Gravel Leads Big Gator Championship Ahead of Saturday’s Finale
BARBERVILLE, FL – February 10, 2023 – In a span of less than seven hours, David Gravel won not one but two World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series Features on Friday at Volusia Speedway Park.
Continuing his torrid tenure at the Barberville, FL 1/2-mile – three consecutive Series wins – Gravel backed up his season-opening victory at 6:08pm by delivering another checkered flag for the Big Game Motorsports #2 at 12:46am, which came after a lengthy rain delay followed by an exceptional recovery by the VSP track crew.
Starting from the inside of row two – adjacent to his fourth starting spot earlier in the day – Gravel took his time in the second outing. He ran third for the first half of the 30-lapper and finally moved past Cory Eliason to take P2 on Lap 14, but a caution on Lap 21 is what set the stage for another Victory Lane trip.
Capitalizing on Buddy Kofoid’s decision to brave the bumps into the bottom of turn one, Gravel throttled the Maxim Chassis powered by Morrison Racing Engines around the outside and promptly cleared the Crouch Motorsports #11 in one clean shot through turn two and down the backstretch. From there, he survived one more restart to seal the deal on a $16,000 payout with his fourth DIRTcar Nationals victory.
“It was weird,” Gravel recalled on his pass for the lead. “I felt like something suddenly changed because the bottom was the place to be on that long green flag run, but the top – which felt like crap before – was amazing on the restart. I don’t know if it was tire temperature or maybe even moisture from the fog, but it worked out great. I think that rough stuff was just enough to upset the car and it bit Buddy when he went to the bottom.”
Gravel’s 78th career World of Outlaws win was chalked full of notable numbers as he became the second driver to win three-straight events at Volusia, the sixth driver to win two races in one day, and the seventh driver to open the season with back-to-back wins.
He also expanded his lead in the DIRTcar Nationals standings to 12 points over Carson Macedo and 18 points over Logan Schuchart entering Saturday’s finale. If he can finish the week on top, it’ll mark back-to-back Big Gator Championships for the 30-year-old native of Watertown, CT.
“This place is so competitive, you just never know what can happen on any given night,” Gravel noted on their successes, especially after Qualifying 30th on Wednesday. “You slip up the tiniest bit and you give up so much against this field here. I mean these are probably the best 35-ish drivers in the country all here. Somtimes it’s so hard to just get that first win out of the way, so knocking two out right from the start feels like a huge confidence boost.”
While Graven won for the second time in one day, Buddy Kofoid also ran runner-up to Tod Quiring’s #2 for the second time in one day. The 21-year-old native of Penngrove, CA started on the outside pole and passed Cory Eliason for the lead on Lap 11, builting an advantage as large as 2.490 seconds on Lap 18, but the caution flew and negated his hard work. Gravel ultimately capitalized on the restart and forced Buddy to another second-place finish in the Crouch Motorsports #11.
“This one obviously stings a bit more having actually led the race, but overall this is a really great result,” Kofoid mentioned. “I have to keep reminding myself that I’m brand new to this place, our team is still relativiely young, and yet we’re competing for World of Outlaws wins. I hope we can get tomorrow in to have another shot at winning of those Gators.”
Closing out the podium was Logan Schuchart in the Shark Racing, DuraMAX Oil #1S – who wanted just a few more laps to see what he could’ve done with Kofoid and Gravel ahead of him.
“I started out bad, but got better and better as the race went on,” Schuchart said. “I thought we were the fastest car over the last five laps, honestly. You always say you wish you had three more laps, but man I can’t help but think of what would’ve happened. I felt like I had a different line than both of them and was catching then, so I thought it would’ve been interesting.”
Completing Friday’s top-10 was Cory Eliason (4th) in the Indy Race Parts #71, Justin Peck (5th) in the Buch Motorsports #13, Brad Sweet (6th) in the Kasey Kahne Racing #49, James McFadedn (7th) in the Roth Motorsports #83, Carson Macedo (8th) in the Jason Johnson Racing #41, Sheldon Haudenschild (9th) in the Stenhouse Jr. / Marshall Racing #17, and Tyler Courtney (10th) in the Clauson-Marshall Racing #7BC.
NOS Notebook (Volusia Speedway Park, 2/10/23)
David Gravel’s 78th career World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series triumph brings him one away from tying Brad Sweet for 11th on the All-Time Win List. His fourth DIRTcar Nationals Gator trophy ties him for ninth-most in event history. He also joined Steve Kinser (2010-11) as the second driver to win three consecutive Series Features at Volusia Speedway Park.
Gravel is the first driver since Donny Schatz – at Volusia during 2017 DIRTcar Nationals – to win two World of Outlaws Features in the same day, and the sixth in history to achieve that feat. He joins a rare club including Steve Kinser (4), Sammy Swindell (3), Donny Schatz (2), Jac Haudenschild (1), and Jeff Swindell (1).
He also became the seventh driver in Series history to win back-to-back races to start a season – joining Daryn Pittman (2019), Steve Kinser (2011, 1991), Andy Hillenburg (2001), Sammy Swindell (1997, 1986), Brad Doty (1987), and Doug Wolfgang (1981).
As the 36th and final qualifier, Logan Schuchart led Low-E Insulation Qualifying at 13.609 seconds – averaging 112 MPH around Volusia’s 1/2-mile. It’s his 32nd career QuickTime Award, which ranks seventh-most – behind Gravel (89), Sweet (64), Saldana (55), Schatz (37), K. Madsen (35), and Stewart (35) – over his decade span as a full-time World of Outlaws competitor.
For the second night in a row, Schuchart (108th career) also topped the opening CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat One, while NOS Energy Drink Heats 2-4 were won by Carson Macedo (83rd career), Buddy Kofoid (4th career), and Brent Marks (28th career).
Cory Eliason won the Toyota Dash, earning his seventh career pole position with the World of Outlaws. Through two nights, only Schuchart, Marks, Kofoid & Gravel have qualified for 100% of the Toyota Dashes.
Parker Price-Miller joined Brock Zearfoss as the second winner of the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown. One of the most exciting battles of the night was for the final transfer, which went to Tyler Courtney by 0.040 seconds over Kraig Kinser. Courtney would ultimately go on to win the KSE Hard Charger Award, driving from 24th-to-10th in the Feature.
UP NEXT (Sat) – The 52nd annual Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals concludes on Saturday, February 11 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, FL. The NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars will race for a $16,000-to-win program as the Big Gator Championship is awarded. For fans unable to attend, you can watch every lap live on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature Results (30 Laps) – 1. 2-David Gravel; 2. 11-Michael Kofoid; 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 4. 71-Cory Eliason; 5. 13-Justin Peck; 6. 49-Brad Sweet; 7. 83-James McFadden; 8. 41-Carson Macedo; 9. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 10. 7BC-Tyler Courtney; 11. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 12. 19-Brent Marks; 13. 7S-Robbie Price; 14. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich; 16. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr; 17. 9-Kasey Kahne; 18. 5T-Ryan Timms; 19. 5-Spencer Bayston; 20. 15-Donny Schatz; 21. 9P-Parker Price Miller; 22. 21-Brian Brown; 23. 11K-Kraig Kinser; 24. 26-Zeb Wise; 25. 20G-Noah Gass; 26. 39M-Anthony Macri; 27. 1A-Jacob Allen; 28. 6-Bill Rose. Lap Leader(s): Cory Eliason 1-10; Buddy Kofoid 11-21; David Gravel 22-30. KSE Hard Charger: Tyler Courtney +14.
NEW Championship Standings (2/87 Races) – 1. 2-David Gravel (300); 2. 11-Buddy Kofoid (-8); 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart (-16); 4. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild (-26); 5. 41-Carson Macedo (-34); 6. 48-Danny Dietrich (-36); 7. 7S-Robbie Price (-38); 8. 19-Brent Marks (-38); 9. 49-Brad Sweet (-48); 83-James McFadden (-48).
Photo – Trent Gower
Photo and story provided by World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series