BARBERVILLE, Fla. — The annual hunt for a Big Gator title ramps up at Volusia Speedway Park with the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models returning for the 53rd Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 15-17.
The series makes its second and final stop of the season at “The World’s Fastest Half Mile” with more money on the line between an increased purse and a new Big Gator points fund.
The World of Outlaws start the week on Feb. 15, with a 30-lap feature paying $12,000-to-win, followed by a 35-lap, $12,000-to-win feature on Feb. 16. Saturday’s 50-lap finale will pay $20,000-to-win and crown a Big Gator champion.
Before the Outlaws take over the Big Gator hunt, the DIRTcar Late Models will kick off the Big Gator championship chase for the late models, Feb. 12-14.
Also featuring the World of Outlaws stars, and other big names in late model racing, the DIRTcar Late Models will open the week with a pair of 30-lap, $7,000-to-win feature races on Monday and Feb. 12-13. Wednesday will see the field split into three features, each paying $5,000-to-win – giving three drivers the chance to kiss a gator trophy on Valentine’s Day.
Here are the storylines to keep an eye on:
After two races to begin the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models season, Brandon Sheppard holds the early lead in the points standings.
The New Berlin, Ill. driver picked up two top five finishes at Sunshine Nationals and holds a six-point lead over reigning champion Bobby Pierce.
The pilot of the Sheppard Riggs Racing Longhorn Factory Team No. B5 is hoping to set a new benchmark by winning a record-breaking third Late Model Big Gator title in 2024 – his first two came in 2019 and 2020. He has eight Feature wins during DIRTcar Nationals – two with the DIRTcar Late Models and six with the World of Outlaws, which were also six straight wins from 2018-’20.
SUNSHINE STATE OF MIND
In 2023, Tim McCreadie wrote his name into the history books as the first driver to win a Big Gator title in two divisions, previously winning with the Super DIRTcar Series in 2018.
The Watertown, N.Y. driver put on a remarkable run at Volusia in 2023, earning an average finish of 2.1 and finishing outside of the podium once through Sunshine Nationals and DIRTcar Nationals.
A second Late Model Big Gator will see him join a club that features Devin Moran, Brandon Sheppard, Shane Clanton and Josh Richards as multi-time Late Model Big Gator winners.
Bobby Pierce used DIRTcar Nationals as a springboard for his championship and looks to do so again after finishing fourth and sixth at January’s Sunshine Nationals.
The Oakwood, Ill. driver enters DIRTcar Nationals off the momentum of picking up wins at New Zealand’s Waikaraika Family Speedway in January.
Pierce won 14 World of Outlaws features in 2023, the first of which was a gator at DIRTcar Nationals – also his first World of Outlaws win at Volusia Speedway Park.
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED
Volusia Speedway Park has become one of Devin Moran’s favorite tracks to race at, winning January’s season opener at Sunshine Nationals and clinching his second Surfboard trophy at the event.
The Dresden, Ohio native rides into DIRTcar Nationals with previous success, winning two consecutive Big Gator titles in 2021 and 2022.
The Double Down Motorsports No. 99 could continue shining bright in Florida at the half-mile track, looking to become the first three-time Big Gator champion.
THE REAL DEAL
Hudson O’Neal begins 2024 trying to win his first Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals after picking up two gators at the event in 2023.
He has two wins with the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models – both at Volusia Speedway Park. The first came during the DIRTcar Nationals where O’Neal became the 100th different winner in series history.
His second win came at the 2024 Sunshine Nationals finale – a moment of redemption as the pilot of the Rocket1 Racing machine missed the same race the year prior.
Florida in February attracts the best drivers in dirt Late Models to Volusia, with eight races for drivers to claim victory models – Feb. 12-17.
Last year saw Hudson O’Neal, Tim McCreadie, Brandon Overton, Chris Madden and Bobby Pierce earn feature wins between the DIRTcar Late Models and World of Outlaws CASE Late Models, respectively, at the “World’s Fastest Half Mile.”
This year, another stout field is expected to chase the coveted gator trophies. And many standouts will be chasing their first with the late models.
Cade Dillard began his 2024 season to a strong start – earning two top 10 finishes at Sunshine Nationals and sitting third in series points. The Robeline, La. driver hopes to claim his first career gator trophy in the next six days.
Nick Hoffman earned seven consecutive DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator titles from 2016-2022 in a DIRTcar UMP Modified. This year, the Mooresville, N.C. driver looks to join McCreadie as the only other driver to win a Big Gator in multiple divisions in his Tye Twarog Racing No. 9.
Florida native Kyle Bronson shines bright at Volusia, finishing in second at January’s Sunshine Nationals and two series wins. Bronson enters his home track looking to add a gator to his mantle aboard his No. 40B Longhorn Chassis.