WOO NOTES: The Big Question At Volusia

No, Donny Schatz doesn't have a Ford engine in his Tony Stewart Racing sprint car. At least not yet, anyway. (Frank Smith Photo)

BARBERVILLE, Fla. – What’s the most asked question at the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park?

“Is that really a Ford in Schatz’s car?” The answer is “No,” though the car has a big Ford decal on the hood.

Tony Stewart Racing is developing a Ford as part of car owner Tony Stewart’s new NASCAR affiliation with the manufacturer after a long relationship with Chevrolet. The powerplant in Joey Saldana’s Stenhouse-Wood No. 17S, however, does match the big Elk Grove Ford lettering on the car.

– What a difference a night makes.

After two half full grandstands for the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions, the World of Outlaws opener drew a full house in the front gate and an unbelievable mob to the pit area, where just walking around was a challenge.

The line at the pit shack stood steadily at 60-70 people until well after time trials, with the line to get off Route 40 a quarter of a mile long and DIRTcar head Brian Carter had to send fans to the farthest reaches of the huge property for parking.

– Friday was a bad night for engines, with Thursday winner David Gravel requiring two changes and Kraig Kinser one. Kinser ran the entire feature while Gravel, who ran strong in the B-main to qualify, pulled off right after the green.

Tommy Carl of the Zemco crew tipped that while he had another spare engine after blowing their primary powerplant Thursday, he was out of rears as the motor failure took out the rearend as well.

– The 36 car field Friday night mirrored Thursday’s All Star field, but the quality was higher, with Jason Johnson, Tim Shaffer, Logan Schuchart, Parker Price-Miller and Terry McCarl on hand.

Johnson, who went on to win, had been in attendance Wednesday but skipped a night after his incident with Joey Saldana that sent Saldana over the backstretch wall.

– If Jimmy Carr and crew can get the TSR No. 14 to stop stumbling on restarts, Christopher Bell will be a definite contender for the win just as his pal Kyle Larson was on opening night of the DIRTcar Nationals when he ran second to Donny Schatz.

– Bell, Gravel and Johnson were the three fastest qualifiers on Friday, with Schatz uncharacteristically deep in the field.