Column: World Of Outlaws Bring Bike Week Doubleheader To Volusia, Conclude Big Gator Title Hunt
Column By: ALEX NIETEN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – BARBERVILLE, FL – For the second time in Series history, the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars will race at Volusia Speedway Park in the month of March.
Florida fans will be treated to a triple dose of The Greatest Show on Dirt, March 5-6, during the famed Bike Week in Daytona.
On Sunday, March 5, the Low-E Insulation Spring Showdown will commence with a $10,000-to-win Feature. Directly following that program will be the remaining portion of the rain-delayed $16,000-to-win Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator championship finale.
Drivers will then content in another $10,000-to-win main event on Monday, March 6 – the Series’ final appearance in 2023 at The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.
The opening nights of the Low-E Insulation Spring Showdown at Volusia signal the beginning of a $20,000 points fund pursuit. The mini-series that also showcases four nights of Pennsylvania action – Port Royal Speedway (March 10-11), Williams Grove Speedway (March 17) and Lincoln Speedway (March 18) – will award $10,000 to the driver who accumulates the most points over the six races. Second-place will pocket $6,000, and third earns $4,000.
Along with the Spring Showdown, the 2023 DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator winner must be decided. Back on February 11, Mother Nature intervened after the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown had concluded, leaving the Toyota Dash and Big Gator Feature needing settled. A trio of World of Outlaw full-timers will lead that charge into Sunday evening.
Here are the top storylines to follow:
GRAVEL’S GROOVE: After back-to-back runner-up finishes in World of Outlaws points (2021 and 2022), David Gravel came out swinging at Volusia Speedway Park in pursuit of the 2023 title.
Gravel, of Watertown, CT, sits atop the championship points for both the DIRTcar Nationals (+12) and World of Outlaws (+8) after parking the Big Game Motorsports #2 in Victory Lane on the first two nights of the World of Outlaws season. In doing so, last year’s Big Gator winner became the seventh driver in series history to win the opening pair. He’ll start ninth in Sunday’s opening main event, needing to finish sixth or better to secure his second straight Big Gator championship. A victory would put him alongside Steve Kinser (1991) and Sammy Swindell (1997) as the third driver to claim the opening three Features of the season and also make him the only driver to win four consecutive Series races at Volusia.
If Gravel can sweep Sunday’s DIRTcar Nationals finale and Spring Showdown opener, he’ll become the first driver in Series history to win the first four Features of the season.
GATOR HUNTING SHARK: 2021 Big Gator champion Logan Schuchart is Gravel’s nearest competitor in the 2023 Big Gator hunt. Finishes at Volusia of second and ninth with the All-Star Circuit of Champions and fifth and third to jumpstart his 10th World of Outlaws campaign have positioned the Shark Racing wheelman 12 points behind Gravel in Big Gator points.
It’s the third time in Schuchart’s career that he’s began the World of Outlaws campaign with consecutive top-fives and extends his DIRTcar Nationals podium record – now at eight podiums in his last 15 DIRTcar Nationals Features.
Schuchart is slated to start the Toyota Dash in third and eyes his fourth Volusia victory with hopes it would be enough to take home the Big Gator ahead of the Spring Showdown.
MACEDO’S MOMENTUM: Sitting third in Big Gator points – 18 points behind Gravel – Carson Macedo will be poised to turn his consistency into his first Big Gator title.
The Lemoore, CA native began DIRTcar Nationals with a fifth and a victory against the All-Stars then followed it with runs of ninth and eighth as he started his sixth season as a full-time World of Outlaws contender.
While he and his Jason Johnson Racing team have some distance to make up in points to claim the Big Gator, their ability to find Victory Lane at Volusia has them firmly in the hunt.
HAUD’S HUNGRY: While he may not be in the hunt for the Big Gator, Sheldon Haudenschild’s finishes of fourth and ninth in the first two World of Outlaws Features of the season have him sitting third in World of Outlaws points among full-timers.
The 29-year-old is no stranger to success at Volusia, having claimed two victories at the Florida track – including his first career win in 2018.
On top of Haudenschild’s solid performance, February proved to be fruitful for another faction of the Stenhouse Jr./Marshall Racing camp. Team owner, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., topped the Daytona 500 for the first time in his career, and now his World of Outlaws driver looks to collect more Florida hardware.
BARBERVILLE BOUNCE BACK?: A pair of Series champions will look to get back on track when the Series returns to Volusia in March.
Four-time and defending World of Outlaws champion, Brad Sweet, finished 19th in the season opener, but he did turn things around in the second main event. The Kasey Kahne Racing pilot wheeled the Napa Auto Parts #49 from 14th to sixth to notch his 611th career top 10. The Grass Valley, CA native owns six World of Outlaws wins at Volusia (second most all-time).
The World of Outlaws’ winningest driver at Volusia, Donny Schatz, posted finishes of 14th and 20th in February. The 10-time Series champion owns 14 World of Outlaws triumphs at the half-mile and looks to add some more aboard the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #15 to build some early season momentum.
ROOKIE WAR RESUMES: The very early Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year standings show Robbie Price leading Giovanni Scelzi by 24 points.
Aboard the Sides Motorsports #7S, Price impressed at Volusia in February, especially during the first program. The opening event of the season saw the Cobble Hill, BC, CA native make the Toyota Dash before finishing sixth in the main event, his third career World of Outlaws top-10 finish. Price currently sits eighth in the overall standings.
Fresno, CA’s Gio Scelzi finished 20th in the season’s opening Feature last month before improving to 11th in the second, narrowly missing his 82nd career World of Outlaws top 10. Hot Sauce is a former Volusia podium finisher with the World of Outlaws (2021), and the KCP Racing #18 pilot looks to collect to impressive results in this trip back to Florida.
WALLACE FAMILY RIDE: NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace, his son Stephen and Kenny Wallace will ride their Southern Country Custom Harley Davidsons from Daytona to Volusia Speedway Park, Monday, March 6, to be Grand Marshals for the event. Rusty and Stephen own Southern Country Customs – based in Mooresville, NC.
DIRTCAR NATIONALS CONT.: When we last left DIRTcar Nationals, the lineup for the Toyota Dash was set with Jacob Allen drawing the pole and James McFadden drawing the outside pole. The remaining lineup is Logan Schuchart (third), Spencer Bayston (fourth), Carson Macedo (fifth), Brad Sweet (sixth), Brian Brown (seventh) and Donny Schatz (eighth).
Transferring into the Feature from the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown were Sheldon Haudenschild, Tyler Courtney, Aaron Reutzel and Ryan Timms.
Also locked into the Feature are: David Gravel, Michael Kofoid, Anthony Macri, Cory Eliason, Parker Price-Miller, Kasey Kahne, Danny Dietrich, Justin Peck, Brent Marks, Hunter Schuerenberg, Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Giovanni Scelzi.