CONCORD, N.C. — All 335 Drydene World Short Track Championship drivers knew what was on the line Saturday night.
Not just a victory. A victory on the biggest stage of the year for weekly racers from seven divisions.
After Friday’s Heat Races set the first rows of the Championship Features, Saturday’s event kicked off with Last Chance Showdowns, giving drivers one last chance to qualify for the Features and shine on the 4/10-mile Dirt Track at Charlotte.
Ultimately, nine champions found their way to Victory Lane.
John Ruggiero Jr. of Lincolnton, N.C. walked away as top dog, banking $4,000 and becoming a World Short Track Champion with a dominating flag-to-flag performance. Redrawing the pole position with Thugg Nasty Logan Roberson to his outside, Ruggiero declined the Drydene Double Down Challenge to double his winnings from the tail, backing his decision up with an unchallenged 30-lap run.
After setting Fast Time in Qualifying and running away with the Heat Race victory on Friday, Kyle Strickler pulled the outside pole position in the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment UMP Modified redraw on Saturday and went to work as the green flag dropped, snatching the lead from polesitter David Stremme and leading flag-to-flag for the $4,000 victory.
Stremme came home in the fourth spot, getting passed by Hoffman for third with just two-to-go. He did, however, get the job done in the 20-lap All-Star Invitational Feature after initial leader Drake Troutman dropped out while leading on Lap 5.
Calob McLaughlin, from Belmont, NC, held off all challengers to win the Drydene Racing Formulas Street Stock Feature. The new Drydene World Short Track Champion charged to the lead from fourth in a time-limited Feature, which completed only 15 of the 20 scheduled laps due to a streak of sheet metal-bending incidents.
Fourteen-year-old Colton Trouille raced his heart out in the Chevrolet Performance 602 Late Model Feature Saturday night at the Dirt Track at Charlotte, making it through the checkers and all the way to Victory Lane for the first time ever, only to have his Drydene World Short Track Championship trophy taken away from him and handed to second-place finisher Bryan Mullis after post-race technical inspection.
The Hoosier Racing Tire Pro Modifieds raced so hard they were plagued by cautions, ultimately resulting in an 11-lap Feature, less than half of the originally scheduled 25 lapper. While avid dirt racing fans often say that a good qualifying driver does not a winner make, tonight’s story told otherwise as the fast-timers in two flights of Qualifying finished first and second — and by no means due to single file racing. Union Grove, NC-driver Jeff Parsons ultimately scored his third Pro Modified World Short Track Championship victory, with Trey Stamper and Robert Poole in second and third.
As the full moon rose over The Dirt Track at Charlotte, the COMP Cams Monster Mini-Stocks lived up to their Halloween themed moniker, putting on a 25-lap Feature event that thrilled fans and crews alike. Nick “Hotrod” Wallace took the lead in lap four and held onto it through the checkered flag. After an exuberant Victory Lane celebration the top three cars headed back to the pits for technical inspection, where an illegal floorpan was discovered on the 0 car, disqualifying Wallace. This unexpected turn of events handed the Feature win to Brayden Pruitt, making her the first back-to-back Champion of the prestigious event.
Divided into three Features for the second night in a row, the VP Racing Fuels Hornets picked up where they left off on Friday by testing the limits of their four-cylinder chariots every lap around the 4/10-mile Dirt Track at Charlotte.
John Windham was close; always so close to a World Short Track Championship win. Last year seemed like it would finally be his year as he had a car capable of winning each night. But each night, misfortune continued to plague his winning quest. Windham, of Lake City, FL, finally broke that curse Friday night with a dominating win and then backed it up Saturday night to claim back to back victories.
Joey Kelly, a defending World Short Track winner, of Salem, SC, didn’t even know if he would be competing this year. His father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease this and Kelly decided to cut back on racing and sold all of this race cars to spend more time with his dad. But when his father told him to go racing, Kelly couldn’t say no. About a week before the Drydene World Short Track Championship, Kelly bought a car and prepared it to compete. When he arrived at the Charlotte track, he picked up where he left off last year. Kelly led every lap Friday night to pick up his second consecutive World Short Track win and then did the same on Saturday night.
Tears, heartbreak and joy were the remnants of the third and final VP Racing Fuels Hornet Feature of the night. Chase Hopper, of Stokesdale, NC, left with the trophy – his first Drydene World Short Track Championship win. The heartbreak came for Alan Carter, who led the first eight laps, and Eddie McGraw, while the tears and joy highlighted an exuberant victory lane for Hopper and his family.
DIRTcar Racing is brought to fans by many important sponsors and partners, including: Hoosier Racing Tire (Official Tire), SIS Insurance (Official Insurance Provider), VP Racing Fuels (Official Racing Fuel), Chevy Performance Parts, iRacing (Official Online Racing Game) and NAPA Auto Parts (SDS). Contingency sponsors include: ARP Automotive Racing Products (SDS), ASI Race Wear (SDS), Bicknell Racing Products, Billy Whittaker Cars & Trux, Cometic Gasket (SDS), COMP Cams (SDS), DART (SDS), Fox Shox (SDS), and Wrisco (Exclusive Racing Aluminum) (SDS); along with manufacturer sponsors, including: Beyea Headers, FireAde, Intercomp,Racing Electronics and TNT Rescue.
-DIRTcar Racing Press Release
-Photo credit: Jacy Norgaard