Recapping the 39th DTWC

By Chuch Greenslate

Portsmouth, OH was once again the host city for the 39th annual Dirt Track World Championship Presented by Optima Batteries, which took place at Portsmouth Raceway Park October 17-19. In total, 237 race teams visited PRP for a weekend full of racing.

Brandon Sheppard from New Berlin, IL took the checkers in the most coveted race of the entire event, a 100-lap, $100,000-to-win Late Model Feature. Fairmont, WV’s Eddie Carrier, Jr. prevailed in the Modifieds. Tyler Bare from Rockbridge Baths, VA claimed glory in the Limited Late Models, and Bean Station, TN’s Jacob Owens was victorious in the Legends Cars.

“It was an incredible show, and everything seemed to go really smooth,” said PRP Promoter Donna Rayburn. “We ended the season with a wonderful weekend… great weather, great fans, great racing, and great news that PRP is the place to be for the 2020 DTWC.”

Portsmouth Raceway Park hosted its largest car count for The Dirt Track World Championship since the event came to Portsmouth in 2012. The weekend kicked off Thursday with 103 Modified entries. On Friday 66 Super Late Modes, 48 Limited Lates, and 20 Legends Cars joined the show.

The Late Model portion of the program was again sanctioned by the Lucas Oil Series, as it has been every year the event has been in Portsmouth. The DTWC again served as the series’ season finale. The Late Models qualified and ran their heats Friday. Saturday they had their B-Mains and Feature.

Twenty-six drivers representing 15 different states started the A-Main, which witnessed four leaders, four lead changes, 11 cautions, and one car flip. When it all ended, Brandon Shepard had claimed his third DTWC, winning all three in Portsmouth.

Sheppard, who claimed his first DTWC in 2013 and his second in 2016, started fifth and would never be outside of the top five. Outside polesitter Shane Clanton from Zebulon, GA claimed the lead early and would pace the field the first five laps before giving way to Jimmy Owens from Newport, TN. Owens, the 2012 DTWC winner, would remain out front until Lap 35 when Sheppard moved to the point.

Sheppard would lead 65 of the final 66 circuits. The only lap during that span which he wasn’t out front was on Lap 68. During a 21-lap stretch of green flag action from Lap 53 to 74, the leaders would eventually catch the tail end of the lead lap. That was the only significant time throughout the race that saw lapped traffic pose an issue. During that sequence, Sheppard went too high off of turn 2 opening the door for Shinnston,WV’s Josh Richards to take the lead, however, the very next lap Richards did the exact same thing enabling B-Shep to retake command.

The race witnessed a lot of jostling for position early on with two and three-wide racing. Billy Moyer, Jr. from Batesville, AR was the race’s biggest climber moving up 11 spots from 24th to 13th. Mooresburg, TN’s Scott Bloomquist moved up nine positions going from 17th to eighth.

Las Cruses, NM’s Stormy Scott got upside down and landed on his roof four laps deep into the race. He walked away unscathed.

Finishing behind Brandon Sheppard was Winfield, TN’s Mike Marlar. Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year Tyler Erb from New Waverly, TX placed third. Richards finished fourth, and Carpentersville, IL’s Dennis Erb, Jr. rounded out the top five. Bobby Pierce, Scott James, Scott Bloomquist, Hudson O’Neal, and Kyle Bronson made up the rest of the top 10. The only PRP local in the very competitive field was Martin, KY’s Shannon Thornsberry, who earned a provisional starting spot by being the 2019 track champ. He finished 21st.

Most local Late Model drivers on hand competed in the Jim Dunn Memorial Non-Qualifiers race, but it was National Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Dale McDowell from Chickamauga, GA who took the checkers. Jared Hawkins placed second. Wheelersburg’s R.J. Conley was third. Doug Drown finished fourth. Brandon Fouts was fifth. Rod Conley, Chubb Frank, Zack Dohm, Rick Eckert, and Justin Ratliff rounded out the top 10.

While the DTWC is probably most renowned for its Late Model racing, the 30-lap Modified Feature was filled with drivers who had plenty of Late Model driving experience, and one such driver wound up making it to victory lane. Fairmont, WV’s Eddie Carrier, Jr., a former Lucas Oil regular and the 2018 PRP Late Model track champ claimed the victory in Friday’s “Barbour Auto Parts, Auto Value, Wix Filters” Modified Feature.

He held off former Dirt Late Model Million winner Donnie Moran from Dresden, OH and current Late Model hot foot Nick Hoffman from Mooresville, NC. Hoffman charged all the way from 21st to finish third.

Another Late Model ace, Eric Wells from Hazard, KY placed fourth in the Mod A-Main, and the two-time reigning champion of the race, K.C. Burdette from Parkersburg, WV finished fifth. The rest of the top 10 consisted of Jesse Wisecarver, Mark Dickson, Lucas Lee, Kyle Bond, and Rich Michael, Jr.

A pleasant sight to everyone was the incredible turnout of Limited Lates. 2019 marked the first time the class had ever been raced during a DTWC Weekend in Portsmouth, and 48 racers showed up and showed out.

In the 25-lap, $4,000-to-win “Todd Galloway Memorial” presented by Premier Pre-cast Products, polesitter Tyler Bare got shuffled back a few spots during the initial drop of the green, but a first-lap caution forced a complete restart and put him back at the front. Bare would make good use of his second chance. He would never falter and hit every mark leading every lap of the race.

The top five finishers represented five different states. Placing behind Virginian Tyler Bare was West Virginia’s Corey Delancey, Tennessee’s Austin Neely, Alabama’s Brandon Brown, and Ohio’s Mike Meyers. Zach Milbee, Pete Crum, Billy Staker, Tim Dohm, and Lane Meredith rounded out the top 10.

Bean Station, TN’s Jake Owens was dominant in Friday’s Ohio Valley Roofers Legends Car Feature capturing his third career PRP Feature. Cincinnati’s Steve Duderstadt placed second and won the season-long championship battle. Matt Isaac, Shawn Scott, Tom Partin, Alec Fields, John Gutman, Steve Partin, Lauren Partin, and Blake Skaggs completed the top 10.

PRP will again be the sight of the Dirt Track World Championship in 2020.

By Chuch Greenslate