Drivers Gearing Up For DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals

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BARBERVILLE, Fla. — A quick glance at the week ahead for Volusia Speedway Park is showing beautiful low-80 temperatures, perfect for the inaugural DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals Jan. 16-18.

The event featuring three divisions of dirt late models is drawing competitors from across the country to take on the Southeast’s best.

Among those is Sam Halstead, a DIRTcar Pro Late Model racer who hails from New London, Iowa, and regularly competes in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Missouri. He’ll add Florida to the list next week.

“I’ve always been wanting to race in Florida for the last five, six years,” said Halstead, a winner on the opening night of last October’s DIRTcar Fall Nationals at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55. “I just decided I better do it now, or I’ll never do it.”

He worked on the crew for a friend’s DIRTcar UMP Modified in 2018 at Volusia, but Magnolia Motor Speedway in Mississippi is the farthest south he’s ever raced.

He’s headed to Volusia looking to make it worth his while, too.

“Winning it!” Halstead said of his main goal. “I’m also looking forward to the warm weather. … I’m getting older, and decided if I’m ever going to do it, I better do it now. If I don’t do it this year, I won’t ever do it.”

Halstead will be competing in the Pro Late Model class, which is one of three along with Florida Late Models and 602 Late Models that will have Feature events each night of competition for nine total chances to win over the three days.

There will be an open practice night on Wednesday, Jan. 15. On Thursday, Jan. 16, and Friday, Jan. 17, grandstands open at 5 p.m., Hot Laps are at 5:15, Opening Ceremonies slated for 6:50 p.m. followed by Heat Races, Last Chance Showdowns and Features. On Saturday, Jan. 18, grandstands open at 5 p.m. with Hot Laps at 5:30, Opening Ceremonies at 6:50 followed by Heat Races, Last Chance Showdowns and Features. The final race of the event will be the $10,000-to-win Pro Late Model Feature.