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DIRTcar Download: Marching Into the Madness

Concord, NCDIRTcar 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.

Track Spotlight: Southern New Mexico Speedway Melts March With DIRTcar Modified Action

UMP DIRTcar Modified action already kicked off this month in warm Florida, and now it’s time for the division to get rolling for 2009 in the DIRTcar Western Region.

The DIRTcar Winter Meltdown on March 5-8 at Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces, N.M., gives drivers and fans alike the chance to scream into the racing season with great DIRTcar Modified racing action.

The Winter Meltdown event will feature the long-running Chub Daniels Memorial race, which for the first time will be nationally sanctioned under the DIRTcar Racing banner.

“We want to make it one of the biggest races in the western United States,” said Brian Hulbert of Southern New Mexico Speedway. “We want the fans to be able to see these really big-name, high-profile drivers come to their area and compete on this scale in a community that is as small as ours is.”

Bringing the biggest names to the 5/16th-mile Southern New Mexico track is a tribute to whom the event bares name. A prominent car owner in the area for over 25 years, Chub Daniels served the Southwest’s racing community by attracting the biggest names in the sport to the area.

“Chub brought the best drivers you can imagine into this area,” said Hulbert. “If Chub showed up with a driver, you already knew who was going to win. You were basically running for second.”

The third annual edition of the Chub Daniels Memorial will boast over $65,000 in purse money for DIRTcar Modified competitors. The event offers a hefty $10,000 winner’s prize, with $1,250 just to start the A-Main.

The vision of building a premier event at Southern New Mexico Speedway was one the late Daniels shared with Southern New Mexico Speedway owner Royal Jones.

“Royal and Chub always had a very close relationship; they were always very good friends,” said Hulbert. “Royal actually bought his first car from Chub in 1985.”

The event showcasing the DIRTcar West open-wheel Modifieds will also allow drivers to earn points towards UMP DIRTcar regional and national points titles.

Families planning on attending the Winter Meltdown can take advantage of already low ticket prices and $3 off general admission for kids ages 11-15. Special prices also apply for senior citizens and military personnel with I.D. Kids 10 and under are free during the event.

For more information regarding the Winter Meltdown, visit Southern New Mexico Speedway on the web at www.snmspeedway.com.

Driver Spotlight: Chris Raabe – Big Things On Deck After 2008 DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Title

Most racers would view a season in which they capture a track championship to be a successful year. Often times it’s a measure of success that a driver can use in determining how his year was.

If you happen to be 2008 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman champion Chris Raabe, however, the standards might be a little higher after an ’08 season in which he claimed not one, but three different track championships.

Raabe captured 22 wins during his 2008 campaign, but that’s not the young star’s most memorable snapshot of the season.

“For 2008 our biggest highlight would have been winning the overall Mr. DIRTcar title seeing as we ran one less race as everyone else,” commented Raabe. “We were able to turn a lot of second- or third-place finishes into wins for our team. “

What’s more impressive is that those 22 wins throughout his year came in only 45 starts – a winning percentage of nearly 50 percent for the races Raabe competed in. The racing world saw Carl Edwards win nine NASCAR races in 2008 (the most by any driver), which resulted in a win percentage of 25%. Raabe’s win percentage of 49.5% almost doubled Edwards’s and is better than nearly half of the 30 Major League Baseball teams in 2008.

Even more remarkable yet is the fact that Raabe’s success came in the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified division, which due to the success of the GM Crate Engine program has become one of the toughest classes in North America to win in.

“I think it has really leveled the playing field,” Raabe said of the crate engine program. “You have guys running up front and contending for wins each night. I think the program has been phenomenal for the class and certainly skyrocketed the competition. It makes it that much more tough to win.”

After becoming the youngest driver ever to win the Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman title, Raabe is looking forward to a great 2009 season.

“I think we’re going to be able to carry over some momentum in terms of how we run this year,” commented Raabe.

The teenage Canadian standout has seen no shortage of opportunities come his way for 2009 as a result of his success in past years.

“I’ve got a ride in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series with Peter Gibbons Motorsports,” said Raabe. “I think last year, just running the full DIRTcar circuit and being as successful as we were, brought along that opportunity.”

With goals intact for the 2009 season, Raabe is sure to be a contender wherever he finds himself competing.

“I think we can’t lower ourselves from last year – just go out and do the same as 2008,” remarked Raabe. “I just want to try and repeat everything we accomplished last year.”

More information on Chris Raabe can be found at www.chrisraabe.com.

DIRTcar NorthEast: Big Blocks Return Home

The 2009 Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH staged at Volusia Speedway Park is now firmly entrenched in the record book with overall Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Florida Tour champion Pat Ward joining Brett Hearn and Jamie Mills in the winner’s circle during the four-night meet.

And while four more Big-Block Modified features were run at the popular Barberville half-miler, the 38th edition of the annual winter bash in Barberville, Florida also made its mark in two other categories: fuel and engine.

Fuel For Thought: Just as teams from the Northeast were setting to depart for the Sunshine State, the World Racing Group announced that VP Racing Fuels had signed a multi-year agreement to be the Official Racing Fuel of the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series. The recent agreement stipulated that the only fuels allowed in the Big-Block Modified and 358-Modified divisions at sanctioned events will be VP110 and C12, and VP responded as it was highly visible throughout the week as the only fuel supplier at Volusia.

Ironically, Brett Hearn and Jamie Mills copped the final two feature events – New Jersey speedster Hearn was formerly a staunch supporter of VP Racing Fuels while associated with the no. 6 Freightliner Trucks of Newburgh team, while Mills is currently a recognized distributor of VP Fuels to fellow racers in his homestate of Delaware.

With the timing of the VP Racing Fuels program, teams were allowed to burn off their own supplies of competing brand fuels during the week and VP reps stationed trackside even afforded them the opportunity to trade gallon-for-gallon up to a drum of their own fuel for the required VP blend.

Engine Economics: DIRTcar Modified racers Jimmy Johnson and Brett Hearn shared seat time with World Racing Group officials Brian Carter and Gary Risch Jr., with each logging laps behind the wheel of Risch’s Teo-Pro Car that was the first to carry an experimental General Motors Performance Parts Engine. Jeffrey Shaw, Powertrain & Performance Parts Specialist for GM’s Northeast Region, and DIRTcar NE Director of Technical Operations Bob Dini worked together throughout the week monitoring nightly test runs made with the 572/720R powerplant – an engine originally developed for drag-racing applications and built to provide a comfortable 720 horsepower.

Farewell: With the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH over, teams packed up and headed home to get ready for the start of DIRTcar Northeast’s 34th season at their hometrack. The first major event of the points season is the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified Series opener scheduled at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway on Sat., March 28.

In the meantime, Big-Block enthusiasts are encouraged to cast votes daily for Brett Hearn, Jamie Mills and Pat Ward at www.alltelallstar.com or via text message at 247253 plus driver code letter, as the driver generating the most Alltel All-Star votes will win $10,000. In addition, one voting fan will win a $500 Alltel gift card. The contest ends this month as all votes must be cast by 11:59 p.m. on February 28.

UMP DIRTcar:

Tracks Kick Up Dirt: Midwestern tracks are starting to kick up the dirt once again with major events on the horizon for fans and drivers alike.

Upcoming special events include the second edition of Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway’s March Madness on March 6-7, which boasts a $7,500 payday for Saturday’s Late Model winner on top of a $5,000 Friday night prize. Modifieds are also included in the bill, with $2,000-to-win action both nights.

In addition, Clarksville (Tenn.) Speedway’s fifth annual Tuckasee Toilet Bowl Classic – the first major event in 2009 for the Volunteer State track – will run March 13-14. Last year’s event saw Martinsville, Ind., driver Don O’neal take home the UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model win alongside Tim Hancock of Mt. Olive, Ill., in the Modified competition and Tennessee native Duane Hodges in the Crate Late Model divison.

I-55 Raceway’s Ken Schrader DIRTcar Modified Challenge will round out the month on March 28 as UMP Modified competitors take to the high-banked, one-third-mile oval in Pevely, Mo., for a $2,500-to-win special event.

UMP Drivers in Alltel Allstar Contest: UMP DIRTcar competitors from the Midwest were showcased during the 12-day Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH earlier this month – and some of those same drivers are still waging war in the Alltel DIRTcar All-Star Fan Vote competition.

Batesville, Ark.’s Jared Landers, who dominated UMP DIRTcar Modified action taking five of the eight nights of competition at Volusia Speedway Park, currently sits second in his division and second overall in the Alltel DIRTcar All-Star standings, which will reward the overall top vote-getter with a $10,000 prize and the other divisional voting leaders with $1,000 checks.

UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals competitor Darren Miller of Milledgeville, Ill., who won a UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model feature at Volusia, is currently fifth overall in the Alltel DIRTcar All-Star voting but leads the Late Model portion of the contest in which he can still win a $1,000 check from Alltel Wireless.

Fans can vote by visiting www.alltelallstar.com or by texting their favoritedriver’s code to 247253. Fans who register and vote are also eligible for a $500 gift certificate from Alltel Wireless. Voting continues on the web and via text until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28.

DIRTcarMembers.com: World Racing Group, home of DIRTcar Racing, launched its online membership site in 2009. DIRTcarmembers.com allows officials and competitors alike to purchase membership online while providing members access to points, rules and special event registration, among other pertinent information. Visit DIRTcarmembers.com today and sign up for your membership.

DIRTcar Western Region:

Shannon Competes at DIRTcar Nationals: Merced, Calif., driver Chris Shannon made one of the longest hauls in his racing career earlier this month.

The 2008 DIRTcar Western Allstars Late Model Series champion made the long trek east to compete in the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park. He took advantage of six nights of Late Model action to get tuned up for 2009, which might make his West Coast competitors a little leery. Shannon gained valuable time in the seat against the sport’s best competition, which most drivers agree only makes one better and allows time to learn the car.

Shannon returned home after racing in order to prepare more equipment for his 2009 defense of the DIRTcar Western Allstars crown. He’s expected to battle it out with the most prolific drivers on the West Coast for the title on the growing tour.

Look for the 2009 DIRTcar Western Allstars Late Model Series schedule to be released in the coming days.

DIRTcar Nortwest I-5 Late Model Tour Schedule: Racers and fans in the Northwest found another reason to look forward to the 2009 racing season recently when DIRTcar Racing officials eleased the inaugural schedule for the DIRTcar Northwest I-5 Late Model Tour.

“Our goal is to work with the great racers and tracks in Oregon and Washington to build the DIRTcar Northwest I-5 Late Model Tour into a premier regional series that showcases the talented drivers and excellent racing facilities in the Northwest,” said Chris Morgan of DIRTcar West.

For all the latest DIRTcar Racing news and information, visit DIRTcar.com. If you’re a member or would like to become a member, visit DIRTcarMembers.com.