BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Ivedent Lloyd Jr. did his home state proud on Monday night at Volusia Speedway Park.
The 47-year-old veteran from Ocala, Fla., authored one of the drives of his career, turning back a field filled with national stars to win the 30-lap DIRTcar late model feature that opened the full-fender portion of the 43rd DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment.
An accomplished Sunshine State racer who has won often in local and regional competition at the half-mile oval, Lloyd became the first driver from Florida to capture a dirt late model feature during the DIRTcar Nationals by Summit since Jacksonville’s Earl Pearson Jr. topped a DIRTcar-sanctioned event on Feb. 10, 2009. He earned $7,000 for his efforts.
“This is the biggest win,” said Lloyd, who has driven late models on both dirt and asphalt for three decades. “There’s races that pay more money, but this is by far the career-topper, to win this. To have all these guys here and race these guys, it’s neat.”
Lloyd started from the outside pole and led every circuit but was chased throughout the distance by Brady Smith, who drew within a couple car lengths of the leader several times in the closing laps before settling for second place.
Eric Wells finished third after starting from the pole, giving him a career-best performance at Volusia. Fifth-starter John Blankenship slid into fourth place on lap 14 and finished there and Shane Clanton slipped backward from the third starting spot to finish fifth.
Lloyd’s victory was his first-ever during the DIRTcar Nationals by Summit, an ultra-competitive mid-winter meet that he doesn’t annually enter.
“We usually shy away from here during Speedweeks strictly because I can race for two months on the abuse you put on a motor here in a week,” admitted Lloyd, who operates a machine shop in his hometown of Ocala, about 50 miles west of VSP. “But with the new motor (his partner, J.B. Harris, obtained a Race Engine Design powerplant for the 2014 season) we wanted to come over here and race some.”
The decision to make an assault on Volusia paid off — after Lloyd stuck to his guns on tire choice, of course.
Lloyd’s strategy for the A-Main? “Just not get beat on tires like I have been all weekend,” he said, referring to his runs the previous three nights in World of Outlaws Late Model Series events at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. “We made our decision after the heat race was over based on what happened to us the last three nights. We decided to stay with (the tires) we were on and just go at it and live or die by it.”
Perching his Snow Brothers-built car on the outside of the fast D-shaped track, Lloyd kept the field at bay from start to finish. Smith was well within striking distance over the final 10 laps, but Lloyd didn’t flinch.
“We know this track well as far as where to drive around the track,” said Lloyd. “J.B. was giving me signals, so I knew I had a little bit of room and just tried to make good laps. That’s all you could do — make good laps and not hit a hole wrong and get yourself up in the cushion.”
Smith, 36, was satisfied to continue his stretch of strong Speedweeks results, adding a runner-up finish to his first-, second- and third-place runs over the previous three nights at Bubba Raceway Park.
“We certainly didn’t change much (for the A-Main), but we made our car just a little bit too tight,” Smith, who started fourth, said of his Rocket machine. “I didn’t expect the conditions to stay this fast either, so maybe we misjudged the race track too.
“I could see (Lloyd) was getting tighter down (in turns three and four) and I thought that’s where I might be able to make my move. But the time when he made the biggest mistake I also made a mistake, so we had to settle for second.”
Billy Moyer registered the fastest qualifying lap at 15.352 seconds for the 40-car field.
Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Brady Smith, Eric Wells, John Blankenship, Shane Clanton, Scott Bloomquist, Darrell Lanigan, Gregg Satterlee, Brandon Sheppard, Morgan Bagley, Brian Shirley, Frankie Heckenast Jr., Rick Eckert, Bobby Pierce, Kenny Pettyjohn, Eric Jacobsen, Tim McCreadie, Billy Moyer, Jack Sullivan, Casey Roberts, Mike Marlar, Chase Junghans, Dan Stone, John Garvin Jr.