Coming up we'll talk the Outlaw opener at Volusia, clarify Noah Gass' status, plus dive into potential trouble ahead for Buddy Kofoid. We've also got Thursday race results, a look at the USAC sprint car full-timers list and more. Let's go!
It's Thursday, February 8th, I'm Justin Fiedler. This is DIRTRACKR Daily.
Before we get rolling, today's show is supported by Jeremy Elliott's Sprintcarunlimited.com. Jeremy is at Volusia this week for the World of Outlaws season opener, and he's already ripping out the content. He has interview videos with last night's top two finishers, a recap piece with motorsports reporter Matt Weaver, a pit area walk around on his YouTube channel to see all the new paint schemes, and more. He'll also have a fresh Deep Dive interview show on the Sprint Car Unlimited YouTube channel later this evening featuring High Limit's Mike Hess. A subscription to sprintcarunlimited.com is only $35 a year, that's less than $3 a month for regular breaking news, analysis, commentary, plus videos, the weekly podcast and other content. After you subscribe to the website, hit up his YouTube channel as well, for the daily 90 at 9 segments, where he breaks down a sprint car topic in just 90 seconds. He's also got the aforementioned Deep Dives and a new show coming soon on Tuesday nights. Everything available on the Sprint Car Unlimited YouTube channel is free. I'll have links below in the video description to the site and the YouTube channel, so subscribe to both and tell Jeremy that DIRTRACKR sent you!
Speaking of Jeremy, he did have a story this morning about Noah Gass, updating a situation we touched on yesterday. We know that Kraig Kinser had signed on with the Outlaws, but that Noah Gass' status as a full timer already seemed in doubt. He didn't participate in the Outlaws' media day last week, and hasn't been at Volusia through the first two nights of action. It was previously announced that the Oklahoma driver was going to return for year three, but he told Jeremy that they changed their minds, and that they will go pick and choose in 2024. Hence their absence this week at Volusia. A lot of the chatter during the offseason pointed to this team not returning to the Outlaws after a very difficult two years on tour, so I was surprised when they committed to another season back in December. In 170 career Outlaw appearances going back to 2021, Gass has just three top ten finishes, with an average feature finish of 17.9. Watching guys like Brad Sweet and David Gravel and Carson Macedo in recent years run up front so often, and be hyper consistent, it's easy sometimes to forget or overlook just how difficult the World of Outlaws is. Getting your head kicked in several nights a week, struggling to make features and make progress can really wear a team and a driver down. And it sounds like that's where Gass is at the moment. He's only 20 years old and will continue racing sprint cars, just in a different way. He told Jeremy after a reset, they could return to the Outlaws in the future.
As for racing last night in the season opener, Brad Sweet led all 25 laps from the pole. It's two Outlaw wins in a row now for the Big Cat, as he won the season finale in 2023. It wasn't a walk away victory though, as he was dogged through much of the feature by Tyler Courtney. I've said multiple times in multiple places here lately that I think the 7BC is ready to take a big step in 2024, and last night was another sign of that. Volusia hasn't typically been a great track for Sunshine, but they were fast on Wednesday. If you go back to the end of 2023, this is now eight straight Outlaw top tens for Courtney, also six straight Outlaw top fives, and seven top fives in eight races. We haven't previously seen this type of a stretch from this driver and team, and I think it bodes well for the future.
There were a couple of surprises last night, with rookie Landon Crawley going quick time on the evening, and then making the night's dash. He had a big moment in that first heat race and nearly threw it away while leading, but held on after getting big sideways and still brought it home second. 2024 will definitely be a learning year for him, but nice to see the Sides 7S fast, and that Crawley wasn't intimidated by the big fast Volusia half mile. Also, I wouldn't have expected Carson Macedo to need a provisional to make the main event on the opening night. They just weren't able to move forward in their heat or the B, and he ended up 14th in the feature after using that provisional. Remember that Outlaw platinum teams get unlimited provisionals this week that don't affect the rest of their season, and Macedo will get 14th place points. Nothing hurt if they are able to find some speed the rest of the week.
Looking at Buddy Kofoid, I know a lot of you are high on him, and some think he can be a championship contender in 2024 with the Outlaws. And while I'm in on him as a driver and in on the Roth team with crew chief Dylan Buswell, I have serious concerns about their ability to be consistent enough. Kofoid is as talented as they come, but if that Toyota sprint car engine can't stay together, none of that will matter. The team was under the hood with issues on Tuesday during practice, and appeared to again have problems last night during the feature. Volusia is notoriously hard on powerplants, but this isn't a great sign to have already potentially lost two engines before we've even completed a single race night. The same will be true for James McFadden's hopes on the other side with High Limit.
At Volusia tonight, they'll do it all over again with the UMP modifieds and the World of Outlaws. Wedneday mod winners included Dustin Sorensen, Trevor Neville, Raymond Kable, Kenny Wallace, Charlie Mefford, and Tyler Nicely. Mefford now has two on the week, and Nicely is three for three. DIRTVision will again have live coverage.
Across the state at East Bay, Tyler Erb's year-long winless streak with Lucas came to an end last night. We ended up with five lead changes among three drivers, but Terbo led the final 14 circuits en route to the $7000 win. Jonathan Davenport and Daulton Wilson both also took turns out front, but they finished third and fourth, with Mike Marlar coming from the second B-Main to then go an incredible 23rd to 2nd. He nipped Davenport right at the checkered for the runner up spot. Tonight's show at East Bay will include everything for the normal Thursday setup, plus the make-up feature for the Monday rain out. Tonight's main event is $10,000 to win, with Friday going to $12k, and Saturday's WinterNationals finale paying $15k.
For the non-wing fans out there, the USAC National Sprint Car season begins this weekend at Ocala. Teams will have practice tonight, and then racing Friday and Saturday. This opening stretch down south will also include two nights at Volusia early next week, and then a return to Ocala next weekend. As of a couple of days ago, we are sitting at 15 teams currently with plans to contest the full USAC sprint car schedule in 2024. Justin Grant is the two-time defending series champion, and nothing is changing for him this season as he returns to TOPP Motorsports for his seventh season. He'll be chased by Brady Bacon, who is back again with the Dynamics #69 machine. Bacon won two titles in a row before JG. Jake Swanson was fourth in the standings a year ago, and is moving from the Team AZ 21 to the Scott Benic-owned 2B, replacing Logan Seavey. On the flip side, Team AZ will have Daison Pursley in the car, and that team started strong late in 2023 with wins at Cocopah in USAC CRA action. BGE-Dougherty is fielding a pair of cars for CJ Leary and Carson Garrett. Kyle Cummins moves from the Rock Steady 3R to the new Jerry Petty owned 3P team. Replacing Cummins in the 3R will be Kevin Thomas Jr., who was winless in 30 starts in 2023, but can get hot at any time. Robert Ballou continues in his own number 12 car, and is seeking his first national win since 2022. After an incredible 2023 season in the Silver Crown car and midget, Logan Seavey will race for just a single team across USAC in 2024, with Abacus Racing expanding to include a full sprint car team. Matt Westfall was a series winner in 2023 at Texarkana 67 Speedway, and he's back in the Ray Marshall #33M. Jadon Rogers is back with Michael Dutcher in the 17GP, and Mitchel Moles returns to the seat of the Reinbold-Underwood 19AZ. And finally, we'll have a pair of newcomers this season with Joey Amantea coming out full time with his family owned 88J, and Trey Osborne splitting time between the Baldwin-Fox 5 and his own number 6 car. So a strong field of challengers is set to begin the season, and you can watch live this weekend over on Flo.
At All-Tech last night, Matt Sheppard opened the Short Track Super Series Sunshine Swing with the $5000 win. He started third, but was around Danny Creeden for the lead just five laps in. He led the rest of the way to score the victory over Larry Wight and Darren Smith. Wight actually got into the outside wall in turn three at one point pretty dang hard, threw a bunch of sparks, but was able to continue and keep rolling. Racing continues through Saturday night for the modifieds with more money available each night, tonight is $6k to win, Friday is $8k, and Saturday is $10k. If you aren't headed for the track, FloRacing will have live coverage all three remaining nights.
Alright, that's it for the show this week. Make sure to stop by dirtrackr.com today for all sorts of dirt racing content, including the latest news, the analytics section, and the daily streaming schedule.
Hope you guys have a great Thursday out there, we'll see you back here on Sunday!