Winternationals Getting Hot and Heavy Late in the Week  by Amy Hayes
Big Day for Dillon, Van Wingerden, Glenski & More Friday
That changed at the midpoint of the race.

Pistone and Goess were both fighting for the lead, but ended up making contact with each other and both were sent spinning.  The two had to restart from the back and that left Paddy Rodenbeck and Cole Miktuk up front.

The new two front runners duked it out for a few laps, but the same fate would meet those two as both wound up spinning while competing for the lead. .

Brandon Thomson was the driver who was able to steer clear of trouble and stay far enough ahead of second place to go on to claim his first victory of the Winternationals.  Jason Dunn and Thomas Hartensveld Jr. rounded out the top three.

“That was just a crazy race,” said Thomson.  “I thought that just the inexperienced kids would come and bump me out of the way, but even the experienced guys did that today.  But that just is what you gotta do sometimes, ride around, stay clean and you win races.”

Hair celebrates his Masters Divison win with a crew member.
The first few days of the Winternationals at Orlando Speedworld were relatively mild.  Each day the weather has gotten a bit cooler but everything ran smoothly on the track.

The weather was cool, but the tempers in the pit area were getting pretty hot Friday night.

Stancill Steals the Show, but Dillon Takes the Win

The Semi-Pro event started out with JR Allen and Josh Williams on the front row.  Zach Stroupe was able to get by Williams and make it a two-car battle out front with Allen.  The two drivers switched the lead back and forth several times, but before either driver could check out, numerous cautions flags slowed the field. 

Stancill had to start the feature from the back in his back-up car.  By the end of the race, he found himself right here he has been all week long – up front.  Stancill finished in the third position.

“I had a backup car that is probably just as fast as my other one that I wrecked,” said Stancill.  “My crew chief Chase Pistone and Nick Pistone just set it up right.  I was able to come all the way from the back to the front without even practicing this car.  We didn’t get the win today, but hopefully we can wrap it up tomorrow with one.”

Brandon Thomson Avoids Carnage, Ends Up First

Being out front in the Legends Pro race was not a good place to be in Friday’s feature event.  At the beginning of the race, Brandon Thomson, Nick Pistone, and Craig Goess Jr. found themselves out front doing a little give and take.  First it would be Thomson leading the race, then Pistone, then Goess.  The lead was swapped almost every lap and it was happening in graceful, clean and swift motions.
Brandon Thomson smiles in victory lane.
While those two ran side by side, Ty Dillon began to work his way into the mix.  Close to the end of the feature he was able to get by Stroupe and hold him off until the checkered.  It was the first win for Dillon, who is forging a racing career in his grandfather Richard Childress’ footsteps.

“It was an awesome race,” said Dillon.  “Zach is an awesome guy to race and it was just a lot of fun.  The car was set up really good and we just got in the right place in the right time and it worked out good for us.

“We have had a good car all week.  We just kept having bad luck and ended up in the back, but not today.  Today, we stayed up front.”

The real story of the race wasn’t with who ended up in victory lane.  It actually started during the heat races.  Points leader John Stancill was involved in an incident on the track during his heat race that resulted in his car hitting the wall hard.

Stover Steals the Show Again, But At a Price

Last year, Matthew Stover was the man to beat in the Bandoleros division.  This year it’s the same old story, only in the Legends ranks.  Stover has been the man to beat in the Legends Chargers division in the Winternationals at Orlando. 

He returned to the victor’s chair on Friday as he was able to hold off a hard-charging RS Senter to claim the win.

“The car was good,” said Stover.  “We had some trouble yesterday so we made a few adjustments.  We got it dialed in.  We came back today strong and get the win.”

It was a win that came at a cost.  Stover has been so dominating at all the tracks that he has run at, so some of his fellow competitors protested his engine.  The protest will not affect his finish at all, but the engine will be taken to 600 Racing headquarters to be further investigated.

“The car was good,” said Stover.  “We had some trouble yesterday so we made a few adjustments.  We got it dialed in.  We came back today strong and get the win.”

Teammates RS Senter and Curt Britt finished second and third behind Stover in the feature.

Hair Survives Double Scare, Ends Up With Win

The way that the Masters race was run, they must have not have wanted to be upstaged by the Pro Division race.  The carnage and wrecking that was in the Pro race was magnified in the Masters race.

It started out calmly enough.  Cotton Spry was out front and well on his way to claiming the victory that eluded him the day before.  It was going his way until the middle of the race, when then second place running Tim Brockhouse made contact with Spry and sent him spinning. 

Both drivers were sent to the back.  The damage from the spin hurt Spry’s machine as he exited the race early due to his car developing an oil leak problem. 

Clay Hair was the one who found himself getting the most repeated full circle views of the track.  He was also the one who found himself in victory lane. 

Hair had to restart from the back of the field twice after being involved in two separate incidents. Each time he was able to work his way back up through the field.   And it wasn’t an easy task.
The race was red flagged close to it’s conclusion due to the oil from Spry’s car being cleaned up on the track.  That resulted in the race ending with a green-white-checkered finish, which was all Hair needed as he snuck by James Rodriquez on the final lap to find victory lane again.

“That was crazy,” laughed Hair.  “I think we spun everything out but the pace car.  And we had one, so we should have spun him out too.  I was spun once, and then I ended up causing a big wreck and had to go to the back again.  But it’s all good, we were able to come back up.

“This car was upside down yesterday and the guys did a great job putting it back together.  I wanted to win it for them.”

Rodriquez had to settle for the second position with Cy Harvey coming home in third.

Dillon Bassett Comes From Behind

The bad luck for the leader struck again in the Bandolero Bandits division.  Dillon Bassett and Nick Stroupe started up front after winning their respective heat races.   On the start, Bassett sent Stroupe for a spin which resulted in both drivers having to restart the field from the back.

That wasn’t enough to stop the hard-charging youngsters however.  Bassett and Stroupe both worked their way back up through the field where they finished one-two without any further incidents between the two drivers.

“It was a good battle,” said Bassett.  “I got the lead and was able to be comfortable for awhile but we started catching lapped traffic and Nick was coming, but we were able to hold him off and get the win.”

Stroupe wasn’t left with enough time to catch up to Bassett, and had to settle for the second position.

“I got spun out at the beginning,” said Stroupe.  “I tried to come back through the field but I just couldn’t catch up to Dillon.  But it was a good race, just wasn’t good enough.  I got one more day.  Hopefully I can get him tomorrow.”

Critter Saile rounded out the top three.

Young Guns Have New Faces Up Front, But Still Keep the Old

It looked as though there possibly could be a new face in the Young Guns victory lane on Friday.  Chad Finchum took the lead on the first lap and looked like he was there to stay.

At least until Ryan Glenski arrived.

Glenski was able to get by Finchum near the end of the feature, which would have been just enough time for him to hold off Ronnie Bassett and Finchum, had Bassett and Finchum not taken themselves out of contention when they spun in the closing laps.

Both drivers were able to make it back to the the second and third places, but Glenski was long gone by that point.

“It was a good day to come out on top. It was what we needed,” said Glenski.  “Hopefully we will be able to lock up the points tomorrow and win the Winternationals Championship.”

Chad Finchum was credited with the second spot, and Ronnie Bassett Jr. rounded out the top-three.

Van Wingerden Strolls Through Victory Lane 

Those who were familiar with the Lowe’s Summer Shootout may have thought they were watching a replay of many of the feature events from the summer.  Thomas Van Wingerden won his heat race, and there was no question that this race was going to be his.

He dominated from lap one, leaving the rest of the competitors to fend for their own for the second spot.  It was a nice and relatively calm race compared to his Thursday’s race where he had to beat and bang his way to victory lane.  This was nothing but a nice Sunday (or Friday) drive for Van Wingerden.

“I try hard all the time,” grinned Van Wingerden.  “I always like to win.  Our car was a little bit faster today and I had a heads up on Jesse (Bunnell).  It was a good race.  I wish that we could have played around a little bit more, but oh well.  I will always take the win over that.  Maybe we can keep it that way tomorrow.”

Jesse Bunnell and Steve Carter finished second and third after Van Wingerden.

Ty Dillon, the Semi-Pro winner.  (51 Photos)
"Sparkplug" Dillon Bassett
Ryan Glenski was a happy guy in victory lane.