BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Jacob Hawkins led all 20 laps of Tuesday night’s DIRTcar UMP Modified feature to earn his first career Gator trophy and win at Volusia Speedway Park on night one of the DIRTcar Nationals.
Hawkins led the opening lap after starting on the outside of the front row and held off Brian Ruhlman over the final 10 laps to earn his spot in victory lane. Hawkins attributed his success to car owner Junior Nolan who has accompanied him there to Florida in search of a Gator over the last 12 years.
“It hasn’t been from lack of effort,” said Hawkins. “Junior’s given me good equipment every time. It takes a lot of luck down here. There’s so many good cars, you get to run with guys like Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace and the top talent in the modifieds. It’s a great feeling to win.”
Hawkins overcame a lap-12 restart but had to deal with Ruhlman until the final corner. Ruhlman had the advantage in turn two, but Hawkins had an answer for the driver of the No.49 off turn four.
“I had something for him down in [turn] one and two, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with them down [in three and four]. I was hoping I could make him make a mistake, but I think he knows I’ll always leave him a lane,” Ruhlman said following his runner-up finish.
Wallace raced his way to a podium finish after starting ninth and was content to finish third behind Hawkins and Ruhlman.
“It was a great job by my team. This is a brand new car. We just unloaded it today,” Wallace said. “We learned some adjustments to make tonight, but when you have Jacob Hawkins and Brian Ruhlman, these are two of the best the United States has to offer. They’re fast.”
Earlier in the night, Ruhlman set fast time in qualifying time trials with a lap of 18.747 seconds around the half-mile Volusia oval.
Jacob Hawkins, Brian Ruhlman, Kenny Wallace, Will Krup, Todd Neiheiser, David Stremme, Ray Bollinger, Justin Allgaier, Jason Beaulieu, Trent Young, Jeff Leka, Nick Hoffman, Tyler Evans, Kyle Strickler, Johnny Broking, Scott Kincaid, Jonathon Taylor, Tony Anderson, Hunter Gustafson, Billy Workman Jr., Larry Burkins, Austin Holcombe, Jason Brookover, Kyle Schmidt.