SPF 89: Winger Dominates Sunshine Nationals Makeup Feature at DIRTcar Nationals
McDowell regroups to finish second, Madden claims third
BARBERVILLE, FL – Feb 16, 2022 – Ashton Winger and his new crew at Gambler Transport Motorsports set out on the Florida-Georgia Speedweeks trail this past month with a goal in mind of winning races. Their new team bond shined bright Wednesday night at Volusia Speedway Park, as they dominated the postponed DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals Feature from January to close out the opening night for the World of Outlaws CASE Late Model Series at the 51st DIRTcar Nationals.
Winger grabbed the lead on the opening lap and ran for the hills, opening a gap to the rest of the field behind him. A few quick caution flags slowed his momentum and forced him to play defense on restarts, which cost him the lead at one point.
Chris Madden, of Gray Court, SC, got a great jump on a Lap 6 restart and made a move for the lead to Winger’s inside down the backstretch, holding the advantage through Turns 3-4 and officially taking control at the stripe. But Winger was brilliant on the top, zooming right back by the 2018 Big Gator champion to regain the lead.
“I had to aim for them holes for traction,” Winger, of Hampton, GA, said. “When I tried to back my corner up, I’d push, and I’d have to use the brake pedal to turn and go hopping down here.”
The green stayed out until just after halfway, when a spinning Daulton Wilson brought out the caution and restacked the field, putting Madden and Dale McDowell right on Winger’s tail for the restart.
McDowell, the winner on Friday afternoon of the Sunshine Nationals in January, got a better run through Turns 1-2 on the restart and took second from Madden as they began the second half of the 40-lap event.
The veteran from Chickamauga, GA, held the spot all the way through the checkers, rebounding from a spin in the regularly scheduled DIRTcar Nationals Feature earlier in the program. He and Madden were battling for second when they came together in Turn 2, leaving McDowell in a loop right in front of the field. He retired the #17m immediately after, giving him a 21st-place finish, but regrouped over the break and bagged the runner-up.
“I got turned around there, and I wasn’t overly thrilled about that,” McDowell said of the incident in the previous Feature. “But for us to have a top-three in this event, it definitely helps.”
Madden held-off Devin Moran in the final laps to claim third. He’s said before that caution flags don’t usually help him, and losing the runner-up spot to McDowell on the restart showed he’s still got some work to do if he wants to contend for a Gator trophy later this week. Still, a solid podium finish showed he’s not far off.
“We’ve gotta get to the lead, that way we won’t have these situations we’re in with these cautions,” Madden said. “We just need to get the corner fixed. I know we can race on it a little better than what we’ve been doing.”
Back out front, Winger was on cruise control in traffic, driving across the line with a gap of just over two seconds on the field to claim the $10,000 Sunshine Nationals check and fourth World of Outlaws Feature win of his career.
“I felt that I got in a pretty good rhythm there with about 15 or so to go,” Winger said. “With about seven-to-go, I felt that I killed my tires, and I couldn’t get by them lapped cars like I wanted to.”
Late Model Week at the 51st DIRTcar Nationals continues with more World of Outlaws CASE Late Model Series action on Thursday, Feb. 17, at Volusia Speedway Park. Buy a ticket online, at the gate, or stream all the Late Model action alongside the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds live on DIRTVision.
RESULTS (view full results)
Feature (40 Laps): 1. 89-Ashton Winger; 2. 17M-Dale McDowell; 3. 44-Chris Madden; 4. 9-Devin Moran; 5. 71-Hudson O'Neal; 6. 7-Ross Robinson; 7. 40B-Kyle Bronson; 8. 1-Brandon Sheppard; 9. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 10. 1R-Josh Richards; 11. 81E-Tanner English; 12. 111V-Max Blair; 13. 16-Tyler Bruening; 14. 36-Logan Martin; 15. 45-Kyle Hammer; 16. 14M-Morgan Bagley; 17. B1-Brent Larson; 18. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 19. 99B-Boom Briggs; 20. 8-Kyle Strickler; 21. 18D-Daulton Wilson; 22. 97-Cade Dillard; 23. 29-Darrell Lanigan; 24. 3S-Brian Shirley; 25. 32-Chris Simpson; 26. 25-Shane Clanton; 27. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 28. (DNS) 6-Kyle Larson; 29. (DNS) 20-Jimmy Owens; FOX Factory Hard Charger – 81E-Tanner English (+15)
SEXY SURVIVAL: Overton holds on for Second Career DIRTcar Nationals win
The Evans, GA driver passed Dale McDowell on a restart en route to his 19th career World of Outlaws win
BARBERVILLE, FL – February 16, 2022 – Brandon Overton’s clock was ticking Wednesday night.
As the laps wound down at Volusia Speedway Park, so did the life of the engine inside his Longhorn Chassis.
Luckily for “Big Sexy,” his clock didn’t strike midnight. The engine held up long enough to take the checkered flag for his second career DIRTcar Nationals win.
Overton wasn’t sure he’d make it to the end in the last few laps—holding his breath and hoping the engine stayed together. All of this while Devin Moran lurked behind him.
“I was looking, and I could see it smoking, and I knew it’s got to be over pretty soon,” Overton said. “I was just getting it so tight down there I was just holding it to the floor. I could tell it was dying; it was just muffling out.
“Hell, there ain’t nothing you can do; it’s already done its damage.”
Before the engine started to blow, Overton's car came to life in the second half of the race. The Evans, GA driver, took advantage of a caution for then race-leader Kyle Strickler and powered around Dale McDowell for the top spot.
Overton put the car anywhere he wanted to, thanks to wholesale changes made to his Late Model throughout the week.
“We’ve changed everything on this thing every single night, every single Feature we’ve ran,” Overton said. “The new body rules and stuff kind of has us in a little box, and we just got to figure it out.
“I had a pretty good package with the way everything was, and it changed a little bit. We just have to keep working; that’s what makes this fun.”
The DIRTcar Nationals win is Overton’s 19th World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series triumph—tying him with Jimmy Owens. It’s a win that may not have happened without Kyle Strickler’s lousy luck.
The Mooresville, NC driver dropped out while leading with 25 laps to go. He stated it was a problem his team found on Tuesday—one they hoped to fix before the Feature.
“We had drivetrain issues [Tuesday],” Strickler said. “The yoke pulled off the rear end, but everything felt good today. I thought we had a really good car and broke a lower jackshaft in the rear-end.
“I’m not sure if it had to do with last night or not, but the car was good and it’s just part of it.”
Devin Moran continued his hot streak to start the season, scoring his third trip to the DIRTcar Nationals podium with a second-place finish.
The Dresden, OH driver stated he thought he had a shot at winning before he saw Overton’s engine start to expire.
“I felt like I was catching him before that,” Moran said. “I don’t know if it’s because his engine was getting worse and worse.
“I wasn’t going to slide him in Turns 3 and 4 because I knew I was too far back. But I wanted to at least run a different line if he did blow up.”
Moran’s consistency puts him on a path toward his second straight “Big Gator” trophy—as he leads the week-long standings on the strength of three podiums.
Reigning Series Champion Brandon Sheppard passed more cars than anyone Wednesday, earning the Fox Factory Hard Charger award. “The Rocket Shepp” crossed the line third after switching to a backup car and starting 25th.
After he didn’t qualify through his Heat Race, the Rocket1 Racing team decided to switch cars—one that paid off.
“My team just comes thru in tough times like we had today,” Sheppard said. “It was really just a mutual agreement to switch cars, and it worked out. All of our cars are good. We were just missing something on that other one.”
Hudson O’Neal finished fourth, his second top-five finish of the season. Three-time Series champion Darrell Lanigan rounded out the top five.
Brandon Overton didn’t only win a “Gator,” but a race against time. It shows the clock hasn’t struck midnight on Overton’s success against the best Dirt Late Model racing has to offer.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series returns to Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 17 for their second night of DIRTcar Nationals, along with the Super DIRTcar Series. For tickets to the event: CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App.
CASE Construction Feature (40 Laps): 1. 76-Brandon Overton; 2. 9-Devin Moran; 3. 1-Brandon Sheppard; 4. 71-Hudson O'Neal; 5. 29-Darrell Lanigan; 6. 44-Chris Madden; 7. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 8. 1R-Josh Richards; 9. 81E-Tanner English; 10. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 11. 1T-Tyler Erb; 12. 44B-Colten Burdette; 13. 111V-Max Blair; 14. 16-Tyler Bruening; 15. B1-Brent Larson; 16. 6S-Blake Spencer; 17. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 18. 99B-Boom Briggs; 19. 14M-Morgan Bagley; 20. 39-Tim McCreadie; 21. 17M-Dale McDowell; 22. 10-Garrett Smith; 23. 45-Kyle Hammer; 24. 89-Ashton Winger; 25. 3S-Brian Shirley; 26. 8-Kyle Strickler; 27. 25-Shane Clanton; 28. 157-Mike Marlar; 29. 97-Cade Dillard; 30. 19R-Ryan Gustin Fox Factory Hard Charger Award: Brandon Sheppard [+22}.