Barberville, FL — DIRTcar Download is your source for everything in DIRTcar Racing. Throughout the season, you’ll find weekly news, notes and track and driver spotlights from across DIRTcar Racing’s regions.
DIRTcar West Driver Spotlight: Chris Shannon – 2008 DIRTcar Western Allstars Late Model Series Champion
Chris Shannon might not be a household name to many, but the 2008 DIRTcar Western Allstars Late Model Series champion is undoubtedly on the path to gain a reputation as one of the better DIRTcar Late Model drivers in the country.
Shannon, who hails from Merced, Calif., decided 2009 was an ideal time to test his luck on the East Coast for the first time, entering the 38th annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
“We just decided to come out here, play our hand and race with the best,” said Shannon, a former paved-track competitor in the early- to mid-‘90s on the NASCAR Southwest Tour. “DIRTcar has supported us on the West Coast and so I thought we could come out here to Florida and support DIRTcar.”
Shannon, who chased down Bobby Hogge IV of Salinas, Calif., to claim the 2008 DIRTcar Western Allstars crown without the benefit of a feature win, has enjoyed the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH and is looking forward to the 2009 campaign in the Golden State.
“It would be tremendous to win (at Volusia), but right now our whole goal is just to make a race,” said Shannon, who through Friday (Feb. 13) had failed to qualify for any of the four Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH A-Mains (three UMP DIRTcar events, one World of Outlaws Late Model Series program). “You have the best guys in the country racing here at Volusia. We’re just going to do our best.”
The 42-year-old driver is anxious to get things started in 2009 out west. After his February sojourn to Florida, Shannon will make the 50-plus-hour haul back home and get ready to attempt to defend his Western Allstars title.
“We’re going to run the DIRTcar Western Allstars and contend for the championship,” said Shannon, who puts everything into his racing program that he can while making a living running the family business, Shannon Pump Co.
Shannon, who runs cars built by the Bakersfield, Calif.-based Victory Circle Chassis, is excited about the potential for success and recognition for himself and drivers in the DIRTcar Western Region.
“Just the publicity that we got from DIRTcar and World Racing Group, it got our names out there,” commented Shannon. “It loops us in with the World of Outlaws and DIRTcar Racing.”
Track Spotlight: Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway Blast Into March
DIRTcar Racing once again rumbles into the 2009 season in the Midwest with the second edition of ‘March Madness’ on March 6-7 at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway in Calvert City, Ky.
The event has featured some of the biggest names in UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model competition throughout its existence. Previous winners include 2007 World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Steve Francis and Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark.
Not only do fans get to experience the best names in UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model competiton, the UMP DIRTcar Modifieds are on the docket as well. Drivers will compete for a total of over $55,000 in purse money in the Late Model portion of the program — $5,000 to win on Fri., March 6, and $7,500 to win on Sat., March 7 – and the Modifieds will battle each night in $2,000-to-win features offering purses of $8,400.
“The payout is excellent is all the way down through the field,” said promoter Sherri Heckenast. “We’ve had drivers contact us from as far away as New York already, and we’ve usually had drivers from Canada and Minnesota make an appearance.”
The ever-popular, three-eighths-mile oval, which is proclaimed the “Taj Mahal of Dirt Racing,” hosts other major events such as the Commonwealth Cup, Battle of the Mods and the Bluegrass Nationals.
“The facility is in really good shape and we’ve had a really good track the past events.” Said Heckenast. “When people come to Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway, there’s not a person who doesn’t like the facility.”
With a weather date set for March 8 and the March 13-15 weekend set aside in case of prolonged wet or cold weather, those fans who have been clamoring for racing action all winter can expect to start the season off with an excellent UMP DIRTcar event.
For more information on Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway, visit the track online at www.klmsllc.com.
UMP DIRTcar: Landers Dominates Action at 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals; Ocala Opens Modified Season
Young Batesville, Ark., driver Jared Landers has had a reputation for performing well at Volusia Speedway Park in UMP DIRTcar Modified competition during the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH, but even he didn’t see his success coming in the form of back-to-back feature wins to kick off the two-week-long dirt-track festival.
Landers became a father in August of 2008 and has been on quite a roll since. Before coming to Florida, every race Landers entered where his new son, Madden, was in attendance, he won.
The Midwestern standout reeled off five wins in seven starts – including the inaugural $5,000-to-win ‘Gator Championship’ event on Feb. 8 – and captured the overall Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH points title.
The 2009 UMP DIRTcar Modified season officially kicked off the weekend prior to the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH at Ocala (Fla.) Speedway.
Racing on a card headlined by the O’Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Kenny Wallace held off Jeff Mathews to claim victory the first night of the Ocala UMP DIRTcar Modified meet after the original kickoff date was rained out. Night 2 was captured by New Yorker Randy Hall, who held off the familiar JEGS No. 36 of Wallace for the victory. Hall also won a qualifying night the following week at Volusia Speedway Park, making him one of three UMP DIRTcar Modified drivers eligible for the Alltel DIRTcar All-Star competition at www.alltelallstar.com.
For information concerning the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH, visit www.DIRTcarNationals.com
DIRTcar NorthEast: Teams Take Show On The Road
By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing Northeast PR Director
While more than 30 DIRTcar Northeast big-block Modified teams are currently competing in the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH from Feb. 11-14, Empire State big-block standout Gary Tomkins is also getting a head start on the ’09 season with a racing trip halfway around the world to Australia.
Tomkins, a regular on the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series, began his second Australian tour with a fighting fourth-place finish at the Lismore Speedway on Sat., Feb. 7. He has reunited with Australian racer Ray Klarich for a two-race campaign which will end with this Saturday night’s (Feb. 14) Roosters Cup round in Toowoomba.
The Clifton Springs, N.Y., veteran is driving the same Bicknell chassis – powered by a Small-Block – he campaigned during the 2007 Advance Series numbered 84, a car Klarich purchased at the end of that season.
On Feb. 7 at the demanding, almost circular, Lismore bullring, Tomkins crossed the line in first position in both his qualifying heat races. However, he was penalized two positions in his first heat for passing on the infield. The results were enough to earn Tomkins top qualifier honors, although drawing the ‘6’ marble in the inversion would force him to start outside the third row alongside eventual race winner Mark Robinson.
Originally slated for 30 laps, the main event was cut to just 15 laps after Keith Muller rolled his ‘Keith-4-Wheels’ backed Bicknell in front of the main grandstand, embedding it upside down in the catch fence. With the strict 10:30pm curfew fast approaching, Promoter David Lander had little alternative but to cut the race distance in half, leaving Tomkins with a fourth-place finish.
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