World Short Track Championship Heat Races Set Stage For Saturday Spectacular

Friday’s portion of the eighth annual World Short Track Championship at The Dirt Track at Charlotte is complete, with nine divisions running 45 Heat Races.

Those 45 drivers gained valuable momentum as they prepare to battle for World Short Track Championship Glory in Saturday’s Championship Features.

Chevrolet Performance 602 Late Models

Dylan Beaver, Steven Thompkins, Luke Cooper, and Beckham Malone each earned a Heat Race win on Friday afternoon as they prepare for Saturday’s Championship Feature.

HEAT 1

Dylan Beaver, who set fast time in Thursday’s Qualifying Session, wasted no time proving that wasn’t a fluke, leading every lap of his six-lap Heat Race.

The Murphy, NC driver broke away from the field as his competitors battled three-wide behind them. That was enough to take the checkered flag and lock himself into Saturday’s Feature.

Dalton Jacobs took advantage of that three-wide battle to finish second. Preston Blaylock finished third, and Justin Taylor finished fourth.

HEAT 2

Like Beaver, Steven Thompkins pulled away from the field on the first lap—one including 2007 World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series champion Steve Francis.

The Grays Creek, NC driver thundered ahead of Francis’ #6c car in Turn 1 to take the lead he wouldn’t relinquish, earning the win in Heat Race 2.

Francis held on for second after a heated battle between the “Kentucky Colonel” and Nathan Walker for the spot. Walker settled for third, while the final transfer spot went to Brad Rachels.

HEAT 3

Unlike the first two Chevrolet Performance 602 Late Model Heat Races, pole-sitter Jameson McBride had a battle for the top spot entering Turn 1. He was side by side with Luke Cooper as the two cars hit the back straightaway, with Cooper grabbing the advantage as they waged war heading into Turn 3.

That was the opportunity Cooper, from Woodruff, SC, needed as he grabbed the win in Heat Race 3.

McBride finished second, Preston Dimsdale crossed the line third, and Colton Avery Dimsdale rounded out the top four.

HEAT 4 

Beckham Malone got the jump he needed in Heat Race 4, taking the lead as the field drove into Turn 1. Behind him, Jake Jackson, who started third, dove underneath Daniel Parker to take second on the race’s opening lap.

From there, the 11-year-old Malone drove away from Jackson to win his six-lap Heat Race. Jackson settled for second, while Parker and Jacob Brown rounded out the top four.

See Full Results Here.

FOX Factory Pro Late Models

John Ruggiero Jr., the 2020 Fox Factory Pro Late Model Champion, took a significant step toward a second championship Feature victory by winning Heat Race 1. However, it wasn’t in dominating fashion.

Those drivers earned an upper hand in trying to win Saturday’s $4,000 prize.

Here’s what happened in the six Heat Races:

HEAT RACE 1

John Ruggiero Jr., the 2020 Fox Factory Pro Late Model Champion, took a significant stride toward a second championship Feature victory by winning Heat Race 1. However, it wasn’t in dominating fashion.

As Ruggiero led the field, Trent Ivey quickly worked his way from fourth to second in just two corners. Ivey, from Union, SC, switched lanes in Turns 1 and 2 from the outside to the inside, driving past John Price to grab the position.

Ivey charged toward Ruggiero for the lead, pulling even with two laps to go, but couldn’t make the pass.

Ruggiero earned the win, while Ivey finished in second. John Price finished third, grabbing the final transfer spot.

HEAT RACE 2

Dillon Brown picked up where he left off after winning Thursday’s All-Star Invitational Feature by leading wire-to-wire to win Heat Race 2.

With Brown out front, drivers fought for positions behind the Gaffney, SC driver.

Ricky Greene kept the momentum going after a top-five in Thursday’s Feature by finishing second, locking him into Saturday’s finale.

Derrick McGrew Jr. crossed the line third after starting fifth.

HEAT RACE 3

In the first two Fox Factory Pro Late Model Heat Races, the winner came from the front row. That was a narrative Benji Hicks changed in Heat Race 3.

The Mount Airy, NC driver started eighth on the grid, quickly moving to fourth by Lap 2 and second by Lap 4. Hicks needed three more laps to challenge Ben Faircloth for the lead, passing him on the inside lane as they took the white flag.

That was all Hicks needed, moving seven spots to take the checkered flag. Faircloth crossed the line second, and Travis Steele rounded out the top three.

HEAT RACE 4

To win Heat Race 4, Brent Trimble had the task of passing Derek Dent, the fastest in Thursday’s Group B Qualifying. But as the field hit the backstretch on Lap 1, Trimble was the quicker car, thundering around Dent to take the lead.

One restart slowed the race, a green flag that Matt Long exploited to reach the second spot. However, as the top two solidified their spots, all eyes were on the battle for third.

Brock Pinkerous had taken over the spot, but Colton Trouille tried to wrestle it away. On Lap 7, Trouille got the break he needed, sliding Pinkerous in Turn 1 to take the third spot away.

Trimble went on to win Heat Race 4, while Long and Trouille held onto the final two transfer positions.

HEAT RACE 5

Jeremy Steele, the pole-sitter, quickly drove to the lead to kick off Heat Race 5, hoping to grab momentum toward Saturday’s Feature.

The excellent start was all the York, SC, driver needed as he cruised to win the fifth Fox Factory Pro Late Model Heat Race.

Jody Knowles snuck by Stephen Pedulla on the bottom of Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 1 to finish in second, while Pedulla finished third.

HEAT RACE 6

A side-by-side battle was the highlight of Heat Race 6, as Dennis Franklin and Logan Roberson battled wheel-to-wheel on the race’s opening lap.

The two waged war down the backstretch, neither giving an inch. But as Franklin and Roberson powered off Turn 4, Franklin grabbed the advantage as they crossed the start-finish line.

Once Franklin cleared Roberson, the Gaffney, SC driver held on to score the Heat Race victory. Roberson finished in second, and Mark Greene grabbed the final transfer spot.

VP Racing Fuels DIRTcar Sportsman

The VP Racing Fuels DIRTcar Sportsman battled it out in four Heat Races to help set the field for Saturday’s Feature. The top four finishers locked themselves into starting positions.

HEAT RACE 1

In the first Heat Race, Canadian Cedric Gauvreau stayed consistent from night one, showing his speed for all eight laps. After starting on the pole, he never looked back, speeding to the finish line for the win largely uncontested.

“The car felt really good,” Gauvreau said. “We made some minor changes to the car from last night. The car was better, but I think we have a good chance for tomorrow’s Feature.”

Outside pole sitter David Richer finished second, Gordon Smith finished third, Jessica Power finished fourth.

HEAT RACE 2

Pole sitter Michael Wright was joined by Carter Crooker to his outside to start the matchup. Crooker fired hard at the drop of the green flag and edged his way around Wright for the lead on Lap 1. The Campbell, NY driver held a steady hand for the remaining seven laps, and drove his way to victory to become the evening’s second winner.

Wright held on to finish second, Ayden Cipriano finished third, and Cameron Tuttle finished fourth.

HEAT RACE 3

Thursday night’s Quick Time winner Kevin Ridley was put to the test in Heat Race 3. The pole sitter jockeyed back and forth with Kreg Crooker for the lead, with the lead changing hands three times in eight laps. Ridley ultimately came out on top, making the final pass on Lap 7 before going on to post the win.

“I was on (Crooker’s) bumper there in (Turn) 3 and (Turn 4) until he started getting to loose, and I was able to get underneath him,” Ridley said. “On the restart, I was able to get underneath him and then got him down the backstretch.”

Crooker came in second, Nelson Mason finished third, and Chelsie Kriegisch finished fourth.

HEAT RACE 4

In the final Heat Race of the evening, DIRTcar Sportsman Series and Hoosier Tire champion Andrew Buff battled from the pole position to fend off two-time World Short Track Championship Feature winner David Rogers. Rogers passed Buff on Lap 3 for the lead, but it was short lived.

Buff came charging back on Lap 4 to take the lead at the half-way mark. Rogers kept close to his bumper, but it wasn’t enough to grab the win. Buff notched the victory while Rogers finished in second.

“That was seriously fun racing,” Buff said. “We both wanted to win…if anything comes out of that Heat Race tomorrow, it’s going to be pretty exciting.”

Derrick McGrew finished third and Ray Hall Jr. finished fourth.

MSD Performance DIRTcar Pro Stocks

The MSD Performance DIRTcar Pro Stocks took to the track for three Heat Races to lock in starting positions for Saturday’s Feature Race. The top six finishers transferred.

HEAT RACE 1

Thursday night Feature winner Luke Horning continued his winning ways, taking the win in Heat Race #1 after leading from green to checkers.

“The track was starting to slick off,” Horning said. “We were able to roll the middle real well. We just had to hold off for a couple yellows and we were good.”

Pete Stefanski finished behind him in second place, followed by Jaxson Ryan, Kenny Martin, Johnathan Lemay, and Ken Griffin.

HEAT RACE 2

Denis Gauvreau performed similarly in Heat Race 2, leading all six laps. Kim Duell charged hard through the field, finishing in second place after starting 10th. Zachary Sorrentino finished in third, followed by Guy Viens, Shane Henderson, and Ian Bressette.

HEAT RACE 3

The third and final Heat Race saw Marc Lalonde notch the win, leading the way after passing pole-sitter Eric Jean-Louis on Lap 1. Johnny Rivers Jr. finished runner-up to Lalonde, followed by Jean-Louis, Bruno Cyr, Bruno Richard, and Johnathan Levesque.

Summit Racing Equipment DIRTcar UMP Modifieds

Drake Troutman, Kyle Strickler, Evan Taylor, David Stremme

Four of the top drivers in UMP Modified racing made their presence felt during Friday’s Heat Races. Drake Troutman, Kyle Strickler, Evan Taylor and David Stremme all made the most of their front-row starting spots, taking the lead at the drop of the green and leading every lap unchallenged en route to the Heat wins. Troutman, Strickler and Taylor all won from the pole, while Stremme was the only driver to win from the outside pole.

Other notable Heat Race runs included runner-up finishes for Taylor Cook, Mason Zeigler and Michael Leach. Cook, the defending UMP Modified World Short Track Champion from Stanley, NC, started fifth on the grid in Heat 1, got a great jump on the start and passed for the runner-up spot on Lap 2.

Zeigler, the Super Late Model regular from Chalk Hill, PA, also got a great jump on the initial start of Heat 2, advancing from fourth on the grid up to second in only three laps in his first World Short Track Championship appearance.

Nineteen-year-old Michael Leach, of Sun River, MT, was runner-up in his World Short Track debut last year, piloting a Crate-engine Pro Modified. He’s moved up to the full-size engine UMP Modified division for 2023 and impressed in Heat 4, starting fifth on the grid and passing for second in the final three laps to secure a runner-up finish and a spot in Saturday’s 30-lap, $4,000-to-win main event.

Hoosier Racing Tire Pro/Crate Modifieds

Austin Holcombe, Austin Self, Grayson Wells, Buck Stevens, Case Daniels, Russell Baker

Two past World Short Track Champions of the Pro Modified division and four first-time championship hopefuls scored the Heat Race wins Friday night, setting themselves up for a chance at a main event win on Saturday.

The first of six Heats saw the most action of all. Morgan Widener started on the pole and led the first five laps, but coming to the white flag, Austin Holcombe – the 2021 division winner from Elm City, NC – took to the middle lane in Turn 1 around the outside of Widener and drove on by for the lead out of Turn 2. Widener held strong on the bottom through Turns 3-4 but could not catch Holcombe as he drove off with the win out of Turn 4.

The next five Heats were dominated by the front row, as Self, Wells, Stevens (2016 Pro Modified champion), Daniels and Baker took off on the first lap and led every lap unchallenged on the way to the checkered flag.

COMP CAMS Monster Mini Stocks

HEAT RACE 1

The always exciting COMP Cams Monster Mini Stocks lived up to their reputation right out of the gate in the first Heat Race. Second starting Dylan Warden got the jump to take the early lead and pace the opening three circuits of the six-lap tilt. But on the fourth lap, it was pole-sitter Harley Holden surging into the top spot.

Holden raced to the white flag with the lead but a charging Tyler Riddle was close behind. Down the back straightaway, Riddle continued to cut into the gap with half a lap remaining. Exiting Turn 4, Riddle got a run and looked low with the checkered flag in sight, but Holden had just enough to hold on and lock up the opening Monster Mini Stock Heat Race. Riddle and Dylan Warden finished second and third to lock up the other two transfers into Saturday’s main event.

HEAT RACE 2 

The second COMP Cams Monster Mini Stock Heat Race didn’t deliver any late race drama. But what it did offer was the defending division champion making a statement. Only one driver – Brayden Pruitt – has ever won consecutive Mini Stock titles at the World Short Track Championship (2019-2020). But Matt Gilbert fully intends to become the second.

Gilbert started on the pole and cruised to a commanding victory. The South Carolina native padded his lead each and every circuit until finally crossing the line with a nearly two-second advantage as the checkered flag flew. Behind him, Landon Housely grabbed the runner-up spot, and Greg Brew drove from sixth to third to snag the final transfer.

HEAT RACE 3 

The third COMP Cams Monster Mini Stock Heat Race brought another strong performance from the pole-sitter. Kevin Cooper started P1 and got the jump as the field took the green flag. Cooper ran a steady race and a smooth line throughout all six laps and ended up taking the checkered flag with nearly a one second lead.

Behind Cooper, Michael Webb held the runner-up spot early in the race but slipped back to third on the second circuit. Two laps later, Webb managed to rally and reclaim the second spot and finished behind Cooper. Dustin Bolin was the competitor who took over runner-up early on, but after Webb got back by, Bolin settled for the third and final transfer.

HEAT RACE 4 

The excitement featured in the first Heat was brought back for the fourth COMP Cams Monster Mini Stock Heat Race. On an early restart, Cody Keith, Daniel Coffey, and Jessie Richardson Jr. went three-wide for second into Turn 1. Keith fended off the pair of challengers to maintain the spot.

Up ahead, Travis Mosley led the way but Keith closed in. With the white flag in sight, Keith looked to Mosley’s outside, and the two seemed set for a side-by-side final lap, but a caution spoiled the last lap drama. On the ensuing restart, Mosley pulled away for the win. Keith and Daniel Coffey grabbed the other transfers.

HEAT RACE 5

In the penultimate COMP Cams Monster Mini Stock Heat Race, it was all about Logan Richey. Starting on the pole, Richey grabbed the lead when the green flag flew and never looked back. By the third lap, he had extended his lead to slightly above a second, and the gap stayed around that margin throughout the remainder of the race as Richey grabbed the win.

Marcus Hughes and Nick Fulcher held the second and third spots for the duration of the six-lap Heat Race to claim the other available transfers.

HEAT RACE 6

In the sixth and final COMP Cams Monster Mini Stock Heat Race, Dustin ONeal flexed his muscle with perhaps the most dominant performance of the class. From the pole, ONeal led every lap and claimed the victory with more than a three-second lead.

The battle behind ONeal was eventful for the final two transfers. Josh Bryan grabbed the second spot early before falling back a spot and then clawing into runner-up again. But Bryant slipped up another time and allowed Brent Couch back by who went on to finish second. Pete Brew grabbed the final transfer spot on the last lap.

RACEQUIP Mid-East Street Stocks

After six RaceQuip Mid-East Street Stocks Heat Races, 18 drivers have locked themselves into Saturday night’s World Short Track Championship Feature.

Banjo Duke, Steve Greene, Bailey Loftin, Devon Morgan, Dalton Peavy and Andy Stewart won each of their respective Heat races and enter Saturday’s Feature with the best chance to win.

The first driver to solidify his spot in the Championship Feature was Manning, SC’s Banjo Duke. Thursday night’s fastest Street Stock driver made Heat Race 1 look easy, leading flag-to-flag en route to the win. Flat Rock, NC’s Tanner Fortune finished second to Duke, and Rock Hill, SC driver Kade Langley rounded the locked-in finishers.

Heat 2 saw Bostic, NC’s Steve Greene pick up the win after starting in second place on the start. The driver of the #39 got by polesitter Austin Brown to take the Heat Race win. Brown ended up finishing second to Greene, and Taylors, SC’s Johnny Westmoreland completed the Heat Race’s top three finishers.

Similar to Greene, Mt. Holly, NC driver Bailey Loftin took a dominating Heat Race 3 win after starting second on the outside to Seth, WV’s Nick Evans. Loftin used the high lane to get by Evans and never relinquished the lead. Evans came up short to Loftin, finishing second. However, the focus was all on Lyman, SC’s Blake Bentley, who charged up six places to finish inside the podium spot, securing his place into Saturday night.

Heat Race 4 showed shades of 2022, with defending champion Devon Morgan winning with no pressure felt after starting from the pole. Finishing behind Greene was Newton, NC’s Ricky Greene. Completing the race’s top three finishers was Chester, SC’s Ronnie Mosley after having to fend off multiple cars that challenged the #9M.

Running a clean race was all that the #24 of Dalton Peavy needed to do to grab his guaranteed spot in Saturday’s Feature, leading flag-to-flag to win Heat Race 5 after starting from the pole. Belmont, NC’s Calob McLaughlin improved from his starting spot, finishing second to Peavy in the six-lap Heat. Earning his place into Saturday night after fending off hard-charging Street Stocks was Inman, SC’s Cody Ussery.

Heat Race 6 bookended the Street Stocks action for the day in a shocking fashion. After coming up light at the scales, Gastonia, NC’s Patrick Lyon was disqualified and stripped of what would have been a Heat race win. Instead, the win now goes to Andy Stewart of Evans, GA. Rock Hill, SC’s Dalton Pannell, and Gastonia, NC’s Brandon Dockery fought closely with each other, and all three drivers will have a chance to race for a big Feature win on Saturday night.

SRI Performance Thunderbombers

Back for a second year at World Short Track Championship, the SRI Performance Monster Thunder Bombers provided the kick that fans anticipated to see.

After six Heat races – Tyler Guice, Rod Tucker, Stetson Todd, Benji Knight, Luke Clements, and Luke Doggett bagged the Heat race wins, going into Saturday with the best chance they have to win.

Six laps felt too short with how exciting Heat Race 1 was for the Thunder Bombers. Flat Rock, NC’s Tyler Guice and Tyron, NC’s Mattison Hoots raced each other side-by-side, with Guice besting Hoots in a photo finish by 0.037 seconds. Union, SC’s Nathaniel Jackson moved his way up three positions to grab the final transfer spot into Saturday’s Feature race.

Defending champ Rod Tucker helped his chances of going back-to-back in 2023 by leading flag-to-flag en route to the Heat Race 2 win. Joining Tucker in transferring to Saturday’s Feature includes Taylors, SC’s Jason Edmonds, and Kings Mountain, NC’s Justin Watts.

Like Tucker, Spartanburg, SC Stetsen Todd put a cap on his Heat race by leading every lap of Heat Race 3 to lock himself into Saturday’s Feature. Tyron, NC’s Bailey Hipp moved up one spot from where he started to finish in second, and Connelly Springs, NC’s Benny Peeler joined the two drivers to secure his place.

After going fastest in Monster Thunder Bombers Group B Qualifying on Thursday, Heath Springs, SC’s Benji Knight displayed that same pace by winning Heat Race 4. Laurens, SC’s Travis Jamieson jumped up three positions from his original starting spot to finish second, and Grant Parr of Boiling Springs, SC earned a top-three result to make the Feature.

Heat Race 5 saw another Boiling Springs, SC native earn a spot in Saturday’s Feature. This time, it was Luke Clements who was able to conquer his Heat race. Rock Hill, SC’s Hunter Funderburke kept his job easy, finishing second in the Heat to claim his spot for Saturday. Jesse Wall of Chesnee, SC picked up two spots from his original starting spot to finish third.

In Heat Race 6, Forest City, NC’s Luke Doggett fended off the field of Thunder Bombers to seal his place in the Feature with a win. Cowpens, SC’s Randy Cantrell finished runner-up to Doggett with a second-place result, and Lexington, SC’s Tyler Smith claimed the final spot to conclude the Heat Races.

For Full Results of Friday’s World Short Track Championship action, Click Here. 

UP NEXT: These nine divisions will return to The Dirt Track at Charlotte on Saturday, Oct. 28 for the final day of the eighth annual World Short Track Championship.

Last Chance Showdowns will set the final spots in Saturday’s Championship Features as drivers battle for World Short Track Championship glory.

For tickets to the World Short Track Championship, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every lap of the World Short Track Championship live on DIRTVision with a monthly or annual subscription.

DIRTcar Series PR

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