There was smoke in the air, body panels on the ground and parts throughout the pit area during Friday night’s Super DIRTcar Series race at Volusia Speedway Park (FL). The 30-lap race proved to be a battle of attrition, and at the end of the night it was Justin Haers proving to be the strongest survivor of all.
Haers had a fast race car throughout Friday’s program, but he would end up needing a little bit of luck to score his second career DIRTcar Nationals victory. Haers of Phelps, New York inherited the lead on lap 27 when Jimmy Horton’s No. 43 went up in smoke while battling Haers for the lead.
“This was a great race; everything fell in line,” Haers told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We were able to take advantage of Jimmy blowing the engine. I think I was better than him anyways before he blew. We’re tickled pink to get that win.”
Horton seemed to be in line to score the victory prior to an oil line issue on his No. 43 machine in the closing laps.
“It was a good race; them guys are pretty damn fast. The track is fast and everything you’ve got you can give it, so you kind of hope it will slow down a little bit for us old guys,” Horton commented. “We were able to get the lead and we had our little issues with the oil line and we’ll go on from there.”
From there, things didn’t get easier for Haers. Lining up to his inside was 2016 Super DIRTcar Series champion Matt Sheppard, who had charged from the 23rd starting spot. Haers was able to pull away from Sheppard on a restart with three laps to go en route to his first victory at Volusia since 2014.
“It was a heck of a race,” Haers stated. “The track was really heavy and it was really rough getting into three. At the beginning of the race I was horrible at the top into three and I kind of changed my line around where I was running the bottom there.”
Sheppard held onto the second spot after fending off a tough fight from Alan Johnson. After the race, he was happy to be standing on the frontstretch with an undamaged race car.
“Eventful, very eventful,” Sheppard said as he summarized his night. “There was a lot of stuff going on in the back there, a lot of slicing and dicing. As you can see, very, very muddy; visibility was tough. I ran out of tearoffs with about 10 to go. The longer the race went, the stronger this race car got.
“We were there at the end and I think I might have had one shot at Justin. I thought he was going to tuck to the bottom there on that restart so I went to the top and he didn’t, and that was pretty much the only shot I had.”
Super DIRTcar Series sophomore Max McLaughlin displayed speed all night on his way to a career-best third-place finish in his first race with crew chief Matt Hearn. Larry Wight rebounded from a flat tire near the midway point of the race to finish fourth and Erick Rudolph rounded out the top five.
The Super DIRTcar Series will return to action at Volusia Saturday night for a 50-lap feature.
Speed51.com will have full race highlights and a video recap posted shortly on the Speed51 Network presented by JEGS.
For a full on-demand replay including lap-by-lap updates and photos, visit Speed51.com Trackside Now coverage presented by Troyer Race Cars and PFC Brakes.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/Bruce Nuttleman
Super DIRTcar Series Unofficial Results (30 laps)
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