Dusty Zomer made his first-ever trip to the Dirt Track at Charlotte a memorable one.
Zomer picked up his first career World of Outlaws victory early Saturday morning, taking the 25-lap winged sprint car feature at the World of Outlaws World Finals.
Zomer, of Sioux Falls, S.D., led the final nine laps and held off Greg Hodnett of Memphis, Tenn., to pick up the win and a check for $12,000.
Zomer started sixth in the 29-car field, but had worked his way into third by the 10th lap when circumstances began taking out the frontrunners.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
First, pole-winner Trey Starks of Puyallup, Wash., who led the first 12 laps, dropped off the lead and went to the garage area with a broken front tie rod.
That put Saldana, a four-time winner at the Dirt Track, in the lead. But four laps later, a piece of the top wing on Saldana’s sprint car blew off, sending him to the garage.
That put Zomer in front and dealing with lapped traffic, which gave Hodnett his shot at the lead and the win.
Hodnett – a two-time winner at the Dirt Track, whose last win came in 2002 – made his move on Zomer coming off the fourth turn on the final lap. However, the race’s fifth caution came out just before he could pull ahead.
Stevie Smith of New Oxford, Pa., finished third, followed by part-time NASCAR driver Brad Sweet of Grass Valley, Calif., and Bryan Clauson of Sacramento, Calif.
Donny Schatz of Fargo, N.D., who clinched his seventh career World of Outlaws championship last month, charged from 22nd starting spot to finish sixth.
Johnson wins DIRTcar feature: Danny Johnson of Rochester, N.Y., won his second straight World Finals title in the Super DIRTcar Series big-block modifieds.
Johnson, who started fourth, took the lead from pole-sitter Jimmy Phelps of Baldwinsville, N.Y., on the seventh lap. He would lead the rest of the way, finishing 1.094 seconds ahead of Larry Wright of Phoenix, N.Y.
Billy Decker of Unadilla, N.Y., finished third, followed by series points leader Matt Sheppard of Waterloo, N.Y., and Stewart Friesen of Sprakers, N.Y.
Max McLaughlin, 15, of Mooresville finished 15th in his big-block modified debut. On Thursday, he became the youngest fast qualifier in series history, but started 15th after the heat races.
Sheppard wins late model feature: Brandon Sheppard led from start to finish in winning his first World of Outlaws dirt late model race at the Dirt Track at Charlotte.
Sheppard, of New Berlin, Ill., won $12,000 for his eighth dirt late model victory of the season and second on the World of Outlaws tour. He beat 2015 series champion Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., in the 30-lap feature.
Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., finished third, followed by Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va.
Weather, bad luck messes with Finals schedule: The schedule for the first day of heat and feature races in the World Finals had to be pushed back more than 2 1/2 hours because of showers earlier in the day.
The misty rain finally stopped around 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Dirt Track at Charlotte. The first cars didn’t get on track until 6 p.m., and the first heat race didn’t begin until 6:50 p.m.
Throw in two lengthy red flags – 36 and 35 minutes – to repair the catch fences after wrecks during the sprint car heat races, and the A-Main races didn’t begin until after 1:30 a.m. Saturday. The last of the three features didn’t end until 3:06 a.m.
Thorson, McMahan have scare in heat races: Sprint-car racers Tanner Thorson and Paul McMahan both had scares after flipping into the fence during their World Finals sprint car heat races, necessitating long red flags to make repairs.
Thorson, of Minden, Nev., went into the fourth-turn fence in the first heat race after colliding with Sammy Swindell, of Bartlett, Tenn., while racing side-by-side into the turn battling for second place.
“(Thorson) was up going in (the turn), and I expected him to stay there,” Swindell said. “I got a run and got underneath him, and (the turn) narrowed up. He was coming back down and didn’t know I was coming, and I didn’t expect him to come down. It’s just unfortunate.”
While Thorson walked away from the wreck, it totaled his sprint car and damaged the fence, which red-flagged the race for 36 minutes as track workers fixed the fence and retaining cables.
Later, McMahan, of Nashville, Tenn., flipped into the second-turn fence while running second in the fourth heat race. McMahan also walked away, but it took track workers 35 minutes to fix the fence and cables.
Australian sprint car driver Kerry Madsen also walked away from a head-on crash during the 12-lap “last-chance” qualifying race. He was running second when his car suddenly veered into the wall between the third and fourth turns.
Saturday races postponed
Inclement weather forced officials at the Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord to postpone Saturday’s heat and feature races in the World of Outlaws World Finals to Sunday afternoon.
Pit gates open at 11 a.m. Sunday, with spectator gates opening at noon. Hot laps and heat races will begin at 2 p.m. for the ninth-annual World Finals.