WINCHESTER, Va. — Dale Hollidge lived a dream on Saturday night at Winchester Speedway.
Making the very first World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main start of his career, the 24-year-old driver from Mechanicsville, Md., drove to a stunning victory in the Raye Vest Memorial 50 Presented by Ernie D’s Enterprises.
Hollidge failed to grab the lead from the pole position at the initial green flag, but he relentlessly chased D.J. Myers for more than half the caution-free race before finally grabbing the top spot on lap 39. He dominated the remainder of the distance, pulling away to score one of the biggest upsets in WoO LMS history.
The $10,550 triumph completed an amazing sweep of the racing program for Hollidge, who also set fast time and won a heat race. It was also his first dirt late model win at the three-eighths-mile Winchester oval — which his mother, Denise, manages for track owner Greg Gunter — and just his fourth career victory overall in the full-fender division.
“I’ve been racing my whole life with my dad and everybody,” said Hollidge, who is in his fifth season of dirt Late Model racing. “But to win one of these races, you really don’t think about it, so when it happens it’s kind of a shock for you.”
Driving a Hershey’s Racing Engines-powered Rocket car — a machine that came from race sponsor Ernie Davis’s former racing stable — Hollidge crossed the finish line 2.512 seconds ahead of Jeremy Miller, who slipped by Myers on the white-flag lap to place second.
Myers settled for a third-place finish after starting on the outside pole and leading 37 of the race’s first 39 laps. He fell one spot short of matching his career-best WoO LMS finish, a runner-up placing he recorded in the tour’s only previous visit to Winchester on June 18, 2011.
Kenny Pettyjohn started and finished fourth, earning his best finish ever on the WoO LMS. Josh Richards completed the top five, slipping into fifth place on the final lap to cap a solid run forward from the 11th starting spot that extended his World of Outlaws point lead.
With his victory, Hollidge put his name on a select list of drivers to win on the WoO LMS in their career-first A-Main start since the circuit’s modern era began in 2004. He joined Steve Francis, who won the inaugural WoO LMS under the World Racing Group banner on Feb. 3, 2004, at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., and Brian Birkhofer (March 27, 2004, at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn.).
Prior to Saturday night’s breakthrough, Hollidge had entered just four WoO LMS events over the past three years: the Commonwealth 100 at Virginia Motor Speedway in 2010 and ’11 and the World Finals doubleheader in 2012 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, N.C. He had never time-trialed better than 35th-fastest or finished higher that ninth in a B-Main in his previous appearances.