By Jeremiah Davis
BARBERVILLE, Fla. – Wednesday night was a night of conflicting emotions for most everyone at Volusia Speedway Park.
The World of Outlaws Late Models got just 26 of the scheduled 50 laps completed in their main event. Dense fog set in around 10 or 15 laps in, and the worse it got, the harder it was for drivers to keep their helmet shields clear. Drivers repeatedly pulled tearoffs – so many they were all going to run out well before the finish – but couldn’t clear their visors.
Watertown, N.Y. native Tim McCreadie was out front when the race was officially called complete by race officials and was declared the winner. He was almost apologetic in Victory Lane. He wanted to race it out just like the fans who’d packed the stands wanted them to.
“It’s unfortunate (the race ended early) because it was fun between us all – we were all really battling up there,” McCreadie said. “Nobody wants to end a race like this, including me. But as bad as my month has been, I’ll take them any way I can get them right now.
“It was pretty bad just to see the cushion. … It was nice tonight they aired on the side of caution, and if I’d have ran third I’d be saying the same thing. I know that sounds goofy, but I just want a good race, and when it’s like that, it’s just too hard to see.”
McCreadie wasn’t alone. His fellow podium finishers Josh Richards and Chase Junghans expressed similar sentiments, as did drivers who finished throughout the field.
That included Decorah’s Tyler Bruening, back for another year of chasing Super Late Model success against the best of the best in the division. Bruening calls the group racing in Florida these last two weeks the “World 100 group,” because they include legends like Scott Bloomquist and Don O’Neal and current Late Model superstars like Jonathan Davenport and Brandon Sheppard.
Bruening was glad the race was called when it was, like McCreadie because he didn’t feel comfortable racing near the wall without being able to see clearly, and said he was “using four or five tearoffs a lap.” On the other hand, Bruening had slipped from running inside the top 10 in the opening laps to 18th when the race was called because of a few miscues while running in the fog.
The 2016 IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series champion finished seventh in Monday’s main event at Volusia and started Wednesday night’s main event 12th. The speed and success he’s had this year already far surpass that of last year – and there are three more nights of racing to go.
Standing in his pit area as the fog hung in the air, those conflicting emotions of a night that saw speed but not the results was etched in Bruening’s face.
“We were really good; I think we were up to seventh or eighth and that’s when I ran out of tearoffs,” Bruening said. “So I went to the bottom because it was just too dangerous. I didn’t want to run the top and wreck my stuff. I think we faded toward the end but I couldn’t see at all. They made the right call. It was dangerous.
“We’re leaps and bounds ahead of last year. We spent a ton of time on (the car). We came down a couple times over the winter and did some testing. … We tried and few things and made it better and I’m real confident in the car.”
The eighth night of the annual DIRTCar Nationals at the half-mile dirt track in Barberville, Fla. marked the second night of Late Model week (Tuesday night’s UMP Late Model action was rained out) and the first night of the World of Outlaws portion of the schedule.
McCreadie’s victory followed Davenport’s on Monday, and also came on the heels of a frustrating couple weeks for the former NASCAR driver. He talked about “relief” in winning after the race, and that has been felt by thousands of racers who have experienced bad luck over the course of their careers and gotten a return on their karma investment later.
No racer should ever have to feel bad about getting a win for a race called early due to weather, and some of the bad luck McCreadie has had over a long racing career means he certainly was going to take the gator trophy on Wednesday.
“For me, this trip, it’s relief,” McCreadie said. “I’m relieved to know we’re near the front and competitive. We’ve been so uncompetitive, had mistakes and just didn’t feel right with the car.
“I’ve had some real bad luck over the years at a lot of places with dumb stuff happening, so if I get rewarded once every two decades, like I said, at the end of the day it’s just nice to do anything competitively good.”
So on a night of conflict – not the kind that follows an incident or frustration – at least a few guys got to end the night looking forward with hope and confidence.
In Bruening’s case especially, the latter is vital. No, 18th isn’t what he wanted when he took the green flag. But as he and his small team climb the Super Late Model ladder, just making the main event against this kind of competition is something of which to be proud.
Eventually, being thrilled about speed while finishing 18th won’t be near enough. And as a competitor, that sentiment already exists a little bit. But for now, Bruening will go into Thursday, Friday and Saturday knowing his No. 16 Capital Race Car has the speed necessary.
“The car has speed, it can maneuver and the rest is up to me,” Bruening said. “A top 10 finish for us is huge. This is the World 100 group. Everybody who’s anybody is here. We were thrilled to get seventh the other night, and even at 18th tonight, the car was really good. I’m real pleased. I’ve got confidence.”
World of Outlaws Late Models
Volusia Speedway Park Results
1. 39 Tim McCreadie; 2. 1r Josh Richards; 3. 18c Chase Junghans; 4. 44 Chris Madden; 5. 49 Jonathan Davenport; 6. 7 Rick Eckert; 7. 20 Jimmy Owens; 8. 28 Dennis Erb Jr; 9. 25 Shane Clanton; 10. 71 Hudson O’Neal; 11. 9 Devin Moran; 12. 1 Brandon Sheppard; 13. 5 Don O’Neal; 14. 22 Chris Ferguson; 15. 157 Mike Marlar; 16. 1p Earl Pearson Jr; 17. 1x Chub Frank; 18. 16 Tyler Bruening; 19. 116 Brandon Overton; 20. B1 Brent Larson; 21. 14m Morgan Bagley; 22. C8 Timothy Culp; 23. 25z Mason Zeigler; 24. 91 Tyler Erb; 25. 22s Brian Shirley; 26. CJ1 Rusty Schlenk; 27. 14 Darrell Lanigan; 28. 7mm Michael Maresca; 29. 40b Kyle Bronson; 30. 7f Jason Fitzgerald; 31. 21jr Billy Moyer Jr; 32. 31 Tyler Millwood