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Rodney Melvin Leads Flag-to-Flag at Riverside for First Summer Nationals Win in 12 Years

Tyler Carr Photo

For the first time since 2012, Rodney Melvin is a Feature winner with the DIRTcar Summer Nationals.

Melvin, the veteran racer from Benton, IL, led all 30 laps of the Feature while holding off Tanner English and Ethan Dotson in the final laps for his eighth career Hell Tour victory Thursday night at Riverside International Speedway.

“It’s an awesome deal,” said Melvin. “It’s nice. Started up front and kind of pace yourself. The lapped cars anymore, they just give you fits.”

After setting the Quick Time in his Qualifying group and winning his Heat Race, Melvin redrew the pole for the main event. With English – Melvin’s son-in-law – lined up on his outside, Melvin got the jump at the start and took the lead on the first lap.

Once he got out to the lead, Melvin started to set the pace around the 1/4-mile oval. Melvin was over a second ahead of second-place English by the time the race hit the midway point, but then lapped traffic made things more interesting.

When Melvin caught the slower cars on Lap 18, English started to get closer to Melvin each time around the track. On Lap 25, English got to the rear of Melvin and on Lap 26, English went side-by-side with Melvin in Turns 3 and 4 but Melvin stayed in front, racing through the middle groove while English stayed down low.

Melvin (27M) holding off English (96) late. (Tyler Carr Photo)

When the field got the two-to-go signal, Melvin was working to try and get by the slower car of JC Waller directly in front of him with English right on his tail. English dove low in Turn 1 and pulled even with Melvin in Turn 2 but was unable to make the pass.

Melvin darted underneath Waller down the backstretch and cleared him going into Turn 3, putting some separation between himself and English as they raced toward the white flag.

Behind them both, eighth-starting Ethan Dotson was jetting around the high line and caught English as the two raced down the backstretch. English and Dotson gave it all through Turns 3 and 4 but were unable to catch Melvin as he crossed the stripe to claim the $5,000 winner’s check.

“I know [English] is going to race me clean,” Melvin said. “I ain’t got to worry about [English] and it’s fun to start on the front row.”

Dotson, of Bakersfield, CA, wound-up the momentum on the top side through the last two corners and zoomed past English out of Turn 4 to finish second.

Dotson (174) making a charge late. (Tyler Carr Photo)

With English finishing third, he stays within 5 points of Melvin in the Week 4 points standings, in pursuit of the $10,000 check awarded after Sunday’s main event to the Week 4 points champion.


Week 4 of the 39th DIRTcar Summer Nationals continues Friday, July 5, at Paducah International Raceway in Paducah, KY. Tickets will be on sale at the gate on race day. If you can’t be there to watch in person, stream every lap live on DIRTVision.

ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)

Feature (30 Laps): 1. 27M-Rodney Melvin[1]; 2. 174-Ethan Dotson[8]; 3. 96-Tanner English[2]; 4. 8-Dillon McCowan[4]; 5. 58-Tyler Clem[3]; 6. 12-Ashton Winger[5]; 7. 31AUS-Joe Chalmers[9]; 8. 74-Mike Carr[6]; 9. 818-Jadon Frame[11]; 10. 38-Thomas Hunziker[10]; 11. 15-Clayton Stuckey[17]; 12. 29-Christian Hanger[20]; 13. 14M-Morgan Bagley[16]; 14. 75-Daniel Adam[12]; 15. 3N-Nathan Brown[7]; 16. 90-Brian Rickman[15]; 17. 2-Charlie Cole[23]; 18. 7W-JC Waller[21]; 19. 51-Dean Carpenter[18]; 20. 28B-Carson Brown[22]; 21. 86-Kyle Beard[13]; 22. 30-Mark Voigt[19]; 23. 51B-Brandon Carpenter[14]

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