Story By: NICK GRAZIANO / DIRTCAR – BARBERVILLE, FL – In less than two months, more than a hundred of the best drivers in the world will venture to Volusia Speedway Park in search of eastern Florida’s rare golden gator.
However, the only way to capture it… win the 51st DIRTcar Nationals.
Four divisions of race cars, six series between them, will commune at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” Feb. 7-19, to compete in their own Big Gator championships with big checks and unique gator trophies on the line each race.
DIRTcar UMP Modifieds (Feb. 7-12)
With the 51st DIRTcar Nationals starting a day earlier in 2022, that presented the opportunity for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds to have a full week of non-stop action. They’ll kick off the event on Monday as part of their six straight days of racing action. The division’s traditional “All-Features” night will be on Thursday, Feb. 10, with split fields competing on Friday, Feb. 11. The Gator Championship will be on Saturday, Feb. 12.
Attracting more than 100 cars last year, the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds field includes superstars like multi-time champion Nick Hoffman, multi-time DIRTcar Nationals winner Kyle Strickler, and a plethora of current and former NASCAR stars like Justin Allgaier, Kenny Wallace, David Reutimann, David Stremme, Matt Crafton, Justin Haley and Kenny Schrader.
All Star Circuit of Champions (Feb. 8-9)
The two days of All Star Circuit of Champions racing will kick off the Sprint Car Big Gator Championship for the week, featuring the series’ regulars like 2021 All Star champion Tyler Courtney, Cory Eliason, Kevin Thomas Jr. and more, along with several World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series stars. The All Stars have competed during DIRTcar Nationals for 30 years with the first race in 1983.
For the past two years, the winner of the opening All Star race went on to win the overall Big Gator Championship. In 2020 that was Brad Sweet and in 2021 it was Logan Schuchart.
World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars (Feb. 10-12)
For the 17th consecutive year, the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series will commence its epic year-long season at Volusia Speedway Park during the DIRTcar Nationals. Bringing together the best Sprint Car drivers in the country, the three days of racing have produced some of the most exciting shows from late race passes to intense multi-car battles.
Three-time and defending World of Outlaws champion Brad Sweet, started his last two championship runs by winning the Outlaws’ opening night at Volusia. To do so again in 2022, he’ll have to compete against one of the most competitive fields of drivers in Series history, including 10-time Series champion Donny Schatz, 2021 championship rival David Gravel, 2021 Rookie of the Year James McFadden, 2021 Big Gator champion Logan Schuchart, rising young-guns Carson Macedo and Sheldon Haudenschild and many more.
Super DIRTcar Series (Feb. 14-19)
The most elite Big Block Modified drivers in the country will escape the cold of the northeast for six days of on-track action at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. It’ll be the 24th consecutive year the Series has ventured to Volusia. Monday, Feb. 14, will be a practice day for the drivers before the 2022 Super DIRTcar Series season starts on Tuesday, Feb. 15.
With the five races not serving as points events, it allows the field of drivers to run as hard as they want and throw caution to the wind. That produced three different winners in a row last year with NASCAR Truck Series star Stewart Friesen, Michael Maresca and 2021 Big Gator champion Max McLaughlin. Those drivers, along with eight-time and defending Series champion Matt Sheppard, 2019 Series champion Mat Williamson and Australia’s Peter Britten, will be vying for the iconic golden gator trophy again.
DIRTcar Late Models (Feb. 14-15)
Like the Sprint Cars, the chase for the Late Model Big Gator Championship will be split between two series – the DIRTcar Late Models and the World of Outlaws Late Models. However, fans will still get to see the same caliber of drivers between both series like four-time and defending World of Outlaws champion Brandon Sheppard, 2006 World of Outlaws champion Tim McCreadie, 2021 Summer Nationals champion Bobby Pierce, Florida’s Kyle Bronson, 2021 Big Gator champion Devin Moran, 2021 crown jewel king Brandon Overton and many more.
In 2021, McCreadie picked up his sixth DIRTcar Late Model victory at Volusia, while Pierce picked up his first. Overall, in the 19 years of the DIRTcar Late Models competing at Volusia, there have been 28 different winners.
World of Outlaws Late Models (Feb. 16-19)
Volusia Speedway Park will be the home for the World of Outlaws Late Models in January and February with the season-opening Sunshine Nationals, Jan. 20-22, and then four days of racing during the DIRTcar Nationals to wrap up the Late Model Big Gator Championship. The seven days of Florida racing will set the stage for the Series’ 2022 championship and showcase the stout 2022 class of drivers, including the exciting rookie contenders Max Blair and Kyle Hammer.
Brandon Sheppard tied Josh Richards for the most championships in 2021 when he picked up his fourth title. In 2022, he’ll be on the hunt to surpass that and beat Richards’s win record. Richards currently holds the most wins with 78 and Sheppard has 77. Volusia could see him break that record with Sheppard having won six World of Outlaws races in a row at the track from 2018 to 2020.