BARBERVILLE, FL — For the first time in his young career, Watertown, Connecticut’s David Gravel is a main event winner in the Sunshine State, capturing the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions DIRTcar Nationals finale at the Volusia Speedway Park near Barberville, Florida. The victory, the third of his career during Arctic Cat All Star competition and his first since 2012, was conducted in near-demanding fashion; holding back Donny Schatz and Brad Sweet to lead all 30 circuits around the Volusia Speedway Park half-mile.
“This is definitely awesome,” David Gravel stated in victory lane. “I’ve never got to win in Florida and I’ve never got to win one of these gator trophies, so this is definitely cool. I have to thank all of the guys on the team; Barry, Zack, Derrick, Chad, Jen. They all did a great job preparing these race cars all winter. All of my sponsors; they make all of this possible. We are working for really good things this year, so this is a great start to that.”
Gravel, who started on the outside-front row, wasted no time getting to the front of the field, taking command during the initial drop of the green flag and stretching his early advantage to a near-three second lead. Even with two cautions, traffic coming into play by lap 10, and an abrasive coat of rubber starting to form on the surface of the speedway by lap 15, the pilot of the CJB Motorsports/GoMuddy.com/Big Game Treestands/No. 5 continued to hold his advantage, navigating forward while keeping Donny Schatz at a distance.
“[Donny Schatz] is definitely the best, so anytime you have an opportunity to beat him is a great thing,” Gravel stated. “The rubber started to come into play, so I had a little bit of an advantage at the end of the race. I was trying not to miss my marks while racing through traffic. I wanted to take my time and make sure I didn’t slip my tires. Our tires just made it, so thank goodness for that.”
With his second place performance, Donny Schatz, pilot of the familiar Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing/Arctic Cat/No. 15, will end his Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Florida campaign with three victories and two runner-up finishes.
“We are happy with that,” Donny Schatz said regarding his Arctic Cat All Star performances in Florida. “The track kinda caught us off guard here tonight. I really didn’t expect it to take rubber like that, but it did, so it kinda set us up for a difficult second-half of the race. That’s the way it goes some days. This Arctic Cat team does a phenomenal job. I think we would rather have five victories during the last week, but who wouldn’t.”
The Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions will enjoy a seven week hiatus before returning to competition on Saturday evening, April 8, at the Atomic Speedway near Chillicothe, Ohio. “America’s Series” hosted competition at the southern Ohio highbanks on two separate occasions in 2016; once during Ohio Sprint Speedweek presented by Cometic Gasket, and once again on October 22 during the Arctic Cat All Star championship weekend. NASCAR Cup star Kyle Larson earned the speedweek victory, with Wooster, Ohio’s Sheldon Haudenschild taking high honors on championship weekend.
Those seeking additional information regarding Atomic Speedway should visit the facility live on the Web at www.atomicspeedway.net.
-All Star Circuit of Champions Press Release
-Photo credit: Paul Arch
All Star Circuit of Champions – A-Main 1 – (30 Laps)
1. 5-David Gravel ; 2. 15-Donny Schatz ; 3. 49-Brad Sweet ; 4. 10H-Chad Kemenah ; 5. 7C-Caleb Armstrong ; 6. 2M-Kerry Madsen ; 7. 14-Christopher Bell ; 8. 9-Daryn Pittman ; 9. 4-Paul McMahan ; 10. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 11. 24-Rico Abreu ; 12. 27-Greg Hodnett ; 13. 19-Brent Marks ; 14. 21-Brian Brown ; 15. 13JT-Mark Dobmeier ; 16. 17s-Joey Saldana ; 17. 59H-Justin Henderson ; 18. 18-Ian Madsen ; 19. 17-Caleb Helms ; 20. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 21. 5W-Lucas Wolfe ; 22. 13D-Danny Dietrich ; 23. 2-Shane Stewart ; 24. 17B-Steve Buckwalter Lap Leaders: David Gravel 1-30