Story By: JOE GRABIANOWSKI / DIRTCAR – BARBERSVILLE, FL – Like a rocket lifting off from Cape Canaveral, defending Super DIRTcar Series champion Mat Williamson, from St. Catharines, ON, made the high line work to win his first career DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford Gator to kick-off the 2020 season at Volusia Speedway Park.
With a smile as wide as the Victory Lane he and his Buzz Chew Racing crew stood in, Williamson said: “Man it feels good to win in Florida!”
The thirty-lap Feature win did not come easy as Erick Rudolph and Anthony Perrego nearly overtook the Buzz Chew No. 88 in a close battle in turn two.
“We got lucky when that caution came out. My guys in the infield were telling me Erick [Rudolph] was coming on the bottom. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck to win these things,” said Williamson.
The 2020 DIRTcar Nationals are already head and shoulders above Williamson’s results from 2019. Tonight’s win is his first at Volusia Speedway Park.
“We didn’t run too spectacular here last year, so to get it for Buzz, who is here, is really cool,” he said.
Ransomville, NY native Erick Rudolph charged to claim second place in the 26-car field of Big Block Modifieds. It looked like the No. 25R was primed for a run at the lead before the Feature’s only caution flew.
“I got to second pretty quick there but I fizzled out a bit. Mat [Williamson] had a really good car. Before the restart I was catching him,” noted Rudolph. “After the restart, he took off and got a buffer on me and I wasn’t able to close in on him.”
“This is my best run here to date so I am really happy with that. The week is young and hopefully, we can get a Gator,” noted Rudolph. A win at DIRTcar Nationals would be his first.
The standout driver of the green and black No. 44 Anthony Perrego was stout in every race session. He found something his Big Block Modified liked and drove on to a third-place finish.
Midway through the race, Perrego caught Williamson and Rudolph to make it a three-way battle for the lead. Unfortunately for the Montgomery, NY native, a caution flag flew for Andy Bachetti, who pulled off with engine trouble. That would be the only caution flag of the race.
“That was definitely a good run racing up against those two cats up there [Wiliamson and Rudolph]. Before that caution, I thought I had a shot at him,” said Perrego. “We were rolling the bottom pretty good. Once that yellow came out, I think someone knocked some water out on turns three and four so I kind of lost my line there.”
Perrego never let the leaders out of sight but had to settle for the bottom step on the podium.
The 5-time NAPA Super DIRT Week champion and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors World Truck Series star Stewart Friesen cut through the field to finish fourth from his nineteenth place starting position.
Matt Sheppard started the night out well with a Heat Race win and a third-place starting position in the Feature. Unfortunately, the 7-time Super DIRTcar Series champion from Waterloo, NY faded throughout the race and was forced to settle for seventh. If history is any indication though, Sheppard and his MSM crew will turn it around for another chance at a Gator.
Super DIRTcar Series rookie contender Jessey Mueller took the win in the first Last Chance Showdown number one of the night. Mueller struggled in Time Trials which put him towards the back in his Heat Race but the rookie persevered and qualified for the 30-lap Feature. He started twenty-first and moved up to finish nineteenth against a stacked field of elite Big Block Modified drivers.
Join us tomorrow night at Volusia Speedway Park for the race two of the 2020 DIRTcar National presented by Bozark Ford.
FEATURE (30 LAPS) 1. 88-Mat Williamson [$3,000]; 2. 25r-Erick Rudolph [$1,500]; 3. 44P-Anthony Perrego [$1,000]; 4. 44-Stewart Friesen [$800]; 5. 99L-Larry Wight [$700]; 6. 91-Billy Decker [$650]; 7. 9S-Matt Sheppard [$600]; 8. 49-Billy Dunn [$550]; 9. 42P-Pat Ward [$500]; 10. 3-Justin Haers [$450]; 11. 21a-Peter Britten [$400]; 12. 20-Brett Hearn [$375]; 13. 7-Rick Laubach [$350]; 14. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [$325]; 15. 1-Billy Pauch [$300]; 16. 83-Brian Swartzlander [$275]; 17. 7MM-Michael Maresca [$250]; 18. 19-Tim Fuller [$250]; 19. 19m-Jessey Mueller [$250]; 20. 23-Kyle Coffey [$250]; 21. 30-Ronnie Johnson [$250]; 22. 46-Jeremy Smith [$250]; 23. 5-Matthew Stangle [$250]; 24. 48T-Dave Rauscher [$250]; 25. 6D-Dillon Steuer [$250]; 26. 4-Andy Bachetti [$250]
Hard Charger Award: 44-Stewart Friesen[+15]
FULL RESULTS HERE
- VP Racing Fuels:
$50 – Billy Dunn
- Drydene Performance Products:
$50 – Billy Decker
$50 product – Brian Swartzlander
- ASI Racewear:
$50 – Matt Sheppard
- Bicknell Racing Products:
$100 product: Mat Williamson
- Billy Whittaker Cars:
$100 – Billy Decker
$50 – Brett Hearn
- Comp Cams:
$50 – Justin Haers
$50 product – Mat Williamson
$50 – Pat Ward
$100 product – Erick Rudolph
$100 product – Jessey Mueller
- Fox Racing Shox:
$50 – Anthony Perrego
$200 product – Mat Williamson