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Nevin Gainey, Chaz Haskins Earn DIRTcar 602 Late Model Qualifying Feature Wins at Sunshine Nationals

Nevin Gainey

Chaz Haskins and Nevin Gainey gained valuable momentum during Friday’s portion of DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, earning wins in the two 602 Late Model Qualifying Features.

Each earned $1,000 for their victories and can raise another trophy on Saturday night in the $3,000-to-win finale.

Here’s what happened in Friday’s Features:

602 Late Model Qualifying Feature 1

After four years of trying, Chaz Haskins finally punched his ticket into Sunshine Nationals Victory Lane.

The Gray, GA driver saw an opportunity on a Lap 6 restart, diving under Pierce McCarter in Turns 3 and 4 and taking the lead on the front stretch to score his first Volusia Speedway Park win.

McCarter led the field to the green flag, pulling away from Chase Giddens on Lap 1. Meanwhile, Haskins climbed toward the front, moving into third on Lap 2.

After two cautions slowed the field, Haskins saw his opportunity on a Lap 6 restart. He followed McCarter into Turn 3, and when the #71 slid up the racetrack, Haskins dove under McCarter—the two making contact as they exited Turn 4.

Haskins pulled ahead down the front stretch, taking the lead as they reached Turn 1. McCarter tried to reclaim the position but lost second to Mario Gresham as they drove down the backstretch.

Chaz Haskins

Gresham couldn’t get any closer to Haskins, who held on to score the $1,000 prize.

Haskins said he knew he had to strike when the opportunity presented itself.

“That was my only chance,” Haskins said. “My car was better (on the bottom); I couldn’t really turn down there in the slick. I moved down there earlier in the race and figured out that’s where I had to run.

“My car was pretty good, and he left the door open on that start, and I got in there, and luckily, we gave each other room, and I was able to hold him off.”

Gresham, who had never raced at Volusia before Friday’s Feature, finished second. Like Haskins, he saw an opportunity and took advantage of it.

“They were racing pretty hard for the lead,” Gresham said. “I wasn’t sure which way they were going, and for a minute there, I thought they were going to wreck. But they gathered it up, stayed clean, and held on.”

McCarter settled for third, holding off a late race challenge from Nick Johnson for the final podium spot. The Pigeon Forge, TN driver said his car bottomed out, leading to handling issues while he was leading.

“I’ve never really raced here except for one other time,” McCarter said. “On that restart, my car bottomed out, and it bent the skid plate and folded it underneath. So, I started getting tight in the center and had to move up to where I could turn the car, rotate it, and finish on the bottom.

“On the restart, I went in too low, got a little shove, and left him too much room. It was racing. I made a mistake and didn’t stay on the bottom, but I won’t make that mistake [Saturday].”

Johnson finished fourth, while Koulten Herbert rounded out the top five.

602 Late Model Qualifying Feature 2

Nevin Gainey took advantage of his pole position, leading every lap to win the second 602 Late Model Qualifying Feature.

The Ft. White, FL driver led the field to the green in the 15-lap event, gaining a 1/4-straightaway advantage over Joshua Byrd as the field thundered down the backstretch. That was all he needed as even with three yellow flags slowing the race, he went unchallenged to earn the $1,000 prize.

But while dominating the race, he wasn’t set up for Volusia’s slick conditions at the night’s end.

“This Kryptonite by Club 17 is pretty badass, man,” Gainey said. “We were set up for the hammer-down grip type of situation. At the end, it was starting to blow off some, and I was getting tighter. But we were able to overcome it, keep it hooked on the bottom, and pull out a win.”

Taylor Cole crossed the line second, after starting fourth. The Cartersville, GA driver fell back to third before retaking the spot from Chase Blackwell on a Lap 11 restart.

“I was pretty happy that it got slick,” Cole said. “In Qualifying, it was pretty fast, and I’m usually not the best at that. But it blew off, and all the guys up front raced me clean. That’s hard to ask for sometimes.

“The car was good. A little bit free. But it was the first time I’ve ever raced here so I’m not going to complain about second.”

Blackwell finished third, after climbing as high as second midway through the race. He said he made a mistake but hoped to learn from it before Saturday’s finale.

“This is only our second time here, and first time in this car,” Blackwell said. “I felt like I had second, but the driver slipped up a little bit. Maybe we can work on it a little bit and get it ready for Saturday.”

Bubba Roling finished fourth after starting 12th, and Michael Courtney rounded out the top five.

The DIRTcar 602 Late Models return to Volusia Speedway Park on Saturday, Jan. 20, for the Sunshine Nationals finale. Drivers will battle in a 20-lap, $3,000-to-win Feature. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, watch all our events live on DIRTVision – available either online or through the DIRTVision App.

Feature 1 (15 Laps): 1. 107Z-Chaz Haskins[6]; 2. 21-Mario Gresham[4]; 3. 71-Pierce McCarter[1]; 4. 109-Nick Johnson[11]; 5. 611-Koulten Herbert[9]; 6. 53-Brandon Yates[7]; 7. 8-Zack Owens[10]; 8. 12C-Chase Giddens[2]; 9. 131-Matt Herlong[19]; 10. 11S-Quentin Steedley[13]; 11. 27-Tim Ryan[8]; 12. 71C-Davy Cline[21]; 13. 14S-Brian Scott[17]; 14. 6C-Brian Carter[18]; 15. (DNF) 118-David Showers Jr[12]; 16. (DNF) 25-Chason Beasley[5]; 17. (DNF) 17SR-Brody Smith[3]; 18. (DNF) C4-Devin Whatley[15]; 19. (DNF) 51H-Harley Hughes[20]; 20. (DNF) 94-Holden Allen[14]; 21. (DNS) 11-JR Gray

Feature 2 (15 Laps): 1. 15-Nevin Gainey[1]; 2. 66-Taylor Cole[4]; 3. 6-Chase Blackwell[3]; 4. 515-Bubba Roling[12]; 5. 19-Michael Courtney[6]; 6. 17-Zach Blackwell[9]; 7. 28L-Austin Leamon[11]; 8. 5-Curtis Thomas[10]; 9. 9-Dalton Peavy[5]; 10. 27G-Matt Grable[13]; 11. 31-Donnie Birdwell[16]; 12. 3K-Kale VanSickle[18]; 13. 17F-Johnny Faucett[15]; 14. 59E-Allen Edwards[7]; 15. 44-Billy Rodriguez[20]; 16. 1J-Jason Papp[8]; 17. 2B-Robert Brynteson[19]; 18. 3C-Cale Gilbert[21]; 19. (DNF) 42-Joshua Byrd[2]; 20. (DNF) 01-Josh Lanford[14]; 21. (DNF) 1T-Tanner Thomas[17]

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