After a rainout on Friday for all heat race and Invitational race action, The DRIVEN World Short Track Championship finally began their racing festivities on Saturday at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. All divisions had timed hot laps, which set up for their respective heat races. Again, due to a brief rain shower in the evening, the Invitational races were scratched for the night, leaving only heat racing action on the schedule.
With the amount of rain the race track received on Friday and briefly on Saturday, track conditions were a hot topic amongst the 400+ competitors within the pits. Track conditions changed drastically from Thursday’s practice session to Saturday’s heat races.
We take a look at some of the big stories entering Sunday in our notebook below.
Marcuccilli Looking to Repeat
The defending winner of the NE Sportsman race at The Dirt Track at Charlotte is back for more. In 2017, Marcuccilli picked up the win after starting fifth. Within the year, he had scored 20 victories, but the win at Charlotte was a special one.
Now, Marcuccilli has returned to defend his title and has kicked off the weekend with a good start. He timed in quickest of his group in qualifying and quickest overall, which set him up to start on the pole of his heat race. Marcuccilli went on to win his heat race and will be a part of the redraw on Sunday.
“The heat race win just sets us up for tomorrow’s redraw,” Marcuccilli said. “You have to redraw good here. It’s a track that is hard to pass on. If we redraw bad that can make things not work out in our favor. Hopefully, we can redraw halfway decent, that’ll be huge. If we can adjust the setup a little bit going into tomorrow, we should be okay.”
“The track changed with a lot of rain,” Marcuccilli said. “It was smooth, but slimy on the top and with cold tires. The car got better every lap and once we got some heat in the right rear, but it was definitely different with the way the track was and the cooler temperatures.
Taking It To The High Side
That’s exactly what the ‘High Side Tickler’ Kyle Strickler is going to have to do to make his way back to the front and also defend his win at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
Strickler timed in quickest in his group and quickest overall, but a heat race slip-up cost him a spot in the redraw. He will start tomorrow’s feature from the 11th position.
Strickler started on the pole for the heat race with Nick Hoffman to his outside. He took the lead early on, but a couple of mishaps allowed Hoffman to get back around him and pick up the heat race win. Strickler fell back to third, but was able to recover a second-place finish.
“The track was really fast and had a big cushion around the top to start out with,” Strickler said. “I was trying to be cautious and not wreck and that opened the door for Hoffman to get around me. We ended up falling back to third and knocking the right front brake line off. We were lucky to get back to second, but I shouldn’t have been driving so cautious.”
“I think we will be good for tomorrow,” Strickler said. “We need the track to widen out. With the conditions they had to face today, they did a really great job. This track takes rain better than most. If we can get some sun and the track to widen out then it’ll be the Dirt Track at Charlotte that I love and have been very successful at. Hopefully we can put on a good show for the fans coming from 11th.”
Third Time is the Charm
Slade Parsons is certainly hoping that is the case as he competes in his third UMP Modified feature at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Operating out of the Kyle Strickler Motorsports shop, Parsons is also a force to be reckoned with.
Parsons qualified quickest in his group which put him starting from the pole of the first heat race. He ended up second and will start seventh for tomorrow’s feature.
“I started on the pole for my heat race and ended up spinning the tires on the start, which caused us to fall back to second,” Parsons said. “The track wasn’t quiet how I would have liked it. On Thursday, we were hooked up. I was wide open all the way around, but since the rain it was pretty slick and hard to drive right now. We’re just going to have to hustle to make our way to the front.”
The Little Headknocker Turning Heads
The ‘Little Headknocker,’ Trent Ivey turned some heads tonight after a second quick qualifying effort in his group and a heat race win.
The Cherokee Speedway local held off Max Blair and Michael Duritsky to secure a spot in tomorrow’s redraw.
“It was cool to be able to pick up a heat race win and secure a spot in the redraw,” Ivey said. “It was a little tricky to do after all that rain and the track changes. The main thing was just getting out front because there wasn’t a lot of passing.”
“I think the track will be fine for tomorrow,” Ivey said. “It cleaned off pretty good tonight and with a little bit of sunshine it will make for some good racing. Anybody in the top-6 has a pretty good shot at a win here. You only have 30 laps to do it though. We will see if we can get it done.”
-Story by Madison Mabry, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com