BARBERVILLE, Fla. – The new stands at Volusia Raceway Park, which were still being welded together when the ASCoC sprinters kicked off the open cockpit portion of the DIRTcar Nationals Wednesday, are double the height of the old bleachers.
Those with top row seats reported a “fantastic” view, with good sight lines even for occupants of the lower rows.
– Not only did Tony Stewart’s No. 14 have a new driver, Pennsylvania’s Tim Shaffer, it also had some great help pitside thanks to California wingless ace Damion Gardner, who was helping out for the week while catching up with industry insiders.
– Hands down, the best paint scheme is on Kasey Kahne Racing’s No. 9 Karavan sprinter.
The orange, black and white layout not only stands out in traffic, but the sponsor’s name can be read from anywhere, something few others can claim.
– James McFadden’s teammate, Brad Sweet, also has an easily recognizable scheme on the blue NAPA No. 49, while most of the red and white cars with multiple sponsors plastered on them are a jumble while racing together.
– Logan Schuchart has become a great interview. He was always interesting, but the addition of Drydene as the primary sponsor for the pair of Bobby Allen’s Shark Racing cars brought with it professional PR expertise and advice from old pro Bill Klingbeil that clearly shows in post-race interviews.
There’s a family tie there, also. Klingbeil is Schuchart’s stepfather, married to team owner Bobby Allen’s daughter, Dana Allen.
– Pennsylvanian Lucas Wolfe’s Allebach No. 5w team reported a lengthy struggle to get the lanky driver comfortable in his new seats. While he loved his old carbon fiber seats, they did not have SFI certification and could no longer be used as of last season.
With the manufacturer’s facility suffering a major fire, he turned to aluminum seats that aren’t quite the same. The team had a new chassis with an inch higher cage built, adjusted the cage bars where the seat mounts and moved the steering box in an attempt to get his long legs properly positioned.
– The fact that he broke his back in a hard crash at Lebanon Valley last summer did not help, but Wolfe ran well and appears ready for the long central Pennsylvania season ahead.
– Simply put, the very talented Aaron Reutzel belongs on the WoO tour.
– Despite the fears of many, Donny Schatz’s Ford motor, while very good, did not overpower the Chevrolet-fired competition on the fast half-mile.
It helped him win on the opening night of the Outlaws three-night stand, but Saturday certainly saw many other cars as fast or faster than his Advance Auto Parts No. 15 on a different surface.
For sure, other teams will be watching him while they await the rumored debut of a Toyota sprint car engine as well.
– Dave Blaney reports that he will run a few sprint car shows here and there this season, but will not make a big effort to race as he has in past seasons.
He also indicated that so far, brother Dale hasn’t secured a full-time ride for 2020.
– Chalk up one for the old-timers, as ageless Buzzie Reutimann is still competitive in his Florida modified. Son David was faster, but both were having a great time, with David notching a win in one of four features on the Friday night program.
– Kyle Larson is sprint car racing’s new Tony Stewart, with a mob of fans clustering around his car hoping for a glimpse, a word and maybe a photo with the NASCAR star.
– Hoosier rep Irish Saunders reports that his family will again run the Plymouth, Ind., oval for owner Ed Kennedy, while his two sons both race sprint cars and he travels the nation for Hoosier.
– Kraig Kinser’s Florida “vacation” was marked by mechanical ills that slowed him down and kept the team busy.
Saturday night they had to change a motor, with father Steve reporting that he thought the gear drive was broken rather than having a totally blown up engine.
– The Jason Sides team had a tough week also, with both Jason and teammate Shane Stewart wrecking one night.
But Stewart, in particular, was very fast and brought many comments on what a great car owner Sides would be when he decides to hang up his helmet.