Barberville, FL — Election season might be over, but there is still plenty of politicking going on in DIRTcar Racing. The 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH wrapped up on Saturday, the 12th consecutive night of racing at Volusia Speedway Park. During the event 14 different drivers representing 13 different states wound up in the Alltel Wireless Victory Lane, and now they’re pleading with you, the fans, for your vote.
The driver from any of the four divisions competing in the event — 410 Sprint Cars, Dirt Late Models, UMP DIRTcar Modifieds and Advance Auto Parts Big Block Modifieds — who generates the most Alltel All-Star votes at http://www.alltelallstar.com or via text message at 247253 plus driver code letter will win $10,000. To make it even more interesting, the top vote-getters in the three non-winning divisions will pocket $1,000. Plus, one voting fan will win a $500 Alltel gift card.
The contest doesn’t last long, though. All votes must be cast by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28.
In all, there were three different 410 Sprint Car winners, three different UMP DIRTcar Modified winners, five different Dirt Late Model winners and three different Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series winners. In alphabetical order, the contenders are:
• Austin Dillon, Lewisville, N.C. (UMP DIRTcar Modified, text code is C): The grandson of Richard Childress, Dillon won twice during the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH, including the finale. He was in the hunt nearly every night, and says he would donate the prize money to Tim McCreadie, a former World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion who was injured during a race last month.
• Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky. (Dirt Late Model, text code is M): The 2007 World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion, Francis waited until the final night of the event to capture the checkered flag on a feature event. Like Dillon, Francis would donate his winnings to McCreadie.
• Randy Hall, Olean, N.Y. (UMP DIRTcar Modified, text code is E): Hall captured the second qualifying night of the inaugural Gator Championship during the event, calling it the biggest win of his career in a jubilant Alltel Wireless Victory Lane. Hall hails from the same region of the country as the past two Alltel All-Star winners, Dave Hess Jr. and Michael Knight.
• Brett Hearn, Sussex, N.J. (Advance Auto Parts Big Block Modified, text code is N): Hearn saved the best for last, winning the final feature of the 12-day event. One of the most successful competitors through the years at Florida, Hearn chased down Andy Bachetti before finally taking the lead with eight laps to go in the 50-lap feature and holding off the field to the checkered flag.
• Jared Landers, Batesville, Ark. (UMP DIRTcar Modified, text code is A): No division raced more during the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH than the UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, and no driver was more successful than Landers. He won a record-tying five of the eight events — including the inaugural Gator Championship — while cars he helped build won two more times. And after each victory, Landers made sure his young son, Madden, was with him in Alltel Wireless Victory Lane.
• Darren Miller, Chadwick, Ill. (Dirt Late Model, text code G): Miller was in charge on the first of six nights of Dirt Late Model action. He quickly grabbed control of the UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model feature and worked smoothly through traffic during the 30-lap green-to-checker race and drove right into Alltel Wireless Victory Lane, where he thanked Alltel for all of its support.
• Jamie Mills, Milford, Del. (Advance Auto Parts Big Block Modified, text code L): Mills was so dominant on the third night of Big Block action that officials pumped his motor just to prove to the other competitors he wasn’t cheating. He even raced the final 10 laps without power steering, almost giving up with two to go because he could barely make the turns at speed around the sweeping half mile oval. In the end, Mills held on to win and end the two-race win streak of Pat Ward.
• Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla. (Dirt Late Model, text code H): One year after a horrifying crash in Turns 3 and 4 at Volusia, Pearson was back on top, winning the second night of UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model action. Pearson jumped from eighth to third in the first three laps, then worked past World 100 winner Shane Clanton and early leader Brady Smith for the checkered flag. And like all of the other winners during the event, Pearson signed autographs for the fans on their way out of the gate at the end of the night.
• Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va. (Dirt Late Model, text code K): Richards earned two victories during the event, including the season-opener for the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, marking the third consecutive year Kid Rocket has started the season off with a win. Like Francis and Dillon, Richards says he also plans to put any Alltel All-Star prize money toward getting McCreadie healthy and back on the track.
• Joey Saldana, Brownsburg, Ind. (410 Sprint Car, text code F): Saldana, who drives a car owned by Kasey Kahne, won a World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series feature on the fifth night of the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH, then jumped up on his car in celebration, much to the delight of the crowd. Saldana’s victory was a back-and-forth race with Jason Sides. Saldana made the winning pass in the final two corners. Twice in six nights of 410 Sprint Car racing, the driver who led the white flag lap wound up finishing second.
• Donny Schatz, Fargo, N.D. (410 Sprint Car, text code B): Nearly as dominant as Landers, the three-time and defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion was a fixture in Victory Lane during the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH. He won four of the six features, including the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series finale, for his hottest start to a season in several years.
• Dan Schlieper, Sullivan, Wis. (Dirt Late Model, text code J): Former World of Outlaws Late Model Series regular Schlieper captured the third night of Dirt Late Model action. He took the green on the inside or Row 2, then traded the lead with 2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series titlist Darrell Lanigan on Lap 25 before pulling away to the checkered flag and acknowledging the fans, hoping they vote for him.
• Stevie Smith, Broken Arrow, Okla. (410 Sprint Car, text code D): One of the most popular 410 Sprint Car racers still competing, Smith swapped the lead four times with Craig Dollansky before closing the gap on the backstretch and sliding in front through the final corners to swipe the lead for the fifth time en route to the checkered flag in his new ride.
• Pat Ward, Genoa, N.Y. (Advance Auto Parts Big Block Modified, text code I): Ward had never won before at the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH. He changed that in a big way this year. Ward won the first two nights of Big Block racing and was the overall Big Block champion. He started on the outside of the second row and won on the opening night of Big Block racing, then followed that with a win from the pole that was anything but easy as he had to chase down Jeff Brownell for the win.
So those are the contenders. Voting by text message or at AlltelAllStar.com is open until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28. Make sure to cast a ballot daily for your favorite Alltel All-Star contender.