a coveted Gator trophy in the passenger seat. Chris Madden began his collection of gators tonight.
Madden steadily gained ground on pole sitter and race leader Brian Shirley who had made a significant breakaway from the rest of the field early in the race. With the help of a restart, Madden was able to make a pass on the high-side of Brian Shirley on lap 13 to claim the lead.
"We got a good restart and then we were able to get out in the clean air and we had a pretty good car tonight," said Chris Madden. "It was too tight the first 10 or so laps but overall we had a great race car. I'm going to take this [Gator] home to my little man, Avery."
Shirley was running a line on the bottom of the track which seemed to be working for him until Madden tested the waters in the middle of the track and started catching up.
"It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't deal," said Shirley in response to his choice to run the bottom of the track. "I mean he got around us there and got away from me and I just changed my line and reeled him back in. I know we had a car capable of winning the race."
Chub Frank was also among the front runners Monday night and was trailing closely behind Shirley and Madden until his right-rear tire exploded. Frank doesn't have a full crew right now, so with the help of his friend and relative, Doug Eck, and a few others he had a new tire on quickly, but had to restart at the rear. He ultimately finished 21 of the 24-car Feature.
DIRTcar Racing Late Models will continue to run through Wednesday and the World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series will pick up on Thursday. Tickets for the event are available here or by calling 844-DIRT-TIX.
46th Annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park
Feature (30-lap):1. 44- Chris Madden; 2. 3s- Brian Shirley; 3. 91- Tyler Erb; 4. 25- Shane Clanton; 5. 28E- Dennis Erb Jr; 6. 22*- G.R. Smith; 7. 116- Brandon Overton ; 8. 18- Eric Wells; 9. 1- Brandon Sheppard; 10. 18c-Chase Junghans; 11. 7- Rick Eckert; 12. 14M- Morgan Bagley;13. 72- Mike Norris; 14. 7F-Jason Fitzgarald; 15. 99B-Boom Briggs; 16. 9- Devin Moran; 17. 2c-Joey Coulter; 18. 0v- Coleby Frye; 19. 39- Tim McCreadie; 20. 99jr- Frank Heckenast Jr; 21. 1*- Chub Frank; 22. 15- Steve Francis; 23. 40B- Kyle Bronson; 24. 93- Donald Bradsher
B-Main Group No. 1(10 Laps - Top 2 Transfer): 1. 1- Brandon Sheppard; 2. 9- Devin Moran;3. 39- Tim McCreadie; 4. 2c- Joey Coulter; 5. 7W- Ricky Weiss; 6. 71- Hudson O'Neal; 7. B1- Brent Larson; 8. 11B- Stacy Boles; 9. 17M- Dale McDowell; 10. 4-D's- Chad Hollenbeck; 11. 3c- Charles LaPlant;12. 7m- Donald Mcintosh;13. 6- Blake Spencer[DNS];14. 14r- Reid Millard[DNS]
B-Main Group No. 2(10 Laps - Top 2 Transfer): 1. 7- Rick Eckert; 2. 99jr-Frank Heckenast Jr; 3. 15-Steve Francis;4. 93- Donald Bradsher;5. 20- Rodney Sanders; 6. 15s- Donny Schatz; 7. 16T- Tyler Bruening; 8. 21jr- Billy Moyer Jr; 9. 27- Jeff Beyers; 10. 16H- Mike Hammerle; 11. 2H- Nick Hoffman; 12. 16- Jason Jameson[DNS]; 13. 24z- Brian Ruhlman[DNS]
Qualifying No. 1: 1. 18c- Chase Junghans, 16.138; 2. 1*- Chub Frank, 16.14;3. 9B- Boom Briggs, 16.273;4. 1- Brandon Sheppard, 16.332;5. B1- Brent Larson, 16.348;6. 22*- G.R. Smith, 16.573;7. 7m- Donald Mcintosh, 16.574; 8. 4-D's- Chad Hollenbeck, 16.62; 9. 9- Devin Moran, 16.757; 10. 11B- Stacy Boles, 16.982; 11. 14r- Reid Millard, 17.998
Qualifying No. 2: 1. 18- Eric Wells, 15.802; 2. 44- Chris Madden, 15.809; 3. 25- Shane Clanton, 15.81; 4. 39- Tim McCreadie, 16.209; 5. 6- Blake Spencer, 16.261; 6. 0v- Coleby Frye, 16.375; 7. 71- Hudson O'Neal, 16.421; 8. 7W- Ricky Weiss, 16.863; 9. 3c- Charles LaPlant, 17.424; 10. 2c-Joey Coulter, 17.45; 11. 17M-Dale McDowell ,17.557
Qualifying No. 3: 1. 7F- Jason Fitzgarald, 15.946; 2. 91-Tyler Erb, 16.063; 3. 28E- Dennis Erb Jr, 16.064; 4. 15- Steve Francis, 16.09; 5. 7- Rick Eckert, 16.18; 6. 16T- Tyler Bruening, 16.293; 7. 40B- Kyle Bronson, 16.31; 8. 93-Donald Bradsher, 16.437; 9. 20-Rodney Sanders, 16.443; 10. 24z- Brian Ruhlman,16.835; 11. 15s-Donny Schatz, 17.217
Qualifying No. 4: 1. 3s- Brian Shirley, 15.824; 2. 72- Mike Norris, 15.852; 3. 116- Brandon Overton, 16.336; 4. 2H- Nick Hoffman, 16.487; 5. 14M- Morgan Bagley, 16.53; 6. 99jr- Frank Heckenast Jr, 16.575; 7. 16- Jason Jameson, 16.615; 8. 27- Jeff Beyers, 16.847; 9. 21jr- Billy Moyer Jr, 17.408; 10. 16H-Mike Hammerle, 18.759
Heat No. 1 (10 laps - Top 4 Transfer): 1. 1*- Chub Frank; 2. 18c-Chase Junghans; 3. 22*-G.R. Smith; 4. 99B-Boom Briggs; 5. 9- Devin Moran; 6. B1- Brent Larson; 7. 1- Brandon Sheppard; 8. 7m- Donald Mcintosh; 9. 11B-Stacy Boles; 10. 4-D's- Chad Hollenbeck; 11. 14r- Reid Millard
Heat No. 2 (10 laps - Top 4 Transfer): 1. 44- Chris Madden; 2. 18- Eric Wells; 3. 25- Shane Clanton; 4. 0v- Coleby Frye; 5. 39- Tim McCreadie; 6. 7W- Ricky Weiss; 7. 2c- Joey Coulter; 8. 71- Hudson O'Neal; 9. 6- Blake Spencer; 10. 17M- Dale McDowell; 11. 3c- Charles LaPlant
Heat No. 3 (10 laps - Top 4 Transfer): 1. 91-Tyler Erb; 2. 7F-Jason Fitzgarald; 3. 28E-Dennis Erb Jr; 4. 40B-Kyle Bronson; 5. 7- Rick Eckert; 6. 15-Steve Francis; 7. 93-Donald Bradsher; 8. 20-Rodney Sanders; 9. 15s- Donny Schatz; 10.16T-Tyler Bruening; 11. 24z-Brian Ruhlman
Heat No. 4 (10 laps - Top 4 Transfer): 1. 3s- Brian Shirley; 2. 116- Brandon Overton;3. 14M- Morgan Bagley; 4. 72- Mike Norris; 5. 99jr- Frank Heckenast Jr; 6. 2H- Nick Hoffman; 7. 21jr- Billy Moyer Jr; 8. 27- Jeff Beyers; 9. 16- Jason Jameson; 10. 16H-Mike Hammerle
Gator Glory: Nick Hoffman Celebrates $5,000 Gator Championship
By Clayton Johns
BARBERVILLE, FL - February 21, 2017 - Nick Hoffman wrestled the lead from Jacob Hawkins on lap 24 after a multi-lap side-by-side battle and paced the final six laps to win the $5,000 UMP Modified Gator Championship on night seven of the 46th Annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park on Monday night. The victory was the third Gator Championship triumph of Hoffman's career and his fourth in six starts this week.
Hoffman's teammate, Will Krup of Mount Carmel, Ill., took the lead from polesitter Taylor Cook of Stanley, NC on the opening lap of the 30-lap Feature. Fifth-starting Hawkins of Fairmont, WV quickly drove to second on lap four and then took the lead from Krup while racing against the cushion in the outside lane.
Hoffman was able to get to the back bumper of Hawkins' No.13 on a pair of restarts at laps 12 and 16. Hawkins used the momentum of the outside lane to his advantage though and maintained the lead while Hoffman kept pace on the inside line.
The two drivers engaged in a thrilling side-by-side battle where Hoffman led at the start-finish line on lap 22 before Hawkins reclaimed the lead on lap 23 only to have it snatched away for good again on lap 24.
"I knew eventually that cushion would go away and my stuff was really good on the bottom," Hoffman said in Victory Lane as he was presented with his $5,000 check. "I searched around just to see what I had. I married myself to the bottom again and had so much traction off the corners. He had the momentum off the top, but I could still stay with him."
Hawkins tried both the top and the bottom grooves over the final six laps in his attempt to regain the lead, but Hoffman had already solidified his lead. At the finish line, Hoffman took the checkered flag 1.7 seconds ahead of Hawkins.
"I saw him down there and I'm kind of kicking myself in the butt a little bit now," Hawkins said. "I should have tried the bottom down in [turns] three and four. The top was working good for me and when you get the lead up there it's hard to get yourself to change positions on the track. I definitely think down here in three and four if I had moved down I could have held him off."
Krup, meanwhile, was ecstatic with a podium finish after his qualifying night win on Sunday. His third-place effort along with Hoffman's victory put two Elite Chassis cars in the top-three.
"To come out here and run with these guys and end up sharing the same podium is huge, especially to run consistently like we have all week," Krup said. "Nick obviously is the mastermind behind everything. He'll find out what works or vice versa."
Rounding out the top-five were Kenny Wallace of Arnold, Mo. and Tyler Nicely of Owensboro, Ky.
"I can't thank everybody who helped enough," Hoffman said. "This is my third Big Gator. I knew he was going to be tough the way those track conditions were tonight."
Billy Workman Jr. of Canby, Or. and Kyle Strickler of Mooresville, NC earned victories in the pair of B-Mains to transfer to the Gator Championship Feature with second-place finishers Mike Learman of Woodstock, Ill. and Chase Collins of Jacksonville, Fla.
Provisional starting spots were awarded to Tony Anderson of Lima, Oh. and Ernie Gingerich of Bunker Hill, Ind. based on the 2016 UMP Modified national point standings. Jason Beaulieu of Campbell River, BC and Josh Rice of Verona, Ky. gained provisional starting spots based on the 2017 DIRTcar Nationals standings.
The DIRTcar UMP Modifieds return on Tuesday for their final night of competition with a trio of 20-lap features alongside a 30-lap Feature for the DIRTcar Late Models. Additional information is available at www.dirtcarnationals.com