The second running of the East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals kicked off its brand-new three-day format on Thursday night in Trenton, New Jersey with the first of two nights of qualifying leading up to feature racing on Saturday.
Half of the nearly 120 entries in the 600cc Wingless Micro-Sprints participated on Thursday, competing in heat races and then four 20-lap qualifier races, with the top two finishers in each getting promoted to the Saturday A-main.
Of all the four races, it was the very last of the night that stole the show. Pennsylvania driver Collin White drove through the field to win after spinning multiple times, including at the start of the race on pole position.
“That was pretty crazy. I honestly thought I choked it away off the start there, I hit a rut and I thought the car was going to get tight, but it spun the other way. I was so disappointed, I couldn’t even look up at my dad in the stands. It was bad,” White told Speed51.com.
Despite challenging track conditions and a rambunctious field of 600 Sprints, White was eventually able to find his ideal line on both ends of the 1/10-mile clay oval, laid out of the floor of the CURE Insurance Arena.
“I just kept fighting there, wrecked a couple of more times I guess, but it finally worked out,” he explained. “Three and four didn’t have a ton of bite on the top, I went up there once and looped it. But it was better up top in one and two, so I went up there, took that to my advantage and just got runs off the corner for the dive in three and four. That was some fun right there.”
While the big prize for his efforts is a guaranteed spot in the big dance Saturday, he was happy just to call it a night in the end.
“I’m so happy right now. I hate getting into the race worse than racing the race. I’m pumped, but I’m happy to go to bed because I’m super tired on three hours of sleep. Those last few laps were hard there, but I still had fun.”
Not surprisingly, the 600 field is dominated by drivers who are regulars to the class during the racing season. But there are a number of well accomplished drivers from outside who are trying their luck this weekend. This includes Dirt Modified regular and former Indoor Auto Racing TQ Midget champion Erick Rudolph, who won the third qualifier from the pole on Thursday.
“We got pretty lucky with the draw to start on the pole in our heat race. Led most the laps there, did the same in the qualifier. We started a little bit off, but we made some progress after practice and now we’re close to where we need to be. We got tomorrow off, it’s nice to have a little relief before Saturday. Just grateful for the guys that got me here today.”
Rudolph has won at Trenton before on the concrete floor in a TQ. To do it this time on dirt in a 600 would be quite the accomplishment for “The Fire Starter”.
“It would be super, especially being my first time on the dirt here. I haven’t raced a 600 in a decade or so, had a lot of fun driving them, and it’s great to be able to do it again.”
In the first two qualifier races, Brian Carber took the win to open up the night, while defending Indoor Dirt A-Main winner Whitey Kidd III took the checkers in the second race.
Billy Covert, Doug Snyder, Brett Altemose, and Ryan Greth each ran runner-up in their respective qualifiers, with all receiving advances to the 50-lap A-Main on Saturday.
The second day of 600 qualifying continues Friday night in Trenton at 7 p.m., with another batch of heat and qualifier races featuring the second half of the entered drivers.
All competitors will be in action for “alphabet soup” feature racing on Saturday starting at 5 p.m.
Follow @Speed51Dirt on Twitter throughout the weekend for updates.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com