David Gravel’s pursuit of the 2023 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship couldn’t have started any better than it did on Friday evening – in Victory Lane at Volusia Speedway Park.
Advancing from fourth to first, the Watertown, CT native quickly pounced during the make-up of Thursday’s postponed program. He drove the Big Game Motorsports, Huset’s Speedway #2 to the point on Lap 11 when he made the most of traffic hindering early leader Anthony Macri.
The final 15 laps were a breeze for the 30-year-old, who drove off into the Florida sun to collect his 77th career win with The Greatest Show on Dirt – currently ranking 12th on the All-Time Win List. The win was Gravel’s third at the Barberville, FL 1/2-mile and his second at the track in World of Outlaws competition.
“I really wanted to race last night after how good our car was in the Dash, but I obviously can’t complain now,” Gravel said in Victory Lane. “You never know when you race early in the day like this, so I was a bit anxious about how it would play out. It’s tough on the equipment being wide open like that, but Brian Morrison builds us a great engine. I was actually trying to save tear-offs as much as I could, that was one of my biggest concerns. Cody [Jacobs], Scott [Vogelsong], and Zach [Patterson] are firing on all cylinders right now. It’s awesome to start the year this way.”
With two DIRTcar Nationals Features remaining on Friday and Saturday night, Gravel now leads the overall points as he chases back-to-back Big Gator Championships. He currently leads Carson Macedo (-2 PTS), Logan Schuchart (-6 PTS), Brad Sweet (-22 PTS), and Buddy Kofoid (-26 PTS).
Making a late-race pass to secure runner-up honors on Friday evening was 21-year-old native of Penngrove, CA, Buddy Kofoid, who is making his first appearance at Volusia Speedway Park this week. It’s already his third podium through only 25 starts with the World of Outlaws.
“We’ve been decent and getting better and better as the week goes on,” Kofoid said. “Leighton [Crouch] has given Brad [Alexander], Stephen [Hamm-Reilly], Jakob [Weaver], and I the best operation we could ask for. These half-miles are hard, especially with the Outlaws, so this feels really good to land on the podium.”
After failing to qualify for Wednesday’s show with the All-Star Circuit of Champions, Danny Dietrich, of Gettysburg, PA completed an impressive turnaround by driving the Gary Kauffman Racing #48 to his 18th career podium with the World of Outlaws. He started from the outside pole and ran second for much of the 25-lapper, but ultimately slipped back to finish third in the closing stages.
“We chose a gear to get up on the top and get going, but I wasn’t able to turn off the curb and get the momentum I needed,” Dietrich noted. “I’m probably too fat to get around here as fast as David does, but this is nothing to complain about. My guys have worked their asses off all week long and after starting as bad as we did, this feels awesome.”
Sheldon Haudenschild in the Stenhouse Jr. / Marshall Racing, NOS Energy Drink #17 and Logan Schuchart in the Shark Racing, DuraMAX Oil #1S rounded out the top five in Thursday’s make-up Feature.
Closing out the top-10 in the season opener was Canada’s Robbie Price in the Sides Motorsports #7S, Pennsylvania’s Brent Marks in the Murray-Marks #19, Indiana’s Zeb Wise in the Rudeen Racing #26, California’s Carson Macedo in the Jason Johnson Racing #41, and Texas’ Aaron Reutzel in the RSR #8.
NOS Notebook (Volusia Speedway Park, 2/10/23)
David Gravel’s 77th career World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory brings him only two away from tying Brad Sweet for 11th on the All-Time Win List. It’s his second Series win at Volusia Speedway Park, and third overall win at the DIRTcar Nationals.
The first Low-E Insulation Qualifying session of 2023 was topped by Anthony Macri, clocking a lap of 13.420 seconds around Volusia’s 1/2-mile. It’s his fifth career World of Outlaws QuickTime Award.
CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat 1 went to Logan Schuchart (107th career), while NOS Energy Drink Heats 2-4 were won by Brent Marks (27th career), Buddy Kofoid (3rd career), and David Gravel (209th career). Macri won the Toyota Dash, while Bayston won the MicroLite Last Chance Showdown.
After performing nearly flawlessly through preliminary programs, Anthony Macri led the opening 10 laps of the Feature before Gravel passed him on Lap 11. He held the runner-up spot until a mechanical issue forced him to the infield with a DNF on Lap 17.
Through three of five scheduled Features, the top contenders for the Big Gator Championship are David Gravel (424 PTS), Carson Macedo (-2 PTS), Logan Schuchart (-6 PTS), Brad Sweet (-22 PTS), and Buddy Kofoid (-26 PTS).
UP NEXT (Fri-Sat) – The 52nd annual Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals continues on Friday and Saturday at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, FL. The NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars will race for a $16,000-to-win program both nights as the Big Gator Championship is concluded. For fans unable to attend, you can watch every lap live on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature Results (25 Laps) – 1. 2-David Gravel; 2. 11-Michael Kofoid; 3. 48-Danny Dietrich; 4. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 5. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 6. 7S-Robbie Price; 7. 19-Brent Marks; 8. 26-Zeb Wise; 9. 41-Carson Macedo; 10. 8-Aaron Reutzel; 11. 9-Kasey Kahne; 12. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss; 13. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr; 14. 15-Donny Schatz; 15. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg; 16. 5-Spencer Bayston; 17. 21-Brian Brown; 18. 83-James McFadden; 19. 49-Brad Sweet; 20. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 21. 1A-Jacob Allen; 22. 9P-Parker Price Miller; 23. 11K-Kraig Kinser; 24. 20G-Noah Gass; 25. 39M-Anthony Macri; 26. 17B-Bill Balog; 27. 6-Bill Rose; 28. 5D-Jacob Dykstra. Lap Leader(s): Anthony Macri 1-10; David Gravel 11-25. KSE Hard Charger Award: Brock Zearfoss +7.
NEW Championship Standings (1/87 Races) – 1. 2-David Gravel (150); 2. 11-Buddy Kofoid (-4); 3. 48-Danny Dietrich (-6); 4. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild (-8); 5. 1S-Logan Schuchart (-10); 6. 7S-Robbie Price (-12); 7. 19-Brent Marks (-14); 8. 26-Zeb Wise (-16); 9. 41-Carson Macedo (-18); 10. 8-Aaron Reutzel (-20).