Middlebourne, West Virginia – The weekend and moment everyone in the open wheel world had been waiting to unveil in the East Coast United States finally arrived. The MEGA 100 presented by Waters Edge Oilfield Services at the Tyler County Speedway was a complete success featuring 66 drivers from 21 states competes under the Renegades of Dirt National sanctioning banner. The racing has been the “best of the best” offering excitement wherever the series goes including an impressive thirteen different winners in sixteen races before the weekend’s MEGA 100 got underway. The resounding resuming headed back to Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, WV where the thirteen previous winners who conquered victory lane will now have to fend off the nation’s very best in modified competition at the Inaugural Dirt Modified “MEGA 100”.
The Modified “MEGA 100” showcased the tour on its biggest most national stage yet with an unprecedented purse over $85,000 including a possible $16,000 just to the winner and a healthy $1,200 just to start the event Saturday. The “Wild & Wonderful” mountains of West Virginia roared to life all weekend with a full racing card that was completely exciting and when it was said and done before the midnight hour of Sunday, a local hometown favorite would take his claim to fame pocketing the BIGGEST payday and victory ever $16,280 total to be exact leading all 100 laps holding off all comers in the event in front of a packed house around the ¼ facility. That was the driver of the #13 Outlaw by Shaw chassis from Fairmont, West Virginia’s Jake “the snake” Hawkins.
The racing weekend kicked off with an open practice for two hours on Friday morning after being plagued by heavy rain showers on Thursday evening. Friday the 66 nation’s best in open wheel racing then preceded to go through not one by two heat races themselves with 16 heats total for the evening. At the end of the night and using the passing points system for the first time ever for a Renegades of Dirt event for the MEGA 100 the top 12 drivers we’re locked into the show. The top 3 that could rest comfortably for the night knowing they we’re in the front row included, #13 Jake Hawkins, #8 Kyle Strickler and #20 Rodney Sanders.
Saturday drivers then had to rally through 6 B-mains taking the Top 2 spots only to get locked in and the racing was “intense & furious” to the letter. Then with a 15 lap last chance qualifier taking by the #21 Taylor Cook the field was set for special driver introductions that included using glow sticks for the fans and teams plus an awesome pyrotechnics show to set the momentum for the MEGA 100. With the command to fire engines given and the special first time 3 wide salute for the series in front of a capacity crowd nestled in the mountains of West Virginia the stage was set for the green linen to fly in the inaugural Waters Edge Oilfield Services Modified MEGA 100.
The race would go two times at a three-wide start with the yellow falling both times, first incident happened in turn one with #98 Shon Flannary from Tennessee and #15 Rich Robinson Jr. from Michigan tangling up causing a 20 minute red flag to dissect them apart. Robinson would continue however Flannary was done. Then on the 2nd three-wide start #8 Kyle Strickler would take it to the high side of the track and in doing so would spin the Lethal chassis around in between turns one and two, it was then determined that #20 Rodney Sanders from Happy, Texas gave him help and the caution was called for Sanders sending him to the tail with him beginning an ascent to the front again. The green flag 3rd attempt two-wide was a success and the race excitement was fulfilled all around the ¼ mile. However the Outlaw by Shaw chassis driving by Jake Hawkins was flawless and he was in a different “zip code”. Strickler and #2 Elite chassis of Nick Hoffman we’re all within striking distance but couldn’t catch Hawkins even trying to use lap cars in the way of the leader to try and rally to catch up it just wasn’t happening in “Hawkins World”.
A series of “yellow flag fever” would plague the 1st half of the MEGA 100 also from lap 19 to even lap 50. Many drivers got tangled up in racing incidents or cut down tires having to retire to the pits for service. Drivers involved with problems included #96 Mike McKinney, #1J Kenny Johnson, #12 Jason Hughes, #35 David Stremme, #99w Chris Arnold, #21 Taylor Cook, #GRS1 Vic Vandergrift, #16 Mark Dickson and #42 Cody Parker all being involved in single or multiple incidents during they’re tenure into the MEGA 100.
The 10 minute break was given at halfway after another caution would fall for Vandergrift. The field was stopped on the main straightaway in front of the massive Tyler County audience to watch while teams talked strategy made adjustments and most of all add more race fuel. The option was given to change a tire if elected too but penalty would be put to the rear, NO ONE TOOK NEW TIRES. After the 10 minute 50 lap break was concluded the race went back underway with a double file restart.
The 1st half of the race was caution filled; however the 2nd half was a changing of the guard. A matter of fact the only yellow that would fall in the race was lap 52 when Owensboro, Kentucky native Tyler Nicely would cut down a tire on the #25 Elite chassis. After that the race went all the way to the checkers. Same ole song and dance continued with Jake Hawkins not allowing anyone to catch him and flawlessly negotiating through lap traffic under any issues. Great runs besides between the top three included, #4 KC Burdette hanging in the top five plus #28 Kevin Morehouse the Wayne County victor was impressive. #91 Derrick Ramey who struggled the entire weekend finally got a decent come back in the feature after starting 28th with a provisional. Also Rodney Sanders in the #20 Swan Energy entry who started on the front row for the race sent to the back after an incident with Strickler got back inside the top 10 in the 6th position getting around the ¼ bullring.
However on this humid July summer evening it wasn’t enough for anybody to stop the 2 Brothers Motorsports Outlaw by Shaw chassis of Jake Hawkins in front of his “hometown crowd” taking claim to the biggest open wheel modified of any motorsports event in his career leading “flag to flag” to dominate the MEGA 100 at Tyler County Speedway. It was a very emotional moment with laughter and tears in Arizona Sport Shirts victory lane with the family and friends all gathered with also car owner Junior Nolan.
Then if that victory wasn’t enough immediately after the Renegades of Dirt MEGA 100 concluded Hawkins older brother Jared Hawkins would pull a major last lap upset to win the $5000 to win UFo Championship Super Late Models 44 lap feature. The Hawkins in closing basically owned the night in Middlebourne and nobody had any arguments to deny that. For Jake Hawkins winnings in the MEGA 100 where $12,000 to win was officially guaranteed and $16,000+ was a possibility, he made it into a reality and claimed $16,280 total in winnings after the night concluded.
To See Full Friday Night Heat Race recaps click the link below: http://motorstats.com/series/788/results?season_id=909&division_id=788&event_id=11246
To See Full Saturday Night recap and Unofficial Results (pending tire sample results) click the link below: http://motorstats.com/series/788/results?season_id=909&division_id=788&event_id=11247
The next events for the Renegades of Dirt SOUTH Modified Tour will be in action on July 18th and 19th at the Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, NC and at the Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, VA for the 2nd Annual Commonwealth Cup. The next events for the Renegades of Dirt NORTH Modified Tour will be back to action in two weeks on July 24th and 25th at Don Martin’s Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, PA and at the Pittsburgh PA Motor Speedway in Imperial, PA. Follow all of Renegades of Dirt Social Media for details and PR’s on these blockbuster shows coming in your area very soon.
-Renegades of Dirt Press Release. Photo credit: Zach Yost Racing Photography