ALL STAR NOTES: Volusia Has NASCAR Feel

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Drivers Shane Stewart, Kyle Larson, Donny Schatz and Tony Stewart mingle prior to Wednesday night's All Star sprint car race at Florida's Volusia Speedway Park. (Frank Smith photo)

BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Opening night of the DIRTcar Super Nationals had a definite NASCAR feel to it with Kasey Kahne on hand in his familiar Ollie’s Bargain Outlet No. 4 and Kyle Larson in a team car to Shane Stewart for Kyle Larson Racing.

“I’ll be here tonight, tomorrow and Sunday,” said Larson, who turned in a strong run in one of Tony Stewart’s cars a year ago.

Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion, was also on hand, piloting his No. 14 sprint car.

NASCAR drivers Matt Crafton, David Stremme, Kenny Wallace and Ken Schrader were in action in the companion modified division.

• Ian Madsen reported that the car he flipped at last week’s All Star opener at Bubba Raceway Park was a write-off, with the team putting another together for the Volusia opener.

• Bobby Allen’s hauler and cars for Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen were on hand but not in competition, apparently waiting for the World of Outlaws opener Friday. A number of other WoO regulars had yet to arrive, so the pits should swell by Friday night. Thirty-five cars participated in Wednesday’s Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions program.

• Scott Gerkin, long a part of Steve Kinser’s success, was on hand meeting old friends. Recently named as an inductee to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, Gerkin says he has been working for One Way Technology, formerly Jones Engineering, “Building engines and doing R and D work,” since getting off the road.

“Not travelling has actually worked out OK,” he tipped. “I loved it but I’d been thinking that the time was coming when I’d give it up. After Steve retired, I helped Jason Sides for four or five months, then I settled down at home after 30 years on the road.”

When pressed, Gerkin admitted that he “probably would have kept going if Steve did.”

• Volusia Speedway Park had an impressive new look, with a new concrete wall from the east end to the backstretch pit gate topped by substantial posts, cables and three different gauge wire mesh fencing.

A reaction to three cars getting into the spectator area last year, the improvements should keep cars on the track no matter what transpires. The only casualty of the upgrade was the backstretch pit bleachers, removed following last year’s crashes, leaving only the turn one bleachers for use by pitsiders.

• Lap times for the “Midwest modifieds” were in the high 19 to low 20-second range compared to Brad Sweet’s fast time for the sprint car show of 13.380 seconds. But with 71 of the modifieds in the pits, most evenly matched, there was no dearth of competition.