Story By: NICK GRAZIANO / DIRTCAR – CONCORD, NC – Out from the garages of rural America and off the back of small enclosed, or predominantly open trailers, 50 DIRTVision Hornets graced the The Dirt Track at Charlotte on Friday. All in search of a prestigious Drydene World Short Track Championship win.
The event is the biggest stage of the year for most of the drivers. Those who have never competed in the event have never raced on a track so big. Many have never been able to race for a $500 top prize and high-class oil drum-style Drydene trophy. Even bigger, the event was broadcast across the world on DIRTVision.
On Friday, three 10-lap DIRTVision Hornet Features were held, lined up by split qualifying sessions earlier in the day. Dave Lanely made a heroic pass in the first Feature to snag the win, while Newman Presnell and Chase Hopper stood out as dominant drivers of the weekend to win their Features.
Here’s how the three Features played out:
Jonathan Barratt in his #311 Hornet has been a winning contender every year he shows up for the Drydene World Short Track Championship. He proved that again by setting Quick Time overall and then held a commanding lead for the majority of the first 10-lap Feature.
While Barratt held the lead, Ricky Weaver stayed within striking distance in the runner-up spot. However, around the halfway point of the race, Weaver developed an issue and slowed. That moved Lanely up to second and opened the door for a view at Barratt. However, the black and green #311 was more than a second ahead.
Then, with a lap to go, Lanely got closer. And closer. By Turn 3 he was less than a car length away. By Turn 4 he was at Barratt’s bumper. Something was going awry on Barratt’s car. His pace dramatically slowed, while Lanely kept the throttle pinned to the floorboard with the checkered flag waving. At the line… Lanely nosed Barratt for the win by 0.025 seconds.
“I didn’t lead none of the laps by the last one, but I guess that’s the only one that matters,” Lanely said. “(I thought) just never give up. Stay in it to the end. I saw I was catching him really fast, I figured something broke on his car for me to catch him that fast. He runs the circuit and he’s pretty fast everywhere. I just stayed in it until it was over.”
The Drydene World Short Track Championship produces a new standout in the DIRTVision Hornet division every year and Newman Presnell has stepped up to take that title in 2021.
He qualified second overall, by only by a hundredth of a second of Barratt’s pole setting time. Then, when it came to the second DIRTVision Hornet Feature of the night, he led the field to the green and never looked back. Shannon Barnhill in second and Bradley Williamson, who got by Mark White for second, could do nothing but watch the white #48 lead enter a Turn while they exited the one prior.
With no flaw in his driver, Presnell raced to the checkered flag with ease to pick up the trophy and $500 check.
“Hey, man, it felt,” Presnell said about claiming the win Friday night. “Just glad to be here. Enjoying our time here in Charlotte. We come to just have a good time. Getting on the track tonight was a blessing. It feels good to be here in Victory Lane, too.
“The track felt pretty good. I liked it, man. It was really smooth from top to bottom for this car. Wherever I wanted to put it, it would go. It was a good time.”
In his Drydene World Short Track Championship debut last year, Chase Hopper, of Stokesdale, NC, didn’t know what to expect. He’d never raced on a track that big before and had never been a part of an event that big before. What it resulted in was a podium finish during Friday night’s Feature and a last-lap pass for the win on Saturday.
This year, with that confidence in his head and a new motor under the hood of his #21 machine, Hopper is poised to sweep the weekend.
He launched ahead of the field from the pole position at the start of the third Feature, but former World Short Track winner Joe Kelly stayed in his tire tracks. Upon entering Turn 3, you could barely fit a finger between the rear of Hopper’s car and the front of Kelly’s. But once they finished the circuit and Hopper built momentum every lap, he pulled away from Kelly, leaving the #88 car to fend off the hoard of Hornets behind him.
With a couple laps to go, Kelly slid over the cushion in Turn 2, allowing Donovan Beacham to make an easy pass for second. However, Hopper had already pulled away by more than two seconds at that point. When the checkered flags flew for the final time of the night, Hopper scored a rare back-to-back feat.
“Man, it feels good. This is just a dream come true,” Hopper said. “I feel like I’m in fairyland right now. The program we have now, this car is just a whole different beast. It is just hooked up. I couldn’t ask for a better race car. I was just cruising. I had a little bit more pedal, but I wasn’t going to show them everything I had tonight.
“It’s hard enough to win one, but when you can say you’ve won two, and hopefully we can make it three tomorrow night, it’s just different. I enjoy this and this makes it all worth it.”
Lanely, Presnell and Hopper, along with the 47 other DIRTVision Hornets will get another attempt at the big check and special trophy Saturday night during the Drydene World Short Track Championship finale.
Feature 1 (15 Laps): 1. 12X-David Laney; 2. 311-Jonathan Sarratt; 3. 4R9-Daniel Wright; 4. 8-TJ Slack; 5. 91Z-Zachary Slone; 6. 7L-Marcus Locklear; 7. 2T-Tanner Tate; 8. 25J-Josh Whitfield; 9. 2D-Daniel Tate; 10. A53-Austin Haskin; 11. 58-Ronnie Hall; 12. 18E-William Estep; 13. 9C-Jay Tate; 14. 64-Mike Budka; 15. 21W-Ricky Weaver Jr; 16. A23-Andrew Rich; 17. B59-Billy Whitfield
Feature 2 (15 Laps): 1. 48-Newman Presnell; 2. 88X-Shannon Barnhill; 3. 1W-Bradley Williams; 4. 21X-Mark White; 5. 32B-Kris Bobo; 6. 21B-Drew Banks; 7. 5H-Tyler Hopkins; 8. 2C-Tyler Capps; 9. C4-CJ LaVair; 10. 15-Kenneth Colf; 11. 3-Blake Hedrick; 12. 5-Reggie Twing; 13. 18-Kala Varner; 14. 1B-Kayli Wallace; 15. H11-Wayne Heatherly; 16. 89-Matthew Taylor; 17. 1X-Hunter Wallace
Feature 3 (15 Laps): 1. 21-Chase Hopper; 2. 221-Donavan Beacham; 3. 88-Joey Kelly; 4. 0-Shawn Peche; 5. 00-Anthony Varner; 6. 64G-Rusty Garlock; 7. 2L-Kylee Laws; 8. 1H-Justin Harris; 9. 2-Robert Cutshall; 10. 13B-Brandon Collins; 11. D2-Danny Tate; 12. 23-Eric Grant; 13. 38-Rodney Grant; 14. 24-Tyler Fister
Qualifying (2 Laps): 1. 311-Jonathan Sarratt, 00:21.562; 2. 48-Newman Presnell, 00:21.577; 3. 21-Chase Hopper, 00:21.587; 4. 21W-Ricky Weaver Jr, 00:21.593; 5. 88X-Shannon Barnhill, 00:21.669; 6. 1H-Justin Harris, 00:21.689; 7. 12X-David Laney, 00:21.953; 8. 21X-Mark White, 00:21.953; 9. 88-Joey Kelly, 00:21.978; 10. 91Z-Zachary Slone, 00:22.015; 11. 1W-Bradley Williams, 00:22.145; 12. 0-Shawn Peche, 00:22.154; 13. 4R9-Daniel Wright, 00:22.203; 14. 2C-Tyler Capps, 00:22.298; 15. 64G-Rusty Garlock, 00:22.424; 16. A53-Austin Haskin, 00:22.520; 17. 32B-Kris Bobo, 00:22.640; 18. 00-Anthony Varner, 00:22.642; 19. 8-TJ Slack, 00:22.682; 20. 1X-Hunter Wallace, 00:22.696; 21. 2L-Kylee Laws, 00:22.714; 22. 2D-Daniel Tate, 00:22.790; 23. 21B-Drew Banks, 00:22.802; 24. 221-Donavan Beacham, 00:22.829; 25. 7L-Marcus Locklear, 00:22.852; 26. 3-Blake Hedrick, 00:22.908; 27. 2-Robert Cutshall, 00:23.016; 28. 25J-Josh Whitfield, 00:23.121; 29. 5H-Tyler Hopkins, 00:23.175; 30. 13B-Brandon Collins, 00:23.183; 31. 2T-Tanner Tate, 00:23.280; 32. 5-Reggie Twing, 00:23.450; 33. D2-Danny Tate, 00:23.593; 34. 58-Ronnie Hall, 00:23.622; 35. C4-CJ LaVair, 00:23.685; 36. 38-Rodney Grant, 00:23.880; 37. 18E-William Estep, 00:23.962; 38. 89-Matthew Taylor, 00:23.970; 39. 63-Scotty Coffey, 00:24.158; 40. 64-Mike Budka, 00:24.211; 41. 18-Kala Varner, 00:24.397; 42. 23-Eric Grant, 00:24.595; 43. B59-Billy Whitfield, 00:25.141; 44. 1B-Kayli Wallace, 00:25.158; 45. 12C-Chris Canterbury, 00:27.892; 46. 9C-Jay Tate, 00:35.691; 47. (DNF) 15-Kenneth Colf, 00:56.000; 48. (DNS) 24-Tyler Fister, 00:57.000; 49. (DNS) A23-Andrew Rich, 00:58.000; 50. (DNS) H11-Wayne Heatherly, 00:59.000