GIBSONTON, Fla. — Coming from out of a Last Chance Showdown, Devin Dixon had a chance for the win on the final lap and wanted this one bad. The problem was, so did Drake Troutman.
With a high-acceleration charge out of turn two and a deep dive into turn three, Troutman slid up in front of leader Dixon in turn four and flew across the line to steal the DIRTcar UMP Modified Winternationals victory Friday night at East Bay Raceway Park.
It was his second victory in four races this week at the third-mile dirt track.
“Honestly, it’s unreal,” Troutman said. “We went from not having any national wins with these guys, and now this week we have two. It’s amazing. This Is definitely one to remember.”
Even though he was beaten to the finish line, Dixon was able to crack a smile after the race, knowing he still finished second after coming from 21st on the starting grid. From his seat, the tacky racing surface just pulled him a little too far into the corner on the final lap.
“Those last three or four laps, I was just trying to hit my marks. I just got in there a little too hot in turn one, jumped the cushion, and that gave [Troutman] a little advantage. You know he’s a hell of a wheelman, you can’t take anything away from him,” Dixon said.
When Dixon and the rest of the field took the green, however, the race originally appeared to be in the hands of someone else.
Thursday night winner Lucas Lee took the lead from the outside pole right at the drop of the green and led smoothly, even through the many caution flags in the opening stages. He sustained this lead until reaching the back of a slower lapped car at the tail of the field on Lap 21, when the two came together in Turns 3-4, sending him to the rear after spinning and bringing out the yellow.
This handed the lead over to second-place Nick Allen with Dixon right behind him. On the restart, a battle ensued between the two, which lasted several consecutive laps. Dixon was content to running the cushion while Allen rolled the bottom. Back-and-forth they swapped the lead at the stripe several times before Dixon was able to pull away with only a handful of laps remaining.
“He stayed in his line, I stayed in mine and it was a hell of a race. He’s a hell of a wheelman, too. I’m glad he finished where he did,” Dixon said.
By this time, Troutman was already beginning to gain momentum back in third. He had closed the gap to second-place Allen under eight car lengths with five-to-go and was getting faster every lap.
“I just saw [the flagman] show five-to-go, and I knew I had to go,” Troutman said. “I was going as hard as I possibly could. The car was great.”
When the white flag waved, Troutman pulled the trigger, shot around Allen for second and drove it hard into turn one. Dixon appeared to get into turn one just a tiny bit harder than necessary, which may have given Troutman the single ray of light he needed to make the move
“Dixon went in there and he got a little bit tight and looked like he sheared it, broke loose up here in [turns] one and two, and that helped me some,” Troutman said.
Troutman got the holeshot on Dixon out of turn two and beat him to turn three, setting up his magical slide job in turn four to take the win.
Troutman now leads all 53 entered drivers in overall event points by 60 points over closest Jason Hughes. The top-six drivers are now locked into Saturday’s 75-lap, $5,000-to-win main event, which includes Troutman and Hughes, Dixon, Tyler Nicely, Kevin Adams and Dave Hess Jr.
Feature (35 Laps) 1. Drake Troutman, Devin Dixon, Nick Allen, Dave Hess Jr., Kevin Adams, Jason Hughes, Eric Moon, Tyler Nicely, Jeff Mathews, Lucas Lee, Brayden Berry, Jimmy Lennex Jr., Brandon Kinzer, David Pollen, Spencer Hughes, L.J. Grimm, Brad Deyoung, Tyler Clem, Mavrick Varnadore, Seth Daniels, Dale Kelley, Seth Geary, Matt Altiers, Travis Varnadore.