But Hollidge looked like a savvy, experienced veteran at Winchester as he calmly ran behind Myers, waiting for the right opportunity to seize control of the race.
“I just didn’t want to slide the car too much and wear the tires out,” Hollidge said of his pursuit of Myers. “You just can’t make a mistake. That’s the hardest part of it. You want to overdrive yourself just to beat him, but you can’t do it. You gotta pace yourself enough to stay with him.
“I knew if I could stay with (Myers) eventually I could work on him and get around him.”
Hollidge nosed ahead of Myers to take the lead for the first time on lap 30, starting a frenetic stretch that saw the two young drivers swap the top spot five times. Myers was ahead at the start/finish line on lap 31 and Hollidge led lap 32. Myers regained command on lap 33 and actually put a couple car lengths on Hollidge over the ensuing circuits, but Hollidge gathered himself and surged off the inside of turn four to seize the lead for good on lap 39.
“I think I must have overheated the tires or something because the car got real free there for a couple laps,” said Hollidge, describing how Myers momentarily opened some space. “I kind of settled back down and it picked back up.
“It looked like the longer (Myers) went he was catching a little push in the middle and he couldn’t hug the bottom like I could. Finally, I just decided I was gonna try all the way down against the (inside) wall. I could sure catch a little mud down there and that’s what did it.”
Hollidge wasn’t going to be denied the rest of the way. He wasn’t challenged over the final 11 laps as he completed his storybook march into the World of Outlaws spotlight.
A winner of just three dirt Late Model features previously in his career — all at Potomac Speedway in Budds Creek, Md., where earlier this year he bagged a $2,500 triumph that represented his biggest payday prior to Saturday night — Hollidge was greeted in victory lane by loud cheers from the capacity crowd and his friends and family.
“We’ve been running good here all year and we’ve been working at it and getting closer,” said Hollidge. “We should’ve had a few, and lost a few. It’s sure nice to get the first one a big one.
“We ran second here two weeks ago and we knew we had a good car. We came here tonight and the track conditions were similar, and we thought we’d just work our notes and go with the same thing and it sure worked out.
“It’s great for us. We’re a low budget team, but we’ve really stepped our program up this year with everybody’s help – guys like Ernie Davis and Greg Gunter. We’ve raced a lot more this year too and it definitely showed. It feels great to get a big one like this.”
The drivers Hollidge beat to the checkered flag hailed his performance.
“It’s pretty amazing watching Dale mature,” said Miller, who won a WoO LMS A-Main in 2008 at Virginia Motor Speedway. “He’s got in some good equipment, a good car, and he drove an amazing race. He never made a mistake, and to beat these guys that’s what you gotta do.”
Myers, who is Miller’s brother-in-law (Miller is married to Myers’s sister), was disappointed to fall short in WoO LMS action at Winchester once again, but he was proud to be part of a quartet of local/regional racers who turned back the mighty Outlaws.
“I knew Dale was coming – the boys were telling me,” said Myers, who drove a PMP Chassis machine he debuted earlier this summer. “I started getting loose into the corner, and when you race these boys you can’t be missing anything.
“Dale was very good – and I’m just tickled the local boys run good this evening.”
Dale Hollidge, Jeremy Miller, D.J. Myers, Kenny Pettyjohn, Josh Richards, Dan Stone, Shane Clanton, Steve Shaver, Tyler Hershey, Mark Pettyjohn, Rick Eckert, Gregg Satterlee, Tim McCreadie, Jamie Lathroum, Darrell Lanigan, C.S. Fitzgerald, Keith Jackson, Chub Frank, David Williams, Jason Miller, Eric Wells, Brad Ritter, Stevie Long, Tim Fuller, Jason Covert, Jonathan Davenport.