Elizabeth City, NC – After a very long offseason, Dixieland Speedway kicked off their 2020 season opener with a packed house and a ton of race cars to go with it. The schedule had Stock Fours for 15 laps, Sportsman for 20, Super Streets for 20, Virginia Sprint Car Series for 25, and Late Models for 30 laps to close the night out.
The main event of the night was the Budweiser Late Models for 30 laps. Ryan Steeley grabbed the pole position from Austin Hubbard in the Late Models. A stout field of 18 cars showed up to put on a show for a packed house. Ryan Steeley pulled out ahead of Austin Hubbard at the start. The battle for fourth didn’t take long to heat up as Billy Hubbard, Larry Jackson, and John Staton went three-wide coming out of turn four. Jackson ended up getting the position with Billy and Staton falling in line. Brad Rigdon and Carl Vaughan had a battle for the sixth position resulting in Rigdon getting the better line and taking the position away.
Lap traffic became a huge issue for leader Steeley as he went into turn one trying to get around a lap car and Austin Hubbard took advantage of it but made contact with Steeley and eventually took the lead out of turn two. Austin would make easy work of the next few lap cars and put a small lead on Steeley. Meanwhile, Jackson ended up catching Tom Wilson for second and got it on lap 10. The first caution came out on lap 11 for Bill Coda going for a spin. On the restart, Rigdon drove into turn one a little too hard and drove on top of Staton’s left rear but both somehow managed to not wreck.
After having a strong run, Jackson’s machine came to a sudden slowdown and he took his car into the pits and his night was over. Staton had multiple good runs at Wilson for third but when he finally got around him, a caution came out for Bill Mullis in turn four. Going back to the last green flag lap, Staton had to go back to fourth. Lap 18 and Wilson dove to the inside of Steeley for second and took it right away from him. Staton followed right behind Wilson and took third from Steeley also.
With just five laps to go, Wilson and Staton had slowly caught Austin for the lead. Austin was having a little trouble with lap cars as he went into turn one, Toby Davis actually made contact with Austin causing him to almost spin out. The second caution of the event came out for Mullis going for a solo spin again in turn four. This was going to set up a five-lap dash to the finish. On the restart, going into turn one a big pileup ended up happening. Nash, Rigdon, Mullis, Davis, Miller, Vaughan, and Harman all involved. This out the field under a red flag to get all the cars out of the way and into the pits.
The final restart came and Austin Hubbard held on for the final five laps to pick up the win in the Budweiser Late Model 30 lap season opener. Tom Wilson would hold onto second after holding off John Staton all race long, and Ryan Steeley would finish fourth.
With the Late Models and Sportsman divisions the only two classes to qualify, Stock Fours pulled a pill, and the Sprint Cars and Super Streets had heat races to decide their starting positions for the main feature. , and Josh Burnham and Troy Brickhouse would start front row for the Sportsman feature. After the heat races, Dustin Shatzer and Jake McLain started in the front row for the Sprint Cars, while Dennis Barnes and Chris Lincoln were on the front row for the Super Streets.
The Biggs GMC Stock Fours had a 15 lap event that went caution-free. Once the green flag dropped, things got wild fast. Chris Freeman darted to the lead going into turn one and didn’t look to slow down. Down the backstretch, David Boswood was stuck in an unlikely position in a four-wide battle and got spun around after starting second. No caution came out as he got his car turned back around and continued. Colby Vance making his first start at Dixieland had a strong start to the race until him and Zach Irving made some contact allowing Trevor Battoia to take over the second position. Battoia quickly went to work on the back bumper of Freeman but never quite had enough to get by him. Chris Freeman held on to win his first career win in the Stock Four division followed by Trevor Battoia, Colby Vance, Justin Bohn, and Greg Pollsley.
Next on the lineup was the Rapid Ron’s Racing Sportsman division. Defending track champion Troy Brickhouse wasted no time to get to the lead as soon as the green flag waved. Brickhouse never really got to strut how well his machine was driving as there were 9 caution flags. The first five laps consisted of a caution. After the fifth caution, the officials began to count caution laps. With a caution coming on lap 16, the field wouldn’t go green until lap 18 setting up a green-white-checkered finish. Instead, when the field went green, the ninth and final caution came out for Nick Odell spinning on the backstretch. After the caution, Josh Burnham, Mark Overman, and Matt Meads all piled up in turn four resulting in the race to finish under caution. Troy Brickhouse ended up winning.
The Little Ceasars Super Streets were up next for 20 laps with Dennis Barnes on the pole. With battles all throughout the field, Barnes was able to put a decent size lead over Chris Humblett who battled Chris Lincoln for multiple laps for second place. Jeff Hunt ended up falling back to fourth on the start of the race after starting second. An intense battle between Rod Busitzky and Brian Hankins went on for several laps with the two beatin’ and banging off of each other. In the closing laps, Humblett closed in on Barnes to challenge for the win but Barnes was too strong. Dennis Barnes picked you where he left off last season and led all 20 laps to win the season opener.
With a field of 10 strong Sprint Cars, Dustin Shatzer and Jake McLain were the front row. Shatzer making his first trip to Dixieland, all the way from Maryland, had his sights set on taking a trophy back home. When the green flag waved, Shatzer laid down a blistering pace and left everyone in the dust. Bronzie Lawson took over second from McLain, with Tom Humphries following right behind him. By lap 10, Shatzer had a full straightaway lead over the field. The first and only caution came out on lap 19 for Bill Rices machine coming to a stop in turn four. On the restart, Shatzer continued his pace and just took off. He would hold on to win in his first time at Dixieland and lead all 25 laps. Bronzie Lawson, Tom Humphries, and Mike Leraas rounded out the top four.
The 2020 season will continue on Friday with gates opening at 5:00 p.m. and five divisions of racing will start at 8:00 p.m. The action includes the Budweiser Allstar Late Models in a special 40-lap, $2K to win race, in addition to the Rapid Ron’s Racing Sportsman, Little Caesars Super Streets, Biggs Cadillac Buick GMC Stock Fours and the R & D Super Fours.
For more information, please dial 252-771-5151 or visit online at dixielandspeedway.net or follow on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.